Archives for posts with tag: thoughts

I was listening to a podcast interview of Seth Godin by Tim Ferriss and they were talking about how to write well. Seth mentioned starting and regularly writing in a blog. He clearly meant writing a blog to say things about the world and how things will turn out, but I’m not ready to do that yet. It did make me want to write more often. Write more terrible stuff. So eventually I will write something good.

Paragraphs and Poems

Laying in my bed I was thinking about the first time I learned how to write a paragraph. Really the beginning of my learning to write anything that wasn’t just practice of how to write a letter or learn grammar.

A paragraph begins with a statement of it’s purpose. After that you write about supporting ideas, which I think of as premises, that make that statement a reality. Finally, the paragraph wraps up what it said in some sort of synthesis, and has to be three sentences long.

I really enjoyed sitting and thinking about the first time I learned about paragraphs. I have no idea where I was other than guessing by the school I went to etc. etc.. However, I can almost hear the voice of the woman explaining it to me. I wonder how many times people think about these sorts of things? Do published authors think back to when they learned the structure of a paragraph, or the first time they were required to think up their own 5-paragraph essay?

I think about whether there is anything more complex, in prose, other than the paragraph. Essays work in a similar structure. Research Papers have the same Thesis, Premises/Evidence, and Synthesis. Poems are entirely different. Fiction even does a similar activity with foreshadowing and other devices. I’ve written poetry. I’ve attempted to finish many research papers on-time. I kept excellent journals. Almost the only thing I’ve written in most categories, besides things you could actually make money from, and I often feel like you are always writing a Paragraph or a Poem.

One of the things that is always unnerving about the days where I listen to my intuition and just let my mind take a break is how empty those days feel. Generally they are not empty. However that does not stop the end of the day feeling strange and lacking.

Today I saw an old friend, I laid out in the sun surrounded by beautiful women, I had a conversation with the owner of a local business I love, I listened to an incredible guitar folk musician, I cooked myself a few meals, I got back in touch with yet another friend, had a conversation with someone I love, and even got some cleaning done. It was actually a very productive day. The only problem is how peaceful it all was. I even had good control over my glucose levels. It was probably an excellent day. Just…..so peaceful….

I think this is what puts people off from meditation or getting their mental life in order. When you are happy but not ecstatic it feels so flat. It feels better than being upset every other day or being constantly on the edge of an anxiety attack, but not the first day. The first day it feels like falling asleep in a hot bath and waking up to the water being that strange lukewarm experience where you stand up and feel wet instead of clean.

I have been in college for a while now and have been studying psychology the whole time. I have never been a partyer, preferring to read a book about how alcohol is made than consuming cheap, terrible alcohol. However, over time I have grown to appreciate things like a finely crafted liqueur or beer, smoking a tobacco pipe, or using caffeine. After two negative experiences with alcohol and a college psychology course on Substance Abuse, I began really thinking about how we use perception and mind-altering substances in America.

So I decided on a set of rules based on my knowledge of the addiction process and psychology. It is a short list of questions I ask myself if I am thinking of having coffee, a pipe, or a drink.

The Questions:
Am I sad?
Am I lonely?
Am I angry?
Am I stressed out?
Am I overwhelmed?
Have I exercised today or am sore?
Is my blood glucose above 140?

If I say “Yes” to any of these, then I don’t have the smoke or the drink or the caffeine. If I did, I would not be doing it for fun or an experience. I would be doing it to self-medicate instead of solve my problem.

This sounds all pretty and easy for a guy who doesn’t have much interest in partying or drugs of any sort right? Well, that is ignorant. I have been under MASSIVE amounts of stress from legal, social, interpersonal, physical, and emotional sources. This list of questions has likely saved me from picking up an addiction more times than I could possibly count. No one WANTS to have a smoking habit, but they usually don’t have the training to come up with a cognitive tool or don’t have expressed priorities in order to stop themselves. They see a cigarette and think of stress-relief because of their culture. If they stopped for just 2 minutes to recognize it as a dangerous gamble with a whole world of negative experiences, they would probably never try it, or never in a time where they have a predisposition towards an addiction.

This is really important because it is so much easier to use than abstinence from these tempting options. There are certain things you should never do, like heroin or pre-rolled cigarettes, but there are more things that are interesting and relatively harmless. The problem isn’t that people have too little willpower to resist an addiction. In my mind the problem is that we never give people the tools to resist a poor decision regarding potentially addictive substances and instead make good decisions regarding them.

So, I mentioned that I have had some trouble staying on track. This week I purposely did my workouts different days so I wouldn’t be sore when I went to hangout with my girlfriend. The bad part is that this one day I moved my workouts around changed how I was thinking about workouts in general. A weird loss of direction that I have seen myself repeat over and over in countless hobbies. This time I want to think about it some before it causes any real problems to see if that introspection will lead to a resurgence of discipline or insight into the problem.

The first thing that popped into my head when I thought about the timing of my workouts this week was the tops I played with as a kid in my Paupau’s rec room. They were old fashioned wooden tops that you wound up with a string and then held just right on the hard wood table to pull the string and watch the alien twirl of the toy. As I watched them I always loved the moments when they began to wobble. I tried to spot the very first moments of their demise. My workout this week looked to me more like the full shaking back and forth of the top’s death throes.

With that image in mind I realize that I need to ignore any outside influences, any ideas that it is too late in the day or that I am already tired or I have eaten too recently. Like Cobb’s top from Inception I needed to ignore all of reality and rules that might distract me from my beautiful unaging children and just go for it like I haven’t noticed a thing. That is why I just did a workout at 10:30pm, which historically makes it super hard for me to sleep, and is likely why I am writing a blog post instead of sleeping. However I am back on schedule today!

Next week I need to keep this up. Sometimes I let myself come up with all sorts of reasons of not wanting to be sore(I know, that is a pitiful reason) or because other responsibilities come up and I have poor time management. The most dangerous option is to ignore my workouts with the idea that I am doing something more important like meditating or studying for classes in the coming semester. Yes, those ARE much more important, however they are not stopping me from working out and acting as if they are is just insulting myself.

Something I let hold me up over the last year was a stupid idea that I NEEDED certain situations in order to do my workouts, like I needed to set up my gymnast rings or I needed to find a place tall enough for me to hang without my feet on the ground. These were easy things to find, tree limbs and swing sets and problems solved. The issue was that I made excuses. The swing sets were to thick of bars. The tree limbs near my house were either to high or made getting my gymnast rings down a living hell. (A homeless man once went to nighttime construction crews around town to find me a ladder to get down a gymnast ring that accidentally got stuck in a tree.) However thick bars are often sought after, and tree limbs are in abundance if you just ride your bike or drive for a few minutes in ANY direction. I am not stopped by real physical barriers like my diabetes, however little psychological walls can feel like they are thousands of yard tall.

 

However, right now, I am on schedule. All I have to do, is be on schedule when Monday comes.

 

Also, because of the inception reference, check it out: http://inception.davepedu.com/