Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Importance of Variation

Original Posting

As I was sitting here surfing the internet for things I probably won't even remember tomorrow morning, my mind hopped onto a certain train of thought.

You see, earlier today I was busy writing something for a website I contribute to once a week (that sounds a lot more prestigious when I don't describe the nature of these contributions) and I noticed something during that time: I suddenly had a reawakened desire to study. I suddenly had a desire to do some heavy thinking about some heavy topics. This desire, however, occurred at a time when I couldn't fulfill it because of my prior obligation.

Then, as I lay here in my bed surfing the internet, I had another sudden desire to just start pulling books off of my shelves and begin reading. This, however, occurred on one of the few days I actually need to wake up semi-early tomorrow. Again, the fact that I should not spend my time studying made me want to study much more.

So, I began thinking about what this meant. On the one hand, it's evidence of the fact that we (or at least some of us, apparently myself being one of them) always want what we don't have. When I had to do X I suddenly desired Y even though when I'm free to do Y I often do not have the passion for it that I have when I have to do X. The question, then, is what does this mean for us and our activities?

The conclusion I came to is that unlimited free time (a state I happen to live in for the time being) results in nothing seeming worth a great effort because there's always more time wherein to do it. Because we always have more time to do something, we often do not find this moment better than that moment to do it in. There's always more time, so we're more inclined to put things off and pursue easier pleasures.

This conclusion led me to realize the importance of variation. By variation I mean variety in the situations we find ourselves in at different times. Some situations are better suited for certain activities than others (i.e. it's better to read a book while working than it is while driving, but it's better still to read during your free time than while working), which means we are forced to make value judgments to decide what we're going to spend our time on.

Because we grasp the importance of Y best when you understand that you can only engage in Y for Z amount of time before you have to X. When you have infinite time to engage in Y, you'll have a difficult time grasping it's value in moments.

Unfamiliar Ergo Awesome!

Original Posting

Let me ask you a question. If you lived in a high fantasy world full of strange and unusual races, wonderful creatures like dragons and sex-crazed wood nymphs, wizards who can manipulate the material realm simply through the use of potions and words, and full of ancient treasures, what would boredom be like?

I'm not sure what you answered, but my answer would be: the same as it is in our world.

Go ahead and phrase the question in different worlds: sci-fi, pirate adventure, supernatural investigation, etc. In all those wonderful and fantastic worlds, what would boredom be like? Well, why should boredom be any different in those worlds than our own? Of course I don't think anyone imagines it would be otherwise, they just imagine that boredom wouldn't be much of an issue in those worlds. Or maybe they just imagine that there's a lot more potential for excitement in that kind of world.

Why should such a world seem exciting, though? The High-Fantasy world seems exciting to us, I think, because it contains things that don't exist in our own world. It contains the unfamiliar, and that's why it's interesting. If we lived in a world where Dragons flew over our house everyday, Dragons would become terribly boring to us; if they kept themselves exciting by being violent, then we would find a way to kill them or subdue them.

And then the excitement's gone.

What fascinates us about things unfamiliar to our world is their distance. You've never quite grasped them, there's always another interpretation or another matter to think about. We can always butcher up our own animals and post our knowledge about them on Wikipedia, and of course we might find it interesting, but it won't produce that same fascination that something unknowable would have.

Would it?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sacrifice of Time

Original Posting

Each minute you can only do one thing (I'm not talking about multi-tasking, what I mean is that one can only do in a minute what one does in fact do in said minute), and then that minute is gone forever. We all have our minutes, but they are only good as sacrifices, we sacrifice them based on what we do in that moment.

Every moment spent reading a book is a moment not spent playing on the internet, every moment spent writing is a moment not spent exercising, etc. This is where the concept of sacrifice comes into play: I have to sacrifice this moment to something, what will it be? It's a sacrifice because once the moment passes you never get it back to spend on something else, it's gone forever.

Most of us take this very lightly, as well we should considering that we would probably go insane if we tried to measure the significance of every moment in our life as they passing away (not to mention it would be a terrible choice to sacrifice those moments to), but perhaps it's appropriate to spend a little time considering this. Ultimately, what you choose to sacrifice your moments to is what determines who you are; we are shaped by what we spend our time doing.

People who spend much of their time on intellectual matters become intellectuals, people who spend much of their time in social situations become more social people, etc. This is the largest way we shape ourselves and mold our character: if you ever wonder who you are look at what you spend your time doing, and if you ever wish to change yourself change what you sacrifice your moments to.

What, then, does your day reveal about you? As for me and my friends, we sacrifice our time to the Void. We prefer to pass the time, i.e. sacrifice time to nothing more than the sacrifice of time.

Damn browser games and Warcraft.