Split time

The prompt asks between which two places I would split my time if I could only choose two. I am going to rephrase that and say between which two activities I would split my time: Learning and Creating/Teaching

Learning

I want to learn continuously, for if you are not learning, you are stagnating, and stagnation is only a short time away from decay. All life forms foll0w the sigmoidal graph that look  like this:

Credit: Qef

The Sigmoid function

First, there is immaturity, youth, and growth picks up. Growth accelerates, continues at that speed for a while and then slows down, finally when reaching maturity, there is no more growth. After an interval decay and death takes place. This is also true of almost any living entity, including memes(idea genes).

The meme is born, grows at a rapid pace, slows down, persists while decaying and then dies. From the ashes of the old meme, modifications are made, and a new cycle starts. Many times new memes branch off long before the old one is dead. These new memes can hijack their parent’s hosts and prevent the old meme from getting new hosts. Recombination with other memes is also very common.

The reason that memes and genes are so similar is because they are both information packets that travel through a medium. With genes the medium is life and each organism’s DNA is a carrier. With memes, the medium is of the mind and they spread through the minds of their hosts.

Organisms and memes can prevent their decay and death by starting a new cycle before the old one collapses. This is the reason for societies’ ever-increasing pace of change and innovation. The cycles of innovation become shorter and shorter, and the societies that cannot transition to new cycles quickly enough, collapse.

Creating/Teaching

Creation is a very pleasurable activity, and also one of the fundamental characteristics of intelligent life. This is not just the standard interpretation of creativity, but any activity where you solve problems and create or apply knowledge to the task at hand.

Creating new things is more creative than just repeating old patterns. Neural networks function best when they deal with a known patterns that incorporate new variations. You can only create so much variety before it all starts becoming monotonous. Then you have to process entirely new stimuli and create fundamentally novel patterns. This can be done by combining previously unrelated patterns into a whole new perspective. Or, by learning new patterns that go into much more depth on your subject.

Teaching works very well to consolidate patterns or knowledge. Not only do you reinforce the existing patterns, but explaining them to other people frequently brings to your awareness new connections or more efficient pathways and interpretations. Learning, Creating, and Teaching are mutually reinforcing, so doing all three improves your performance on any isolated one.

Does this mean that specializing is always a bad idea? Not at all. Many patterns are large, complicated and too multifaceted to be explored all at once. Only by focusing on a small part at a time can enough depth be obtained to learn the skill thoroughly. Deliberate practise is necessary to master a skill. 

Mastery in some fields, competency in others and ignorance in most. Learning, growing and teaching. This is what I will do with my life. What are the two things that you want to spend all your productive time on?

To happiness, and beyond!

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