Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Cluttered Mind

I signed up with a weight loss program not quite a year ago. They gave us a bunch of ideas and a bunch of information, but I a year later I weigh as much as I did when I started. I suspect that it is all in my mind. Not that I am imagining I am heavy, rather it is my lack of focus: there is nothing I do because I want to, except perhaps this blog. It is all because of obligations and commitments. There are so many things I should do I am often in a quandary about just what I should do now. Well, while we are thinking about it, let's have something to eat. How about a nice donut? Hmm, yes, and a cup of coffee to go with it. Yes, that's very good. And it does not have to be a donut. If you are conflicted and confused as I am, you will spend a good deal of time in a state of quandary, eating because, well, you need to eat, you're hungry. And who wouldn't be hungry in a situation like this?

So my latest theory is people who are thin have somehow restricted their lives to only those things they want, and they have somehow managed to make their obligations align with their desires.

I spent 25 years working with computer software, not because I was particularly infatuated with it, but because I could do it and there seemed to be some demand for it, which meant I could make a living at it. I did enjoy some of it: writing code to make things "work", either a program or a piece of hardware. But I was never motivated enough to go create something on my own. There are other things in life besides computer programs. The other part is that I poured a great deal of effort into my job and after eight hours I was beat. Perhaps I do not have the endurance of some people. Or maybe I am just not as obsessive/compulsive as some people. When I am traveling by car, I find I can drive about 500 miles per day. I can spend six hours driving 85 MPH, or I can spend 12 hours driving 50 and noodling about, but at the end of 500 miles, in either case, I am beat.

Yesterday my college son was complaining about how the houses in our development are all so ugly. It is, in fact, a very "nice" development. There is a home owners association the ensures that everyone mows and waters their lawn, paints their house, and basically keeps up appearances. I can see his point though, it is a boring neighborhood, there is nothing spectacular, and if anyone tried to build something spectacular, I am sure the homeowners association would squash it.

This is because these houses are essentially tools: a place to sleep, to keep your stuff, to shelter your family, to eat. In short, they are tools to enable you to recover every night so you are ready to go to work in the next morning.

Mowing the lawn is a way to bring order into your life. It does so on a couple of levels. For one, it causes you to focus on what you are doing, which kind of like praying, banishes stray thoughts from your mind. On the other hand, you are bringing order from chaos. You are eliminating clutter. Once the lawn has been brought to order, you do not need to worry about it for another week. I must confess: I do not mow my lawn. I do not even own a lawn mower. Mowing the lawn was always one chore that my wife would have to harass me about. I have a lawn man take care of it. Hiring him counts as one of better decisions I have made. I do not like weekly chores. If I have mowed the lawn once, that should be enough for eternity. I should never have to do it again.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yea, clutter. My wife and went shopping at Freddies a couple of weeks ago, and I noticed they had a bunch of plastic storage containers for sale. I mean a real bunch, aisles and rows of the things. I commented on this and she said it is an annual phenomena. I had never noticed. Possibly something to do with New Years' resolutions: "I am going to get organized", or in the parlance of the old hippies: "man, when I get my sh*t together ... yada, yada, yada".

And then there is the correlation between a cluttered house/office and a cluttered mind. No wonder it is so difficult to make any decisions, there is just too much stuff to consider. I am going to have to streamline my life! But what am I going to cut out? How will I ever decide? How about this? Oh, that, oh no, we can't throw that out, it's valuable/ I am going to do something with it/it's a family heirloom/et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

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