Skip to main content

Reality is an Unbox

Our world is increasingly a place where people box everything into nice labels and acquire places, events and things in nice labeled boxes. Modern life, for some, is simply an ever escalating art of creating, sustaining and consuming better and better digital universes filled with better digital boxes. But better, as in "more efficient to produce", "more efficient to consume", "more efficient to serve", "use and throw" with "talk-to-a-child" simple interface.

In this world, people are the standard input and standard output - the buy and sell side interfaces - of the box; events are transactions between the box and the box holder. Here, motion is emulated by a switch to a different buy-me box. Relationships are mediated through an emotional attachment to an anonymous box that embraces, extends (and thankfully, not yet managing to 'extinguish') one's identity.

People, events and relationships - the soul of being human - are being seen more and more through the bitcoins of digital emotions - short bursts of feelings that can be typecast, searched and mined in an infinite set of contexts.

We created this world. It has substantially enriched parts of our lives. We cannot imagine a life without these boxes, nor can we sustain the current level of human aspirations without these boxes.

But reality is continuous - there aren't many clean interfaces and nice wrappers. An infinitely satisfying emotional bundle is a continuously changing interface in a permanently growing form - a  child, for example. The mundane and the sublime intertwine, as in a meandering conversation with a friend that proves Einstein wrong - time dilation can happen even when two observers are at rest because their mind is in motion. Where people, events and relationships are grown and groomed, not just harvested, paid for, negotiated through reciprocity or subordinated to a vision statement.

People, events and relationships are more like a rain forest than a searchable library of boxes.  There is the imperceptible reach of the long-term in each short-term interaction. Beauty is in the fractured interfaces that never fracture relationships. Good and bad are fractal experiences.

Living a balanced life between the boxed world and reality is going to get harder - just a random sampling of people walking on the streets, meetings and after-work family dinners will suffice to explain. We need to cultivate more Unplugged moments - a kind of fasting for the boxed world.

Shut the box out on a regular basis. Bring in unscripted moments where they are least expected. Pixie dust   spills out when you open the box and shake it up.

Popular posts from this blog

Why PI is not 4, math is great, and other mysteries.

The other day, I found myself with an interesting problem of approximating a circle with the enclosing square which seems to prove pi = 4.

The paradox was forwarded by a most interesting puzzle collector, Surajit Basu, a friend and life long inspiration. See Sonata for Unaccompanied Tortoise for why!

Here is the offending paradox:

This is an example of how counterintuitive questions can be answered with a little calculus.

The key is to realize that no matter how closely we approximate the circle, the orthogonal lines of the approximation formed by inverting the square corners will never actually be tangential to the circle.

Note carefully that as you get closer to 90 degrees, the horizontal line is much longer than the vertical. Same goes with the approximation at 0 and 180 - the vertical line is much larger than the horizontal component.

If we take a quadrant of the circle - let's say the top left quadrant, moving counter clockwise from top to left -  we can imagine that each inf…

Ambition vs. Fear.

Most important things in life don't come to us. Nor do we get them by seeking/wanting them. It comes from letting go of the unimportant stuff.

The hardest part is letting go of the tendency to take the world as is. This is a habit of our past successes.

But success is not a destination, it is a STOP sign. You stop, wait, and move on. Too often, we are paralyzed by success into the fear of the new. We stall on the road to a new life. We need to break our inertia and move.

Our thoughts and thought habits are hard to break. But that is where we have to spend the most energy. Thoughts are always competing strands  - of worries of the past and anxieties for the future. For some of us, they are cleanly separated into rivers that nurture every place they travel. For most, they are like the torrents and trickles -- competing, rushing somewhere, stopping completely elsewhere, always mixing, morphing, competing, winning, losing.

Our thoughts are the potential difference between the two pole…

Meta leadership

Leadership The word leadership has a rather large spread and reach. It can mean a diverse set of behaviors. It can explain a wide variety of positive outcomes. It can effect a wide scope of results - from moving individuals within one's sphere of direct interaction, to moving an entire world far beyond one's direct influence. 
At its core, leadership is an attitude for influencing and executing transformation. It is a skill that results in exponential outcomes with a linear quantum of resource: Oneself. In this process, you leverage many sources both within, and outside, clear lines of control - resources, people,  organizations, domains of expanding knowledge, mental models, systems for doing things.

In today's world, leadership is probably the most important skill at every level of activity one wants to be successful at. This is simply because we are now connected to potentially billions of people within the palm of our hands, or within the reach of a keyboard.