Quiet is good

Long walk, down a country road…

I’ve had a very quiet few days… when I’ve been at home, that is.

This past week has been crAYzy, and I’ve spent my time at home relaxing and just enjoying the quiet.

Interestingly, these days, I don’t have much interest in going online, when I’m not at work. I think it’s about just being all maxed-out with the computer — all day, every day — and really enjoying not having to type anything…. or be in front of a humming electronic box, when I don’t have to.

So, I’ve been spending time reading and thinking… sketching out some ideas I’ve been having, and just working through a lot of logical problems in my head.

That’s my new thing — exercising my brain on “problems” I invent, and then try to solve. Some of the problems are very practical and everyday — like, how best to organize people at work to get all the jobs done, without completely frying their systems. Some of the problems are very abstract — like, what do we really experience, and how do we know what we know?

It’s good practice for me. And it gets me thinking in all new ways.

It keeps me honest and it keeps me humble. And it also keeps me on my toes and reminds me to take care of myself and my brain. I tend to wear myself out a bit, when I think too much about things.

That’s another thing I’m working on — patterns of thinking that move me forward, instead of wearing me out. What’s the best “cadence” for me? How do I best function? When is the best time of day for me to “do thinking”, and how can I organize my day, so that I can put my brain to work on different problems, and still have a life?

I think I have some good ideas around this. I pace myself. I also think up to a certain point, then step away and do something completely different. Like today — I read about a new type of computing, and then I cleaned the bathrooms. My spouse has mobility issues and cannot get down to floor level, or lean over to clean under the commode basins, so that was my “quest” for this morning. I promised myself I wouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes on the task, because I have really bad recollections of being forced to clean toilets when I was a kid, and I am also sensitive to the cleaning supplies. So, I worked as quickly and as efficiently as I could, and I was done.

And then my mind was clear again to go back to what I was reading before, and come at it from a new angle.

Now I’ve been reading and researching and thinking for another half hour and it’s time to go for my long walk again. I walked for 2 hours yesterday, and I got some great ideas, along the way.

Time to walk again — this time in a different direction. Who knows what will come to me then?

And this afternoon, while I have the house to myself, I’ll take a nap, then get up and do some chores… make some supper… and get a good night’s sleep.

I’ve got a good cadence going. Last night I actually got in bed before 11:00 p.m., and I got over 8 hours of sleep.

It’s amazing what a little balance will do for you. That, and exercise.

Onward.

Re-learning how to learn

So, I’m studying up on new technologies, and I’m very excited about my prospects. It’s going differently than it was, 20 years ago, when I first got into this line of work. A lot has changed, since I first learned to code — the technologies, the complexity, the principles, and especially how my brain works.

Things are so much more complicated than they were before.

It’s nuts.

And I have to find new ways of learning, that are very, very different from how they were before.

Once upon a time, I could sit down with a book, read through the principles, and then put them into practice.

Nowadays that just doesn’t work for me anymore. I think it has a lot to do with my memory — I cannot retain things the same way I used to — they just disappear after a relatively short while. Now I need to practice what I read, make a ton of mistakes, practice doing things about five different ways, hunt around for answers online about why things aren’t working, and then try new things out a bunch of times, until it all makes sense to me.

It’s a lot more winding and convoluted, and it takes a lot more work.

But that’s how it has to be.

I’m actually really relieved to have discovered this new necessity. For years, I really struggled with learning new things, because I was going about them the wrong way. I was going about them the old way. Back in the day, I could take things step by step, and go about them in an orderly fashion, with each logical step following the last. Nowadays, it’s a much more roundabout route. I have to not only read, but also do — and do and do — until I get it.

And it takes me a lot longer to get it.

And even when I do get it, I forget it.

And then I have to start all over again.

Looking back at the code I wrote 5 years ago, I am impressed by how much I was doing, and the ideas I had for projects. But I can also see how my brain was definitely limited in its thinking. I didn’t have the range that I have now.  I would get fixated on specific topics, specific features of my projects, and I could not think in larger terms with a variety of scenarios. I would find one thing to think about, and I would only think about that – for weeks and months. And I would neglect the other areas — and really limit my overall problem-solving skills.

The other thing that amazes me, is how convoluted my coding was – I mean, I had the basic logic in place, but it was not streamlined like my coding is now. Writing different programs, I had a lot of “fluff” in there that I really didn’t need, but I thought it was all so important.

Now that I’m coding again, I can see how to do things differently — more efficiently. And even if my current projects don’t turn into anything much, it will still pay off in a very big way, just training my brain to handle things differently — be more logical, more efficient, and better at learning.

Another missing piece is found — It’s not that I can’t learn.

It’s that I need to learn in completely different ways. I need to not only read and expect to retain. I need to read and then do and then mess up and fix what I’ve broken, and then start again from scratch.

Until I get it.

Because eventually, I will.

So, onward.

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