Abstraction machines

Intermittent fasting is a strategy applied in the domain of nutrition. For example, we can opt for the “one meal a day” strategy, the “16-8” method, and multiple other takes of the same fundamental idea—don’t eat for extended periods of time.

Fasting, as a strategy, also applies to information. For example, each week I “disconnect”. I write, I reflect upon a few things, then turn off all my devices. Others have similar processes or periods—monk mornings are another example.

But one possibility I had not considered is the idea of fasting from abstraction. In developed countries, a high percentage of us spend our lives in abstraction. We do work in which the consequences are downstream. The materials we work with are conceptual and cannot be held in our hand. So, perhaps as well as fasting nutritionally and from information, we should also take regular breaks from abstraction and spend time with the concrete.

Make something with your hands. Cook dinner and sit at the table with a person you love. Look into their eyes and say something, or nothing. Stand at the base of a tree and witness it reaching for the sky. Perch on a precipice and look out into the distance. Play with an animal. Go swimming in a lake. Take a cold shower.

Humans are narrative machines, which means we are abstraction machines—how about we take a break and return to the reality our minds are so adept at distancing us from?