Quantum Nutrition: A Short Introduction

In 2013, in my first semester of graduate school, I had an idea:

“What if we could trace the effects of a single nutrient from physics/chemistry/geology up through biology, past neuroscience and behavior, through all other areas of the university, from economics and art history to geopolitics and beyond?”

Not until 2017 did I realize this is what the true scientific study of “nutrition” attempts to do. It simply lacks an adequate theory to make testable predictions and unify other related scientific fields.

 


Table of Contents


Current Definition and Problems

 

Archaic definitions

Here are a few conventional definitions of the word “nutrition” from the web:

Websters’:

the act or process of nourishing or being nourished; specifically : the sum of the processes by which an animal or plant takes in and utilizes food substances. / foods that are necessary for human nutrition

Cambridge:

the process by which the body takes in and uses food, esp. food that it needs to stay healthy, or the scientific study of this process

 

There are several major problems with these and other standard definitions of the word nutrition:

  • They use the word “food” or “nourish,” which itself, being from the Latin nutrire, centers around the idea of “food.” This may be useful for those with more philosophical conceptions of the word “food.” Unfortunately, in modern America and conventional “nutrition science,” the word food is usually conceptually disconnected from the concepts of air and water, even more necessary to nourish life. Modern “nutrition science” essentially ignores air, water, and their nourishment.
  • They often refer anthropomorphically to the human body, as opposed to the biological concept of the cell (or another accepted model) or the concept of any multicellular organism.
  • They fail to account for essential subatomic particles and processes.

 


From “Vitamins and Minerals” to “Minerals and Molecules”

Worse, the term “vitamin” has no good scientific definition, and the archaic “vitamin and mineral” model is outdated and nearly useless. Here are three reasons:

  1. “Vitamin D” (cholecalciferol) has been well known for decades, scientifically, to be a hormone. It is not an essential dietary nutrient; rather, it is an essential hormone synthesized by human skin when cellular processes use light to convert the molecule 7-Dehydrocholesterol to “previtamin D3” and later cholecalciferol itself. However, the subatomic particle known as a photon (at 290-315 nm) is a necessary nutrient, absorbed in humans by the skin and used as noted.
  2. Most “vitamins” are actually groups of molecules, such as the A group, the B group, the E group, and the K group. To my knowledge, only “vitamin C” refers a single individual molecule: ascorbic acid.
  3. With each passing year, it appears that there are other “essential molecules,” such as the so-called pseudovitamins and phytonutrients, potentially known molecules like caffeine, nicotine, or DMT, and many others. Given the complexity and ability of the various micro-biomes to evolve and synthesize molecules based on other nutritional inputs, some humans may have bacterial synthesis of essential dietary molecules whereas others do not, so the word “essential” is quite problematic. However, there are certainly undocumented essential molecules (just as there are undocumented essential elements).

We must therefore move towards a better categorization of nutrients.

While subatomic particles must be technically included (below), the phrases “atoms and molecules” or “elements and molecules” are scientifically accurate phrases to replace “vitamin and mineral.” However, I suggest the phrase “minerals and molecules” for the public, using the periodic table for the former, and reminding the public that a molecule is simple an individual arrangement of bonded atoms. The term “mineral” from “minerals and molecules” would be technically inaccurate, since elements on the periodic table like Carbon and Nitrogen are not minerals per se, but “minerals and molecules” serves as a better phrase for public adoption to promote education and awareness. (Unless the public forgets that for humans, the photon is also an essential subatomic nutrient.)

While these are good starting points to inform public opinion, we still need acceptable scientific definitions in order to make testable hypotheses, to carry nutrition into the modern century, and to prepare it for the next.


A New Theory

 

What is the definition of nutrition?

Nutrition is the study of nutrients and their effects.

What is the definition of a nutrient?

A nutrient is a particle without which an acid-based (amino acid, nucleic acid, etc.) function or reaction cannot occur. For the public: a nutrient is a particle (subatomic, atomic, or molecular) used in a biochemical reaction.

 

How can we categorize nutrients?

Nutrients should be categorized based on standard models from the physical sciences:

  • subatomic particles (photons, electrons, protons, etc.),
  • atoms (lithium, oxygen, sodium, sulfur, etc.),
  • molecules (ascorbic acid, α-Linolenic acid, etc.),
  • and even (optionally) whole cellular organelles and/or organisms.
    • Note: It does not seem likely that whole organelles or cells are used as “nutrients” without being broken down into component macro-molecules and smaller particles first. However, from another perspective, it not only seems likely, it seems a historical biological fact: the “first” mitochondrion was likely an independent cellular entity, consumed or assimilated, in a sense, as a mutually-beneficial symbiotic “nutrient.” Perspective indeed!

