the importance of systems, or; how I try to think in the long term

 

Memory, and how my personal experiences in relation to it as a broader concept

Has shaped my life in too many ways to easily recount, here and now

Which is probably part of why this discord channel hasn’t seen much action, yet

It’s too big, too much to write about, all at once

But right now, I’m going to try to write about one particular aspect of it, and one of the ways that this aspect has shaped and informed who I am, right now

My memory has been so terrible, my whole life

That I started keeping journals, in early high school –

not to express my thoughts and feelings – not at first

I was, quite literally – afraid of losing my memories

forever

 

This was before I had ever done any drugs

Before I had ever been drunk

The experience that I remember, in particular, that was part of the impetus behind me beginning to journal

Was a conversation that I’d been having with a few friends

I can’t recall the content of the discussion

nor even who was there

 

But someone had been telling a story

and I asked some question about the details, a question of the sort that someone who had not been present for the event would have asked

and the speaker looked at me,

startled

and said something like,

“Brooke, you were there!’

 

It was something that had taken place a few months prior to that conversation

only a few months!

 

And I had already forgotten about it so entirely, I did not even remember it had happened.

 

That is a terrifying feeling.

 

It felt like I was losing parts of who I was

 

without even realizing it.

 

That was just a bit of backstory, to give some context to what made me think about that, right now

 

I will probably build on that, later

 

But it is related, in my head, to the state of being that is waiting

 

I still have some pretty extreme memory problems

In a slightly different way, maybe- or maybe just different in how they manifest

 

This also has to do with needs and wants

 

Though now I’ve forgotten why!

Dang it.

 

Oh!

systems

 

So, I learned the importance, for me personally – of organization

of systems for organization

 

Out of necessity

Because when I put a thing down

I immediately forget it ever existed, basically

Until I need it again

 

And I’m pretty good about putting things where they belong, when I am done with them

if I have a system

Which means,

that when I came up with the system of organization for that thing

I asked myself:

“Where would I look for this thing, first?”

 

Which is another way of saying

“Where should this thing go? Where does it make sense for it to go?”

 

When I am done with a thing, for the moment

If it has a place where it should go

a place where it lives

Then, I will put it there, at the time that I am done with it

 

But if I do not, because it does not have a place in which it lives, yet

then, I just put it anywhere

 

And I have spent just a mind-boggling amount of time

over the course of my life

doing nothing but looking for things that I myself have lost

Just by setting them down

and by not paying attention

 

And, when I am doing the kind of waiting

that is spending time, energy, and attention

on doing nothing but searching for a thing that I only can’t find because I was careless

 

Well, then

I get frustrated

and search harder

And not usually smarter

Which increases my frustration

 

This is another TBF issue

Another Wide Eyed Stupidity one

 

Because, just this morning

I have already spent an absurd amount of time

Looking for where I put my phone

 

Twice.

 

Looking for my pack of cigarettes, earlier

 

and, just now

 

Looking for the magnetic false lashes

that I just bought yesterday

and decided, last night

for some reason

to place on top of the pack of cigarettes

 

Which, of course, I’d forgotten all about by the time I found the pack

and so lost one of them somewhere after picking it up

 

This whole thing

has to do with [minmax life]

 

Maximizing utility in each action

in each moment

If I need to find something, and manage to have enough foresight to look for it when there is not

pressure

acting on me

in the form of time

 

If I don’t need it right now

Well, then-

I can keep an eye out for whatever it is

While I’m doing housework

or going about my day

 

But if I wait

until I need it, right now

 

Then that is the only thing I end up occupying my attention with

and that’s just not efficient

 

Even better

is when I have a system

 

Every so often, I get the places in which I live (tent, or house!)

organized

And when wherever I live is organized

It takes so much less effort

less energy

to just put things away when I am done with them

 

It is not efficient

to spend so much time

looking for things

Time which would have otherwise been available for using to do anything else – even looking for a thing while cleaning etc

Had I had the discipline to do things right, the first time

 

The thing is, I am super lazy

And because of my TBF

I am always trying to do things out of laziness

that ultimately make more work for myself, down the line

 

I talked about that a little in one of my YouTube videos, though I can’t remember which one

In it, though, I talked about how there was this one time, on the street

Where the action I undertook

out of laziness

Caused me so much extra trouble, and so immediately

That I could not help but realize the whys behind that what

 

I was trying to put on a shoe

without undoing the laces, first

I think I may even have considered doing so, briefly

and decided I didn’t have to

and I tried to shove my foot in

unsuccessfully

So, then I tried to stick my finger behind my heel

unsuccessfully

I tried putting my shoe, with my foot partially in it up against the bed (yes, bed – we were dumpster divers, scavengers of the street – and whatever thing it was that we needed – someone, somewhere, would throw it away or discard it, eventually) with my fingers behind my heel

for added pressure

of course, all of this was to no avail

and, after several long minutes of frustration and effort

I eventually had to untie the laces, anyway

 

I think about that experience, frequently

Whenever I realize I am feeling frustrated

as I am looking for something

and I think back to the last time I used it

and I think about how much time

and irritation

I would have saved

If I had just put it in its place, right then

Even if that would have meant making a place for it

Because, when I think about it like this

The truly lazy path

is whatever is easiest

causes the least amount of stress

and results in the least amount of future work, for myself and for others

and that is always doing a thing right, as right as possible – the first time

 

I think I’m just really bad at thinking of costs

in the long-term

 

The cost of making a place for a thing, of finding a system for organization when there isn’t already one in place

only seems higher

Because the initial time/energy/effort investment

The initial resource investment, the cost – 

in the short term

is greater

 

But, taken over a long enough period of time

After that initial investment in resources

Having systems in place

Only requires minimal, consistent resource investments

in order to maintain them

 

And are therefore far cheaper

far lazier

or, viewed from another angle –

are far more efficient

 

This also ties into what I wrote in [Zen and the Brain], I think

It makes sense to me that our brains evolved this way

 

For a very long time,

it just didn’t make sense to think much beyond the long term, in general

 

It can be overwhelming

 

Scary, even

 

And what’s the point, if the short time might just kill us, anyway?

