Well, here we are as a community here on Ning, sharing another Solstice –our 10th since we landed here in March of 2010!!! For some of us it’s summer, for most of us, it’s winter. What would you like to share about what this particular solstice means for you in your life in general, or your life here? How do you relate to solstices?
Yesterday was the hottest day yet on the golf course. I drank a litre of water and it wasn’t enough. Humidity was close to 100% (very unusual for us here), this (Sunday) morning (6:40am) it is a comfortable 20C with 61% humidity.
Today seems similar, but less overcast, lower humidity, looking forward to an afternoon on the golf course.
There are just a few small clumps of snow left on the highest peaks, in the south facing valleys, but everything below 7,000 ft has melted now. Ailsa took the 4WD up to the hut on Mt Fyffe yesterday (3,300ft), then tramped from there up to the summit (5,200ft), and along the summit ridge, photographing plants and insects.
Several ideas occupying my thoughts lately.
One is in relation to freedom, and the idea of likes and dislikes being largely determined by our past (either genetically over deep time of millions of years, or culturally over more recent but still long time of thousands, or hundreds or tens of years). Since I had to consciously override all food preferences to ensure my survival, I have really been questioning the idea of preference and its role in choice.
Why should any of us allow our selves to be prisoners to preferences that are wholly defined by our past?
I understand quite a bit about how likes have evolved in both genetic and cultural contexts, and our technical and cultural environments are now changing far faster than any evolutionary process can keep up with.
There seems to be a great gulf between the preferences that my mind goes towards if just left to its own devices, and what will bring the greatest benefit, in terms of security and freedom and prosperity, in the long term.
Developing both the confidence, and the strength of will, to make significant choices, in such an uncertain and ever changing landscape of possibilities is hard – far harder than changing diet to beat cancer (and that was hard – a massive effort of will).
I was just talking to Ailsa about what possibility looks like to me. It is like I am walking through a landscape that is constantly changing, mountains and valleys come and go – not because I am walking past them, though I am moving, it is the mountains themselves that are changing. The underlying structural probabilities are in constant flux, and every now and them it becomes possible to make significant changes in flows with relatively little effort, as valleys open up where before there were only cliffs.
Choice and consequence have such strong temporal components. Timing is everything in a sense, yet nothing if the path ultimately ends in a cliff.
So this solstice has me looking very seriously at putting in some serious effort to make structural shifts in the way my internal reward and reinforcement systems work.
Have been there before (several times), and know it can be done, and this one is different. Not sure if anyone has been out on this particular path before. Not sure if there is any way back. Not sure what the terms “want” or “desire” might mean in that realm, if they have any meaning left.
A great deal of uncertainty.
Choice, consequence, possibility.
How much does any of us really know of choice?
In the realm of food, I chose to change my diet in order to alter survival probabilities. I am now well outside the 0.1% survival probability for the particular form of cancer I had (have?).
To do that, I chose to completely override desire, and eat only what was allowed within the dietary constraints, and eat what was required irrespective of my likes and dislikes.
That still left desire with a realm to play in, but vastly reduced from what was previously available.
For 6 months I ate apricot kernels (about 20 per day) and the taste was so foul and long lasting that I hated it (with a passion) and I kept doing it, until it was time to try swapping them out and seeing if the cancer returned (thankfully it didn’t).
So what I have done thus far is restrict the realm that desire can operate in, and still allowed it to work within that realm.
I have experimented, for short periods only, completely excising desire – severing the link between likes and dislikes.
It is a weird state.
I am weird enough already, and already have extreme difficulty communicating what I see as most important to most people in a way they can get some flavour of it.
I suspect that there is profound ability to achieve objectives by operating solely in that desire (as in likes and dislikes not consciously chosen) free realm, and I also suspect that it would be so profoundly different that communication with people not in a similar realm would be almost impossible – almost one way in a sense.
I suspect I may need to move into that state for extended periods to achieve what needs to be achieved, and I am not certain that the neural nets, once changed, can ever be bought back to a state that would not seem fundamentally “strange” in some way to most people.
I am still experimenting, very short periods only.
It is hard enough coming back to talking to people after a session of intense programming.
Programming languages are fundamentally binary, so very appealing to the “inner child” that sense (our neural nets having been first trained in binary distinctions). That binary (right/wrong) mode is a fundamental part of being human – we all have it, whatever else we may have overlain on top of it.
Shift from binary, to distributed probabilities, at that most fundamental of levels, is different – really different.
This stuff is orders of magnitude more different. It’s not hacking computers, it is hacking my own mind at the most fundamental of levels.
Logic tells me that there should be a solution that allows me to go there and come back to something approximating ordinary humanity (I have done that a couple of times, at a couple of levels), and my intuition is indicating that it may takes years to come back, once I go past a critical point that I have been staying well clear of to date.
It is clear to me that meditation is a technique that allows higher level awareness to maintain greater reliability, and even with the Delai Lama, the inner child remains visible. I have profound respect for the Delai Lama and where I am looking is a very different state. I am not a master of the realm he is a master of, and I have great respect for the mastery he has, and my path has taken me in other directions, and given me different perspectives.
Its that temporal aspect of probabilities again that is difficult. So hard to communicate longer term outcomes in a way that others can appreciate.
Some aspects of the future are quite unpredictable, and some are very predictable – being able to clearly distinguish between those is profound. The past is not always a good predictor of the future, and it often is, though one needs to be able to project exponential trends as well as linear trends, and have a good feel for the strategic landscape at all levels.
Ailsa seems to require verbal assurance at intervals of not more than a few hours and has difficulty getting past that and looking at futures days, let alone decades, away. Her sense of security seems to be firmly embedded in current cultural contexts.
I haven’t yet been able to see any way of working within any of the accepted models that doesn’t end in cliffs.