January 3rd, 2008

Porcupine

"I have been thinking"

In fact, I have been thinking way too much. When I was young, I was quite proud of my thinking. I felt that the highest aspiration for a human must be to think as much as possible. But eventually, over a couple more decades, I realized that thinking and feeling both cloud the mind, only in different ways. They are both unavoidable, even necessary, but they get between us and the real world. If we whirl up too many of them at once, they can really make it hard to see clearly.

I call myself a "conscientious observer". This is a wordplay, but a deeply serious one, for it is my current aspiration. But it is hard. When we observe, the mind is eager to whirl up theories based on a few data points, even in those cases where we don't need to act right away. This is the nature of the mind, and rightly so, for there are times when time is essential. If a tiger attacks you, quietly observing for as long as possible is likely to remove you from the gene pool, therefore we descend from the hasty men. But this haste is not productive when observing the national economy, or even a budding human relationship. It is certainly not productive when observing our own inner life.

I have found that when we observe for a long enough time, answers often give themselves with no need for thinking. I suppose it is a form of thinking, it certainly requires a brain, but it is fundamentally different from logic. It is a kind of intuition. Like watching someone else laying a jigsaw puzzle. At some point the picture becomes impossible not to see. But it is possible if I am lost in thought.

Sometimes I see people in the main street who are clearly lost in thought (or possibly feeling). They are so unaware of their surroundings that they collide with other people or (more rarely) even with immobile objects. Actually walking into lightpoles is very rare, but bumping into things happens. The disturbing part is that most of these people probably have a car as well. Driving while thinking is like driving drunk or on drugs, except you can sober up faster. By the time you sober up, however, someone could be dead.

The ability to return to the here and now at will is a great boon, and I intend to keep practicing it. To not think because you are stupid is no great achievement and not very useful. But when the intelligent refrain from thinking too much, they can observe much, and this leads to wisdom.
At work, Self portrait

Snow!

This should not surprise anyone since I live in Norway, but it snows again! It is my second day of snow this winter, and yesterday most of it melted (in the city at least). Today it is colder, and the snow is blowing in the wind. It snowed briefly before New Year too, but not long enough that I was outside in it. I think that's normal here on the south coast. Nothing to do with the greenhouse effect - it is not so specific. Anyway, the snow today is fairly light and it snows only little, so I don't mind. The newspaper says there may be lots of snow in the weekend, which would suck since I would have to shovel it.