The mind avoids getting trapped by loosening constraints in a safe environment. This is what I concluded after trying to observe myself fade into a dream-like state earlier today at the park when it was nice and sunny.

There is actually very little detail I remember about the content of my mental activity in that state, because every time I tried to hold on to any of the snippets that were being strung together without my active participation, they shied away from my grip. With a swift motion, they would glide into safety, skillfully bypassing my attempts to analyze and memorize them. Every interference with the process would immediately disrupt it and I would need to wait for something new to start.

At the cost of preventing one particular thread from following through to its end, I managed to capture a peculiar thought snippet. During what felt like the construction of an explanation or argument of some sort, I noticed that one element was oddly ambiguous: it was both “15 minutes” and “15 meters”. It hadn’t been determined which of those two it needed to be in order for the constructed result to make sense. Interestingly though, I remember feeling that it did make at least enough sense just before I stopped to take a closer look at it, at which point the whole thought deflated into what seemed like a useless, chaotic mess. Minutes, meters, who cares what unit it is as long as it starts with ‘m’ and we know we need 15 of them, am I right?

I demanded coherence, order, sense! And all I could find were ambiguous snippets freely floating around and associating with one another in some kind of careless space.

And then I realized, as I reflected on my own judgmental attitude: the snippets were right not to trust me. They were right to be shy, to hide from my analytical, memorizing eye, my grasping, sense-making hands. They needed this space to be free from the constraining influence of enforced coherence, consistency, order, purpose. They needed a break from me. That’s why it felt like my mind was protecting its floating snippets from me. “These are not for you. In fact, you are not really meant to be here. It’s okay for you to stay, but don’t touch anything.”

It had a point. And maybe there is something to learn from it.

If the mind knows to periodically protect itself from the strict demands of purposeful thinking, maybe we could support it, support ourselves, both as individuals and groups of people working together, by making sure we reserve enough time away from otherwise useful constraints.

Time to let go — to get ourselves ready to attach ourselves again, possibly to something different.
Time to forget — not just remember.
Time to enjoy nonsense — one of the most fertile grounds for sense.
Time to explore unchosen directions — doing the opposite, and then again the opposite.
Time to play — so that reaching a goal is only ever a small stretch away from what we do all the time anyway.

And also, more radically: time to completely let go of predefined ideas such as goals, progress, and productivity. Time to float.

The future has been a guest in my home
for a while now.
Sometimes I ask it to turn down the music,
through the door.
Sometimes I spend the day outside,
just so I don’t run into it,
to get a bit of a break.

It’s my home.

Why don’t I ask it to leave?
I can’t, because I care.
The future has nowhere else to stay.
I care.

And sometimes it’s nice.
I know I sound tired now, but
sometimes we get together and play,
we smile,
we create,
we enjoy,
and I remember why I offered it to stay
in the first place:

Because together,
we fill this house
with life.

As I awake into this moment,
I can see that all my thoughts
were just guesses,
a web in the clouds.

Quietly I look at them,
how they float around
trying to support me,
help me stand,
help me crawl,
help me climb.

But now I’m also here
next to them
flying.

A knocking at the door demands my attention. “Open the door and tell me who I am!”

Who could it be? Am I ready for this encounter? The knocking continues. “Please open the door! Look at me and tell me who I am!”

Alright then. Here we go.

As I open the door, I see noone.
But something has changed. It — whatever it is — is here.

What is it?
It is not a thing, not a who or a what.
It is this.
This here.

There is a resonance, a wavey motion, a way of being carried, moved, shifted.

I realize that without me, it couldn’t be. Without this body, there would be nothing for it to inhabit and nothing giving rise to it. And without being let in, all it could be is an ever-louder banging on the door.

Now that it is here, the question has disappeared, but I decide to answer anyway.

“You are a modulator. You are music, dance. You are life. You are emotion.”

On my walk yesterday, I had a little think about what makes relationships what they are. I realized that there were actually more significant dimensions than I had previously considered and that being aware of them can illuminate hard decisions about them.

I used to think that a relationship involves 1) another person and 2) activities you usually engage in with them: having conversations over coffee, going for bike rides, having phone calls, sitting on the balcony, and so on. And if you enjoy those activities with that person and you want the person in your life, that would be a positive way of looking at the relationship from this two-dimensional perspective: Who, and What.

But there are other significant dimensions as well: 3) In what kinds of spaces, physical places, do you connect with them and 4) at what times of the day, which days, how frequently, how regularly does that happen? So the Where and the When.

Looking at those dimensions together, the Who, What, Where, When, it seems to me that when making choices about relationships, what we are dealing with are questions about a kind of life architecture: a structure that makes it possible for us to do the things we want to do with the people we want in our lives, in spaces that are suitable for that and that are reachable for us, and at times that allow for the right level of continuity and sustainability.