 

Naming a Theory

Quantum or quanta may have a few varying definitions in the physical sciences. While the word comes from the Latin quantus, meaning “how great,” in the early 1900s it came to signify the smallest measurable unit. This is especially true of the electromagnetic force, as quantum came to signify the smallest relevant particles: a single electron, a “fermion” with mass; or the photon, a type of “boson,” the massless force-carrier of the electromagnetic force. Quantum often now refers to both indivisible sub-atomic particles and the unpredictable nature of studying these particles.

Quantum is thus a perfect, relevant word for a unifying physical theory of nutrition, although it need not be used only to refer to the electron, photon, and other subatomic particles. Here, the word quantum can be used in a general sense: the smallest useful subatomic, atomic, or molecular unit of nutrition. This is critical, because these three divisions must form the foundation of the future study of nutrition; for example: an electron or photon, versus a single lithium or sodium ion, versus molecular oxygen or caffeine. While larger molecular elements — long chain fatty acids and peptides — are obviously nutrients, they work well under the third molecular division, studied individually or collectively.

As such, a unifying theory of nutrition should be called quantum nutrition or quantum nutrition theory.

 

Questions

This presents numerous questions (thousands, actually). For example:

  • How can we define and differentiate an “essential” or “beneficial” nutrient?
  • What is the difference between a nutrient and a drug?
  • How can we organize nutritional molecules into useful categories?
  • Might there be an organizational approach similar to the standard model or periodic table for these molecules?
  • How can we account for modern, unique, synthesized molecules, which often have negative effects on whole organisms?
  • How can we define “life” and account for entropic decay?
  • What individual diseases, cultural adaptations, and societal challenges are predicted?

 


 

The Future: Unifying the Scientific Disciplines

From physical vs. social sciences towards a unified concept of the sciences

Because nutrients influence all known biochemical processes, nutrition connects physics, chemistry, and other physical sciences to biology, psychology, and all associated scientific disciplines, such as economics, culture, religion, and philosophy. An effective model of nutrition bridges the “gap” between the so-called natural vs. social sciences, allowing, at long last, us to retire the concept of “social sciences.” At some point this century, an effective model of nutrition will allow us to make predictions based on the effects of nutritional photon intake on economic decision making in northern latitudes; or, if all else could be controlled for, nutrition could make predictions on how varying soil levels of magnesium in Northwest vs. Southeast African populations affects leadership styles of elected politicians. This may take decades, of course, but the basic ideas already exist.

We need only connect the dots.

Where to begin?

 

A Letter to My Unborn Daughters, or: Why American Women Aren’t Leading Anymore

4,200 words
Read time @ 250 words/minute: 17 minutes

 

Dearest young ladies,

Throughout your lives, you may notice more principals, presidents, pastors, and other leaders from all walks of life as men, rather than women. Surely we will have a thousand conversations on this matter, and shall often remind ourselves that life is not fair. But something more is going on. Women make amazing leaders, as I have learned from your mother and others, but the women in this country simply aren’t leading. 

So, you will ask, why not?

The real reason, girls, is physics. But this is simpler than a physics lesson: American women aren’t “leading” because they are destroying their connection to the physical world. They are destroying their connection to their own bodies, bit by bit. And while we will travel many countries in our lives, much of the world looks up to ours, so what American women do, women around the world will, too.

These are the ways in which I see the women of my generation destroying that connection. Know them so that you may choose wisely as you age.

 


Table of Contents

 


 

The Skin

The skin is the largest “organ” of the human body, and one through which minerals, toxins, and other molecules can be both secreted and absorbed. It forms our defenses from the outside, helps hold us together, cools us, warms us, and more. But nevermind the science. Nevermind what marketers call “natural” creams and gels and lotions, among other words they use to sell their products. Nevermind that everyone with the slightest idea of nutrition agrees that we should reduce “processed” food in our diets, all the while half of our population is drowning their skin in “processed” creams, lotions, and other pastes. Nevermind the science, because much of it only comes from money and may not even exist when you begin making your way in this world.

The skin needs more than an avoidance of human- and machine-based concoctions.

To lead, what your skin needs is a return to nature. Do not underestimate the skin, and do not neglect it. Simply let it be.

Related to the skin are a number of other areas:

 

Temperature, both cold and hot.

Cold exposure, to ice-baths, showers, and cold bodies of water is becoming increasingly common in my day, and is slowly being investigated by scientists. The science may matter to you or it may not. Simply understand that the greater the range of temperatures your skin is comfortable with (via air or water), hot and cold, the healthier it is. Use this as a good starting point.

