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The Tinkered Mind
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November 16th, 2019
The essence of resourcefulness is captured by a seemingly unrelated aphorism:
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
This aphorism is generally used to highlight preference differences between people. But just a subtle step in the right direction casts this with a new perspective, in fact the aphorism is all about perspective.
The item in question, whatever it is, doesn’t change, but the way someone views it does. This is the key to resourcefulness: it’s a matter of looking at what’s available with a new perspective, one that sees opportunity. It’s a matter of shifting one’s own perspective and seeing how that trash can be so valuable that it becomes treasure.
All of this hinges on pattern recognition.
Our brains are pattern recognition machines. It’s at the core of why we love music, which ultimately boils down to interesting manipulations of audio patterns.
When we say that a new artist is particularly innovative, what do we actually mean?
In essence, that artist has found a new way to manipulate the pattern.
But before that pattern can be effectively manipulated, it has to be recognized and intuited.
This is easy to think about in music and it gets more difficult as we stray into other fields, especially when the terrain becomes multidisciplinary.
For example, there are many people who are living paycheck to paycheck, and many of these people feel stuck, as though treading water. All time is devoted to making enough money to simply get to the next month. Such people might be all too aware of the pattern that has them trapped, but less aware of how the components break down into their own patterns. Food is naturally considered essential and worth spending money on, and yet so many are overweight. It doesn’t take a degree in metabolic studies to parse out that there’s an inequity here that someone might be able to solve. And chances are that it’s a two-fer: save money, and get healthier. Rent is another big cost, and it seems to be getting more and more problematic. Yet few honestly consider the possibility of alternative living situations. Far cheaper options exist, even if they aren’t as comfortable.
The larger point to take away here is that most people in a common difficult situation are simply following the mainstream pattern. Resourcefulness means understanding that mainstream pattern in detail and then playing around with it in order to see what can be changed. What can be torn out and plugged in different places.
Few people actually tinker with their experience of life in these ways. Most simply take cues from the larger patterns of behavior that are obvious everywhere by the actions and decisions of others.
At it’s heart, resourcefulness is the realization that you have far more at hand than you thought. It’s a matter of thinking about those resources in different ways, and finding hidden leverage in unconventional combinations. The key is realizing that the pattern for using the resources we have at hand can be manipulated, and a new pattern can be found.`