Waiting, Watching, Thinking

Waiting

“We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.” __ Voltaire

Waiting is not what we usually think. It is true that standing in long lines, sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and waiting for the end of a long hard day, all constitute forms of “waiting.” Whether or not such forms of waiting end up being a waste of our time is up to us.

While Dangerous Children are raised to maintain situational awareness and to make use of every second, most people are not Dangerous Children.

Instead of taking advantage of spare moments to learn something new or to practise mindfulness, most of us simply revert to “default mode network” thinking. The default mode is an automatic state of thinking that often involves “zoning out” as in a highway hypnosis or an unfocused daydream. Sometimes the default mode rewards us with creative thought — as in the case of the prepared mind — but for most of us it is just a way of killing time until something salient happens.

A better way of “mental waiting” or suspending normal thought, is to enter an aware state of mindfulness. It is more restful than the default mode, opens more doors to creativity, and allows us a quicker route to action if something unexpected occurs.

More conventional ways of filling up “empty time” such as listening to music, motivational tapes, or foreign language learning, are also useful.

Watching

While “waiting,” the Dangerous Child is also watching. And watching in a special way.

When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing – just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?
__ Ralph Marston

Watching implies seeing. But not everyone who watches also sees. When Dangerous Children watch, they are seeing surface meanings, but also dozens of potential and hypothetical branching extensions of what they see. Watching for a Dangerous Child is not the same as watching for ordinary people.

It is again the “prepared mind” which makes all the difference between mere watching and expanded seeing. Mindfulness opens the door to a more expanded seeing, but only if the mind is pre-pared with fluid mechanisms, categories, and hard knowledge and information.

Thinking

Even while waiting and watching — even while practising mindfulness — the Dangerous Child is always thinking.

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
Thomas A. Edison

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
__ Albert Einstein

First of all, Dangerous Children are taught contrarian thinking, and inoculated against groupthink. While young and very young children are not especially likely to think many truly original thoughts, if they are raised in the manner described, the more they develop and learn, the more their thoughts will tend to be their own. This is particularly true given the self-teaching mode of most of a Dangerous Child’s education.

This helps the child to think for himself, but it does untangle the knot of mono-layer thinking. Einstein’s quote above exposes the fallacy of linear logic which plagues the modern/post-modern intellectual and pseudo-intellectual realms.

Dangerous Children learn to think on multiple levels and dimensions. One approach to non-linear logical thinking is the “lateral thinking” approach of Dr. Edward de Bono.

Lateral thinking is an unconventional approach to problem solving that requires more of teachers and students than the conventional factory-school rote learning approach of a traditional childhood and university indoctrination. Since it requires effort and can lead to unpredictable (not politically correct) solutions, most teachers and schools of education avoid it like the plague. As a result, most students never know that lateral thinking exists as a powerful tool for solving sticky problems.

There are several multi-dimensional approaches to unconventional thinking and problem solving which are offered to Dangerous Children as they develop. Some of them are likely to prove useful and comfortable, and if so, the Dangerous Child takes them as his own.

Merging Waiting, Watching, and Thinking

The mind cannot ever do “nothing,” since if nothing else, the default mode network will take over. But it is far more useful, enjoyable, and productive for a person to ride the dynamic wave of awareness, if possible.

Rather than spending our waiting moments in daydreaming and mere anticipation of life, how much better it would be to use our prepared and competent minds to ride the waves of awareness to higher levels and unexpected destinations.

We never know what is coming. It is one thing to maintain a store of food, water, fuel for generators, spare parts for critical machines, weapons and ammunition, and hard money and trade goods. It is quite another thing to hone a mind that is ready to make the best use of all tools and all situations that may arise.

If you have to wait anyway, why not ride the wave while making preparations for dealing with the unexpected?

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too late to have a Dangerous Childhood.

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