0531 – do things for placebo purposes

(Started in Oct 2015)

I just downloaded an app called Byword and I’m using it to write right now. It cost me $15. Part of why I did it I think is because I’ve been reflecting on the idea of the power of placebos. Was reading a Nature article about how some experiment or trial for painkillers was thwarted because the people who were receiving the placebo reported feeling much better too. Is it really a sham treatment if people are actually feeling better?

So I figure that it makes sense to try doing things that have placebo value. For instance, when I was in NS, I racked up a $30+ library fine. I had borrowed a bunch of books and kept them for a really long time. I had also bought lots of books from the library book sale, so I ended up having more books than I’m ever going to be able to read. So it seemed like I was never going to borrow books from the library again. $30 then was almost 10% of my monthly income or allowance as a citizen soldier, and it seemed wasteful to spend that kind of money at the time on something that wasn’t going to have a material impact on my life. So I didn’t.

But so, as a sort of unintended side-effect, at the back of my mind, I’ve always been a person who hasn’t paid his library fine. It’s just another data point that tells me that I’m an irresponsible person, someone who doesn’t fulfill his obligations. That becomes part of the narrative that I’ve been telling myself, and something I’m going to make a more conscientious effort to break from. So part of that means paying my library fine, which I just did. And it does feel good. I don’t know if it feels extra good because I’m extra aware of this whole placebo thing right now, but whatever. I’ll just keep moving.

Decision-point: I originally sat down to write my shower thoughts, but then I paused momentarily and decided to do my writing on something a little more luxurious, and so I got byword and ended up writing the above. Do I now switch to what I wanted to write, or do I find something that allows me to continue this train? I think I should do the latter. That’s actually the central idea of… well, having central ideas. I think I should get better at spending entire vomits sticking to a single topic or idea. This is mainly so that individual vomits are more useful to me in the future when I look back.

So, the line of action for this word vomit is now decided– it’s about placebos and changing internalized narratives. Paying $15 for a writing app (and it seems to be working out pretty nicely so far, but maybe I’m just rationalizing– but that’s fine, that’s totally okay, that works!) is part of me doubling down on my self-image and narrative as a writer. Paying off my library fine is part of me redefining my image as a person who is trustworthy, reliable, pays off his debts. That’s a good thing.

Pause. I actually stopped writing this vomit back in October last year. I’ve grown to think that a lot of the time it’s not worth finishing old vomits, but that’s assuming I can’t quite capture the original train of thought. But this one I think I can recover from.

The idea is that there are placebo purposes that are worth investing in. What other things can I do? One of it was to keep track of my workouts in a spreadsheet. Initially I decided that it wasn’t even necessary to really keep track of them– just hit the gym as often as possible. But I did keep track in a notebook anyway since it was so little effort. Then I transcribed those notes into an app, and now I have it in a spreadsheet too. The good thing about that is now I can measure my 1 rep max and my 5 rep max, as well as the total amount of weight I lift in each gym session. As long as I keep increasing those 3 numbers, I know that I’m making progress and getting stronger. That’s very powerful stuff even though “technically nothing is new or different”. That’s marketing, in a sense. That’s adding a narrative that makes sense to me.

What else? I’m now over halfway through this word vomit project and I’m starting to feel a little lost and confused. I feel like I’ve been repeating myself a lot, which I recognize is a part of the process, but I also feel like I don’t really know why I’m doing this anymore, or what it’s for. A part of me deals with that by funneling my energy into fleshing out my main blog, which is now turning into a sort of wiki repository of thoughts and links, based on keywords that I can think of. I like the idea and I think I’m going to continue that. But I still want to keep writing word vomits just to keep the momentum going. So I need to find a new purpose.

So, Visa. You know that you want to complete this project. You have 470,000 words to go, 470 sessions of 1000 words each. What do you want to with it? Well, I want to meditate on very specific things so that I can connect the dots later. I want things to be more modular. In my earlier vomits I was trying to say too many things in each vomit, which made each vomit less useful in a broader context. Okay. So I’ll just… write vomits based on the simplest possible phrases and ideas, or the smallest possible phrases and ideas. Will that work? I don’t know yet. I’ll start with the keywords on /blog/ and see how that plays out.

Anything else? I’m going to keep working out. I want to sleep and wake early but that isn’t going so well. Never mind that for now then. I’ll just keep working out, keep writing, and keep doing work. The sleep thing I’ll keep paying attention to and see how it goes. I’ll keep doing weekly reviews. It won’t sort itself out by itself, but I think I can work on it from the side. We’ll see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *