Sunday, April 10, 2016

Boredom, Certainty, and Frozen Perspective

I wrote last month about how certainty is humanity's crowning glory ("Since the dawn of history, our heroes have been the staunchest of the staunch. People of unwavering conviction, adhering faithfully to a rigid code") and also its downfall ("The central problem isn't religion, or political ideology, or racism. It's not even mob sentiment or extremism, per se. If you peel through the layers to the core of the problem, you'll find that it is, above and beyond all else, a matter of certainty.").

Between those cojoined Taoist extremes there lies an insidious peril: boredom. Boredom is humanity's most popular expression of certainty. It is the unwavering conviction that nothing interesting or provocative can possibly come from the people you're with in the place you're at. Inputs are shut down and perspective is narrowed. Nothing for me is forthcoming here, so I shift into "sleep" mode.

The remarkable thing about boredom is that it is, itself, incredibly boring. Bored people spray boredom. It's the ultimate rebuke of Gandhi's exhortation to be the change you wish to see in the world. A three step maneuver is involved: 1. assessment (inevitably flippant) that there's nothing of interest, 2. self-defeating shutdown of receptivity to anything of potential interest, and 3. resolution to make yourself of no interest whatsoever to those around you.

If you're someone dedicated to being surprising, insightful, and creative, bored people will be your kryptonite. They're a suffocating pillow. A certainty of disinterest is the single most effective countermeasure to interestingness. Creative, surprising people are put at great risk by the presence of this potent neurotoxin.

At its very root, the problem with certainty - either the big kind that fosters bloodshed, or the smaller kind that fosters buzzkill - is far simpler than you'd think. The problem is that it involves a frozen perspective. That's it! Frozen perspective is at the root of all human misery, large and small, inflicted or endured. And certainty is the means by which perspective freezes.

If you practice expanding and refocusing your perspective, you'll never be bored. And the less bored you allow yourself to be, the more interestingness and creativity will be fostered, both within yourself and in those around you whose creativity was previously thwarted by your boredom.

My previous, slightly less developed effort at this
An example of the underlying issue of perspective .

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