Dark Matter of the Mind

The simplest way I have heard Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity described was something like “gravity determines where things are and space determines where things go”. We know gravity is a function of mass. More mass equals more gravity. Have enough of it and it effects the shape of space, hence where things go as they tend to follow the shape of space. This is why Dark Matter has been postulated and (supposedly?) discovered. It was necessary to explain the movement of galaxies because the amount and distribution of visible matter did not adequately predict the observed movement. Pretty much everyone has heard of a black hole. This is something so dense that if a light were to be shined upon it, there would be no reflection because the photons could not escape the gravitational pull, which is why it is called a black hole, you cannot see it. But we do know they are there, for they impact movement of physical astronomical objects and are evidenced by radiation of energy as subatomic particles in their presence are dismembered.

Our physical universe has invisible (dark) masses and forces and yes here is dark energy as well but no time for that right now. I cannot help but wonder if our psyche and therefore our behavior is influenced by extremely dense massive invisible thoughts. Thoughts and models that are the equivalent of dark matter. Are there some black holes in our mind? Do we have unconscious models that are so massive and dense that we do not notice them until the trajectory of our behavior is altered? And if we are paying extremely close attention, can we notice the errant energy emitted?

There is no question that we live in a universe that is too dimensionally vast to comprehensively comprehend. Whether this is expressible as a multiverse or parallel universe or sequential alternative universes are not that important psychologically. What is important is that our universe or universes is or are, really big and of great dimension.

Perspectives can be considered to be perceptual dimensions. If we attempt to deny the possibility of multiple perspectives than we are denying reality. There is only one thing we can do when faced with vastness, adapt. We can try to escape by putting our heads in the sand, but this has not been shown to be a good long term survival strategy. The other extreme, adapting or innovation does have a pretty good track record.

It has been said we can never step into the same river twice. This is because rivers constantly change course, depth and volume velocity as does the rest of the universe or even multiverse we live in. We rarely can precisely predict the conditions we will be encountering unless we have particularly static and passive lives (death?). The act of living is one of adapting by responding to circumstances. If we did not have to ever do this, what would we be doing? Nothing!

The problem is change can be frightening, because we cannot predict the outcomes. On the other hand many situations demand change because we can predict the outcome if we do not. This occurs early when learning to ride a bicycle. Leaning too far in one direction requires quick rebalancing to avoid falling over and crashing. Adapting is perhaps our most natural act. Babies have it easy. All they have to do is drink or eat what is offered and hug back when embraced. It is not until later that they learn to duck and cover, hit back or run away.

Innovation is simply an advanced form of adapting to circumstances. When see something that is not working, we can respond by creating a new situation which sometimes has us bring into the world new behaviors, devices, technologies, companies, institutions, wealth or all of the above. It is an entirely natural and for many, involuntary act. You see a problem and fix it. You lean too far in one direction and correct, or fall over and next time lean less. Or discover if going very quickly enables you to lean more, as all who have been on a motorcycle know first hand. It seems Elon Musk is doing this right now with Tesla and his other companies.

Resisting change is not sane because it is impossible. All living organisms have the capacity to adapt to their circumstances. We all have to, because our environment is always in a state of flux, never constant. Fortunately humans have proven to be a most adaptable species. Innovation and adaptation are reasonable responses to the situation we always find ourselves in. We simply cannot step into the same river or multiverse twice, because it is not there any more.

Being subject to the dark matter in our minds, perhaps it is time to examine those invisible thoughts and models dense enough to exert a strong gravitational pull on our behavior. We can better adapt to these massive models impacting our beliefs if we know they are there. We often have to hypothesize something, before discovering it. When we observe behavior that makes no sense, it is time to look for invisible models that may be causing powerful fears to exist.

Poor behavior is often the result of fear, even if the poorly behaving folks are unaware they are fearful. What are they afraid of? That the world as they know it is changing. They are right, it is. If they remember all humans are potentially masterful at adapting and innovating, perhaps they can be less fearful in order to be more creative, for it is the only way out. We can not go backward without pushing civilization into a great dieback which is certainly possible. The earth does not need us.

This brings me back to point I have made many times, “Innovate or die!” But now keep an eye out for the dark matter of the mind, which can be unfortunately unconsciously perspective shifting. Remember our physical universe has a lot more dark matter than visible matter and it is likely that our minds do as well.

We certainly have the capacity and the need to investigate and explore externally and internally. My simple definition of innovation is “applied insight”. If you never look inside, what are you going to apply? How will you adapt and what will you adopt? Because we all do and will continue. The question is unconsciously or consciously? This is not only a question for each individual but for society at large and the world.

