2. ACTION COMPONENTS
At every point in every activity, we have only two options: repeating or varying. Repeating means doing something we have done before. Varying means changing actions and doing something different.
This either/or choice of repeating or varying is not as limiting as you might initially think. Such choices form the core of most decisions--from the unfolding of DNA to the binary code at the base of our computer era. The pattern that unfolds as each decision point is reached (and, as each decision is made as to what constitutes a decision point) creates the apparently infinite variety of things and ideas around us.
(*Note: It is important to realize here that we are talking about thinking in the sense of a conscious self-directed activity, not as an unconscious, amorphous one. There seem to be very different rules for the unconscious realm.)
There are many kinds and degrees of repetition. For example, you can repeat a task which you did before, with a view toward getting the same results, or you may repeat only the method which you used and apply that method to a new situation. You can repeat what you have seen or heard by copying or modeling the outcomes or activities of others. You may repeat processes which others have developed such as directions, patterns or recipes; or you may first adapt these and then follow (or repeat) the sequence as you have laid it out.
Variation refers to differences between one thing and another. These differences can be slight and subtle--say a color just slightly darker than another, or changing a word to a synonym, which gives a slightly different meaning. The difference can range all the way from subtlety to bold contrast so that the thing selected is opposite, or nearly opposite, from another. For example, in music you often hear contrasts as the sound changes in opposite patterns: high/low; loud/soft; slow/fast.
The act of varying is either random or it is deliberate. Random variation is 'change for the sake of change', without clear purpose. Random variation 'occurs' it is not 'created'. There is no deliberate subtlety in this type of variation; nor is any contrast that might occur deliberate. Thus a person who consistently 'varies randomly' might indeed cause changes which someone else evaluates as subtle or contrasting, but such meaning is only in the eyes of the beholder.
Deliberate varying occurs in one of two ways: copying and variegating.
Copying means either shifting to a different activity that is familiar (thus copying past experience) or copying something that is new to the individual. A person who 'varies' by copying is actually engaging in repetition. It is only included here as a form of