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The Journey Within


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@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.

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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

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  • 2 months later...

Day 323 without gaming, Day 1 without YouTube

It's been a long time. I'm here because it's about a month and a half until I reach one year without gaming. I've still been watching game related videos on YouTube, and a lot of TV and movies as well, so for the remaining time I'm going to quit them as well.

So what's happened in the last two and a half months? I'm taking a summer course to get my Emergency Medical Technician certification, and am finding it very easy when compared to the biology classes I was taking last Spring. It requires a lot of hard work, but the knowledge is all practical and a good portion of it is hands on. My aspiration is to work my way to paramedic and then sign on with a fire department who will put me through fire college for free, and let that be my trade for a few years. I haven't forgotten about my dreams of becoming a doctor, but I know that the lessons in discipline and living as an adult are to be gained here first, and I will need them to progress onward. Furthermore, this is my chance to gain the fitness level I always wanted. I've been lifting weights a lot, and am growing stronger. Also, I've continued playing pen and paper with two different groups of friends (DnD 5e with one group, though it's on hiatus right now, and a sci-fi Open Legend campaign with the other). Occasionally I go out dancing, but this is definitely a time of self-development and solitude.

Speaking of that, there's a practical reason why I'm here. My class may be easy, but I want to excel at it and I'm spending so much time on the internet that I haven't been lately. Also, to get to the level of fitness I want I need to commit a lot more time. I work arms three times a week, but have been too lazy to do leg days in between. Also, I want to do small sets of pushups throughout each day (my goal is to one day make it to 100) and maintain a yoga practice and daily meditation. All of these things have fallen apart at the almighty throne of electronics. To make matters worse I was really hit hard with an urge to go back to gaming this weekend. This is one of maybe three times where youtube wasn't enough during this year, and I almost opened up my gaming laptop that has been growing dust in my closet since last August.

Bottom line is I want to factory reset my brain. I've felt my it cry out for computer when I wanted to get work done, and I had to lay down on the floor and just be still to resist it. It drained me of my energy, and I was still so far from the quota of work I wanted to gone today. Quitting gaming isn't nearly enough to be free. Not nearly enough to make it to my goals. I can't stop fighting though... I won't.  I've quoted this in my journal before, but it's worth posting again. This quote is from To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus speaks to his daughter about Ms. Dubose, an old woman who wanted to quit her dependence on morphine before she died, 

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."

Unlike her, this is a fight I can win before I die. In fact, I think a good portion of my life won't have truly begun until I've quit. It's like a part of me hasn't been born yet. But that's what a dynamic life is all about: death and rebirth. Becoming a new person who is uniquely equipped for the next stage. It's beautiful.

Edited by Pierce
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@Mettermrck Thanks for the encouragement. If there's one piece of advice I could give, it would be to see gaming as one layer of the onion, not the onion itself. Peel that layer and you'll be one step closer to mastering yourself. Compulsive internet use (YouTube, Reddit, Facebook, etc.) is just as constraining as gaming. 

Day 325 without gaming, Day 3 without YouTube

I didn't post last night because I was making up for lost time. Last weekend I had a lot of school work to do and a five day weekend to do it. I managed to only get a fourth of it done due to internet use. It was that feeling of being at an extremely low point that made me realize I had to take action. When I got to class yesterday, much to the surprise of all of the class, our teacher wanted about half of the current number more to what was already expected are due today. It's something I thought might happen, and it's why I wanted to work ahead that weekend. I said screw it and kept on putting it off; that's why I was in the position I found myself in.

So last night right as I was about to start I was hit by a strong urge to quit. Watch a movie, or at least watch a video on youtube. I started to drift, then stopped, and started to drift again. Then I remembered all of the time lost in the past. All of the dreams that may be left to die that I will have to face at my death, all because of time wasted. I thought of admitting that I had failed again. I couldn't bear it. I started, and after every set of two sheets I completed I would do a set of push ups. I wish I could end this story by saying I got it all done, but that wouldn't be the truth. I did put my heart in my soul into my work, though, not half-assing it, and I got an incredible amount done. On top of that, I got a good workout in. I had the fire in my belly back. I felt a part of myself being reclaimed.

So the goal of all of this is to become free, and freedom means putting long-term dreams over short-term pleasures. I can envision the person I want to be, and the incredible steps it will take to get there, and I gladly sacrifice the lazy and pleasure seeking self within me to breathe life into that man. Piece by piece I will dismantle the old and optimize this "self" with the new. It is my hope that then, I might be of service to Virtue and this world.

