Friday, April 18, 2003

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. I wouldn’t know. I think that if I STARTED doing the same thing over and over again, it would bring a different result: the SAME result.

Most people don’t know how insane it is to do the same thing DIFFERENTLY every time. I’m here to tell you, it may be interesting, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Being creative is one thing. To have to learn how to do something over and over is highly annoying.

On a 3-switch light switch in my own house, I don’t remember which switch goes to which light. I don’t even know how many times I’ve been taught the rules of Rummy. I’ve been skiing several times, and each time I head for the Bunny Hill to learn how to ski. I can only hope that sometimes I look like I’m good at improvising, rather than looking like I don’t know what the heck I am doing. I know that it’s too much to hope for on the Bunny Hill, but perhaps there are other activities where it isn’t quite so obvious.

When Wal-Mart opened in town, I stayed away for months. Not only did I keep forgetting it was there, it was something new. Anything new is just one more thing I’ll have to get used to, repeatedly. And forget spontaneity. I’m so sick of spontaneity. Unfortunately, it’s the only way to make new friends or to do anything that’s remotely interesting. I have to pretend to have no problem with spontaneity, but deep down it makes me nervous. Last-minute plans are just more spontaneity on top of my already overwhelmingly spontaneous life.

That’s why changes are so upsetting. Once I figure something out, I want it to stay the same for the rest of my life. Otherwise, I would like to have two weeks’ notice. Like if Wal-Mart rearranges everything in the store, it would really helpful if someone would call me two weeks ahead of time so I could mentally prepare for that. It’s just a suggestion.

Monday, April 14, 2003

The mind works in mysterious ways, especially my mind. One minute I was wondering why anyone would fall for the “flaming bag of poo” prank – and then suddenly, my life made sense.

But let me start from the beginning. When there’s a flaming bag of poo on your porch, the thing that initially gets your attention is the fire. That’s what makes this prank such an enduring and popular one. Almost by pure instinct, you act to put the fire out as quickly as possible. You’re in “crisis mode” and you respond. Who could blame you? Once the fire is out, well, hopefully you have another pair of shoes and the name and address of the person who did this to you.

That being said, a lot of us live our lives in “crisis mode”. Paperwork, schoolwork and housework are common things for people to fall behind on. Having the occasional crisis can make you think that you should devote LOTS of time to “getting organized” - past the point of diminishing returns.

That’s why “embracing incompetence” (see the web page description) is no joke. There isn’t always a reason to be extremely competent. (I am refering to specific tasks, not you as an individual.) There just isn’t enough time in life to become highly competent at things you will always have to struggle with. Of course these things need to be dealt with, but the point is not to spend most of your time on it. When the effort exceeds the benefit in these difficult areas (or they simply don't get done), you may even decide to hire someone else to do some of those things for you. And if you’re bent on “being productive”, think of it this way: when you spend most of your time doing stuff that you’re GOOD at, it’s a much more productive use of your time. The difference between “good enough” and “perfect” when working on something you don’t have an aptitude for involves huge amounts of time, at the expense of other things that you enjoy and do well. And who says that doing things you enjoy and do well can’t be productive?

So the moral of the story, whether it’s spending time managing your weak areas or standing with your foot in a previously flaming bag of poo: It’s bad enough that you stepped in it, but don’t stay there any longer than necessary.