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May 8 17 8:03 AM

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Make peace with the cognitive reality that you both probably do not really know what you want and definitely do not know the correct way to achieve it from the outset, so re-examine your options at each step and be open to the hitherto-unanticipated route.

-- Gordon White, The Chaos Protocols, p. 57


Gordon is a leading figure in today's chaos magick circles.  I like his books and podcasts for the way they challenge me to think outside the box, but here he's giving some rather commonsense advice.  It rings true to me.  I can count on one hand the times I knew ahead of time what I was trying to achieve; usually it was a piece of software that had been specified by someone else.  But when it comes to my own self-initiated projects the end has almost always been something I've only discovered when I get there.  

For example, I used to try to design my garden the way many books describe, drawing up a detailed plan with every plant placed according to its needs and how it harmonizes with the other nearby selections.  Such plans inevitably and quickly failed, since as soon as I see the plants beginning to grow I begin to see how I could have done it differently and, I think, better. 

The same thing happened with my software designs: I'd get far enough with them to explore the concept and see how it works, but I had trouble finishing because I'd already be itching to try something else.  I loathed the last 10% of every project, squashing the last few bugs and doing the "fit and finish" polishing work.

The architect Christopher Alexander has recommended an approach similar to Gordon's.  Rather than slavishly following a detailed blueprint he works onsite, where he can see and respond to local conditions.  At each step he asks himself what needs to be done to make those conditions "better". If he has a final design in mind it's kept deliberately vague and open to change.  Perhaps this window needs to move slightly to the left in order to frame a distant view of the mountain.  Perhaps this niche needs to be decorated with some little painted flowers.  He considers each step carefully and only acts when it feels right.  With practice, he's learned to trust his judgment in these "small matters".

I've come to see at last that a similar craftsman-like approach is appropriate in my creation of myself.  I don't know exactly who Kippi is, but I make small adjustments every day that help me see her more clearly.  It's like tidying up a messy bedroom, picking up clothes dropped on the floor, making the bed, taking coffee cups and plates back to the kitchen.  Noticing a lock of hair that's out of place and putting it right, or straightening the waist of a skirt. This orange-ish red brings out the green in my eyes and creates a Celtic, elfin look that I kinda like.  Minor adjustments really, but they all add up and the result surpasses my expectations.

 

Last Edited By: Kippi May 8 17 8:06 AM. Edited 2 times

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May 8 17 10:53 AM

What if, because you were afraid of once again not finishing, you chose not to take on more projects? Examples:
1. You wouldn't know how you might have better arranged or selected plants in your garden;
2. You wouldn't have those same insights of exciting new s/w designs to pursue.

We all have trouble finishing things, I think. I've done a lot of woodworking and heard that many have trouble applying the finish to furniture and projects. It's so risky!

I would really like to know if I am going to need to transition or not, and what it means for me to live and maybe love, as a trans person. I do try to think of things to explore, and follow through, but there is no predicting the future. I think we need to stay mindful, live and appreciate the moment. Your minor adjustments approach is excellent. Keep up with the daily/momentary things we need to do to maintain health, cleanliness, and our minds. Enjoy straightening that skirt, or writing that code - in the moment. And cook yourself a nice dinner, at least once in a while. If all else fails, as Cosy Sheridan says, take a nap.

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