Deep thoughts

Alison Berkley

I spent the better part of the day last Saturday lying on my friend’s raft bobbing down the Roaring Fork River. I didn’t have to do anything except hold on tight through the rapids and fish beers out of the cooler when our captain requested them and that’s only because I was sitting on top of it. He manned our ship with quiet confidence, wearing a big straw hat that made everything look like a scene from a postcard picture – a symbol of leisure, the laziness of a summer day.Through the mellower sections, I’d lie on my back with my feet dangling in the icy water and watch the world float by. Red sand hills marched proudly past, dressed in dark pine trees spotted with mint-green spruce bushes. Light flickered through the leaves of endless willows, flashes of light spotting my vision like an old home movie. As the day drifted by, the hue of the sky continued to deepen to an electric shade of blue, intensified by the heat of the afternoon sun. Normally we think of “hot” colors as orange, pink and red. But lying on that raft changed my perception of the world for those few hours in the most remarkable way. (OK, so maybe I was a little bit stoned but that is so beside the point.) I don’t know if it was the simple act of slowing down and surrendering my pace to the river’s current. Of just letting the world pass by instead of rushing through it, focused on the journey instead of the destination. (Oh God, you know when I start sentences with prepositions and begin talking in clichés that I’ve totally lost it.)This is the kind of stuff I’ve been thinking about lately, an abrupt departure from my standard obsessions with boys and clothes. You could say I’m going through a bit of a philosophical stage. I had my cable turned off and started filling my evenings with reading and writing and the occasional DVD instead of watching reruns of “Friends” on TBS. I seriously don’t know what’s wrong with me. All I need to complete the look is a pair of dark-rimmed glasses, a smoking jacket and maybe some semblance to a life. It all started when I picked up this book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell in Moab. We were at one of those café/bookstore-type places where you end up buying stuff you normally wouldn’t because you’re all strung out on coffee and more excitable than usual.”Blink” is all about our first impressions being our most accurate gauge in decision-making. This Gladwell guy, a staff writer for The New Yorker, rattles off one example after another about how we know the answer to most things in a matter of seconds, or with the blink of an eye. Further analysis only increases our chances of getting it wrong, because it allows our emotions to seep in and cloud our abilities to use our intuition. He talks about “the power of thinking without thinking” which is what I’ve been doing my whole life anyway, so it should work out well for me.I can think of example after example in my own life when I “just knew.” Like, I just knew when I took that job as a waitress that I was going to get fired (I just didn’t expect it to happen on the first day). I just knew I should never rely on a man who has more pairs of designer jeans than I do for anything other than fashion advice. And I definitely knew it was a bad idea to do a shot of tequila at last call, but in that case, I was drunk and my vision was way too blurry to see much of anything, never mind with the blink of an eye.Gladwell writes about this one psychologist who could predict if a married couple would make it after watching them interact for 30 seconds. When I think about the relationships in my life that were a disaster, I definitely knew in less than a minute it would probably go that way, but pursued it anyway because of my will, my desire to make it different. It was all about “I want” and had nothing to do with “I know.” Looking back, I think the red flag in all those cases was trying to change who I was in some way to appease or please another person (On that note, I have three words of advice for Katie Holmes: Scientology. Bad. Idea.).Then I watched “What The Bleep Do We Know?” on DVD because my friend Sarah kept telling me I should see it. I was like, whatever, there’s not one cool celeb in this whole flick. If I’m going to stay home and watch a movie by myself, I want Owen Wilson, damnit! But I have to admit the whole idea of quantum physics kind of got to me, so I watched it again, but this time I took notes. Then I totally geeked out and went to the website ( to research further reading, and the next thing you know I’m on Amazon ordering books instead of skin products and pondering the concept of reality. While Gladwell is talking about relying on the subconscious to tell us what’s true, this movie is saying truth and reality are a totally subjective experience based on the way we perceive it. All of a sudden I’m sitting around my condo at night staring at the ceiling and wondering what it all means. Have I gone from hapless party girl to hopeless armchair intellectual? Am I getting old? Boring? Maybe my dog isn’t providing stimulating enough conversation? Or maybe I need to spend more time just rolling down the river.The Princess realizes she probably should not smoke pot. E-mail your deep thoughts to