“Hindsight is twenty-twenty” was one of my Father’s favorite sayings. If you’re not familiar with the phrase, it means that it’s easy to know what the right thing to do was…after the outcome had been determined. The idea is congruent with, “Well, what I shoulda done was….”
My Father’s favorite subject was History. As a minister, he himself, was a history teacher of sorts. While I focus on science, I believe it’s important to know history.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Mark Twain. He said, “History doesn’t repeat itself…but it does rhyme” (adapted). I believe that’s true. I also believe others’ hindsight could help our foresight.
Like me, my Father had physical issues starting in his early adulthood starting with his weight. His weight was a lifelong concern for him…as it is for many people of color. And he heard plenty of ideas about how to lose weight.
As far as diet goes, Dad did a couple things common for people his age. He did the grapefruit juice diet (a type of restrictive fasting). He did low fat (And OD’d on Snackwells).
As far as exercise goes, he did LSD (long slow distance). He did this first around the track and then later on the treadmill. This was “by the book” for my Dad’s time…but it didn’t do him much good.
He put off taking medication for as long as possible. He let things go far too long…things that medication would have helped, if not “solved.” Avoidance has major consequences.
He was hypertensive and it contributed to congestive heart failure. He had chronic tophaceous gout that not only deformed his connective tissue but likely his organs, as well. Both of these conditions could’ve been better managed with sooner and better with pharmacological interventions.
His health conditions left him less functional so he wasn’t able to exercise without bringing out more dysfunction…and this hastened his end. Towards the end, he was just trying to squeeze what enjoyment he could out of life. And a lot of his enjoyment came through food.
Most of the time, Dad put off eating until the evening and then feasted. Many others have utilized this same approach of a fasting and feasting window to great effect. But it didn’t work for Dad.
Most of what Dad did that didn’t work was by the book..but it wasn’t his book. Dad’s heritage probably made it to where he needed higher fat, low protein, and very low carbohydrate diet that would have satiated him. But you won’t find that in many, if any, books.
Dad’s body needed to exercise intensely for short periods of time most of the time. Maybe he needed to go a medium intensity for medium duration of time. And he probably needed to go low intensity for a long period of time very rarely…but again, it would be hard to find that in a book.
Now I could take everything my Father did and try to do the opposite. Instead of doing Long Slow Distance, I could do High Intensity Interval Training. Instead of having 1 large meal, I could have 5 small meals. I could go to the Doctor right away for every ailment.
I sort of tried that approach once. Whenever my Father developed Chronic Tophaceous Gout, I decided I would put my health first. So I followed a prototypical Corrective Exercise Approach.
You see, I was a by the book guy, too. Everything the author said to do, I did…to a “t.” 11 months later I developed a Chronic Pain issue that forever changed my life. If you’re going to be by the book…you better get the right book.
I’m no longer by any particular book. I’m by something greater…and far more dynamic. I’m by my body.
When I feel good, I eat higher fat, moderate protein, and lower carb. But when I feel bad, I eat higher carb, lower protein, and moderate fat. When I feel good, I do medium duration higher intensity exercise but when I feel bad, I may no do nothing or very low intensity short duration.
It all depends on how I feel…on my body. And if you follow my body, it’s like following a book. Don’t be by the book, don’t be by my body.
My Father was by the book. For a certain period of time, so was I. It cost us both…gravely. Let our hindsight contribute to your foresight. Don’t be by the book…be “by your body.”
(Newtonian) Physics is fate. Chemistry is fate. Biology is fate.
And yes, even psychology is fate. So what does one do when one is fated? How does one feel when can’t simply make his own fate?
There are certain things that are inevitable. What’s the old joke? Death and taxes?
When one is fated, it can feel like a certain kind of life is inevitable. You were destined to win. Or worse, you’re destined to lose.
How can we change our fate…if it’s fate? How do we alter our circumstances when we can’t choose our way out of it? It has everything to do with what you’re conscious of.
There are factors that shape our fate. Included in those are the time, the body, the geography, and the culture in which we are born. Those things are very resistant to change.
But there is one factor that shapes our fate that is the most accepting of change. That factor is our consciousness. Most of the time our consciousness is blown about like a leaf in the wind.
Whichever “wind” in our life is the strongest is what we’ll be conscious of. If we’re driving and there is a car wreck in front of us, we won’t be thinking about anything else. But most of the time, there aren’t stimuli that intense that require our attention.
Like anything else in our body, our brain changes with use. A part of what the human brain does is produce consciousness. And what we’re conscious of can dictate the direction of our lives.
Where some see problems others see opportunities. But how can we change our perspective, or what we’re conscious of, when it isn’t simple as choice. It’s all about advertising.