Sunlight.

Ignore the women lathering themselves with protective creams. Ignore the fear of the sun, remembering that the skin can both protect and heal itself, and it is natural that we spend much time outside under the sun, clouds, and stars. Avoid sunburns, but work around your schedules to have a healthy tan on your skin (preferably away from the eyes of male onlookers). These creams are useful, of course, and it is good to understand when to use them, but understand that in general, they do more harm than good to our societies.

Diet

There is little to say here, as you will likely be experts on your body’s dietary needs and the many ways to use food wisely, and the link between diet and the skin will be well established by your time. Humans have known, of course, that what we eat becomes our bodies in a very real sense, but we seem to have forgotten this truth for about a century. Sadly, many teens of my and my parent’s generations were told by “expert” doctors (called dermatologists) that diet has no effect on the skin. This was foolish and egotistical of them, as will be known in your day, but is still not common knowledge even in our time now. Only recently are we re-accepting that ancient truth: our food becomes our bodies — including our skin.

Hair.

Our hair exists for a reason. This is a /hypothesis of mine, as I write this letter, and may be more supported or disproven in your day: hairs may actually store trace minerals for future retrieval and for some sort of communication through the air. Perhaps it is some sort of dispersal of molecules (along with the skin), or an electro-chemical signal through the air. I recall a bacterial “cloud” around each person being investigated by one scientific study, and other early evidence may be there long before you are born. Anecdotally, it is not uncommon to hear one say that “you could feel the electricity in the room” in tense meetings, with great public speakers, and at other moments throughout life.

But the science matters little. It is easy to accept that hair is not simply a relic of our early shared primate ancestors, hair is useful today. We simply do not fully know how.

Do not ignore the truth in anecdotes and early scientific ideas, and do not destroy the hair on the surface of your skin without deep contemplation first.

Take shaving very seriously.

 


 

Makeup

Along with the voice, the face is where we judge honesty, emotions, status, and far more. The face is the home of nearly all the senses, along with the sense that connects us most consciously to others: vision. Eye contact is one of the most powerful conscious experiences humans can have together, but who uses it wisely in today’s world? Very few. Eyes flutter and evade left and right, jumping from other eyes to screens to blank stares, and I imagine this will only be worse in the world in which you grow up.

 

The dangers of makeup are threefold:

 

First, makeup products are foreign concoctions on the face.

Your mother once stumbled into one of the most expensive makeup retail vendors in Manhattan. It must have been among the most well known in the world, I imagine, as women were forming a crowd wrapping around the block in long lines for free or highly discounted samples of their latest offerings. She entered a section where another potential customer was considering a skin product for her cheeks. Assuming your mother had the product on, she commented, “wow! your skin looks wonderful! How long have you been using this?” and couldn’t believe when she realized your mother wasn’t using makeup that day!

You already know I’m always proud of her, and won’t be surprised how the scene ended: she left the store and purchased nothing!

Women not only apply typical skin products to their faces, they apply far more: ever more intricate concoctions of shadows, balms, sticks, creams, liners, primers, glosses and more. One needs a textbook just to stay abreast of the terminology of phony facemaking. And women fall pray into believing in “natural” products and ingredients, as if such words even had valid definitions. Creams and pastes become layers of the skin, one designed and purchased to solve the problems created by the others!

Best to abandon them all at once.

 

 

 

Second, makeup wastes money and time. 

Women are at risk of grossly mismanaging their finances as opposed to males, as many spend significant portions of their income on such products. They may even pay premiums for feminine “versions” of items. For example, in my day, we have “male” razors and “female” razors. The latter are simply made of pink plastic instead of black and cost twice as much! Females may as well be indentured servants to the feminine products industry.

But time and mental energy are far more important than money. Women, in my day, desire to “get ahead” of men, earn more money than them, and succeed “equally”. But how can equality be possible, even ignoring menstruation below, when women devote a half hour of their conscious, early-morning rituals, to “making up” their faces and bodies to look good? Obviously, equality is not. Morning rituals are critical, and women are only hijacking their own lives and contentment when spending quality morning time on such trivial matters.

Learn from the mistakes of my generation, and avoid them in your own lives.

 

Third, makeup distorts your self-image. 

In short, women seek an image of themselves that “compares” to the professional models they see in the media, and continue seeking the impossible for two reasons. First, that version of themselves is only possible with great sums of money and time to prepare the look. Second, that version of themselves is only possible without the use of mirrors, because mirrors reverse the image itself. See the “mirrors” section for more.

 

A good diet, a little sunlight, fasting, sweating, and the natural look are far more powerful than makeup.

