Tuesday, January 18, 2022

January 18, 2022

👋
I’m trying the idea of morning pages, where I write three pages in the morning of whatever’s on my mind. It’s mostly for me, but I’m publishing them too because why not.

Good morning! Ian wrote a very nice blog post yesterday about the blog I set up for him. Thanks Ian! I’m very much enjoying reading your writing.

I can’t imagine what I felt like before

I get headaches fairly frequently. My dad also got them when he was young, and eventually they went away. Here’s to hoping that headache-frequency is hereditary.

But when I have a headache, I often observe a thought:

In this moment, I can’t remember what it feels like not to have a headache.

I’m thinking of packing up my stuff and heading back to college today. But in the same way, I can’t remember what it feels like to be stressed about classes. Of course I remember last semester, but I can’t really get myself feel the stress that I know I felt at times.

Nothing to worry about though. I’m sure I’ll be reminded of what it feels like to be stressed about classes in due time.

My brain wants to close the loop

I’ve noticed this phenomenon in my brain more and more recently:

Once I’ve started something, my brain desperately wants to close the loop and finish it as soon as possible.

I don’t like leaving things half-finished. I can feel it itching in the back of my brain, wishing I could just lay it to bed.

Let me give an example:

A couple mornings ago, I had to move the servers of a project for a client from one set of servers to another. I re-wrote some of the code, migrated it, and sent the client the new links for the servers so he could have his team update the links they were using.

He said he’d text me when everything was moved, so I could delete the old servers. And he’d let me know if there were any problems.

But I just wanted to be done. For my brain, the loop was still open: there could be problems with this new version, and I also still have to delete the old servers, so I can’t just lay it to rest in my brain right now.

I think this feeling might be a defense mechanism: I whole-heartedly believe that my memory is worse than the average human’s. (I started using Todoist in sixth grade, and Evernote around the same time as well. Can you imagine a 12-year-old walking around with a task manager and note-taking app? Maybe if you know me, this comes as no surprise to you. But I wouldn’t be surprised if my attraction to to-do lists, notes, and calendars sprung out of a feeling that I couldn’t reliably retain all of it in my brain. Or maybe my inability to retain things in my brain comes from rendering it unnecessary since middle school by using tools? Let’s not contemplate this right now.)

The point is, if I start something and get halfway without closing the loop, there’s a real worry that I’ll have trouble recalling all of the context at a later point.

Usually, I fight the uneasiness by adding things to my to-do list, or making a separate checklist. And as a result, stuff gets overlooked less often. Maybe that uneasy feeling when a loop isn’t closed is my brain warning me that I better offload the memory of this half-finished task to somewhere else, otherwise bad things will come my way.

Here’s another example from yesterday:

In May, I signed up for a Google Workspace (Google’s suite for businesses), and got myself the spiffy email address [email protected]. I wanted features that Google was only offering to businesses in Google Drive.

But it left me with my stuff spread across two Google accounts: my old personal account, and this new Google Workspace account (where I was the Google Workspace administrator and the only account).

Yesterday, on a complete whim, I decided that I wanted to get rid of that Google Workspace account and switch my email back to HEY, which I cancelled in May. (You might see from this that I’m quite indecisive—that might make for good morning pages writing material sometime.)

Once I got this idea in my head, my brain needed to finish on that same day. I couldn’t leave the loop unclosed, and I succeeded — by the end of the day, I had exported 25 GB worth of content from [email protected], moved over my calendar, email, and Google Drive, and forwarded everything to my new (old) email address, [email protected].

I really just wanted to be done with the whole migration by the end of the day. No loose ends, everything tidy and clean.

And of course, I didn’t trust my brain to hold on to all of the small tasks that were flying into my brain. In classic fashion, I made a checklist: