I got a little distracted by the latest Google neural network visualization things. It’s so beautiful and compelling in more ways than I can describe.
Okay, I got to do this one fast. It’s funny though, when I force myself to be fast without having yet thought about what exactly I’m going to say, I find myself just describing the current moment. The hope is that the description of the current moment will give me some sort of rhythm, and following that rhythm will lead me somewhere interesting. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth sort of sitting in, staying with.
Right, I wanted to talk about my day. I had a lot of trouble sleeping yesterday, I’m not entirely sure why. It felt like my body was ” alive”, my nerves were “on fire”– not that intense, just sorta… lit up. Not exactly gentle, not exactly raging. But I couldn’t go to bed. I had a problem. And so I pretty much stayed up all night.
And once again I’m thinking and talking about sleep. There’s a super-clear co-relation between the quality of my sleep, quantity of my sleep, and my ability to think clearly. I was barely able to think clearly today. I had committed to two things today, and I was determined to meet the people involved on both counts. The first was near my workplace, and the latter was at the end of the day, for drinks in town. I was really tired, and my body was begging me to stay in bed, but I was set on making sure that I kept to my word. And so I did. What didn’t occur to me, though, was the fact that I could’ve totally gone home in between the two events and taken a nice long nap. I could’ve probably even gotten more work done than I got done at work today. (Thankfully, I’ve been extra productive the past 3 days, so I feel like I’m on track at work all the same.) But I guess because I was sleepy, it didn’t occur to me to question the order of things that I had planned out in my head. I was thinking ” Meet A, go to work, Meet B”.
I’m much better at questioning assumptions when my mind is clear and well-rested. I’m much better at even NOTICING these assumptions when I’m well-rested. When I’m sleep-deprived I work on autopilot. I noticed it later in the day too, when I struggled to think about the optimal way to get to my destination. (I was about to take a more long-winded train route rather than the shorter one, simply because it was more familiar.) And I used my Google Maps to guide me to my destination– and again, I didn’t really process the information properly, I was just following the blip on the map.
I’m really impaired when I’m sleep deprived I suppose everybody is. So it’s super clear to me– it’s always been on my mind, I’ve always written about it, I shudder to think of the number of vomits I’ve already written about the importance of sleep– that if I want to grow and progress and become more successful and more accomplished, if I want to help people and become a better person, if I want to stop being a burden and start being an asset, well then I’m going to have to sleep better. So I’m going to have to train myself to sleep better. I’m going to have to take more naps and practice nap-taking and get better at it. And this is critical to my “mission”– which right now is just to be extra-focused at work for the next few months, to prove to myself that I can be disciplined and I can break through the rut I feel like I’ve been in.
Speaking of ruts, I was chatting with a friend who is in one right now. It seems like he’s in it worse than me. Or it just seems awfully familiar. I’ve been in that exact same position. Maybe I’m still there. But it’s always easier to see what’s going on with other people than it is to see what’s going on with ourselves. And again I think the problem is a lack of skin in the game. A lot of shoulds and not really any Musts. A lot of I-think-I-wanna and not really any I’m-bloody-well-gonna. One of the cruel things about life is that it’s hardest to do the thing you need to do when you most need to do it. As Les Brown said, anybody can be positive and have a larger vision and all that when they’re happy, their bills are paid, everything’s taken care of. The real challenge happens when you get knocked down and everything around you looks shitty. Then you just internalize your circumstances and your conditions– or I do, at least– and I feel shittier for it, and I feel like I’m not going to be capable of very much, and that trying isn’t worth it.
But as I write this I know that’s not true. All of that is just fog, and fog is temporary. It will clear. It will subside. We can make it so, or we can at least make a damned effort. It might mean taking medication or therapy or whatever, I don’t know. For me I find that sleep and exercise alone can go a really long way. And wanting to prove a point, really really badly. I guess the question is, what do you want to prove?
One of the things I was thinking about while I was making the bed and thinking about what I was going to write in this vomit was– what’s my vision now? What do I really want now? I know that life is ultimately meaningless and purposeless and temporary, and it’s all a fleeting game and we’re here for a few moments and then we’re gone and that’s it. So I’m not too crazy about all the Big Ideas like creating True Meaning or reaching True Enlightenment or greatness or anything like that. It’s all play. I just want to have fun. And I’m recognizing that fun isn’t something that you can just have 24/7, we’re never quite that lucky. Fun is a privilege that you earn. When you’re a child you have spaces that are created for you that are safe for you to play in. When you become an adult you have to carve those spaces out for yourself.
So that’s what I want. My vision is– I’m going to become a disciplined, responsible person who gets shit done, so that I can carve out spaces for myself in this messy reality in which I can play and have fun. Play with words, play with ideas, connect things, just for the joy of it. And to see other people’s shining eyes. Especially the people that I respect and admire.
And to do this, I have to start with myself. I have to put my own skin in the game, my money where my mouth is, my neck on the line. I have to go out into the wilderness and cut down the fucking tree, kill the boar, drag it home, carve it up and feed myself and feed my loved ones. And then we can sing and dance and make merry. But the point is to be able to create that space. And the space won’t create itself. Reality doesn’t give a shit about me. And it doesn’t owe me jackshit. And I’m not going to sit here feeling sorry for myself– there’s nothing wrong with THAT, but that’s a really tiny space.
And I was born big and long and talkative and loud, and god damn it, I am going to take up the space that I need. And I will do it in a way that is kind, respectful and a plus rather than a minus to the world, and I will bask in the sunshine. And then I’ll get back to work with a smile on my face and sweat on my brow. Onwards.