January 23, 2007

The Zeros

It's a typical Wednesday morning in overcrowded Lowland. The traffic on my route (the A12 from The Hague to Utrecht) comes to a full stop. Off course, I was prepared for this and take a sip from my still hot coffee (a custom I copied from American commuters which are rarely seen without coffee).

There is nothing I can do about the situation, so I might as well make the best of it. I tune my car radio to a station that plays 80s and 90s classics. Nice, familiar tunes from the decades I grew up in. Somehow, my musical preferences (and also my fashion preferences for that matter) never got past the 80s.

I wonder what the current decade will be called 20 years from now. The zeros perhaps? And what about the next decade? The 10s? I will be undoubtedly old and hopefully wise in those days. My children will then see me as old fashioned and will not understand why I would want to listen to those horrible, old, screeching noises on those old, impractically large "compact" discs. Very hard to imagine, and I better stop doing it while I am still in the prime of my life!

January 17, 2007

The omnireachability syndrome

Like everyone else on this planet, I have a cell phone. Nothing special about that. While I have it on me and switched on, I can be reached everywhere and always. No surprises here too. However, what many people do not realize, is that this omnireachability can seriously deform you. It starts very subtly, but when it is left undiagnosed for too long it will cause serious social and behavioural deformation.

Early symptoms of the omnireachability syndrome are:

  • breaking into a cold sweat when you suddenly realize that you forgot to switch on your cell phone,
  • having slight feelings of doubt when switching off your cell phone.
If you recognize these symptoms it could well mean that you have been infected too. Don't panic! You are only mildly deformed and there is still hope for you. Just realize what is happening to you and be extra aware of the serious symptoms:
  • always leaving your phone switched on and on a loud ring setting no matter where you are or what you are doing,
  • always answering any call even in the middle of a meeting (not feeling bothered when witnessing such behaviour basically comes down to the same symptom...),
  • getting into a serious panic after discovering that your cell phone's battery has less than 5 minutes worth of power left while having no opportunity of recharging it for the next hour or so,
  • feeling very restless and being unable to focus when you suddenly realize that you have left your cell phone somewhere,
  • feeling light headed at the thought of having to switch off your cell phone (and fainting when accidentally switching it off).
People who have all of these symptoms should be really worried. They are severely deformed and should be sent on a long holiday to some isolated island where no telco has coverage.

January 04, 2007

Clearing your mind

You have probably used and heard the phrase "I needed to clear my mind first before I could..." as many times as I did myself. But how exactly do you do that? O, all right, it's just a metaphor, or isn't it? In any case, I clear my mind a lot. A long walk, preferably along some sort of waterline and involving wind (the force of which depending on the state of my mind) blowing through my hair usually does the trick for me.

In my own head, the mind clearing process seems to sort my thoughts. It purges dead-end-thoughts and categorizes the remaining, potentially fruitful thoughts. I usually end up with a clear idea on how to continue whatever I was doing that required a mind clearing. I guess you could call this process the human equivalent of garbage collection or even defragmentation.

This reminds me a little bit of dreaming. When you dream, your brain is sorting your experiences of that day and puts them in perspective with experiences you had before. After waking up, you usually are better capable of dealing with the experiences of the previous day.
I wonder if there is any relation between mind clearing and dreaming.

I have three young children who produce quite a mess each day of which a huge part consists of laundry. I like my environment to be in an orderly state. I become a little bit restless in a room where all sorts of things are lying around in an unorganized fashion. Don't get me wrong, I don't need my environment to be crisp and sterile. I just want it to be organized to a certain extent. So, I clean up after my kids a lot. As that happens, my mind is somehow triggered to do the same thing. During cleaning up, I often get Aha Erlebnisse (German for Eureka moments).

In our little household, I usually do the laundry as well. Of course, the washing machine and the dryer do all the work, but the laundry folding machine is not yet invented (Or is it? Please let me know where I can buy one!). So, I manually fold all laundry and order it into neat, categorized stacks. Laundry folding has become such a routine for me, that I can do it absent mindedly. I can hold a conversation while doing it, or "dream off" and clear my mind. I found that laundry folding is strangely relaxing, almost therapeutical, and it provides me with new ideas and insights. Now this really looks a lot like dreaming, doesn't it?

Could this be generic? I mean, do routine exercises (like walking a fixed route or folding and sorting laundry) generally clear the mind of the person doing the exercise? I wonder if this has been researched by someone. Let's see what the wikipedia has on mind clearing: ... nothing!

However, Google finds this article on Briangle: mentalrobics. What this article describes reminds me of meditation. That does not really surprise me since hiking is known to have meditative effects on people. I guess that completes my circle: clearing your mind is a form of meditation. There you have it.