The Logical Philosopher

Friday, November 25, 2005

No more melancholy moments for you

I was introspective on the bus riding home the other day, so if you want to take the ride with me read on...

Due to a bike accident I was in several months ago, I am still hanging out with physiotherapists, specialists and acupuncturists a few times a week. I unfortunately have to pay them to hang out with them, but it's good company anyways. Every time I go I have to describe how I am and how I have improved since the last visit. Have you ever tried to describe how you are, beyond the usual thinly veiled "how are you" that most people tend to ask? It's frickin' hard! But, the requirement to know has started to help me consciously break my day up and thus, focus on the subtle (or not so subtle) changes in my body. Since my accident I figure I have been asked to describe in detail "how I am" at least 100 times...tedious but necessary.

So I sit and think for a few minutes before each appointment and make my mental list, because I know I''ll be asked. I find that having to answer the question really is like describing a color... you really have to be there to experience it...but with practice you can pick out the visual hues and tones of your emotions and prepare an auditory Picasso for the doctor. How can one do this? Prior to my accident I used to describe the days mood or physical feelings as defined by a few main parts, perhaps morning, afternoon & evening...only a particularly good or bad experience would overshadow the whole day. And people that know will all agree that give me a good coke slurpee and I'd be in a good mood for the day.

But now, forced to actually have to describe "how I am" few times a week to health professionals that really need to know, I've turned to the teachings of my 1 year old daughter to help out. Watching her act in the game of life always provides at least one moment of unbridled laughter at her antics and sounds. She is constantly fluctuating between happy and "pissed off because you took my Arrowroot cookie" moods, both with and equal portion of unabashed wonderment about things like lights in the ceiling, leaves on a tree and dried up pea from last night's dinner stuck in the crack on the floor. To her, almost everything someone does is pure thaumaturgy.

Her aspect of the "perfect day" is segregated into mere minutes (or seconds) as her attention span moves from trying to turn on the nightlight in her room to making a "whoop whoop" sound into a straw that she found somewhere. I've noticed by having such a short attention span an effectively segmenting the day into 1440 minute units (minus 870 for sleep) she is always in a happy mood. I noted the same of our 3 year old, but he is starting to grow out of it as his tolerance for good or bad "experiences" lasts longer in his working memory.

So what's the take-away? What is the 'perfect day' that would keep us all completely ignoring the melancholy moments? It's all in how we narrowly (or broadly) define the segment of time between them.

What makes us respond to "how are you?" in a positive fashion? It's not the perfect bike ride, sunny weather during your lunch break or favorite slurpee but rather the feeling of every experience in the "1 year old child" moment that defines and sets the mood for the rest of the day or week.

Perhaps one should consider (or experiment) on breaking their days up more when considering their experiences. It would be an interesting to see if one found they had more of that unabashed 1 year old happy-about-the-day feeling than the normal stressed out professional worker had. That is, of course, until someone took your Arrowroot cookie. And from a work perspective I wonder of job satisfaction would increase, or managers could use it as more of a motivational tool for your workers. Hmmm, something to try for the staff when I'm back to work....