Thursday, March 22, 2007

wise words from my favorite chilean

"The world, despite its sufferings and paradoxes, is a wonderful place to be in. Life is worth to embrace. Two advices: learn to see the invisible, to open yourself to the unexpected; and no matter what follow your instincts in everything related to your soul and your identity."
"In our daily routines, may we be ready, willing and able to let the unexpected in and to receive what it is teaching. And may we all be so attuned to creation that we come to see God everywhere."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

on test kitchens for happiness

I just finished Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Took him a while—even with considerable inspiration from Shakespeare—to get to the gritty nitty, but the gist is that when conjuring the future, the mind is phenomenal at compensating for unknown details—filling in the blind spots. Your brain takes the few facts that you do know and flavors them with your current mood. The "after"—for better or for worse or for humdrum—is pretty much out of the picture. We rarely question the semblance. We take the mind's prediction as gospel, and bank our happiness on what often ends up being a lot of really good hocus pocus. [Those with lobotomies need not worry...well, you probably can't. Damage to the frontal lobe impairs a person's ability to imagine the future.]

When given a choice between information about an event/experience and testimony from someone (a "surrogate") who's already been there and done that, people want the information. Those who are given a surrogate's testimony are more likely to accurately predict how they'll feel afterwards. Apparently, we all would probably be more happy if we were more willing to learn from other people's experiences, BUT we don't because we think we're sooooooo special. Despite the preponderance of similarities, other's experiences couldn't possibly apply to us.

I think Gilbert has some good points. How crafty is the gray matter and how easily duped we are! Even so, his premise was a little pitchy for me, dawg. (Sorry. Just got done watching American Idol.) Acting on another's testimony may be effective in some situations. (Is this milk sour? Will it satisfy me? Here. Take a swig and tell me how you feel afterwards.) Informing your choice with other's experiences is also wise. But there are times when you just have to take the leap by and for yourself...sans surrogate. More often than not, I think I'd just as soon stumble.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

what kind of tool do you think I am?

I need to lay something down.
And I should probably complete my thought before moving on. Validation was the next point, I believe. Could I be a Swiss Army Knife that Friedman talks about in his book? Is it possible that my earnest meanderings could cease to be a cause of consternation and instead be a source of pride? I could really dig that.

The inclination is to read meandering as aimlessness, but it's exploration to me...and learning...and the process of elimination. I've elimninated several possible career choices by dabbling first. I settled on my current profession precisely because it doesn't pin me to any one specialty other than helping others explore whatever their whim or need might be.

I can tell you with deep sincerity that I could be equally engrossed in the phospholipid bilayer (do your own digging on that one) as I could about the Sawfish or Latin America or the wonders of Excel spreadsheets or the urban fiction phenomenon or analog vs. digital or how children's brains develop or the genius that is Larry David.
Yay me! But what kind of tool does that make?

And why is it that I suddenly want to break into song a la Julie Andrews?:
...What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting
to be out in the world, to be free.
My heart should be wildly rejoicing.
Oh, what's the matter with me?
I've always longed for adventure,
to do the things I'd never dared.
Now here I am facing adventure.
Then why am I so scared?

I know what you're thinking: "Who is this kick ass phenom who has referenced not one, but two of the hottest performers known to humanity--Julie Andrews and Roger Whittaker?"

It's me. And if you hang around some more, be assured that you will continue to be dazzled.

Friday, March 2, 2007


It's best to get my pissing and moaning out of the way.
To reiterate: holy crap. Four years out of my last stint of formal education and—especially now, after reading The World is Flat—I feel the fear that a dinosaur with ESP would have felt before the meteor hit. (what?)

I've always felt a little bad about my drawn-out career as a student—five years for bachelor's degree, two for graduate. I had come to the conclusion that I must have intentionally prolonged it out of insecurity—fear of entering the real world. I was a good and curious and diligent and thoughtful student, but would I do well in the great, mass-interactive experiment of life with the other janes and joes?

Now I’m in the real world and I’m finding myself feeling frustrated and stuck again and again. I’ve realized what I liked so much about being in school: feeding my brain and feeling up to date. As dorky as it may sound, I love learning. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been so incredibly lucky. Really. I work and have worked with some phenomenal humans; insightful people with an eye for the unseen and the heart and passion and creativity to innovate and motivate others to join them. At the same time, though, I miss the great minds and learning and the connection on a college campus.

And by connection I mean both the intellectual and the technological plug-ins. No more ready access to computer labs with speedy computers stocked with the latest software. No more classes on how to use these tools and—more importantly—to provide interaction with professors and students who push you to think creatively and look at the use and implications of technology from new perspectives. I went to decent schools, took wildly varied and interesting courses, and had some amazing teachers. Student life was stimulating and varied and fortifying. Stressful, sure, but at least some sort of intellectual progress was the result.

And back to the technology—here’s where the whining escalates to a fever pitch—I’m getting left behind with my Dell desktop computer, my the three-foot deep, 100 lb monitor, and a dial up Internet connection! I don’t have the friggin’ money to keep pace with the machines and gadgets and software and training! I know that there’s more to life than technology, but I’m beginning to feel so square. So 1.0.

It’s time for me to get a wiggle on. I need to bow to my innate tendencies and…you guessed it:
ride the boogie.