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Not Liking Uncertainty
EnthusiasmIn the conclusion to the essay Not Enough Time, I was rambling on about the idea of doing the most important things first, when suddenly I realized I'd been using the word “enthusiasm” to refer to a very specific feature of the mind … or, at least, my mind. I won't try and define it, I'll just go ahead and talk about it.
It is frightening how little control I have over what I want to do at any given moment. I have a pretty clear concept of what's important to me, and sometimes I'm full of enthusiasm for one important thing or another, but other times I'm full of enthusiasm for, say, watching the kung-fu scenes in The Matrix for the nth time, and in either case it's painful to try to force myself to do something else.
Clearly, there is an aspect of the mind at work here that I haven't even begun to get a handle on. I have discovered one little trick, though, one way of not fighting my mind. If, say, I plan to spend an afternoon finishing an essay, and then find myself wanting to do something else, I've discovered that I can fool myself by starting small, by saying that I'll just take a few minutes and look at what I've written so far. Then, once I've gotten started, I often begin to gather enthusiasm.
Apart from that, all I know to do is control my environment—basically, tilt the pinball table so that the ball will bounce around in the general vicinity of the things I want to get done.
I will have to think more about all this, and report back. It definitely seems to me that there are two players, one that's vaguely rational and can decide what's important, and another that carries the enthusiasm. The enthusiasm, I think, is part of the hardware. Sometimes I try to fool or manipulate it, as I described above; more often I just go along with whatever it comes up with.
As I said in Incomplete Essays, I prefer to work on whatever I have enthusiasm for at the moment. That ought to be a tautology, but isn't.
Conclusion (Not Enough Time)
Secret Origin, The
@ October (2001)