Tiny Revolutions №27: Going Back in Time
take a load off ✨💆✨
Hi, I’m Sara, and this is Tiny Revolutions, a weekly dispatch of personal writing and links about mental and emotional fitness. Reply anytime, I love to hear from you.
I watched the show Devs on Hulu recently and there’s a scene from it that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. [*Mild spoiler alert!*] Without giving too much away, a mechanism in the show allows the characters to watch vivid depictions from the past as through they are watching TV.
One character spends hours watching a cavewoman sitting in front of a fire. “Humans spent millennia in caves,” he tells a colleague, his mind blown by the lack of forward progress during that time. (Which is wrong, incidentally. Humans did not, in fact, live in caves for millennia. Some did, but certainly not the majority—there are just not that many caves!)
But humans did live as hunter gatherers for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years. Which means they probably spent a lot of time just staring at a fire and not doing anything else. Much the way the character in Devs just stares at the scene. Watching the woman watch the fire.
I’ve since realized that the reason my mind keeps returning to that scene is that I am *envious of the cavewoman*.
Envious of a time before there were millions of ways to entertain yourself at any given moment. Which I know is ridiculous, given that many of those ways are educational and can help you learn to build and create millions of different things. But still. There is such freedom in having the time and space to be wholly immersed in your environment.
Which is not to say that the cavewoman didn’t have troubles. She may have been bored, she may have been in a trance, she may have been preoccupied with caveman troubles. I don’t know. But one thing I am sure of is that she probably wasn’t overwhelmed with stimuli the way we often are.
Concept: Cognitive Load
The concept of cognitive load in psychology refers to the amount of information your working memory is able to process at any given time. Since we only have so much capacity, any sensory input that we receive beyond what we can process is instantly discarded.
I probably don’t need to tell you that most of us are taking in far more information than we can process on any given day. Between work, relationships, family, fitness, school, play, etc., it’s a wonder our heads don’t explode.
So I’m here to remind you that one really specific and valuable way you can take care of yourself is by doing nothing. Maybe not literally nothing, but just allowing yourself to get lost in whatever way feeds you. It’s important.
Silicon Valley writer and thinker (and Tiny Revolutions subscriber) Dylan Tweney has a really interesting podcast—one might even call it a tiny podcast—called Reset Button, where he asks guests just two questions: “what practice do you find personally helpful?” and “what does the world most need to focus on now?”
I was honored to be this week’s guest—it’s short and sweet and contains a possibly immodest proposal, so check it out and let me know what you think.
A Tiny Assignment
Did you make time for nothing this weekend? Dawdling? Dilly dallying? Loitering? Lingering? Fiddle-fucking around? If you did, do you feel guilty about it? (STOP THAT AT ONCE.) If you didn’t, can you do it soon? How about now?
p.s. Do I use the em dash too much?
p.p.s. Share this with a friend who needs to chill out.