The point. What is the point? Have you seen it? Found it? I never have. At least I don’t think so. Hasn’t stopped me from looking, though. The point is always out there, laughing and mocking my inability to grasp its seemingly simple yet frustratingly out-of-reach message. At times, it almost seems like I’ve got it, and its these moments that are the most maddening. Ignorance truly is bliss.
In short, that is the general feeling I get from reflecting on two quarters in Critical Thinking and Writing courses at Santa Clara University. Despite all the research and thinking that I have done, it seems as though I’m running in circles. Thinking in circles. One thought, one line of inquiry, yields no answers, rather, all I find is more questions. Why, why, why? Anyone? Bueller?
The main reason this cyclical thinking bothers me is that it takes us nowhere. We are on a path, that while presumably leads somewhere, just takes us further and further into our own heads. The more we look, the less we see. The further we reach, the shorter our grasp. I could keep these paradoxical metaphors going, but I think you get the point. Or do you? What is my point? The simple act of asking the question is the start of a journey, the starting line whose corresponding finish line can never be crossed.
While thinking in this manner — what I would define as pondering — can be fun at times, it takes us out of what is real. It takes us away from the world, the one full of wonders, full of people and animals and places whose stories far exceed our own. It takes us away from the magical reality that is our world and leads us into the fantasy we construct about how we “think” about our lives. It takes us away from the present, which is the only thing that truly matters. There is no past, no future, and there never was and never will be. There is only now.
So what does this mean in terms of our class? Surely, if my beliefs regarding thinking about problems was useless, then those very same beliefs would transfer over to a critical thinking class as well? Yes. They would. All the thinking, all the talk, all bullshit. It has no substance, no meaning.
The only way to solve a problem is through action, and that is exactly what we as students lack. We lack — generally speaking — both the tools and the motivation to act on anything we talk about. For us, its just another class to get through, another hour of our lives whittled away while we could be doing something meaningful. And I don’t mean meaningful in the way that most people use it — like it has to be helping underprivileged children in Nicaragua or something like that. For me, my day is made meaningful through a shared smile, or a laugh, or simply a look.
So, in conclusion, I believe that my point is this: get out there. Do stuff. Experience life. Don’t get caught up in thinking. Let your mind stop working for a minute, and you will realize just how truly powerful thought can be.
Pete Mitchell, signing off