212 Days w/o Gaming, 0 Days w/o YouTube, 3 Days Meditated That was a short streak. I got really stressed out today, because there wasn't a sense of mutual respect in one of my friendships. That same friend ended up texting me today and I decided to be bluntly honest in my reply and address the issues I'd been thinking about, rather than being diplomatic as I usually do. There was an argument initially, but we both ended up feeling better for it. This validates what I've been thinking: living authentically (not caring about how the outside world perceives you) may be difficult, but it is by far the most rewarding path. Guess that goes to show that social stress can be just as much a trigger as school can. Stress is stress. And man, it sucks I didn't even make it a week. I'm still trying to recover from how agitated out school was making me before. I still feel so high-strung, even though I have a much lighter schedule now. I know that it'll all click much better when I build up habits that will resist stress in healthy ways, but that will take time. I need to remember that quitting youtube is my top priority right now, and that one small lapse in the morning leads to the whole dam breaking and flooding over the rest of that day and onward. The only way to win is to not play that game.
@Simms You're absolutely right that I need to cling to these memories. They'll ground me when I lose sight or want to give up. I've visualized the day I get an acceptance letter or don the white coat and stethoscope many times for the same reason. I bet you do the same for the more treacherous mountains you aspire to climb. Part of the privilege of watching your journey, is seeing you go through the process of training to get there; though, I imagine the mountain top experience will be especially rewarding for you. 211 Days w/o Gaming, 2 Days w/o YouTube, 2 Days Meditated Meditation is becoming easier, though I don't know if my mind is becoming more focused as I sit there. I hear that it's something you're going to suck at doing for the first year. It's helped that I've been icing/heating my back to heal it, which adds an extra boost to see this time as well spent. I've found that the more benefits an action has, the easier it is to do it. My time spent piddling around on the internet was minimal today as well. I realize how much I was using it as a coping mechanism before. Without the stress of school it's much easier to avoid. It's only when I'm extremely fatigued and at an emotional low point that it becomes a problem these days. This is the reason I was able to go over a month during Christmas break, until I got sick. I'm hoping in these next few months I can kick it for good. Also, more and more I'm excited about the exponential growth that is going to come in the next few years as a result of the habits I'm trying to develop now. It was a tough decision, but I'm feeling confident about my choice to postpone finishing my degree in pursuit of building some foundational skills I've been lacking. It very much looks to be a balancing act of not going too far to one extreme or the other when it comes to building habits. Lastly, as I do research on the skills I want to develop, I'm trying to keep an open mind. As I touched on yesterday, I once was extremely dogmatic and chose to surround myself with dogmatic people. The loss of those friends was difficult when I changed my views to less rigid ones, but I'm grateful for that decision. You will learn much more, experience much more, and grow much more when you stop judging ideas that are from a different paradigm from the one you're used to, and start to explore their merits for yourself.
Damn, that's some good stuff @destoroyah. You're right: as long as there is motion the path is being followed. Worrying about whether it is the "right path" or this path or that path is likely extraneous. Masculinity as presented by our cultures has manifested itself as pretty weak. Makes men aspire to be like cardboard cutouts of action heroes. In other words: fake. The paradigm of masculinity and femininity is silly. Like you were getting at, there's only authenticity. We only live once. You see past the illusions and want to live for what truly matters to you. I wish to learn from your example in this. 211 Days w/o Gaming, 1 Day w/o YouTube, 1 Day Meditated I shadowed a doctor today and it reminded me of why I love this profession; happens every time I shadow. I allow those experiences help me through the rough patches.After that I saw a couple friends throughout the day. The second reminded me of how dangerous a dogmatic mind is. I used to live like that. Can't judge that person that I once was; just a different variation from what I am now. All I do know is that I want to become like water. Then I will be happy. Then gain, in the present moment there is no "then I will be happy". Thought I had more to say. Had a lot of thoughts earlier today. Don't seem so important in the span of what's happening at the moment.
There was a moment tonight where I was in the darkness, staring at the ceiling, and I was reminded of how beautiful life is. With all of the flaws we assign to ourselves, others, and pretty much everything else, we miss that. It's important that I remember this.