Diamonds are only valuable because they are rare! In today’s world, the natural “glow” of the honest female face is far more attractive than the photos in the media. A healthy face shines from a healthy woman inside, and that kind of beauty takes months and years of letting the body heal itself. But it is worth it, and others know it.

As a man in love with your mother, I will tell you the secret that whole industries do not want you to know: men want women, not dolls. Know how to use a few essentials of makeup if you desire, but do not become enslaved by an industry that neither cares for you or respects the beauty which is already within you.

 


 

Smell

If the strongest conscious connection to other humans is vision, the strongest subconscious connection is smell.

Indeed, being among the initial wave of Americans to begin supplementing with the nutrient /lithium, I noticed my sense of smell improve within a month. You won’t want to hear this, but I found myself even more attracted than ever to your mother’s natural smell. It was powerful, yet it’s sad that most humans do not know this about human sense of smell. But this, too, is the subject for another day.

Yet women destroy this connection to the physical world, too, with both skin-products discussed above and perfumes and other scents. Some males use these scents, too, meaning that two humans can now meet and be even more confused than ever before in what they want from each other, biologically.

Women who over-use external and other purchased scents may also distort their mind’s concept of “who” they really are, and walk around with an altered view of themselves.

Early links even show that more than other senses, smell is quantum in practice. This means that, while physical building-block like molecules are involved in receptors in the nose, the strange quantum world, too, is involved. To say that smell, in a sense, can travel fast is a ridiculous understatement. Quantum-paired communication can travel faster than light: fast indeed! It might be inaccurate to say that we can “smell” faster than light, because clearly there are physical molecules traveling through the air to “smell,” but it should highlight how important our sense of smell truly is. Smell also bypasses more “conscious” parts of the brain, going directly to the more ancient/core regions. Smells often make us have thoughts or reactions… before we consciously think about them! (Predestination if ever there was such an argument, but I digress.)

A healthy sense of smell — and personal scent — are important and underlooked factors in the world we are creating for you girls. Understand both your sense of smell and your own scent, and do not underestimate their power or change them without deep thought.

 


 

Menstrual Cycles

Each decade, more and more women simply choose to ignore their own menstrual cycles. The specific technology — pills, patches, an implanted device — doesn’t matter. What matters is the concept: they are ignoring their body’s own monthly cycles in order to “trick” it into believing it is unnecessary, for whatever reason, to ovulate*. The exact details may vary, but these methods simply “trick” the body. It should not surprise you that women are sometimes unstable and confused inside. This must not be interpreted as an insult, because the deepest parts of their being — their cells and their inner minds — are confused, shouting out, “There is no ovulation, no menstruation, no baby, no lactation, no menopause, and we are part of a young female body. What is happening?!”

Many women are simply experts at hiding how they feel, or they are disconnected from those feelings.

There is even early evidence that hormonal birth control methods change your preferences in mates! In the worst case situation, you might be attracted to a partner while living with modified hormones (and preferences). Then, when “deciding” to become more serious together, marry, or have children, you may base your decisions on a false attraction. Worse, you may find it is difficult to concieve, and notice the love fading away, all because of these biochemical and hormonal tricks. In the least disastrous case, you might simply be less satisfied with any partner chosen while using hormonal birth control.

Women use birth control for various reasons, usually to avoid pregnancy or to get ahead in their “careers,” whether financially or productively. The latter is a ridiculous notion, as hopefully is well known in your time. Actually, having children helps parents prioritize and become even more productive by ignoring the unimportant. But that is the subject for another day.

Now, you certainly don’t have to get pregnant a few short years after puberty. (I would not approve!) Indeed, there are many great reasons to wait well into your 20s or 30s, and you may even choose never to have children.

But this isn’t a reason to completely ignore your body’s cycles.

Instead, embrace them! We don’t — as I write this and you are still just little concepts in my heart — yet know about how fluctuating hormones each month change nutrition requirements, intellect and behavior, voice and charisma, and more. All we know is enough to say that we know nothing. I would imagine that each week a woman might want to shift her diet, activities, and goals slightly. Perhaps you might desire more “busy” social time (meetings, collaborative work, time with friends, etc.) closer to ovulation, and more intellectually “focused” but alone time (studying, reading, writing, creative work, watching movies, playing games and the like) closer to menstruation, and more menstruation.

As a man, I have no idea! But there are women who are understanding these concepts faster than the scientists, and I recommend you learn from them. Seek them out, join them, and help educate other women. Lead.

There are far better ways to avoid pregnancy than modifying your own hormones. Total abstinence. Partial abstinence (ask us). “Natural” cycle tracking. Condoms. And more. None is perfect, but all are preferable to the tricks involved in such hormonal changes.

