Today my thoughts are wandering around linear thinking, but not for the reason you may think. The fact is, I have never been a linear thinker and my mind quails at the mere thought of putting one idea in front of another, in a neat, little row!
I suspect this is true of most who embrace their ADHD and allow it to come out to play whenever it wants to, provided it agrees to coexist with those nasty things called “jobs” and “responsibilities”.
To begin with, “linear thinking” is defined as follows:
a process of thought following known cycles or step-by-step progression where a response to a step must be elicited before another step is taken
I have enough trouble putting one foot in front of the other in a step-by-step progression, much less can I ever hope to wrangle my thoughts into such a confining and uncomfortable space! To be honest, I’d rather attempt to herd cats!
I used to think I was alone in this seemingly unnatural little world of random thoughts leading to even more random connections, but as more and more of my friends tend to be at least as ADHD as I am, I’m becoming aware that this is where the magic happens!
It was brought home to me even more clearly this week as I read tributes to one of the great authors of our time. I found myself quite excited at the explanation of how he made the transition from fluffy clouds outside the window of a plane to creepy gremlins riding on the wing! I can so easily relate to that seemingly incongruous progression!
As I see it, linear thinkers are the ones who are more likely to follow the rules. Their minds don’t jump ahead when the instructions say “put tab A into slot B”, but proceed, systematically, until all of the steps have been followed, never dreaming that there might be a quicker, easier way to achieve the same result, or reach an even better conclusion. Don’t get me wrong. There is definitely a time and a place for people like this. They keep all of the things which function best in accordance with a set schedule humming along so those of us who are linear challenged can go our merry way, with planes arriving on time, electricity working when we flip a switch and communication devices keeping us connected when we need it!
I often joke about my tendency to be in the middle of a conversation, then suddenly change topics, go off on another tangent and…ooo, shiny!
The truth is, there are a quarter of a billion thoughts zipping through my mind at any given time (while talking to a co-worker about the importance of each team member’s contribution, the song “Every Sperm is sacred” from Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life” popped into my head.). As a result, they can easily form unlikely connections with absolutely no effort on my part! And let’s not even try to fit “control” into this discussion because the fact is, there ain’t no such thing!
Thus, a car making an erratic lane change becomes a 1000 word discussion about commitment and risk taking. A fly buzzing in my window screen becomes helicopters flying over my house enroute to a search and rescue mission in the nearby hills for a missing child, and a cat purring on my bed becomes the entrance to a fantasy world which beckons sweetly, only to hide a sinister underbelly, waiting to ambush the unsuspecting traveler, lulled by the sight of cute, fluffy, neon colored creatures gambolling through a field of flowers in colors never seen in nature.
It might seem, with all of the lists I’ve been making lately, that it is easy to corral those errant thoughts, but if you look closely at my lists, they are rarely in any particular order, and only loosely related at best. Their purpose, in most cases, is to acknowledge those pools of unrelated ideas and give them the go-ahead to interact anyway.
To be honest, the surest way to both stifle me and cause mass havoc is to put me in a position where I have to do the same tasks in the same way day in and day out. Not only will my poor, overactive imagination be screaming in frustration, but it will make itself known in the most inappropriate manner and time possible, just because it can.
This is not to say that I can’t read and follow directions, and, even do on occasion. But if I could have someone around who just took care of anything requiring systematic behavior I’d be a lot happier and a lot more productive! That “Bob the fix it man” I’ve been seeking would, ideally, have those qualities! Of course, I could never live with someone like that! They’d drive me crazy with their precision and, what to me, are tedious processes. But if he could just come in once a week or so and take care of things, I’d be really grateful!
(At the moment, I’m trying to figure out how to get a toilet and vanity installed, a storage shed assembled (which has yet to be purchased) and the contents of my Pod moved into said shed. My own thought processes have not quite mastered the logistics of any of this!)
There really is a time and a place for linear thinking. It’s just that that time is not now and the place is not anywhere in my vicinity. It’s too much like getting stuck behind someone who wants to go 45 when the speed limit is 70! I want to rain curses down upon their poor, unsuspecting head, stomp my feet in frustration, and make my car sprout wings like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (and maybe pound on their head with Maxwell’s Silver Hammer in the bargain!)
In all fairness, I probably drive the linear thinkers equally bonkers while I’m jetting ahead to the result while they’re still trying to make sense of steps 1-4. We do have to coexist, though, and it’s not always possible to put us on completely separate tasks! (I am noticing how very many times I backspace over “its” to make it “it’s” and vice versa lately! The rules of grammar have not yet caught up with my average typing speed!)
If there is anyone out there who has figured out how to put the two mindsets together successfully and without bloodshed, I am anxious to learn the methodology which yields a successful outcome. But until then, I shall bite my tongue when necessary, and go behind closed doors for a primal scream session when my frustration levels reach critical mass.
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my non-linear brain.
2. I am grateful for what is becoming my Friday night “date” (without benefit of a goodnight kiss, cuz we are strictly platonic. )
3. I am grateful for recent successes which are harbingers of more to come.
4. I am grateful for the bucketloads of inspiration I’m enjoying.
5. I am grateful for a day to sleep in, if only for a little while!
Love and light.