On thinking yourself smart.

I remember when I was about 15-16, that’s when I started to feel smart. That I knew things and understood things that others didn’t. That I saw the world for what it was. And while I thought I was all unique and shit, but as you dear reader know, it happens to basically everyone.

And the funny thing is that, at that time, you really believe that you may be smarter than many folks. Somehow, it doesn’t strike us as strange that people who’ve lived twice, three, four times our lives may not be wiser.

And, I mean, it’s easy to think that you’re smarter than most people, just look at the world today. Everything is a fucken mess. People don’t all wear masks, people have parties. Racism is still prevalent. I mean just looking at the US, it’s pretty hard not to feel smart….

Then, in retrospect you kinda see things you missed. Some wisdom in others that you didn’t have at the time. It’s pretty easy to see it in hindsight, but in the moment…. not so much.

So what makes us think that now is any different? I mean, as humans we have a “now” bias. We only live in the now, it’s all we know and it’s currently the smartest we’ve been(1)kinda, I mean, my 19 year old self was way better at calculus than I currently am so what makes us believe this time is any different?

Now of course you probably see the false dichotomy happening. I / We as humans may be silly and ignorant while also being smarter and wiser in different respects.

Not only that, but it varies from day to day. There are many things I “know” that I don’t incorporate in my day to day. I know how to lose weight… it’s not currently happening. I know how to be compassionate, it doesn’t happen every day….

So how do we navigate that fine line? How do we figure out what we’re currently right about and what we’re currently wrong about? How do we not fall into that trap of binary thinking? It’s easy to want categorical answers. I’m smarter than those people, or those people are smarter than me. But navigating that balance…. it’s pretty much the same pain as my other post.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. kinda, I mean, my 19 year old self was way better at calculus than I currently am

We should probably all be vegetarian and other cognitive dissonances

I find people are strangely defensive about not being vegetarian or vegan (I’m neither). It’s almost as though accepting that we should probably eat less meat would imply that they are a bad person.

It’s logical in a sense, if you accept that we should be vegetarian, then if you’re not doing that, you’re clearly a hypocrite and just overall a bad person for not doing what is “best”.

This happens with pretty much everything. We have a way of polarizing ourselves, just to justify our decisions. That co-worker we don’t like? Well they must be a truly horrible person because if they weren’t, then we’d be an asshole for not being compassionate towards them. We do the same thing with relationships (I’m no longer with that person, therefore they clearly weren’t that great), and even with COVID (whatever your level of risk, you’ve justified it to yourself and everyone else is wrong).

While you may scoff and say that those things are silly and you don’t do those. You do, even unwittingly (skip to the part about the Monet prints, around 9 minutes in).

But what if you don’t do that? What if you sit with the cognitive dissonance?

Now you probably expect some BS about how that’s true wisdom and seeing the truth behind the world or something. But really, it’s just painful. To be reminded day in and day out that we don’t fit our vision of the ideal world. To be trapped in that self questioning, anxiety and mental anguish…. It’s hard to be judgy of people who don’t want to deal with it or are too tired to deal with it.

It’s not that bad

I feel like everytime I express something that isn’t pure bliss everyone freaks out. Which is strange because I feel like when things were really really bad in my life, I wouldn’t talk about it. Relatively speaking, things are pretty great. I have a job that pays well and is challenging. I’m not in any way going to get fired and the economy isn’t going to impact my job.

There’s like a bazillion things going right, not the least of them that I have a over-abundance of peas in the garden, so you know, things are pretty great.

But that doesn’t mean everything is all sunshine and rainbows and lollipops

Shit happens, and even if, in the scale of things, shit isn’t so bad, as humans we seem to have a bias to focus on the dangerous and negative things (probably evolutionary adaptation). So why not talk about them?

I find it’s dangerous not to talk about stuff. Even, (maybe especially) when we’re wrong about it. How else are we supposed to learn and grow? How else are we supposed to try to feed the more information out to the world to slowly arrive at a better approximation of the truths of the universe?

Anyway, thank you for everyone checking in, I really do appreciate it, and you don’t need to stop. Just understand that maybe everything isn’t hopeless bullshit 😉

On No Longer Being The Best

I’m currently working on a Django app (written in the Python programming language). It’s my first time doing any real work with Python or Django and it is painful. It’s painful because it reminds me of when I started doing WordPress work. I did everything all wrong, I was hacking core, I was doing these clusterfuckeries that would be shameful to show now.

The thing is, I got good at WordPress. To the point where I think it wouldn’t be ridiculous to say that I was one of the top hundred most knowledgeable people on WordPress performance at scale. As for Python and Django, I’m currently in the bottom few hundreds.

