You may remember that about a month ago, I bought a unicycle. Since then, I’ve been practicing
every day most days, and I’ve gotten a lot noticeably better. I can now get on the damn thing easily, go forward a few feet pretty consistently, and not die when I lose my balance. Trust me, for a guy like myself, these are major achievements.
Most of all, I’m starting to build some confidence. The unicycle has become less a bizarre psychological torture device, and more a thing I might legitimately ride if I could just lean forward a bit farther at the right time.
Armed with that newfound confidence, I began practicing yesterday afternoon. As soon as I got on, I shit you not, this is what my brain did:
Hey, you’re on a unicycle! You got this! You have skills now, and you’re not even worried about falling. Which is kind of weird considering that you only have one wheel, so if you lean in any direction, you’re going to fall. I mean, how do you not lean? Is that even possible? Like, what the hell are you doing right now? Oh crap we’re overthinking this just go just go just go ZOMG DISASTER
That all flashed through my brain in about eight-tenths of a second.
Instincts work fine until you think about them. This phenomenon has a name: the centipede’s dilemma, so called for the creature who could no longer walk after someone asked him how he did it.
“Centipede’s dilemma” is a funny name for this, because real centipedes are (presumably) immune. This would seem to be a uniquely human problem. Only we are so good at thinking that we’ve figured out a way to muck up the things we’ve already learned.
Have you run into the centipede’s dilemma, or “the CD,” as psychologists (probably don’t) call it?