Free Will – Same Mistakes

I remember thinking around 16-17 how I had all the information I needed for enlightenment. And in a sense I was right, I knew all of the things about self awareness, about consciousness, about our state of minds and probably also non duality((that might of been more like 18-19)) etc etc.

I also knew that it didn’t really matter that I had all this information. Life is not about collecting information. That’s really easy, especially now a days with Wikipedia the internet, etc etc. Life is the painful process of turning that information into knowledge and turning that knowledge into wisdom.

The thing is, that process is messy. You misinterpret information, you let cognitive biases get the better of you, you let more primitive feelings from your reptilian or mammalian brain influence your decisions etc.

All the while we have this sort of narrator, the one who thinks they are calling the shots, giving reasoning and “logic” for decisions while in fact, there is no one behind the curtain. And at first that’s depressing and leads to all sorts of bad reactions, and so most of the time we go with not talking about the lack of free will, that it’s dangerous to talk about it in those ways.

Now this is the part of the post where I tell you what part of the post this is supposed to be and what it is instead. But I think I’m going to end it with a song 🙂

I make the same mistakes
Feels like I never learn
Always give way too much
For little in return

I haven’t changed a bit
I’m still not over it
I make the same mistakes
I make the same mistakes
I never did grow up
Feels like I never will
My friends are all adults
I’m still a teenage girl

I haven’t changed a bit
I’m still not over it
I make the same mistakes
I make the same mistakes

My friends are all a drag
They think I’m such a flake
They want to go to bed
I want to stay up late
Walking the streets alone
Thinking of you ’til dawn
I make the same mistakes
I make the same mistakes

Time is Standing Still

I feel as though time has no meaning anymore, just waiting for the days to pass. It’s a bit ridiculous in a sense because so many things are the same. I still work, I still play games, I still cook, I still eat, I still learn, so many things are the same.

And yet, it’s not is it? I feel at times just like I’m waiting. Waiting to invite friends over, waiting to reconnect with friends and other I haven’t connected with as much. I sometimes often think about all the wasted time. I could learn more, I could exercise more, I could work more. And yes, I know it’s a trope by now that you need to be kind to yourself because of the pandemic. But still… It at times just feels like an excuse. And I say this for myself, I’m not saying that it’s not a total clusterfuck for so many people. But we don’t have kids, we don’t have any family who are sick, we only know a few people who are on the frontline / essential. This thing should just wash of our backs no?

And yes, there are a few bigger things at play. The world is literally in a state of chaos, the US is tearing itself apart and that won’t be good for anybody, especially not a country that relies heavily on the US such as Canada. But I have a hard time shaking that feeling of needing to be more and do more. Thankfully mediation is helping, I’m using Waking Up and I quite enjoy it. If you want to care less about the fact that time is standing still…. it’s worth a try.

Disconnected from the Internet

The last time I wrote many blog posts in a row was on a plane, in a time that seems far away where you could shake people’s hands. It seems there’s a certain something about being disconnected from the internet, from the distractions of the world that helps focus.

It’s fitting in a sense given that I’ve come to learn / realize that I have some((okay, many)) ADD traits. At first I really didn’t want to believe it. People had made comments in the past and I’d always brushed it off.
Many of the manifestations of ADD can also be attributed to depression or anxiety. A telling sign that one of the characteristics is allegedly people who have both depression and anxiety.

I think there’s a few reasons why I didn’t want to accept it.
Firstly I didn’t feel like I met the “classical” criteria, especially in childhood. The logic then goes that if I didn’t have it growing up then why would I have it now? Of course, the fact that I developed allergies and migraines later on in life pretty effectively puts that way of thinking in doubt.

Secondly, I thought that this was actually just in response with the notification economy and how we’re always attached to our phones and get pings all the time. The fact that it happens often when outside without a phone does cast doubt on that. I realize it’s still possible that it’s a learned societal behaviour that just bleeds over to things like gardening but, I can remember a time before smart phones and I don’t think it was much different.((Memory being so trustworthy and all))

The third is a knee jerk reaction to over-medicalization. The fear that we “perceive” and attribute all kinds of medical things to “normal” human behaviour. I think there is some truth to it, but only in the sometimes overly pharmaceutical approach to the solutions, the problem is not in the diagnosis themselves. We didn’t know people died of cancer 200 years ago, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. People were diabetic, asthmatic, depressed, on the spectrum, etc. We just didn’t have words for it except general “they aren’t well” / Aren’t normal.

Lastly is my identity, my sense of self. “I” am “not someone” who has ADD. ((picture those quotes as air quotes)) I had this same reaction when I was first told I had anxiety. I rejected it. I didn’t have anxiety, I was just smarter and more aware of all the terrible things happening in the world. I just had a knack for understanding the true meaning of things. If people were as aware as me, they too would be bloody concerned about everything.

The thing is, in retrospect, this has been going on for a long time. I’ve had many times in my life where I wasn’t able to “motivate” myself to do things. That I wasn’t able to just “get it done”. When I do projects outdoors, I rarely finish the project I started and intended on completing, jumping from project to project, randomly getting distracted by another task along the way. The same with trying to accomplish tasks on my personal todo list.

I developed many coping mechanisms for this. Focusing on lists and sets of tasks that I can cut into bite size pieces. Partnering with someone else on a project to get that accountability. Even one of my meds that I’ve felt has really helped my depression is one who’s off label usage is for ADD. Heck I even tried (and failed) to read and implement the book indistractable earlier this year. And promptly got distracted.

After a bit of time, awareness and knowledge of family history I’ve come to the conclusion I have many of those tendencies. I’m reading a book right now (Driven to Distraction) that I’ve heard from many people with adult ADD that has helped them get a better understanding of themselves.

I guess we’ll see how it goes. If you have ADD/ADHD feel free to reach out. I’d love to know what helped you.

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((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.

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.