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Day 326 without gaming, Day 4 without YouTube

I had an 8 hour clinical shift at a local ER today. I learned a lot and it was enjoyable work. I felt like I could be productive there. Even though I was tired, it was good work. Getting home I received some much needed rest. After the rest followed lethargy. I didn't get any school work done or go to the gym. It's because it was calling to me. I wasted a lot of time on the internet, I'm not proud to say, but I wouldn't allow it to win. I can't. I walked closer to the edge today, so tomorrow I need to run a back and build a barricade. It feels like torture sometimes, though.

No one ever said freedom was without a cost. As much as I would enjoy going back to youtube and watching gaming feeds, I'm tired of my brain being on an electronic IV. It suffers without it, as if it were a physical need. Yes, going back would be enjoyable, but I would be a slave again and I would hate myself.

One of the most enlightening experiences comes from realizing the true definition of self love. Self preservation is in our genetics and is something we know well, but self love is quite foreign. We think we know what it is, but we don't. This can be seen in how we choose self destructive behavior even though we know it doesn't serve our true advancement. The crutch over mending the leg. True love of self pushes the power button off and drives you to the gym, even if both actions are painful. It's the action of legitimately having your own back, not just pretending to so that the pipeline of pleasurable chemicals continues to flow in the brain. Will I choose to have my own back? Will I become the person I need to be?

I will.

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@Mettermrck Thanks! Yeah it's true. I definitely don't want to go back. That's the camaraderie that binds all of us here. I fought it for five years on my own, and Cam finally convinced me to join the community to get extra accountability. One of the best decisions I've made in my life.

Day 327 without gaming, Day 5 without YouTube

Today we were took the driving portion to be certified to drive ambulances. It wasn't an easy test. Many people had to restart the obstacles multiple times after hitting cones, and one girl left crying when her nerves got the better of her and she backed over a whole row of them. I was able to pass it all on my first try, not hitting a single cone, and what made it even more hilarious was that I had to ask the instructor how to take the the vehicle out of park. I know that finding satisfaction externally is a slippery slope, but it was a feeling that carried with me for the rest of the day when one of my class mates said to me, "You're my hero, pre-med. If I'm ever in an emergency, I hope you're driving to get me."  I guess I sound pretty damn conflicted between being full of myself or being self-flagellating, don't I? Well I am. Walk that tight-rope every day. Anyway.

I also spoke to another class mate and found out he was a mechanical for a year or two. He told me it only takes six months to become certified. That's an incredibly useful life skill, one that I would definitely like to have in my repertoire, so I'm going to keep that in the back of my mind as I continue to plan my life.

Laziness is still an issue. I beat the cravings by reading some science fiction, but still have a lot of work that needs to get done. Zeal for life is the way to bear laziness. Just need to put more energy into it. There are truly incredible things I could do if did the work that I have in my plans. It begs the question that if these ambitions are so great, why haven't I put in the effort? I hope that the near future will leave that question less open-ended.

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Wow, I once took a citizen's police academy here in Myrtle Beach and we got to drive the officers' training course. I didn't drive it half as fast as the instructor did and I hit 2 cones. That takes a lot of skill with an ambulance, Pierce. Well done!

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Thanks @Mettermrck! It was a close shave: the instructor thought I hit the cones twice. We had one guy that completed the course so fast that the instructor anxiously reminded him multiple times that it wasn't a timed course. It's experiences like that, that show how great an adventure life can be. 

Day 328 without gaming, Day 0 without YouTube

I remember reading a book once that hammered home the point of personal integrity. If we are not honest with ourselves, how are we to have any self-confidence in decision making ability in the future? I broke my word when I went on youtube today, and only made it 5 days. I did learn this much: the root is not my addiction to electronics. Electronics are silly diversions to me. I would gladly smash my laptop and phone and go without them for the rest of my life if I didn't need them for school and other obligations. No, my true root addiction is to laziness. I retreat to electronics because it allows me to forget about the work I need to be doing. Better than drugs and alcohol, but it's still something I'm ashamed of. It means that I'm a slave to my own weakness.
So how is tomorrow (it's past midnight, so I mean when I next wake up) going to be different? I hope to find a secret to beat my laziness. I guess I have to keep the goal in sight. For example, if I do well enough in managing my time next semester, I was thinking of applying to local jobs as an automobile tech while I go through paramedic phase. That's going to require time management now. And heck, when I get in the flow of school work I feel much better than even the highest dopamine rushes I get from my computer. I feel like I'm accomplishing something in the former, while I feel life ticking away in the latter.
There's so much adventure out there. Got to keep that in sight and go against the grain of lethargy. Some of the greatest, and most difficult, advice I've ever received is this: do what is most emotionally difficult each moment, if you want to reap the greatest benefits from life. The hard way is the easy way, and the easy way is the hard way.
Edited by Pierce
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I appreciate it @Mettermrck. I've weathered falling on my face many times, this one hasn't gotten me down. I know I have so much to be grateful for, and I am, but I sometimes live in fear that I will not use it to its full potential. There's so much to do out in the world! So much beauty and adventure. So many people to meet and so much to discover. I believe you sense it as well. It's why most people are here. The fact that such a belief stands before me and yet my actions do not match it scares me. Makes me think I will scramble for the shiny baubles when the real treasure lies concealed ahead. Pressing forward:

Day 329 without gaming, Day 1 without YouTube

I am lazy. I am. The truth it makes me stronger. It's not the video games, or society, or anyone else. It's me. The truth is that. And yet it does not have to be that way. When the disgust of laziness hit me this morning I sprang into action and got a lot of school work done. I began to seize the day.

And then I looked back, and became a pillar of salt. It's been four years since I've played my all time favorite game series, the Elder Scrolls. I thought of the ecstasy of buying a gaming computer, all of the accouterments, getting the elder scrolls anthology (I dare not capitalize the words of something I revile so much at the same time), and 100% competing all five games one at a time. I could build such powerful characters. I would be a god in those worlds.

And in this world I would wither. I can be powerful there and wither here, or the opposite. Only one may live. It's a death match. My former self versus my current. It wants my body to replace the grave it inhabits, and its arm is won't let go of my ankle. That is why I am in limbo. He must die if I am to move on.

So I choose to no longer be lazy. I met my goal from last night by realizing this. That is the secret. Be absolutely disgusted with anything remotely related to laziness. And negative motivation isn't enough, so I didn't stop there. I began on a document in which I made my life skills into a rudimentary character sheet. It will be a way to mark my progress and see how far this fleshly avatar advances. It's no where near completed, but it's something I want to give a serious effort into. It might be just what I need. I'll give you a further report on it tomorrow.

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Yes I can identify with this one. Being a God in those worlds was something I pursued too...I played Elder Scrolls too and I loved it when you steadily became powerful enough not to fear anyone. But I only craved that because I had lost control in my real life. The more I fell apart in reality, the more I craved greatness in a video game.

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It's funny how it works that way. When I gave away my Xbox 360 five years ago (I find it funny now how I thought that it would be that easy to walk away from gaming) the guy from school I gave it to told me he could see why I got rid of it: I had over 200 hours on one character file in Oblivion alone. So many hours of my life gone in vain pursuits of glory, while the real glory to be had was a distant thought.

Day 330 without gaming, Day 0 without YouTube

I'm not even that upset. Being on 0 day again is actually funny. I woke up and spent a lot of the morning thinking of a character build for Oblivion. I've watched gaming videos before, but more as a replacement for TV. This fascination in becoming an active player again doesn't sit well with me. My reptilian brain says that it will continue to punish me dearly if I don't buy Oblivion and start playing it again once I reach day 365. There's only two problems: I don't go a year without gaming just to fall back into again, and I don't give a damn about what my reptilian brain says. Maybe I will fall. It won't be this day.  I'm not going to consciously say that I'm going to lay down for my urges a month from now either.

After I wasted time in the morning I began to get around for class, and I checked my phone. The study group I had set up had tried texting me and even called me, and I missed it entirely because I forgot. I was furious and deeply disappointed in myself. I'm not a superstitious person, but that's as close to a sign of what my future entails if I continue down this path.

It's a cry for adventure. The skill sheet I made for myself yesterday proved that I can indeed improve myself, but I still lack adventures to go on. The idea of becoming a mechanic fits that niche, but part of me believes its just a pipe dream, just as one day becoming a doctor will be. Becoming a firefighter will be incredible, but I'm a few years off. I need to create the adventure aspect within. I really do want to achieve those other goals and more, but gaining greater discipline and joy for life are essential. I think that using my imagination and further turning life into a roleplaying game will help.

And one last thing: I think we regard ourselves to highly. What I mean by this is that we feel so entitled about many aspect of life that we think comfort and pleasure our a given. This is why abstaining from short-term gratification and taking part in slow, painful work seems so impossible for us at times. If we regard ourselves less and regard our missions more, we gain freedom. That's what I seek, giving all to the mission. When this happens the weak part of us has died.