Learn modern science, as it is useful. But know when to trust your instincts more than anything else. Do not be so quick to experiment with your own hormones without deep thought beforehand.

Tread carefully, and above all, know yourselves.

 


 

Use Technology, But…

Every section here involves some form of technology, but today, electronic technology pushes the very pace of our own development faster and faster. Understand the technologies of your day — you may even wish to become professional experts with some — but do not become enslaved by them.

Allow me to share that old story about your mother once again, this time in writing.

I met your mother when she quite young, with ten years between us. After some initial joking about our ages, we quickly became accustomed to the differences and similarities between us. One of those was maturity.

Within a few weeks of dating, I was making fun of her for using a five- or ten-year old “dumb” phone, far simpler and less capable than even the earliest of “smartphones” for our time. Many foreigners can’t afford the latest electronic technology marketed at rich Americans, Europeans, and Asians, but I still saw smartphones everywhere around us and knew that there were models well within financial reach of her family. She said she had owned such a smartphone, but only up until a few months ago. She wasn’t certain whether it was stolen in public transit or she lost it, but in any case, it was gone. She explained having switched from her old phone to this “new” and “better” device only a few short months before we met, and remembered being barraged by a constant stream-of-consciousness from the outside: notifications, messages, emails, thoughts… being plugged-in. No, she was glad she no longer had that phone. I will never forget what she said: “It felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.”

She felt “freeer” without this device.

She had learned a lesson in her early 20s that many American women do not learn until decades later, and I instantly saw a maturity in her youth. Modern technologies, like early knives and hammers, are powerful tools which can help us greatly enjoy our lives. But unlike our early tools, our modern ones can enslave us. Know yourselves to understand how to avoid this.

Use these tools to increase the rate at which you can learn, at which you can create, at which you can enjoy life, and at which you can help others. But take the time — the long march of the years and decades — to also learn how to walk in a forest alone, connected with the dirt and the trees and the wind. Take the time to learn to have a proper human conversation, without note taking or disagreement. Take the time to cultivate patience. Take the time to know yourselves.

Use technology, but do not let it enslave you.

Especially such an ancient technology as this: mirrors.

 


 

Mirrors

Early in our relationship when I began consciously using mirrors less, I noticed something odd from your mother: she complimented my looks more often and said my eye contact was even more powerful than before. This surprised me, since I hadn’t started doing anything new. I had simply started taking less time than I already did in the mornings and evenings with the mirror. However, over time I realized her improving perception of me was due to my reduced mirror usage.

I had changed my own self-perception without actually doing anything new.

Indeed, our ancestors would seldom have seen their own reflection, and only for a moment in a calm pool of water or a shiny piece of rock before the natural world pulled them away.

Allow me to philosophize for a brief moment: realize that the “reflection” you see in the mirror isn’t actually what you look like. It’s a 50-50 left/right flip. Most people will think this doesn’t make a big difference.

They are wrong.

Today, the obsession women have with mirrors is destroying them, moment by moment.

 

Let’s consider what we know today, in the early year I write this to you. Although there are many overlapping sections and functions, in general, the brain is divided into hemispheres, left and right. Each hemisphere controls the other side of the body. Thus, the right motor areas of the brain control, in general, muscles on the left side of the body. This is true for vision, as well, but since visual fields overlap, it is much more complicated. Suffice it to say that the left visual portions of the brain process the right visual field (vision seen on the body’s right side and through the right eye), and vice-versa, although it’s certainly more complicated than this in practice. What about when we consider what happens in the brain when we look at a face? (Also known as facial information processing.) It gets even more complicated, and is well beyond the scope of this letter to you.

But what happens when that natural face has been flipped left-to-right?

To the brain, that’s a completely different face. It’s difficult to see consciously, but subconsciously, it’s true. That is not your face.

Here’s my point: American women grow up from very young girls with an “image” of themselves in the mirror. They compare this image in the mirror to every model and star and actress they see in magazines and movies and photos in their lives, and that comparison is its own problem. But the situation is far worse: women don’t even know what they look like. The average woman might see a few pictures of herself in a week — or more if she’s younger — but spends far more time with mirrors. That’s my argument: not only is it dangerous to compare what you look like with supermodels and “fake” women, you’re not even comparing the face that’s actually yours. You’re comparing a false face.

The girl in the mirror isn’t who you are.

That’s not what you look like.

