It’s groundhog day here in Melbourne. You don’t miss what you have until its gone.
You know what’s killing me right now?
All the certainty.
I’ve never had so much certainty in my life. Each day is totally precedented. I’m sailing around and around in chartered waters.
And it’s getting me down.
This is life in Melbourne in Stage 4 lockdown.
It’s groundhog day. Every day feels like it’s the same.
I used to look forward to the weekends. Now Saturday morning is the same as every other morning – shuffling around in my underpants wondering if it’s a respectable hour to be hitting the liqueur cabinet.
I can actually say I’ve made good use of lockdown. I’ve taken it as an opportunity to really focus and bang some great stuff out. I was actually surprised at how productive I could be when there were no distractions.
But now I’m realising that I actually really like distractions. I really miss interruptions. I miss having my day derailed and taken in an interesting new direction.
I miss the variety.
Partly this is a case of the grass is always greener. When I was being interrupted all the time, I wanted to be left alone. Now that I’m left alone, I’m craving interruption and some social interaction.
But it’s also about what the human needs to be happy. It needs both stability and variety.
They need to be in balance.
The human is not a machine. If you give it the same day over and over again, it will get bored and tear its eyes out.
But if you give it too much variety – if it never knows where it’s next meal is coming from – then it will probably collapse into anxiety.
A roller-coaster is only fun if you know you can get off.
And every person probably has a different idea of where the balance is – what the ideal variety to stability ratio is.
It’s like music in that sense.
I’ve heard it said that music is the perfect balance of repetition and novelty.
There are structures like rhythms and bass-lines that give music predictability. But if the music is too predictable, it gets boring. (EDM – looking at you.) You need some novelty, in the melody line for example, to keep it ‘fresh’.
Too much novelty though and it just starts to just feel like noise.
And so music is a sonic experience that appeals to the human need for both stability and variety.
So this is one of the unexpected lessons I’ll be taking from Covid experience.
My ideal life involves balance. There’s a sweet-spot where the certainty to variety ratio is just right.
That means getting disciplined on the certainty side – making sure that I don’t end up with too many distractions in my day.
But it also means making sure that I’m getting enough variety. That I’m sampling from a satisfying range of experience.
It’s my responsibility.
For now, my hands are tied. There isn’t all that much I can do.
But on the other side of Covid, for a while, my life is going to be a veritable variety store.