Archive for August, 2009

Procrastination and comprehension

It’s funny how the mind works. Well- let me rephrase that: It’s funny how your mind works. To me.

There are some aspects to the general human mind that both baffle and amuse me. Don’t kid yourself, by the way- there is such thing as the general mind, and you and I both possess a large chunk of it. And just like everyone, I think I’m different, but at least I can tell you why.

I read about an investigation some time ago, in a magazine called Eos. It’s a scientific magazine, meant to supply you with a monthly dose of nerdly knowledge. 90% is just vaguely interesting, but once in a while you discover something that fits in your own world image, and provokes some thinking. One can never have enough of that, in my opinion.
It stated that everyone has an anti-procrastination reflex built within them. Subjects were told that they were about to receive a certain dose of pain, and they had the choice between “now”, or “later”. Conveniently,  I don’t know the exact numbers anymore, but the vast majority chose to receive the pain right away. Even when the intensity would be somewhat higher than if they would have to wait for it, they asked to be put through the ordeal as soon as possible.

This does not make sense to be, at all. I agree that necessary pain should be over and done with so we can move on without the bothersome element, but there is one little factor that I am amazed no one foresees:

If I was sitting in those mad scientists’ pain chair, asked the same question, I would take a good look around me and consider my answer. How long are we talking about? What are circumstances looking like? Because there is always a chance that your mr. scientist gets a heart attack in the process, and you’re in luck. Anything could happen, and a massive amount of possible events would lead to procrastination resulting in cancellation.

If you can ignore it and there is a fair chance of the problem solving itself, why not do so? It saves time and effort, and has much less to do with laziness than intelligent managing of energy. From the dishes to paperwork, I live by this principle. It drives some people mad because they don’t understand. Please, don’t be one of them, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t expect anyone to do my work for me. But, I won’t stop you if you insist on doing so. Eventually, when the problem becomes urgent enough, I will solve it without moping. Shit needs to get done, and I can’t escape it. But you can’t blame me for trying, can you?


The opposite also applies. Let me give you an example:
My friend and I were going to toss a meal together, and while shopping, threw in some chocolate desserts (this is Belgium after all). By the time we got home, mine was finished. She thought it was kind of strange and funny that I couldn’t help finish my candy at the first opportunity. Thing is however, I can. I just don’t. I’ve proven in the past that I can resist grave temptation with relative ease (not making it easy, mind you), but unless I see a valid reason to, I don’t bother. This has lead me to go back on a decision when circumstances changed, and go the opposite way with equal determination, provoking a fair deal of confusion in others.

We discussed it for some time, and eventually agreed to disagree. At the end of the night however, I was proven right- at least in my eyes. As she left, she actually forgot her own dessert in my fridge.
Now who is the smart one? He who did not wait to enjoy what he could, or the one who was left with nothing at all? This “reward” system that others use, which causes them to wait for something to enjoy it more, seems irrational to me.

I agree that water never tastes as good as when you’re parched, but come on. I see people do this all around me, and what surprises me even more, is that they see it as a proof of character. A strong will, going against temptation. But when it comes to really tough decisions, they postpone until urgent, or worse.
I’m not complaining, though. When push came to shove, she got none, and I got two. The second did indeed taste better. Perhaps next time I should just buy two?

1. No Being Sad
2. No Restlessness
3. No Hesitation, About Anything
4. No Useless Daydreaming
5. No Feeling Guilty
6. No Thankfulness
7. No Pity

In order of evil

I’m a cyborg, but that’s OK is a 2008 Korean movie that rate’d 60% on Granted, it wasn’t that great, but personally I would have rated it 221 out of 350 because of its equally unbalanced impact on my personal issues.

First things first: Yuong-Goon (played by a Korean chick) is put in an asylum after she cuts her wrists at work, inserts two wires and plugs herself into a socket. She believes she is a cyborg, and refuses to eat. Park Il-Sun (played by a Korean dude) is intrigued by her, and searches a way to help her.
The movie is moderately inspiring and tries hard to be cute, sporting uninteresting side roles and dito filler shots.

A fun movie, but nothing overly impressive. However personally, I sat through the movie with wide eyes, served a pretty intense “wow” moment from time to time.
Yuong-Goon bears a striking resemblance with a friend of mine. And not just in the face; the way she looks about her, and the distance she stares in when trying to explain the inexplicable.

