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  • Writer's pictureTonic Dominant

entry 5 - what will these hands create next?

this entry contains swear words and behavioral analysis. it seems polite to warn you.

brain log

begun 26.1.2021 - 18:28

creation can be a kind of laziness. i can create and create and create and produce and brainstorm and never finalize, never Finish. some part of my mind wanted to elevate that word, give it special importance, but another train of thought doesn't believe it deserves that capital f. perhaps my fear of finishing is somewhat related to a fear of death.

i harbor a smug belief that i have a healthy relationship with death, but – having never seriously been faced with death – how can i be sure? am i so confident that i could die peacefully when my composure has never even been challenged? question marks, for me, indicate doubt. very few things in my mind seem to be settled, and so very few projects are finished. abandoned. dead.

i began playing undertale a few weeks ago. i keep saying to people that it “makes me feel like i'm 12 years old again.“ what does that mean? when i was 12, i played lots of computer games. age of empires. red alert. populous. games are deeply engrossing for my mind – for many human minds. the world of a game can feel more relevant than the physical world around me. probably because it's a world that i have an incredible amount of control over; where there is control, there is investment. if i see clearly the power i have to affect my world, then it's more likely i will act to change the world.

just before beginning this entry, i reached the portion of the game where the player is told – total paraphrase here – that the more you kill, the easier it becomes. killing increases your hit points, making it harder to die yourself; killing makes you feel safer. in my actual physical world, i have never killed a human. i have killed insects. i have not killed, but have eaten animals. despite my lack of familiarity with death, this statement in the world of undertale felt painfully real. chills sparkled over my body. there are many ways in the game to deal with opponents, you can talk, joke, flirt, and fight, among other actions.

i “spared“ opponents many times, and it felt good. but sometimes i would become damaged while sparing an opponent, and it always made me grumble internally: 'i'm losing valuable hit points and not gaining any experience – sparing monsters is just making me easier to kill!' as though the monsters owed me something for sparing their lives.

this realization, that i was falling right into the trap that violence seems to offer, made me think of the jedi. i don't believe i got into this when i wrote about star wars several weeks ago: i believe the dark side is easier than the light side. palpatine offers anakin control over his life, over padmé's life, and that control seems like the safer choice to anakin. it takes intense concentration, discipline, and fucking practice to fight against the dark side, survive, and hold on to your own value system. the dark side simply says: give in. give in to your anger, to your fear. anger is power.

what about my behaviors? i want to set up the main behaviors i'm currently engaged in trying to change. i keep remembering plans i've made, desires i've written down – unfinished processes of change. it's easy to abandon tasks that seem repetitive; i can convince myself that my efforts are wasted – stop wasting time!

here's a very important entry in my brain log: the words 'stop wasting time' show up in my thoughts frequently.

what do i make of this observation? have i actually measured the amount of times i notice my silent sentences include these three words and compared it against the frequency of the words....

i wanted to write very specific words there without thinking about it, but i was stopped by other thoughts that came too quickly to write. which resulted in me staring out the window thinking 'what am i thinking?'

it's dangerous to consider what you, the reader, might be thinking at this moment. “this guy is a fuckin' idiot“ runs through my head, spoken in a voice that belongs to me, but is more nasal in tone and lower in pitch. “nobody thinks like that.“ well, here i am, thinking in the way that i think. can you claim that the way another creature likes to think is invalid? that it can't possibly exist? well sure, you can think whatever you think!

this is one of the big deals to consider about the prevalence of racism, sexism, capitalism, and other modes of thinking that encourage people to dominate others: this prevalence is natural, which i'm currently defining as 'effortless.' natural is a complicated – and perhaps convoluted – word, that can be used in so many contexts that it can appear to be meaningless, unclear, un-useful, hippie shit.

so i can't speak for your mind at this moment, but in my mind, the word natural retains some usefulness if it means 'effortless.' the usefulness that i perceive in this definition is that natural becomes a word without moral weight.¹

that's a good sample of the thoughts of the day (though i've left out some fairly intensive thoughts about education, teaching technique, and lesson planning that i would like to devote more time to), now on to behaviors i am trying to transform.

status report:

Behavior 1: silently repeating what other people say

Purpose – to improve the quality of my listening; remember more, respond more generatively²


  • i'm remembering to do this in conversations with my partner, my house mates, and in google meetings with my coworkers, but not 100% of the time.