210 Days w/o Gaming, 0 Days w/o YouTube, 0 Days Meditated "Fatigue makes cowards of us all" -George Patton I woke up a few hours before my alarm again, and felt awful. In the darkness of the morning the only comfort I could find was in my laptop. I'm not proud of how I lapsed in discipline and don't want to make excuses. I know this has happened more times than I want to count, and I said the last time would be the last. Truth is, there never is a last time until we're dead. In the teachings of the ancient Stoics, the only way to beat the mind is to lie in wait for it in ambush, and wrestle it to the ground. The eastern philosophers say the opposite sometimes, achieve harmony between the mind and body, and sometimes the same as the stoics. Regardless, there is a disunion between the desires of the "higher" self and the "lower" self. As for the meditation, I'm exhausted right now, and part of me wants to start that streak over in earnest as well, because its been done half-heartedly. To do it well I need to stick to a regimented time each day. This means waking up at the same time each day. Still, as a much more relaxed and balanced person than I have been in the last two years, I fall much smaller and faster than I have in the past. I got a lot done today, and am mainly upset about my streak starting over. So yes, I need more discipline, but I do see improvement and have learned much from today. On a slightly different note, I have noticed that one of the greatest enemies to my joy is comparison. I like to think of the strategic path for my life, knowing that I will constantly adjust it, but continuing to put a lot of effort into it so I reach the goals I set for myself. This is good. What is not good is when I compare myself to what others around my age are/were doing. I look to my friends who are staying to finish their bachelor's and are still on course for med. school, and all of the other ambitious professions that they are going into, and am angry. More often than not, the anger starts towards them, and then I realize how silly that is because I'm the one at fault. What's even more ridiculous is that I claim that prestige and material possessions don't mean that much to me, but this just goes to show that I can easily become very shallow if I let myself. That type of thinking is the enemy to my joy, and what hinders me from making a difference in both my life and the world. Part of the intrigue of life is how hardcore it is. One life and no do-overs (unless you are the reincarnation type). It has this incredibly uneven spectrum of where you will be born, what resources you'll have, what physical attributes you'll begin with, and what experiences you'll have. With that focus, comparison is idiotic. Who cares about where I am now in comparison to my peers, or even in comparison to myself yesterday? All I can focus on is what I can do now (again, the present moment) to work towards a better future for the world, which by extension means first bettering myself. If I have the right attitude, that's the first step towards being on the right path. I have to maintain a positive attitude.
209 Days w/o Gaming, 8 Days w/o YouTube, 8 Days Meditated I woke up at 4 in the morning wide awake and with a lot of back pain. The pain was from improper dead lift form months ago, but it's still there. I'm going to see a physician tomorrow and hopefully find out if there are any ways to speed up the recovery process. I went back to sleep because it was way too dark for my liking, and woke up just in time to be ready for my ride to campus. I was a bit groggy for the rest of the day on account of this. This led to a negative attitude for the morning. Lifting weights helped a lot with that, and I was quickly feeling better. I got lunch and visited a friend who worked in the student center. He taught me a few things about how sound waves work (music tech major) and we shot the breeze for a couple hours. I then broke into my book and learned about tricks to improve the memory. I got distracted a lot during this process, but did get through quite a few pages. In this time of retooling my main focus is to build habits that will last, and more importantly, a powerfully positive attitude. What I mean by that last bit is not just blind optimism, because I've had before in life and it didn't serve me well. I mean to build an attitude that is rooted in a state of peace, and is proactive about achieving goals with a focused intensity. In five years I want to come back a different man, just as I have learned and changed so much from who I was five years before. And that will take step by step building momentum in the present moment. I continue to neglect it. The present moment. I will surrender to you! If it means dropping everything right now I will lay myself at your feet and learn from you, present moment. I know you hold a portion of the secrets I seek.
208 Days w/o Gaming, 7 Days w/o YouTube, 7 Days Meditated I met with a friend I hadn't spoken to all semester today at a coffee shop. We enjoy the dynamic of our friendship, even if it is sporadic. He enjoys having someone throw ideas out there that he's never heard of, and I enjoy having someone who will listen, ask poignant questions, and is not afraid to play devil's advocate. Meeting with him has reminded me why having friends around is so important: emotional support, yes, but also to have intellectual discourse. I also have been thinking back to the importance of urgent living. Its spring break right now, and this is possibly the first one I've ever had without video games in years, and definitely the first one without youtube. That said, I'm still not accomplishing as much as I want to. My body is coasting, taking the most pleasurable path. That's not necessarily bad. When I began the break I was honestly quite scared I would be alone at home all day, without the routine of meeting friends. I've been reconnecting with lots of friends, maintaining my weight-lifting routine, getting back in the routine of making high-protein meals, meditating regularly, studying a little bit before I go to bed each night, and am otherwise living a much happier and balanced life than in previous weeks. With that said, I made a goal of finishing a book I've had for over a month now, and doing some other preparation work so I'll have strong habits when I start EMS school. I guess writing it out has shown me that I'm not doing as bad as I thought I was. Yeah, I'm not being super productive, but I'm steadily getting valuable things done while detoxing from negative habits. I just broke free from a really dark part of my life, and should really focus on all of the positives that I have now because of that. Special tasks I want to accomplish tomorrow: wake up early (and not go back to sleep), visit with a friend, lift weights, read more of my book.
