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Friday Fixin’s

  • Paul Bonneau tells philosophical libertarians they should “Become Dangerous.”
  • Jim Bovard sez it’s time to get rid of the phony-baloney federal privacy board.
  • I don’t have any advice for anybody, but I do have a question. I’ve found that, when it’s the right time for me to do something (make a decision, write an article, or whatever), suddenly that thing will come easy. In fact, a decision I’ve struggled with or an article I’ve been banging my head on or avoiding will abruptly just fling itself into my face, ready-made. But — even in small things — if the time isn’t right, it’s almost as if a physical force is holding me back. If I attempt to do something “before its time” I may become sleepy, clumsy, angry, stupid, or just generally frustrated. I’ve been experiencing a lot of that as I deal with all the house move-in stuff. I’m used to it on big decisions, but I’m noticing lately that even on the smallest things (e.g. giving people my change of address or new phone number) … when the time’s not right, I just plain can’t do it. But then, a moment comes (usually out of the blue), and it’s easy. Five minutes worth of work. So the question: Does anybody else deal with this kind of mental resistance as a regular thing?
  • Via Joel, a nicely brain-enhancing essay: “Underwear, bleach, and the rise of Sarah Palin.”
  • And finally, here’s another of my favorite (as well as one of the most remarkable and most sad) historic “footnote people”: William James Sidis. The Wikipedia entry doesn’t really convey just how remarkable or how sad his life was. For that, you’d need to read the excellent biography The Prodigy by Amy Wallace. (Here’s a review that also gives a good overview of Sidis’ life.)

16 Comments

  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 17, 2010 11:40 am

    The “when it’s right” thing happens to me a lot. I don’t fight it anymore. Used to be I thought I was just a terrible procrastinator (well, I’m that too…), added to the fact that I just don’t like change much, and the combination is almost always a pile of things that just never get done – even when I think I really, really wanted to do them.

    I wish I’d done some things a long time ago… and wish I’d never done some others at all, but my life has worked out pretty good overall… can’t really complain.

    Just an example: I’ve been wanting to get a DSL connection here for at least a year since the phone company put in the fiber optic cable. Just never got it all together until two weeks ago. Then I found out that in the last few months the $200. installation and modem “rent” that was part of the deal earlier is now waived, and that the monthly cost is reduced by $2. If I’d signed the contract a year ago, I’d have spent the initial money and be locked into the old price!

    Sometimes it is procrastination because we are not comfortable with the change, or we’re not sure what we want, I think. And sometimes it just isn’t the right time. 🙂

  2. Matt
    Matt September 17, 2010 12:51 pm

    Yup, deal with that mental resistance many times. I have gotten pretty good at knowing if it is my natural laziness, or something saying back off. Might be gut instinct, karma, fate, or the Holy Spirit, but I have learned to listen. I don’t mind telling people now that I will do such and such when I feel the time is right. I can also stand telling people no, because I just don’t fell like it!

  3. Pat
    Pat September 17, 2010 1:15 pm

    “So the question: Does anybody else deal with this kind of mental resistance as a regular thing?”

    Yes. I thought for years that it was procrastination (and in some cases, still is). But, more and more, most everything has to be done at the Right Time.

    When I was about to move, I felt like I couldn’t get cleaning, or packing, or sorting, or yard sale, or address changes — not anything! — done. At some point, I said “Well, you know you’ve got to leave by such-and-such a date, so relax. You WILL be out of here by then.” Sure enough, everything began to fall into place: on this day, I did this… on that day, I did that… by another date, something else was finished — and I left on schedule with no unfinished chores. Organization took place, but it was my subconscious mind that was organized, not _me_ on a conscious level. (It’s pretty bad when your own mind won’t talk to you.)

    As MamaLiberty says, “Sometimes it is procrastination because we are not comfortable with the change, or we’re not sure what we want, I think. And sometimes it just isn’t the right time. :)”

  4. Debby Rich
    Debby Rich September 17, 2010 3:39 pm

    Hey it happened to me today and it
    should not have happen. My husband
    got a speeding ticket going to work.
    And yes he was going over the speed
    limit. My first reactional was o no. Not
    right now. With all the medical expensives that we have had lately and
    I have had 3 minor surgey in the last
    month, even with insurance, our out
    of pocket expenses are adding up.
    Well we have 2 checking accounts. So
    I called the second one today and found enough money to pay off the ticket and some else for me.So I call that a real blessing.
    take care.
    Debby

  5. cctyker
    cctyker September 17, 2010 10:02 pm

    “… when the time’s not right, I just plain can’t do it.”

