Nothing Definitive

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Nothing Definitive is an enlightenment blog by Sam Shadow (SMSHDW).

Strategic decision-making

It’s not about the moment and making spontaneous decisions, it’s about planning for the future. For example, in this moment, as I try to fall asleep, I could listen to music. If I chose Radiohead my future would be different than if I chose Daft Punk. This is because my brain chemistry would react differently to the different style of music and thus different thoughts would emerge and lead me down a different cognitive path. As a result, the innumerable decisions I’ve made and not made, large and small, to reach this point could never be replicated or fully comprehended. There are just too many options to manage within the human mind. Instead, it’s about programming yourself to utilize tools and discipline to continuously shape your future. Your momentary self should almost be on autopilot attempting to achieve the strategic goal the other side of yourself is planning for. This means you need to understand yourself and learn methods to manage the chemistry and situations that arise each day and alter them in your favor. It’s a long game of carefully crafted statistical choices which means the sooner you start the better you may fare later in life. The other way I’ve imagined it is like a radial menu from the “Sims” video game franchise. Each moment, situation, and interaction has this menu available to it with a myriad of options to choose from. You tend to choose the ones that are most similar to past decisions, but the others are available if you’re feeling daring or adventurous. And who knows what other realities would exist for you if you started to choose the other options. That’s where this goes off the rails and you realize how insignificant your feeling of decision-making might be. Have you ever really made a truly conscious decision before? It’s seems pretty unclear.

A Consistent Foundation

Ok, I’m talking through the problem and it just occurred to me that maybe the strategy of defining precise objectives isn’t the answer. Maybe it should be about defining routines based around universal constants. Things that never change. Projects and objectives should NOT be part of the strategy at all. Consistent routine should be entirely about when you wake, what you eat, what order you do your basic necessities in, etc. and have no reference to goals. Those only fit in when you have free time between these other activities. You’re basically building a foundation upon which only the strongest, universal elements are constructed. The things that won’t change now or in the future and won’t change even if you do. Everything else lives inside it, but is not a part of the structure. That way you can be both consistent and dynamic. Don’t worry about anything else, just basic consistency.

The black and blue bubble

During the day we live inside a comfortable blue bubble, but at night things are revealed for what they are. The vast darkness of space, the dark nightmare that surrounds us, the dangers that lurk within.

Ceaseless execution

There is nothing more to discuss, just a firm resolve forward into silence. Executing on task after task in a futile effort to fill a nameless void. Ceaselessly, until the end of time.

Somewhere, deep in a dark place, a solitary statue stirs and a crack forms down its side…

One step forward, two steps back

The more I learn the more I understand why people work so hard to succeed. It’s because we all start so far away from any meaningful end game. Each insight takes me one step forward rationally, but it feels like a net loss because my position on the game board becomes more clear. It’s almost as if the more I learn the further backwards I find myself. It’s an interesting dilemma because I can’t go back and willing ignorance isn’t an option. Moving forward increases my intelligence and allows me to see reality more clearly, but it paints a much bleaker picture overall. I wonder if there is a way to negate the effect of moving backwards by somehow accurately pinpointing your position on the game board so new insights only felt like a step forward?

Shifting focus

Logic, rationality, philosophy, and science. These pursuits construct tools inside your mind for interpreting reality. It then becomes less an aimless struggle for self-awareness and more about cultivating good decisions over a long stretch of time. A game of statistics that’s less focused on you as an individual and more on navigating an external game board. How do you maximize your successes? What direction are you traveling in? Knowing who you are is still important, but maybe you are equally defined by the path forward as by the path behind.

Thoughtfulness is adjustable

Being thoughtful and labeled as someone who thinks about others is yet another calculation. There are 24 hours in a day, you sleep on average 8 of them, you spend another 10-12 working, at school, or tending to necessities. That leaves 4-6 hours each day that you can customize to your liking. Those 4-6 precious hours are yours to spend however you wish and those who are more selfish spend a higher percentage of them thinking about themselves and their own endeavors. Let’s say the average person spends 5% of their time thinking about others in some meaningful way while a selfish person spends 1%. Let’s then average 4-6 hours to 5 and convert it to minutes = 300 minutes. At 5% that is 15 minutes per day that the average person goes out of their way to really think about another person’s well-being and ways they could help improve it. 1% would be 3 minutes. Someone who is “thoughtful” might adjust that percentage to 10% and spend 30 minutes per day thinking about others. The point is, we go about our days not reflecting on how we really spend our time, and even less on adjusting them to reach our goals. This thought process could be applied to many different things. For awhile, I conducted an experiment using Toggl where I tracked every minute of my day for weeks. It revealed new insights about how I really spend my time and, as a result, who I really am.

Popcorn Dominance Loop

Last night I made popcorn and brought it into my room. My dog Ellie followed eagerly as I picked up the first kernel. An automatic thought entered my mind which said, “don’t give it to her, you need to take the first bite.” It was a subtle sign of dominance. I am the pack leader and I must prove it by eating first. It was embarrassing. I handed her the first bite and said an audible, “fuck you” to myself. There’s probably a logical reason why this trigger exists, but is it necessary in the modern world? It was remarkably subtle and made me wonder how many little loops like this I miss on a regular basis. I’d imagine it affects my relationships with people too. Automatic responses that modify how people see me and I have no strategic control over it. I have been able to catch some of them though by asking simple, obvious questions like: what am I doing right now? Why am I doing it? And are there alternative options I’m not considering? It takes skill and regular practice to answer them in a useful way, but can help reveal even the most subtle of automatic behaviors.

“Ew, it sounds horrible! And wasn’t it really dangerous? I can’t believe some people still do it!” Natural childbirth will become antiquated. Children will be synthesized in laboratories. Their genetics chosen based on the statistical needs of society. Their destinies selected. Their bodies perfect and healthy, designed to replace the existing stock of out-dated models. They will be truly parentless, but they will not be bothered. Their predecessors are wired up to systems that keep them alive and out of harms way. In their virtual worlds. Like sick patients waiting to die. Sexual fantasies will be carried out inside these worlds. A vast database of possibilities awaiting your next selection. Whatever your heart desires flickers alive in front of your eyes. There will be little reason to leave the safety of your home and a phobia will set in among participants. Fearful of the real world and the danger it possesses. The world will discard most of its physical infrastructure. What remains will be for the intrepid and exceptional. They will move our stories forward while we continually satisfy our primal urges. A most brilliant distraction to keep us from facing the difficulties of the world. Purpose will be manufactured by a room of virtual individuals. Building yet another world for people to explore. Another narrative for them to be consumed by. We will continually fall into this slumber. A permanent dream. Drifting ever closer to digitizing ourselves. Without hesitation. Without a fight.

The future, present, and past are a story. We will face challenges that will kill us. Investing in survival and working knowledge of the world will protect you. Don’t get sick. Be proactive and cautious. This is not a game, but it IS a narrative. The story of Nothing Definitive is one of partial reality, skewed by the perspective of the storyteller. I see what I see. Other’s see different.

It stacks on itself. You utilize tools, it has nothing to do with intelligence or “something mystical.” It is a person who has moved from a starting position into something greater than themselves. The information and understanding stacks and mistakes teach us new tools to avoid further mistakes. We walk further and further down that path and success breeds greatness. It is not mystical. It is not a trick. Subtlety and nuance are the art of this world.

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