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The Lucilius Parables, Volume I


May 16th, 2019


Is a signal a part of the sign? or is the sign the signal? 


What exactly is the best way of thinking about these two similar words – so similar in fact that one contains the other with a simple addition of a couple letters.


Signs can be good or bad, in that each is a valid indication of whether or not we are going in the right direction.  Both are equally valid and ideally – in a world where we don’t take things personally – equally informative with regards to what our next move should be.


A good and bad signal, on the other hand is a totally different issue.  A good signal means that we are receiving information.  This information can be good or bad, but it is information nonetheless, whereas a bad signal is not bad information, it’s simply the absence of a connection – an absence of our access to information altogether.


A bad sign is far better than a bad signal, because a bad signal means we are essentially flying blind, whereas a bad sign can be used to figure out where to go next.


A sign is an instance of the signal


Good signs, bad signs, as long as we are actually getting signs, it means we still have a signal.   Finding that signal in the first place is the often difficult part.  Often we fly around blind for a while before we actually find a useful sign that indicates a signal has a possibility of being established.



And when that one sign comes along, it’s often akin to waving around the old school T.V. antennae and momentarily getting a flash of the show we seek to watch but then failing to replicate the exact positions of the antennae.  But with one small sign, our determination often has much greater longevity because now we know something might actually be there to find.  We need only continue our search and zero in when more signs start to pop up.


Often however, the efforts behind that first initial phase of flying blind in search of some signal go cold before we ever actually hit upon any one single meaningful sign.


One aspect of learning is to simply get some sort of meaningful feedback from reality.  Nothing is more demoralizing to the spirit than to make an effort only to see nothing perceptible respond. 


A person who understands how to maximize their efforts to learn looks for the quickest way to get any kind of result whatsoever.  This result is a validation of personal agency, and beyond actually having a full command of the subject, the adept and conscious learner knows this perceptible result is mainly achieved in order to stoke the emotional fuel behind the efforts to learn something new.  Remember, a bad sign is better than no signal at all.  This is why an obsession with planning things and more particularly the notion that we can some how perfectly plan the future is such a mistake.  When we finally do take action in line with such plans, it is almost never going to establish a connection to the signal we need in order to make progress. 


In the beginning, the name of the game is simply to keep going and not quit.  Once we get far enough along to actually have something to work with, or rather… once we get far enough along to actually have a signal established, than the name of the game changes to fine-tuning and further exploration. 


But that first stage is all about establishing a signal - looking for meaningful signs and seeing if they correlate to the same useful signal that we can then use to evolve our strategy, iterate our plans and take quicker tighter actions in order to move faster towards a future we can sculpt with the design of our dreams.



This episode references Episode 387: Plans and Progress, and Episode 285: Plan on No Plans

Check out the Tinkered Thinking   Reading List

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Podcast Ep. 396: Sign & Signal

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