growth and judginess

November 8, 2019
Grooming old blog entries I found this article about comic artist James Sturm giving up the Internet (which made it so much less convenient for him to get reference art, for starters.)

He solicited letters during his Internet-fasting-process, and the article has some of those turned into comic panels. This one struck me:

It reminded me of my estranged debate partner and friend EB, whose frustration at himself and me for our respective bad habits was sometimes palpable - and to be fair, he was pretty good at making mindful choices and exclusions to cultivate his life.

For me and my fixed mindset, it’s weird, the feeling of self-hatred referenced in the comic is more “you can’t grow unless you declare your previous self an idiot for getting yourself into these patterns in the first place"… but your previous self was probably about as smart as you are now! (See Tallulah Bankhead's "If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.")

Obviously that fixed-mindset stance excludes the whole “learning from experience” possibility and is therefore kind of stupid… but recognizing that there were better decisions that could have been made earlier requires a judginess I find difficult to muster for other people, much less myself.

(Compare to EB, who judges freely and often, with great and often justified confidence, but some terrific misses -- bold misjudgements. For me, a fear of such misjudgements - that I asserted my subjective viewpoint over somebody else's, and was unjust and unempathetic and wrong to do so - keeps me from judging much in the first place.)

I mean when you look at your current habits and how they were formed - you can guess it would have been better to have lived otherwise, but you don’t know, and so the mandate for mustering the willpower to make a change is that much less…

This all brings to mind one final quote, also from an autobiographical comic:
Sure it mattered. When you get to my age you discover that everything mattered. Life isn't a series of good and bad choices. It's harder to steer it one way or the other than most people think. You just get pulled along. You look back and you wonder 'could I have changed the course of my life?' Maybe you could've ... but it would probably have taken a tremendous force of will.
Old Man in Seth's "It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken"

Following up on that to EB:
I guess you and I would both agree incorrectly judging something is wrong - especially when you're forcing your opinion over someone who ends up being correct. But for you it's an acceptable (and necessary) cost of doing business, and hopping to the meta-level, endlessly not judging can be judged to be a bad life pattern as well. All while my delicate ego keeps me as far away from being incorrect as possible and only asserting things I am overwhelmingly confident about.

My first attempt at jogging was in middle school- I think to try and improve my gym class grade or something, around the hallways of the school. I remember the gym teacher responsible for that discouraging me from listening to music on a walkman, citing something about blocking alpha or beta waves or what not. Was there something to that or was it just new-age-y hokum?
Content Warning: Diet and Food Stuff
(I have at least one friend who reacts badly to this stuff, so, fair warning.)

Realizing calorie counting works better than good-intentioned food journaling.... Kind of obvious, I suppose. But part of my fluffy cloud of economic privilege is that I measure the cost of food in calories not dollars - and so given that the lunches and snacks at work are free to me dollar wise, I guess I need the accountancy of quantifying the calories, rather than trying to juggle my good intentions against my random hungry impulses.

Calorie counting that for a few days - even though I have to guess, or go out for a Blaze pizza or Chipotle salad not for nutritional reasons but because I can have higher confidence estimates of the calories - has given me a satisfying feeling of control (which I know is a fraught thing for people with more serious food issues.) In fact, I'm able to have more generous evening meals because I know what the numbers are.

And without calorie counting... it's like "all this food is free! In both money and calories! So why not?"

I know my "calorie is a calorie is a calorie" thinking is naive - diets create responses in our metabolism, and the other part of the game is figuring out satiation within that calorie limit - but this kind of math is the only thing I've found to work for me, in the 4 times I've lost 10-15 lbs over the past decade and a half. ( diet.kirk.is for the graph)