Behavioral Patterns and What You Should Do About Them

Humans are pattern extractors - it's what we do. We find familiar intervals everywhere, and we try to rearrange the medium where it doesn't fit a comfortable pattern.

We rake the yard because we like wide, flat surfaces. We build fences with uniform pickets to enforce arbitrary boundaries. We strive to make perfect pancakes (don't laugh - it's an inherited gene and a term of endearment in my family.) And this is the point at which I branch off into unequal tangents. Does it help you at all to have advance warning?

You hear once in a while about a person who's born with an extra set of teeth. I sometimes think I was born with two full sets of emotions, and I make use of them all. I see faces in trees, colors in song, paintings in words. - Pareidolia may be a useful term here. I do my best to translate what I see into something you can recognize. The patterns I see are not necessarily useful to you, but maybe there's something.

My book club boiled down a definition of appreciation: a person who's able to use a set of code and also could build that code from scratch will have a different assessment of it compared to someone who can use the code but couldn't build it from scratch. 

Replace "code" with engine, cake, or golf clubs. Howard was dissatisfied with a visual representation of Bach's Six-Part Ricercar; we all enjoyed the video, but his training in both programming and composition made him wish the creator had represented parts of the music differently.

It's not important that we all have the same appreciation; it's far more interesting that we don't.

I can't build a piano, let alone produce music, but I do love the intervals in Shostakovich's Piano Sonata No. 2. Shostakovich himself said he didn't like the way his friend Mariya Yudina played the piece. That's why I wanted to hear it.

In the 90s, I got a guy from eBay to mail me that recording on CD. He went around to different record stores in Russia looking for it. I think I get Shosty's dissatisfaction: Yudina used a completely different brush and palette than he'd envisioned. This is exactly why I love to hear someone else read my poetry.

I push leaves out of my path with my feet as I leave my cottage. The set of what's comfortable for me has grown, and I'm glad of it. There is so much beauty in the universe I can't imagine restricting myself to what's comfortable in my present state.

Reward for effort has taught me to keep going out of bounds. I collect other out-of-bounders who, like me, find extra canvas-space out there and make something of it. Hi there - I'm talking about you.

When our worlds were smaller, it mattered more whether every member of the tribe was in agreeance. We live in now. Now is peopled enough that you can sift and find a tribe who fit your patterns. Be careful, though: our worlds have grown too large for us to evict those who don't fit easily. You can no longer put the pariah outside the wall. 

There is not a wall around your tribe, and it's better that way. People from other tribes can walk through yours, and vice versa. Say hello, maybe a few words more. Have an exchange of ideas. Build an alliance. You don't have to acquire every bit of data that doesn't fit your comfortable pattern, but you can have friends who know stuff you don't.

Start a conversation in the space where your patterns overlap. Add to your comfort zone.

Editor's note: Yeah, the title doesn't quite match the subject of the post. I'm running a test on y'all, maybe taking advantage of the current trends in news headlines. I still love you.  At least I didn't call it "7 Things You Should Know," right? 

The real name for this post is Out-of-Bounders.

Further Reading:
What is Synesthesia?

Longtime friend-I've-never-met Scott Mayfield is also a synesthete. We're marinating a project wherein he'll translate one of my strongest synesthetic visions into a musical composition. If we pull it off I'll be really excited.


  1. :-) Scott and you are a good mix for a team project.


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