AdventWord 2023: Ponder

Ponder for me...

Variants of this conversation have happened so many times in my life:

Person: “I am having [problem] and it’s so annoying!”

Me: “I avoid that problem using [system].”

Person (who was JUST complaining about how annoying this problem is): “WTF why do you have a system for that??”

Me: “…???”

Statue pondering
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

For anyone who doesn’t already know and is wondering… yes, I’m autistic. 😉

Another example...

Here’s another example: when I was a child, one of my friends was staying over. They went to draw the curtains, pulling first the left one and then the right, making sure to cross them to avoid having a gap in the middle.

“Other way ‘round.” I say helpfully.

“Oh, don’t be OCD. It doesn’t make a difference!”

To which I patiently explained that it DID make a difference; a vertical bar of light got in where the curtains crossed, and it went either to the left or the right depending on which curtain was on top.

If the light went left (left curtain then right, as my friend had done), it hit the empty wall above my desk and was reflected around the room. If it went right, the light went into my wardrobe and was largely absorbed by the clothing.

Therefore, to minimise the light which got in first thing, the curtains should be closed in the order of right then left.

In the morning I demonstrated the difference between the two configurations, and my friend, though bemused, conceded that I was correct.

Perplexed, I asked “Having so much glare wouldn’t bother you?”

“Not enough to spend so long thinking about it!”

I didn’t understand. I still don’t. How can you not think about these things? What is it like to not have constant analysis and optimisation humming away in your head? How do you get anything done properly if you’re not running a fresh evaluation every time you do it?

And what do you do with all that brainpower you save by not making sure you’re using efficient and effective systems? Surely it can’t all be going to gating and fuzzy logic. Or maybe it is. Because people repeatedly tell me, in either wondering or exasperated tones, that I think about things WAY too much.

I am...

I am the writer whose worldbuilding includes practical aspects that never touch the story, because how am I supposed to write a murder case on a space station without figuring out exactly where this culture gets their food?

I am the D&D player who assumes the lack of a kitchen entrance in this noble house is a major plot-point and gets excited about this mystery, only to discover that whoever designed the map didn’t think about how annoying it would be to have to carry shopping for a fifty-person household through the entire sprawling downstairs every time.

I am the friend who curiously asks what the organisation system is for your seasonings because I can’t figure it out. And obviously you must have one, so this is interesting. And who, on finding out that you inexplicably don’t have a system, concernedly makes suggestions. Unless you want to have to hunt through an entire cupboard just to add a dash of paprika to your lunch?

I am the knitter who, when I can’t find a technique which does what I want, rolls my eyes and fiddles about until I invent one. Muttering “I can’t have been the only person to have this problem!” the whole time.

Maybe it drives you spare. Maybe you love it. Maybe you just find it useful. It doesn’t really matter; this is simply how my brain works.

Lee Heywood

Lee Heywood

MBS Volunteer

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