Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Every day we are bombarded with information. We see more, hear more, read more and have access to more data than anyone at any time in history. Throughout my day I am constantly bombarded. And I like it that way, I've grown up that way. I function better that way.

When I need to study, read and focus I go to a noisy coffee shop. The constant chatter and change allows me to get lost in what I'm doing without feeling lost and disconnected. My study of scripture happens best and (therefore) most often in this situation.

When I'm alone in a quiet room, my mind tends to wander (and wonder) about what else is going on. I have trouble maintaining focus and find myself looking... for something else, for what I'm missing, for what I haven't seen yet, for what everyone else knows except for me. It is most often in these times when my thoughts go in directions I'd rather they not go. When I struggle with my thoughts, it is usually because my brain isn't active in some other way.

I realized recently that I've developed a complex series of filters to deal with the world around me. There is a great deal of information that I'm presented with that never gets processed. It just gets filtered out.

Here's where my engineering background takes over. A filter is designed to let certain things pass through while stopping others. I've designed a bunch of them. I've built a few. Low-Pass filters cut off anything that contains signals over a certain frequency. High-Pass filters do the opposite. Band-Pass filters only allow a select set of frequencies to pass through. A diode in an electric circuit can act like a high-pass voltage filter. In your car, filters hold back oversized particles in gasoline, oil and air so that only the real stuff passes through your engine.

Right now I'm filtering out whatever is going on outside my office window, cars and people and sunshine to focus on writing. I'm also filtering out Weezer playing in the background.

This happens all day, every day. My mind decides what is most important at the time and focuses on that. (From an instantaneous perspective, you can't multitask. You simply switch back and forth between tasks very quickly.)

There are some filters that I've worked very hard to implement. They keep out stuff that I don't want to infiltrate my mind. Others are still in process. Others I'm trying desperately to fine-tune or eliminate altogether.

Sometimes my mind chooses the wrong filter and I miss entire sentences my wife says to me. I've got to work on that.

Sometimes my mind choose the right filter, and ignores information... but I forget the inherent value of the source. (People who say stupid stuff aren't stupid, and they still deserve love.)

Sometimes my filters fail me and I find myself drowning in stuff I want no part of.

Sometimes they work perfectly and let through valuable insights that help me through my day:
Like this or this.

Most definitely... when LeBron James is single-handedly destroying a playoff opponent, nothing else is getting through any of those filters.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that we all have filters and they make it possible to function on a daily basis. You know when your filter out your wife, I'm sure she tells you (I know my husband tells me when I filter him out), what I worry about are all the things God's doing around me that I filter out without ever being aware that I'm filtering. Someone, I believe it was Robert Pirsig, said that we only see what we're looking for. Are we looking for God to show up in our lives?