Archive for March, 2018

Peak Experiences

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

As I was growing up, I remember coveting Peak Experiences. It was a feeling I got when I figured something out; when something in my brain clicked into place. “Wow,” I’d say to myself. “That was awesome.” These experiences were pretty rare, but I remember finding myself looking forward to the next one.

At age 65, I still feel that tingle in my spine occasionally. It seems as though the high isn’t as high as I remember it though. Maybe the dream I had the other night was based on some nostalgic longings for those peak experience days.

In my dream, I was in a typical social situation when I encountered a person from my past. This woman would have been a teenager at the tine when our son was a teenager. We knew and liked all of our son’s friends, and I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing how many of them have blossomed as they’ve reached middle age.

The young woman in the dream was an amalgamation of several of our son’s friends. I did recognize her immediately in the dream, but when I woke up, I couldn’t place who she was. She smiled in recognition of me, and I smiled back. Then she looked down at her laptop and said, “Name a country.”

I said, “The Dominican Republic.”

She answered by referring back to her laptop, and giving me a person’s name. I cannot, for the life of me, remember what that name was. (Shucks!)

Then I woke up. The fact that this dream snippet has stayed with me these several days seems significant to me, and I’ve spent some time going over it.

Given those two seemingly unrelated pieces of information; a random country and a person’s name, my task was to figure out how they were connected. I’d probably sit down at my computer, and do something I’m pretty good at… search around until I get an interesting hit. And from that hit, I’d generate a peak experience. But how would that work?

Thinking about it, I determined that now more than ever, facts about me are knowable and classifiable. Imagine if someone would have gone to the trouble to determine all the books and articles I’ve read, all the classes I’ve taken, how I did on the tests and quizzes, what I’ve written and said. In this modern world, it would be trivial to store all this data, and search against it.

And that, as near as I determine, was the meaning of the dream. A 3-D matrix of all knowledge would have my name on it, and tendrils corresponding to my experiences would be snaking inside it (you might have to zoom in a lot in order to see my tendrils!) Once this structure is rendered in 3-D, it would be easy to see the deficiencies… places I haven’t visited yet, but are approachable because of my previous experiences. A catalyst is necessary for me to visit those musty corners of knowledge, and that catalyst was provided by the intersection of a country and a person.

It made me wonder what sort of a life we would live if we could tap dance rapidly from one peak experience to the next. Where our knowledge and training could be guided by a process free from human weaknesses. What sort of folks would we develop into? I don’t know the answers, but I have a sense that the technology to accomplish this is either just around the corner or here already.