Friday, June 24, 2016

Critical Thinking

Its not easy to solve complex situations. One of the subjects I researched while I wrote my books was critical thinking, what it is, where it originated, and how people use it to resolve unforeseen problems.  Not that I've had to face anything as serious as what I imagined for my characters in my stories - but certainly I've had a few smaller experiences that enlisted a series of critical thinking practices. An example that comes to mind was a few years ago when I was traveling to New York on my way to catch another flight across the Atlantic ocean when everything was in perfect order. My flight time was impeccable, my layover was short and I had checked in one bag, busy exploring the airport. Watching the time, everything was going smoothly — perhaps too smoothly— so I had started to get edgy but what could go wrong? Whenever things are good I worry about what could go wrong - but maybe it's how who human brain is works after 200,000 years of avoiding predators. I shrugged off the feeling and complacently explored a book store looking forward to my trip, and then something went wrong — an unforeseen problem.

On the other end of my phone now, is my brother-in-law explaining that he can't move his car because I've blocked it with mine, ( my car is in Florida in his driveway) and he is unable to find my car key anywhere to move it - so he can get to work. I grip the phone. How could such a simple thing go awry?  I had left my car in their driveway, to save on airport parking fees - the usual plan.  My sister drove me to the airport. Nothing to think of really. She thought she had a copy of my car key – she thought – but as it turns out, she didn't. They are in Florida and I am certainly not – ready to leave the country for two weeks. He calmly asks, but yet I sense a panicked tone in his voice - if can overnight my car key? A simple situation, and certainly not the worst, but a critical problem none the less. Due to time and circumstances, I navigate my way through the airport looking for one thing. A post office! But don't ever waste your time looking for one from inside JFK, you won't find it much less a a padded envelope or a postage stamp.

It seems limitations are going to frustrate me as I go around in circles but time is at hand. Sighing I return to security where moments ago I removed my shoes, my belt, all electronics and so on, and underwent scanning. I am annoyed but realize I need to find a way. Frustrated, but thinking of my brother in law who takes matters into his own hands, if you don't —  well just then a friendly security guard told me there is a system there to mail things out. A UPS mailbox does exist at a checkpoint for passengers to mail themselves items that airport security can't let through. Yes there is a solution :)

A little creativity was needed to pull it off, so I purchase the thickest card and envelope I could find, slipped the car key inside with a note, and addressed it to my MIB. Inconvenient as it was,  I sent the key. I think the postage stamp was inside a coin machine. Maybe things have changed for mailing something at JFK since then, but navigating the most unlikely and somewhat humorous of problems like this can also be a hassle. I made my flight by the way with a few seconds to spare.After all that, when I arrived in Europe and called them be sure my key arrived intact, they did in fact find their original copy of my car key...

(The term critical thinking, is believed to be western in origination (Grk. κριτικός = kritikos = "critic") derives from the word critic is the intellectual capacity and the means "of judging", "of judgement", "for judging", and of being "able to discern)