0209 – repeatedly revisit what you know

Yesterday, I took a post-nap lunch at about 1pm, and I woke up at 4pm. Earlier today, I took a nap at around 145pm, and I woke up at around 445pm. These are only two data points, but it seems like the 3-hour mid-afternoon nap is a robust system. I’m curious to see what happens if I sleep earlier or later. I should test it.

There are few things here that I’d like to meditate on. One is that I clearly need more sleep than I’ve been getting these past few weeks. I feel more alert for sure. Another is that I’m more sold on the idea– I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before in the past– yup, I have.

But somehow I’ve never fully gotten around to internalizing that wisdom. The idea makes sense to me, and it doesn’t blow my mind the way it first did when I first thought about it, but I think I’ve begun to develop a more practical appreciation for it now. Which is my long-winded way of saying I think I’ve gotten better at paying attention to my natural rhythms and cadences.

The first time I had a session in a sensory deprivation tank (at palm ave float club, I highly recommend it. Tell them Visa sent you), I remember becoming very aware of my breathing. I realized that I take such shallow breaths most of the time. I tend to be naturally hunched and cramped up rather than open and ‘full’- I don’t want to get all touchy-feely here- it’s mainly a body language thing, and it feels like I’ve conditioned myself over the years to make myself smaller, maybe so I fit in better. Maybe.

And the shallow breaths thing- why? Well, why do people normally take shallow breaths? Apparently it’s correlated with stress, anxiety, nervousness. And it feels like those things have been constants in my life for a very, very long time– since I was a kid, maybe.

Again, I don’t know, and again, it feels like it’s not so important to know– it’s more important that I know how to respond, how to react. That’s where meditation comes in. That’s where exercise comes in. And even things like body language and self-talk, and how I think about stress. I’m going to run right after I finish this vomit.

Aside– Am I stuck right now? While I’ve been sleeping more, my mind isn’t necessarily clearer. But I think that’s normal, I think this is sort of a transitional stage. I need to eat better, too. I haven’t been eating. There isn’t enough sugar in my bloodstream or something. So I went to get some glucose.

It’s funny. I’ve had all these really big dreams and ideas and ruminations over the past decade, but I think the most important thing for me to do in my life right now is actually to fix the most boring, mundane things.

I keep feeling like I need to have something important or profound to say, and I know that I have some useful things inside of me, but I can’t access them because my most basic, fundamental needs aren’t quite met properly.

I know for a fact for example– I was telling my wife this in conversation yesterday- that if I just keep to a writing schedule and publish a word vomit every single day (this is my second day writing two, but this is a weekend so I don’t know, and I don’t want to make unhealthy projections that I can’t keep up with), then sooner or later I’ll unearth interesting things that are useful to people. I just know it. Because I get to witness my thoughts and I know that most of them are boring but some of them are interesting, and the few times I’ve managed to get everything aligned right- the right mood, the right words, the right tempo- it DOES go on to be useful to people, and people share it. And that stuff came through me.

I wanted to say “came out of me”, and I wonder when I lost that idea of being a conduit- that things come through you, not from you, and that ideas don’t quite belong to you- they may be manifest in your mind, in the atoms that make up the person you call you, but really they came from somewhere before you, beyond you, outside of you, and they just happen to be in the vessel of you for a little while- for the briefest of moments.

So why do I have all this performance anxiety, this constant need and urge to get everything right? It wouldn’t be such a big deal if the anxiety actually meant that I actually DID get things right, but more often than not I just cramp up and screw up and feel really bad- and that’s not very helpful at all. What I actually need to do is chill out, relax, breathe deeply and know that it’s okay for me to miss out on all the things that are out of reach. Because I have me, and that’s actually quite interesting (for myself). I have a body and a mind and there’s a wealth of insight and experience and beauty for me to enjoy, and I can do that.

I know, kinda fluffy. But it’s the sentiment that matters rather than the specific words.

I was thinking the other day that I had forgotten what I was curious about. Insights are rarely altogether new, they tend to be new configurations of old, revisited insights that had somehow gone dark, gotten dusty and lost their lustre. I’m not really sure if there’s anything I’m going to discover in the world that I don’t already know, and that might be a good thing. [1]

But I’m talking about basic daily wisdom, about motivation, about going to bed with a smile every night, feeling like the day was well spent. I think that sort of wisdom has been established for thousands of years, and the only thing that needs to happen is for it to be practiced.

What’s stopped me from practicing the wisdom I know I ought to be practicing? At some point it seemed a little dry and boring and lame, and all of those things remained relatively true until I was put in circumstances where I couldn’t do what I wanted without getting those things done first. What else? I’m reminded of the motivational talk Al Pacino’s character gave the football players- you don’t know until you start losing stuff. Living is about clawing for the 6 inches in front of your face. And maybe I was really just too privileged, too lucky, too comfortable, too happy. Who knows. I doubt I can reduce all of it into a couple of lines, and again, I’m not so sure if it really matters.

What matters is that I know now that daily practice is the only thing that has a decent shot at getting me away from the person I no longer want to be, towards the person that I want to become. I may have said this before, which is good- because repetition is necessary for learning. I will repeat it a thousand times if it’s necessary. My brain’s a little odd that way. I may have to learn other things along the way- so be it, I’ll figure out those things as I go.

It’s time to run now.

[1] Though I wouldn’t be so quick to write the world off like that! The world is going to blow everybody’s minds, now more than ever, what with cryptocurrencies and 3D printing and brain-controlled artificial limbs and whatnot.

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