Welcome to Prison

Prison of the mind

“The first step in avoiding a trap is knowing of it’s existence.” ~ Thufir Hawat in David Lynch’s Dune

One of the characteristics of being human appears to be that we do not have direct access to external reality. Information, and impressions about reality come to us through our senses, and are then sorted by our learned & inherited habits of categorization and labeling. This re-presents to us how reality appears in our “immediate” experience.

I use the quotes around the word immediate above on purpose. Modern science has revealed to us that no event propagates instantaneously across a distance. Nothing in the universe seems to be seems to be in possession of infinite velocity. It does seem like some portions of quantum theory lead to a violation of that maxim, but that point is hotly debated and only seems to apply to information transmission for the universe at large.

When it comes to being a human being, having an experience of reality, there is a limitation set into our very structure. Korzybski shows that all transmissions of information happen in sequence, and the speed of a particular sequence is limited by the maximum velocity of transmission of the component parts. For the human nervous system, the speed of signals traveling nervous fibers ranges from 0.61 meters per second up to 119 meters per second depending on the particular nerve tissue and the type of signal.

That means that even though the occurrence of an observed phenomenon may seem instantaneous to us, it never is. We always experience reality after the fact, albeit it often very slightly.

This puts us in a situation where our lived experience is not reality itself, but is a partial, and adjusted take on reality. What Leary and RAW called our unique and personal reality-tunnel.

Another lesson from Korzybski, “If words are not things, or maps are not the actual territory, then, obviously, the only possible link between the objective world and the linguistic world is found in structure, and structure alone.” In other words, the stories we tell ourselves about our experiences with reality are always representational only, and the only avenue we have for getting our reality-tunnel to sync with reality at large appears to be by getting the structures of the two as close as we can.

Facing this head on it seems that we are doomed to live in a prison of our own view. No matter how much clarification we go through, and how much experimental evidence we have to validate our reality-tunnel, it still is a partial and delayed take on reality. There does not appear to be any escaping this prison.

However, all is not bleak in this situation. It may be that we are prisoners of being human, but our stance toward that reality can be adjusted. We can take a hard look at the situation and come to terms with it. In a sense we can escape from being a victim of this prison to a full participant, moving withing our restrictions in a way we choose, rather than one which is dictated.

Gandhi used to look forward to being arrested. When he was in jail, or prison, he was relieved from the constant crowds that his work accumulated. He could catch up on his reading and corresponding. In a sense, when he was “free” he was in a prison of expectations and obligations, schedules and demands for his attention. When he was in a cell he was in a prison of restricted movement and view. By facing the truth of either situation he was able to see the advantages in both scenarios, and make happy use of them.

This trip is available to all of us. By coming to terms with our imprisonment we can go from being prisoners to free humans working fully within our situation.

In my experience the first step is to see as completely as possible the walls and structure of the prison. Getting comfortable within the limitations. There is more freedom than most of us think within these walls, once we stop pounding our heads against them.

It looks as if there is no escape from the prison, other than possibly death. But, what kind of prison will it be to you?

“Relax,” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!”
~ Hotel Californa, The Eagles

Page Flow Journaling, FTW!

Hola!  I hope this finds you well!  I wanted to talk to you today about journaling.  Let me first say that I loooooove journaling! I think it is an incredibly empowering, effective and engaging form of self-reflection and learning.  I have journaled, off and on, for the last decade.

On because it’s so very useful!

Off because I had a major roadblock with  the process.  My roadblock had to do with all the different things I want to accomplish with journaling, all the ways I have heard and learned to do it effectively, and the lack of a good way to section my journals.

You see, I have several uses I want to put my journals to (currently):

  • Keeping a dairy
  • Making a daily gratitude list
  • Keeping a daily list of 3 Good Things
  • Brainstorming
  • Keeping study notes
  • Holding course assignments for whatever program I am going through at the time

The trouble is, how do I keep all the sections straight?  My first solution? A different journal for each purpose!

Fail!

Not only is this a crimp on the pocketbook, but if you are like me and you get pulled from one cool subject to the next quickly, you don’t want to be lugging around 6 different journals as you adventure about the world.  Also, what happens if you make an entry in the wrong one?  And, who wants to keep this stack at your bedside?

 

 

 

 

 

My next brilliant solution was to use post-it notes to delineate the various sections, so that I would be easily able to flip back and forth.

Epic Fail!

This thing ended up sinking a third of the time hunting through the tome for a particular thread, a third of the time in trying to make sure I maintained the design well, and the last third giving up on journaling!

 

 

So, what’s the solution?  Ta-da!

Page flow!

(I came up with that name. The idea, however, was seeded from some cool MoleSkine hack articles I read a while back that recently jelled for me.)

In order to implement this you need to take a couple of steps.

1 – Get a blank journal.

2 – Number the pages

Now, when your writing in the journal you can reference what page your last entry was on for a particular subject, as well as the next:

You can also reference the page where the last entry was on the topic and show that the topic continues on the next page:

There you have it.  Now whenever you want to read multiple sections of a subject you can just follow the page prompts.

The only thing I would add is an index.  Some hackers suggest a table of contents up front in the journal, a few pages you leave blank and fill in as you start subjects in the journal.  I don’t like that method because a table of contents feels like it has to be in order.  Of course, an index should be in alphabetical order, but violating that convention feels less egregious to me.  YMMV.

I hope you got something out of this piece.  Keep up the journaling!  It’s good for you!

Cheers!