  • i'm remembering to do this when listening to the lyrics in music, and podcasts, but not 100% of the time.

  • i have noticed that when i do this, i am more physically relaxed in the conversation.


  • i'd like to notice how my conversation partners feel in their bodies when i am silently repeating their words; this aligns with behavior 2. are they also more relaxed? is there any difference?

Behavior 2: limiting words spoken aloud

Purpose – to improve my awareness of what a person's body is communicating to me; improve my awareness of what my own body is communicating to others


  • i'm remembering to not speak between having a thought that i'd like to speak out loud, but before going through with it, but not 100% of the time, or even close to that.

  • i have successfully 'asked a question' of my partner without saying any words. holding up a can of seltzer, simply moving into position to massage her shoulders without asking 'would you like a massage babe?'

  • i noticed a tendency to lean really close to my computer screen while on video calls with students. i have successfully adjusted this in the middle of class, but not 100% of the time. i think this leaning comes from a desire to literally be closer to the students. i miss the vibrations of other singers in the room.


  • i'd like be even more aware of my breath in different situations. it's so obvious when i meditate, but even now, as i write, i'm realizing i've lost awareness of my breath. what could that do for my posture, my typing, my enjoyment of this process?

there are other behaviors (for example, experimenting with decapitalization), but i do believe that thinning my focus would be beneficial. i have more ideas than i have creations. ah! upon reviewing the first paragraph of this entry, i find i was using the word creations to describe what i'm already doing, that the dissatisfaction is never finishing.

a thought speaks, “you're wasting your time.“ in my voice, but lower in pitch, and bro-ier in tone. “stop wasting your time with recording your own music, or podcast, or fucking brain log, and go get a better job so you can have more money so you can take better care of your family.“

i don't wanna say 'fuck you bro!' to this voice – at least, i don't right now – it's impossible for me to be fully dismissive of my own thoughts. i do want to learn where this thought comes from, and whether it's really giving me advice that will make my family and i happier or not. will currency ($$$) really bring us more joy?

if this were actually a pure blog, there's a whole conversation we would have where i would be really sensitive and point out that some amount of money (some studies have postulated $70,000) is really beneficial to people's happiness since it helps them meet their basic needs for survival. but this is my brain log, and my brain knows that it is safe, no matter what other doubts i express with question marks. i make $38,000 in a year, my partner something like $17,000, so we have $54,000 per year (gross) for our family. That's enough to meet our needs for survival, i have no doubt. so what are the choices i can make, how can i behave in a way that will bring us all the most joy?

i'm not convinced that currency can do that for me. i'm not necessarily convinced that working on a blog, podcast, or recording an album of original music can do that for me either! and i think that last point is a newer thought in my mind. the observations continue.

brain log

ended 29.1.2021 - 18:35

Bonus Thoughts:

1: I rewrote this sentence. at first it read: 'that natural loses its moral weight,' or something like that. this seems notable, because up until this point in the entry, i had only pressed backspace to correct a misspelling or misspacing, leaving the thoughts formed mostly as they are in my head. probably impossible to truly capture that, as i've already pointed out. the question of how much to edit a public brain log is a scary one, for me. i believe in the power of people telling the complete truth about their own experience; i think this can radically change what's possible for human behavior. but there are consequences for sharing some thoughts. i focus this brain log in the way one might expect a blog to be focused, there are at least vague topics, click-bait-ish titles, and links to other material. there are some thoughts that i fear to share, because i fear your reaction, or the reaction of my co-workers, or friends, or children, or law enforcement. it's strange and difficult – but perhaps wonderful – to consider a world in which this is not the case; in which every thought can be received peacefully.

in my most optimistic moments, this blog is a small part of creating that world. in pessimistic moments, that's an ego-filled load o' shit. how could anyone prove me correct or incorrect? only that poor alien in a future dead-end job will have a truly useful opinion. (back)

2: i'm pretty sure i used the word 'generatively' because of how much adrienne maree brown philosophy i've been consuming lately. it's a very nourishing diet, i highly recommend her words. (back)

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