Wednesday, February 09, 2005


I realize I'm going to get a lot of "I-told-you-so" from a certain person about this post. I know who you are, you know who you are--just assume I've already done my "Yes, you were absolutely right" speech so we can get to the important stuff.
For a long time I've approached life from a position that basically regarded every problem as a code to be cracked. There has been a history in my family of codebreakers, analysists, and so forth, so it's probably environmental as well as implicit in my character, but it can wreak havoc on your life if you're not careful. Approach a math test as a code to be broken and you might get an A. Approach a professor as a code to be broken and they might come away with the impression that you're a self-serving, slimy, jerk. At any rate...the way this applied to the past years in my life has been thus:

I. Fear

"Fear is the mind-killer," as the line from Dune goes. Fear will short-circuit your dreams faster than anything else. Fear is what keeps the inventive mind from doing something, and pushes them into a mold of merely being someone. I operated from a standpoint that if I didn't try too hard and didn't make too big of a splash, no one would notice me and I wouldn't get hurt too badly. This also translates into getting lost between the shadows and the dreams. Living life in a gray twilight will hurt you more than getting your legs cut out from under you in the long run.
Analogue: "There may be a Holy Grail out there, but I might get killed looking for it."

II. Curiosity

Something eventually happens that defeats--but does not vanquish--the fear. For me, it was the proverbial blank slate of college that broke me out of myself and made me want to be around other people. I made a decision that I was going to make an effort to find people that liked me and wanted to be around me, and whom I wanted to be around. I was coming out of my shell. However--and this is somewhat crucial--I was still contained by the shell. I was merely not confined by it. The curious person usually has a belief that there is something he is looking for or that he must find, and that doing so is the endpoint of a phase. Subconsciously, he is looking for something to define a new epoch in his life--a point at which he can say "Things are changing" and understand what is changing.
Analogue: "There is a Holy Grail out there, and once I find it I can stop looking for fulfillment."

Now comes the final part. Though to restrict it by using words like "part" or "phase" or "level" or "final" really doesn't do it justice. It is a general area of awareness that is ongoing, and it requires a tremendous amount of dedication. It is:

III-infinite. Breakout

The person not only discards their shell, they smash it and reconstitute a new way of thinking from the shards. They rebuild their perception to suit the environment, instead of attempting to change the environment to suit their point of view. This may seem like a reactive move, but in reality it is extremely freeing. People who are limited by their perceptions will only be able to see what they want to see. People who have adapted their perceptions to meet the situation will be able to see what is, what has gone before, and what can and will happen. They play the game, forcing it to adhere to their rules. The game no longer plays them. This ties into the idea of virtue being its own reward. Working for your environment or for someone else implies that you expect compensation, rewards, or attention. Working for yourself implies that you are doing what you love because you love it; that, in essence, you are a self-refueling engine, a perpetual motion machine. By refusing to break the code, by changing your code instead, you have rendered the code--and the attached problem--irrelevant, leaving it to suck your dust and wonder what the hell hit it. You have broken the problem's OODA loop.
Analogue: "There is no Holy Grail--but that doesn't mean I should stop looking for it."


Blogger Gabs said...

i clicked on the little "random blog" button on the top of my page and it brought me here... and i'm glad. I really like the way you write, and you're so right on with some of the stuff you wrote on ur last post.
Have a great day!

5:24 PM  
Blogger Gryffilion said...

Thanks. I appreciate it. I'll frequent your blog as well from now on. :-)

5:33 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Darkblade said:
... However--and this is somewhat crucial--I was still contained by the shell. I was merely not confined by it. The curious person usually has a belief that there is something he is looking for or that he must find.

NIL ILLEGITIMUS CARBORUNDUMCuriosity is one of the nine basic affects and one of the few *positive* ones (affects are not simply feelings--they're a brain/face/body connection). The antithesis of curiosity is shame; this bears on what you were saying about being confined by a shell: the shell is shame. Being confined is being afraid of that affect (who isn't?). Being contained by it, OTOH, is recognizing its potential destruction but refusing to go there before you have to-- i.e., before you've learned about whatever it is that elicited your curiosity in the first place.

Curiosity is the basis of intelligent exploration: Curiosity killed the cat (shame), but satisfaction (the satisfacation of discovery) brought him back...

This is important to pay attention to. People die of shame all the time; some quickly and bluntly, some more slowly swing in the wind.

Good voyaging on your journey of curiosity.


9:26 AM  

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