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Column: Outside the (what?) box

Now and again someone, a reader, will ask me, “Where do you get your ideas? How do you decide what to write about?” I have learned to respond, “Why, I don’t really know,” but my true response is “What do you mean?” translated as in, “I don’t understand, they are what I think about?” or “I just write down my thoughts. Anyone can do that.”

It has taken me a lifetime to learn that not many people think the way I do, or perhaps some people are able to hide “it” better. The big “it” is that I think too much; I think about issues that other people do not think about, not ever. Is this a gift? Or a problem? The answer is -- that it is both a gift and a problem.

Thinking too much is a problem when it turns into worry. I worry about issues no one else worries about, which becomes another source of worry, leading to alarm. Examples? Oh, I can provide lots of examples. For instance, I worry about the environment. I worry about all the water and all the air that is trapped in the garbage we dispose of each week, to become permanently and irretrievably locked in a landfill. Will we eventually run out of air and water because it is all locked up in a landfill? How many people worry about that? Why isn’t everyone worried about that? That would be my question.

Ever since I had my first goldfish swimming in a half-gallon goldfish bowl, and I witnessed what happened to the crystal clear water after a few days, I cannot stop worrying about what the fish are doing to my drinking water. The water from that goldfish bowl was the most foul smelling sewer water, how could anyone ever drink that? Shall we move on to the newspaper on the bottom of the bird cage? This has been going on for eons, how can we live in such a polluted place? How long can this go on?

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