I've been enjoying reading the high-lights of your mountain climbing training. It reminds me of an article my dad once told me about. It was a guy named Trigger Twigg who was training out of his tent in Alaska. His goal was to climb Mt. McKinley's North Wall during winter. A feat, "so audacious that the National Park Service's Web site characterizes it as "bordering on the ridiculous because of its unfathomable risks." One of his credentials on his business card reads: "alligator circumcision by appointment only." When questioned about his unorthodox training methods (separate from the circumcision bit, of course), he responded, "I make myself harsh every day," with a sufficient number of expletives as well. More and more your training and unrelenting attitude are reminding me of him.
Thanks @Simms! I've been reading through your journal more and more, recently, and I have trouble gathering my thoughts for it as well. I'm especially impressed by your fitness goals; I hope to learn a thing or two about that area as I read on. You seem to know your limits, and thus know how hard to push yourself. I salute your tenacity and ambitions for self-growth. I also appreciate your outside perspective on what I wrote above. It's made me think more about why it is.
As I've sought out masculinity more, I've become more confident. As I've become more confident, I've been losing my fear of what others think. As I lose my fear of what others think, I live more authentically. Authenticity doesn't have "feminine" or "masculine", only virtues. There's no shame in empathetic listening or forming platonic friendships with the other gender that don't have a sexual/romantic subtext. Except that last part is more complicated. I have a sexuality just as strong as the next guy. The subtext is still there, but there is a sub-subtext where I remind myself that the subtext is undermining what I am trying to accomplish: learning from the wisdom of the feminine. If the Journey is supreme, then sexuality must compliment it. A long-term traveling companion, rather than someone to share the tent with for the night. When the night is over, which is better: a recently vacated spot beside you that you expected to be filled, or someone to share breakfast with and discuss the beauty of life?
I also realize I've been speaking a lot more of eastern philosophy mumbo-jumbo recently. I've had a love-hate relationship with it. As a Westerner I like the fast life: full of ambitions, rapid growth, and many pleasures. Following that life-style has been the definition of insanity: being burned by it over and over, and yet expecting the results to change the next time. The eastern path is so much more painstakingly slow, and yet the more I do research and experiment within my own life, I realize that it is the way of true happiness and real progress. As I have learned before and said many times, "the hard way is the easy way, and the easy way is the hard way".
@destoroyah It's true. We let go of our inhibitions out there. The people that don't care if they look goofy are often purest souls. 207 Days w/o Gaming, 6 Days w/o YouTube, 6 Days Meditated I ended up not going dancing because the friend I was going with was having a breakdown in her family life. I spent part of the weekend trying to help her pick up the pieces of her psyche, or more like being a listening ear while she did it herself. It didn't help that she revealed she had feelings for me over this time either. It wouldn't work. We have fun when we're out together, but don't connect on a deeper level. I've tried to have intellectual conversation in the past and it was quickly redirected. I've been somewhat of a lone wolf all of my life, and am only open to sharing it if someone is traveling alongside me for long stretches of the Journey, not just for the scenic moments when we pitch camp. Ultimately what keeps me going is the Journey. Lao Tzu called it the Dao. I've heard it called many other things by the Stoics, other philosophers, and every day people I've met. It's what gives me purpose and the will to live. It's my life. There are few things in my life I wouldn't sacrifice for it. It is virtue, it is joy, it is pain. What are virtue and joy without pain? In fact, the pain that comes from growing stronger is the greatest virtue and the greatest joy. The Journey is ridding oneself of delusions. Of going about one's day looking like the rest of the metal men around you, but inside the circuit board you fooled them: there's a living brain! At a quick glance you look like the rest, but on the inside you have already vacated that shell. In the words of Thomas Merton, "There is no body to be found. The birds may come and circle for a while... but they soon go elsewhere. When they are gone, the 'nothing,' the 'no-body' that was there, suddenly appears. That is Zen. It was there all the time but the scavengers missed it, because it was not their kind of prey." The ego has shrunk from the size of a universe to a frail, organic body. That body realizes its place in the world, and once again is able to feel compassion and harmony. With the "self" gone the being no longer cares what others think, and is driven merely by its own modus operandi of what is correct action. It builds harmony in the world, and in that harmony it can never die. It passes on to become part of its work. Or maybe it never existed to begin with. Regardless, at least it had sought to shed its delusions. I'm tired of limiting myself because of external expectations (other people, society, etc.). I can only try to be true to the present moment. In that, I hope to find something lasting. It feels like I've been going down a series of wrong paths. In reality, I know these "other paths" are all likely just a change of scenery in the one. Still, something doesn't feel right on the inside. I should be further along, but I don't "feel" like I am. I guess that's why the present moment is so important.