And women “project” that self-image of themselves when they’re talking to a friend, walking in the street, or smiling for a photograph. This false self-image from mirrors eventually becomes engrained in the woman’s subconscious, and she lives her whole life with a mis-representation of who she is. She doesn’t even know what she looks like. No wonder a girl says, “I don’t like what I look like in that photo.” Her mind is expecting the false-image she sees in the mirror everyday. When she sees the “real” image of herself in the photo, her mind is confused and she thinks she doesn’t look “as” good.

You will never be able to make the girl in the mirror look like the models on television!

Always remember: those models a) have professionals who do that for them, and b) those professionals use their actual face as the basis for where they “make up” the girl! You can never see that girl in the mirror: what you see is a lie! If, in your day, there are live video cameras embedded in large screens to help with female makeup preparation, those would be ideal. Of course, I would still recommend minimizing make-up, but at least you will have an accurate 2D image of how you look to others.

Know that you are beautiful. What you see in the mirror will never represent you, it is not even a whisper or a shadow: it is a left-right alteration, an imposter, a lie. The true you is beautiful, regardless of who you think you see in the mirror.

 


 

Conclusion

Ask advice from everyone and you will find it is easy to ignore the bad advice; but if you never ask for advice, you can never know what you don’t know. It pays greatly to learn everything that you can.

Know that you will grow up in a home where the ideas in this letter are common for us, but not for the outside world, and sometimes it may be hard to empathize with other girls.

Know that sometimes when people in the world treat you unfairly, they are simply jealous of your beauty. We men see women treated unfairly and harshly all the time, especially by other ladies! Know that each woman has her struggles and challenges, regardless of income or class or looks, the same as each man. Many people, when “mean,” are simply lashing out at others from their own pain inside.

Have compassion and patience for others, and most of all, for yourselves.

 


 

I have lived my whole life trying to communicate to women the thoughts in this letter, and I hope that in your day, it is irrelevant. I hope that it becomes well known, and that women understand the role that all these technologies can play in their lives, but that they may also avoid being slaves to them. I hope that with this letter, men might better express what we feel when we shout, for the fourth time on a date night, “You’re beautiful as you are! You don’t need makeup!”

I hope that this letter becomes a relic of the past: something for you to look on with curiosity and wonder at such a strange generation of unhealthy, disconnected humans.

I hope you grow into a world where all women lead, no matter their daily lives. I hope you see the world for both what it is and what it needs: a civilization of half-female leaders, where all of us realize how connected and necessary we are, and that together, we are stronger.

Most of all, I hope you understand that leadership begins within: you must first lead yourselves. In time, others will follow you.

All my love,

Dad

 

 





 

Notes:

  • *among other technical methods

[Edited 1 June 2017. Minor edits, such as the addition of the “makeup in manhattan” story, after partner helped me revise. Lesson learned to do that before posting the next long essay! She also noted that I didn’t even talk about implants, surgeries, or sexuality. Removed paragraph below:

The best I would suggest, if you feel you must have makeup, is to have a roommate or someone near you help. Ask for help! Teach the nearest friend or neighbor what to do, and ask them how you can help in return. Many males such as myself won’t initially care, but if you tell us honestly that you need our help and you teach us how to assess the work you’re doing, we will learn more quickly than you might think. Knowing what’s at stake for our world, most males will learn to help. Over the course of a few weeks of this, you’ll become an expert at reducing the make-up you do use, and applying your own make up without mirrors, and then you’ll quickly receive suggestions and make quick corrections based on the suggestions of your friends.]

Why Americans Will Start “Waking Up” as we start Driving Less

2,300 words
Read time @ 250 words/minute: 9 minutes

 

Table of Contents



Introduction

After getting my master’s degree, I left the country to travel a little of South America and develop my Spanish. For those eighteen months, I never drove a car. As you can imagine, I missed driving.

“I miss my caaaaaaaaar and can’t wait to drive it again!!” I often told my girlfriend in South America. I had to sit in the back or the passenger seat as these drivers accelerated, jerked, stopped, and “maneuvered” with inexperience, distraction, and at random: all tasks which we learn to navigate with grace as teenagers in the U.S! Perhaps I would have died if allowed to drive their streets (all traffic signals and signs are considered annoyances, rather than suggestions or enforceable laws), but goddammit, at least I would have died happy, while driving!

I missed driving. I missed my car.

That was true, and I hugged my car when we were first reunited again. I loved driving it.

I loved driving it for a few short hours, and liked driving it for a few short days. Then I remembered what I always knew but could never express:

I was dependent on my car, just like almost every American.

We are dependent on our cars. And as we start driving less, I believe we will start “waking up.”


Driving is like a second career.

This is an easy point to make: we are our own chauffeurs, and driving in America is an additional career.

