Information competes for our conscious attention: the web of thoughts with the greatest activation is usually the one where we direct our attention. The calmer our mind, the fewer thoughts we generate in response to what happens in the world—and the greater the odds that intuition will speak to us.~ Chris Bailey from, https://alifeofproductivity.com/the-science-of-how-to-get-intuition-to-speak-to-you/
I’m not sure if I truly remember the following story, or if I simply heard it told so many times and subsequently retold it so many times that I believe I saw it first hand, but here it is in first person regardless.
Sitting in an enormous church service early one morning, two parents down front where having increasing difficulty with a precocious young child. With each noise, question, request, and pew kicking, the parents were taking turns playing the, “If you don’t be quiet…” game. The massive church was known by all to have a well-appointed “cry room” at the back complete with a view of the proceedings, amplified reproduction of the goings on, double-pane and mostly scream proof windows, games, rocking chairs and so forth. Meanwhile, in the main hall, everyone could hear the “if you don’t be quiet…” game escalate to defcon 5: “If you don’t be quiet, I’m taking you to the cry room.” The opposing forces countered with a volley of indignation at being forced to… “That’s it!” And the patriarch hoisted the youngster and performed the mandatory “excuse me pardon me excuse me…” incantation across the pew, and started up the aisle with a writhing 3-year-old in Sunday’s best. From the moment of hoisting, the winding-up siren of shock and horror got up to speed until said child was screaming. “I’LL BE QUIET! I’LL BE QUIET!!” The minister had paused, as the father strode briskly for the doors at the back. Hundreds of people sat silently as they passed through rear doors—the child’s screaming dropping instantly in volume as the door swung shut. “I’LL BE QUIET! I’LL BE QUIET! …i’ll be quiet!” At which point, as far as I could tell, everyone collectively giggled at the humor of it all.
While one part of my mind wants to be touring the facility and taking up slack, the petulant child is not to be taken on by main force. When it’s in the mood, the child part can be a source of great power and inspiration. (Apropos, the quote sticking up from the Little Box today reads: “Genius is the power of carrying the feelings of childhood into the powers of manhood.” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge) The inner-child mind has its own agenda and demands its outlets too.
Motivation will get you out the door, but it fades over time. A good book or podcast might give you the momentary impulse to take your first steps along a path, but when the road gets tough only discipline will keep you moving forward. ~ Dan Edwardes from, https://danedwardes.com/2020/11/17/motivation-is-temporary/
Edwardes is a well-known figure in the world of Parkour. He’s someone I’m proud to call a friend. A little over a year ago, I had a quiet, private, late-evening conversation about businesses and movement and Parkour and I’m pretty sure we touched on motivation. …or at least, I know motivation was something bouncing around in my head. Specifically: lack thereof. I’m not even sure that I realized that at the time, but it’s clear to me now.
At the time though, I definitely experienced a sort of ground-shifting sensation. I don’t generally fan-boy on Parkour people, and I’m pretty sure I never did that with respect to Edwardes. No, it was more like—something I’ve experienced on several occasions with Parkour luminaries—I was suddenly aware that I hadn’t been fawning [for years] over this person. No, here I was, once again, in a cool conversation with a fellow human. Being.
These days, I’m doubling-down on discipline and that quoted blog post and that conversation conspired to inspire me to make a fresh post.
Anyway. Dan Edwardes is someone you should hear of, and now you have. Check out his blog, or the best—call me biased—podcast interview of him, Dan Edwardes: Motivation, efficacy, and storytelling.
Oh— and no, that linked podcast is not the conversation I mentioned up top.
Draw Antonio, draw Antonio, draw and don’t waste time.~ Michelangelo
Yes, I do spend a lot of time chasing white rabbits down rabbit holes.
I cannot tell if that’s because diversity of experience and exploration is central to what it means to flourish as a human being, or if I’m simply the type of person for which that is true. Which case it is doesn’t really matter since I can only deeply relate to my personal experience of being. (Recall, I’m not trying to accomplish ‘change the world’ with this blog; Rather, I’m working on self-reflection here.)
Today, an example of a rabbit hole: I have a way of reading entire web sites, one page at a time—software that keeps track of an entire web site and feeds me “the next thing” to read each day. (Aside: If you want to pay to make this a commercial product, let me know.) Today a post from some author (I’m ommiting names) came up that referenced another author’s book which quotes Michelangelo… and it only took me a few minutes to dig around the internet to figure out the quote is correct (albeit translated from Italian) and the original source is in the British Museum. Note to self: See if I can find it next time I’m there. Along the way I found a few interesting things which I shared with some friends. Along the way I learned several new things.
Along the way.
I’m fond of the old adage, what was once your workout will eventually be your warmup. It captures the inevitability of progress if you simply put in your time. In the beginning, the time spent seems to surface an endless sequence of unknown-unknowns. Bottomless, rabbit holes appear and you have to go far too far down the first few to learn an important lesson about depth versus breadth of knowledge. Soon you begin to realize the beginner’s journey is more or less the same for everyone. You get a few wins under your belt. Someone ahead of you compliments your work. You help one of your peers. Then you help one of those farther ahead of you, and realize the distance you’ve come is farther than the distance between you. You feed increasingly off of the energy of your peer group, bouncing ideas and challenges around like a seasoned practitioner. You look around only to realize there are now a large number of newer people on the journey who are behind you. You’re struck by a deeply pleasant emotional vertigo. You remember running in the halls with your brand new friends full of energy, and you feel recharged and invigorated; You might no longer run in the halls—age appropriateness and all that—but the energy from those who do is absolutely contagious every time. You struggle to refrain from proclaiming, “wait until you see what’s next!” Instead, you redouble your efforts by dashing ahead, behind the scenes, around the next corner, or over the next hill, to help with the preparations. You realize—you apprehend—that you’ve gotten as much out of giving back to help with the process, than you did from going through the process that first time. The cycle repeats. The learning, the friendships, the accomplishments—and quite frankly the advancement of the entire human race—builds with each iteration.
So, when is the last time you started something as a beginner?
When is the last time you showed up a bright eyed and bushy tailed neophyte?
When is the last time you helped the others? Those behind you, those ahead of you, and those around you?
At worst, we apply a supernatural explanation to the whole show, because otherwise we’d have to recognize intelligence as a natural extension of the things that happen on a barren, unattended planet. For some reason we often insist nature couldn’t be that interesting or potent on its own. There has to be a super nature, to keep nature in its rightful, humble place. It makes us feel special I guess, maybe that’s why we don’t give nature the credit. We’re special either way, but we don’t need special rules to explain how we’re here. For that matter, we don’t necessarily need to explain ourselves to ourselves at all. Whatever happened, we got intelligent at some point, and that’s great. It’s okay to wonder aloud exactly how it happened, but clearly it did.
~ David Cain
Monism has never made sense to me. It’s interesting and I’ve spent a significant amount of time turning over its various flavors trying to understand others’ points of view. But, “that’s interesting,” is as far as I get.
When I face reality—thinking through mental models, comparing them to my personal experiences, talking to other people and listening to their experiences—I simply don’t see any deep mystery in life. Certainly, I see mind-bogglingly-huge expanses of things which are unknown (by me or anyone,) but that simply makes me more excited and more curious!
What confuses me is that the majority of people think differently, and I spend a lot of time talking to people as I try to understand how they think. I have only one point of view. I’m deeply fascinated by the universe around me and, in particular, by the conversations that come from me saying, “What does that bit of reality over there look like from your point of view?”