Nassim Taleb nails it with this simple but profound sentence:
Our minds are not quite designed to understand how the world works, but, rather, to get out of trouble rapidly and have progeny. – Nassim Taleb (Fooled By Randomness)
We human beings are so full of ourselves. With much hubris, we auto-assume that we are above all other life forms just because we can “think“. We concoct immortal and all-powerful gods in our minds who we “think” are watching over our well-being (but not the well being of those we don’t like). Then, when something terrible happens, we wonder “why” our gods could allow such a tragedy. Instead, maybe we should contemplate “why not?“.
The ability to “think” has unquestioningly made life more comfortable locally for the human race over time. However, it’s questionable whether “thinking” has made human life more comfortable globally. Unlike a “mindless” swarm of locusts that ravish the environment with a vengeance, we “mindful” humans seem to be ravishing our environment and other fellow humans at an increasingly alarming rate as our “thinking” supposedly evolves.
I’m intellectually lazy. I’m a fan of empiricism; it’s just a drag to have to practice. If you’re anything like me, you don’t make up your mind about important issues by doing original research, poring over primary sources and coming to your own conclusions; you listen to people who claim to know what they’re talking about—“experts”—and try to determine which of them is more credible. You do your best to gauge who’s authentically well-informed and unbiased, who has an agenda and what it is—who’s a corporate flack, a partisan hack, or a wacko. – Tim Kreider (We Learn Nothing).
Who amongst us is not like Tim? Thanks to the web, even though accessibility to primary sources and original research is at unprecedentedly high levels, there’s just not enough time to perform “due diligence” in order to form (so-called) objective opinions on issues that tug at our souls. Whether we admit it or not, we all use a form of the BD00 bozometer, which is reproduced below for your viewing displeasure.
If you’re a regular reader of this blawg, then you’ve probably pegged BD00 as “Is A Bozo” – and you’re right!
In “We Learn Nothing“, uber-essayist Tim Kreider said something like “it’s sad to see people disengage from life as they get older.” OMG! When I read that, I felt like Timbo had just articulated one of my greatest fears.
Except for a handful of painful but relatively short times when I’ve totally disengaged from participating in life, I’ve been committed to desperately holding on to the tiger’s tail and racing through the jungle of life with (almost) reckless abandon.
How about you? Do you feel yourself sloooowly disengaging from life as the years tick by? If not, then good for you. If so, then do you think you should wake up and start searching for that tiger tail?
As a temporary reprieve from writing preposterously heretical posts on dysfunctional management and biased opinion pieces on software development, I axed myself: “What different topic can I squirt out into the ether today?” Then, out of nowhere, the eery and scary theme song from the oooold Twilight Zone TV series started playing in my head – doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo….. WAAAGH! As a result, I thought: “What is my favorite TV series theme song?“.
After waiting for a slew of other songs to spontaneously start coursing through my diseased neural circuitry in rapid succession, only one other tune started up: the theme from the old “Hawaii Five-O” show – which I don’t even like. Then, a progression of visual snapshots from old TV series like “Lost In Space“, “The Mod Squad“, “All In The Family“, “Sanford & Son“, and “The Jeffersons” appeared. However, except for the latter’s unforgettable but meh “Movin’ On Up” song, the tunes didn’t come along for the ride with the pictures. D’oh!
So, for now, until I can think of a better one (which may be freakin’ never), my fave TV theme song is the theme from……
What is your fave TV theme song? When you came up with it, did your memory freely expose a boatload of candidates, or was it stingy and uncooperative during the search, like mine?
In “So Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World“, Margaret J. Wheatley hits the mark with BD00:
The interactive nature of the Net distinguishes it from all earlier technologies; from the start, it was based on public interactions, not on private use such as with books or recordings. It fed on two powerful human needs— to be visible and to connect— at a time when we were already feeling lonely and invisible. Our insatiable appetites for self-creation and self-expression have transformed us into twenty-first-century hunter-gatherers. We’ve become addicted to what else we might find, where the next click might lead us, so we incessantly keep hunting.
Meg also misses the mark with:
…we’ve abandoned the thinking skills we humans developed over many centuries of evolution: abstract thinking, nuanced language, envisioning, moral reasoning, the scientific method.
Note that the hit and miss only apply to BD00; according to BD00. How do they apply to you; according to you?
Fresh from Margaret Wheatley‘s “So Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World“, I present you with these four vexing questions:
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions and your expectations were met, then you’re incredibly lucky because:
They’re based on an assumption of rational human behavior— that leaders are interested in what works— and that has not proven true. Time and again, innovators and their highly successful projects are ignored, denied or pushed aside, even in the best of times. In this dark era, this is even more true. – Margaret Wheatley
Not that I’m an innovator, but these questions hit me hard because it took decades of disappointment and bewilderment for me to realize that Ms. Wheatley is right. But you know what? Once I became truly aware that “it is the way it is“, I felt liberated. Now I do the work for the work itself. An intimate, joyful communication between the creator and the created.
Q: You must of been burned out on Linux kernel development multiple-times over by now… how do you deal with it?
Linus: Oh, I really enjoy what I do. And I actually enjoy arguing too, and while I may swear a lot and appear like a grumpy angry old man at times, I am also pretty good at just letting things go. So I can be very passionate about some things, but at the same time I don’t tend to really hold on to some particular issue for too long, and I think that helps avoid burn-out.
Obsessing about things is important, and things really do matter, but if you can’t let go of them, you’ll end up crazy.
I’ve found that when I can’t let go of something that “shouldn’t be like it is“, the world suddenly stops. I get stuck; immobilized by a stagnating cesspool of circular thoughts and wondering if I’ll ever get unstuck.
The key for me to getting unstuck and moving forward again is to realize that I can’t control or fix everything to “my” liking. As hard as it is to accept, the world doesn’t exist to accommodate “ME“. Thus, when I can remember it (which is a challenge in itself), my favorite prayer is:
BD00, please grant the “other” BD00 the serenity to accept the things he cannot change,
The courage to change the things he can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
How about you? Do you ever get stuck? What gets you unstuck?