With billions and billions of people currently living on earth, or have lived on earth in the past, the chances of having a completely, totally unique thought are microscopic.
Occasionally, I have had what I thought might be a “unique thought.” I specifically make a point of stopping and telling myself (drumroll), “No one on earth has ever had that exact thought before.” However, here’s the clinker: I DON’T WRITE THEM DOWN. Then later, when I want to ponder the unique thought, I can remember that I noted the thought was unique, but can’t for the life of me remember what the unique thought was. (P.S. They’re not great thoughts—they’re just unique. That’s the only requirement. They do not have to be great.)
One night, I woke up at 2 a.m., shaken with a thought so profound that I forced myself to get out of bed, walk to the kitchen, find some paper, and write the thought down. In the morning, I found a piece of paper on the kitchen counter that had these words scrawled on it, “Secrets in the Attic/Skeletons in the Closet/A Body in the Basement.” I have no idea what it means. Is it the title of a book? Is it an intra-cranial ESP message from an extra-terrestrial creature? But for some reason, at 2 a.m., it seemed incredibly important that I remember it.
Once I was present when I was sure a completely unique thought was being uttered for the first time. We were driving Ryan and his friend Tank to the airport in Minneapolis after a fishing trip to Canada with Tom. After spending eight days working hard for their walleye, the young men decided that fishing for walleye is similar to fishing for cats. Those walleyes just do as they please. ‘Aha!’ I thought. ‘An original thought!’
When I congratulated them on their originality, Ryan argued that this wasn’t a completely original thought because there is a television commercial and an old saying about “herding cats,” but I still think it counts because their brains took another Y in the mental road and made the walleye comparison. Fishing for walleye is like fishing for cats . . . I like it. It might explain why there are so few packages of frozen walleyes—and cat fillets—in our freezer.