That's some heavy stuff man. I have quite a few classes I'm going to have to retake when I return to finish my undergrad, so I can relate to some degree. Still, I can't claim to be able to understand your past or what you're going through now. All I can say is that I'm grateful you're in this matrix-world with me. I'm with Schwing: this may be your opportunity to become Neo. There are so few people that are aware that life is a game, that we don't have to play be the same rules as are ingrained us all throughout our childhood. Go through school, get a job, start a family, retire, die. Money is god. Education is god. Career is god. You have seen through the veil and know that this does not have to be the case. This means that you are a person that this world desperately needs, because you have insights into why there is suffering and how to fix it. This makes your existence incredibly important. I know that trite quotations may be the last thing you want to read, so stop reading now if that's the case. In the off-chance that this is helpful, here it is: "One who lives in accordance with nature does not go against the way of things. He moves in harmony with the present moment, always knowing the truth of just what to do." -the end of the 8th verse of the Tao.
204 Days w/o Gaming, 3 Day w/o YouTube, 3 Day Meditated Still keeping the course steady. I've been reading a lot more, and really focusing in on building good habits to replace the old. Preparing my application to EMS school has been taking quite a bit of effort, but the amount of stress that is now off my shoulders and the excitement that has returned to this cynical frame... I can't put a price on that. Some of my friends have been relieved to see me smiling again. I'm getting another chance; a chance to take a step back and build a foundation in my life that I've been wanting for so long. I'm incredibly grateful for that. Tomorrow is the start of the weekend. I know I'm going to make it through this one. I've set a schedule for tomorrow that's realistic, and I have a fun activity at the end of the day: going out dancing. That's something I've been doing a lot less of this semester, which hasn't necessarily been a bad thing, but it'll be good to get the dust off of my dance shoes and get out on the floor again.
Art and old-school computers. I like where this is going. I tried to respect your witch-craft skills by not looking too long at the last picture, but I definitely took a long look at the first one and approved of it. It reminded me of Addie Bundren from As I Lay Dying.
@destoroyah You give one of a kind advice my friend, and I can't disagree. I'd rather have enemies that would tell me how it is than friends that will turn their backs on me when I need them. Better yet, learn how to be at peace without both. The present moment can be enough. @Csaba_Bekesi I saw that you were an advocate of Wim Hof, but I still haven't done the research behind it. I'm definitely intrigued, because breathing patterns do have a lot of power over the mind. 202 Days w/o Gaming, 1 Day w/o YouTube, 1 Day Meditated This is proving to be quite difficult. Monday night I reassessed my motivation for why I wanted to do this, and whether I should continue: Short-term pros: more time to spend on important activities, one less addiction in my life, higher self-esteem. Short-term cons: loss of a stress reliever, loss of access to many useful cultural and educational resources. Long-term pros: much more disciplined life, happier life, built much better habits using the free time I have. Long-term cons: becoming extremely puritanical about going out and watching a movie or friend showing me a video, being less culturally relevant, avoiding a very useful educational tool. Is it worth it: yes! Once I’m free I can come back later and use it as an educational tool, but for now I need to cool off on the internet use. How to get there: read more books, get outside more, enjoy the companionship of friends, track progress milestones (week, month, multiple months, year), think of long-term implications of not quitting (and of past results). How long: 2 years from tomorrow, and then I’ll reassess whether I need to extend that. Yeah, I already know all that. Yeah, I've made plans before. Why will this one succeed? I don't know I just have a feeling. That's not good enough! Truth is, I'm being given a second chance with this career path. It's setting my other educational/career goals back at least 5 years. If I don't have my life together then, growth will be exponentially harder. If I have gotten my shit together by then, my growth will be on an exponential trajectory once again. It all starts here though. If this is really worth it then I need to kick this screwing around stuff. I'm not taking hard classes anymore, and I have plenty of interesting books to read. Now is the time to let the old die and come back reborn. To come back and knock this thing out of the park. I can't do it if I don't start here. I can do it though. One of the most challenging things I've learned recently is to prove what I say with actions, not words. The first hurdle will be to make it through a whole weekend. I haven't done that in a long time.