The Internet is a beautiful thing and I am incredibly thankful for it. Really, it’s a goddamn miracle that it exists, that we can share our minds with billions of people. That we’ve figured out a way to connect all the humans on this planet– we’re not there yet but we will get there. I don’t suppose we will see world peace in my lifetime, but it’s worth a shot. We’re not going to get there if we don’t try. What is my valid contribution, apart from broad, vague statements about broad, vague things?
I suppose we should save each other as much time as we possibly can, because time is incredibly precious. We have a very limited amount of it and we shouldn’t waste it doing things that our weird, imperfect machinery compels us to do. We may never complete whatever it is that we’re collectively building, but the joy is in the attempt and the pursuit. There will be wings, said Da Vinci– if not for me then for some other. We plant trees so that others may live in the shade.
I wonder what compells me to write in such big broad strokes right now, when at the same time I know that I have much more mundane concerns like bills to pay, job tasks to do and so on. I suppose it’s a form of escapism. And at the same time, is it really escapism if it’s embraced and accepted as part of the present moment? There’s something about fractals and time and scales of influence and concern. We should leave each day as it comes, and yet we shouldn’t live each day as if we’ll never have another. If we’ll never have another moment but this one, it does seem quite rational to take some very damaging but rewarding drugs, like say Heroin. But then you’ll wake up tomorrow with a damaged body that struggles to function.
So we have to live each day as it comes, and yet place it within the context of a week, and place those weeks in the context of months and years, and place those years in the context of a lifetime. We do not know how long we will live, so the longer the projection gets, the fuzzier it gets too. We have to be okay with dying tonight– going to sleep and not waking up tomorrow– and knowing that we did what we could with that day. And the same should apply to each week, month, year. Even Da Vinci I believe said that he wasted his hours. It’s interesting that he said hours and not days or weeks or months or years– am I reading too deeply into it? A year is not a year, said Venkat. You gotta prepare for longer and larger time scales if you want to avoid falling into the trap of premature optimization.
Writing is pleasurable even in the present moment, so it makes sense for me to write until I am tired, until I am weary, and then move on to other rewards. I find myself thinking of two things now– one about that young mathematician who was a procrastinator until he was challenged to a duel, following which he spent an agonizing night finishing his life’s work– before he died in a duel. What if he had won, or if the duel had been called off? What would he have been able to do with the remainder of his life, this new gift that he had now been granted? Rebirth! Everybody dreams of such chances. And yet we are reborn every minute, every day, we just need to be the ones ourselves, and not hideous circumstances, who awaken to the present and inhabit it fully.
The other thing that comes to my mind is I think Stephen Pressfield’s War Of Art. He talks about how he has a ritual for his craft, how he wakes up and goes to the room where he works, and he has lucky charms and all sorts of little things that remind him of what he’s doing and why he’s doing what he’s doing, and he works himself dry– and when he’s done he knows that he has earned his keep, he has earned his right to persist. And whatever pleasures he pursues for the rest of the day, he does it with the full-bodied knowledge that he had earned it. He’s not cheating himself or anybody else, he’s not a fraud. He’s doing what is right.
That now reminds me of a guy on Hacker News who described himself as ambitious, yet admitted that he spent his time vegetating in front of the television, or wasting time on Hacker News itself, or doing other frivolous things. Now it’s okay to do frivolous things if you want to do frivolous things, but it’s a very strange, painful thing to tell yourself and other people that you’re ambitious, and then live your life in a way that your actions aren’t in accordance with your words. That gnawing pain is something of The Resistance that Pressfield describes. It’s the realization that you want to be doing something but you’re overwhelmed, you’re afraid. Perhaps you lack the necessary machinery and processes to do something about it.
Or perhaps… I don’t know, but it’s not good. That’s not how life should be lived. I was a little harsh on him, because he reminded me of myself and I imagine I would’ve liked someone to be harsh with me– but now that I think about it that’s probably untrue. I should’ve asked more questions instead. I suppose that is the problem of public forums– everything becomes a performance. What I should’ve done is written about it as a vomit, and maybe direct the vomit at him. Who knows. All of that is things that are happening outside of me, and I should commit to a certain self-focus so that I can improve my own life, and my own relationship with myself, so that I can create things that allow me to help and aid others more fully (as opposed to paying lip-service). But again, I don’t really know where I’m going with that. All I know is that I want to keep writing so I can experience a rich fulfillment tonight. It’s completely arbitrary, but so is the rest of life, and I’m making my peace with that for today. Tomorrow might be different.