Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Second Exercise in Calm Thinking:




When I moved to Melbourne I brought all my clothes and forgot that people usually sleep on beds. I spent the first night at my new house laughing at myself for not having a bed, and knowing I would have to spend the first two nights on something that would likely have been made up from couch cushions.

Not a problem, it’ll be like camping.

It’s going to sound narcissistic beyond belief, but I think that the reason I can manage to be okay to sit through just about anything – even if I’m bored or uncomfortable beyond belief – is because I’ve trained myself to think about bigger ideas, scarier ideas. Ideas either better or worse - and at the least, much more interesting - than being a little bit cold or chilly.

So, while lying down on a camping mattress I started to think of another 'exercise in calm thinking' and wrote it down:

When the lights turn off and black drops down, sweeping the world back to a barely imperceptible line on what you think might be a ghost of horizon burnt into your vision, think about infinity and string theory. Think about a lone flower twisting, shedding petals in space, and the scent it might give off. That scent is made of tiny particles. Imagine those particles as hexagons that are colour-coded to link with twin colours, and access brains which can receive the information in those colours. Some brains can receive certain colours, some can’t. The brain picks up a kind of radio wave in some sort of antennae, and uses the information to replicate the colour through the five sensory organs – it’s translators. This builds reality in front of us. It morphs atoms into organic pictures, then begins to fill up, kind of like a tetris screen, with pre-recognised patterns. Evolution guarantees some patterns stay, but eventually the disused disintegrate.

Hence why it doesn’t feel like an effort to perceive a chair, or any of the basic principle knowledge of humanity during the time of Isaac Newton, these patterns not only exist, but are constantly matched and reinforced both through perception and creation (i.e. Creation of pattern, perception of match - ??)

Yet it is an effort to perceive and run through a new idea, one that is alien or perhaps not practised, not yet fully run through and examined (especially if it is complex – and most new ideas are complex, as they build from previous theories) from all angles.

I've been finding these 'exercises in calm thinking' really helpful in directing my mind to think about something important, rather than something based in a materialistic or socially created vanity.

You run into issues, questions based on your explorations, but you nod to yourself in the dark: You have done this before, and whatever issues you run into in your theories will either cause you to solve them or cast them away. To lose the theory does not mean you will lose the grounding, more so, you will remember that grounding as not having to come from inarguable knowledge. It's likely that you'll come away calmer, no longer thinking about interpersonal issues.

The theories we build to help explain away the complications of the multi-verse rarely matter. What matters is that we do seek, strive and build upon ideas in order to keep our minds active. So that they don't atrophy and fall prey to the insecurities we know should not matter to us, especially when we're busily living unique lives and applying our creative hands to all the projects we can.

The philosopher Adam Smith once wrote that the great secret of education is to direct vanity to 'proper' objects. Vanity is obsession, or something akin to it, yes? It is also appreciation, we should all learn to appreciate the complex layers and infinite amount of things around us, some which exist here, there and everywhere, yet are rarely noticed in our day-to-day perceptions.

I at least find it much more interesting than wondering what the random sitting next to me on train thinks about me...

Xo, Ellen