0211 – reflecting on why

Feels like I’m going over old ground a lot. Let’s go somewhere new. Let’s just ask questions and answer them.

Why word vomits? Why am I doing word vomits? I’m 21% done, and I have 79% to go. Seems like a good time to revisit fundamentals and remind myself why I’m doing this.

I’m doing this because I know for a fact that I will be a different person at the end of it. I know that anybody who gets good at anything has to do a lot of it- the masters have failed more times than the beginners have ever tried. I want to really dance in the halls of the greats and the champions, and to get there I have to practice more than everyday people think is normal or reasonable.

I’m also doing this because I want to prove to myself that I can set myself a challenge and accomplish it. A lot of my life was spent with me flitting from project to project, with nothing every getting completed. I’d just get distracted and excited by the new most exciting thing, and drop the last thing halfway.[1]  I was watching a video about Benjamin Franklin and it talked about how his life was initially a lot of randomness and fragments, and he subsequently decided to discipline and focus himself- I think after he got back from London, while he was sailing back across the Atlantic. And I relate to that, I feel like I’ve tried to do too many things and I ought to focus on maybe 2-3 things at most, at any given time. (Focusing on one thing alone has often proven to be unhelpful- I need to focus on work at work, but when I’m done with work I need to focus on at least one other thing. I’ve tried the 100% work focus thing, and it doesn’t really work for me. Maybe I’ll give it another shot at some time.)

What’s my deeper why? Why do I care? Why do I do anything? 

I have retold my own story to myself and others so many times that I’m no longer clear about what the most accurate origin story is- if there’s one at all. I’d just switch to whichever is most convenient, I’m sure? I used to read a lot because it was interesting to explore all these worlds and perspectives and ideas. It was thrilling, moving. And then I transitioned from being interested into other worlds to being interested in my own, the immediate things around me… gah. Boring. Where can we go that’s new?

I think I’m fundamentally lonely. I think that’s an embarrassing thing to say because it sounds selfish, self-obsessed, egoistic, so on and so forth. And I definitely don’t want to be any of those things. But I do get bored of regular folks. I’m not sure why. I wish this wasn’t the case. But I find myself craving for the company of people who are more inspiring, more interesting, more compelling. People who are doing interesting things at a planetary, species-level. I’d like to work towards being that sort of relevant. Why? I just…

I guess I’ve never really felt like I fit in. I’ve never really felt like I had a group of friends I could well and truly call my own. I’ve never really belonged. I’ve always been a semi-outcast- sociable enough to get along (at least in my later years- really, I don’t know any more). I had peer groups here and there, and people I hung out with, and some of them I shared interests with. I had my musician friends, I had people I’d chat about video games with. I’d have people who I’d smoke and drink with and talk about life and our plans for the future and world domination and all of those things. But I don’t know, man. I don’t feel like any of that really fulfills me anymore.

What would really fulfill me? I think I’d like to be really, deeply useful to a lot of people. I have this odd obsession with scale that I think not many other people have. I find the idea of being a good husband and father and friend, a valuable member of a small community to be somehow limiting, to be playing it too small. And I understand that those basics might have to be met before you can become something greater. (Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll see.) But I want to quickly be useful to the most important people in the world who are doing the most interesting, challenging things. I know that ultimately I’m just a bundle of atoms that’s aware of itself, and aware of other bundles. I’d like to have been useful to as many other bundles of atoms as possible.

Again, dude, why? Why bother?

Here’s what I know- being small is boring. Very painfully boring. Sitting on reddit is boring. Drinking and smoking and playing video games is boring. Creating video games, now that might be more interesting. Helping people think better, more clearly, expand their minds, that might be more interesting. I need to be a creator because consumption alone is passive and unfulfilling.

What do you mean by fulfilling or unfufilling?

Well- I guess I feel anxious and worried all the time, for most of my life, and I know that life shouldn’t be spent that way. Life should be spent smiling and laughing deep belly laughs, and learning and growing. And for some time I felt like I haven’t been laughing, haven’t been learning, haven’t been growing. And the main reason for this is that I get swept up in all sorts of currents.

What currents? Why?

Well- I think at some point I lost faith in my own ability to make decisions for myself. (Is this really true?) This is the narrative I have right now, it’s worth examining and stress-testing. At some point I just kept screwing up and failing at school, and I felt like… I felt like it must have been because there was something deeply wrong with school itself, which must’ve been why I was so terrible at following rules and instructions. I wasn’t rebelling because I didn’t like my teachers or anything like that. I liked a lot of people. I was friendly, bright, alert, helpful. I just hated the institution itself. Is this true? I think so, but I’ll need to verify that…

Anyway so I built up a lot of experience failing and screwing up at being accountable, being responsible. So there’s this dark, dingy, disgusting room in my brain there- it’s like a rotting pile of filth, and I just try to ignore it and function despite it. It’s the elephant in the room- the fact that I fail at this most fundamental sort of human functioning. How to get things done. How to keep to a schedule. How to make plans. I can’t do any of that. And it causes me a lot of anxiety and I’d like to be rid of that.

Ultimately- I feel like I can be useful. I feel like I have skills and perspectives that others don’t, and I ought to apply them in service to the world. But even before that- I’d like to live life without painful guilt and anxiety. I quit smoking. I quit social media. And I’m going to quit this ridiculous guilt and anxiety nonsense. It’s just a matter of time and effort, and I will figure this shit out. It’s literally the single most important thing I can do to improve my own quality of life.

[1] I once read someone else describe productivity as driving from one destination to another. You start on the small roads, with all the traffic lights- it takes a lot of time, and then you get to the highway, which is thrilling and fast. But then to get to the destination you have to go off the highway and onto all the small roads again. The small roads take up 20% of the distance travelled but 80% of the travel time. So even when you’ve covered 80% of the distance, you still have 80% of the journey left. It’s very counter-intuitive for me, and I’ve never properly internalized this.

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