0495 – 5 away from 0500 while revisiting 1 to 0050s

495, that’s the number of the address of my childhood home. It’s always interesting to me how things grow and wane in significance. I used to be deeply attached to the bus numbers 10 and 14, for they were the buses that brought me home. And then there were 13, 43, 48. And then 2, 9, 12, 31, 196, 197. All familiar routes seared into my mind that I have little to no use for any more. Now I take 169 every day.

Anyway.

Woke up early today and had a hot coffee with the wife outside, where there was a nice, cool breeze. I’d like more of such moments. That means going to bed earlier and getting out of bed faster.

I feel like I’ve changed. Of course, we’re always changing. But I feel like I’ve crossed some threshold. I feel less unsure of myself, less panicky, less distressed. I think my stomach will be better off for it. And the rest of my life, by extension. Of course, me being relatively calmer doesn’t change the fact that my fundamental disposition seems to be excitable and jumpy. But that might change. Bumps on the landscape even out when you take a longer view.

I’m approaching 500 vomits and I’ve just reread the first 50. I printed them out and went over them quite closely with a pen. And I’m proud to say that I’ve grown a lot in the past 3 years, possibly more than in the previous 20 years put together (basic physiological development aside) [1].

It’s been interesting. I think there are two simple things that I look out for: things that have changed, and things that have stayed the same.

What’s stayed the same? My constant reminders to myself to take better care of myself. To sleep better, drink more water, eat better, exercise, make time for friends, to be thoughtful, compassionate, kind. To meditate, breathe, take breaks. To keep writing. To manage my time better, to prioritize important things first, to break things down into little steps, to do things systematically, to pace myself, to motivate myself as needed.

What’s changed? (This is the harder one to write about.) Let me list things out quickly first. My perspective has changed: on myself, on other people, on relationships, on life itself, on “harmless distractions”, on selflessness. A change of perspective (largely caused I think by a shift in context, and marginally through reflection and rumination) has led to a change in priorities, or at least in stated priorities. I have tried to reduce my circle of concern to match my circle of influence. I have tried to invest in activities that expand my circle of influence. I have lost interest in some “superficial” things to some degree- I went cold turkey from social media for quite a while, for instance. I returned because I missed the good stuff (access to the minds of other humans, which can be an incredible resource if you’re properly selective). I’ve definitely become a lot more selective, less “random”. I am more willing to take more significant corrective action towards things (I just purchased a squat rack, which will be arriving in a couple of hours). There’s still a lot more I could be doing and want to do, but I’ve also learned that if you want to do something you can’t always obsess too much with it (if, like me, you then become perfectionist and you keep yourself from getting started and get stuck in an infinite preparation loop).

I think I went through a sort of “poor little me” crisis for a while. I was forced to lose some of my illusions and confront (to a very limited degree, compared to what other people experience) the reality that life is cruel and harsh. It owes you absolutely and utterly doesn’t give a shit about you. Everything you know and love will die, all your dreams can and will get indiscriminately shit on, so on and so forth. The challenge is to persist. The only way out of the crisis is directly through it. To face it head on. And it took me a long time to do it, I really didn’t want to. I kept trying to avoid it. To this day I don’t really know if I could’ve done better than I did, or if the mess that was my life was sort of predetermined. All I can do is continue to test and experiment moving forward.

I got home and I got my squat rack, which is something that I think I’ve been talking about and alluding to in many of my earlier vomits. I’d often write about how great it was to go to the gym and hit the weights, and how I ought to do it more. Well, I put my money where my mouth is and spent $3,000 or so making it ridiculously easy now for me to lift weights. I could literally shut this laptop, open the door, get into the room (1 meter away) and start lifting. I have literally zero excuse now. I already polished off a few sets today, and I’m looking forward to the next.

I know it’s all arbitrary, but I like to imagine that 500 is a midpoint or a turning point not just in these vomits, but in my personal development. It’s just a story I’m telling myself, but placebos are a hell of a drug. [2]

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[1] This is actually more interesting to contemplate than I had expected. What exactly is growth, in the personal sense? I think it means being able to do things you weren’t able to do before. It’s magnificent how humans learn to see and hear and think and talk and read emotions and simply function. And we do take that stuff for granted until we lose it. But I think when we’re talking about “personal growth”, beyond physical maturity, we’re talking about the ability to skillfully navigate life. And I have gained more life-navigating experience in 3 years than the 20 years preceding it, because I was a child then, insulated and sheltered by my family and by the institutions of civilization that I grew up in.

[2] After all, we have new years’ resolutions and stuff, don’t we? There’s something about renewal and a sense of possibility and such. Crossing the midpoint on my personal project sounds like a better signpost to use than the orbit of the Earth around a sun, especially when you live on the Equator.

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