Lying to children

The first step in clearing your head is to realize how far you are from a neutral observer. When I left high school I was, I thought, a complete skeptic. I’d realized high school was crap. I thought I was ready to question everything I knew. But among the many other things I was ignorant of was how much debris there already was in my head. It’s not enough to consider your mind a blank slate. You have to consciously erase it.

~ Paul Graham from, http://www.paulgraham.com/lies.html

Sure, there are lies of expedience. (“What is thunder?” “It’s clouds bumping into each other.”) But it’s a water slide of lies when you start thinking about it. I know I never really thought about it; I certainly wouldn’t have expected a quick summary of the issues to be 5,000 words.

But there it is none the less, well done by Graham. It contains a litany of ways we all lie to children, (including those of us who don’t have or care for children in any way.) Frankly, some of the ways we all lie seem like an excellent thing to be doing. And if that’s the case, then we all have the we’ve-been-lied-to baggage Graham is describing.

Suddenly! (“It didn’t stop. It didn’t stop!”)

…I feel like I need to toss out the closets of my mind.

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What versus how

When you find yourself stuck on some decision, figure out if you are stuck on the ‘what’ or the ‘how’. Every situation is different, but here are some examples:

Thinking about marriage: You’re likely to be stuck on the ‘what’. Should I get married? Should I marry this person? You’re stuck on what should I do. If you decide to get married, it’s quite simple. You probably need a marriage license and a simple legal ceremony. The how you get married is almost always very easy.

Thinking about quitting college: You’re likely to be stuck on the ‘what’. Should I quit? Should I continue? How you quit is very easy; go to the Registrar’s office, and they’ll give you a form. (Actually, you could simply walk away and they’ll do the quitting for you.)

Thinking about changing jobs: You’re likely stuck on the ‘how’. I don’t like this job; I’d like that other career. Straightforward what I should do. But how do I do that? Existing family commitments, monetary support, contracts with your employer… So how you change jobs is hard.

Side hustles: I want to start a side-project working on my passion. How do I do that in my spare time? How do I create a business? How do I find some funding. Again, the what is easy and the how is hard.

It isn’t that being stuck on one versus the other is better or worse. But figuring out which you are stuck on—hopefully it’s one and not both—will clarify your thinking and will show you the type of help you should seek.

I know what I want to do, but I don’t know how to do it.

I don’t know what I want to do, but I know how to do it.

When you’re stuck, figure out where your “don’t” lies. Then figure out who you can ask for guidance to help you remove your “don’t” so you’re left with:

I know what I want to do, and I know how to do it.

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Mindless or mindful?

Have you noticed how often we all repeat what we say?

Too many people simply begin talking at another person, before having obtained their attention. This happens all the time! Once you start to notice it, it’s everywhere.

Too many people aren’t paying attention. Although, I suspect it’s partly in response to too many people [and computers and phones and our entire culture] clamoring for their attention, that they’ve stopped paying attention as a self-defense mechanism. Withholding attention shifts the default setting of how attention-getting something must be to actually get their attention.

Many years ago I made a house rule that we would not talk to each other unless we were in the same room. It took a long time until it became the norm in our house. No shouting from one room to another with a question, or an order. How often do things like, “Hey, could you…” travel from room to room in your home? The rule forces us, when I want your attention, to go to you. This puts some actual effort onto me, where it belongs. No one is permitted to call from the living room, “Hey, can you bring me…” when we both know full well we should get up and get it ourselves.

Settling into that rule was tough, but part two was far harder. The other side of the exchange. The person who is interrupted, even if it is ever so politely, by a demand for attention. Having reached a point where we each travel to the other, (the first part,) we then had to learn to treat the arriving person with respect, (the second part.) For example, when I’m knee-deep in computer work and she arrives, I had to learn to pause from my work and turn my full attention to this person who is vastly more important than anything happening in my computer. Frankly I’m still working on this.

So meta. She arrived to talk about something as I was typing this… ;)

…anyway.

After a few years of all of the above, I noticed my attention was becoming a much sharper tool in my interactions out in the world. Some of this was surely due to years of martial arts training, but much of the change was due to my intentional practice described above.

(Then I realized just how much of my attention my phone was demanding, and I fixed that shit right quick. Then I threw my participation in social networks under the bus.)

Now, I see countless examples of mindlessness any time I venture out into the regular world. But I also see examples of mindfulness. They’re not as common, but some people I encounter are awake. Some people I encounter are interested and interesting. Some people’s presence make the immediate area a better place.

Which are you, mindless or mindful?

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The calling of what could be

The best way I can describe it is a “calling.” I see something—something being done in an inefficient way, a question asked, a powerful tool not being used—and I see possibilities. Ways to combine things, to expand things, or a small bit of connection that would make two things vastly more powerful. It’s a flash of opportunity.

The urge to drop whatever it is that I’m currently doing, and jump on the new opportunity is irresistible. Not quite absolutely irresistible, but it’s close. I don’t get distracted so much by things, but rather by the opportunity for me to take some action to create, integrate, combine, smash and rebuild better, rearrange and permute. Oh yes, it’s a calling. It’s almost an addiction.

Actually, maybe it is an addiction. An addiction to action?

Certainly, I’m biased towards action. That’s a good thing. As an agent—emotional too of course, but as a being who has agency—being biased towards action is a necessary component of being able to consistently affect the world.

However, I’ve come to believe that there’s such a thing as too much action. It’s completely possible, (exhibit ‘A’, me,) to attempt too much action, to do too much, and to lose oneself in a flurry of activity. I’m beginning to suspect that, now that I’m a master of taking action, I need to work on assessing leverage. Feel a calling? How much leverage would that action generate? How much good/benefit/creation/change would that action generate? How, as it were, does it multiply the actions of others?

That might be a theme for 2020: How much does it multiply?

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If you do not know

The world will ask you who you are, and if you do not know, the world will tell you.

~ Carl Jung

§18 – Start where you are

(Part 30 of 37 in Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

The magic of confirmation bias is that everything I encounter seems to apply to the current situation. I incessantly, and to a fault, seek meaning. Not “what is the meaning of life” meaning, but explanations and reasons and plans and systems… all as a means to manipulating the universe around me.

Chapter 18 is the heaviest so far in the book. (I’ve read it many times now of course.) Whereas the previous chapters select a single idea that one readily finds within parkour/ADD, and unpacks it, this chapter points out that there is a large body of work and a vast shared human experience outside of parkour/ADD. Taking some hints from that outside space and bringing them back into one’s parkour/ADD practice, and into one’s life in general, can only benefit those of us on the path.

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Think for oneself

A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.

~ Oscar Wilde

Time is slipping

Thank you for giving me a few moments of your time.

Every moment—well, minus the 1/3 of my life when I’m horizontal and unconscious—I have the power to exercise my free will to decide what to do with my time. Since you are on the Internet, you likely also have this power and freedom. (Many people do not.)

Which moments do I regret? The ones where my choices were not intentional. Moments where I was habitual. Moments where I was reactive.

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Raw material

Just as the nature of rational things has given to each person their rational powers, so it also gives us this power – Just as nature turns to its own purpose any obstacle or any opposition, sets its place in the destined order, and co-ops it, so every rational person can convert any obstacle into the raw material for their own purpose.

~ Marcus Aurelius