Education as a Barrier to Creation

A while back I was asked by two separate people if I had ever taken an Enneagram test to see what my “Type” was. I’m not someone who takes personality tests and swears by them with religious zealotry, however, I do think there is some value in them. Much like dreams, they can provide a glimpse at our subconscious and we can use that data to make better decisions in the future. It is important to remember that they are descriptive, not prescriptive. Our fates aren’t sealed by our Enneagram type, Myers-Briggs, or Hereos Within Archetypes.

I mention this because I took the Enneagram a while back and the results actually resonated with me a bit. I have long felt there is kind of a weird contridiction inside of me (probably true of everyone). I love learning about nearly anything. I am endlessly fascinated by not only broad patterns and philosophies but also the particulars of individuals, particularly individuals I care about. This leads me to both fascinate at the human body and wonder what my friends look like naked. It is how we relate to the average that is beautiful and fascinating to me.

This love of learning seems to permeate every aspect of my life. It has lead to me leaving jobs that I found boring with little thought to the future. Why stay where I am not learning when there is always something to learn somewhere else?

It has shaped my sexual interests in trying nearly every kink imaginable. I may hate it, but at least I will have the sensation to back it up.

However, the other side of my learning coin is that I hate to be taught. Being instructed beyond the most basic principles bores me, frustrates me, and kills my interest in a subject. Sure, I’ll look up the mechanical basics of any task… how to remove the panel from a car to replace the speakers or how to put dynamic lighting into a Roll20 map. But beyond that, I want to do it on my own. I want to make mistakes. I loathe being told the “proper” way of doing things. It feels like an assault on my person, a psychological mugging where someone more powerful than me takes away my agency because I dare deviate from the norm.

This aversion to instruction has created some, umm, issues at times. I don’t read directions when I probably should, as evidenced by the minor ceiling damage that occurred from a high pressure fountain of water erupting from a filtration system I was installing. I also jump at the first opportunity with little patience for choosing wisely because I want to get started NOW.

This duality has also lead to me using the internet in search of more knowledge, but by means that don’t work for me. For example, I subscribed to Masterclass but have only actually gone through one course. I find it particularly difficult to stick with it when it involves something artistic, like writing. There is an RL Stine course on Masterclass that I am sure I could learn a lot from, but I don’t want to be instructed. I’d rather write a book and then have it flop. Oftentimes, when I am being instructed I kind of feel like I’m doing something but I’m really not. It isn’t really an activity.

Anyway, the Enneagram test provided me with the feeling that I wasn’t alone. That maybe our education system (both official and unofficial) doesn’t work for everybody (or maybe even anybody). I value education and learning, but our system is unnecessarily cumbersome and antiquated. Curiosity, logic, and compassion are infinitely more important than learning calculus. The truth is, you won’t need it. There are essentially one of two futures ahead of us, neither of which require memorizing historical dates or the Pythagorean theorem. Either technology will continue to advance and more and more knowledge will be calculated by computers or at our fingertips (or implanted into our brains), or the world will enter a dystopian future and the real valuable knowledge will be how to grow crops, make bullets, and distill whiskey. In both scenarios, most of the time spent in the classroom or listening instead of doing will be wasted.

11.19.19

I recommend waking up about 30 minutes earlier than you normally do. I know, it sucks. I’m hardly excited when my 5am alarm goes off, but the pros outweigh the cons. I get some time while the world is dark and quiet to reflect over my coffee cup or read the news or balance my budget or do a crossword puzzle. The time is mine and in it I sit in a suspended world of peace.

11.18.19

I had a pretty mixed weekend. In some ways, I’m a little bummed with myself. I backslid on some habits, including my blogging, writing, and exercise. I’m trying to not be too hard on myself and to honor the time I needed off.

I also had a pretty good weekend. Anna and I were actually social and went to a Friendsgiving event where we basically knew nobody and had a great time. We chatted with some amazing people and are (hopefully) starting to connect a little bit with our town. It surely drained my introvert batteries a bit and Sunday was basically sitting on my ass (or is that just an excuse?). Overall, it was a good weekend.

11.14.19

Completing the morning writings from “The Artist’s Way” has become one of the most impactful things in my life. It really has sparked creative change and motivation to do other things. Just this week I contacted a doctor about getting LASIK, reached out to a music teacher to take voice lessons, and began really working on an RPG story that has been floating around in my brain.

Seriously. Doing an unfocused brain dump every morning by writing three pages by hand has changed my life.

11.13.19

Sometimes I read a book or an article or something and it punches me right in the feels. This morning was one of those times. I read an article in Psychology Today about “sensation seekers”, people who have an above average drive to do things that seem a little, umm, unwise. Cliff divers, mountain climbers, cross country cyclists, partiers, etc. Apparently, people like this fall into four broad categories based on how they respond to boredom, their disinhibition, thrill/adventure seeking, and experience seeking.

I’ve known for most of my life I was a little more of a sensation seeker than others. I went skydiving on my 18th birthday, joined the US infantry to see if I “had the balls”, have quit two secure jobs without a back-up plan to cycle across the country, have done naked bike rides, been in orgy domes, and I would literally jump on a plane in one hour to go to a foreign country if presented with the opportunity. On the “Sensation Seeking Scale” I max out the experience-seeking section and score above average in the other three measures.

What I found particularly interesting about the article is it hinted at something that I’ve suspected about myself. In some ways, these more extreme experiences aren’t about seeking an above-average rush, it is that these above-average rushes are needed to reach a level that is normal for others. The article mentioned that high sensation seekers have lower arousal systems, our norepinephrine amounts are lower. I think this is why sexual variety and experimentation, MDMA (and other drugs), and travel are so appealing. When I have those experiences I can start to understand the passion and lust and racing heart that others feel with more common experiences.

Another area of the article that spoke to me is this line: “One of the things that I heard over and over from high sensation seekers is “Analysis IS paralysis.” Instead of analyzing situations, they jump headlong into them and trust their bodies and minds to respond as needed. The goal is to not think about what to do too soon.”

There is a danger to all this. I imagine injuries, death, addiction, and other consequences are common. But, like the article points out, people like me aren’t doing this because we have a subconscious desire for death (sorry, Freud) but it is because we have a very conscious love of life… particularly the quality of our lives, even if we risk the quantity of it.

11.12.19

I’m happy right now. There is no particular reason and I’m not trying to brag or anything. I just feel happy. Life is going in a great direction. There are a lot of challenges and stressors but they are adding to the happiness, they provide opportunities for accomplishment and growth and strengthening. Life could be so much worse.

11.11.19

I admit, I was a little skeptical when I started writing the Morning Pages that are part of “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I first heard the book recommended on Rick Roll’s (or maybe his book) and have since heard about it many times. It is one of those cultural things that appear to be everywhere once your eyes are open to it.

The idea of sitting down and hand writing three pages seemed daunting, difficult, and, to be honest, a waste of time. But, after three weeks of (inconsistent) writing I am starting to see some benefits. Most days the writing is venting and kind of like a journal, but some days ideas pop into my head that are really inspiring. Ideas for how to move a story forward or a business idea or ways to improve my friend’s entrepreneurial activities.

Starting my day out with hand writing clears the cobwebs and makes the world seem a little more at ease. My mind slows down, feels at peace (relatively), and things seem just a little bit more clear. It isn’t a panacea but it is a way to get things started a little bit better and with that good habit I am more likely to do other good habits like read, drink water, brush my teeth, meditate, exercise, and prioritize my own goals over the “needs” of others.