“Because we would be forced to truly reckon with the harm our default approach perpetuates. And that would be an existential threat to our business models.”

Dr Jason Fox


“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt”

John Green


Suffice it to say, people do not like pain. Especially self-inflicted pain. So we avoid a shitload of things. One of our main avoidance tactics is ‘default.’ Default is simply a term for ‘not noticing.’

Which leads me to say that noticing things can be painful.

We ignore a lot of shit. Why? Because it’s convenient to do so. Because in order to acknowledge something we would have accept something. And acceptance is a small quiet room. And acceptance can be painful. Not physically painful, just mentally so. Now. Small quiet room sounds like it needs to be small. It doesn’t. It’s often just a space you carve out in an immense system – like a society, a community, a business, or even a business model or system of doing things. It’s a space where you can hide from things you may not want to face. It’s a space where you are not demanded to reckon for the larger system.

Which leads me to say that Life, in & of itself, is demanding of accepting pain.

We are certainly pleasure-seeking beings and despite all our dystopian rhetoric we invest a shitload of energy on ‘finding happiness.’ That said. Suffice it to say that whatever we emphasize has a nasty habit of demanding attention. Good and bad. But, more often than not, in our analyzing of ourselves and what is around us we emphasize the ‘less than’, the ‘imperfections,’ and the pain. They all demand to be felt.

Slowly becoming the person I should’ve been a long time ago.

In other words. Many things in life demand to be felt. And maybe it is because of that we numb ourselves to as many things as possible figuring it is the only way to manage our way thru the onslaught of things demanding and demanding and demanding. Pay enough attention, or give them enough emphasis, and the clamor of their cries for attention seems deafening if you listen too closely.

I say all of that to state an essential part of ‘numbing ourselves’ is to deemphasize how the system, or structural things, affect us. This can go several ways. You can deemphasize the effects of the system because you know you are getting screwed and you feel like there is nothing you can do, and will continue to get screwed, so you deemphasize and get on with getting on. On the flip side if you haven’t been screwed by the system and done well you de-emphasize the effects of the system because acknowledging the system and structure de-emphasizes what you may see as your strengths and the attributes you apply to yourself that you believe got you to where you are today. Regardless. As noted earlier, it depends on what one emphasizes.

“What matters isn’t being applauded when you arrive—for that is common—but being missed when you leave.”

Baltasar Gracián

Which leads me to say that society, in and of itself, has a shitload of invisible things that can create pain.

Society is strewn with systemic things. Many of things lurk, invisibly, in the general ‘doings’ of how things work in society. Racism, hierarchy, inequality, inequities, power, all chug along beneath the surface of everyday life. If I were to have to explain why some things we think we should be done and aren’t being done, I would point to these invisible things (rather than some of the visible ‘common sense’ things the loud mouths point at) as the causes. I suggest that because invisibility, and invisible things, is isolation and I am not sure anything can really be built in isolation. Created? Possibly. Built?  Yikes. I don’t think so. One person, an individual, can rarely build something without help. Help as in tangible <doing help> or intangible <emotional support>. So if you notice the default things in life, make the invisible systemic things visible in your mind, well, its gonna be panful to see. But its also the path to progress.


  “We ignored truths for temporary happiness.

six word story


Which leads me to business.

If there is one place in which we ignore invisible pains, it is business. This is because business asks you to focus on some random shit which only encourages you to embrace default shit as often as you can. Even worse, it gets a bit personal. Yeah. The business world makes us think about being visible and not being ignored to an absurd level. Huh? Things like ‘you have to be your own cheerleader!” or ‘you have to promote your accomplishments’; things like that. The implication is that the only way to not be invisible is to make sure you are not ignored. Theoretically this is okay, but in practice what this mean is a lot of noise from people who are doing things just to be visible and the things they are actually doing should be ignored. But here is the truly egregious thing. This ‘be visible’ ideology cloaks the truly corrosive invisible things which create scenarios in which the invisible people of value are not deemed worthy.

“As human beings, we have a natural compulsion to fill empty spaces.”

Will Shortz

In other words, if all you are doing is holding up the universe you are fucked. Uhm. That’s an existential threat to the universe.

Which leads me to circle back to the opening Jason Fox quote and how noticing is an existential threat to the system.

It was Grace Blakeley who said: “Disobedience to authority is not an indication of selfishness; it’s an assertion of an individual’s autonomy.” Noticing IS disobedience. In fact, I would argue society’s progress has always been driven by this kind of disobedience. Driven by the ones willing to notice the ‘invisible hands’ slapping the shit out of people and saying its ‘abuse of society,’ or, at an individual level, ‘abuse of my autonomy.’ Revolutions always begin with people noticing things and disobeying the defaults within a system if not the system itself.

In the end.

If you think about this, and these issues, well, even if you attempt to ignore it, once thought about, it begins to nudge its way into your thinking. Call it a splinter. A splinter is something you have to notice. And splinters are painful. Ponder.

Written by Bruce