Read this and subsequent entries on this topic because its discusses one of the most significant shifts in my life.
MULLPronunciation: \ˈməl\Function: verbEtymology: Middle English, from mul, mol dust, probably from Middle Dutch; akin to Old English melu meal — more at mealDate: 15th centurytransitive verb1 : to grind or mix thoroughly : pulverize2 : to consider at length : ponder —often used with overintransitive verb: meditate, ponder
Main Entry: 1mull Pronunciation: \ˈməl\Function: verbEtymology: Middle English, from mul, mol dust, probably from Middle Dutch; akin to Old English melu meal — more at mealDate: 15th centurytransitive verb1 : to grind or mix thoroughly : pulverize2 : to consider at length : ponder —often used with overintransitive verb: meditate, ponder
Pronunciation: \ˈməl\Function: verbEtymology: Middle English, from mul, mol dust, probably from Middle Dutch; akin to Old English melu meal — more at mealDate: 15th centurytransitive verb1 : to grind or mix thoroughly : pulverize2 : to consider at length : ponder —often used with overintransitive verb: meditate, ponder
Do you mull? How often do you mull? Can you describe what happens when you mull? How effective is your mulling?
Here’s how I describe mulling: when there’s something in your mind that you need to work out — a tension, a bad emotion, a difficult problem a complex circumstance… and you have to work it out by thinking about it, wondering about it. You replay conversations in your head. You fantasize. You think about all the things you COULD have said, COULD have done to improve your fortunes. This makes sense, right?
Do you want to know something absolutely freaking crazy?
I don’t think I ever did much mulling until I left college. Does that not sound earth shattering to you?
If not, you need to understand the mind of a flaming extrovert. You see, it seems very normal to say expressions like:
- “Let me sleep on that”
- “I’ll need to think it over”
- “I need a few days”
- “Chew on that for a while”
Well, would hardly mean anything to me. If I’d say “I need to think it over” — it would just mean, “let’s delay making the decision until a later date. Tell me when I should make a spontaneous, quasi intuitive decision completely in the moment, thank you very much.”
When most people say mulling, there is an image that you have a some kind of tangled knot in your mind and somehow thinking about it untangles it. Or you have a hard piece of meat that you need to marinate before it can be digestible and/or delicious.
This is not the mind of an extrovert… especially one of my variety.
My mind is more like this:
You see, the mind of an extrovert is not a tangled knot to be solved by critical thinking or a hardened steak to be softened with time, energy and delicious juices, but rather a furious raging tornado that consumes all and cannot be tamed. For a “normal” mind, you would have questions that need answers, tensions that need perspective, etc. But the tasmanian mind has a will of its own — sure, the questions, tensions are there, but also in the picture are random scenes, songs, things from childhood… all swirling around like a rabid beast. The beast will consume things as it swirls around, but try to get something out? You’ll lose your hand!
So mulling doesn’t always work quite well… because if anything, I come face-to-face with the monster.
Let me give a quick example of how this works with a very significant decision: going to college. There are a lot of things that SHOULD have happened in a health decision making process for college: researching programs, coming up with lists, top choices, rankings, prayer, advice… all really really good. And sure I did all these things and they factored in my decision, but can I tell you the single most important factor?
A fun, late-night conversation. I was a senior in high school visiting the campus not expecting much since it was right in my backyard. But my host and her group of friends took me out to dinner and we ended up staying up until 3 in the morning talking. I have absolutely NO recollection what we talked about, but I do remember thinking, “MAN THIS IS SO FUN. MAN THIS IS SO INTERESTING.” and exclaiming something to myself along the lines of “YAYY!”
After that night, something inside of me knew I wanted to go to Northwestern. That was my decision making process. No late night agonizing. No stressful head scratching. (I realize I could be creating an idilic revisionist memory here… but I’m pretty sure its not). The point is, even if I wanted to mull over such an important decision, I lacked the internal tools to do so. And frankly, I didn’t really need to do so, I just did what “felt” right… what spoke to my soul.
Now don’t get me wrong, as crazy as my decision making process (or lackthereof) was for college, I don’t regret it. In fact, going to Northwestern was one of the best decisions of my life. Furthermore, I do think God was present in my decision making. And most of my decisions at this point have been made in a similar process, including, i might add, my decision to become a Christian (an issue to be discussed at a later date). And as crappy of a process each was, only a few do I genuinely regret and wish I could take back.
The issue at stake: rabid tasmanian devils terrorizing society
Now my life up to this point has been fine-and-dandy with my tasmanian mind controlling things. Anybody who meets me for a few hours can describe who i am: in-the-moment, go-with-the-flow, spontaneous type person… I don’t care for details or logic, I just want to do what’s exciting and aligns with my deeply seeded passions. That has served me well until the past few years, when life got so complex and challenging. My previous decision-making process stopped serving me well and I’ve decided that I need to somehow, learn to Mull. But this has been quite challenging.
In the next entry, I want to catalogue the slow process of taming the tasmanian mind, breaking him and forcing him to mull over things to make healthy, thoughtful, intentional decisions. I also want to talk more about why I think this is perhaps one of the most important issues when it relates to doing campus ministry.
Some things I’m thinking about (also to help me remember when I write the next entry):
- Being able to identify emotions quickly
- internal processing vs. external processing
- how processing relates to spiritual disciplines
- How community helps and hinders this process
- My recent passionate desire to try process and debrief EVERYTHING
- Different levels of the mind, conscious and subconscious… why im perhaps becoming more freudian
- How being Korean affects all of this….
- What the mind retains in the consciousness and what dissolves into the subconscious
- Sifting through the swirling random thoughts of the inner mind to discover the deeper desires of my heart
- How all this crazy stuff has permanently altered my relationship with Christ and my paradigms for ministry
*Addendum: just to let you know, entries such as these are just as much for me as they are for public consumption. I’ve found blogging, while at times exhibitionist and self-promoting, can be very helpful for me as I try to process things. I believe its a happy middle between internal processing and external processing, between trying to sort out these issues in utter solitude and having intense conversations with others. This in and of itself can and should be another entry entitled, “Why I blog- the healthy and good reasons, and the nefarious temptations.”