    Is it also true that if we do not respond to the time when it is “it’s time”, the article, decision, whatever, returns to being life’s #1 struggle again?

    Tough life trying to be creative or meet deadlines committed to more out of some social motive, rather than out of a personal need or desire for fulfillment.

  6. Teresa
    Teresa September 18, 2010 8:05 am

    Hi Claire,
    I’ve found that when something happens, it’s just it’s time to happen. The more you fight it, the more you suffer, lol, so just roll with the punches.

    I live in the drier NW along the WA/ID border and I’m glad to have you back! I lived in AZ for seven years before we moved up here and the only thing I miss is mesquite to bbq with, really, really good Mexican food, fresh pistachios, & fresh pecans. Good luck in your new abode.

  7. Jim Bovard
    Jim Bovard September 18, 2010 7:39 pm

    On the “time’s not right” question – how much of a variable is your level of restfulness?
    At a certain level of fatigue, everything becomes a pain in the ***.

  8. CS
    CS September 18, 2010 10:38 pm

    Claire,

    I know what you mean. A long time ago, a very wise man told me that “Once you determine how to phrase the question properly, the answer is usually obvious.” (That’s in line with the old Zen saw, “Once the pupil is ready, a teacher appears.”)

    Perhaps the most clear example of this sort of thing occurred in my life when I met my wife-to-be. Let me stop right here and explain: It was not one of those “love at first sight” experiences, replete with romantic infatuations. I’d been burned many times and I was more than cautious.

    Yet, after our first date, it was obvious to me that this was the woman I was going to marry. (It took her a little longer for her to overcome her native caution. Later on she explained that one of the main reasons she was able to do so was that I didn’t display the usual slobbering attention her other suitors had.)

    Timing is, of course, everything. I think as we become (ahem) “more mature” we become more cognizant of when the proper moments for action arise. (I also think the lapses into inertia may derive from trying to thwart underlying survival mechanisms, or what some people refer to as a “gut instinct.” We internalize more than we realize during our brief stay on this planet.)

    Jim,

    While I certainly agree that being well-rested (and fed) seems to have a lot to do with my enthusiasm for just about anything, there have been plenty of times when I’ve been dog tired and burned out, yet something “clicked” and I found myself standing in front of a finished piece of work, wondering how I managed to do that.

    What I’ve found interesting is how large a role my Circadian rhythm seems to play in things. Since young adulthood, I’ve been a complete night owl, forced into a 9-5 world. If I tackle a problem much past 11 pm, I can easily be up until 4 or 5 with it, doing some of my best thinking during those hours. It turns out that some of us may be genetically predisposed in that direction. (I often joke that somebody had to be up tending the fire and keeping the rest of you safe from cave bears.)

    Bah. Enough of my pop psych.

    Debby,

    Sounds like you need to find a doctor who accepts cash. As the gyre widens, I think you’ll find there will be plenty of physicians who’ll revert to a reasonable fee for service for outpatient care.

    Don’t ask me how I know. 😉

  9. Pat
    Pat September 19, 2010 2:55 am

    Oh, yes, that lovely Circadian rhythm…

    I’ve done my best thinking and decision-making in the middle of the night, especially while cooking or cleaning. Many financial decisions have taken place only after procrastinating during the day (or days) before. Crafts and design creativity that didn’t come together during daylight hours worked smoothly and turned out well at night – all just by “putting it off” until the Right/Night Time.

    In this Jim Bovard may be partially correct: sometimes it IS only after one sleeps on it – and gets rested – that the right decision or action can be made. And the mind knows when to shut down so we don’t make the wrong decision. (Another case of the mind “thinking for itself” without telling us – on a conscious level – what it’s doing.) But even when rested, the night is often the right time.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I worked night shift for many, many years, so I find daylight (sights, noises, phones, vehicles, and especially people) somewhat distracting. These distractions may also be why night is the right time.

  10. Suzy
    Suzy September 19, 2010 7:21 am

    Claire, it happens to me a lot with articles….I’ll do an interview, have the photos all ready….and it just doesn’t come to me…..then a few days later…whoop….I sit down at the computer and it’s like it writes itself….

