Congrats! I'm in the same boat in that there's still so much more I'd like to get done with discipline/time management. That said, with the knowledge that you quit video games for 90 days, and the habits you formed from doing so (some of them are more subtle, and will come into play as you work on fostering discipline), you have peeled yet another layer off of the onion of addiction. You're one step closer to having mastered yourself. There are few things worth more than that, in my opinion. Keep the video games and whatever you need to keep on going, but I'm glad you're still fighting the fight of the Übermensch. Going back to Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey motif: grow stronger, and when the time comes you will be able to defeat the threshold guardians that bar the way. The key is keep on pushing forwards, cultivating greater skills, wisdom, and inner peace. Let me know if there's anything I can ever do for you, and I'm just one PM away if you ever want to talk. In your alliterative style: Stay Shwifty.
Edit: Also I just did more research on the Wim Hof method, and I'm really excited to add it to my daily habits. Thanks for sharing that with me, and for all of the encouragement you've given me along the way!
@destoroyah I know what it's like to feel like an outsider. Felt that way all of my life, with only my parents as people that I feel are unconditionally there for me. Can't complain too much though, two people is enough to be grateful for the rest of my life. I've met many other people where I've had either deep, but limited connections (they were always busy) or shallow and long-term (hung out together, but we didn't fully understand each other and would eventually have a falling out). In many ways I could be happy with those interactions for the rest of my life. I'm fairly good at gaining them. Having a willingness to listen and a few common interests/activities makes it easy to form them. That intimacy and depth is still lacking though. And being like you, wanting more, I couldn't stop there. In that vein, Csaba is right that eastern philosophy would be one route that could help you here. Being more present and diminishing the sense of self and its desires would free you of loneliness. That might not fit with your life goals though. I can respect that. Ultimately, how we package philosophy is a bunch of extraneous bullshit. It's ultimately just a path to being at peace with yourself. When you live authentically and love yourself, the loneliness can't bite. You feel free to be joyful and love other people, and positive people begin to flock around you. The great thing is that whether they stay or leave, you aren't affected too much, because the inner peace/love is still there. So what I've said so far probably comes across as hippie nonsense. If so, that's fine. I'll now attempt to explain why its not. I can completely relate to what you said yesterday in reference to the person you show on the outside being very different from the one within. This gap between the two is why we feel misunderstood and alone. We shield our authentic self because of the pain we received when we revealed it in the past, but at the same time we wish that people could see past our shield and accept us for who we are. As I transition phases in my life I've been taking the time to come to terms with my past, heal from it, and unleash my inner child. The child that smiles at strangers, enjoys making stupid jokes with friends, and has a life goals and philosophical ideas that don't make too much sense to the people around him, and yet he doesn't care because they are important to HIM and that is enough. If anything from that last paragraph resonated, I highly recommend reading Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. I'm reading through it now and I've found some ground breaking insights within. Fair warning: 10% of it delves into new age stuff I don't really agree with, but the other 90% is so outstanding and ties right into neuroscience that gladly overlook that. It's all about reprogramming the brain to release the emotional trauma from the past and then replace it in whatever form you wish. Anyway, I hope some of that was useful for your situation. Otherwise, I apologize for rambling. Hey, and it sounds like you don't have a lot of people to talk to. Having people there for me in that way has been invaluable. If you ever want to, feel free to send me a private message and we can set up talking on Skype sometime. I hope you get back to being your usual demon slaying self soon, my friend; stronger than ever.
