When the Lights go Out


Franklin's piece this week frames this post, so go read it first!

Recently we had a power outage that got my creative juices flowing. Because introspection is the key to rationality, here are lessons I learned on what it means to live life rationally and gratefully.

  1. One should be more grateful for the mental real-estate that the luxuries of life afford us. Metacognition, in a significant way, is a privilege and a luxury. Much like most extreme feats of sleep deprivation, fasting, long-distance running, intense heat, etc., thoughts are framed around the immediate happenings in times of stress. One does not get the opportunity or even the inclination to think about thinking when the problems facing you are paramount and the consequences are immediate. This was a friendly reminder of the mental real estate immigrating to the United States freed up for me.

  2. Trying to keep up one's routine in chaos is exciting and underrated! Contrary to one's instinct to shut down and wait for a restoration of the status quo, endeavoring, with the cards you've been handed, to keep your structure is highly underrated. This applies to minor events like a power outage and major ones like moving to another state or country or getting a new job requiring different hours. The excitement comes from the resistance to the siren call to lie in bed or shut down entirely.

  3. Much of the issues we currently face in the west, characterized by an aversion for the outdoors, occur because we maximize the intrigue and appeal of the indoors over the outdoors. For better or worse, playing video games is more exciting than bird watching. Watching Youtube videos is more exhilarating than hiking. To the outdoorsy folks, make a better case for the outdoors than tree-hugging.

  4. Errors compound more quickly than good decisions in times of crisis for two reasons. In times of crisis, we are more prone to seeing the negatives and in times of crisis, rationality, in most people, goes out the window.

  5. One should practice downscaling their life more often. This helps us understand necessities and the extent to which we rely on some things. It also enables us to downscale our life quickly in times of lack. This obvious point is hard to implement because one's luxuries are, in a significant way, in our blind spot. For example, the luxury of having a light on (be it LED or any other type of light) constantly in one's room for aesthetic purposes creates an expectation that it should always be there. This could lead to draining the battery of your emergency flashlight, as it almost did in my case.

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that much of one's life is formed around an invisible constant. As an intellectual and human exercise, we should try to be aware of those constants and, from time to time, live lives divorced from them for a short while. It forces you to react in increasingly novel ways that would and do help improve your philosophy and outlook on life. It would also help you adopt more stable alternatives or, at the very least, be more grateful and humble about the very constants you enjoy.


Certainty Rating: 82%



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