Overthinking and Under-Skilled: Thoughts triggered by Helen Keller

I think a lot and that is a problem when you have no tools to help you sort out your thinking.

What do I mean by that and why is Helen Keller a part of the discussion?

If you’ve read Helen Keller’s biography, you will know that she became deaf and blind due to an early illness. So even though she was born being able to see and hear, she had no memory of it because she was so young when it happened.

Her biography states that she didn’t know a single word until the age of seven.

Consider that a moment.

When she was cold, she didn’t call it cold, she couldn’t call it anything. She had no words to define anything. What is this condition actually?

This condition is a lack of tools. The tool called words, language are something we take for granted. Everyone knows the word for water, right?

Well, she didn’t.

The first word she learned was “Think”. It was written on her forehead by her teacher. Then she learned the word “Water”.

She said that knowing words transformed her life and that for the rest of her life she became an author and great thinker, eventually being able to communicate and read through braille books.

Einstein and the Thought Experiment

Albert Einstein used what he called the “Thought Experiment” to research questions he had about the universe. However, he used the tools of physics and mathematics to work out the theories he had in his head.

Without the tools of math and physics he would have been just another armchair philosopher who may or may not have the right ideas, but couldn’t prove them one way or the other no matter how hard he tried.

What about the arts and music?

Music is basically formless in the world we sense. We hear it, it is gone. It is basically air waves, frequencies and amplitudes. When the sound wave has run it’s course, like the ripples on the water when a rock is thrown in it, it is gone.

But, the tools to record music like notation and electronic devices make it possible to preserve a representation of music so that others have a chance to repeat it and it also gives composers the tools they need to create magnificent works that would otherwise be impossible to create.

Thinking with a lack of tools.

Like I said, I think a lot. Having been a singer, I translated written music and words into singing. The tool I had was my voice and ability to read music and I did it pretty well. I’ve written a book with the tools of words and that is something I can handle.

But larger issues like figuring out things I’d like to see get done I don’t have the tools for. I am unskilled in so many areas that it is really very frustrating. To have so many thoughts, ideas and concepts and to have no way to act on them because of my lack of skills has made a philosopher out of me and not a practical innovator who gets things done.

Even if I attempt them, they would come out wrong because I would make a lot of mistakes and the project would be unsuccessful.

Without skill you can practice inaccurate thinking and it has no repercussions, so your thinking becomes tainted with poor evaluation.

This is why education is so important. You have to have the skills necessary to convert your dreams into reality. Without those skills it can’t get done.

The argument could be made that many without an education did some great things, and it would be true. However, they had people they payed who were educated to get those necessary things done for them.

The irony is that learning the skill takes a longer than using them. Learning is hard, doing is simple, and it is in the learning that people quit. But, if you don’t use the tools you have learned through education it is also worthless. As the saying goes, “The man who can read and doesn’t is as dumb as the man who can’t read.”

The reward at the end of doing is earning and without earning their is no reason to do, and if there is no reason to do, there is no reason to learn and so we are left with nothing in the beginning and in the end.

That is how the energy goes out of thinking, because there is nothing there to refuel it. Thinking by itself is nothing but tiring and confusing. Without tools, and using those tools towards building something, it is all not worth it and you starve yourself of creativity.

Learn new skills, use them, and build a bright future. Your thinking is only as valuable as your ability to convert it to results and earnings and without that, it is all just another armchair philosophy.

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