Things Observed Through Pattern Recognition

There are some things that you cannot observe in isolation but must observe in larger patterns.  For example, I spent a fair amount of time this morning sitting in a courtroom in Hillsboro [1] watching a judge efficiently handle a series of hearings very quickly.  The receptionist would call someone incarcerated (usually), lawyers would talk and deny the claims of petitions, and hearings would be scheduled.  As someone who had no personal stake in the hearings, except for being CASA for one of the cases that was scheduled in that mass pre-trial hearing, it was interesting to  see the general mood of those around me, from friendliness to considerable irritation and frustration.  Had I merely seen one of the hearings, I would have been rather limited in the observations I could make, but seeing several of them, I could gather enough information to tell that there were some obvious patterns in a lot of the situations I was watching, including drug use/abuse and imprisonment.  Obviously if someone is in prison, it is going to be difficult for them to be a good parent, and the same is true for those who are dependent on drugs, which makes it hard to take care of those who are dependent on you.

Not all patterns have the same sort of spirit about them.  There is often a question of how many observations one needs to have before one is recognizing a pattern.  As it happens, the mind is much better at intuitively recognizing patterns than it is consciously being aware of them.  We can react to a pattern long before we know that we know there is a pattern.  Often in our lives when it comes to relationships, we may not have enough relationships to have too many patterns that would be easy to recognize, although if we add crushes and infatuations to relationships, most of us can recognize at least some patterns in the sort of people we find ourselves drawn to.  There are usually good (or bad) reasons for this, but we should definitely take notice of ourselves if we find ourselves drawn into problematic situations over and over again.  This is likely a common enough experience that many of us should be aware of matters.

There are some cases where patterns can be a matter of considerable importance.  Most of us are creatures of habit–and that can be a very good thing.  For example, shortly after I finish writing this, I will go to a place I normally go this day of the week (although usually a bit earlier) and I will have my order from people who know the regular dish I am fond of.  All of that is fine by me, because my tastes are relatively limited and consistent.  But there are times when having obvious patterns is a bad thing.  If one is a poker player, for example, having obvious tells could ruin one’s chances at being a successful player.  Likewise, if one has one chess strategy and one is attempting to be a professional chess star, then one’s opponents will eventually master the counters to your regular openings and leave you in serious trouble.  In sports and games it is important to have variety in one’s approach, because that uncertainty is what gives you a bit of an advantage in forcing your opponents to think rather than simply be able to respond instinctively to the pattern you set up.  The more you can show that you have have a range of options to do, the more that others must think rather than simply respond.

I think ultimately that people want to require others to think about them rather than merely respond to them.  When people are too limited in their interests and lack curiosity and an interest in others, it becomes too easy to know what they think and what they will say and do, and no one really respects those one finds dull and boring.  There is a comfort in pattern and regularity, but it can easily get stale, and most people like at least something that breaks the monotony that life often provides us with.  After all, we are valued economically as machines, often barely thinking machines, which improve in skills but which are supposed to be so reliable that we can be taken for granted, or considered to be subjects for automation.  Be that as it may, I think we all want more for ourselves, even if we do not give enough of ourselves to let others know the full depths that are inside of us.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s