3 Minute Monday
“Ordinary Roman carts were constructed to match the width of Imperial Roman war chariots because it was easier to follow the ruts in the road left by the war chariots.
The chariots were sized to accommodate the width of two large war horses, which translates into our English measurement as a width of 4′ 8.5″.
Roads throughout the vast Roman empire were built to this spec.
When the legions of Rome marched into Britain, they constructed long distance imperial roads 4′ 8.5″ wide.
When the English started building tramways, they used the same width so the same horse carriages could be used.
And when they started building railways with horseless carriages, naturally the rails were 4′ 8.5″ wide.
Imported labourers from the British Isles built the first railways in the Americas using the same tools and jigs they were used to.
Fast forward to the US Space shuttle, which is built in parts around the country and assembled in Florida.
Because the two large solid fuel rocket engines on the side of the launch Shuttle were sent by railroad from Utah, and that line transversed a tunnel not much wider than the standard track, the rockets themselves could not be much wider than 4′ 8.5.”
As one wag concluded: “So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of two horses’ arse.”
More or less, this is how technology constrains itself over time.” — Kevin Kelly
Apart from the fact that I’m not a horse or a space shuttle or a road, this is figuratively very similar to something I noticed in myself over the last few years.
The Vestigial Pattern Bias.
The successful, deliberate approaches we learn during our development can become a prison which stop us from being more free-flowing and at-ease when we are developed.
The tools that get you from 0-50 are not the same ones that get you from 50 to 90, or 90 to 95.
But we found success with this approach in the past so we cling on to an overly rational, effortful approach.
We hope that applying pure cerebral horsepower to a situation will fix it.
We think that the more deliberate we are, the better the outcomes will be, without realising that our subconscious has aggregated the thousands of hours of experience we’ve clocked up now.
And not using that experience is keeping us in the same league we’ve always been in.
Balancing this with remaining intentional is tough, it’s not becoming lackadaisical or taking your eye off the ball, it’s more about finding ease and grace in your competence as you grow.
This week’s upcoming episodes:
Chris Bumstead – my crowning achievement. The greatest bodybuilder of our time, on the most beautiful podcast set in history. Highly recommended you check this out on YouTube too from 4pm UK/10am CT.
George Mack – one of my favourite humans discusses 16 life-changing ideas you’ve never heard of, an absolute stormer of an episode.
J. Michael Bailey – a heavily cancelled researcher breaks down some fascinating insights about how human sexuality works, why so many young people are transitioning and more.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
Having a negative view of masculinity damage boys’ & men’s mental health.
“Brand new research assessing the views of over 4000 men found that thinking masculinity is bad for your behaviour is linked to having worse mental wellbeing.
Around 85% of respondents thought the term ‘toxic masculinity’ is insulting, and probably harmful to boys.
Although the direction of causation isn’t definite (do negative views about masculinity damage mental wellbeing, or does low mental wellbeing causes men to view masculinity negatively) it is clear that negative views of masculinity are linked to wellbeing to a significant degree.
On the other hand, having a positive view of masculinity is linked to better mental wellbeing.
This fits with other evidence – typically overlooked in the media and elsewhere – that masculinity can be beneficial to mental health.
Indeed this news is no surprise to the average person in the street, many of whom recognise the value of masculinity much more people in academia, the media and government.
There are rare exceptions, but the majority of information about masculinity we are exposed to is unreasonably negative, so you can be forgiven for thinking that men are the oppressors of women rather than the protectors of women.
Interestingly, this study found that better mental wellbeing was associated with believing masculinity makes men protective of women.
And worse mental wellbeing was associated with believing masculinity makes men feel violent towards women.
One of the implications of the study was that “if we want men to have good mental health, a useful strategy might be to help them to appreciate the ways in which their masculinity can have a positive impact on their behaviour and the people around them”.
So the message to schools, the media, governments and NGOs is: there is more to be gained by being positive, so it’s time to stop being so negative about men and masculinity.” — Dr John Barry
You are what you do daily.
“The happiness of most people is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.” – Ernest Dimnet
Mack’s Content Razor.
“Would you consume your own content? If not, don’t post it.” — George Mack
Use your peripheral vision.
I was taught this years ago by an embodiment coach.
Take a deep breath in through your nose, and on the exhale, allow your focus to expand out to the peripherals of your vision.
I love this cue, I find it pretty much instantly calming and it reminds me just how narrow my focus in the world is sometimes.
LA next week for another Modern Wisdom Cinema episode. Hold on tight.