There’s an old trope in ads. It’s something like it takes 6-10 exposures for the ad to “work.” But what does work mean?
When and advertisement (or anything outside of you) works, it means you buy it. The multiple exposures bring it to the forefront of your consciousness…and you act. We can use this same strategy with ourselves.
Being conscious of something is an intermediate step in change. Conscious Incompetence, right? But there’s more.
It’s not enough to simply be conscious of something. Does that consciousness make you feel like you’re going to do it…or not do it? As Bruce Lee would say, it’s about “emotional content.”
If you want to do something…and it doesn’t feel like you can, find out which of these two directions are possible: Can you find out more about it? Or can you take some small step towards that thing you want to do?
Keep doing those one of those two things until it feels like you can do more. And keep doing more until you can do the whole thing. And a similar approach applies to stopping doing something, too.
If you feel like you can’t stop doing something, you have two directions, as well. Can you research stopping that particular behavior? Or can you take some small step in the opposite direction that would lead you to doing it a little less often, shorter, or with less intensity?
Odds are, you’ll find change possible…even with the reality of fate. But change isn’t as simple as choice. We can’t choose our fate. But our consciousness is a factor in our fate…and the more conscious we are of our fate, the bigger factor consciousness plays in our fate.
I am a Martial Artist. I’ve had multiple teachers and even been a teacher myself. I’ve been better than some of my teachers…but not all.
Most students aren’t better than their teachers. But if a teacher teaches long enough and more importantly, teaches well enough, the student will exceed the teacher. And some of those students become teachers themselves.
There is a mythos in the Martial Arts along the lines of this, “If you think I’m good, you should’ve seen my teacher.” Except that isn’t how nature works. That isn’t how evolution works.
Not every iteration nature makes is an evolutionary step forward. But over the long view of time, those things that work…last. The trend is always in the direction of more adaptive.
And adaptive, often but not always, means better. That means that over time, we should expect better. In sports, we see that.
There is often a phrase, “we’ll never see another _______.” For me, that was Michael Jordan. But since then, there’s been Kobe, Lebron. Given enough time, nature always produces better.
Evolution produces better in a few ways. And it produces better in a few ways for us, personally. But there’s one way I want to focus upon.
There are what is called adaptive mutations. Light colored skin (in the geographical area in which is was adapted) is an adaptive mutation. This allowed people to absorb more Vitamin D from the Sun. But this adaptation, or more accurately described positive mutation, wasn’t random.
There was a stress on the body, a need so great, that mutation occurred (not random). Not just one mutation occurred, but many. It just so happened (or what was random) that among a subset of people one of those mutations was light skin. It worked so well that this mutation became a part of their genome. In evolutionary terms, what works, especially positive mutations, lasts.
Evolution is about change, long term change, over time, a long time, that allows organisms to survive. It requires those organisms to alter their environment to make their lives easier. If they cannot do that, they have to change themselves to make life easier.
Sometimes this personal change is so drastic that they change all the way down to their genetic blueprint in order to live better. The premise of the text, EVOLUTION, A NEW TESTAMENT is this: in order to be happy (in all ways), you have lived in accordance with your blueprint. You weren’t just a product of evolution, you were built to produce evolution…thus, you should expect it.
This leaves you with two major edicts. Change your environment to match yourself. If you cannot, change yourself to match your environment. If you cannot, you must change yourself all the way to the core…or risk extinction.
What once was in my head, Adam helped others realize without any additional effort on my part. The Protocol had a life of its own. But there are more things in my head.
Some people, like Darryl, have been able to extrapolate more complete applications from the partial ones I’ve shared. But it’s incumbent upon me to share as much as I can. My mind is built to help your body (and mine, too, of course).
A big part of life (should be) acquiring new skills. And for every skill, even a more mentally oriented skill, the musculoskeletal system reshapes itself into the shape of that skill. If you’re learning computer coding, your body will reshape itself into the shape you were assuming as your were learning.
You were probably sitting down, leaning over, looking at a computer screen. This will make every successive time you sit down to code easier to do so…more comfortable. But this comes at a cost.
Any movement that deviates from that position you were in is now harder. You’re more stuck. You’re less of a human…more of a coder.
This informs your approach to learning new skills. You can’t just learn the skills. You have to unlearn the bad parts that come along with it.
The bad won’t be bad right away. You’ll have a window where you’ll be able to specialize on the new skill. But about the time it starts to get easy, you’ll need to start balancing your body.
Everything new thing you do requires you to do another. If you’re a new coder, then you’ll need to newly practice moving towards the opposite position you’re always in. Doing only one thing will keep you from being able to do everything. In order to become one thing, you have to become multitudes.
