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The Journey Within


Pierce
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@Simms It's hard to express how encouraging that is to hear. I really appreciate your wisdom, and affirmation, because that's what I want to do: grow stronger and then come back fully focused. I've had a lot of people explaining the possible horrors of my decision (and I'm glad, they keep me grounded), that it's good to hear a success story. Thanks!

@destoroyah That's the goal: get my screwing up done now while I'm still young. As for degrees, they leave a lot to be wanted even once it's in hand. There's so much that that is difficult to be taught in a classroom, such as critical thinking. That said, it's a real accomplishment to make it through. Congrats on being so close!

"The Zhuangzi consists of a large collection of anecdotes, allegories, parables, and fables, which are often humorous or irreverent in nature." Sounds like my kind of punk.

196 Days w/o Gaming, 2 Days w/o YouTube, 2 Days Meditated

I don't know if the last two days of meditation count, but at least I'm forming the habit of setting aside to do so, even if I get distracted during it.

I addressed some pretty ominous financial issues that needed to be looked at, but my plans are intact. There's so much work that needs to get done for this next phase to work smoothly, but I'm very excited. I'm just looking forward to catching up on my sleep now.

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197 Days w/o Gaming, 3 Days w/o YouTube, 0 Days Meditated

It's now time to restructure my life now that I have set a change in course for my life. "The hard way is the easy way and the easy way is the hard way". I've found that it's so easy for me to make grandiose plans, but much harder for me to carry them out, or even carry out a part of them, successfully. I've been called out on this, and rightfully so. I just want to get my life back together so that I have self-confidence in my work ethic and ability to make good decisions again.

I read back to my fist page of my journal. How naive I was. Then again, I kind of wasn't. I said I was done with gaming then, and I haven't played since. The problem is, there are so many other areas of my life that need to be fixed, that I haven't even come close to. Yeah, one more layer of the onion is peeled back, but I need better result than that to keep my head above the waters of depression. I'm swimming fine right now, but if I start failing again I quickly go back to thrashing around for a breath. This is my chance to come back. We all get to come back (or so Rick Grimes thinks).

I plan on waking up early tomorrow and meditating first thing in the morning. That's something Cam suggested page 1 of my journal, and I've lost that habit since then (I never did fully solidify it).

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Depression is a matter of perception, tend some flames, watch them burn and see the world in a different light.

You are never alone, the sun is massive.

If you have no friends, enemies will do! I've always preferred mercy over betrayal on the receiving end, with enemies change is your friend.

Edited by destoroyah
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@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.
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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.

 

"You guarantee failure if you don't try."

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Haha, Pierce on fireee on the dancefloor! Let go!

You are really only ever yourself when dancing. Too bad I look so freaking goofy when doing it. Hope you got fun.

Edited by destoroyah
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@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. 

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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.

I had a strong emotional reaction to seeing this story. - It's so often written with the roles reversed... a guy who's developed feelings for a friend and creates inconceivable pressure on their relationship when he reveals his feelings for her, forever changing the dynamic. It's tough writing longer replies to your posts. - I find myself lost in thought, "thought provoking", as they say and have to write, and re-write to put any ideas with a coherent structure together.

Strong emotions... but don't know what to make of them.

I admire your commitment to walk your own path. And that you're working hard, searching for it.

 

 

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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".

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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.

Edited by Pierce
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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.

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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.

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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.

Hey, in the Zhuangzhi it says that there is no path, the only reason there are paths is because we are in motion. You moving is the path. I thought that was interesting, because a path isn't as stale as one might think. It is a dynamic thing that broadens when people walk on it. Or something that may get overgrown, when forgotten... You are the path. "Dao" in Chinese is not just "path" it also means "walk", "course" or "flow". I'm not sure about the synonyms, as I'm translating my German freely, but what I mean to say is that there is a dynamic component many people don't pay attention to.

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.

I've drawn confidence by not seeking masculinity in mind, instead I've stopped caring about what people may define as "masculine" and just started being what I am. Carrying my heart to the outside world, whatever that may be, keep my heartbeat true. Even in weakness that has made me strong, even when I shed tears – I know that shedding tears requires more courage than "appearing strong".

Most "men" are stiff, not strong. Paralyzed and immobile in fear. You see them on daily basis, a true gaze can make them tremble. Some of their reflections drown in your eyes, deep as black water, eternal tranquility that lasts an instant, when you manage to uphold clarity and awareness. It is a very distinctive feeling and you know when it's there.

Define "Man" as anyone will, you will never be a man to everyone you meet - but you can stop being a child by carrying that inner child to the outside world without fear of rejection.

I do seek masculinity in the physical realm though, by training and attempting to maintain a body that I deem "fit".

 

I don't have time to write more, I'm done for the day. My life has gotten tough and I see from actually working that some people get stuck at where I am right now. I don't want to get stuck here, working, it is not what I deem a good life. My time is worth more than money can pay for. After I die, I'll be gone for eternity, I want to breathe the world and move, not get stuck behind a desk... as many do. I like my heartbeat way too much as to waste it on some paper bullshit. The importance people put into this, the stress derived from things that don't matter for shit is incredible. People die and I worry about deadlines. What the fuck. That doesn't make sense.

