Every Effort is Inadequate, Thank God

This week, I have been productive. Also, last week.

Inquiry is the Prime Virtue
This is also an update on my back in regard to Dr. Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain. My back felt pain after eleven hours at the office. In the mode of Sarno, I asked myself what precisely I was feeling. Was it pain, actually? I started a session to clean the kitchen. Right away, I had an impulse to listen to Meshuggah. Once Meshuggah was playing, I began thrashing about, jumping and hurling my torso to and fro. The pain went away. What I had been feeling was stiffness.

Note that in the past I would have rested on a heating pad for this same symptom.

The template I am using for sessions right now is to turn a sheet of paper landscape, and draw a t across it.

On the front I write If in the top left shoulder of the t, and Then in the top right. Beneath the Then, I write my intended outcome, my expectation, my prediction…whatever–the future–maybe the standard by which I will inspect the outcome–how I’ll know it worked.

For example:

If Then

I do such and such…
Here, if I have a standard process, I name it, otherwise just describe the steps or method I intend to perform.

This is the independent variable. In the dichotomy of control, this is what I can control.

…such and such will be the outcome. I often write this section before writing the If section.

This is the dependent variable. In the dichotomy of control, this is what I can’t. I can only influence it.

Of course, I’m looking for causation.


On the back, I write a t, and write Inspect on the top left shoulder of the t, and Reflect on the top write shoulder of it.

For example:

Inspect Reflect
What actually happened. Did I learn anything?

The square denotes a session. This is a standard method, so I don’t consider it an experiment. It’s just a time box with some inquisitiveness to it because I felt demotivated. I had felt very demotivated right before starting it. I was also trying to decide whether to drive to OKC to visit friends. I was lethargic and did not even want to think about that decision.

Stand-up Meetings, working in teams
At work, we have been using Microsoft Teams. It accepts copy-pasted tables from Word very well. For working with people remotely, I have been using a daily standup format like this:

Goal 1 Goal 2 Goal 3

Aim: what is this task in service of, at a high level?  Is there a defined project? Is there a principle you’re attempting to adhere to? This can be a direction, a vision, or a summary task. 

Whatever this is, it’s big and distant.

Aim: Aim:

Objective: what is the desired outcome or output of this task. This is the dependent variable, the thing you can influence but not directly control.

If this is a standard process (say, a meeting), what is the standard by which you judge the output? If this is more experimental, what is your prediction?

Whatever this is, it’s smaller and closer than the Aim, and it is aligned with it.

Objective: Objective:
Method: what will you be doing? This is the independent variable, what you can control, or at least relatively. Is there a standard method, or is this experimental? If it’s an experiment, what, precisely, is the testing procedure? Method: Method:
Inspect: what actually happened? If you used a standard method, did it produce the intended outcome? If this was experimental, what was the result, contrasted with your prediction? Inspect: Inspect:
Reflect: did you learn anything? What does this imply for next steps? If you used a standard method, does it still seem to work fine, or does the output indicate the method needs improved? Reflect: Reflect:

I have been using three priority goals per week, and three priority goals per day. This doesn’t account for all of my work, obviously. It’s just what I choose as the priority and what I choose to report on.

I leave the Reflect field blank sometimes.

Everything is Unsatisfactory
In this cycle of hypomania, what grounds me is to not love any process, any method, any form, any piece of paper, any session, any experience. All anything is worth is its relative effectiveness at aligning our behavior with an aim. 

What is my aim? I don’t want us to go extinct. I don’t want us to use up our fossil fuel before developing adequate renewable energy to run the desalinization units we will need when we drain and contaminate all of the aquifers. I don’t want us to already have created an AI arms race. I don’t want for us to be so stupid as to act as if we can care about and be effective in multiple causes at once, talking about every fucking gossipy social or political concern that crosses our awareness, never mind our imminent extinction. 

So, yes, I enjoyed cleaning my kitchen, but I am able to hold some perspective.

But what is my aim, actually? Something like aligning my efforts with increasing critical thinking and continuous improvement so that people’s individual lives (the microcosm) create, from the ground up, a sustainable system. 

Clearly I don’t know how. But thinking this way takes the edge off the hypomania. I keeps me inquiring – what can I do in regards to us being about to collectively kill ourselves?

So I am looking into changing industries and continuing to make moves towards coaching individuals to be more effective in their daily lives.

The why is what I have had a hard time with, still, but I am not avoiding it now.