29 November 2011

Finding Yourself: Every Day

(A continuation of Finding Yourself: The Journey of Self-Discovery)

Bearing in mind that a life crisis is not about the most recent collection of experiences but about the expanse of small details processed previously, brings a moment of pause: if a life crisis is not resultant of a singular experience but from a myriad of previous experiences then perhaps instead of focusing on avoiding the singular we should focus on maintaining consistency in the myriad of choices we are confronted with every day. If we are able to shift our focus from avoiding the inevitable great tragedy to avoiding the hundreds, if not thousands, of minor choices that make the great tragedy inevitable then we can avoid the tragedy altogether.

This process of maintenance will allow us to gradually expand our perceptions so that they become elastic and thus adaptive to whatever life has to throw at us. While elasticity may not be easy to maintain, modification of our personal mantras to include this adaptable line of thinking will improve our personal flexibility. Further improvement of our personal flexibility can be gained as we shift our living references from a vast collection of tracked items to a smaller, more streamlined collection of what is most important to us. That is, instead of trying to follow and maintain contact with a plethora of objects, emotions or persons, we can focus on tracking highly important overriding goals and purposes.

Please allow a moment of clarification about the difference between “important” and “truly important,” most notably the use of the word “truly”: truly, used here, means: “in general alignment with the highest sense of truth as opposed to things that might seem true but really are not.” The distinction between the highest sense of truth and things that might seem to be, but are not, can be difficult to detect on the small, individual choice scale discussed earlier but when concerted effort is applied to distinguishing between the two an individual can often bring clarity to the choice of what is important and what is truly important. For example, after careful consideration one may determine that while money is important, housing is truly important. Or, that while food is important, closeness to family is truly important.

The process of distinguishing between important and truly important items might seem trivial, but it is critical to reducing the number of life references one has to track. Instead of needing to track every possible venue of generating money, the important task, one can track the single need of housing, the truly important task. When the principle is applied broadly across a whole life, encompassing all life references, the resulting consolidation can lead to extreme simplification.

As the number of life references is reduced so too can the effort used to track the references and the general overall cognitive processing power be reduced. Coupled with the reduction of references and the related liberation of processing power comes a freeing of the self from the mundane; instead of needing to figure out and understand a broad variety of things with exacting detail, one need only to understand a general concept and allow for the inherent flexibility in that concept to guide the decision making process.

This ability to broaden the scope of focus while reducing the number of items and the related details needed to manage an experience is critical to the freeing of cognitive power for the processing and expansion of faculties. Remember that a life crisis is caused by our experiences outstripping and outpacing our current capabilities. The liberation of processing power means that one will have additional power with which to better handle the broad flood of experiences that would otherwise overwhelm and force the maintaining of a crisis management mode.

Letting go of the mundane can be hard. We are trained from our earliest years to track, follow and monitor mundane tasks and they are presented as if they were of great worth. In many cases, indeed, in most cases, this is simply not true. Most things that we are taught to track are of little consequence. Most things we are taught to follow are simply illusions. Most things that we are taught to monitor and manmade rhythms, that while enchanting, offer little in the form of substance, especially substance of significance. Things that can be particularly hard to let go of include things that we worked hard to obtain, usually in the form of monetary reward for effort. The more expensive an item is the more care we usually give to the item. However, if the release of these burdening processes can be successfully accomplished, the mind will have added capacity to handle the new experiences of life and thus live life in a more enjoyable manner.

27 November 2011

Teachers: Methodical and Pedantic flavors

I find it interesting that teachers often teach in such a methodical and pedantic manors so as to eliminate most of the organic attributes of a lesson. Additionally, they make a strong effort to point out that they have a formally organized lesson and even though pupils respond to questions the teacher usually endeavors to make it clear that they, the teacher, had already thought of the response and planned to take the routes necessary to address the point thoroughly.

I prefer, and indeed strive to teach as such, to allow for the lesson to grow and develop organically. Instead of deciding what will and all not be discussed, teachers should try to become facilitator of a broad group discussion. In this way, much of the burden of teaching is distributed in a manner that allows for the lesson--and the students--to grow naturally.

