March began this year for me on the red eye back from San Francisco. Landing in the icy dawn at Logan seemed appropriate, matching my mood at the moment. The brisk air and the cutting late-winter angle of the sun combined to cast the morning like a post-psychedelic epilogue. An uncomfortable and stark reality. Only this was just natural and organic, as viewed by this observer, this time around the sun.
I think whenever there is a step-function disconnect in our
perception of what is true, it is healthy to see our system respond
accordingly. We put a great deal of stock in our ability to understand and
feel. So when our neural simulator comes up with one answer and reality is
another, we’ve got some reprogramming to do. A little adjustment is OK, but if
too much is disconnected at once, we cry, we feel sick, or even pass out. That
may not be the best evolutionary response. But perhaps it speaks to how closely
wired the anterior insular cortex, our empathy-enabling simulator, is wired
into the rest of our brains.
Like the tail of an exponential, it faded. The month has
mostly passed. The weather in New England staying unusually chilly, like the
morning that started this month. But the outlook is optimistic. We’ve got better
data. That sparse set of coefficients that we use for predicting the future has
a few more non-zero terms. And it’s almost April.