Innovation Powered Abundance, the Poor Behavior Cure

It has been said that all emotions stem from either fear or love. An innovation-centric take on this is; people, companies, cities and nations can feel dominated by scarcity or abundance. Missteps are often overlooked when the future seems bright, yet decline seems to engender poor behavior. As entrepreneur inventor types can attest to, decline is rarely graceful. On the other hand, when on a roll, one can (almost) do no wrong, so get hot and get on a roll!

There may be an alarming number of undiagnosed cases of existential angst caused by fear about the uncertainty of tomorrow. There seem to many suffering from scarcity caused fear. Some feel that the world as they know it, is ending, and are desperately trying to resist. They will have to give it up! Yes the world is changing. None can step into the same universe twice. It isn’t there any more.

Driverless cars will eliminate jobs while creating entirely new industries. Replacement of the old with the new has been going on for a very long time. Everyone should be used to progress after a few thousand years. The world does not naturally go backwards, although a nuclear or climate caused population dieback could force humanity to go backward to a world no one wants.

The cure for those desiring to go back to the past, is actively participate in the creation of tomorrow. People, companies and nations actively innovating and creating new futures for themselves, have neither the time nor orientation to be passive and fearful.

Each person, organization, town and nation can determine if they want to pursue abundance or scarcity, by deciding if they want to go forward or backward. Those trained in science are familiar with natural laws, which require no enforcement and do not care if anyone believes in them or not. Deny gravity and die, or overcome it and figure out how to fly.

A dangerous label sometimes associated with the educated elite is “progressive”. Does anyone truly prefer to not be educated, and to not get ahead but to go backwards? Sorry, human progress is a natural law we can not prevent. Although I love science fiction, time travel does not exist. The laws of physics can not be repealed for they are self enforcing and appear to be operating the same way everywhere on earth and in the rest of the universe we have observed. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.

Being afraid of tomorrow is not irrational, but it is a choice. Tomorrow is coming anyway, like it or not. Change is here, like it or not. Yesterday no longer exists, like it or not. Questions we can be asking ourselves and each other are; what future do we want to create? and how do we want to get there? If machines are coming, and yes they are, than what can we focus on that we can do better than them? Two things people may want to focus on are Meaning and Expression.

Expecting meaning to be externally defined has already been shown likely to create disappointment and exploitation. Expression, something we can all participate in, gives our lives meaning. Make something, do something, get better at something, do a deep dive not a superficial escape, it does not matter what as long as it makes you happy. This does not mean it will be easy or always work. Neither a machine nor someone else will ultimately be able to make anyone happy or give life meaning, only individuals can do that for themselves and then not be afraid of tomorrow but be running toward it with open arms! An excellent way to predict the future is to create it, but do not plan on violating natural laws, which are by definition self reinforcing and do not care about opinions. Some communities will attempt to disavow science and bear the fruits of their ignorance. The only two choices are accept reality and progress or resist, try to go backwards, and decline.

Innovation will not be denied. It is humanity’s birthright to adapt, evolve, create, innovate and solve problems. This does not mean we are invulnerable. We can destroy ourselves, but this is a choice we can make and going backwards is not; once a thought is thought, it can not be unthought.


Culture Pivots

Any time is a good time to change, but some are better than others. Beginnings of years, months, weeks or days work pretty well to take stock, look around and set out in a new direction, project or context. Historically humans have created many other ritual junctures such as the beginning of a new school year, a new season, or a new job and in addition to these generally held opportunities for pivoting, the faith or belief systems you have been born into may also provide excellent times to detach, reflect and set set off consciously in new ways. Several somewhat specialized cultures I was born into in no particular order are starting books, entering new school years, being a New Yorker and being a Jew, all of which could be argued are variations on the same theme. My mother was a school teacher so growing up the beginning of the new school year in the fall seemed more important to her than the New Year in January. Since everyone in my house read lot of books, there was a pretty good chance on any given day, that one of us was starting a new one which was in some way entering into a new universe every time. Then there was being a New Yorker, which means living in place that is so full of vigorous vital change as to still be unmatched even after living elsewhere for decades. This evening begins Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year which was explicitly designed and designated as a time to pivot, making it a truly excellent pivot time shared by millions around the world.

What do I mean by pivoting? Well my definition does not matter, yours does. Whatever you are doing and whatever dream you are living in, there is always an opportunity to step back and observe yourself and your activities at a meta-level, to ask yourself who you are, what are you doing and why, and to observe who is asking these questions?

