maybe I'm wrong

Mental prompts. Every weekday.

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Attachments
Our attachments are dear to us. The labels, identities, and thoughts we perpetuate and attach to ourselves make us feel like us. We spend a lot of mental energy reorganizing our attachments so they don't conflict - shedding some and gaining others - so that we feel consistent.

When someone attacks, discredits, or belittle an attachment we hold, it hurts. Sometimes it hurts because we're worried about the attachment - we want to protect it. Most of the time, however, it hurts most because it questions our consistency.

If this isn't true, then who am I?

Maybe the higher order our mental attachments are, the more surface area we introduce for pain. Attaching yourself to the idea that the earth is round is specific, and probably pretty safe. Attachment to being the one with all the answers - attachment to being a good person - attachment to being funny, attractive, intelligent, informed, unique, morally superior. These are big, and they're going to be attacked.

If this isn't true, then who am I?

Maybe how we respond when our attachments are questioned change the energy of a conversation. And, as conversations bubble up to discourse, maybe the quality of our discourse changes our connections, norms, and communities.

Maybe we invite others to shed their attachments by throwing away our own, right in front of them where they can see it.
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Neighbors: Part 2
The potential for communal impact is much more abundant in densely populated areas (there are simply more people around), yet tightly bonded communities seem to form more frequently in small towns with far fewer people. Why?

Maybe it’s because cities abstract the needs, desires, and judgements of a community to groups of a higher order (often companies, governments, associations, etc). Because I pass 600 people on the street every morning, no one person is particularly incidental. In addition, consensus or norms and values cannot easily be spread or enforced with a population of this size. After all, shame only works within persistent groups (if you won’t see someone ever again, you’re less likely to care what they think of you).

However, all is not lost on the cityfolk. With the wide range of norms and values, it lures in folks who may not identify with the tribe where they currently exist. Smaller, and more intense tribes can exist among noise of the crowd, making a community bond which may be more relevant, more intentional, and even stronger than those which are built through proximity alone.

Maybe we’ll forever desire the tribal bonds - the ones that were once bound by suffering (in a world that has far less of it than we were designed for). For the first time, many of us have the agency to choose our tribes, but maybe we’re unqualified to make such assessments, so we’re left feeling confused.
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Broken Glass
The thing about glass is that you don't always see a crack before it shatters into a million pieces. Every time glass breaks, it feels unexpected. Only if you're lucky will you see the signs early.

Just because we expect resilience doesn't make it so. Maybe we shouldn't be so shocked when something so fragile gives way under the pressure.
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Two Fronts
We constantly battle on two fronts.

On one hand, we fight for equality.
All people should warrant the same level of respect. Everyone has a seat at the table.

On the other hand, we fight for our individuality - the parts, tribes, and identities that make us different.
I have a unique perspective and here's why it's important.

Maybe these two philosophies conflict when we (inspired by our tribe) attach greater or lesser value to our individual parts. Maybe culture is a constant state of negotiating the value of our parts in an environment where resources are (or feel) constrained.

Maybe if we ask ourselves why our individuality is so important, we'll get closer to who all of us really are.
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Dismissed
It's easy to dismiss something at a glance. But when you look closer, one of two things happens - it becomes far easier or far harder to dismiss. Context, understanding, and connection increase when you look deeply at something.

The current culture of headlines and summaries makes dismissal the norm (anything written in under 280 characters is especially easy to dismiss).

But maybe when we resist the urge to dismiss, we risk opening and learning the most. Diving in against what feels uncomfortable to us ensures that the delta between what we think we know and what someone is saying will be far greater. And even if we dismiss it in the end, maybe we've learned that a perspective exists that we didn't quite acknowledge or understand.

Maybe there is wisdom in every perspective.
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Roller Coaster
When you're on a roller coaster, it's really hard to think about anything else. In retrospect, we say these experiences were fun. In isolation, however, the individual moments that make up the whole wouldn't likely be called pleasurable.

Maybe part of the thrill is being thrust into the present moment, forced to replace any other anxiety or paranoia with the one you're immediately presented with. Maybe we're willing to give up moments of pleasure for extended periods of altered states of mind.
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Tainted Honey
When sugar was available to early humans, they would be wise to eat as much of it as they could. For us, we're better off avoiding the sugar-filled towers that litter every grocery store checkout.

As the story goes with many things - modern day dangers are a result of excess in a world where our biology is still expecting scarcity. Food, substances, experiences, information - every generation gets a brand new challenge as we thunder down the road of innovation.

Maybe wisdom in the new age is developing the unnatural ability to withdrawal from excess. To opt out of some of the games played at our expense. To step back and say, that's enough.
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Impractical Things
As I've gotten older I've come to realize how much time I've spent on hobbies or skills that are, largely, impractical. Some of these interests have presented a shallow opportunity for learning, and others have gone much deeper.

Looking back now, the subtle lessons obtained from exploring a wide range of interests is, in many ways, how the world has defined my value. Of course, this only seems clear from my perspective - being able to see all of the time I've wasted perusing interests and skills that won't make me money or make me famous or make me an expert.

Maybe the motivation to pursue impractical interests builds a framework of care and understanding that differs from one that you're graded on, or the one you build when somebody else wants you to do it.
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Convex Expectations
We were all born with mirrors.

When we're young, some of us are told that our value comes from how other people see us. Others were told it doesn't matter.

Of course, the reality is that there are over 7 billion people on this planet. Some people will have expectations of you. Most people won't.

Those that were trained to to conform to approval had their mirror bent for them, creating an outsized image of who's looking in, and how much it matters.

Maybe when we ask "but what will they think," we're looking at that warped reflection. And maybe we can unbend it.
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The Dream You
It's like it was me, but it wasn't me.

Have you ever had a dream where you are experiencing events, but you aren't entirely yourself? Maybe your personality or appearance is different. Maybe your reactions are also different. Maybe you live in a different world, with an entirely different worldly context.

What does it mean that the you that retains the memories of these experiences is outside the dream character which only sometimes maintains your real-world behavior and characteristics?

Maybe these experiences are our body's way of teaching us that who we are is simply a collection of stories, and that when the context drastically changes, the us that we define drastically changes along with it. Maybe the observing you needs help shining light on the attachments we cling to throughout a lifetime of experiences. Maybe dreams help.

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