Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to Live for Achievement Again

As mentioned previously, while I'm making almost startling emotional progress, relevant to my primary new year's resolution, I've been ghastly unproductive, thus retrogressing in that area. I'm in a somewhat writing mood today, so let's brainstorm.

I don't know why, but the Wassail and Mr. Knife saga has thrown me off in a way that I'm finding hard to recover from. I just feel too okay being a sloth at home like this, getting started slowly and getting little done in regards to my major goals. When I was so concerned with getting away from Mr. Knife promptly I entered a very introspective phase that left me feeling alright with neglecting my to-do lists, as I thought it was alright since getting away from danger was the most important thing to be concerned about at the time. However, now out of that danger, I look at my to-do lists with the feeling that they're foreign objects with repulsive things on them, and have been more unproductive than ever. While doing fine at work, I need to get my home life in order to make progress on my more important goals.

I think, while curable, I'm going through a phase of demotivation. Up to this point these past years I've worked very hard and yet got very little in return. If anything, punishments were dealt while totally undeserving people got the reward. I think back bitterly to my first restaurant job in Michigan, where I worked incredibly hard in the dish pit to be promoted to cook, and they always gave it to horrendously undeserving people. First they gave it to a guy who was very malicious and mean while on shift, and even sexually harassed some of the waitresses, and was so uncleanly he would have personified a health code violation, such as by scratching his bare and dirty toes and then touch the food without washing his hands. Then they gave the position to an alcoholic who came to every shift drunk to the point of severe cognitive impairments, and obviously had no prior restaurant experience. Finally, they then gave the position to an obese woman -- her weight is relevant since it did impair her efficiency -- who bullied the head cook to the point he threatened to quit, forcing the employers to fire her to avoid that disaster.

Okay, so I demonstrate my hard-working abilities and my initiative to go above and beyond, and continually do better, and they instead give the positions to all these other people who not only don't like their jobs and openly hate it, but also have not an ounce of merit to deserve such a position? Why must I struggle fiercely to be moved up to a cooking position when the alcoholic gets to start in it? Such discontent is eventually what drove me to Texas.

I know that was a long time ago, but in logic it still applies to some situations I'm in today, though I don't think I'm quite at liberty to talk about it. Simply put, it's soul-sapping to put so much into something and get so little out of it, while others put so little into something and get a lot out of it. The thought characterizing my current demotivation is, "Why bother?"

It feels like people let me down in serious ways on an all-too-regular basis. I remember the chef who brought me to Texas. He was so impressed with my efforts during the stage I performed for him that he said that if he were in charge of hiring he would have hired me on the spot. Such promising words moved me to hurry up and relocate to Texas so I could take any offered position, but upon arriving I found no such position existed, and that he could only help direct me in a job search. Then when I got in touch with his old mentor, who received high praise, I was told that I for certain secured a job at this fancy country club. I was excited and waiting anxiously for the job to start. But then week after week, I slowly approached bankruptcy, and had to get another job out of desperation. Then month after month passed without anything materializing on that job front, and now a year later I am no longer on speaking to that chef, and am barely subsisting and am still not in fine dining, even after two years of work in the industry. It goes on, but I'll stop there.

It's one of those periods where I feel like the people in charge of the major portions of the world, such as the great restaurants I want to get into, are horrendously unjust and will not allow the chance for people like me to flourish, while people who don't deserve to sweep the streets almost effortlessly climb their ladders, all while having no appreciation for the advancements since they don't value their job as I would given that I view it as my career. Here I am now, subsisting like a pauper for peanuts, while in a reasonable scenario I could be making $9-10 an hour and living comfortably doing prep and line work for a fine restaurant.

It's been hard getting out of such a situation. To desperately get away from my own landlord and her shockingly irrational tendencies, I moved rapidly in a fashion that has burned through a lot of my cash. My blasted apartment building required a hefty deposit since I couldn't find anyone to cosign my lease, and that deposit amounted to half of all my savings. Now I have less than $400 to my name. And yet there are some truly awful and contemptible people out there doing much better than I, putting forth less effort and time than I and yet succeeding at it.

Intellectually I know better, but it's one of those times in which I have a hard time making myself feel what I believe. I think one thing and then eventually cave into the "Why bother?" and loaf around. Oh, I could be strenuously pushing myself in ways that would make me enjoy life vigorously, but with how disappointing things appear I view myself as coasting towards some kind of eminent destruction, where struggle is futile except to hasten it.

