Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Lessons I Regret Learning

I walked about 8 miles today, to visit a friend and return (around 3am). On the way, I thought, among other things, of an interesting analogy of endianness to beginning programmers. Endianness describes the direction (and fine details) of how memory is arranged/addressed on a computer. There are two endian arrangements, them being called big and small endian. They may be thought of as being similar to how BLOGs work, compared to paper journals. When people read a paper journal, it's sequential -- new entries always are placed after existing ones on paper. By contrast, BLOGs are traditionally arranged with new entries at the top. In both, the newest text is typically at the bottom of the entry. It would not be hard to flesh this analogy out into a nice, coherent, and deep discussion on endianness. It is, alas, 03:40, and I am too tired, so it is left as an exercise for the reader.

Instead, I will review lessons I have learned in life that I regret learning. Not all lessons are 'true' or 'good', instead these are ways of thinking about the world that I adopted at one point that I wish I had not. Some of them I have conquered, some I have more or less conquered, and some of them bother me to this day.

  1. I need stuff to be happy - I believe I learned this primarily from my parents, with societal reinforcement. I recall when I was younger thinking about taking jobs that would not pay well, and my parents telling me that stuff would and should make me happy. I believed this for a time, and it played a certain role in how I thought about things, but I've since largely abandoned it, and nowadays I think the only things I would really miss if my apartment were to burn down are my memory boxes and some computer data that's not presently on my laptop. This assumes that my cats are safe.
  2. I can make it through anything with sheer intelligence where others struggle with work - This is the most problematic thing I have learned, because it was taught to me partly through the very specialised gifted program and partly through continued experiences in life. I have a very poor work ethic because in some sense I know that I don't need to do much work to do most things. This bites me both because when I don't mix intelligence with work, I don't reach my potential, and because sometimes work is actually necessary or warranted. I am more lazy than I should be, and I still struggle with it.
  3. I am emotionally capable of anything if I make enough effort at it - This has led me to be more generous/forgiving to people than I can sustainably be, causing me either to become miserable or to become neurotic in situations where I am giving more than I can give. I think I learned this as a specific case of the youthful belief in indestructability.
  4. It is never harmful to think more about things, nor is it to know things - I think this is born out of bad philosophy, in particular a false divide between the exterior world which I interact with and myself which I have complete control either. I have come to a more realistic perspective on the self over the years which has lessened this belief, and studying psychology has helped me see my brain as less of a pure embodiment of/machine for my "will". Forgetting that egostic false model of self is key to understanding the self as a messy set of desires, and helps me see the value of using inner guards to manipulate myself into doing what I overall want to do (like the games some people play with alarm clocks)
  5. People who are of different races/classes/etc are not good to hang out with - I think I might've learned this from being from a southern family, or perhaps one that was moving upwards from upper-middle to lower-upper class before/around the time when I was born. I remember being told at one point not to hang out with certain friends because their families were poor, and I remember when visiting relatives in the south hearing that hispanics were ruining the neighbourhood, and people treating blacks as servants. I removed most of this perspective by the end of high school, with some remnants being purged throughout university. I suppose it's more accurate to say that in the end, my perspective has shifted -- I no longer assign importance to race or monetary status, but I do see cultural differences and I feel free to dislike or even oppose certain subcultures. I feel that it is possible to move from one subculture to another though, and that the enlightenment, academic, and to a certain extent certain other cultures all have a lot of content that will be preserved (along with considerable content that will not) as people step towards a new universal culture that has not yet been built.
  6. I don't need to take care of my body and it'll still be fine - This is a lesson that youth teaches everyone and age teaches them otherwise.
  7. Popular things are beneath me - I don't remember when I learned this, it may have been in my upbringing or my highly artificial schooling, or a mix of each. I listened to very little music outside of classical and rag until my 2nd or 3rd year of High School, hated sports (for a very different reason than why I dislike watching sports and the sports mentality now), and missed out on a lot of stuff that wasn't "elite". To some degree I've made progress in unlearning things, but I still sometimes have difficulty not feeling odd doing things that have a strong popular or class connotation to them, like bowling. At the same time, my socialist values steer me in the opposite direction when it comes to enjoying institutions of privilege, and there I feel actual guilt (because it is against my current convictions) rather than oddness (based off of habitualised old values).

I could probably think of more, but already I have fallen asleep, slept for the night, and am wrapping this up the following morning. I'd rather enjoy the day than continue this. I am sure that other people have things they struggle with, or perspectives they regret picking up....


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