the code beneath

“It sucks to know there’s this whole arena I may never understand even passably,” I told my best friend a few weeks ago. “It’s so important to me, but I just don’t think I’ll ever get it.”

“I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit,” Nick replied. “You’re good at patterns. Now that you know this arena is important to you, I think you’ll start picking up its patterns in no time. In fact, I think you already understand more than you think you do.”

Nick is usually pretty accurate in both his assessments and his predictions, so I was inclined to trust this one, too–

but this time, I couldn’t quite get there. My own understanding of the data meant I literally couldn’t fathom his conclusions being correct.

A few days after Nick and I talked, I stumbled into a funny moment.

At first, I wasn’t clear why it felt so funny.
After a few moments of contemplation, though, I got it:

This was in that arena. My personal total-mystery arena.

As someone who learns almost exclusively by doing, I was clear I had to take some kind of action to learn. But what?

Guided by other conversations with Nick, I took what seemed like right action.

Based on the near-immediate feedback I received from another friend, I’d taken the right action–

and learned something from it, though I couldn’t then name what exactly I’d learned.

Day by day thereafter, I noticed more of these funny moments.

As I practiced acting on them, I got a better sense of the relevant patterns;

to use The Matrix as an analogy, I was starting to see glimmers of the cohesive underlying code.

For me, Tuesday was full of rough moments. Having existed in a state of deep burnout for months, my coping mechanisms were frayed to breaking–

and yet …

I managed to see just enough of my mystery arena’s code to know what to do not to actually break,

and I did that.

Come Tuesday evening, I was so tired from navigating it all, I needed a nap.

Apparently, I needed the nap to process the day, for when I awakened:

Like Neo in The Matrix, I saw the cohesive underlying code.

I’d gotten it–

not in decades,
not in years,
not in months,

but in … weeks.

As the week progressed, I saw how my ability to see the code was already changing much within me.

Mystery after mystery after mystery was clearing up.

And in the cases where mystery remained, I didn’t despair,

for I saw each of those mysteries as minor compared to the scale of the mystery I recently thought I faced–

just little gaps in how I perceive the code, which gaps I can work to fill by taking the breathtakingly simple action of asking one question:

“What do you mean?”

Not four weeks ago, my best friend predicted I’d understand certain then-mysterious-to-me patterns in no time.

His words made no sense to me at the time, but that’s okay.

They make sense to me now–enough sense that I can now say, with gratitude,

he was right.

And I?

I could not be happier to have been so, so very wrong–

or more excited for the chances ahead

to fill in
remaining gaps
in how I today
perceive that vast
and beauteous
underlying
code.

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