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I used to tinker with Oblivion mods on the PC. I spent more time putting together the ideal mod setup than actually playing the game. Yeah I can see how falling back into playing Oblivion would be a sinkhole. For me, I focus on the positive changes that have happened since I quit, like reconnecting with friends and family. If I resumed gaming, I would lose that. Maybe you have a positive change to focus on?

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It's fortuitous you brought that up. I spent part of this morning using an online character creater, planning out my build, and then this afternoon I was planning out a mod setup. Watching the videos of all the work it took, I realized that working out, reading books, and doing my school work is far easier and more satisfying. It made me realize that I really wouldn't be happy if I went back, not even for a week. Even watching these gameplay related videos isn't entertaining, it just allows me to procrastinate. Thank you. What you say confirms what I thought, and for that I am grateful.

The positive change I want to see is to live out the adventure I seek in video games. To better myself instead of some pixelated character. My latin teacher in high school once challenged me with that. He said that if we take all of the time we spent gaming and spent it instead on useful skills, we could become much more powerful and live a much more fulfilling life than our virtual counterpart

Day 331 without gaming

I want to focus on the positive in this post. Today in class we learned how to help manage emergencies involve pregnancies. It's pretty incredible how much more confident I feel about if I were ever put in a situation like that, and after the obstetrics skills lab tomorrow I'll be even more confident. That's another difference, confidence in other areas. For example, I've only been driving for a few months and I feel so much more proficient. I've driven in some pretty hostile conditions: torrential rainfall, night, highway where people were driving like maniacs trying to get home, etc. I also feel more confident in social interactions. I'm not the shy nerd I was four years ago. Lastly, I've been slothful in my gym routine because of how hectic school feels right now, but I'm extremely excited to get back into it as soon as possible. I'm looking forward to increasing the amount of weight I can lift, the amount of pushups I can do, and I want to get back into yoga. I've been thinking a lot about practical strength, and I want to start rock-climbing at some point in the future. I want to be more confident that I could manage my own body weight if I were hanging from a surface in a life or death situation.

Anyway, let's see what adventures tomorrow brings.

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Day 334 without gaming

Obstetrics lab was strange, but great. Screaming mannequin bodies giving birth slimy, plastic babies. I feel much more prepared for delivery-related situations now.

Yesterday I had another clinical at a local emergency room, realized how much more my EKG pad placement skills have to go, but overall had a good time. I got enough school work done that day that I decided to do something I hadn't done in a long time: invited all of my friends to go out dancing. A lot of them couldn't come, but I had a few ballroom friends come and, surprisingly, a good number of people from my class accepted my invitation. It was a great night, and was a much needed confidence booster. The unassertive and very reserved self was replaced by an exuberant and extremely self-confident force. The lessons I learned there are the ones I need to carry with me off of the dance floor.

Now, onto business. I know that to meet the goals I have set for myself in life I need to go further from quitting gaming. A strange thought since I am currently fighting desperately to keep myself from going back to gaming next month, but I think this is precisely the right time to launch an offensive. I have a pad of paper at the spot where I usually keep my laptop. Before each time I turn it on, starting tomorrow, I want to log these criteria: my goal for getting on, how much time I want to spend, and what websites I'll visit. Afterwards, I want to log what I actually did and how much time I spent. Other than a few sites I visit in the morning and at night that are useful and productive, I shouldn't get on too often unless it is directly school related. I can already tell that this is going to be extremely painful, but if I pull it off it will grant me something I've wanted with all of heart for quite a few years now. Freedom.

So there you have it. I've put it out to the public, so that is tangible evidence that I hope will hold me accountable. This is the start of a year long journey in which I wish to break my compulsive internet use, in hopes of melting the very existence of my will to game. As my dopamine receptors begin to normalize again, I have no doubt that I will have gained a much greater mastery of my cravings. I'll tell you how it goes tomorrow.

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Day 335 without gaming, 0 days without compulsive internet use

I fell flat on my face today. Was not disciplined in my computer use.

I know that the rewards of overcoming this obstacle are beyond what I could have imagined in the past. I feel confident that discipline here will prove to be the skeleton key to unlocking all of the other major areas of my life. Once more, with passion.

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The new more effective way is my notepad. Problem is, it's very easy to not use it or to not follow the time and website allotments I write on it. Seems like I contradicted my first statement. Except, I don't believe it has to be that way. The notepad provides structure, and discipline can flow forth from there. I feel that I have a better picture of what I need to do. I just need to do it.

Day 337 without gaming, 0 days without compulsive internet use

Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

"Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing." -Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5

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