Warning: This post makes gratuitous use of pop cultural imagery that might ruin your weekend fun atÂ the movieÂ Interstellar.Â
If only we could recast the past. If only we could shape the future. This is the stuff of Science Fiction, but this morning, writing in from Bali, Indonesia, it feels to me as if I haveÂ some insights into time and the discontinuities of social and informational space. I’ve been traveling a lot and sleeping little, so I beg your forbearance.
First, it seems to me that the past doesn’t occur once, but in a kind of standing-falling wave pattern, wherein it is slowly leaving the room again and again, waiting for you to stop it and call it back. By this I mean that last weeks conversations are perpetually calling back to you for emailed summaries, reshaping, documentation, encoding into memo-s, citation in other conversations and thoughts. The past is slushily present in the mind, and in your interactions with other people. This slush can be rudely interrupted by travel and lack of sleep and overwork, I’m finding, but week to week it is like a frozen bowl of margarita jellycake that wobbles around in one’s consciousness. It is already thing-like, throbbing wavily, slowly away.
In my youth the future was a dead and silent horizon, which continuously surprised me. I was more inept at moving through time then, but I also had more time to myself, to think and to be. Come college and grad school I had to acquire techniques of planning and managing my consciousness, which was tough and painful and necessary to show competence in the business of life. As I built the company, this ability needed to be further developed, so I could envision what entire teams were doing, and now my thoughts are pretty much filled with how different individuals and teams are interacting with one another. There isn’t much space anymore to daydream or even just to be, on a park bench, looking at a tree. I try to take long walks and swim in season to compensate.
In both cases, of course, time already exists in the mind as an asset and resource, for you to do what you will with it. Time plus consciousness makes up a new kind of hybrid asset class we call bandwidth. The questions for most young people joiningÂ the working world are: Do you understand and can you sense your own bandwidth? Are you managing it well? Are you ensuring that you don’t redline or abuse it, while also allocating it usefully to translate thought into action? Are you signaling effectively to other people what you’re interested in, as it comes into consciousness, and what you’ve done with it, as it leaves you?
So, the tesseract. Well, in a recent movie, the tesseract was a way to move around and manipulate time and information. I bring it up because it interestingly spatializesÂ the problem I’m already trying to address: How we Â reshape the past with our thoughts and communications, while also giving shape to our shared future.
The technique that we’re trying to use to achieve that is our Friday planning meetings, running across the Vihara Network. If that feels prosaic and unappealing, we couldÂ re-name it something like ‘our weekly Jello-shots.’ The idea is that we mentally touch the achievements and challenges of the week past, and proleptically (= reaching forward) organize the activities of the week to come. If we can do this work in teams, I think we can really arrive intoÂ a new and more enabling way to be, together.