Algorithms for Living
by Melissa Price
Dictionary.com defines algorithm as, “A set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps.” (Such as the Disney Music Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, pictured below.)
The word algorithm rarely evokes warm and fuzzy feelings. “I love you algorithmically,” said NO ONE EVER. Algorithms conjure thoughts of computer science, math class (ugh), and geeks. Through a series of blogs, I am compelled to explore the human algorithm.
What exactly is a human algorithm?
While in an intense 13-week boot camp to learn web development, it occurred to me during my last test that the very foundation of code or script is analogous to our human experience. We all have a set of rules we live by and we run that script in a program called “Life.” And since no one gets out alive, I think it’s safe to assume that there are, indeed, a finite number of steps.
We all have a code, a script that we run, based on our finite experiences in life. Given that we are the masters of our individual codes, I wondered how our scripts become our scripts and what impact that has throughout a lifetime. Surely, in our first couple years in life, we are gathering data, organizing it in our baby brains, storing it in our long-term and short-term memories, and later integrating that data and its formulas into scripts for living.
Every new experience in life becomes data that we then plug into an enormous lifelong equation called our code. But what happens when, on any given day, our formula no longer works? We find ourselves scrambling to figure out what went wrong with the equation, to fix our scripts, to delete the erroneous information and make the script compatible once again.
Perhaps the glitch is due to a change in our parameters, our roles, or our goals. It may be due to the loss of family or friends (whether physically or emotionally,) a shift in our consciousness, or the seemingly random events of illness or life challenges.
Can we actually change our scripts? Why not?! We have all heard stories about people who have accomplished amazing things after having an intense revelation, or having what Oprah coined as an “Aha moment.” If I were to attempt to define the “Aha moment” in terms of code, I would say that it’s that instant when all of the data in our personal algorithm reaches a state of dynamic equilibrium – when the equation balances itself in an ever-changing environment called our lives.
When was your last Aha Moment? When was the last time you ran your script and tested it for “bugs”?
Ring in on the subject and let me know so that we can pursue this during my series on Algorithms for Living.
Following chiropractic school in Los Angeles, Melissa maintained a successful private practice while furthering her jazz guitar study and writing short stories and magazine articles. Her novels include Steel Eyes and The Right Closet. She also co-wrote the authorized biographical screenplay, Toma—The Man, The Mission, The Message. While her house is in Phoenix, Arizona, she lives between some unnamed exotic Caribbean island and Paris’s Left Bank. Learn more at Melissa’s website.