But it’s worse: we are slaves here in America. We are slaves, chained to the dependency that our automobiles have become. We chauffeur ourselves to and from our jobs to buy our groceries, run our errands, visit our schools or even walk in a park. We chauffeur ourselves around without pay or thanks, and then arrive home nearly dead, with a visual cortex which has been overloaded with processing information at fast speeds, combined with a body that has hardly moved a muscle.

This is dangerous for us as individuals, and it is disastrous for us as a nation. It is so important that it goes far beyond the scope of this essay/post, and I believe this dependence has negatively affected nearly every aspect of American life for the past few generations.


We have lost the ability to converse and think

Some Americans only have the ability to have long conversations or truly contemplate their lives while driving.

I had a girlfriend who always wanted to have long, intricate conversations about complicated topics while in the car. I said I’d consider this on the interstate, since that was the “easy” driving, but I still hated it. I’d prefer to do it outside, whether while moving or while standing/sitting, but always outside. After probing for a while, it turns out that the only quality conversations she ever really had with her father were while on the road with him.

This, sadly, is very American. Many of us only know how to converse or truly think about our lives while managing a vehicle at high speeds on the open road. Unfortunately, when we need to change lanes or perform another simple task? That deep thinking “goes out the window” until we’re back to unconscious driving. We have become such experts at visually ignoring all this information on the road — the road signs, the fast lines moving — that we don’t realize that we’re thinking inside of a simulation for the mind.

——————————————————————

This is not true, of course, for certain groups of people:

  • “Elite” politicians, businessmen, and others. They often have bodyguards, security/service members, or chauffeurs who perform their transport by automobile. This further separates them into a self-engrossed “bubble” far away from the average American, who must drive to live.
  • New Yorkers. I love New Yorkers, but did you know there are now entire generations of families in NYC which have never truly been dependent on their vehicles? New Yorkers like to complain when there are subway problems and they must walk 30 minutes to their destination before, eventually, they return to their homes via that same subway which has now quickly been repaired/resolved. They forget, to their detriment, that many Americans have access to little, if anything, within 30 minutes walking distance. It is no wonder they can’t empathize with the rest of their country and have drifted into a political bubble.

Driving is a “simulation for the mind.”

The “visual cortex” is the portion of the brain that processes visual information. I may not have the evidence from neuroscience, but I’m going to argue this anyway: every single bit of light that enters your eyes is processed by the brain.

But we evolved to process lots of visual information while moving. The faster we’re moving, the faster the visual cortex must process information, to be sure. But the faster we’re moving, the faster our legs are pumping lymph and our hearts are pumping blood.

In a world of vehicles, planes, trains, bikes, and video games, this is a problem. Our visual cortexes are overstressed, both in the short-term and the long-term. Part of the brain “thinks” it’s moving at incredibly high speeds; the rest of the brain knows it’s sitting still. Our brains are confused, and we’re frustrated before we even know it.

When we start driving, it’s not just challenging, it’s damn stressful. Ever meet anyone who learned to drive as a teenager — who learned to drive manual(stick shift) from scratch? It’s far more stressful than learning to drive an automatic. Indeed, for many drivers, it’s downright terrifying. And that makes sense! The visual cortex must process massive amounts of information about other cars, street signs, signals, lines, people, trees, curbs, weather, and random events; all while the muscles of the feet and hands do relatively nothing to stimulate the necessary blood flow.

In a video game, the brain is far more engaged. The bigger the screen, the more serious the video game, and the more the visual cortex — and thus the rest of the brain — is engaged. More serious games are, in my opinion, more taxing for the visual cortex, but also more rewarding when you eventually “win.” This is because in many games you need to truly focus your mind for long periods of time: a few minutes here, twenty minutes there to get a mediocre “win”, and hours to truly develop your skills and feel satisfied within the game. Then, once satisfied, you move on to conquer even bigger challenges. This is the way “real life” is supposed to be for human beings, but driving robs us of that satisfaction. As teenagers, we may feel a successful “win” when we arrive to our destination the first few dozen times. But not after ten thousand repetitions.

Video games at least let you focus for long stretches of time. The visual cortext didn’t evolve to do that kind of work without adequate blood flow, but the brain did evolve to focus and imagine for long stretches of time. So video games beat driving for that reason. Angry birds, Plants vs. Zombies, or the latest smartphone downloads are too short-term to really grant us the benefits that Jane McGonigal describes in her TED talk [x]. Long-term, deeply engrossing games are best. One may argue they promote anti-social behavior (I do not), but at least the “simulation” is better for the mind than is driving.

——————————————————————

My first position in the Air Force was as an enlisted crew member aboard a large surveillance aircraft. The computer screens and displays were rather old technology, as would be expected. Thus, when people asked me what the “job” was like, I would say, “It’s like playing a really boring government video game.”

