Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Bad Writer Returns; Rethinking Matters

Hi! I'm a bad writer! . . . or at least an irresponsible one who has been terrible in staying on top of his updates. I know, it's been a long time. Things are going well enough, but a slip has been making me rethink my whole life structure, unloading all of its superfluous activities.

My life as of late has been like that children's game where you put little thin long stick in a plastic tubes and pour marbles on top of them, and then try to pull the sticks out without making all the marbles fall down. I had a day off a few weeks ago and thought to myself, "Eh, I'll skip the to-do lists for today and be relaxingly spontaneous," which caused all the marbles to fall down. It was a very soothing day where I felt pleased at completing a to-do list in my head, and resistance to going back to my old lifestyle has been present ever since.

Such a relief from stress has been making me think that I've been doing a lot of things that are counterproductive towards my goals, so skipping out of them for a day has made me see what unnecessary stress they imposed, hence keeping me from going back. I've kept up with certain habits, but dropped a lot of the others.

My ultimate goal in life, abstractly put, is to realize the absolute fullest potential of my mind, and I haven't been working very well in that direction. There's been too many things that I've been putting in the way of myself. My life was simply overly complex, and that complexity brought to me so many doubts about the worth of any one endeavor that I ended up being idle, spending all the time doubting the value of the direction instead of actually seizing upon a value. Thinking and worrying, not acting.

It can often be hard to cut the excess fat from one's routine because you'll keep in mind that you are forgoing potential values, which remains hard even if you keep in mind you're forsaking them for higher values.

The main problem, I think, is a lack of concentration. When I choose to engage in a particular act such as reading or writing I don't invest myself in it enough, and by not doing that I leave myself open to dwelling on the infinite other potentials I could be acting upon at that moment, so my performance of that activity is severely limited since most of my energy is directed at doubting and rethinking, which later also creates a hesitancy to return to that endeavor because the doubts magnify after I step away from the activity for awhile.

There's so many possibilities in life on how I could be spending my time and so many methods that I could use to maximize myself that it's literally overwhelming. It's like walking into an ice cream shop with too many flavors, almost paralyzing you from being able to decide. That paralysis has kept me stagnant.

I need to rearrange my life. I need to set up the fundamentals of what I want to do, set up a daily routine around it, and decide that chores shall comes secondary to these pursuits, much like how some people giving writing advice will suggest "Write, and then do everything else." Your primary pursuits should have the high considerations in how you spend your time.

So if I want to maximize my mind, what are the fundamentals that I need to be engaging in? Reading, studying, writing, and talking (for rhetoric). These are things I could be doing a little or a lot of each and every day, so everything else should come secondary. It frustrates the hell out of me when I vow to get my chores out of the way first, and they eat so much time that I have little left for the fundamentals before work.

For concentration purposes, I've learned, I think I should just randomly pick some pursuits, dedicate myself to them, and force myself for the time being to forget that there are other options available. My difficulty in being able to choose something, I think, is the result of my trying to pick from values that are equivalent in hierarchical terms, so my uncertainty is resulting from my inability  to state that any one possibility is a higher value than the other, which would make it easier to pick among them; they're all equal, so there's no way I can say one should come first. To alleviate the uncertainty I ought to just choose and stick with it, since, after all, the kind of self-improvement pursuits I speak of would only last a few weeks or fewer to be completed in total, so the consequences of mischoosing are small. You can never really think too much about how you want to spend your entire life, but there can be a lot of overthinking done when you're trying to plan how to self-improve during the week and so on.

Blogging, of course, is in my plans. As irregular and horrendous as I am in my consistency, writing remains a vital part of my life. After abstaining for several days in the past I would witness how emotionally strained I would become and nearly go to pieces, as I depend on it heavily as my most effective means of introspection. How to incorporate it, however, is a subject of experiment. (I dare not say thinking, for fear of getting into the overthinking trap.) Maybe I'd prefer being more elaborate and doing more thorough pieces, rather than trying to write something everyday as I did in the past.

Probably my greatest error, however, is trying to immediate aspire to be as prodigious in my activities like those of great men in the past, such as Benjamin Franklin, who were able to balances lots at a time, even becoming proficient at multiple careers, and leave behind an accomplished legacy. In such aspirations I omit the journey it takes to build up to that level of competence, and therefore hold myself to too high of standards and give up because I'm able to do so much as they are able to do.

A good example would be some mistakes I've made in trying out knife skills. When trying to learn a new technique, the first thing I would always try to do is do it fast as I've seen other people do it, in hopes of speedily gaining mastery through that route. But without even a basic level of competence I an unable to do it correctly and fast at the same time, and consequently lose the value of practice by practicing ineffectively. It's frustrating and offputting to think of all the productivity I could be forgoing in moving slow to nurture an ability, but true productivity is in the quality of what is done, not how much is done and how fast. If I truly want to be as competent as those great men that I've admired, then I need to make peace with moving slow and nurturing abilities so that I may gain mastery later and then work on expansion and speed.

So what would be a simple start for me? I've been quite keen on memory after reading Moonwalking with Einstein, so memory would be one, and I've also been desirous of improving my handwriting speed, as I've been doing a lot of handwritten introspection lately and want to increase my ability to get more thoughts down faster. That seems to be a great place to start, on top of enhancing concentration, and hierarchically it may actually be the most rational. Concentration is vital for improving at any task or gaining cognitive benefits from any mental exercise, memory is essential for integrative learning and creativity, and handwriting speed (while retaining/improving legibility) is a huge benefit towards getting one's thoughts down at a faster pace. There's a lot more possibilities out there, but perhaps this is where I should force myself to simplify and stop: Master these until it's like riding a bicycle, and move on.

I'll go brainstorm on paper what I actually concretely plan on doing -- I don't want to, at least yet, return to the stressful days of tracking my improvements on my blog -- but for now my ultimate goal is to settle into a lifestyle that is most conductive for my self-realization, free of wasteful activities and stress that aren't conductive in the long-run.

And hopefully I'll become a better blogger as a result somewhere in there, too.

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