The sprinkles were the answer all along... I like it. Day 243 It's been a week and I've gained a lot of insights since. To reference Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey, this year has had two very large threshold guardians. The first was my aspiration of making it into medical school, and it took me a long time, but I'm glad that I've realized that I must walk away and become stronger before being able to defeat it. Have to build up those muscle to be able to heft the giant great-sword I picked out from the arsenal in the beginning. The other guardian barred the way to joy and authenticity. It took me to reaching the point of going down the pit of depression, and then realizing how much I have to be grateful for. All of the wonderful people in my life, the incredible opportunities I've been given, and the Hero's Journey to a better world that I have committed to. I found a piece of myself in that. Or rather, a part of my mask fell away. The Truth has shone brighter since. I've been making old and proven friends a priority, not only hanging out with them more over lunch, but also making plans to hang out with them outside of school going on adventures as much as possible (climbed through a mile of drainage pipes with two friends last week just for the fun of it, and am planning a camping trip with another friend in the near future). I've been more focused in my goals: reading more, enjoying lifting weights, doing a lot of emotional self-inquiry, and even picking up yoga along the way. I've continued to be child-like, not caring what others think, and being in awe at the simplest things. I often forget how unbelievably incredible this journey life is, but I've been making it a habit to think of it more and more, and I am just beyond words in how grateful I am to be alive and among all of the people of this world. Fighting to get to the other side of the cave was worth it, and I do not plan on resting at this peak. I gladly accept the next valley, full of pain and trial, because those are my friends and teachers. With them you are most alive. It is among them that you have the passion and strength of a warrior, and the peace and love of a monk. When they send you on your way the grail you walk out with is not shiny and jewel-studded; no, it is adorned with the humility of wisdom, for the true grail is within. It's the fire. Here's a badass song for you to listen to, and I hope it awakens the fire within you too: https://youtu.be/3LY3ftiLqmE
@Csaba_Bekesi Thanks my friend. You're right, I do need to redefine my metric. Tentatively, I'd like to define it as the ability to enjoy the present moment, no matter what that moment involves. I say this over and over here, because it is easy to believe in the abstract sense, but difficult to apply in the real world. Thus the tentativeness. The garden within. I like that. Tending to the garden within (the mind) and the garden without (how we perceive the external world) will likely involve having a more positive outlook for both. The weeds are negative thoughts and perceptions. Day 236 The more I have a positive outlook and surround myself with positive people, the more I succeed in being happy. Depression comes from being stuck in a negative loop. Joy comes from being stuck in a positive loop. Joy is the tool to fight addiction and to achieve goals. Joy makes the world a more uplifted place.
Day 235 Today I was tempted to go back to gaming. This rarely happens, because I have so many other vices that I could go to since I know how unfulfilling gaming is and have broken through the "withdrawal phase", and yet today it was calling my name. It was calling for the same reason I started gaming and the same reason I continued: disconnection from others. It's strange, but even though I have tremendously better social skills, have plenty of friends/social ties to other groups, know of lots of events around town, have a means of transportation, and have some funds for said events, I still feel disconnected on my end. Alone. I didn't go back to gaming, and won't. Don't want to ever. I'm trying to go the other way in my life; less virtual, more reality. Still, I have to address that feeling of isolation that will take me back down the path of depression if I don't deal with it (and that's assuming that the last wave has fully been recovered from). I see two paths (there are more, but these are the two most feasible): 1. Continue to search for relationships in which I "feel" connected (emphasis on feel, because I do have a few really loyal and interesting friends), and redouble my efforts. 2. Find a way to fulfill these needs within, most likely through some technique in which I can generate my own contentedness. Of course the answer is the second one, while still maintaining the first. Will that really work, though? It's been tried in the past. Heck, maybe the disconnectedness doesn't stem from others, but from myself. If I have some problem with myself I will most definitely feel as if I have a problem with everyone else. It's hard to pinpoint what that problem is. Likely has to do with how I wasn't able to reach the mark in my academic goals, and am now choosing a much more uncertain path that will likely put my previous plans back half a decade; that's if I stick with those plans by then. Also has to do with wondering whether there is something internally wrong with the turnover rate I have with friends. Then again I have a high turnover rate on ideas. Likely associated. Probably overthinking. "A friend once told me that if I stop over thinking I’d see the flowers."