The thing I am most passionate about it spreading science. But the science I’m spreading isn’t the science that is being promulgated and pushed back against. While I am an authority on is a very small slice of science, but I’m no authoritarian…quite the opposite.
The kind of science I’m spreading isn’t about the empirical, it’s about the anecdotal. It’s isn’t about people, it’s about the person. It isn’t about us…it’s about you.
I want the number one thing you do in your life to be science. In fact, I bet it already is. I want to help you be a better at it.
Everyday you encounter problems and you try to apply possible solutions. That is science. You’ve been running experiments.
These problems and solutions are personal. They may not work for anyone else, but that’s OK…they work for you. This isn’t the science of the many, it’s the science of the few.
But this science can extend….a bit. Sometimes we have problems with others. But there is a scientific solution to that, too.
Whenever you have a problem to which you don’t know the solution, you experiment. But before you can experiment, you have to perform the most important step. You have to design the experiment.
To me, there may be nothing more beautiful than an elegantly designed experiment. This experiment is so simple, yet so thorough, that the results are conclusive and indisputable. Experimental design is the height of science.
So when two people have a problem, the problem is best solved when an experiment is co-designed…so that neither party will disagree after the experiment is ran. And the responses to the experimental outcomes are predetermined so that the problem is not only solved, the recourse is planned. Science is best played as a team sport.
Being the best scientist includes things like research, observation, analyzing and interpreting existing data…but all of this isn’t enough. We have to take science out of the lab and let in breathe in everyday life. Anytime we have a problem is an opportunity for an experiment.
But this experiment has to be designed well. It has to definitively tell us the answer to our individual or collective problem. And when we have problems with others, we have to get them to design that experiment with us. And we have to run it together, too.
When science is a cooperative advent, it can break through most pre-existing ideologies and preconceptions. When problem solving is a group activity, the solution is for the group, as well. Unlike most philosophies, science has the potential to unite us all.
One of my biggest fears is not being alive to usher my daughter into being a fully functional adult. You see, my three year old daughter is autistic. She came by it naturally. She’s autistic, like her Father before her.
And since I’m autistic that gives me a distinct advantage and disadvantage in being one of her guides. I know where she’s coming from. But I can only get her so far.
I’ve thought of making videos or recording audio for her, but that’s not how I communicate. I write. So this is for her and all those other weirdos who have come before her…those people like her that need to reach functional adulthood, and it’s for those people like me who are helping them to get there. This is my love letter to you.
If you’re autistic (or another brand of weirdo), you haven’t had it easy. No matter where you find yourself on the autism spectrum, how many sensory sensitivities, motor impairments, emotional deadspots, how much emotional dysregulation or how many social deficits you have…you’ve had more than enough challenges. And you have more than enough to improve.
Since you’re reading this, you’ve already achieved multiple things your parents likely feared would never happen. From where you started, you are a high achiever despite your limits. And you’re reminded of your limits constantly.
You’re in the race, but others are lapping you. And yet, you’re still going, aren’t you? Well, keep going.
You’re a stranger in a strange land. If you’re going to make it, you’re going to have to learn the customs. You’re going to have to learn the language of more typical people.
Your language, your customs are alien, foreign to the natives. You’re only going to be able to share the best of your personal culture. And beware challenging the ineffective parts of the native culture.
But there will be a few natives that can appreciate you, at least parts of you, It’s imperative that you find these people. As different as you are from them, you need them.
Typicals are able to live playing to their strengths. You’re not typical. You can’t just accentuate your strengths.
You’re going to have many more kinks in your armor, more weaknesses than others. You’re going to have to shore up those weaknesses. Work on the ones that are most necessary first.
Those may be sensory issues you have: lights, sounds, touches, smells. There will certainly be social issues you have. Find some way to address each of these…but only a little at a time. If you take small steps, you can get anywhere you want…with time.
I wonder if you know where you want to go…or even what you want. As an Autistic, it’s likely you also have sensory sensitivities. It makes it easy to know what you don’t want.
You may not want noises too loud. Lights too bright. Touches too light, too hard…or at all. You need things just so.
It’s like your life is about simply avoiding what you don’t want. That can take up a lot of your time. Don’t let it take away your life. You have to find out what you want…and focus on that.
What is your life going to be like? It may not be best to compare yourself to your typical peers. It would be better to compare yourself to other autistics…who had similar levels of functioning that you’ve had.
But here’s how it’s likely to go. Just as you’re getting used to something new, it’ll be time for an ever newer sort of thing. Your typical peers won’t really find those new things all that challenging. They may even like them.
This will clue you in to a necessary strategy. It’s not enough to just make it through the day as best you can. You’re going to have to prepare for tomorrow. I mean really prepare. As the great Dalton said, “You’re going to have to expect the unexpected.”
