#17 Thinking

“How often do you think?”

My eleventh grade English teacher interrupted class one day with that booming question. Until then we’d been having staple fights, passing notes, and half-assedly working on book reports about Brave New World.

“How often do you actually sit back and think?,” he prodded. “The reason I ask is because you’re lucky you have time to think and it’s really important.”

He paused for a minute and looked at us and we paused for a minute and looked back. It was clear he was done so we shrugged at each other and began chatting again. People leaned back on their chairs, some blew bubbles and shot air free-throws, and a couple kids in the corner rubbed glue sticks on each other’s sweatshirts.

It was a long time ago and I didn’t look back on it until last week.

I was just finishing up a speech about the 3 A’s of Awesome at a business conference and was gathering my things and stepping off the stage when a man rushed up to me.

“Hey, I’ve got an awesome for you,” he started urgently, and I looked up to see wild eyes darting through thick glasses, a weathered face with lots of wrinkles, and long shaggy hair rolling down his back.


He stared hard at me for a reaction and I paused for a second, not knowing what to say.

“Thinking,” he said again.

“Yeah, that’s true,” I slowly ventured. “Thinking is … pretty important.”

“No, I don’t think you understand,” he said sharply, slightly spitting, with his hands shaking urgency. “I mean the ability to think. See, I was in a big car accident last year and my head got hit pretty bad. I spent an entire year in a coma in the hospital … and I couldn’t think. I couldn’t process thoughts. I knew I was alive but I wasn’t able to have thoughts connect in my brain.”

I think I must have looked stunned so he kept going.

“I just got out of it last week and now I’m doing great. I can think again and it’s a gift. We aren’t always able to think… but if you can, if you can put things together, if you can figure things out, then you’re lucky. I missed an entire year of my life because I couldn’t think. Now I’ll never take it for granted again.”

My mind flashed back to my eleventh grade classroom and my teacher sadly trying to get our attention. I don’t think we understood it then, because how could we? When you’ve always thought, when you can always think, it’s hard picturing thinking about not thinking.

But thinking is what gives us movies, magic, and songs. It’s what gives us paintings, blogs, and books. Thinking results in businesses, theories, and games. It gives us inventions, conversations, and names. At the end of the day, thinking is what helped us rise, it’s what moves us forward, and what shapes our lives.


Photos from: here, here, and here

48 thoughts on “#17 Thinking

  1. …You know what? It is. It is awesome. :)

    (And now I shall have a laugh about the irony of the fact that my comment about “Thinking” repeated your main point and required very little thought, at all.)

  2. Yep, it’s easy to take things for granted when you have them. I mean thinking is such a basic thing that you never think about not thinking. What i appreciate the most about thinking is that i can choose to think differently & inturn alter my attitude. Awesome

  3. If only this guy had thought long enough to realize his idea – and the story that inspired it – should be written by the soul who lived it, not a third party who has already made his mark on the world.
    However thinking DOES rule, doesn’t it?

  4. My grade 9 business teacher once asked us that question. To which the smart alek of the class replied: “There’s an app for that!”. I laughed along with everyone else at the time, but now that I think about, it’s sad that we live in a society that no longer requires us to ponder, figure, or wonder, because a machine is always there to do it for us.

  5. I love this. It’s unfortunate that people nowadays have their heads plugged into their electronic devices with sound constantly being pumped into their minds. Do they really think? I fear for the future sometimes. Thank you for another thing for me to be grateful for.

  6. I like this post about thinking, but instead of throwing free throws and such, while the teacher was talking, we used to fill out “Slam Books”. Slam books were books where we would start different journal entries and anyone in our grade could fill out a brief sentence,phrase or paragraph of their own creative abilities. For instance we would start the entry with the title “Once upon a time…or My favorite food is…My dream date would be….this filled up a lot of thinking time in high school.

  7. I love when you post things like this. It reminds me that no matter the small stuff, if I can think, walk and breath, my life is going perfectly! Just the words I needed today!

