Trying to figure things out

Susan encouraged me to start blogging more, so here goes. A series of posts, where I try to figure things out. It will probably be a lot of philosophy and self help and different ways to think about learning. I’ll probably digress into math, science, and, of course, drums. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to post comments and we can start a conversation about this stuff.  Thanks,


Learning by metaphor

I like to think in terms of metaphors. It’s a way of brainstorming, but also a way of learning. When I encounter something new, I like to brainstorm what metaphors might apply. If I’ve found a good metaphor, then I suddenly learn a lot more about the new thing, because a metaphor is a full concept that I already understand quite a bit.

Common metaphors

The pendulum

The pendulum swings back and forth between extremes. If it’s a magnet, then you have other attracting forces that can really affect the pendulum’s path as it swings in 3-D. It’s like the seasons, artistic trends, moods, something new that you’ve learned, and life and death.

The scale or balance

You’re choosing different options, you have two conflicting opinions, you are integrating something you’ve learned with everything else you know, you want to create a product with features and have a great user experience, you’re trying to control the volumes of all 4 limbs when playing drums (and trying to sing), you are prioritizing, you want to spend time and do a good job and use up few resources. With the scale, you can choose the weight of the things on the scale, but remember as you weigh toward one thing–the other things aren’t as heavy.


In a system, everything coexists in harmony. When you make a change, then the rest of the system compensates in some way. Or the system starts to change and then restabilizes. Sometimes the system never levels out again. Sometimes you change the system, and everything has to change to compensate. It’s like social dynamics, or your energy level, or band politics, or the arrangement of instruments in a song, or how you spend your time each day.


It’s all interrelated. Music, visual arts, dance, sculpture, film, food, your career, sports, driving. There is an art to it all, and they all have some major strategies or techniques that overlap. How you train, how you prioritize, how you make choices, how you gain perspective, how you express yourself, how you make money.

Just some thoughts I had today. Think of any other metaphors?


3 thoughts on “Trying to figure things out”

  1. (I really like the organization of your document BTW.)
    I’m always surprised when you talk to me about music how much it sounds like people talking about writing. There’s always more similarities than I expect.

    As far as other common metaphors go, well, there’s always Godwin’s law ;)

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