The other day, I found myself in a conversation about the difference between understanding and internalizing something. I mean really found myself there. Like Me, Myself, and I split up in the aisle of a supermarket (I miss losing myself in supermarket aisles…), and then there I am, having this conversation at check out.
Understanding is OK, but it can amount to putting something on the back burner -something basically ready, but not yet obvious how to work in.
Internalizing is when you fold that thing into the rest of the meal without thinking much about it. It’s the difference between having a knowledge about something in the world, and making active use of that knowledge in your deliberations. That’s my take.
Folks will argue that this is semantics. But there’s a world of daylight between the two. There really is.
Recently, with work and life, it’s been like feeding loads into a machine that just isn’t ready to plop anything out on the conveyor at the other end. It doesn’t matter how much you scramble. And there’s been plenty of time and space to scramble. Then you think you may as well have a rest, but something plops out. And so you jump and gear up to go. But that’s it: just the one. It’s frustrating, and more exhausting than regular work. Nobody is to blame. It’s just the way it is, right now.
Perhaps this isn’t everybody’s experience. I don’t know.
What I think I do know, is that I’m supposed to be enjoying shit that used to bug me. People sort of set up these operating principles so that they don’t have to exhaustively evaluate every option placed before them. Call these “universals” or whatever. Maybe, at our best, we review them periodically to be sure they still apply, and haven’t become an assumption for its own sake. Maybe we don’t.
For example, seeing my kid stare at a screen with headphones over his ears used to inspire this psychological itch in me where, even if I knew it was a lesser evil, there was a tingle of discomfort somewhere way back in my consciousness. A discomforting knowledge that this wasn’t ideal. Which generally manifests as bitching.
But now? Now that scene is just life. OK, OK, it can’t be so all the time… but there’s little point in entertaining vague, anxious inspirations. Had I incorporated a little more tech into my life, I’d probably have less scrambling to do today. I understand it may not be ideal, but inside the notion has evolved another surface reducing drag in the decision making process. Internalizing.
So I’m just going sit here and literally rub elbows with the kid.