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Frederica, when pondering deeper questions, at what point do you stop "mulling it over" and decide where you stand?
Maybe I should start here: I’m a synesthete. Synesthesia involves sensing a crossover connection between two of the senses, and in my case, it’s that every letter of the alphabet connects with a specific color. (That’s the most common form of synesthesia; others might say organ music feels like a sunburn, or the color blue tastes like lasagna.) Growing up, I thought everyone knew that A is red, B is blue, etc., and I was very surprised to learn that they don’t.
I start there because my sense of when to stop mulling involves making an intuitive connection, like that one. Things link together and click. When I first start considering such a question, it will seem like the factors are tumbling over and over, maybe making connections but not forming a pattern. Often, it’s better to stop actively thinking about it and do something else. Maybe sleep on it. In time, when I go back to look at the question, I’ll find that it has fallen into a pattern, and the answer is clear.
Actually, we’ve all experienced synesthesia, because it’s what happens when we comprehend a metaphor. If someone says “He has a heart of stone,” we don’t have to sit down and figure it out. The two terms connect immediately. And that’s what happens for me, when I know it’s time to stop mulling.
I should add that, because I’m a Christian, there’s a further element. Most of the “deeper questions” have been common to the human race in all times and places, and believers everywhere have already pondered and resolved them. Where there is a historic consensus, I tend to let that guide me. I don’t have to figure everything out for myself, starting from scratch. It would actually be a terrible burden for a lone human being, with merely a lifetime of experience, to face questions of such great significance. I am grateful for the labor of Christians before me from every land in resolving such questions, and for the Holy Spirit who guided them.
Stu Leventhal is a Philadelphia consultant for restaurants, bars, and other companies in the hospitality industry. He is a graduate of the Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute and has authored several books on writing, marketing, and business management.