I spoke with an old friend today over frisbee. A simple pleasure I don't get to partake in often, both the frisbee and the speaking with him; he works during the day. We spoke philosophy, and I posed the question of what is joy (euthymia). He is much more left-brained and fine details oriented than I, so he gave a much needed perspective. One interesting thing that he pointed out is that contentedness and having goals are not mutually exclusive. One can achieve desirelessness and still try to reach higher heights. Put this crudely, it seems to be a paradox, but this is something we all understand intuitively. To be happy with the present and reaching forward to the future.
Accepting the present life as it is, and enjoying it, and yet striving to be stronger. If I am to feel better I shall make my job to be appreciating every moment for its own intrinsic value.
Day 233 I woke up at 5am in the morning and was thinking about how I can beat the funk I was in last night. I then realized that the Stoics, Buddhists, and Taoists are right: desire is the root of suffering. I desire to be close to people so much. I become attached. I will not be happy until I am potentially willing to let those things go. In fact, I want to center my life around becoming stronger: intellectually, physically, and by learning new skills. Doing that is what will add to my joy of life, and help me progress towards my goals. Also, I must not forget that the present moment is beautiful. It is beautiful. I am complete. I want to smell the roses. Happiness does not come from the future, because we will never reach it there. Happiness comes from the here and now. I hold the door shut to my own cage. All I need to do is choose to walk out, and stay out. Then I can enjoy the sunshine and flowers outside (a friend once told me that if I stop over thinking I’d see the flowers).
So, practically speaking, what do I do? I remember the attitude that I had earlier in the week: child-like wonder, enjoying each and every moment (whether in serene contemplation alone or in the warm company of others), and by growing stronger. Joy and strength, which is a bit redundant because I believe joy is one of the greatest forms of strength, as is kindness in the face of adversity. One new way I've been growing stronger is doing math on Khan Academy. I've shied away from math ever since middle school; didn't have much of an aptitude for it. I'm excited to slowly build myself back up to become proficient at it, wanting to tackle physics next. May the times I take the beauty of the world (and the beauty of the people within it) for granted be few and far between.
@destoroyah I find that introverts benefit from the learning the skill set of extroverts, and vice versa. The listener does well to learn to be the initiator, and the talker can do much for themselves to learn to help others open up. Thanks for sharing your perspective. Day 232 I have mixed feelings about this week. I've been gaining more balance in my life, and hitting many milestones, yet the void within is still there. I don't really have the energy to go through it all right now. There were high points, including getting to go out with friends three times this week. There were also low points. I'm still trying to find out how to deeply connect with others. Every time I've tried to do so, other than with my parents, there has been great pain. If I could figure out how to deal with that I would be a great deal happier than life. It's paradoxical. I'm miserable when I spend so much time on my own, so much time in my own head, but I'm also miserable around others because they don't understand how I think. Being understood is indeed over-rated, and therein is likely the problem. I don't have easy answers on how to move past that. Furthermore, I cause the people around me great pain when they see me constantly oscillating between the joy of trying to experience the moment and connect with others, only to fall into depression the next day when I get stuck in my thoughts and find myself disconnected. It's in dark times like these that I rethink my life. What gives it meaning. Truth gives it meaning, but it eludes me. There has been no Deus Ex Machina that will reach its hand down and hand me a scroll with the answers. My own searching has provide very ambiguous answers itself. So, besides Truth I have Compassion. So many in pain, so many places in disrepair. There is much purpose in trying to bring about healing. Ultimately, there needs to be inner healing first. I'm not much good to others if I'm broken myself. There has to be something more. There has to be a way out of the pit, and a way to stay out. I hate being here, and I find myself here so often. This shows that Compassion will die out if it is not paired with Strength. The kind are crushed under foot by the strong man who takes advantage of their credulity. The virtue of kindness becomes equated with a vice for fools. That is why the power to back up those good intentions is needed. The ability to sustain injuries to the psyche and mend them; to be lashed back and forth by the wind and keep pressing forward. Those are the three virtues I've based my life around for over a year. Truth, Compassion, and Strength. Reminding myself of them here has helped. If I am to find any lasting peace I must continue to nourish them. I often feel that they are what keeps my mind from being torn asunder. I will find the answers I seek. I will be whole again. I will make a difference.
