A friend and I recently held a talk on social crowds and energy drainage: how and to what extent it affects each of us. This caused me to reevaluate the topic to a broader extent.
In parentheses, hardly had I began to write as some species of a hawk briefly landed on the back porch. I’ve witnessed plenty of exotic birds casually land back here, but never one of these, and never so close.
Bird watching, as it turns out, isn’t much of an energy drainer. But plenty of other stimuli have caused, shall I say, the capacitor to leak needless current over the years.
Concerning social circles, here’s what I’ve assimilated. To sport an act of any kind can severely drain us introverts. To clarify: to elevate the voice, to maintain an unnaturally stern eye contact or a forced smile, to exercise abnormal body language, all constitute some degree of an act, however mild. And though such exertions may (and do) prove effective in other aims, unless they arise close to naturally, energy gets drained.
Therein you must establish a trade-off between the two contrasting ends. For some of us, a conservative stance comes more or less intuitively. For others, it’s anything but.
Some settings further render the conservative mode a challenge. Just imagine being at a loud circus or a techno festival. Only in cinema does noisy background music and clamour magically diffuse as two characters manage to communicate in calm, unstrained and flawlessly comprehensible voices.
If conservation of energy be my goal, I try to uphold a heuristic: don’t communicate any differently than I might with a friend I’ve known for 20 years. That means the same soft-spoken voice, the same flaky, though over-the-years-improved eye contact, the same barely perceptible smile.
And though that rarely works in practice, keeping the idea in mind already reduces much energy loss. Of course, all of this usually occurs at a subconscious level.
I happened to also meet an interesting character that claims to have walked the identical leisure route on nearly a daily basis for short of a couple of decades. As for me, though these days I apply increasingly less weight to the physical surroundings, opting to emphasize the internal, even I found the invariant-route idea somewhat exotic.
Unsurprisingly, it relates back to energy dissipation. Following the same trajectory enables the person to abstract the area of cognition that navigates physical environments, yet still attain the physical movement, the scenic immersion, and the presence in the moment (that someone consumed by the smartphone GPS wouldn’t attain). I’ve sort of intuited this over time, though never fully systematized.
With the proper mental attitude, it seems we need not reach a point of boredom or saturation with the environment. Everything around us undergoes constant transformation anyway. It’s only at a superficial level that surroundings might appear in stasis. Keeping this in mind enables us to capitalize on nature’s deeper aspects, yet conserve much energy. For me this makes for an explosive realization.
On the other hand, to introduce randomness into your walks and compel your mind to feel its way around, is a means to enhance that aspect of cognition. Once again, you face a compromise between multiple end goals.
The ‘brainless’ wardrobe
Over the years I’ve strived towards the ‘brainless’ wardrobe selection practice: in essence, few well-fitting simple choices that I can hopefully exercise in a jiffy with hardly a mental strain. That means simple stitchings, few neutral colors devoid of logos or fancy design.
And yet even these supposedly brainless options still exert some effort. I’ve always entertained the idea of owing nothing but a single, repeated attire, varied only for climate. Perhaps down the road …
About alcohol: the no-alcohol lifestyle has been a blessing for me. Contrary to the ‘once-in-a-while’ policy, it makes all the difference.
No longer have I felt compelled to ponder what constitutes a while, which occasion justifies the infrequent splurge, the choice of beverage, the costs, the moderation strategy, the headaches. No longer have I cared to rationalize these micro decisions in groups: all prior sources of energy drainage. When I first learned of this economy of cognition, the realization blew my mind!
I can see this is beginning to drag, each bullet point opening the potential for an entire essay. To be continued …
Questions, comments? Connect.