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The Tinkered Mind
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February 15th, 2022
There’s a portion of the the mid Atlantic where a particular type seaweed called Sargassum pools in an enormous gyre. Most people know it as the area of the Bermuda Triangle. It’s infamous for doldrums where sailors would get stranded with not a lick of wind for days if not weeks and months. It’s a watery no man’s land, that once entered, is hard to escape from.
The human mind has such places, and can make itself one when the right conditions arise. Despite exciting plans, interesting projects and what is normally a pretty revved up sense of drive and determination - something can feel stuck and spinning with nothing to spin against.
Days flitter by, escaping by way of binged TV and half considered attempts to finally get it together.
Like depression it can seem like an omniscient monster that must somehow be fought. But brute force cannot be administered upon itself. Better to use the opponent’s momentum to our advantage.
Put another way, it’s easier to slowly turn a ship than it is to push on the oncoming bow with an aim to bring it to a complete halt and eventually shove it in the reverse direction.
So what is the momentum and direction of something that seems typified by going nowhere?
The answer lies in the illusion that nothing seems to be happening. Take for instance the quintessential activity of the last few years: binge watching TV. We all know that other things can be done while watching TV. We all have more than enough experience eating whole meals while watching TV. So this sort of distraction can be used while compounding tiny tasks for something larger.
A juggernaut does not spring into action, but slowly gains momentum, and it’s possible to inch forward without much the mind noticing, distracted as it is by the candy of culture. All that’s needed is to readdress expectations about what should get done to be more in line with what can get done. And it’s accomplished quite simply: what’s the easiest low-maintenance item I can get done that requires no brain power? There’s likely a few piles that fall into this category. And while the work might go slower with a little distraction, at least something is getting done.
While we wait for wind, there’s no harm in a slow row, if only to pass the time, and a bit of distance.