  8. I love so many of your posts but this one resonates. My friend’s young son has a neurological problem which means that his brain never fully shuts down, even when he is sleeping, so it is very hard for his mind to process everything and, in fact, he “unlearns” things he had known before. His parents and teachers have been warned that he might have to be taught the same thing seven times before it finally sinks in, despite the fact that he’s a bright kid. Like the young man who lost his ability to think, this little kid is going to miss on a chunk of thinking time – possibly 7 years until his brain grows up.
    Keep posting your awesome things.

  9. Since a few of us were “thinking” about where Wendy disappeared to, I emailed her to find out and here’s her response. She wanted me to share with all of you
    “Bekah, No worries. The site kicked me off! ha! And so, I wrote goodbye on the lasagna page…think post was called, “When the thing on your plate stays together!”
    PLEASE tell everyone, my husband and I have been commissioned by SIFE, a global group called Angel Investors and our community developers, to
    create an “It’s A Small World” theme in our town, similar to the whymsical homes we’ve built! To save our community livelihood and invite the world!! It’s a huge resposibilty and honour! Wacky, we’re so shy! Wild and wonderful!!!
    Like “Charlotte’s Web and Wilbur”, a MIRACLE, really!!!

    If word press lets me, I’m sure I’ll tune in on #1, or as soon as we’re past the major planning stages!!
    I can hardly believe this is happening to us!!!
    Thank you and HELLO to all:)”

    1. Found your goodbye, Wendy! On #249.
      You and your husband are very awesome for what you are doing.
      Keep spreading the happy and keep in touch!

    2. Bekah – Thanks for reaching out to Wendy. It’s great to know she is busy with such an awesome project!

    3. So glad you checked, Bekah! Wow, I’m so thrilled for her…what an awesomse project! Keep on keeping on, Wendy!

  10. Before I go to sleep-the lights are off, the curtains shut, the quiet creaking of the house readjusting around me-I end up doing a lot of thinking.

    Sometimes too much thinking. Because my eyes suddenly get jarred open and in that moment of panic I don’t recognize where I am. Oh dear.

    Or I’m thinking…thinking…sometimes about running or lifting a giant rock or something, and suddenly my arm or leg just shoots out and it scares the lights out of me.

  11. A few nights ago I was thinking about the Universe. And I realized just how small I am, how tiny my problems are compared to the Universe’s size. And then I got to thinking, “What’s beyond the Universe? How could something on this level possibly be infinite? Maybe it’s just really big and so we thought it went on forever.” And then: “How could this possibly come into existence? What was before the Universe?” and at that moment I was utterly convinced that God exists. So now I’m trying to get closer to Him.
    I know, it’s weird, but it’s just a tiny bit of my crazy mind… :)

  12. This is definitely one I take for granted. Thanks for the reminder! Now, if only I could Think of something to make for dinner. :)

  13. Haha kindddd of irrelevant to the actual subject, but when I saw the bottom photo I thought “Thinking at sunset” and then the caption turned out to be thinking at sunset!! Psychic, I think so ;D

  14. Best quote, perfect for this!
    “None of our men are ‘experts.’ We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself an expert because no one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives up an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is. Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible. The moment one gets into the ‘expert’ state of mind a great number of things become impossible.”
    ― Henry Ford

  15. What I love about 1000 Awesome Things is that it makes me THINK about everything. Such an awesome thing.

  16. Wow, it’s something as taken for granted as breathing or your heart beating, but certainly no less awesome. Without the ability to think, we would be nothing. How lucky that guy must feel, to be able to think again! Thankfully, all of us reading this will be able to stop and appreciate that awesome ability without having the related trauma that spurred that man’s epiphany. Yay for thinking!

  17. You know what’s even more awesome than thinking and being picked up at the airport? Picking up a philosopher at the airport! When I was a student, my professor asked me to pick up a Canadian philosophy professor who was visiting for a conference. We had a wonderful conversation about what rational thinking means in everyday life.

  18. Awesome! Seriously, I sometimes take it for granted and then I have a slow day, and then I really appreciate how truely amazing my mind usually is. I really love its processing power, I am use to it and I should never take that for granted.

  19. Thinking is probably my favorite thing to do, though I hate it when my mind decides to become most active when I’m trying to rest it for the night…

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