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The Tinkered Mind
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January 30th, 2019
How many tricks do we hear about? We broadcast some problem to the world and someone chimes in with, “well you see the trick is. . .” And perhaps it’s misguided or just the banter of someone trying to show off, or perhaps, it’s spot on.
Often we are resistant to such things. The logic goes that, “no, it can’t be that simple.” But often when it comes to a trick to make something work, the solution is often simple. So simple in fact that it might even seem to bypass the problem. Often, however, this is achieved by meeting the problem head on in such a straightforward way that the whole situation, problem and all becomes simplified to a point that can even be baffling.
We should ask, why is the trickster so quick to chime in and why are we so quick to resist, deny and continue on the premise that the real solution must be more difficult and complex?
Is it perhaps because we had not figured out the trick on our own? And that absence of achievement somehow becomes an indication of our intelligence or cleverness?
Worse still we might be simply flustered by the mere possibility of these circumstances to properly hear a trickster out and follow their logic through in their fresh context.
What this dichotomy of experience outlines is really the difference before and after confusion.
Compare for a moment the way we perceive a problem before it is solved and after it’s solved. Before a solution has been found, a problem can feel incredibly complex. But after we’ve instituted a solution we think that there was no real trick to it at all.
In retrospect good solutions seem obvious.
The trick is not the solution. The trick is switching to the necessary perspective - a far more nebulous and difficult task.
And yet nearly all of us have had the rare experience walking into a new situation and seeing the solution as clear as day while everyone else scratches their head. Does this strange occurrence happen because of some kind of innate ability or does it have more to do with our perspective both from the standpoint of emotional neutrality and mental clarity.
In fact, could any disposition be more generally wished for when faced with a problem? Mental clarity and emotional neutrality?
We have all furthermore had the experience of being shown how to do something by someone older who has accomplished the task many times.
How often have such experiences been punctuated by the declaration: there’s no trick to it!
Though from the perspective of someone brand new to the task, things can often appear to be accomplished by a kind of magic. Rarely is such an experience coupled with mental clarity and emotional neutrality. Often there is a mental fog generated by a frenzy of unhelpful emotion, whether it be stress or simple nerves.
The two people in such a situation are a repetition of what we spoke of earlier. The senior agent who says there’s no trick to it is in the same position as the trickster who begins an explanation by saying “the trick is to…[do this or that]”. Both inhabit the space beyond confusion.
The solution to a problem feels like a trick when we are blind to it, and often it feels like we’ve performed a kind of magic trick just after we’ve found a solution. That high of small accomplishment is the lifeblood of working towards goals, but it’s also the invigorating sensation that we need to search for. Any job that has any kind of repetition becomes a kind of monkey-work after. It becomes boring due to the mere fact that we know what is going to happen and we know exactly what we need to do.
On the other hand we admire and even idolize artists of all kinds because they are continually pushing into that confusing, unknown space and bringing back all sorts of novel jewels. They might go about this with a repetition of craft but that is a strategy which continually explores the unknown. We admire such people because – in simple terms – they seem to be living life to the full. But if we break down this vague and unhelpful phrase, we find that such people are looking for a trick, a solution, a hack – all of which represent novel value mined from spaces most people are too afraid to venture into.
If we do not find a way of living that allows and impels us to continually venture into the unknown than we cease to feel alive. We grow bored.
As in so many cases, we can learn from children once more. If the daily grind is just that, boring and repetitive, we should take note of a child’s curious volatility. We might ask: what would happen if I
toggled the seriousness down,
the humor up,
the fear down,
the curiosity up,
the attachment to safety down,
the thirst for the next solution up,
in order to find the next trick.
Perhaps the only trick we need to be aware of is that there’s a trick to fit every problem, if only we can believe it exists and continue to tinker, unabashedly.
This episode references Episode 49: Confusion or Curiosity.