For as much as I enjoy normal modes of conversation, I occasionally find myself wishing for the power of telepathy. I am often asked to repeat myself, by friends and strangers alike, because I have failed to enunciate the (obviously brilliant) statement that I just made. It is embarrassing and frustrating and not a little bit funny. I love people and am interested in their stories, but sometimes they say intellectually provocative things that make my brain jump four steps ahead. My mouth simply cannot keep pace with my brain’s restless and catholic circumlocutions.
In my business, I see plenty of people who have the opposite problem. Words fling from their mouths with reckless abandon, their absurd verse all too clearly stated. It takes their minds a bit to catch up, usually just in time to realize that their loose lips have turned their smooth sailing into a shipwreck. Instead of salvaging the situation upon this recognition, their first instinct is to keep talking, ignoring their brain’s emergency signals as they descend deeper into the abyss.
In the dichotomy between overthinking and underthinking, I would strongly prefer the former. The constant churning of thoughts helps view a problem, legal or otherwise, from all angles. Yet it also keeps me up at night. My dreams transport me into the three-dimensional schematic of a dispute. If I am litigating a matter, I am looking for the holes in my case and the opposing party’s; searching for ways to fill-in or exploit, as the circumstance demands. The details become ingrained in my subconscious, joining the myriad other problems that need solving.
It is not just nighttime when my brain is off to the races. The same process takes place on bike rides, on skin tracks, on long highway cruises. That is all well and good, but it also happens when I am in the midst of talking to someone, checking out at the market, or trying to write an article. From the outside, it must seem like there is a glitch in my software as I stare blankly off into the distance for a second or two before recovering; a decidedly ungraceful outcome.
Hammocks soothe my body, but they do not calm my mind. A few minutes of listening to the waves lap the shore either puts me to sleep or makes me so restless that I want to go running off down the beach. Meditation holds great allure for me, but I am a failed practitioner. The absence of thought is a Zen principle that I want to embrace, but which is anathema to my life thus far. I must do better, but of course, thinking about not thinking is an ironic spiral of doom.
Typically keen to solve all of my issues myself, I realize that I need help here. Not being a doctor or engineer, I require assistance with a literal biohack. I would like to install a little switch, perhaps behind my ear, that could turn my brain on or off. I’ll leave it to you to decide which way the lever is currently pointing.