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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.

Edited by Pierce
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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.

Print this off. Put it in your wallet, the dash of your car, in the pocket of a favorite jacket, everywhere. - Use your passion to power you through those moments of doubt.
 

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@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.

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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.

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There is no winner in compromise, but it's so exhausting. I hate it.

I know a day on YouTube sucks, but I'm spending my second day at the computer now, and I'm kind of glad to. I mean, I know I should do stuff, but I can't be bothered. Maybe you sometimes need it that way? There is a slim margin between self torture and discipline that is constructive. Surely, we're unable to ever tell the difference, but telling yourself "I must do this and that" doesn't help... It's thinking about the good stuff that gets me to do good things. I do sports not because "I must!" but because I know I feel better afterwards. Because I wanna punch someone in the face.

So uh... maybe don't see "stopping Internet surfing" but see what gains you have from it. I know that's hard because you might lack other "good experiences", perspective, I am questing for that myself. Staring at the ground all day don't help much, but that's gravity I guess. You can't always fight gravity, just sometimes. I'm rambling.

Edited by destoroyah
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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: 

I know a day on YouTube sucks, but I'm spending my second day at the computer now, and I'm kind of glad to. I mean, I know I should do stuff, but I can't be bothered. Maybe you sometimes need it that way? There is a slim margin between self torture and discipline that is constructive.

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.

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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

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You know, I've lost many "friends" myself, recounting them has frequently filled me with happiness. The girl you write about fills me with anger and would be a candidate for that list any day:

[...]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. 

 What good is friendship – or a relationship, if you don't have honesty and clarity? How the fuck are you supposed to know what is "wrong" and "right" if there are no words said?

A person like that can stay the fuck away from me, gladly, any day. When I raise the window blinds in my room in the morning, I always think about a person that I am glad not to miss. It soothes my heart, knowing that I am not playing emotional roulette being around them.

 

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.

Oh, open doors are dangerous. I would tell her that she's stupid. It would be expected of me. I don't ever want to bottle up again. I've bemoaned loss often enough to know that there is usually no way back with idiots, interestingly telling them off usually helps the relationship. But mind – my advice should only be used to triangulate normality!!

Surely you don't want to get hurt like that again, the thing is... not to avoid getting hurt, but to act right when you are hurt. Avoiding the pain beforehand might turn you stiff and unemotional. You will turn cold and lonely. Getting hurt ain't so bad, but don't go on drinking or hiding in someway now. Embrace it, feel it to the end, short and acutely. Let out what needs to get out. If it's too sick, unreasoned or perverted – pursue an art. Writing is fine, but sometimes words are too precise and you need colors, melodies or a broken knuckle as camouflage for your inner ugliness. Be self aware though, because if you aren't, you are just hiding again.

Pen and Paper roleplay could actually very well be that art, you might be able to conjure those emotions out of yourself by taking the role of a character. Exaggerated emotions and reasonless violence in fantasy can be a great medium to rid yourself from hidden feelings. I've managed to discover new strengths in character by doing P&P, you can practice being "convincing", "hurt", "frightening" and all these things on safe ground without serious consequence. In real life you only have one chance, and usually we fuck it up because we rarely practice. Theater is also good for this.

 

It was really fun reading your journal though, even if that romance turned into shit – you're going to gain from it either way, embrace it. I wish you well!

Edited by destoroyah
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@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

 

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Being on the "offensive" is very good with people. Being firm and able to ask them questions and stand by your opinion and hobbies – even if they are "uncool" – is strength that people often admire. Showing weakness is good. Telling them where you want to go and what you want to see, planning and asking them out is also very good in establishing friendships.

Many people think like they are helping by answering questions and being open to visitors. Well... actually I think that in this time and age it takes more effort to visit people and ask them for help or information than being on the other side and "giving" from the safe ground. Saying "Hello" first is breaking the ice, many will feel important when being greeted and will get cocky about it – but in reality the one greeting first is the one to be respected for his/her courage to potentially put themselves in an awkward position and ability to show respect.

I don't know why it has come to be like this, that asking for help and showing respect are traits of strong people – it seems paradoxical. I often try to take the offensive, because this way you can choose how to spend your time and have a fun life, at the same time it is also important not to get too "greedy" though and let others speak after you've broken the ice. So be patient when you got something to say, and start talking when times are boring and no one likes to talk. Or something like that!

I think it's really good that you spend time with your friends doing new things. I like how your journal is turning out, there is more action! In P&P when people couldn't come, our "Master" would always invent a story why they are knocked out in the bushes, feeling ill or doing some things – sometimes he would play the characters of the absent people when they were crucial for the story to move on, but he would call them up and ask them beforehand if it was something important. He would often talk to people in private in general, he did a pretty good job in making the story a team effort. The bigger a group gets, the higher the chance that someone won't be able to make it – you gotta develop methods to get it moving on, otherwise it will swamp. Especially if people cancel very abruptly before, because then they should be sort of "punished" for that behavior.

 

Edited by destoroyah
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@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.

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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.

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