@Csaba_Bekesi Your messages bring me encouragement and hope. In fact, your hope is contagious, and I really appreciate it. Also, I like the tangerine idea. The choas of losing a wedge causes us to reassess and ultimately make smarter decisions... so long as we don't allow despair to overtake us. A friend shared a metaphor with me that reminded me of yours, that you might enjoy, though it is very different in application. She recommended starting everyone you meet off at a score of 100. As you interact with them you increase or decrease points. This gives you a more big-picture view of who's a giver and who's a taker. This method should be used very loosely, of course, as using such simple metrics for humans can be incredibly dangerous, but it's good for seeing general trends. Thanks for the kind words and wisdom. @destoroyah As I was writing that I was leaving the metaphorical door to my life open, I knew I was being dumb. It makes it a lot easier when someone else points that out as well, in their own way, and I really appreciate you being one of many helping hands that has assisted me in shutting that door and lock it. I chalk it up the difficulty of doing so on my own to the "nice guy" syndrome I've been trying to overcome the past year. Nice guys are people-pleasers and are manipulative. Alternatively, kind people act from a place of authenticity, which is different. They're badasses. I see many badass traits in you, and I try to glean as many as I can from what you write. Thanks man. Day 226 Today was pretty laid back (other than getting Schwifty about Rick and Morty season three!), so I'm going to focus on yesterday. Some people couldn't make it to DnD, so we played frisbee instead. The park where we met was having a giant event, and taking in all of the sights and activities was pretty amazing. I met and talked with people I hardly knew, and really tried to get to know the people I came with more deeply as well. We were up to all kinds of shenanigans: learning proper pull-up form using playground equipment, doing the cupid shuffle in the middle of a field of people, performing outrageous dance moves before each frisbee pass, and talking about all manner of things ranging from the wacky to the profound. I've realized that making friends and being happy are both much easier to come by when you take the offensive, rather than trying to cling to them on the defensive. On that note, one of my friends there gave me great advice on how to break physical barriers with other people: he'll spontaneously trust fall (from a seated position so that gravity can do less damage if the other person bails) onto someone he's getting to know, and sees if they push him away. If they don't, he knows that they'll likely be open to more physical touch in the future. This is the kind of offense-focused social mindset I'm taking about. This ties into the theme of the day that I was trying to learn: simple joy and awe. At the park we were surrounded by two demographics that were much larger there than in most places: children and dogs. They both possessed that simple joy and awe for life. Even as a group of young adults we were exhibiting those same traits there, because we were comfortable with each other and comfortable with ourselves. I've come so far in five years in learning how to be myself. I don't want to stop. I've learned how to be outgoing, how to use humor again, be unashamed at making inappropriate comments, to dance and look stupid and not care. I've learned to embrace friends not on how similar we are, but in how open-minded and kind-hearted they are. It's for this reason that I'm trying to meet with a different friend every almost every day this week (did it last week), and I've spontaneously decided to join a friend in going to a piano recital this Tuesday. I know this kind of behavior may not be sustainable in the near future, but I know that this foundation is very important right now. A foundation in being positive, friendly, and open to possibilities. A foundation in being happy. The productivity stuff doesn't really serve much of a purpose if you aren't even happy. I'll continue with that stuff, but it's going way behind figuring out the art of happiness for now. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Day 223 Growth comes from being willing to let the old go and fully accepting the new. The pain of losing a friend is there still to a degree, but I am grateful for this new chapter that is opening. To fill that social void I'm now more open to playing D&D with a group of friends that have been inviting me for months. I went for the first time last week and had a blast, and plan on creating my own character this week and joining them again. I also have been making a more concerted effort to reach out to old friends that I have not been seeing so much. I've made a commitment to grow stronger. Overall, the main two lessons I'm trying to learn right now are: 1. How to find true peace, by accepting the present moment. 2. How to make the most of every second; walking the tight-rope between efficiency and leisure. I'm hoping that I'll have made a lot more progress towards them both in the coming months
Good job with waking up earlier Bean! You're keeping busy with lots of other important and fun activities, which are a great way to use your time. I've played D&D recently and it fills all of the criteria to replace video games as well, but is far more entertaining. You got this!
