Bottoms up

Attention works like a loose gate. We can’t always control what information sneaks in, nor can we parse the data so it makes sense coming out.

We grind away at the information life throws at us, some of it tangible and worthwhile but most it nonsense.

Like a Google search, the stuff worth keeping is like finding a needle in a haystack. When we discover something of value, it sticks. We share the knowledge with others, recasting it as our own.

Yet, our minds remain terrible RSS readers.

It’s impossible to unhear and unsee things — conversations, teacher’s lessons, tweets — without getting sucked into the commercialization of attention. The public sphere promotes mindless chatter, so rationalization sinks to the bottom.

The race to admiration prevents the interrogation of ideas. The noisy flood of information buffers thought until finally, the chaos settles to the bottom. And pieces of clarity return.

The magic of disengagement

We practice and then we walk away. We get out of our heads and go for a walk, a swim, make a cup of coffee — whatever disengagement there is.

Taking a break isn’t quitting. It’s letting neurons go to work without forcing them to.

Competence comes without comprehension. Nature cuts though the intellectual. We’re born to chase the to-do list but also do nothing.

Unhindered, we move like water over rocks. And the coffee pours itself, like magic.

Melding minds with machines

“You could just think your query and download the relevant knowledge directly in your mind.”

Forget Ritalin. Forget Google and Evernote acting as our second brains holding all the information we can’t. And instead, prepare for brain implants where mind melds with machines. We don’t even have to type, click, or touch anything. We just think and imagine commands.

As part of a clinical trial called “Brain Gate,” 13 applicants at Brown University have had a sensor placed into their motor cortex and so far have been able to control cursor movement on a screen. Says doctor John Simerall at Brown University building the neurotechnology device:

“Simply by imagining intuitive movements participants can immediately control a robotic device.”

Here come the cyborgs.

The body is a heavy bear

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gif by hoppip

The body is a heavy bear.

The mind is a heavy stone.

We can’t duck our own presence, nor avoid our own answers. We know what we have to do. Anticipation enlivens us.

Anxiety validates our heart space.

Fight or flight, we are free to think as tenants of Earth, renting its oxygen. As Kipling wrote, ‘Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.’

We cultivate our existence. We chase fear and endure pain to feel more alive.

The show goes on, whether we show up or not.

Creativity: Faith in process, faith in rest

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Your best ideas come when you’re not trying your best but when you’re not trying at all.

Ideas hit you when you’re resting, when your mind is at ease. This is because the mind never shuts off. It’s always processing knowledge, thoughts, and experience even in a perceived dormant state. Says composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda:

“A good idea doesn’t come when you’re doing a million things. The good idea comes in the moment of rest. It comes in the shower. It comes when you’re doodling or playing trains with your son. It’s when your mind is on the other side of things.”

Creativity is always awake

Creativity is always awake but it needs time to bloom. It takes in new information and gets feedback along the way. Furthermore, there’s no such thing as a eureka moment. A good idea is an accumulation of bad ones, cleaned up and simplified through trial and error.

Above all, something magical seems to happy though when you step away and let the brain do the work. It makes its own unforced connections.

Discovery is not a matter of giving up but giving in to the process of waiting while keeping the faith.

Upgrade your human operating system

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There is no doubt that the mind changes as it ages. You’ll be a different person in your 20s, 30s, and so on.

For some, brain deterioration is genetic. While you can’t medicate mental problems away, you can upgrade your internal software by widening your perception and controlling your emotions to so-called triggers.


The human brain is plastic

Strengthening the operating system protects against the destructive forces of sensory stimulants that try to undermine chemical synchronicity. Knowing that you can gauge your reactions to uncertainty while strengthening the bonds between neurons and synaptic connections helps alleviate anxiety’s thinking problem.

Babies are born platform agnostic; it’s mostly the environment that shapes their internal compass as they grow into adults. Health, philosophy, and social behaviors produce an entire ecosystem of choices where balancing the right springs and gears to maintain the human clock is the key, per say.

A crisis in boredom

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Remember what it was like to be bored before the internet spread its wings of distraction?

