Right, so hot on the heels of the last post, the question to be answered is– what does it mean to achieve a happy medium? What is the middle way, what does the middle way look like? Have I done it before in any sphere? I know for a fact that I’ve never really managed to sustain it for a decent period of time with regards to “my life”, because “my life” is a large, multi-faceted thing and I’m bad at prioritization and time management so I typically tend to overwork myself at the last minute, and then overindulge in nonsense to put myself into last-minute panic again. That’s a shining example of how things shouldn’t be.
The middle way, ideally, is when I sleep well, wake up early, exercise, have a hearty breakfast, do some light reading and some writing (maybe 1 vomit), head to work, figure out 3 things that ought to be done that day, do them without much distraction (maybe 20-30 mins of distraction tops), and then finish my work. Then I go home and spend some quality time with the wife, and maybe watch a movie or do more reading, do a little bit more writing, and then go to bed feeling well rested. Lots of stuff got done. I managed to work, love and play, all at once. If I repeat this indefinitely I should have it add up to a nice life.
So what’s stopping me from living this life? How should I tackle this problem? How do I break it down into a smaller problem that I can solve first, before expanding it into a multiple-parts problem that solves multiple little problems as part of a bigger problem? Do I have any precedent for that? In video games? In writing? Something?
My mind tells me “No, not really.” I’ve typically done all my hard things by cramming at the last minute without much preparation, and it’s usually by luck that I survive. I do better at some things like giving impromptu talks because I happen to have covered a lot of the subject matter in my daily line of work and procrastination. But for me to put together and continually act upon a system in a systematic way that achieves more than I could with “raw willpower” (which I don’t have a lot of – that muscle isn’t very well trained), that is something that has still eluded me. And that’s the single best thing I can work on to improve my quality of life, I’m sure I’ve written about this almost a hundred times now. Which is fine, repetition seems to be a necessary component in learning and getting better. If I need to repeat things more times than most people do– whether for the time being because my method is messy and I don’t have the background/experience, or whether it’s simply the way it’s going to be that way for me always– so be it! Repetition it shall be. Then the goal shall be to be to repeat myself as much as is necessary for it to set in.
I’ve kept some journals for some periods of time. I’ve exercised for some periods of time. I went completely cold turkey off cigarettes for a pretty good chunk of time. All of those things have fallen apart at some point or another, and while it does feel like the overall ground is something that I’m winning over time, it also feels like I’m depending on a lot of accidents and difficult circumstances, rather than making good calls and making good advances. It’s an excruciating way of doing things– I’m literally doing the right thing only after exhausting all the other alternatives, and even then once in a while.
That’s okay. That’s progress. My goal now is to just do that again in a slightly better way. That’s part of why I’m doing these vomits. I feel like if I commit to finishing them, it’ll be like finishing a marathon of sorts– and then the challenge is to keep writing day after day, even if I feel like I don’t really have anything in particular to say. I have got to stop censoring myself and to be willing to publish even gibberish if necessary. I feel like I have been slower with this project than I would’ve liked because I still have all these expectations that these vomits have to somehow be meaningful and important in some way, that they shouldn’t embarrass me when I look back on them at the end of it.
But the thing is… the embarrassment is actually a non-issue if I never get to the end. I’d much rather be embarrassed at the low quality of work than be frustrated by the fact that the work never shipped at all. This is something that I’m still trying to retrain myself about. I was reading something from the Self-Help Psychology manual and it talked about the crap-gap, and how procrastinators are sometimes motivated to fail, because failure means not having any new responsibilities to worry about. And man, adulthood and growth is all about taking on more responsibilities. And I guess the reason that scares me is because I have no – or not much– precedent for that. The idea of being more responsible for more things simply sounds like more opportunities to fail. And in pursuing that thought, one of my strongest limiting beliefs reveals itself– this fundamental belief that I’m a sort of phony or fraud who is deeply incapable of being responsible, who will eventually find some way to fuck something up some how, and the more opportunities you give me to fuck things up, the likelier it is that something is going to get fucked up.
I’d like to state that I am dismantling this belief. I believe that I am perfectly capable of learning to become a responsible person, just as I would be capable of completing Metal Slug X with zero deaths, or completing any of the Streets of Rage games with zero deaths, or I might be capable of becoming good at World of Warcraft or Counterstrike or Starcraft. It just takes practice and reflection and reiteration. The same is the case with responsibility. I just need to get good at a few small things first and then allow that to snowball. So for tonight, the first thing I’m going to do is to cross the 300 vomit milestone as I had originally intended. If I have to pull a bit of a later night for it, so be it. I’m fulfilling a commitment to myself.