As infinite voyagers surfing the dimensionally vast set of options and opportunities, sometimes called problems, we are to some degree always aware of choices we have in terms of where we live, where we work, who we spend time with, what we are focused upon and the huge set of constructs and frameworks we voluntarily subordinate ourselves to at any given moment.

The fact that a group of people thousands of years ago thought it was worth while to annually detach and zoom out to look at life from a broader perspective, from which we could effect a restart with no blame by forgiving ourselves by letting go of the past, is informative. The fact that millions of people worldwide will begin this ritual cultural reset is instructive. It must have worked somewhat or they would not be doing it for thousands of years. Personally, I am always willing to use any excuse to pivot since the world and my life rarely appear to be the way I think it should be which propels me to be an involuntary innovator who welcomes pivot points. It makes me feel alive to let go of where I was and go somewhere new, as I like to be in motion and clearly I am not alone in this perspective. Creative people are forever re-engineering their lives and our world which is where progress comes from, which is a good thing worth celebrating and calling out.

As an infrequent practitioner of the religion I was born into, I had to be reminded by my sister that Rosh Hashanah was coming in a few days. As a dedicated pivot fanatic I immediately jumped on the excuse to regard today as a special opportunity to change. To be fair, I do have a lot of these days, as I feel any moment could be a time for change, but why waste a perfectly good culturally sanctioned coming down from above directive to zoom out and take a look from a meta-perspective at what is going on, and how to change it.

This holiday occurs at a point where seasons are changing, especially clearly in New England where leaves are on the move and the color show is just breaking out. Coincidentally the school year has just begun for millions. I will be driving today through said foliage on the way to a super exciting school in New York City, making the number of pivoting excuses at an all time high today, even for an entrepreneurial involuntary innovator addicted to pivoting.

Guess it is time to figure out what to pivot about now that I have invited all of you to do it.

Justifiable Exceptions or A very late start following a breakthrough evening.

Have you ever found yourself starting the day a lot later than your normal routine called for, and before beating yourself up, decided to give yourself a break and just drop it? You have invoked the unwritten yet valuable rule of the justifiable exception.

This phrase recently came into my life when explaining to a friend, why I did not do what I thought I was supposed to do, but had a good reason. And he cheerfully proclaimed ah a JE “Justifiable Exception”.

Now before you say yeah JE simply means “Justifying your Excuses” lets take a deeper dive here and look at the creative innovative persona while examining the definitions of some of the words involved. Justifiable seems straight forward enough. My Mac Dictionary says – justifiable is an adjective meaning “able to be shown to be right or reasonable”. Immediately this raises the issue of to whom? Hopefully we have enough control over our live’s to answer to “Me”.

Innovators tend to focus on change, taking exception with the status quo, occasionally driving us to become exceptional.  My Mac defines exceptional as “a person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or does not follow a rule”
Yup that seems to define the majority of my friends pretty well.

This notion of being able to justify an exception seems particularly powerful to me as most of the important things that happen to us are by definition, exceptions. If you are an innovator denying exception you may be beginning on the path. Of course what seems reasonable to us, may not seem reasonable to others and this is where we can experience a certain amount of discord. In fact some innovators notoriously have difficulty balancing dreams, jobs and relationships making them hard to deal wth.

We can not blame others for not being us. Often times exception is accompanied by its less likable brother exclusion. If you are exceptional you are also likely to be excluded some of the time and may be the one doing the excluding of others. The act of creation in general requires gestation, often a solitary activity but innovation also demands adoption, which demands social skills. Reconciling this dilemma can stress creative individuals, who fortunately being creative and at times exceptional, are able to find workarounds often revolving around dividing ones time between studio, lab or office and coffee shops with good WiFi. We need to gestate and we also need to socialize.

As we move back and forth between being on track and on time, while preserving room for breakthroughs, the concept of the JE justifiable exception seems very useful to me. This can be especially true when you get into a state of flow during which you forget about time and external responsibilities somewhere between one and three in the morning, when you know you should be asleep and this session will almost certainly mess up tomorrow. But you have to ask yourself how much better tomorrow could be if you evoke the JE, Justifiable Exception. Love, creativity and innovation are messy justifiable exceptions, without which my life would not be worth living.

In fact all justifiable exceptions create big messes before getting to the simplicity on the other side of complexity. You have a choice – you can protect yourself from the mess and stay on the simple side before complexity, or you can take the risk, create the mess, and perhaps at least some of the time, get to the simplicity on the other side of complexity.

Or perhaps some of you do not have that choice and are driven to pursue the simplicity on the far side of complexity, because this is an important way to derive meaning in your life. Congratulations you are a messy happy artist!