I’m not saying I’m a genius or anything.
But I am saying that parallel genius is a thing that exists.
One of my favorite things in college was when I would be taking some random combination of classes to fulfill the diverse requirements of the degree program and I would find that each of them was tied together by some theoretical or philosophical thread. And the whole semester would feel unified. Honestly, this happened more often than it didn’t. And I loved it. It makes the world less confusing when there are patterns to be drawn and connections to be made. It makes everything feel important. Because it is all connected. Even the shitty shit.
Like I’d have a biology class, and a psychology class, and a philosophy class, and a writing class, and a literature class. For example.
And in biology we’d talk about survival of the fittest, and then in psychology we’d talk about adaptive behaviors, and in philosophy we’d talk about logical fallacies that help us to maintain our belief in our correctness, which makes us feel better about ourselves, which makes us wrong but happier and less likely to tend toward fatalism, and then in writing the week’s assignment would be to talk about a time we thought we were the winner of an argument only to find out that we were the loser and in lit class we’d be reading Kafka.
It seemed sometimes that the units in vastly different subjects just sort of lined up like beads on a string. Every bead was a different shade of the same color. A different variation on the same shape. Basically the same size, but with a little smaller or larger hole in the center.
I love connections. The ability to see connections in seemingly random data is a major criterion for both genius and madness, actually. It’s all in whether or not you can make salient arguments as to the legitimacy of the connections you’re seeing. I’ve always been a connections person. I’m not always on target.
Often – especially socially – I find connections that aren’t there. Mainly, it’s due to misinterpretation of behavior, or paying more attention to a person’s words than their actions. Often, that’s because I want to believe what they’re saying and not what I’m seeing them do.
I’m off track. The point is that yesterday I wrote a whole big post about the importance of story to humanity. The importance of creating a narrative to go along with experience and the amazing ability we have to learn from experience and to adapt our future behavior to new experiences based on what happened before, and how we responded.
And then last night Shankar showed up with this episode of Hidden Brain that’s basically my macrocosmic argument narrowed down into a microcosmic version of the same message.
I fucking love when this happens.
It’s validating. Because as I was rereading through yesterday’s post the inner critic got all loud and obnoxious and started suggesting that I was the world’s biggest narcissist for thinking I had any right to compose some know-it-all bullshit about storytelling that read like a craft manual. Who did I think I was? Some sort of expert or something? Someone who knew the first thing about the craft of story?
Well bam, inner critic. Check ‘dis shit out right here.
Turns out I do know some shit about some shit.
Shankar just told me he believes me.
I can do all things through Shankar, who strengtheneth me, bitches.
I love it.
And I love the idea of shaping one’s own personal narrative.
In one therapy session I was told the difference between perseveration and rumination. I’d always thought of perseveration as having to do with action or behavior. The compulsive behaviors to rumination’s obsessive thoughts.
But my therapist explained that like the cow and its cud, rumination eventually gets somewhere. It may not be somewhere pretty, but it is a process that includes forward movement. Perseveration is just sitting around and chewing a rubber balloon. Nothing’s ever going to happen and eventually you’re either going to get sick or tired or both.
Chewing balloons is stupid.
I keep going back and back to the day Mike got arrested and I struggle to know how far back to go in my mind, to revise that history. I’m stuck at a lot of points in my life where bad shit happened, and the only thing I don’t like about this episode is that it does a great job of explaining the pros and cons of counterfactual thoughts and “what if” fantasies. But if offers no clarity to me about what counterfactual thoughts of my own might be helpful and which might be harmful.
I struggle with trust because of my marriage. Is my counterfactual thinking regarding that situation simply perpetuating anxiety over something I can’t change? Is it making me a better judge of character, going forward, hopefully ensuring that I won’t find myself tied to someone with really scary personality traits in the future? Or is it making me so overcautious that I’m missing out on lots of great opportunities because I’m too busy evaluating everyone and every relationship against him and that hellhole of a marriage?
I don’t know. I truly don’t know. But I feel better knowing that there’s an actual theory to go along with this. I like feeling some firm ground beneath me in the form of someone with credentials who can say “this is a thing that brains do, and yours is doing it more or less like everyone else’s.”
It calms me.
So anyhow. That’s my Tuesday.
How you doin’?