Cells within cells, interlinked
I want to talk about the paradox of wanting to be finished. And (I want to talk about) the scale of control. And how they relate to one another.
What we can influence
We learn that the alternative to imagining Sisyphus happy is imagining him immobile at the bottom of the slope. How can I say what I want to say? If I don’t aim to write perfect sentences, they will be mediocre. Yet, after struggling with a sentence, I want to admire it. But a writer who falls in love with their sentences is crippled. It is disloyalty to our last decision that allows us to haul the boulder. Each full stop, the boulder crashes down again.
This holds true for everything. So for example suppose you want to be organized. You want to find homes for things and put them there. But struggling to find a home for a thing, and knowing your habit of forgetting that you’ve created a home for a thing, you want to memorialize the event. You perform a small ceremony.
Ah, you say, This goes here. I love that. And now you cannot organize any longer, slave to what was, just a moment before, an improvement on its predecessor.
Choose your poison. Haul the boulder, or languish at the bottom.
If you try to find a way to secure your position—say, to create a dimple at the top of the slope where the boulder can rest—be sure that have chosen a popular poison indeed. All genocide and scorched-earth measures are alike in their aim to solve a problem once and for all.
This is what Schellenberg is saying in Evolutionary Religion. The appropriate picture of God, given what we know of the changes in these few millennia alone, and in the context of a deep future impossible to imagine, is sparsely detailed. Our rituals should follow that logic. Aspire without circumscribing. Most of the details might come from what we know Heaven cannot be.
What we can control
So, on the scale of control—it’s not a dichotomy or a trichotomy, but a scale, maybe a spectrum, but that’s pushing it—how do we divide our attention? What is on the dependent variable side, or what is on the independent variable side? Or, with fewer syllables, what is the ration of 0’s to 4’s in our mind’s eye?
|Influence / Dependent variable|
|Control / independent variable|
I had a dream in which the line dividing two cells kept being divided. I woke up tasting mustard.
So with science we add to the list of what is 4. We atheists talk of The God of the Gaps, usually referring gaps in knowledge. But that seems naive. People aren’t so interested in knowledge, but power. We put God in the places we can’t control.
Is it a coincidence that when I want to define what I mean when I say I, I must use the same technique as when I want to describe Heaven—in negatives? I am not my brain, I am not my spinal column, I am not my left foot. Heaven isn’t a place where we can put people in cages for offending us. Etc.
Yes, some people have God Delusions, and some people have Self Delusions, but how many of us just find these metaphors useful?
So wanting to be finished is focusing on the lower side of the scale, where we have less control. But thinking about what it means to be finished is prerequisite to being able to even do the right work.
I heard once that swimming is used to teach this lesson. Spend most of your time with your head down, looking up to ensure you’re headed in the right direction.
After a coaching session yesterday, I asked the Learner, “On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘not at all’ and 5 is ‘very well,’ how well do you understand what I juste described to you.”
He replied: “one.”
I was grateful. How wonderful to have an output metric.
So, we imagine our outcome as vividly as we can. We imagine our methods for achieving them as vividly as we can. So that we can differentiate where we are from where we want to be and so we can become conscious of all of the gaps and questions in our plans. As we fills those gaps and answer those questions, we pave the way.