    (That’s even after all those years of discipline of having to write articles on deadline for daily papers….but now the freelance articles are just so much different….)

    Husband and grown son are that we a lot with their electrical contractor business….they do a lot of trouble shooting….someone will call with a problem and they’ll think about it briefly that night before they go to sleep, then in the morning when they go to the job the fix just comes to them….it is often reallyamazing.

    It’s happened to me in other areas of my life as well but not as dramatically as it does with my writing…

    Hope you are enjoying your new place!!!!

  11. Victor Milan
    Victor Milan September 19, 2010 11:32 am

    Frequently. I’ve learned to trust my subconscious. (Also, in an analogous way regarding exercise, my body.)

    It can be tough to tell the difference between good ol’ procrastination and subconscious resistance to an unsuited action. I seem to be acquiring the skill.

    As for fatigue factor, that usually attacks my concentration. And when it starts to get extreme, my morale. When I start to feel everything’s hopeless, I’ve learned that’s a reliable sign that I seriously need rest.

    As always, YMMV.

  12. Claire
    Claire September 19, 2010 12:46 pm

    Jim Bovard, you’re right. Fatigue is part of it — not just being sleepy-tired, but also feeling pressured, over-burdened, or as if I have to meet other people’s expectations rather than my own. It goes beyond that, but for sure having some rest (and the perspective or insights that go with with it) helps. I like the way Pat put it — mind or body shuts down to avoid making a bad decision.

    Interesting that so many people have this same experience — and distinguish it from ordinary procrastination. I hadn’t thought about it, but good distinction. I can be a good (or bad) procrastinator, too. But as you note, this is a whole different thing.

    I’m with you guys who often get your best work or thinking done at 4:00 a.m. But I come at it from the other direction. I’m a morning person. If I sleep until the sky starts getting light in the morning I feel disoriented the rest of the day.

  13. naturegirl
    naturegirl September 19, 2010 5:12 pm

    Oh, yeah, happens to me too….and I’ve learned that the more you fight against “what’s to be, when it’s to be” the worse it makes you and your state of mind……some things you can fight against and win, “timing” isn’t really one of those……

    It’s not really anything to do with procrastination or laziness, it’s all about being the right time for the right thing to happen….not to mention it’s a control issue ~ how much you really don’t have over “other plans” flowing, with a greater power than yours….what’s amazing is it’s not just big things, it happens with the smallest (stupidest) things as well, & that’s just weird…….

  14. A.G.
    A.G. September 19, 2010 8:07 pm

    My father (a writer) carries a small “Moleskin” with him everywhere, and will jot down things as they come to him. A pretty successful artist friend at church does the same, and will draw an image to depict the sermon’s theme throughout the service. But he talks to butterflies and stuff so I don’t know.
    A genius of another era (Edison??) used to get his inspiration just before dozing off on a regular basis. He took to laying with a spoon in his hand, hanging off the side of the bed. Just as he would fall asleep, he would drop the spoon into a pan below that was on the floor. This would awaken him long enough to record in his journal what he was thinking, and he would return to it the following day. I surmise he somehow programed himself to consistently call on his creative (subconsious) mind during that specific period. It would almost be like passing notes to yourself.

  15. Scott
    Scott September 20, 2010 9:34 am

    I think “everything in its time” applies to society as well,at least it seems that way. Ever notice some inventions come in clusters at about the same time? It’s almost like it’s “steam engine time” or “incandescent light time”, even when the people involved had no knowledge of what the other was doing along the same lines.
    Sometimes, things just fall right into place. More than once I’ve been working on something-even if it’s a project I expected to have trouble with-and everything just clicked into place perfectly. Of course, the exact opposite has happened as well. Have you ever “just known” something was going to turn out well-or not turn out well,even though you had no real evidence either way? Call it what you will, but it does happen.
    Something I’ve noticed-not doing something when you really feel you should go ahead a do whatever it is usually turn out for the worst. There must be a built in mental subroutine somewhere that monitors what you’re planning,and gives you these hints.

  16. A.G.
    A.G. September 21, 2010 9:00 pm

    Scott, the observation you have had about “the idea who’s time has come” has been made and written about in some well known meditative works.
    I do know that there was other who developed flying machine completely unaware of what the Wright bros were up to…and managed to get off the ground a bit later in the same year.
    BTW, do I know you from WT forum?

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