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Spans of Time

Thinking is often so short sighted. How do we think longer term?

What I have been experimenting with is pausing once or twice a day, or when I'm between things to reflect on where I'm at.

I try to consider perspective on different time scales, to formulate my decision making around longer scales of time.

For example:

  • arc of day
  • arc of week
  • arc of year
  • arc of life
  • arc of humanity
  • arc of nature
  • arc of the universe

It's still important to fall into what you're doing, to flow, but it's so easy to lose sight of what you're doing and realize the week, the season or the year has gone by or that we as humans have not really thought about things and backed ourselves into a corner. It's important to come up for air once in a while and check in on yourself.

The first thing I have noticed is that there is so much enjoyment, so much opportunity especially with the seasons. When I started following the seasons I am more grounded. Taking queues from the environment, time of day, etc and making them a part of the decision making process really makes for a higher quality of life in my opinion. The experience piques just a little bit better.

I have also noticed that the longer the time scale the less important the moment to moment decisions are. The minutia seem small and it makes me more grounded realizing just how transient those things are.

I've been reading Seveneves by Stephenson and the book is so full of big ideas. It's really stirred a lot of thought for me. Just the idea that the Earth and most of humanity are going to end really shifts your thinking away from short valued results to those which really count. I think that's key: the minutia are still going to occur, but they can be useless or they can provide the type of value which is lasting. And I think that I need to shift my focus away from short term value and make sure that what I am accomplishing moment to moment is actually going to be of value a long time from now.

I think the next step is to reflect more on some day to day activities and wonder, if I look back 40 years from now will it have seemed like a good use of time? What about 100 or 1000 years?

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