Sunday, August 13, 2017

Get Your Hands Out of Those Pockets If You Want to Engage With This World

I’m beginning to grow suspicious of the harmful effects of wearing pocketed clothing items.
It started with hoodies. They’re so darn comfy, right? But I noticed that when I wear a hoodie, I feel like I’m in my own little cocoon, and I have no particular desire to let anyone else into my cocoon. I become more withdrawn, cuz hey, I’m happy in my cocoon. Everyone else can go away.
So I stopped wearing hoodies in social situations.
Then there were pocketed dresses. Designers finally figured out that women want pockets in their dresses (equality with pants!), so more dresses come with pockets these days. I started wearing pocketed dresses to teaching gigs, thinking how nifty it’d be to keep a whiteboard marker in my pocket. It was indeed nifty, but again, I noticed something: I used way less body language when explaining concepts. See, once my hands made their ways into my pockets, they really had to want to come out. They didn’t deem it worth it most of the time, as they highly value warmth. My teaching got worse as a result.
So I stopped wearing pocketed dresses for teaching gigs.
Then there are jackets. I taught improv to a bunch of high schoolers yesterday, and it was their very first time doing improv, so they were understandably shy and resistant. The hardest cases? The teens in bomber jackets. Their hands were clearly very accustomed to resting inside those pockets, and it was a matter of great will to get those hands out in order to pass a clap or catch a sound ball. I injected new games on the spot designed specifically to get their hands out of their pockets, to remind their hands that indeed, the world outside the pockets is a fine place indeed. See, even if the mind and majority-body of those teens wanted to improv, their hands had to overcome an awful lot of inertia to get them fully engaged in it.
I don’t get to tell other people what to wear, of course, but if I was any sort of strict improv teacher, I’d institute a no-pockets rule, AKA a hands-out-and-ready-to-engage-at-all-times rule.
So: pockets. Lovely inventions for storing things, absolutely. Surprisingly effective at decreasing our desire to engage with our whole body in the world though.
And thus concludes a blog post about pockets. 😀

Coding: A Hobby for the Waste-Adverse

I love creating things and I’m a high energy individual. I can spend all day creating things, enjoying both the process and the output.
For most of my adult life, I’ve channeled my creative energy into coding. I studied Computer Science in college, and went on to jobs at Google, Coursera, and Khan Academy. Even in my year of “recovering from corporate life” between Google and Coursera, I spent my time coding web apps and browser extensions for fun and no-profit. ☺
This past year, I got back into other forms of creativity. I learned woodworking and laser cutting, making signs and jewelry out of wood. I worked on a Burning Man art project with a team, turning a giant gumball machine into an LED ring dispenser. I ran art events with my partner, showing other people the joy of painting for fun. I adore the sensory aspect of those forms of creativity —the smell of wood when I sand it, the gooeyness of paint — the feeling of using my body in the creative process.
This summer, I finally returned to coding as my full-time form of creativity. And actually, there’s a big part of me that breathes a sigh of relief: the part of me that doesn’t like to accumulate excess and create waste.
To create things that live outside the digital world, I need to acquire the supplies, shape them into the thing, and then discard or donate the unused part of the supplies. Sometimes, I can “reclaim” the supplies, like when I pick up driftwood on the beach, but then I still need to acquire the tools, like the woodburning iron, power drill, etc. I also need to find a place to store the newly created item or someone to give it away to. I sometimes sell things on Etsy, but then, I need to acquire the shipping supplies.
To create things that live in the digital world, I only need my laptop, electricity, and a bit of disk space. I can share things easily with others (without needing new disk space!), and if I’m done with them, I can delete things to reclaim that disk space. I can acquire “supplies” by a quick download, and easily delete supplies I no longer need.
Isn’t that great? It’s great! A way to use up my creative energy without excessive accumulation and waste! Phew!

This post is not a declaration that everybody should stop creating physical things, or even that I will stop creating physical things. This is also not a thorough analysis of the overall sustainability of a world of digital technology.
This post is simply an observation of a benefit of coding that I hadn’t truly appreciated before. Thank you, coding.☺