Driving is similar.

Driving, in a sense, is a video game. Except driving is incredibly dangerous, risky, boring, and unrewarding. At least with video games we’re not fooling ourselves.


I didn’t want to be a pilot, I wanted to stare out the window and daydream.

I finished my Bachelor’s while in the Air Force, making me eligible to apply to become an officer, and potentially even a pilot. It would be a good life, I thought: a healthy balance of structure and freedom, endless career possibilities, excellent pay and benefits, stability, adventure… everything anyone would want in a solid life and job.

I’d stared out the windows of our large aircraft over the skies of North America and the Middle East for countless hours before. Rivers. Oceans. Infinite colors of the sun’s bending rays skirting the horizon and striking the clouds. Moonlight. Lightning. Eternal stretches of nothing at all corners of the earth. Passion. Boredom. Friendship and fear at a range of altitudes. I had soared, to be sure. I had “tasted flight,” and my eyes have forever been “turned skywards,” as da Vinci said.

But I had never piloted. And so I had to address a question: would I actually enjoy being a pilot?

I had to know. During training for my second aviation position in the Air Force, I paid a little money for the first few hours of private pilot lessons. I studied the books, began the computerized lessons, went through the preflight checklists, and took to the skies.

And within about five hours of piloting, it hit me: I’m not passionate about piloting the damn aircraft, I’m only passionate about looking out the window and daydreaming!

Armed with this self-realization, I could resist the temptation for officer training school and, years later, apply for a master’s degree in biology.

——————————————————————

Piloting, too, is a “simulation for the mind” as I argue for driving.

But piloting is different from driving a vehicle in a hundred ways. Pilots take it seriously as a career. Pilots have countless safety regulations. They follow checklists. They regularly re-certify. Their employers ensure pilots are healthy. They almost always require co-pilots. Pilots are allowed long breaks while the autopilot/copilot maintains safe control. Pilots require hundreds of hours before mediocre positions and thousands of hours of experience before high-level positions, all of which must be logged.

I cannot call the act of driving a vehicle “piloting” not because it is not a serious act, and a job unto itself. I cannot call it piloting because it is an insult to those who pilot aircraft.

Be wary, America, of telling yourself you actually enjoy driving the vehicle.

Chances are you simply enjoy staring out the window, lost in thought.

——————————————————————

Want to daydream? Sitting with your eyes closed, especially with an eye mask, is far safer and more effective than driving.


By “waking up,” I mean: focusing on what’s important in our lives.

By “waking up,” I mean, simply: focusing on what’s important in your life. Food. Sex. Sleep. Time with loved ones. Physical and mental challenges, both set by oneself and by others’.

Human beings and our ancestors have been happy without cars for thousands of thousands of years before this invention. I envy the thrill of the race car driver or the power of the construction vehicle. But those are chosen professional careers behind a different wheel, whereas most Americans are simply working a second job.

Being dependent on an automobile to purchase groceries or visit a nearby park is not freedom. It is the very opposite of freedom; it is un-American.


What can I do?

Drive less.

“But I…”

No excuses. Drive less.

These changes will take several decades to really ripple throughout our society, and even longer to affect the rest of the world. For now, if we minimize our driving time and realize that driving makes us less happy, not more, we’re already on a road called improvement.

Here are some tips for who respond with the excuse “But I…”:

  • Perform all errands, for example, on the same day.
  • Eat after staying in the car for long periods of time, not before. Walk after eating.
  • Listen to music or podcasts or audiobooks, but know when you’re overloaded and it’s time to drive silently for a while.
  • Talk to yourself: rehearse meetings, conversations, or “what if I’d…” for past memories.
  • Imagine if there were a child in the car: how would you make the drive fun? Do that for yourself.
  • Stimulate blood flow while driving. Be creative.
  • Choose your own adventure!

Conclusion

It has not escaped my notice that the decline and eventual cessation of constitutional amendments correlates with the rise in prevalence of the American car. This, of course, is a topic for tomorrow.

Driving has stressed our lives and stressed our societies, and we will not emerge, as a nation, from this “intellectual depression,” until we rein in and reduce the amounts we drive — or let our machines drive for us.

I titled this essay/post/whatever “Why Americans will start “waking up” as they start driving less,” with the goal to convince you of that. Have I? If not, why? I’d love feedback. Does a section or the argument not make sense?

In any case, although I may need to strengthen the clarity of the explanations, the organization of the paragraphs, or make greater changes, I strongly believe we’ll all start “waking up” as a nation as we start driving less. Then, I hope, we can lead the rest of the world to do the same.