Imperfect improvement


I have been reorganising my iTunes library of songs. It’s a system of sorts, one that grew up as I added music and tried to impose some sort of order on thousands of songs.

What began as a simple system is more complex, and as tastes and needs change the old way of doing things becomes less and less useful. Finally I take the plunge and spent hours reorganising playlists and folders, deleting the neglected and promoting the new favourites.

Inevitably the outcome is not ideal. There are a lot of left over folders and playlists that don’t really need to be there, some of the categories are useless and there’s a lot of content that I haven’t been able to organise so I can access it easily. But after a couple of hours spent dragging icons around it’s improved. Life goes on.

My conscious mind is a bit like this. It began before I can remember, a spontaneous response to life. A simple process of crying, feeding, defecating and sleeping has expanded in fits and starts to the point where I can publish a blog and drive a car, amongst other things.

Much of what goes on in this system is a mystery to me; a collection of habitual responses that sometimes make sense, sometimes don’t. It seems to work, which is good enough most of the time. I only look closely at things when they stop working.

Whenever I see babies staring confusedly at noises or looking irritated at some aspect of their existence I imagine their operating system laboriously upgrading itself to accommodate this new experience. Moment by moment it grows, like a seedling adapting to the environment and creating the shape that will define its future patterns. The sapling that grew bowed beneath vines will become a huge tree with that same bow shape, echoing the past and shaping the future.

This can cause endless amount of heart aches for parents, wondering if a moment of inattention will lead to some terrible future crisis. Being human we are going to have some trauma to deal with no matter how diligent our parents are. And being human we are equipped to change our shapes, our patterns, in response. Life goes on.

And just like my iTunes library the result will be a compromise, a bit of guess work and whatever we managed to get done in the time allowed. I will never achieve a perfect iTunes Library because life never stays still long enough for me to do so.

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