THIS. Yes! Spot on. I'm in the exact same boat. Perpetual optimism has failed me, because it is very easy to become cynical, but that mentality has not. From best I can tell, the present moment seems to be the best cure all for when we're feeling down. Past regrets fade and future worries no longer exist. It's incredibly difficult, but it's reassuring to know that this solution is there. I'm glad you've found a reprieve in art. Mine's been old science fiction novels. It's refreshing that these hobbies are far more entertaining than electronics, but less addictive.
Dude, ten days out! That's really exciting. Sounds like you were going through a rough patch last week; I can relate. I'm glad yesterday was going much better. The journey to mastery is a series of plateaus and peaks. Thing is, if we're going to have any fun along the way, we might as well enjoy the process/journey. Maybe take some time to assess what internal thoughts are making you happy right now, and how you can maintain some of those elements when you go through a hard time. That really saved me from downward spiraling today. Here's an image to help my point:
Day 221 It's funny, it's been well over a week, and yet when I look at the post above I'm still having problems with that friend I wrote about. I started calling her out more when she would vent and yell at me, and so this Saturday she finally lost her shit and wouldn't interact with me the whole night when I went out dancing with her and our friends. I texted her later about it, and found out she was purposefully trying to push me out of life because I did something that angered her, and she wouldn't tell me what it was. I was in a dark place for the rest of the night. I know it sounds silly how hard I took that, but I was just in shock of how abruptly that friendship ended. It added insult to injury that I felt as if I were the one that was being consistently disrespected and just took it because I knew she was going through a hard time. I'm still confused now. How do I handle the fact that a friend now sees me as an enemy, when I've spent the last half year trying to support them? Hurts like hell because of how invested I became. I've left the metaphorical door slightly cracked for her if she is willing to see how absurd this is, but either way I'm moving on with my life so I don't get hurt like that again. I definitely need to learn the paradox between compassion and emotional detachment. I took the next day to just recover, and move on, which did involve quite a bit of time on youtube. I also watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That's where I shifted from being depressed to gaining understanding. The protagonist isn't a he-man, and he isn't the stereotypical action hero. He's a soft-spoken ecologist (that's the best term I could come up with for a magical creature collector) that has a child-like wonder. That's how I've been regaining my joy: child-like wonder. When I'm outside I am amazed at the beauty of the trees, and smile at the birds. People on the streets aren't strangers anymore. They're potential friends to meet. I've been making more time for the friends I do have. The small things matter more. Just eating a simple meal, spending time with my parents, and even just laying down on the floor and being silent for a moment. The large things are put into trajectory and then put out of mind, just as the past is once it has been parsed over for useful lessons. In accordance with not sweating the small stuff, I've stopped counting the days I've been meditating or on youtube. I've been meditating very consistently, and on youtube only occasionally and for short periods of time. If there are only minor mess-ups in both, there's no need to be so strict: It's time to take charge of my life. If I'm unhappy or feel detached from my friends, only by taking personal ownership can that be fixed.
I like the drawing, as usual, man. I would like to see Cool Deaf go on some wacky adventures, if that fits into your style. Conan pulls us in with the nudity and gore, but keeps us there with the deep lessons. It's one of those movies I go to when my purpose in life is really murky or if I'm losing hope in the world. To quote one of the Conan novels, "The woodsman sighed and stared at his calloused hand, worn from contact with ax-haft and sword-hilt. Conan reached his long arm for the wine-jug. The forester stared at him, comparing him with the men about them, the men who had died along the lost river, comparing him with those other wild men over that river. Conan did not seem aware of his gaze."Barbarism is the natural state of mankind," the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. "Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph." It's our call to a state where we live authentically, without all of the excess that society heaps on us. There's a free ebook of that novel at Project Gutenberg Australia if you're interested.
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.