So many things have crossed my mind recently that I’ve wanted to write about.
The huge ego boost that comes with unsolicited messages and high response rates on OkCupid.
How video games and the Internet are perhaps the greatest scourge of my neurological function.
The painful thoughts and reminders of my ex that stem from the fact that I’m trying to live the old deadbeat life without the redeeming factor of having an attractive person to have regular sex with.
However, all of these have a common theme of having the same solution (yes, OkCupid needs a solution, since I don’t actually live on the same continent as the cities I’m listed in).
A few months ago I traced the root cause of any trouble I had to not staying the course. Those three words, staying the course, encompassed a way of living where nothing could go wrong, where there was no grief, no regret, no disappointment. There was loads of pain, sure, but following that path, day after day, could only lead to a positive outcome; a life devoid of suffering.
I’ve distinguished between pain and suffering before, in my perspective. It’s been said before with sayings like “Trials and tribulations are mandatory in life; pain and suffrage are optional.” However, I think it’s especially pertinent to the set of circumstances I find myself in. Raised on escapism, I was under the impression that ‘living well’ meant leading a life devoid of any kind of pain, instead of the reality of being wise enough to subject oneself to the right kinds of pain.
And that is effectively what staying the course meant. Every evening, before bed, I’d take out this hardcover notebook and plan out what I would the next day, from the moment I woke up to the moment I turned out the lights. A typical weekday during classtime would read something like
14:00-16:00 Lab work;
This covers the entire spectrum of what I value in life: academics, physical exercise, music, and relationships. Then, before I went to bed, I’d review the day just past, seeing how much I managed to get right, and then proceeded to plan the next day.
Though it’s a colossal challenge to stick to such a schedule for more than two or three days, the rewards are immense. I’m not even talking about the long-term gratification of acing a course or getting below a certain percentage of body-fat. There’s this magical threshold that usually lies around the three-day mark, whereby a fundamental shift in consciousness occurs.
I get this bone-deep level of confidence whereby I feel that I’ve finally gotten life under control, that everything is as it should be. Walking through campus, my posture is better, I’ve got a slight smile all the time, and it feels like life is fucking great because I made it that way. This usually elicits a knock-on effect as well. I’ll get a good night’s sleep, finish a good deal of studying, and bust my ass in the gym all before 14:00. Then, I’ll see a cute girl in one of my labs that I’ve somehow not noticed before, and have the balls to walk up to her and be the smoothest motherfucker who ever lived because my day has been so great up until that point I can’t imagine acting any other way.
However, this comes at a price. To last past that three-day threshold takes such focus and willpower that I’ll often fail, even on the first day. The thing that perhaps trips me up most often is sleep. At the end of the day, when I’m bereft of focus and willpower, it somehow takes effort to go to bed. The prospect of fucking around on the internet is somehow tempting when compared with going to sleep. There are a multitude of other things that cause me to fall off the wagon: internet browsing ‘breaks’ that get out of control, inexplicable fatigue that I fail to work through, staying out an extra three hours because there’s a chance I might fuck this chick. The margins are wide: the joy is as intense as the pain is unpleasant.
I imagine that if I were to stick to it for a few weeks, the difficult parts would cease to be so as they became more routine. Humans have an extraordinary capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. I suspect that as the joys of reaching my goals become more frequent, I’ll get used to them as well, and I’ll have to push harder to feel the same feeling of exhilaration. However, this ‘problem’ is vastly preferable to sitting in an unfocused, unmotivated rut where misery is my constant companion.
So, the sooner I start picking up that planner again, the sooner shit will start to look up.