And yes, it will pass, I will learn and understand the patterns Django uses, start to understand the magic that goes on behind the scenes and know if the random code sample I’m reading on Stack Overflow is correct or should be burned in the fire of the sun.

But right now, it’s painful. Another part of it is I think the fact that the code is publicly viewable by everyone, something that is great in terms of transparency for the Canadian public but it’s tough to show the flaws of my work so publicly. Part of me isn’t sure if it’s my inadequacies or just that they will be public that I’m worried about.

If I’m truly concerned about the quality of the work that will help the healthcare professionals, that’s one thing. But it being because my ego doesn’t want to show how little I know about a certain topic… that’s less great.

Perhaps I’ll just listen to the wisdom of this song which I believe is a ballad about becoming at peace with one’s own limitations and understanding that growth comes at a cost of pain and feeling uncomfortable.

Anyway, that’s my interpretation of the song….

The Wellbeing economy

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the future of work. I’m sure you know I’m a big advocate of a basic income and thinking thru the changes it can have to society is very interesting. The recent pandemic stuff I think will just increase societal change at an even greater pace.

One thing that has been constant and will increase is automation. Many of the jobs right now where people are being put at risk are retail jobs. Self checkout is probably going to increase exponentially as people want to distance themselves as much as possible. But I think those predictions are a bit banal at this point. Everyone knows that’s going to happen and the world will be changed. And while we do need a basic income for the transition, I’m not pessimistic about the future.

And the reason for that is that I think society / the “economy” will change once again. We went from agriculture, to factories, to services. The next step I think is the “Wellbeing Economy”.

It’ll be a great resurgence of soft skills. Everyone will have a counsellor / therapist, we’ll have more physiotherapists, nutritionists, massage therapists, “life coaches”, etc.

Basically, we’ll move from provide services to providing wellbeing. If that’s what comes next, I’d be okay with that.

Basically, we’ll move from provide services to providing wellbeing. If that’s what comes next, I’d be okay with that.

Plant Therapy

I was a bit stressed and anxious, especially on Friday. I decided to get some potting soil, some tropical plants, some seeds (online) and some strawberry clippings while going out grocery shopping.

While I usually loath commercialism as a way of feeling better, I’ll make an exception given the current circumstances. Hopefully the strawberry plants will grow indoors.

It’s a bit early to start most seeds (for Ottawa) but I don’t think I really care of the optimal time to plant at this point 😛

There’s actually nothing in here…. yet
Soon to be strawberries

Wanting to be emo

Once in a while you get this feeling that you want to be sad. And perhaps it’s because of years of therapy, CBT and RET or Buddhism or mindfulness or what but I feel like I’m more aware of those times. I know there’s a bunch of people who say you should let yourself feel shit. But I think it’s often wallowing in self pity. We want the attention, we want the sympathy, we want to feel self entitled to the attention.

While I’m not saying you should pretend those kinds of feelings aren’t there, I don’t think giving in to them helps. You can accept that the feeling is there. No necessarily try to sho it away or anything, just accept that it’s there and carry on.

That being said… It’s often easier said than done.

On the impact we’ve had on people

I remember, in first year university, I had recently been diagnosed with depression and I was working on some homework in the evening on the lawn in front of residence (Leblanc) and I saw one of the community advisors.

I’m not exactly sure how it came up. But he talked about how he left university for a semester because of depression. In that moment, I needed to hear this. I needed to hear someone else talk about depression, I needed to hear that I wasn’t alone, I needed to hear that maybe it wouldn’t always be like this.

I don’t remember if I ever thanked him…. and to be honest I don’t even remember his name. (Maybe something like J-P) (edit: found him and thanked him!)

When I left Automattic, I got inundated with messages about how I had impacted folks. It made me feel so warm and fuzzy and to this day I have those notes, along with others I’ve collected in a google doc. I’m not sure if people realize the impact those notes had / have on me. I go back and read some of them when I’m feeling down.

For myself, I’m trying to be more diligent with letting people know the impact they’ve had on me. I know how much it means to me to know the impact I’ve had on others so I’m trying to be more diligent about doing it consistently.

We’re basically plants

There’s this image that comes and goes on social media:

Image result for we're plants need water and sun meme
It seems to be from http://www.poorlydrawnlines.com/ but I can’t find the actual link to that comic

It’s silly how much of an impact sun has on me. I often don’t want to believe it you know? That all these complex emotions, thoughts, and feelings are deeply influenced from the fact that I’m in the sun or not. I often kind of diminish it’s impact, want to believe I can overcome it. But when there’s sun… It’s all just Sunshine Rainbows and Lollipops: