Sometimes I feel like my only real job in life – the most gainful and worthwhile one at least – is just to sensibly and accurately arbitrate my intake of caffeine.
Days go like this:
That’s not every day, but it’s a lot of them.
Before caffeine in normal waking consciousness I am one person, then after it I’m someone else altogether.
What I seem to experience is a veritable split between the part of me that decides what to consume and when, and the part of me that experiences the effects of the consumption and then behaves accordingly.
You may have heard of the ‘maker/manager’ distinction before –
Maker is the one who writes, paints, draws, acts, dances, makes music, whatever – while Manager is the one who plans, schedules, organizes, answers emails, makes phone calls, and so on.
Maker does the creating and producing, while Manager handles the administrative and organizational side.
Usually the Maker/Manager distinction is reserved for two separate individuals with different job functions – but when you’re doing self-directed work, you have to play both roles at once.
And for me, it often feels like Manager’s only real job is to properly arbitrate caffeine intake.
Consume it at a certain time and at a certain dosage, don’t take too much or too little, or too late – that’s it.
Then Maker takes over and carries the entire thing by himself – at least until it wears off.
In Maker mode, Manager is completely out of the picture – he’s not needed at all and the process seems to just take care of itself. I’m not doing the thing anymore, it’s doing me.
Like pouring fuel into a machine – all “I” have to do is make sure the engine gets enough gas, at the right time, that it doesn’t run too hot, and that it has time to cool down again before the next day.
That means Manager usually limits Maker to one to two cups of coffee a day. Not in the evening. Every so often Manager removes caffeine completely for days or weeks at a time, during which Maker goes into hiding and disappears for uncomfortably long periods.
Output suffers terribly during this time and Manager really starts to miss his buddy. He doesn’t know what to do without him.
Then the tolerance resets and I get some coffee again, and Maker reappears with a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates and an apology – ready to go to work and all is good once again.
So… what to make of all this? I’m not really sure.
(Maybe I’m just a strange case)
But it makes you think about the way we look at the human body, consciousness, and the flow of life. We tend to think that a ‘sober state’ (normal waking consciousness) is the baseline or ‘default’ state to be in, but the truth is that there is always something affecting our moods, thoughts, or behaviour.
There is no true ‘baseline state’ at all and we’re always in flux – it’s just a matter of the intervals and intensity of the variation that determines whether we realize it or not.
In his excellent book Scott Adams describes humans as “moist programmable robots” (I think so too) where certain inputs reliably produce certain outputs – and living well or successfully is just a matter of choosing the right inputs at the right time.
So for me, the eternally-experimenting pharmacist Doctor Manager administers drugs in varying doses at various times of day – while the erratic and unreliable Mister Maker comes and goes as he likes, dropping in now and again to take over the process and produce the best work – only to leave again, suddenly and without warning or saying goodbye like only a true temperamental artist would.
And while Manager works hard to deduce the correct concentrations and combinations of drugs to make him return more often, he does make progress, but it’s slow, and for the most part Maker’s habits, preferences and especially his exact methods – they still remain a total mystery.