 

But now

 

now, the short term is not enough.

 

Now, the short term causes more problems

than it solves

 

Now, it is thinking in the short term

That results in me doing things like not cleaning the guest house sooner [post not added yet]

Which has real consequences

Manifesting in both of my cats potentially getting ill, or staying ill longer than they would have

 

Thinking in the short term

is why I did drugs

 

Because I wanted to feel better

Now

Regardless of the future work I was creating for myself

 

Work, in the form of processing guilt over using

Guilt over being weak

 

Work, in the form of trying to suppress the shame

of feeling, somehow

defective

 

Because, all the while

My problems were piling up

Debt

Poor relationships with friends and family

Health problems

 

I stopped opening my mail

Stopped reading my emails

 

But the letters never stopped coming

No matter how many times I ‘accidentally on purpose’ 

forgot to change my address

 

And I knew

all along

Knew I was making everything worse

 

Every

 

Single

 

Time

 

I used

 

But that responsibility

is hard to look at in the face

Because it’s not just that one moment

that one mistake

 

Because, then –

I begin to add them all up, somewhere in my mind

 

And the shadow of that one mistakes

becomes

A MONSTER

there, in the dark of my mind

 

Then, I am not just facing guilt

over one fuck up

 

If I am feeling guilt

over that one

 

Then I am feeling guilt over every single time I made that mistake, in the past

 

And that is so much guilt

 

so much

 

pressure

 

I have so many mistakes I have made over the course of my life

 

That if I think like that

 

I will drown.

 

I cannot change the past.

Cannot undo those mistakes.

 

They have already been made.

 

They are done.

 

But what I can do

 

Is strive to make up for them

 

 

fines and restitutions

is one way that I’ve tried thinking about my mistakes

in a way that is not automatically going to work counter to the goal of reducing the frequency with which I repeat the same mistakes

Because when I can’t face them

Even to tell them:

“Not right now.  Later, yes. But not right now”

 

Then

 

Well, then

I try to suppress them

I hide my eyes

turn my back on the storms in my soul love as possession

 

Which, really

is not thinking about the whys of the whats

 

It is not thinking in the long term

it is not using that view of the long term

to inform my perception of the short term

 

Because, then

I act out of fear

 

Blindly

 

I run to the nearest thing that looks like shelter

 

Which, for me, was frequently drugs

And, therefore, was immediate in its effects

But not truly lazy

because that only created more of the problems I was running away from

 

Giving those monsters

more power

 

Making them even scarier to finally face

 

But now

 

Now

 

I am trying to be smarter

 

Be more efficient

 

Even about things like my fears

and things like my laziness

 

About all of the things that I do

that

do not work

 

So, one of the things that motivates me to keep writing, here in the server

To keep stoking the fire of The Project

is

restitution

 

I am trying to turn my guilt

into something else

Something I can use

Instead of something that I get burned by

 

I am trying to use my presence, right now

In ways that might actually help me fix my problems

now and later

 

To stop making the same mistakes

over and over again

 

And, hopefully

Maybe even to start making up for some of the vast amount of pain and stress and sadness I’ve contributed to in the lives of people that I care about

 

By using what I’ve learned

Through my mistakes

Even as I continue to learn about them, myself

To share what I’ve learned

 

To share what I am learning

as I learn it

With anyone here to read it

 

And, maybe

just maybe

 

Together

 

We can all stop repeating so many of the same mistakes

 

By sharing more of what we learn

as we learn it

 

And, maybe

it will spread

and it will grow

 

And, as we all continue to both learn and to teach

 

Together

 

As we all keep getting better at both teaching and learning, together

 

Maybe someday

someday soon, even

 

The Project will also evolve into something else

even as we do

 

When we have, collectively

faced enough of our fears

our demons

our guilt

 

our monsters

 

and grown to encompass them

 

well, maybe then

we can start spending all that energy

that energy that once went into running away

into hiding our eyes

 

and into fighting the same battles

 

over and over and over again

 

Investing that energy, instead

Into the sorts of activities, and into the sorts of thoughts

that begin to be not just acts of restitution, but something else

To begin investing our time

our brains

and our collective power, collective ingenuity, collective curiosity,

determination

knowledge

and drive

Into making the kinds of changes, in our internal and external worlds

wherein the net benefit, to each of us as individuals, and to society

Will begin to outweigh even the heaviest total costs of our past mistakes

 

Over time,

Enough of those pieces of trash that are guilt

that are stress

that are shame

and pressure

Enough of those picked up, like in that one about trash

And our street will be spotless

and then

Then we can begin-

fixing it up

 

 

 

 

 

brooke

I spent three years living on the street in Los Angeles. I came out of that, changed. This is my story.

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