0456 – the joy of working with constraints, pt 2

I got the more big picture life-long perspective stuff out of the way in the last post, with death and life and all of that stuff. But what I really wanted to talk about I think, is what that looks like in daily life. I was talking to a friend (we’ve been friends maybe for 5 years now) and we talked about how we’ve actually been lucky enough to get quite a few of the things we thought we’d wanted, and yet we aren’t really that much happier for it. And in the toilet earlier I was reading How To Enjoy Your Life by Dale Carnegie (the joy of reading with constraints! :p), and he talked about how… the things to aim for in life are to get what you want, and then to enjoy that. And that only the wisest of people manage to do the latter. It’s consistent with Tony Robbins talking at TED about the science of achievement (lots of people manage) and the art of fulfillment (much fewer do).

I’d like to be reasonably accomplished and I’d like to be very fulfilled. I’d like to, as Robin Williams’ character said in that movie with the boys– Dead Poet’s Society– suck the marrow out of life. I’m very greedy in that regard. But this greed isn’t something that’s on 24/7. It’s itself constrained by tiredness, lethargy, a willingness to sort of give up, lay low, lie down and allow life to just happen. I’m too tired. I can’t keep pushing. I need rest.

There’s definitely a certain breathe-in-breathe-out, wax-on-wax-off taoist balance to that, but also I think… it’s a sort of energy problem. It’s a question of how much energy do we want to consume and how much do we want to expend? I’m going to get all bro-sciency here, none of this is fact– just hypotheticals. We know that human beings are fundamentally lazy. We don’t want to expend too much energy or effort. And this is understandable because for hundreds of thousands of years, the amount of energy we had access to was limited. (Constrained.) Today we have access to far more energy.

I’m thinking about this in a very literal sense– food! How much calories should a person consume and expend a day? What’s the difference between consuming AND expending very little, and consuming AND expending a lot? Suppose a person ate 1500 and expended 1500 calories– how would they be different from their twin brother who ate and expended 5000 calories a day? Physically, theoretically (with our oversimplistic calorie in, calorie out model), they should look similar. But I have a feeling the reality will be very different. “Energetically” they’ll be very different. The consciousness they’ll experience will be very different. Right? The lower calorie guy should be much more restful, he won’t move around as much. What does 5000 calories expended a day look like? Won’t you be able to do more reading, more working out, more playing chess (I remember reading about some chess grandmasters who lose a ton of weight during competitions, just from working their brains that hard.)

I guess… think about the difference between the average human and a performance athlete, and how that’s very obvious because it’s so physical, but then think about what it looks like in a mental sense. How a monk is different from (and/or similar to) a punk rocker. I have too many assorted thoughts right now to examine any single one too closely, but I’ll just keep running while I feel like running.

I’ve been eating better these past few days. I’ve been trying to have breakfast more. I drink a peanut butter / milk shake each morning, and it perks me up. It alerts my brain. It’s a level of awareness and clarity I didn’t have before. And I’m wondering what more could I do? What more could I access within myself? I don’t know. But I’d like to find out. I’d like to be more productive. I’d like to do more. I’ve always said these things, though there have been times where I didn’t feel them. There have been lots of times where I didn’t feel them. Sometimes I wonder if the only reason I write is because I want to remind myself, when I’m down, about what it’s like to be up. I want to hold myself accountable in some way, and I want to remind myself– look! Here there be global optimas! But I only see them when I’m mentally alert, clear, stimulated, deep breaths and endorphins and good stuff washing my brain.

Who would I be, though, without all the constraints and limitations that have made me who I am? I will never know, and I’m not too sure if that thought experiment will be particularly fruitful. That’s a meditation for a more idle time. This is an interesting moment for me right now, just to feel my thoughts coming out onto the screen, from my brain through my fingers. I’m in a relatively unique state, I’m very “good-anxious”. I’m not always like this. In fact, I’m almost a little sad how rarely I am like this anymore. I used to be more like this when I was younger, but I was also more hot-headed, less self-aware, more ignorant, less careful… so there’s a tradeoff. But I’d like to see more of this “energetic release” (broscience, I know. I’m using vague terms because I don’t know what the precise terms are. But I’m sure there’s stuff going on in my body and in my brain that’s a response to my different diet, to better sleep, and to me being more efficient at work that are giving me all these useful vibes that I’m going to learn to harness and use to my advantage).

It’s amusing to me, Ha Ha amusing, again how I feel like I’ve blitzed through a vomit without really cracking into anything of particular value. But that’s okay. Right now I just want to keep moving.

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