What you like and what you want for yourself will likely be a departure than what the typical person might want. You may want something more unique than being a Doctor, Lawyer, or Computer Scientist.
You may have to make your own way. But, at times, you may have to follow others to find your lane. Who do you follow?
Follow those who aren’t trying to make them into some other versions of themselves. Follow those who are trying to make you the best versions of yourself. Like most things, it’s going to require you to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
For a large percentage of us, we’re going to want social relationships, even romantic partnerships. This will require more of us than ever before. It will require more of our friends and partners, too.
If you grew up close to your parents and siblings, this will be easier. If you grew up with strained relationships, it will be a mountain of a task. But you’ll still want to climb that mountain.
The people who you relate to will have their own peaks to ascend. They may have natur(e)ally inherited a “diverse” neurology, such as yourself. Or their strain in relationships via nurture may have disabled them developmentally, as well. That’s OK…rise and evolve together.
There is no weakness that you have that can’t be addressed by objectivity. If you can see beyond your and others’ biases, you can strengthen your weaknesses. Your bias and filters will be strong and hard to see past.
Typical people will see what they believe to be the big picture. And they will see far more than you for quite a while. But as you pick up more and more of the details, you’ll see the big picture, too.
But you’ll end up seeing more than what typical people see. It’ll be up to you to convince them that they’re things they’re missing. Most won’t like that. Find the ones that do.
I have some final thoughts for you, for now. You’re going to highs and lows in your life. Your highs may not be as high as your typical peers…and your lows may be even lower.
But let me tell you something this old(er) autistic has found to be true. The ONLY way to move forward is to go both up AND down. You’ll be tempted to avoid the lows in your life: don’t!!!
More than most, many things will be outside of your comfort zone. But just because something is outside of your comfort zone doesn’t mean it is beyond your ability. While you cannot make yourself typical, you can make yourself more than you ever thought you could be.
But in order to do all these things you have to take life on one bite at a time…at whatever your bite size is. Sample and savor all the parts of life. There are parts of life you wouldn’t predict are for you. And there are parts of you that you wouldn’t predict are you, as well.
Life is about evolution. No matter how far behind you think you started, you can get farther than you think can. Not even autism…or whatever it is than makes you different…can take away your ability to become more than ever before.
I don’t think we need more science fiction in our lives, I think we need more science. I want to help with that. In this series, I want to look at excerpts from fiction and contrast it with facts.
While science fiction can be a good escape from reality, it’s not a good map for reality. We need to look at science for that. And when we start looking at science as much as science fiction, life will not be stranger than fiction…it’ll be better.
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
This is the “Litany Against Fear” from Frank Herbert’s DUNE. You’ll see it in used in memes now. But I think most people know as much about fear as they do the Bene Gesserit, a Gom Jabbar, the Kwisatch Hadderrach, and Spice.
I love DUNE but disagree. We must fear because fear is anything but a mind killer. Fear is both a mind and body “saver.” It protects us against the “big death.”
But, like most excerpts of science fiction (or any mythos), there are splinters of truth to be tweezed out. Fear can bring about the autonomic “freeze” response which can halt many other physiological processes. And there are definitely times to freeze…but that’s just one action.
When we’re scared, yes, we must face it, allow ourselves to experience it…in order to act upon it. Maybe we need to rethink the situation or act upon it…even fight.
“Allow yourself to feel fear and act appropriately towards what you fear.”
It’s not very poetic but it’s far more scientific.
“There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.”
This is the Jedi Code from the Space Opera, STAR WARS. I think the code is not meant to be taken as literally as an autistic such as myself would take it. My knee jerk critique would be: There is death, ignorance, passion, chaos, and death. Here’s a less literal interpretation and more scientific reframe I believe the code offers.
When I feel negatively emotional, I think of the action that leads me towards peace.
When I am ignorant, I seek knowledge.
When I am hyper-passionate, I look for serenity.
When there is too much chaos, I work towards order.
When there is death, I think of what precedes…and what proceeds.
“Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.”
If you recognize that, you’re as big a fan of Star Wars as I am. That is the Code of the Sith. It’s obviously fictional but is there any way we can make it more literal…so that it is more applicable?
Peace, like all things, is temporary…but so is passion.
Passion tells me where I will work to become stronger.
Strength gives me better leverage.
Leverage allows me to make a greater impact.
With a greater impact, I have more options.
With more options, I have more freedom.
Taking away the hyperbole and histrionics, I think this translation informs us as to the Sith’s desirability. And, in reality, who would we rather be: a cloistered ascetic with nothing but obligation or a conquering titan…with more freedom than anyone else? That is the power of the “dark side.”
TO BE CONTINUED….