Working the Mine

Backstage instruction 1/2:

Hey chatGPT, I am going to write an essay, and I want you to help flesh out aspects of it. Here's the opening paragraph, then you're going to convert it to be a combination of Dinner with Andre and a the way an old-timey miner would communicate. Sound good?


I recently discovered that I use my computer as a security blanket, but in a different way than most. Sure, we all are addicted to social media. And yes, many of us spend the day looking at upsetting news. And the word "workaholic" has evolved from something you'd say about a distant 80s-era corporate lawyer to something that many people wear as a badge of honour. So on that level, we're all addicted to our tech, so of course my computer and phone is a security blanket. But I realised something different. I need my computer not for work, but for my mental health journey.


chatGPT, that's the first paragraph. I want the following paragraphs to to talk about how my extreme levels of productivity seem to be a side-effect of how seriously I take my mental health. I set up schedules for myself, I set up software and tools to help me with incentives, I track my physical and mental health with Apple's health products. And when I don't have those things, I don't just struggle feeling aimless at work. I feel my mental health slip, which isn't a great sign.

Write me three paragraphs in the way I described.

Miner Talk, paragraphs 1-3:

Now, don't get me wrong, young 'un. We've all got this here fever, a certain kind of gold rush, ain't no actual nuggets involved though. It's a thirst for that there online world, a hankerin' for likes, shares and what not. Sure as a rattlesnake on a summer's day, we're all hoarding our moments, peering at sorrowful headlines, sifting through the tailings of our days with eyes glued to screens. Afore time, a "workaholic" were a feller in a fancy suit, a stranger in some big city law firm. These days, 'tis a badge folk wear with odd pride. So yeah, we're all somewhat beholden to our gadgets, that's certain as sunrise. But, like stumbling on a rich vein in the rock, I realized I ain't just using this newfangled tech for the typical toil and sweat. Nay, it's a linchpin in my journey down the mineshaft of my own mind, digging for a better understanding of my own self.

Well, diggin' for gold ain't easy, and neither is maintainin' the tunnels of one's mind. I reckon my prodigious work ain't just about striking it rich, it's the ripples of me tryin' to keep my mental caverns from caving in. I'm a claim-jumper of my own schedule, settin' up my day as meticulously as a miner lays his dynamite. I got tools, not the sort for rock and dirt, but software and whatnot, helpin' me navigate, laying out a map with rewards to spur me on, just as a glint of gold might encourage a weary prospector.

No Apple ever fell into a miner's hand, 'cept maybe during a lunch break. But in this strange world we live in, "Apple" ain't just something to nibble on anymore. It's become a tool for keeping track of the physical and mental workings of a body, like a canary in the coal mine. When I ain't got these modern wonders at hand, it ain't just aimlessness that grips me. I feel like a miner who's lost his pickaxe, can't keep the mine shaft stable, and it ain't just the walls of my work day that start to crumble. My mental health begins to waver, teetering like a poorly propped shaft, and that ain't no good sign for any miner worth his salt.

Backstage instruction 2/2:

Well done! I like that a lot. So we've got a pretty good premise, but now we need to find a conclusion. Here's how the conclusion looks, in my mind.

  • Next we need to mention why I have discovered this about myself. So that's how paragraph four should start. I am on holiday with my family, but I was intending on working through it to save my days off. But -- fuck -- I left my laptop at home. This meant all my vacation days went poof, and it meant I didn't have access to the tools I use for my mental health. I don't write a lot because it's a challenge. I write a lot because not writing a lot is a challenge. So this holiday has been nice, but has put me off-kilter because I don't have my tools handy. I am a better parent and person when I can work on my brain at points during the day. I write to process things. So make that paragraph 4, to set things up.
  • Next I want to refer to this old-timey miner way of speaking, to explain that sometimes it can help to shake up your thinking by putting it through a different filter. I got a lot of benefit from seeing my words translated into another voice. It's whimsical and silly, but it also triggers a bit of a novelty effect in my mind where the same information feels different when delivered differently.
  • Next, I want to point out that discovering the problem and naming it is a big part of the battle. If your car tire is flat, that's bad. But at least it helps you to understand what to do, then you fix the tire. (We should make that metaphor a mining metaphor, not a car metaphor) In my case, understanding what I'm missing helps me to fix it.
  • Then end with a happy conclusion. Because just writing this out has made me feel better (how meta!) so it's like I both fixed the tire and also write a manual for fixing tires.

Ok! Go for it! Land this essay!

Miner Talk, paragraphs 4-7:

The reason I've been pondering on all this weren't born in a gold mine or a highfalutin' office, but during a family holiday. The plan was to keep my nose to the grindstone, to save those precious vacation days. But, in a twist that'd make any seasoned prospector holler, I left my blasted computer back at the homestead. My vacation days went up in smoke faster than a stick of dynamite, and it left me without my usual arsenal of mental pickaxes and shovels. Now, I'm not one to pen words because it's as tough as splitting rocks, but because not doing so is like trying to mine without a pick. This holiday, as soothing as a spring in the desert, has left me feeling as unsteady as a miner in a cave-in, without my tools to prop me up. I'm a steadier hand at parenting, a better person, when I can tend to the veins of my mind throughout the day. I write not just to strike it rich, but to pan through the silt of my thoughts.

Now, reckonin' about my circumstances through the spectacles of a seasoned gold miner ain't as far-fetched as it sounds. It's a way of turning the pan, letting the water sluice through and reveal the nuggets that were hidden. Might be a tad whimsical, sure, but when you're knee-deep in the stream, sometimes changing the angle of your pan can make all the difference. That's how we spot those shiny bits of understanding, isn't it?

Seeing a problem, like spotting a weak beam in your mine, is quite the challenge. But, once spotted, it gives you something to hammer at. If your tunnel's unstable, knowing where to place the next beam is half the battle. And writing this out, well, it's been like setting that beam in place. The tunnel of my mind feels a mite more secure, and I reckon I've done more than just patch a problem, I've drawn myself a map for future digs.

And so, it seems the miner in me found a nugget of wisdom in the most unlikely of places. Stranded without my usual tools, I discovered that life, much like mining, ain't always about the gold rush. It's about understanding the lay of our own claims and making do with the tools at hand - or, sometimes, making do without them. And while this holiday may have shaken my stability, it's also given me a blueprint for tackling such obstacles head on. It's like the old saying goes: the mine may be deep and dark, but there's always a way to find some gold.