October 31, 2007

It is only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning.

– P. D. Ouspensky

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October 30, 2007

Writing is the doing part of thinking.

– Glenn Dietzel

October 28, 2007

Living is an art, a skill, a technique. Few understand it to be so, though having lived for decades in the world. However, you need to learn and practise the technique of living. Just as you would for playing a musical instrument or flying an aircraft.

The world today is unaware of this process of learning. It is not taught in school or university. Nor in moral or religious institution. Thus people go through a mechanical way of living merely following a routine of their predecessors. They lack this fundamental knowledge of living. And have become victims of stress and strain.

– A. Parthasarathy

October 26, 2007

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swatch and shave close, to drive life into a corner and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it or if it were sublime to know it by experience and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

– Henry David Thoreau from Walden

October 26, 2007

the personality has a very limited perspective. sometimes that’s fun -even useful. most times it’s a liability. you want the OPTION. if you can’t choose it, if you can’t leave it, it’s going to make you its Bitch.

– Stuart Davis

On Spending vs. Circulating

Why do we say we “spend” money?

That’s insane. “To spend” means “to use up” or “to wear out; exhaust.” It’s totally linear and pays no attention to the beautiful ecology of circulating money.

I don’t know about you, but when I buy a meal at a restaurant or buy a pair of tennis shoes or a new tire for my car, or whatever, I see the INCREDIBLY interconnected ecology of human beings that went into that simple purchase.

Pull the thread from any one of the components of a recent purchase and look at it. Let’s say you go out to eat. So, how’d that soup spoon get there? There are so many connections in that one object, it’s mind-boggling. Let’s give thanks to the person who set it on the table (as well as the person who made the table) and the person who bought it for the restaurant and the person who made the machine that made it and the person who packaged it up and the person who shipped it to the restaurant and the person who built the truck they drove and the person who built the stoplight and fixed the pothole and … and …. and…

That ONE item touched a remarkable number of people.

And what about everything else that went into that evening out?

Staggering.

It’s an infinite interconnected loop and if we took it far enough, that ONE meal comes pretty damn close to touching every person in the world.

So, I joyfully participate in that process with a huge amount of gratitude. And, I think we should call it “circulating” money from now on. :)

Ahem.

– Brian Johnson

And on that note, I need to stop ‘circulating’ so much money. I keep having the urge to buy things that I ‘need.’ Like this nifty little hard drive that’s ONLY $65.00!

The problem is, I don’t really have that money. And sure, I would use the hard drive [my buying habits aren’t quite as inane as the person who ‘needs’ jewelry and designer clothing]. But reinforcing a behavior that will put me in a hole isn’t the way to go [I always make fun of the people who have massive credit card debt. On second thought, it wouldn’t be that hard. Just keep buying the things you ‘need’ without having the money for it].

The right thing to do would be to get a job and then use that money to reward myself. Yeah, job. That comes post-XC season.

As you can see, I’ve been reading way too much behaviorism stuff for my own good. But I love it. It really does explain everything. Almost. If you ask me, it’s the closest thing to a ‘theory of everything’ that we have for human behavior. If you just choose to use it.

Schism by Tool

October 22, 2007

I know the pieces fit cuz I watched them fall away
Mildewed and smoldering. Fundamental differing.
Pure intention juxtaposed will set two lovers souls in motion
Disintegrating as it goes testing our communication
The light that fueled our fire then has burned a hole between us so
We cannot see to reach an end crippling our communication.

I know the pieces fit cuz I watched them tumble down
No fault, none to blame it doesn’t mean I don’t desire to
Point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over.
To bring the pieces back together, rediscover communication

The poetry that comes from the squaring off between,
And the circling is worth it.
Finding beauty in the dissonance.

There was a time that the pieces fit, but I watched them fall away.
Mildewed and smoldering, strangled by our coveting
I’ve done the math enough to know the dangers of our second guessing
Doomed to crumble unless we grow, and strengthen our communication.

Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any
Sense of compassion
Between supposed lovers

How to stay paralyzed by fear of abandonment
How to defer to men in solveable predicaments
How to control someone to be a carbon copy of you
How to have that not work and have them run away from you

How to keep people at arms length and never get too close
How to mistrust the ones who supposedly love the most
How to pretend you’re fine and don’t need help from anyone
How to feel worthless unless you’re serving or helping someone

[Chorus:]
I’ll teach you all this in 8 easy steps
A course of a lifetime you’ll never forget
I’ll show you how to in 8 easy steps
I’ll show you how leaderships looks when taught by the best

How to hate women when you’re supposed to be a feminist
How to play all pious when you’re really a hypocrite
How to hate god when you’re a prayer and a spiritualist
How to sabotage your fantasies by fears of success

[Chorus]

I’ve been doing research for years
I’ve been practicing my ass off
I’ve been training my whole life for this moment I swear to you
Culminating just to be this well-versed leader before you

[Chorus]

How to lie to yourself and thereby to everyone else
How to keep smiling when you’re thinking of killing yourself
How to numb a la holic to avoid going within
How to stay stuck in blue by blaming them for everything

[Chorus]

October 22, 2007

The principles of avoidance learning shed some light on why phobias are so resistant to extinction. Suppose you have a phobia of elevators. Chances are, you acquired your phobia through classical conditioning. At some point in your past, elevators became paired with a frightening event. Now whenever you need to use an elevator, you experience conditioned fear. If your phobia is severe, you probably take the stairs instead. Taking the stairs is an avoidance response that should lead to consistent negative reinforcement by relieving your conditioned fear. Thus, it’s hard to get rid of phobias for two reasons. First, responses that allow you to avoid a phobic stimulus ear negative reinforcement each time they are made — so the avoidance behavior is strengthened and continued. Second, these avoidance responses prevent any opportunity to extinguish the phobic conditioned response because you’re never exposed to the conditioned stimulus (In this case, riding in an elevator).

– From Psychology: Variations and Themes by Weiten

This is why I love psychology. It takes something that I intuit and puts it into such better words.

Pseudoscience? Perhaps. But a useful one!

It has been said that most of the problems in this world are due to a lack of imagination. And you know what? I think that just might be true!

At the moment, I’m considering that statement in contrast to the advice to ‘dream big!’ With a major focus on how little big dreaming I do personally. And the sort of detrimental effect that must have on my [quality of] life.

Whenever I even start to propose the possibility dreaming big, my ‘rational’ mind immediately kicks into critic gear. It tells me I couldn’t possible have those things, be those things, or even want those things. In which case I fall back on my old ways of thinking. I mean, it’s gotten me this far, right?

But again, it’s important to realize all of the censorships on my life are purely my own making. They’re for the most part arbitrary rules I’ve concocted that will se the pace of my life now and forever [or until I change them]. In which case the lack of imagination can be thanked for all the displeasures I’m currently facing.

Which begs the question: how does one blow past these gate-keepers to the rational in order to, well, be free to imagine? I suppose one excellent exercise might be to just go out of my way every day to imagine the most absurd life situations: me being gay; me joining the circus; me becoming president; whatever. The scenario clearly doesn’t matter quite as much as the mental gymnastics necessary to get me from point A to point B.

Another exercise just involves learning more about the world. I won’t be as likely to continue following a line of reasoning once I’ve seen for myself that it’s faulty. Organic chemistry isn’t really hard. Driving stick isn’t really hard. And, wow, riding a bike isn’t really impossible. Live and learn. And take down the barriers.

I imagine this has something to do with how the New Age idea of ‘intention’ works [a la the blockbuster hoo-hoo book, The Secret]. Because it forces you to engage in imaginative thinking in some sort of implausible [and therefore literally un-thinkable] into the easily, and even vividly, imagined. And suddenly something you feared to even ponder [for fear of what? Increased anxiety? About something you won’t even allow yourself to think [something that isn’t even really happening]] becomes something you happily pursue with your train of thought.

And as David Allen says, you can’t reach a goal until you have a picture of the finished product in mind. Or as Scott Adams says, you won’t waste your time imagining something that can’t possibly come true.

The human imagination is there to be worked. Go to the Creative Gym and run it on a treadmill. Make it do some bench presses, some squats, a couple of deadlifts. And then see what new skills you develop without the fear caused by a lack of vision.