“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “most/least.” Use one or both of the words in your post or just write with one or both in mind. But whatever you do, have fun!”
I read the SoCS prompt before leaving work yesterday and my mind got stuck on the thought that:
“When the most you are willing to do is the least you can do, something is wrong.”
I could not figure out what I meant by that.
On the ride home, I did what I normally do when I can’t figure something out. I tried to manipulate it like a problem to be solved. I’m not sure if that’s a guy thing, but it’s a “me” thing. If my wife expresses frustration with something, my mind starts noodling on a solution. I have almost learned to suppress statements that begin with: “maybe if you…” but the thought process is in high gear. I cooked up this chart, and I labeled the quadrants in my mind. In keeping with the spirit of SoCS, I tried very very hard not to edit or perfect my thinking on this.
I’m not sure if this chart makes sense. It doesn’t really matter, I’m not actually trying to solve a problem today. I just think that ‘least-to-most’ is an interesting spectrum. It’s like the ‘Turtle-to-Bunny’ setting on my lawnmower. The endpoints represent the limits of operation, of participation of the ever-popular “engagement,” a word Brad Lewis and my daughter will probably ban from use in future blogs (Faith maintains a growing list of banned words).
The scale might be hard to understand, like I said, not a lot of thought went into this, but I think it works. “Effort” can be anything. Physical effort, mental effort, spiritual effort, etc. “Time,” well, time is constant. Time is time.
Think about the things in your life, the things that you do. Toss them on the chart where they fit relative to the time and effort you’re willing to put into them. Does where they fit make sense? I didn’t have a lot of time, my commute is only about 30 minutes but I thought about where I would place a bunch of things that I do. For example
Watching television – On an ordinary night, this would be a small amount of time and very little effort. On a night during the Twilight Zone Marathon, the mental effort increases as I try to understand the deeper meaning.
Family – Stick that in the upper right corner for me, at least with respect to what I am willing to do. I would do anything for these guys and I don’t really care how long it takes.
Reading – This is similar to watching television but I don’t think it can go as far into the lower left as TV. I simply won’t read something that requires no effort, and I will put extra effort into some reading. When I read Dr. Seuss books to my daughter, I worked hard to make up voices to accompany the characters or at least get the intonation correct. I also won’t move too far into the upper right with reading. Maybe when I was in college and the book was a Quantum Mechanics textbook, but nothing by choice these days.
Exercise – I enjoy exercise, but I don’t want to put in too much time and I don’t want to work too hard. I’ll ride a real bike for several hours, but after 45 minutes on an exercise bike, I’m done. I have an exercise bike at home. That’s a good thing, because I am not the kind of person who will stop at the gym on the way home, run at lunch or leave the house after dinner to exercise.
Writing – Now this is interesting. Clearly, I am willing to write an 800 word blog post although not much effort went into this one. I am willing to spew out my ideas and feelings and I’m even willing to do some research. I’m willing to go out and take some photographs. I’m willing to edit and re-work a post, seemingly forever (I first wrote The Jupiter Effect five months before posting it). Would I be willing to write a book? I don’t know.
I’m not sure if there is any value to this plotting exercise. I don’t know what it reveals. I don’t know if there’s any value to visualizing that reading a boring book is somehow lower or less interesting than watching a bad TV program. The only potential value I can think of is if my wife and I were to rank the same thing, perhaps several things. Then we could measure the relative distance between our rankings and figure out which thing would be the most enjoyable / least painful to endure together. Of course, my wife would say that I was over-thinking this.