This friend of mine is diagnosed with borderline, among a few other equally vague. I was there when she came home from being told- she was quite broken up about it because she felt like she was being judged: she was officially a nutcase. My reaction was something like, “What do they know.”
I don’t think I could have put my immediate emotion a better way. The “whitecoats,” as they are called in the movie, don’t actually know what they are talking about.

I was involved with this girl for a short while, in one of the darkest periods of my life. That is possibly why she was attracted to me in the first place, and likely the reason why she dumped me when I became happy to be around her. She needs her fix of drama, or she will create it. My boring acceptance of life as it is, made her switch like a blade, and by my experience, she disappeared from my life as if she had turned off the light. Gone.

I am thankful for the things she did for me, which should not be underestimated. And in equal worth, I am sorry for not being able to give her the same. Lord knows I tried, but there was one big problem that made me useless from the start. Allow me to put it bluntly: I am sane.
She reasons unlike any other. She will include details while sketching a situation that strike me as both entirely irrelevant and remarkably spotted. She bursts with creativity, but it was near impossible for me to make something of her drawings and writings, however plentiful. I reached the point where it only took a pointer in the right direction before I could follow, but I never managed to see for myself.

The character in the android movie is eventually saved by someone who understands her logic and reasons between the lines she drew. He “fixes her” so she can eat, and makes her feel safe by promising lifetime guarantee. I was never able to do that, despite my efforts. And for that I am very sorry, I would have done anything to set her mind at ease. Hugs never worked, and I never knew the right thing to say. It made me feel powerless.
I tried to explain this to her, but I probably made just as much sense as she trying to explain herself to me. I was in a very dark place when we were together (I promise, I have good periods, too), and she pulled me through. In exchange, I stood dumbly by the side line, testing hugs and oneliners to see what comforted her.

She intrigues me to no end, up to this day. We met again, not long ago, and immediately I felt myself slip in that observer mode while she talked in abundance, and my failing to understand stung hard. I haven’t made any effort to see her again after that, I hoped I could be a friend to her but I get the feeling I only bring her frustration.

While you spent your time learning geography, I was organizing my thoughts on the meaning of life. While you studied someone else’s take on reality, I studied my own. And I studied hard- I had no choice. I was in boarding school back then, and when locked up inside a room with your own thoughts, you need to channel them somehow. While the others turned to their books, I angled my mind towards the sky.

Call me arrogant, but I am convinced, mostly because of the intensity of this period, that I can comprehend my way of reasoning much more clearly that just about anyone else. And, through (distorted) projection, that of others as well. I can state, without blinking, that I (think I) know the meaning of life. When I do something, I know why. When faced with a certain situation, I can accurately predict my reaction and know how to steer it- I can name several examples, too.

This has many things as a result, plenty of which I’ve brought up before. But there is one that has come to my attention only recently, and that is an profound fascination with the cases where my projection fails.
I gave you one example in the previous subject, but there are more. Everyone has been through different, life-changing events while forming their persona, so everyone is fundamentally different. Most can be understood or reasoned, but since I haven’t seen it all yet, I am often told about emotions that I have never experienced, myself.

Physical abuse. Sexual intimidation. Permanent disability – all things I can simply not comprehend. Sure, my imagination can give me some idea, but it is impossible to feel what they did, and still do. I have my own share of traumas, but they are different. The idea that there is more to be experienced outside them, is morbidly interesting to me. I enjoy listening to those willing to share, and being some sort of relief that way gives me great satisfaction.

For some reason, I never talk about my own “events”. Perhaps I’ve managed to cope with them somehow, or handle them differently. I remember vey little about the change they caused, so I wouldn’t know where to begin. Am I even making sense here? Let’s make sense.
I lost my mother when I was 10. To my shame, I have to admit that it doesn’t hurt anymore, today. At least, not in everyday circumstances. I noticed that I have trouble with certain things (like permanent goobyes – quite a bitch when your house is open to passing travelers) a lot more than others do. I live with it but the end result is still noticeably different.

We all have our demons, right? In that sense, we’re all alike. I suppose in this, I should be thankful that I can’t understand what the fuck they are talking about, and just learn what I can from my position.