Things I Know 245 of 365: I’ve been re-arranging the furniture in my head

A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.

– Mark Twain

I’ve been trying to change my mind over the last couple day. Lifehacker posted a blurb on a report from Science Daily suggesting runners should drink water when they are thirsty.

This information probably didn’t blow your mind the way it did mine.

Let me explain.

For over nine years, I’ve been a distance runner. Since that comical first go when I was sure I’d make 2 miles to my last marathon, I’ve been amassing pieces of running knowledge and sharing them as I meet other runners:

  • During morning runs, warm up with two easy miles and then stretch so as not to injure cold muscles and tendons.
  • Your metabolism is spiking for the first 45 minutes to an hour after you run.
  • About 20 minutes into a run is where the average person’s sugar supply is depleted and the fat burning process begins.
  • If you wait until you’re thirsty to drink water, you’re probably already dehydrated.

These are the pieces of who I am as a runner. They represent the framework of knowledge I carry with me that let me know I have some idea of what I’m doing.

Except, as Science Daily seems dedicated to pointing out, I don’t know what I’m doing.

This is the battle in which I’ve been engaged.

I’ve been grieving an idea.

Though it’s painfully simple – one sentence long – my flow chart of running is built around such conditional statements. If this is wrong, how do I know what is right?

I’ll be fine on the running front, I know.

I’ll do some research and figure out what makes the most sense.

It’s got me thinking, though, about what this means in the other systems in my life. I’ve started contemplating how receptive I am to new ideas and how receptive I expect others to be when I introduce a new idea or way of framing understanding.

New ideas aren’t easy. They require the shuffling around of the furniture in my head to make way for that new armoire. The thing is, collecting the new ideas requires losing some of the old ones. I can fit in the armoire, but I’ve got to lose the love seat.

And that’s the piece that’s probably been the most difficult in this instance. My best friend Katy, who taught me to run, educated me on when and when not to hydrate. That knowledge has emotional attachment.

I frequently ran into this problem on the other side when I’d tell students they could begin a sentence with “because” or they should avoid starting sentences with “There is…” or “There are…” To me, I was building a framework to help them succeed. To them, I was asking them to donate most of their mental furniture to the infinite.

Learning is tricky stuff.

I’m going running later today. I’m seriously considering not drinking water until I’m thirsty. Is that crazy?

3 thoughts on “Things I Know 245 of 365: I’ve been re-arranging the furniture in my head

  1. The frontier of knowing is an edge and I agree that when that edge gets disrupted by new ideas, resettling or retuning, can signal a rage of responses.  Had never thought about it as rearranging the furniture in the room and what happens when the room is no longer adequate, let alone the sofa. Love that. Will play with a bit.  I am taking an AI course and know there is something I need to learn about frontier, explored, and unexplored spaces.  Not sure at the moment how this connects, but intuitively I know there's a theory lurking.  Thanks:)

  2. If receiving new ideas is like rearranging the furniture, then having kids of one's own is like…becoming homeless! Or at least like rearranging the furniture every week! I love the concept of knowledge having emotional attachments. It's SO true! I do believe that is why it is so hard to “try on” new ideas sometimes or “discard” ideas you were raised with in favor of something new. It feels like a betrayal of the person from whom those ideas were gleaned.There is also a direct correlation here to the difficulty involved in straying from old educational constructs or boxes (literally AND figuratively?). Lectures are ineffective, but they are comfy furniture.

  3. I think the two classic examples of this in modern times are: 1) health information and 2) Pluto. We're so used to discovering that what we thought was healthy turns out to be dangerous and vice versa that it's almost a joke. And Pluto seems so counterintuitive that it raises a layer of distance and distrust between the people and the experts. This is one reason I enjoy teaching philosophy. It's an opportunity to get people to think about their standards and whom they trust. It also asks us to think about how comfortable we are with uncertainty and doubt. Even though I've been calling myself a Deweyan pragmatist for over a decade, it is still hard to put that into practice. (You should see me try to talk myself into believing that a favorite athlete is actually not performing all that badly.)

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