The Thinking Stick

This morning I happened to notice a woman sitting on a park bench alone. Then I noticed a cigarette in her hand. I understood that she was sitting there alone to smoke, but she had a contemplative look on her face and it appeared to me that she was thinking and that her time with her cigarette gave her a break where she could sit and think.

I began to think about modern life and how everyone is running around trying to get things done. The more that life becomes interesting, the more there is to do. Most people don’t have the opportunity to just sit and think, and if they try, they get interrupted.

The cigarette is an interesting object. It allows a person time to sit and think and at the same time gives a signal that the person is not inviting conversation. It seemed to me that the cigarette was satisfying her need for companionship. She didn’t look lonely with it in her hand. I didn’t need to ask her if she was lost or needed help.

And then it occurred to me that what people really can use is a thinking stick. It would be roughly the size of a pencil or pen, but a bit thicker and brightly colored. Perhaps it would light up so that it could be visible from a distance. The thinking stick would have to be taken out and used at least once a day for at least 5 minutes. The person would have to use it in a place where he or she was not in close proximity to other people. Holding it would be a signal to others that thinking was going on and therefore human interaction was not desired at that time. And then the person could think. I am talking about real thinking– about how to accomplish goals, solve problems, repair relationships, improve oneself. The time could be used to compose poetry, think of a story plot, work on a musical theme, picture how a room would look if redecorated.

We race through life. We don’t stop to think about our spouses, our families, our good health, our plans for improving ourselves. What we all need are thinking sticks.

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  1. From a complete list, the features of the thinking stick have been reduced to the bare essentials:

    – A recording button allowing you to record important thoughts
    – Built-in prerecorded calming sounds for providing mood. (waterfall, waves, forest, crowded mall etc.)
    – A jamming signal to prevent others from using cellphones nearby, and prevent you from receiving calls in case you forget to turn your phone off.
    – Ultrasonics to keep mosquitoes away
    – Hidden collapsing umbrella in case of rain
    – Hollow section with holes allowing it to be played as a flute or recorder
    – Extendable claw to be used as back scratcher
    – Toothpick dispenser, for that piece between your teeth that drives you nuts

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