Towards a Theory of Individual Inertia

I took the vast majority of 2014 off from climbing. I’ve been putting in hours on plastic this winter in hopes of an aggressive season out here in Seattle. I put feelers out all winter, trying to find climbing partners. My selling point was something akin to “I will go out whenever. I just want to be outside.”

On Thursday the universe called me out on my bullshit.

I met a new climbing partner on Wednesday, we made vague plans to go out on a beautiful weekend. On Thursday I got a text at lunch.

“Turns out I’m off Friday”.

I was not; I’d have to call off at the last minute. It was cold. It was wet and had been wet for days. Rapping on wet ropes can be perilous! I agonized over the decision for hours.

We shared Exit 38 with precisely one trail runner and precisely one cyclist. The only walls not dripping with early morning runoff were easy slabs with clean topouts. It was a great introduction to Seattle-area climbing, a perfect start to a season, and a great way to reboot my own climbing career.

All this thanks to an accidental glance and an old sticker. It was given to me years ago by the mysterious but friendly Lee of FILGO. This beautiful outcome from a severely delayed causal relationship piqued my interest. After a tortuous morning of self reflection and writing, I came to a model of human behavior. Or, perhaps more accurately, a proposal for how to live well (and a first attempt to rationalize the spirit of what I want this blog to be!) . The main thrust is a

Proposition: Actions should be taken to maximize the set of possibilities

Here is a loose attempt to model this with logic. Let’s build said model with axioms (A).

A1: Actions beget possibilities

A2: Possibilities can be known or unknown

A3: Unknown possibilities emerge from Actions taken with incomplete information

A4: Risk involves known possibilities

A5: Planning and setting goals are used to assess the actions/known possibility relationship

A6: Actions can be intentional or not

We can then study this model with propositions (P):

P1: Actions should be taken to maximize the set of possibilities

P2: Habitual action always yields unknown possibilities unless it is rationally trained

P3: Rational action is better suited to maximize the set of possibilities

P4: Style is composed of actions taken, and can be observed in choices exposed to risk and incomplete information as well as planning.

I’ll spare you the analysis of these propositions for now. Like me — and hopefully you — It’s a work in progress.


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