0268 – see through the circus and focus on the fundamentals

Before I get to work I just wanted to write a quick reminder (heh, 1000 words as quickly as possible– starting time, 11:38am) to myself about dealing with the circus. That is, the media circus, the identity performance circus, the place where everything is happening all the time, all at once, and everything is crazy, dystopian, absurd, unfulfilling, messy. All at once. It’s good and bad, upside down and inside out, all at once. And it often makes me queasy. Sometimes I get to enjoy the upside, and I don’t appreciate or remember those moments as often as I should, as much as I should. It’s kind of like when you go to the the bus stop or the train station, and the bus or train pulls in right as you got there. I don’t remember the wait that you didn’t have. Instead I start worrying about the next thing– what’s going on at work, what am I having for lunch, what will I do when I get home, how am I going to cope with everything, how am I going to distract myself, all of those things.

So some quick reminders–

1– Be grateful and remember the good times. I just had a really nice holiday, and I was just swimming with whale sharks 3-4 days ago! Those big wonderful creatures. I got to see lovely beaches, enjoy refreshing highland winds. And today I was blessed with an empty train, which allowed me to write the vomit that I wrote earlier.

2– When I encounter bad times, things that frustrate and annoy me, I should make art out of it. (Thanks, Gaiman.) I should write. When I see things that frustrate and annoy me, I should write– and not write angry comments on social media, directly assaulting someone else for having their opinion. That’s sad and small, and everybody’s worse off for it. And that’s not who I want to be. Rather, I ought to come here– come to my writing and write for myself. That’s what Ray Bradbury did, and I think he had a good life. He turned out okay. If I get to be a little bit like Ray Bradbury, I think I’ll be alright.

As long as I’m writing everyday, as long as I have this output, I get to enjoy my life as I’m in it. I get to keep going. I get to keep smiling. Just as the body needs some exercise and exhaustion in order to feel satisfied– some sweat, some elevated heartbeat, some endorphins– it feels like my mind needs some strenuous exertion. Acute, not chronic. One quick, sharp execution. Lots of data pouring out all at once. And then I can take a short break and catch my breath. And I can start over.

Ultimately the intent is to be happy IN my life, not just WITH it. And to do that I need to have gotten stuff done. I need to cut ropes, break things open, and really feel like I’m breathing deeply into the good stuff. Once I do that, I don’t have to be annoyed or frustrated with other people’s nonsense. I know that it may or may not be nonsense, and one of the things that bothers me about my frustration is that I don’t even know if it’s justified. There’s always a chance that I could be entirely wrong, that I’m missing things, that I’m the alien in the world that makes sense. But I think there have been quite a lot of smart, hardworking people who’ve discerned that the world is pretty freaking crazy.

So I need to know how to operate in a crazy world. This is what this vomit is about. How do I figure out how to operate in a crazy world? I will not be able to protect myself against crazy, and I’d like to occasionally enjoy good crazy so I can’t entirely be cloistered. I know that I don’t need a perfect one-size-fits-all solution that works for the rest of my life, for all possible things. That’s kind of ridiculous. But there are first principles that make sense, that allow us to think about what to do. And I’m sure all of this is stuff that wise folks have been figuring out for thousands of years. Benjamin Franklin clearly understood it. Seneca clearly understood it. I’ve done quite a bit of that reading, I think, and I accept the validity of their statements– I nod my head as I read them. But I haven’t yet figured out how to put them into practice.

Ah, implementation. Wrote about this with the adoption of Esperanto. Knowing the name of a thing, and accepting the validity of the idea of a thing, is a whole other beast from figuring out how to make it work, how to get yourself to actually go ahead with it. The lady who draws Hyperbole and a Half is really smart, and she wasn’t able to do it. Tim Urban is clearly really smart too, and he also talks about how he struggles to do it. Clearly, doing is a sort of intelligence that is quite substantially different from knowing. Know-how is different from know-what.

Okay. So this bird needs to learn how to fly instead of trying to learn how to lecture on aerodynamics. The first steps are always to pay attention to actual flight. What is flight for me, and what is the aerodynamics lecture? And how do I focus on the flight? And how do I measure the flight? And what does the flight tell me? For me I suppose it’s writing– for my personal life. And for work… it seems like I still haven’t entirely fleshed that stuff out. I’ve been procrastinating the whole time. And I will probably continue to procrastinate, as painful and suboptimal as that sounds. The point is to make progress. Each thing published is progress. I just need to do debriefs and lessons learned. I didn’t do a debrief last night. So I’ll quickly do that now, in my notebook. And then it’s lunch, and work.

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