Sunday, February 17, 2013

Seduced? Deduce and Reduce to Produce

NYC April 2010
In the past, I have spent a lot of time wondering how/why it is that we are so divided so much of the time. I am not speaking of culturally, racially, class-wars or the like (though perhaps these thoughts do scale) - I am speaking of the inner wars so many people struggle with: inner critic(s) versus inner child; wanting to establish better habits but being held back by older habits, etc.

I am at the point of saying in my process that I have had enough.
I am still curious about what is going on in there, but I am sick of feeding the distraction through evaluation. For me, I've reached a point where asking all those questions more often than not leads me right back into the loop of the debate again and again. I get stuck. Enough.

Asking those essential questions: 
Why do I believe this? 
Who helped me to believe this?
What is the logic beneath this belief?
Is still important to me. However, they can, just like any other wisdom allowed to languish for too long, lead me right back into not doing what it is I wanted to do, or even be, in the first place.
In other words, the inquiry itself can stall me out - it's an extended tactic of my own resistance.
Even curiosity can hightail me right back into fear, if I allow it to keep going for too long.

Last night, as I was falling asleep, I thought about seduction. The seductive power of my old habits and beliefs. Coming home from a long day of teaching, all I wanted was to "space out." A big part of me said "Please meditate and do yoga, that is good self care." Another big part of me said, "Dude. You worked all day. Those are work. Just watch some TV."

Luckily, maybe because I was teaching and participating in a writing critique session, the meditation part won out, even if I did it with bad posture while snuggling on the couch with Dylan and Aviva. The meditation gave me an opening, some space to realize I really wanted to do yoga, too. So I did.

But more often than not, I give into the seduction of these beliefs. I may even get so far as to ask questions about it, catching on to the debate inside and not believing habits right off the bat. A normal interchange for me would look like this:
"I'd like to do yoga and meditate."
"Yeah, but, it's work, you know? You deserve rest."
"But yoga and meditation are self-care."

"Nah. When you have more energy. Tomorrow, maybe, eh?"
"I said that yesterday. And the day before."
"See what a pain in the ass this is? Let's just go watch some TV. Don't stress yourself out."

BUT where does the stress ACTUALLY COME FROM? 
The voice. The debate. The questioning.
Not the yoga or meditation.

The habits are seductive. I want to look at those voices with more suspicion, more wisdom. And by looking at them, I mean taking a step back and watching them try to convince me that the old way is the best way. Like a bad lover I don't even want to sleep with anymore, but I keep returning to because at least I am getting laid, which means I am cared for, in some strange logic.*

Therefore, as I thought about the word seduction, the word "deduction" came into my head. Then "reduction," and finally "production." 

I am not normally a fan of "Here are the ten steps to productivity" kinds of posts, but frankly, for me, I am needing some bullshit cutting tools for when the same things come up again and again.
I *know* where the logic is going.
I don't need to inquire anymore, show respect,  be curious.
I need to take care of myself.

I knew from Mr. Lee's 9th grade English class, where we studied Latin roots until we were blue in the face (Thank you, Mr. Lee!), that the root "duce" means "to lead."
This morning, I looked up the original roots of the words' prefixes when combined with "duce":
Seduce literally means to lead away from.
Deduce means to trace the path of. 
Reduce means to lead back. 
Produce means to lead forward. 
That's some powerful etymology, as etymology often is.  

Instead of thinking of seduce as "sinful" as in "leading away from a good marriage" (more like it's usage is now) we consider what it is leading away from - the things, in my case, I *know* are good for me and are not really up for debate - ie - I am not debating whether or not they are good for me - then this process looks like this:

When my thinking begins to lead me away (seduce) from yoga/meditation/etc, I can pick up on its path (deduce). I don't have to follow it all the way to its end - simply bring it back to the good habit in question (reduce). Then I can lead myself forward again (produce), from the root of my desire to do this thing I no longer question - yoga, meditation, etc.

This requires making a list of what you know are "non-debatables" - for me - calling a friend when sad, writing practice, yoga, meditation, exercise. As soon as I feel a tug away from doing any of these, I can actually begin to pay attention - there is NO REASON not to do any of these at any time, unless there is serious conflict (injury, emergency, deadline that is imminent or Dylan needing my help) going on.

What are your non-debatables?

What can you do to call attention to helpful inquiry (really being curious) and seduction (getting caught up in a pattern of thinking that actually won't lead to clarity)?
Do these words do it for you, or would you need a different set? If so, what?

This four-word list is going up on the wipe-off board in our bedroom where we keep word sets or questions, "Please meditate and do yoga" type requests from our bodies so that we don't forget the essentials.

*Um. That's not just an analogy. I am writing a lot about doing that kind of thing in my memoir from ages 12-28.

1 comment:

  1. There is also induce, which roughly translates as leading to, or leading in. In the medieval Catholic church induction meant "advancement toward the grace of God" in reference to the installation of a clergyman.

    In logic, induction is moving from specifics to universals, where deduction is moving back from universals to specifics.

    There is also the less frequently used educe, or leading out, which is often used in the context of moving from data to conclusions. This is of course related to education.

    I find it interesting that so many of our thought processes are described in terms of being led in one direction or another.