The newbies won’t confess. With everything available to them at their thumbs, they’ll never know a world where people once stared at walls for nothing. Magazines at the dentist’s office will remain untouched, replaced by the rectangular glow of entertainment on handheld devices.


But the adults aren’t any better. We confuse busyness with checking email, answering texts, viewing Instagrams, or looking up stocks.

Everyone is suffering at the mercy of accelerated time, of chasing the closest dopamine hit to avoid dealing with the ennui of the present. We busy ourselves going somewhere, overlooking the serenity of what is near and remaining hooked on a ludic loop to numb the pain of idleness.

Thinking less to do more

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Rhythm builds thoughtlessness. The work becomes more natural out of mechanical motion, doing without thinking.

Employees can’t make one hundred sandwiches in a couple hours without silencing the monkey mind. The process of unthinking begets a chorus of action.

Similarly, we can’t dribble a basketball nor soccer ball effectively while focusing on the mechanics of the perfect touch. The gears of cognition get in the way of flow.

Habits are bicep curls for the brain

Good habits strengthen human software, primarily if we aim to do something consistently. Like brushing our teeth, it’s the repetitive locomotion that undermines inertia and compels one to keep connecting the chain.

We can get used to being productive.

 

At the mercy of automation

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Photo by Wells Baum

We move unconsciously through life at the mercy of automation.

Plugged in, always on, absorbed in the energy of an internal lighthouse, blind to our own self-care.

The human instant suffers from too much closeupness, leaving little time to zone out. Time runs deep between canyons. Water flows patiently over rocks. The urge to speed up silences the music still in us.

We’re rhythmic creatures who make reality, not ones to be stuck and consumed by it. The new script requires that we think before we act. The robot is already preprogrammed and ready.

The freedom of unforced attention

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gif by Wells Baum

We end up aligning with nature’s intent. We see the world through the lens we grow up with. We are the products of our environment, the sum total of our existence.

Yet, we can become a variety of human. We can develop an expanded toolset that includes others. We can shut off stray thoughts and ignore droll distractions, replacing them with dreams of boredom. However, we stay light and loose.

We set the brain roaming with no clear destination in mind, only a feeling of intuition. The freedom of unforced attention makes harmony in the auditory wilderness. The brain functions in a mysterious way to find parity between the blind and the deaf.

Stripped of bias

Photo by Wells Baum

Mushy in the middle, stuck amid choices that cancel each other out. We all hear different things.

The pragmatist razor skins down contradictions and chooses the strongest case on both sides.

Rising above sidedness is a lofty goal, the aim of an idealist. But who’s to say one shouldn’t try?

Clinging to the past, never shaping the future. The biggest risk is doing nothing; virtuality is not a panacea for society’s ills.

No ifs, no buts.

Seeing non-existent patterns

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Photo by Wells Baum

The forces that bind together meaning aren’t always strong, nor are they credible. Your inner-dialogue is like a bank: the more you put into it, the more it wants to synch patterns between disparate events.

We look at the world through the context of our collected experiences. We choose what sticks around to arm us for the uncertainty that the future brings. Carl Jung once said, “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” But what if our mind manufactures stories of coincidental events? Imagination tends to hyperbolize reality.

Perhaps there are no gravitational forces; everything is just a game of chance despite our aim to corroborate our beliefs with supposed facts. When we try to find meaning in everything, we often end up with an incomplete picture.

Certainty tries to assert itself as the dream of man. But when we learn to relax our beliefs, we realize that there are only a few items in life that deserve our scarce attention. Everything else should be left to chance.

There’s a still of rhythm to be found in between the cacophony of noises where we decide what we want to hear.

We forget the mundane and remember the weird

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We tend to forget the mundane and remain loyal to the weird. What’s uninteresting remains unremembered. What peers into the mind eye’s with a little humor and exaggeration is the stuff that sticks.

Too ordinary becomes unextraordinary, not silly enough to make a significant dent.

Try not thinking about a purple cow, rainbow-striped zebra, or dog driving a pick-up truck. Now try to forget it 😉

You have to fake sleep to get to sleep. See! It’s the weird that binds.