If any of those requirements are not satisfied, the relationship can still exist as an idea, but it may not feel like a functioning relationship in practice. There is a chance that that difference is felt as a kind of dissonance, like something isn’t right. It can even be felt as anxiety. And that dissonance can undermine the idea of the relationship over time. It can undermine the commitment to the relationship as a whole as a part of your life.

And what about 5) the Why? The Why is related to commitment, to love, to my chosen path in life, to who I am as a person, who I want to be. Why spend my life with this person and not just anyone else? Why those activities and not just any? Why here and there and not just anywhere? Why now and then and not just whenever? It’s because that’s what I want in my life. It’s what I can say Yes to.

If I don’t commit to answers to those questions, then I am just floating, flowing, being an observer of circumstances. I would prevent myself from experiencing the satisfaction of feeling like things are right the way they are, and I would likely not be able to recognize opportunities for improvement.

On the flip side, if I commit too strongly to very particular answers, if I measure everything against strict, unadaptable ideas, I may prevent myself from experiencing the enjoyment of the fundamentally unstable flow of what it is to live, to be alive, to live a life in the here and now.

When I think of intelligence, I don’t primarily see it as something different people possess different degrees of. Rather, I see it as a kind of dynamic invisible shapeshifting that individuals can engage in in the realm of concepts.

A static mind, a mind that doesn’t grow through its self-shaping interactions with its world, is neutral in that regard. Knowledge can be neutral too, except for when in a given sitution, it opens up a path to get excited about and commit to.

The ability and willingness to commit to an intentional shape in a given situation. Flexibility, adaptability, playfulness. Differentiated shapes and patterns of motion for every occasion, every mood, every need, every intention. Like an octopus, just not always as immeditately spatial-physical.

We all have these abilities as humans. In human togetherness, what matters more than some abstract notion of intelligence as something related to problem solving, or even worse: something that can be measured, is the question: Do we bring life to each other’s lives?

I only realized a few weeks ago that when I drink coffee in the morning, there is often a point at which I feel like stretching, which makes sense because stimulants activate muscles, which makes them tense up.

Another thing that tenses up muscles is anxiety. Anti-anxiety medication does the opposite, and so do deep relaxation techniques.

“I feel like stretching” is an interpretation of something my muscles are made to do sometimes, just as “I feel tense” is an interpretation of something similar in a different conceptual context. One has positive connotations, the other negative.

Bottom up, top down. Activation, interpretation.

Our being is layered and wired up in circular ways and we don’t necessarily always have a clear grasp of the direction of causation in these loops we spin through.

An idea for something to practice together when spending time with people:

Every time a topic ends, instead of reaching for the next one, be quiet together. If a conversation meanders, end it.

Observe your desire to speak. Is it constant? Does it increase the longer there is silence? Does it come in waves? Are the words pushing your mouth open or are you freely allowing them to form and come out?

When your inner threshold is reached, allow yourself to speak, but only after taking conscious note of the conditions.

If it feels difficult and maybe a bit unnatural, it is worth practicing. Think of it as a kind of social meditation.

In addition to getting to know yourself better and growing your ability to make choices more freely, some of your friends may benefit.

I don’t remember writing this, but… thanks, past me:

< notes to future me >

look. this is the direction i want you to look in. trust me, please. you can only see if you follow your decisions even if they are always somewhat arbitrary. trust me not because you know that i’m right, but because there is no other way for you to see.

I’m not entirely sure what I wanted to tell myself, but this note reminds me of when I was 9 years old and took a moment to try to make it possible for my future self to remember what it was like to be me as a child.

Don’t grow up and think that you were probably just a child with no interesting thoughts, no rich inner life, no unique view of the world. If you can remember this moment, you’ll remember what it was like.

Well, it worked, child me. I remember. Thanks for that.

Concepts are like drawing a face on a cloud so you can see that it looks like a face.

Concepts are like using a lawn mower to measure the height of grass.

Concepts are like scrolling through an endless stream of #nofilter sunset photos.

Concepts are like giving your 11 children 3 names.

Concepts are like keeping the zippers with the millipedes.

Concepts are like taking a bath in a latex catsuit.

Concepts are like a disco ball looking at itself in the mirror.

power makes violence a home

power uses violence to create an inside

power has windows and curtains

power has arms creating distance between eyes and hands

power maintains a safe space for violence

power is fertile ground for shallow justification

power makes violence just

power makes justice directional

power makes violence necessary

power doesn’t know how and when to let go

When I am moved to speak, I don’t have the words yet.

I become a boat pushed onto water, wiggling with unguided potential.

I become an untrained runner hearing the starting signal, ready for a false start.

I become a bent match breaking without a spark.

If language is supposed to be a medium, a mediator, an adapter, how come it feels like a wall to run against, a hole to squeeze through, a confinement to burst out of?