Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Developing Awareness

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Hey everyone,

This is my second post and I haven't introduced myself yet, so I'll do that now. My name is James. I'm a graduate student in applied mathematics and I'm studying to become a composer in my spare time.

For most of my life, I've been very interested in learning how to get better at thinking about various things (board games, following movies, cooking, playing instruments, learning math, learning languages, etc.) I've never had a remarkable ability at any of these things, but I've always managed to do well at school work. I guess you could say I'm what people call "book smart." But I'm not great at much else. For instance, out of all my friends, I'm the only one who hasn't ever won a single board game that we've all played together, I have a very hard time following movies unless I really concentrate, I'm generally not "good with my hands" when it comes to cooking in the kitchen, or working on anything mechanical, and after about 10 years of being involved with music (I played violin for about 6 years, then moved to guitar when I came to college, and I've played keyboard on and off throughout all that time) I'm still not great at any one particular instrument.

So, I've been trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing wrong, and after rereading ITOE, I think I may have gotten a clue. I don't remember the page number, but somewhere in the book Ayn Rand said that all human thought follows the pattern of "Something exists. I'm conscious of it. I must discover it's identity." I totally underestimated the value of that statement the first time I read the book. But I've been trying to implement it to everything I do over the past few weeks, and it's had astonishing results for the most part. In math, I've been reading my class notes much more thoroughly, making sure I integrate everything I learn without contradiction into a coherent whole. In music, when learning a new piece on say the keyboard, I've been relating it to all the other pieces I know, figuring out the nature of the notes and rhythms that are used, which means seeing how they relate to the notes and rhythms used in every other piece I know, and why they convey the emotions they do. In daily life, I've been observing everything around me more closely, grouping together trees, birds, cars, windows on buildings, trying to be aware of what I'm seeing at all times and how many objects of a given kind I'm seeing, etc.

Anyway, while I think this has been helping me in all aspects of life, I've been finding it to be exhausting! I've never thought so hard about everything before. And I'm wondering whether other objectivists live like this on daily basis or whether I'm taking things to an extreme? All thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyway, while I think this has been helping me in all aspects of life, I've been finding it to be exhausting! I've never thought so hard about everything before. And I'm wondering whether other objectivists live like this on daily basis or whether I'm taking things to an extreme?

I totally get what you mean. I'm still new to O'ism, and I can never get my mind off exactly the subject you describe: trying to identify what is really going on in the world around me. It has its peaks and troughs--that is, times when many things seem to come together and make sense, and times when I rediscover a principle and have to go back and reinterpret everything in a new light. The idea that every action ought to have a reason, and one ought not to act without knowing why--wow, that's a tall order when you've spent a lifetime acting out of habit and bad, hodge-podge philosophy. One friend told me that when he encountered O'ism, he had the good fortune to be able to "go into a cave" for a couple of years and think, and didn't interact with anyone he used to know. I wish I could do that! Sometimes I want to tell everyone, "Please don't talk to me until I figure out why you should." Sometimes I pretty much do say that. It does start to come together after a while, though. You go through those peaks and troughs of effort, where nothing makes sense and takes a lot of work, and then where the picture comes into focus. Periodically a new concept will require revisiting everything from the ground up, but it gets easier on subsequent iterations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I totally get what you mean. I'm still new to O'ism, and I can never get my mind off exactly the subject you describe: trying to identify what is really going on in the world around me. It has its peaks and troughs--that is, times when many things seem to come together and make sense, and times when I rediscover a principle and have to go back and reinterpret everything in a new light. The idea that every action ought to have a reason, and one ought not to act without knowing why--wow, that's a tall order when you've spent a lifetime acting out of habit and bad, hodge-podge philosophy. One friend told me that when he encountered O'ism, he had the good fortune to be able to "go into a cave" for a couple of years and think, and didn't interact with anyone he used to know. I wish I could do that! Sometimes I want to tell everyone, "Please don't talk to me until I figure out why you should." Sometimes I pretty much do say that. It does start to come together after a while, though. You go through those peaks and troughs of effort, where nothing makes sense and takes a lot of work, and then where the picture comes into focus. Periodically a new concept will require revisiting everything from the ground up, but it gets easier on subsequent iterations.

A tall order is right! I'm hoping some of the thinking will become automatized after a time. But the fact that identification and integration are the only means we have of understanding and controlling nature is the only reason I'm able to fight the exhaustion as long as I do. I still have moments though where I just want to stop thinking and lay down for a few minutes. Perhaps the exhaustion will go away after my mind gets used it though, like going to the gym I hope?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It does take a lot of effort. Try to remember that you don't have to climb Mt. Everest in a day. Don't discount the notion that you are partly just a cerebral type guy. I have noticed that there is kind of a momentum to integrating knowledge, at least for me. It becomes habitual, then part of my sense of life. I find I ask myself "What am I doing right now and why?" a lot more.

Its a huge jump when it becomes clear in the beginning that everything can be understood. A lot of people operate on exactly the opposite principle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in more or less the same situation: book smart, but can't carry that intelligence over into other areas of my life. It's becoming very frustrating for me, realizing just how little I know (which in turn leads me to question just efficacious I am--which in turn does quite a number on my self-esteem).

I'm still unsure as to the best way of integrating everything, being fully aware, staying in focus. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong--but I'm getting tired of feeling so absent-minded about everything. Could you go into a little more detail about how you're building awareness?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think awareness really follows purpose. Without one purpose, which has to be valued above all alternatives, there is no purpose to be aware of anything to begin with. Now of course you can say that your purpose is as general as your life, but the question here is really how do I achieve my goals? From my experience, following a prescribed code of ethics is not enough. You must make your purpose your own.

It is very easy to get distracted. We live in a world of distractions gleaming everywhere. Take your room for example. There is the internet, a musical instrument, books, and if it's dirty it can be cleaned. There is also a telephone, and then you have family, friends, debts to pay, etc.. There are so many things you could possibly be doing right now that unless you purposefully commit yourself to one value, that can be a long term value, over these shiny distractions, you'll probably be unhappy with nothing to gain and nothing to lose, except maybe your self esteem and time. You might say well, I don't know what I want. Well, you better figure it out and make sure that you are content with valuing that one thing above all else. It isn't enough to value things by default. That is essentially the exact opposite of awareness. Awareness implies an active value over a long term period of time. You are asking for purpose in your post. We live in a society where you CAN survive without actively defining a purpose. Millions of people do it everyday. No one is going to knock on your door everyday and ask if you are achieving your purpose, not even your mom. Only you can know, and persist in finding out what you want to do with your life.

If you really enjoy something, you probably will wish you were not doing anything else. If you have a conflict in your mind with your purpose, you should probably address that so you don't view whatever you are doing as a chore and do something for no reason or purpose. Honesty and awareness are one in the same.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...