Parallel vs Serial: the Processor Smackdown

People can’t figure out how my mind works. Most people go about things one at a time, yet that’s never been me. My mind operates like a parallel processor, running an unlimited number of tracks at any given time, resulting in my extreme impatience with having to slow down to explain just one track. My siblings, certain friends, and I have seemingly incoherent conversations of fragments and gestures. This is due to the fact that each word, phrase, look, and micropexpression have reams of pages of possible meaning.

So how can we possibly understand one another? It’s all about context. To make up for the number of tracks running at the same time, there’s the constantly-running track of determining context. Unfortunately this can also result in paying attention to events, conversations, or objects that I actually don’t want to see. My brain is always on. I know where I am and my plan for the day as soon as I wake up, unless I’m extremely ill.

I rarely take down notes; instead my mind just tosses related ideas into a box or room together in my mental landscape. This creates the hilarious situation where I blank out whenever someone asks what I am thinking about. It is literally impossible to answer because I am thinking about so much during any given moment. There often isn’t any simple way to sum it up, and so I come across as incoherent or confused. Where many people insert details, I insert systems.

I suppose then you could say I have modal thinking. There are groups, even cities of thought and whenever I switch subjects it is because I have walked into a new room in my head. Each room contains associated thoughts and rules. I often find myself frustrated in conversations because the brakes come on frequently. I am powering ahead to the end point or already moving toward my next set of tracks when suddenly I must stop and explain the color of the wheel on the first train on the smallest track. That’s not to say there isn’t a time for that. I just make a terrible serial thinker.

Everything I enjoy, my philosophy, and even my deepest desires are parallel in nature. I have difficulty conceiving of “one-itis” because multiple paths are all I see. This is why I write braided stories, with many series happening concurrently. They appear unrelated and random to those who are serial thinkers. Perhaps that is why I am considered crazy. All of my settings predispose me to parallel, Mobius-strip thinking: being a lefty, being bipolar, a multi-tasker, and just generally being the opposite of what’s considered “normal” in many categories.

I suppose I can never fully appreciate the one true choice because I have always made bundle choices. It is my view of freedom, to operate in as many directions as possible as often as I can. Instead of walking the line, I am filling in a circle as I go. That is my natural state and unfortunately it is often held as a mark against me. I’m different in so many ways but that does not make me confused or wrong. Each of us has a unique capacity and some of us are serial processors and others are parallel processors.

What about you? Are you parallel, serial, or both? What communication issues have you had trying to discuss things with a person with the opposite processor?

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