Are you going insane, regressing, or just being old-fashioned?

One of those is an effective strategy

Trapped at home like chickens in a coup…

Sorry. Freudian slip. Let me start that again.

Trapped at home like chickens in a coop, slowly going insane, maybe even regressing, we try on opposing qualities for our daily dose of de-zoom.

Wait! That might just work…

Peck here to go insane over and over

We are not pigeons, and our affairs are not static. (free public domain:

With crazy things happening daily, I feel compelled to ask, “Are we insane?” Let’s use the Albert Einstein insanity test. Are we doing the same things over and over and expecting different results?

It’s easy to behave insanely in this way. Behavior psychologists even have a name for it. Repetition compulsion disorder. They discovered it by studying pigeons. Pigeons tend to repetitively peck the same button to get a corn pellet, even though random pecking of buttons leads to the same result. And even if the original button no longer delivers as expected.

Like pigeons, some people seem addicted to repeat today what worked in the past, even though today is a different button.

Obviously, we are not pigeons, and our affairs are not static. We face constant change. It should be common sense that doing same things over and over will not produce different outcomes.

It is time to peck at a different button… or go insane.

Can you split definite into maybe?

Baby’s first word is… “no”. (John Leech Sketch Archives 1841-1864)

Here’s a different button worth pecking. The one marked “maybe.”

What is the first word a baby learns? Take a guess.

And the winner is… the word “no.” Well, maybe number one is “Mama”, but apparently “no” is near the top of first words. The word “yes” comes later.

Learning to say and use the words no and yes is a developmental phase that psychologists call “splitting.” It entails the splitting of mental concepts into either-or black-and-white thinking. No versus yes, good versus bad, and so on.

Here’s the interesting bit. The word “maybe” and what it represents only enters our understanding at around the age of five. In other words, until we turn five, we don’t think in terms of grays, of in-between. It takes five years for our thinking to mature enough to allow for uncertainties and possibilities.

It seems to me that some adults can do with maturing about five years so that they can admit to maybe now and then.

Sometimes we need opposing qualities to be really effective

Be effective: Flow freely and then set quickly. (free public domain:

Maybe I’m going insane. Maybe I’m still maturing. Or maybe I’m just old fashioned, because I still use a fountain pen when I write. In fact, I’m so old-fashioned that I still fill my pen from a bottle of ink.

Maybe it’s the ritual that matters. Preparing my pen gives my brain time to order my thoughts so that when words flow onto paper, they already make some sense.

Do you know what qualities make for good pen ink? The ability to flow freely and to dry quickly. Opposites make the ink work. Not either or, but both together.

The same applies to my writing. To produce something of meaning, my thoughts must first flow freely. If my thoughts set too quickly, my output will be blotchy. Too bold in some areas and too feeble in others.

I wonder, could this concept apply to people? Could it be that sometimes we need to deploy opposing qualities to be really effective?

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.