I suppose this method is less favorable because it does not allow the teacher to pontificate and thus demonstrate the instructor's amassed knowledge and "wisdom." The strong reality is that the ability to lecture to a captive audience is nothing compared to the ability to foster an ever developing discussion in a way that captures the imagination and interest of its participants. Further, the organic discussion allows for a level of flexibility in the lesson content that the lesson can be molded, viz a via the discussion, to perfectly match the desires and interests of the group. (But, I guess all of that requires the extra effort of the teacher to know the students well enough to know what they want and are interested in.)

16 November 2011

"The Velocity of Honey: And More Science of Everyday Life" by Jay Ingram

A collection of scientific explanations of things we experience every day but do not usually things much about. Things like a drip of honey, why toast lands buttered side down, why leaves change colors in the fall and why people react negatively when a stranger was starring at them. Ingram is careful to explain the science well enough that a layman can understand it but not so deeply that it feels like a science class.

Interesting tidbit: A drip of honey, as far as we can tell (even looking at the microscopic level), never actually disconnects from the source of the dripping. In fine pictures taken of the process, there is still a thin strand of honey (invisible to the eye) that attaches the drip.

15 November 2011

Each Generation Building...

A snippet from an essay about the importance of remember. I thought it astounding how quickly the preservation of information has increased as time marches on: 

The great scholars of Rome and Greece were made possible by the recording of ideas and thoughts on papyrus, a substantially more portal system of recording than stone or wooden tablets. The development of “printing” around 200 CE greatly aided the expansion and standardization of religion across the world. When moveable type arrived some 800 years later, cumulative knowledge again surged forward. Moveable type was greatly enhanced by the printing press 400 years later which led to a surge of relatively inexpensive printed knowledge. Presses evolve tremendously in the next 450 years until they finally gave way to automated printing which allowed knowledge to be printed almost instantly without the need to laboriously set the type or manage a full scale press. Finally, in the past 50 years, aided by the personal computer revolution, knowledge is ever more frequently contained within electronic means that are instantly distributable across the world by anyone with a personal computer. Indeed, it can be said that for the first time in the history of the world, a truly global and nearly universal body of knowledge can be assessed.

11 November 2011

"The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales" by Oliver Sacks

A fun collection of bizarre medical (and mostly psychological) experiences Sacks had while practicing medicine. While few of these tails were of actual benefit to me, it was interesting to see how power the mind can be.

Interesting tidbit: Sacks' tale for which the book is named after is one where the man, a brilliant music instructor, can no longer identify patterns but only disconnected attributes (i.e. he can see the nose, eyes and mouth but no longer recognizes an face). He is still able to correctly identify his students by their body movements or "body music" as he calls it.

08 November 2011

"A New Kind of Science" by Stephen Wolfram

This was a huge book, and in all honesty I only skimmed it. Wolfram talks about the power of building simple systems. Systems so basic that they range from 1 to 256 "rules" along the lines of "when these two things are together then do this." Even with these very basic rules (especially in computer terms) he was able to build highly complex layouts, patterns and systems. He continues by identifying how this is the way that nature generally works: a very basic "rule" set leads to very complex systems (think of weather patterns, the inner workings of a star, etc).

Interesting tidbit: twisted rope (the form of rope we generally use today) has been around since at least 3000 BC. Crazy fact to find in a math book.

07 November 2011

What Accountants do for Arts and Crafts time

Some people might wonder what Accountants do for Arts and Crafts time in school. After all, it only takes a couple of minutes to calculate the number of color combinations that are possible with red, blue and yellow (there are 6). Accountants, contrary to popular belief, can be exciting people and though they might eagerly dive into figure painting like everyone else, they can still produce art pieces. For example, the following exhibit is a flow chart I made for work to depict our original order processing flow. The chart is now six years old and horribly out of date but still an example of Accounting art:

It made the Accountants giddy to see. And yes, every color and shape indicates a particular department or process types (go figure, the Accountants even turned art into a science).