There are some people – the highly sensitives and empaths – who are painfully aware of the liminality of our existence from an early age, and it often shows up as a fear of change, separation, and death.
Actually, for me the thought of my fleeting existence in the context of humanity and even the universe has always given me comfort. But I think that underscores the author’s point even further, that we can access a sense of safety and enough by connecting to the greater whole.
My action item from this article will be the following exercise: when I sense fear, it’s an opportunity to reframe my situation. Is there something here that allows me to connect to myself more deeply? To the greater whole?
I really appreciate this article, both for the topic and the honest treatment of both the upsides and downsides. My path could probably be labeled as that of a polymath, and one of the tough realities I’ve had to come to terms with recently is the constant imposter syndrome I feel. While my friends were building deep relationships and reputations in their professions, I have chosen instead to optimize for steep learning curves. The bargain I’ve made with myself is that the cost of following my interests is that I may never feel like an insider, but that if I focus on my curiosity there’s less room for the question of whether I deserve to be in the room.
I would disagree with one argument for being a polymath: overspecialisation. In the PhD example, I’d say the relevant expertise is almost never the highly specialised topic that was studied, but instead the experience of tackling a messy problem and breaking it down into a multi-year program of investigation, often with very little chance of success. For experiences that require a reputation and track record to unlock (like many in management and leadership), being a polymath may make some of these opportunities less accessible. Either way, I agree completely that there is a trade-off here and I love that the author is socialising a path less traveled.
To everyone on here who finds these arguments compelling, I hope I can just convince you of one thing: please use extreme caution when considering the words of any “scientist” who uses experiments to prove an outcome that he is already highly emotionally tied to. That is, by definition, not science.
From his Wikipedia page: “[Hart] uses his research as a scientific basis for his presentations on the importance of decriminalizing drugs.”
I am disappointed in how unscientific and biased the arguments sounded. Opioids are not like fructose/glucose (one binds while the other is consumed), and the potencies are wildly different. Street opioids are on the order of 200 to 1,000,000x more potent than endogenous sources. There is no comparison for sugar, because even pure refined sugar doesn’t hit those potencies. Pharmacological substances are highly potent and a hand-waving argument about how people just use it too much is so, so dangerous.
For those interested in this topic, I’d recommend reading The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. It exposes an alternative view of the role of hypotheses. I picked up the book expecting to get a chance to rail at the established scientific paradigms that lead to bias and blindness (similar to this article), but what I got was a better understanding of the different types of scientific inquiry and how they come together to enable wild leaps in scientific progress. It puts articles like these in a different light.
I will be reading and re-reading this article to glean the lessons it has about self-evaluation of life decisions and lifestyle. I think there are both near- and long-term implications in this article. How do the major components of my life (e.g. job) support a sense of flow? Have I cultivated enough diversity and slowness to support the coalescence of new thought via concentration? Am I devoting time to strengthening my concentration skills, much as I routinely work out?
However, in early December 2008, in a generic hotel room in Palma, Mallorca, I vividly remember trying to prepare for a game while feeling unusually displaced from myself.
This description of “feeling displaced” hit home for me. It’s how I’ve felt often when preparing myself for an endeavour that is outside my comfort zone. I’ve been wondering how to tell when my willingness to challenge my own boundaries just becomes self punishment as a habit, and I think there’s the beginning of an answer here.
Has anyone read his book? I’m thinking it could be worthwhile.