But again: I know better, so I should start doing things that make me feel that belief. In a scenario like this it's important to remember that one's emotional nature is multi-faceted and not controlled by any one thing. While ideas may be the primary driver of one's emotions, one actions contribute heavily too, and my ideas about the ideal nature of life can only take me so far unless I use actions to substantiate it. For instance, it's not enough to intellectually believe that great success are possible in this world; one needs to actually pursue achievements, private and beyond, to fully experience the emotional impact of that belief. When I look back, I have made some significant progress in my life, regardless of whether or not it's as much as I wanted or happened in the areas I wanted to. When I moved from Michigan and cut my family off I've always been dissatisfied that I had to rent a room rather than get an apartment at first glance, but hey: I completed that major endeavor nonetheless. And now I've completed a second major endeavor by getting out of that terrible living situation and into this present apartment. I'm sure if we all look back on our lives we can all see successes like these that prove that success is possible in this world, and that we only need to work to keep at it.

So, aside from not being in fine dining yet, my major problem in my home life is that I'm unhappy with what I'm doing to expand my mind and mental faculties. I may want to become a great cook, but, in the abstract, my greatest goal in life nonetheless is to make full use of all the potential my mind has to offer. I want to become as intelligent as I possibly can, involve myself in career endeavors that make full use of my mental capacities (such as by running a restaurant that engages in molecular gastronomy, and/or writing books.), and develop my brain (speaking of the organ separate from the mind) as much as I can so I can have the strongest hardware possible for my intellectual efforts.

Going further, this means that I desire to live a more intellectual-oriented daily life, that includes daily studying, reading, focused thinking, and other endeavors that will help me reach my goals day by day. Hardly an iota of my routine matches what I'd like myself to be doing everyday, so I'm currently living far too immersed in unfocused thinking that's undirected towards my highest goals. My past self would be particularly ashamed of me, for there was a period in which I did engage in intensive study for my own personal benefit, reading grammar and math books, and even taking notes and doing homework, which I quit doing because the problems I had with my family interfered too deeply. I still have yet to get back to a good studying routine.

So ultimately what I want to do is more broad than merely getting back into a productive life; I want a more mentally productive life. While a more productive life would certainly entail things such as staying on top of the floor cleanings and whatnot, it would be more essentially directed towards staying on top of my reading, writing, and other intellectual-oriented activities, the things I'm not doing enough of.

This quote has been thinking about three essential factors: "Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man." - Francis Bacon

In other words, reading, writing, and talking. More detail can certainly go into explaining what and how to read, what to write about in what fashion, and what and how to talk about something, but for now I'll say that I think these are the three more important pursuits at base in developing one's fullest intellectual powers. It surprises me on a regular basis just how much value any individual pursuit can provide on an isolated basis, so what immense power I could obtain if I practiced all three daily! And what excuse do I have for no including them?

Reading -- and I do mean actual reading, not audio books -- is great for concentration, focus, and introspection. When I read heavily before work I feel at peace, satisfyingly calm, and mentally sharp.

I may have no plans as of yet for any professional writing, but man what it does to hone the precision of thought and to relieve one's need to convey information in language. When combating the worst of my urges in writing by, of course, writing I feel like the air conditioner has turned on in my brain and that it had been massaged. Furthermore, I feel like I understand the issues I've written about better and can explain them in more concise form.

The third, talking, has been the most surprising. As you know, I like engaging in the practice of "rubberducking," in which one takes an inanimate object and speaks to it as if it were real.This has done tremendous wonders for my ability to speak well, fluently, with a more varied vocabulary, and to even satisfy some emotional needs. Some of the benefits even spill over to writing, as in trying to use better vocabulary in spoken language leads to their easier use in writing. (If you have trouble avoiding writing a particular word or phrase or word in excess, try modifying your speaking first and then see how easily your writing changes.) Talking has been a great addition to my life, one I've been in sorry shape to live without.

If I could modify my everyday living to include all these activities on a regular basis, then what's possible for me? If they provide so much value when just considered alone, imagine what they could do if done together daily! If I lived more vigorously it could certainly be possible.

So in short, in reaching a more ideal lifestyle, at least in present terms where I need to figure out how to get higher from my current condition, I want to figure out how to include these on a daily basis, as well as get a formal learning routine in.

Unfortunately, I've run out of time for this piece. It's almost time to go to work, and as you know I try to take a more relaxed, less stressful approach to editing by not obsessing over the details of my writing, trying to derive the benefit more from the process than from coming up with a polished piece.

For now, I'll say that I think I have the reading portion down. While I enjoy my friends, my favorite aspect of living alone is having the isolation at night. I love shutting off my computer and being nearly cut off from the world, having nothing else but my books to keep me company. I try to keep myself from looking at clocks at the night, and go to bed as I please, after having gotten some hours of reading in. (Next I want to get a candle to read by, to promote healthier hormone production.)

Writing and talking I'll need to think about. For writing, I guess I should just make myself try and writing on a regular basis, like producing an article everyday, like Tod did for his (now discontinued) blog *Optimal Living*. The mind isn't a turnip: Squeeze hard enough and juice comes out. The talking will be difficult, as I find it hard to break my silence sometimes, and have a hard time figuring when to squeeze it in.

It'll get figured out.

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