I can't tell if practicality is a good or bad thing. On the one hand, it keeps our heads out of the clouds. Sure, we all want to say that we'd be willing to run 1,000 miles to save a child drowning in a lake, but, it's not practical. The cost is somehow higher than the value. There are at least two levels of deception between our ideas and what we actually do. One is in the value... the value of saving a child's life is not the value of the life, but the value of us saving it. Because otherwise it would be difficult to ever say that a child's life was not worth a tremendous effort on our part... perhaps even dying for the child in order to save it would be in order. But the value is not that, at least, not to our decision-making processes. Sadly. The second deception is the cost. We value our luxury at an extraordinary markup.
These two deceptions are only obscured further by the fact that we tend to worship practicality. We love that we have ideals, ideas about a perfect world, etc, but we love even more the fact that we find ways to get things done given what little we have, and how valuable our resources are, and how expensive everything is. It's sometimes more than we even contemplate possible to stay out an extra hour past what our usual routine calls for. We make lemonade out of lemons on a daily basis.
But being practical is also a curse. First of all, it forces you to throw out ideas, and ideas about a perfect world. We put those under laminate and adore them on holidays, but bring them out during the everyday and you will be scorned and mocked as someone who hasn't yet learned that life doesn't work that way, that it isn't fair, that it will continue to turn with or without thee. That it waits for no man, woman, or child. This is fun.
We have a wobbly totem pole of misconceptions that allow us to continue to make the same mistakes over and over again even though we strive at every node to correct the mistakes. There are forces that keep our forces from forcing themselves properly on the targets we set them on, and they also trick us into forgetting what we were trying to do, if there ever was something there to begin. Have we not as a human race figured these things out yet in a non-cryptic and cheesy fashion?
Strangely, in some ways I think I have figured it out. There is this little module in my brain that I toss things into and out come answers. It's not a normal module--which I understand to be rather flighty (there one day, gone the next) and inconsistent (your mileage may vary), but it has been fairly consistent at receiving and processing questions that I have in a unique and surprising way. Maybe not everyone thinks of their brain as a workshop with various tools that each have varying degrees of usefulness, fragility, but it doesn't seem far off from the truth. It sounds a bit cheesy though, so humanity has not yet fashioned me the perfect brain module. Anyway, I have the answers. But the answers are not like what I had expected them to be. For example, the answers don't necessarily make me any happier... happiness is like the taste of mackerel. You taste it most right when you put it in your mouth, and you panic by chewing the taste and ultimately the happiness is gone and you have only one other piece of mackerel (unless you place another order). But in order to appreciate the last piece, you take a piece of ginger (perhaps a metaphor for calm, or perhaps a metaphor for drunkenness), and then take the piece. What the answers doo-doo is let you know how to order more happiness when you want it. I think. You don't always want it, really. Sometimes you want to get angry because the damn world is just so infuriating... and the kaleidoscope of emotions metaphor makes an appearance (it always does in these cheesy passages).
Blah blah blah. Here's a question for you:
Do you have a system for changing yourself when you decide you want to change?
It's very difficult to change yourself... sometimes almost impossible. The first step is making a concerted effort, though. Most people try to change themselves with an air of defeat already circling in their breath. Most people latch on to the first sign of change rather than ensure that that change is for the best. Most people act practically, and find hacks that create illusions of change without gaining the benefit from it. Or something. I've started spending my mornings before work thinking about the things I'd like to change about myself. Eat less meat. Exercise more. Learn more about whales. Etc. Usually, to think about something for 5 minutes can get an incredible amount accomplished. The only reason we do so many things is because we didn't think about what else to do, even for a second. It's so easy to walk to work, all I have to do is wear a jacket, or wake up 15 minutes earlier the next day.
A last couple words until I hit save and don't write anything for another couple weeks.
Fixing problems has been a topic at work. Sometimes people fix problems that don't exist because solutions are addictive. They make you feel productive. But we have poor tools for figuring out whether or not solutions are actually effective. But, given a solution, we are tempted to exaggerate its effectiveness not only to other people but also to ourselves because 1) we usually can't tell what has improved or not and 2) we like feeling productive. Just look at the government to see how sometimes people fix problems that don't exist in order to get re-elected. And sometimes people pretend to fix problems without actually fixing them. And almost always, solutions to problems involve additive behavior... adding something to the existing state of affairs. Here's something I'm doing more and more and which I think might be a hidden gold mine for actually changing yourself: solve things by taking things away.