Sunday, September 26, 2010

Uncertainty For An Uncertain World: Be More Efficient

It seems that it has become a habit to try and contain our lives in small, byte-sized chunks for easy consumption. And, if it can be done, it is probably easier on your nerves and health in general. But life has a way of making things interesting for you, and keeping you on your toes. It has a way of making sure that we are tested, again and again...and again. I am beginning to think that the responses to our situations are more important than the situations themselves. Otherwise, why does it happen again and again?

It makes sense that there are life lessons that will be repeated until they are learned. It also makes sense that you will have the occasional refresher test, to see if you have really learned. Otherwise, the universe is capricious, and we are subject to whim and intentional malice. It seems easy for me to say this, here, right now, in the comfort of my home, surrounded by my family and safely cocooned. But that is what home should be, a haven, to rest and refit, to prepare for another foray into the chaos of the gather our resources, muster our courage, and venture yet again into world gone mad. And, the maddest sort of mad, where nobody gets the awesomely ironic joke.

To me, this is the test of a true warrior. It isn't in some sort of fantasy MMA thing, or dominating others. It is getting out of bed, getting up on your hind legs, and going through yet another pointless day doing pointless things...and, doing them well. Doing them for your family, so they can share your haven, your Hobbit Hole. And, the Warrior must be well versed in many things. If I may share a quote from Robert Heinlein, author of Strager In A Strange Land and Starship Troopers:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Oddly enough, this was mentioned in the May 2011 issue of Black Belt magazine. Of course, they added the things a good, well-rounded martial artist should be able to do, as well. But, it is an example of how he are beginning to become more fragmented. I like the idea of being able to

perform the purely mental skills and the menial. The Sage with a hoe, the Scholar with a shovel. I don't think that Heinlein was talking about duality here, but it certainly is applicable.

One thing that prevents us from being able to provide this is the growing tendency to live our lives virtually. We used to be mere voyuers, but now we do so in the realm of the pixel. I succumb to this as badly as the next fellow, for at my fingertips is a glut of information. How can I be expected to turn off the magic box that caters to my passion for raw data and venture forth to actually do something myself?

I used to play an online wargame that had a social content. By that, I mean that it had friends and allies, and we chatted together and planned things. It required that I be at the PC in the AM and the PM lest my troops and cities be neglected. I had a hard time quitting, as it had become my ritual, my habit. And, lo! I still got up at the same time, and instead of doing something productive, turned on the box and stared at the screen!

Hence my comment in the beginning of living our lives in small, byte sized packets. We get our input in tiny bits of data. We don't live our lives anymore, we stream it....and don't realize that anything is wrong. We are in danger of losing our ability to do so many things.....

Is Specialization for insects? In some fields, it is a requirement. If you are going to do some brain surgery, you can be forgiven if you can't re-roof a barn. but for the rest of us, we need to expand our horizons....before we become part of that great community of brain-dead zombies, chained to our virtual pacifier by our CAT 6 cable.