12-03-2016


Deep work requires long periods of time (Cal Newport say about 4 hours a day is on average the limit) for focused, associative thinking. Imagine one long chain of thoughts, each associated with its neighbors in some way. It's one way to bore a hole that's so deep to somewhere no one's gone before and so, contribute something novel. The long chain of thought requires absence of distractions and moreover the discipline to resist distractions. One way to resist distractions, I believe, is by learning to accept boredom. Making peace with it. When you can sit in an empty room with your hands at your sides, drool on your lip, reading a hundred year old textbook, then you can glean information that had already existed for centuries and not be constantly attracted by what's new.

Why does newness have this spellbinding allure? I like that literature often riffs about any old thing: green pastures, the residents of a sleepy town, the existent, the familiar, the mundane, the banal, the non-novel, the boring. A lot of what they're doing is celebrating the familiar, and by that, celebrating life and existence. Weaving these boring facts into a kaleidoscope for the initiated. What was routine becomes revitalized upon second take, flush with circulation ("the blood on its appointed rounds. Life in small places, narrow crannies." to borrow from Cormac McCarthy). David Foster Wallace calls it "like stepping from black and white into color. Like water after days in the desert. Instant bliss in every atom". It comes from a place of peace, of bewilderment, of gratitude, amazement and joy. When at peace with all of the experiences of your life, Pixar movies become gut-wrenching because they invoke a collective sympathy. Being stuck in traffic becomes incredulity at the fact that you're exhausted from a hard day's work and that everyone else in the sea of red brake lights has worked their asses off just like you. And nobody's driving on the medium, nobody's throwing batteries or spitting on each other's cars, we all give way to the ambulance even though we want to get home too, and we all work together at some level of harmony to build these towering cities, and rocketships, and it becomes incredulity at the fact that this giant machine keeps churning and one day it'll launch us into other galaxies. Some days it feels like so much and in my head I celebrate this proprioception and I think about the turmoil and emotional upsets that I've gone through and I realize that everyone else also goes through those and worse.

A lot of that "stepping into color" may be the transition from novelty-seeking to the familiar-celebrating. Captivity, confinement, discipline, or other forced measures, can break our addiction to novelty-seeking. And then your dopamine receptors recalibrate themselves to a new lower baseline and then when reintroduced to what was once unremarkable, it becomes remarkable and exciting. When you maintain this low baseline excitability state and when you're at peace with the experiences of your life, you can maintain the luxury the decorate them, augment them with new minutia of experiences.

-Theo



10-27-2016


What faulty vessels that we inhabit. We have to fight in two orthogonal wars at once: the one to keep your faculties straight and functioning and the other to lead that same faulty vessel through to success. It's like you're walking through a maze looking for "success" while at the same time you're holding a Rubik's Cube trying to get all the colors to match. One war is finding a way to be productive when you're sick, down-and-out, under-the-weather, unmotivated, despairing (the Rubik's Cube) and the other is to find a place for your business in the market (the Labyrinth). Taking care of your biological machine, your body, is not causative to any success in the market; it merely allows you the opportunity to try to figure the market out. It's more like a prerequisite.

How silly is it that we have to recharge for half the day by sleeping, and then, even in waking hours we're tormented by pulls towards this or that: a hot shower, a nap, a video game, the presidential debates, or pizza. You end up only truly putting time towards progressing your work for a few hours a day. I'm only realizing now that days have to be taken with patience. You have to plan for large segments of sleep and realize that your progress towards your goals will be interwoven by sleep, sliced up by it, intertwined with it. Progress will be spotted with non-progress, with "ramping up", with many haven't-had-coffee-yet periods. Dreariness, boredom, and sadness are striped between. But in those periods, there will be tiny slivers of progress, and, as inefficient as it seems, it's not too bad considering our biological circumstances.

It's strange to me that we have to balance these two things when balancing one of them is hard enough. The game of trying to find a niche in the market is hard enough that given twenty four hours a day you'd still have the odds stacked against you. Throw in this other game of trying to carefully manage your physical vehicle through the torrent of viruses, breakups, invitations, and indulgences and it's incredible that anyone's ever getting anything done.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and hypothesize that it's the emotions of a person, rather than their "intelligence", that better determines a person's success in business. A person that experiences emotions powerfully, perhaps that of anger, jealousy, even spite, and resentment is going to be using them constantly to pick themselves up when they are down and out and find reason to charge out again. I'd like to hear about the person who was successful in business and did not have many moments when they were down and out and had to summon some kind of inner reasoning to stand up again. It's this extreme emotion that then manifests as determination and as persistence. Whether it's a romantic fantasy of celebrating with their friends on a yacht, getting back at someone, proving themselves, making their loved ones proud, or whatever, it comes down to an irrational and emotional base; whatever calculative ability that person may possess, it's useless without a charge going through it. If someone can calculate, or invent a rocket, or code this or that, there's no meaning to any of it if that person doesn't have an inextricably human reason to do it. I refuse to believe that there's robotic people out there creating things and dropping them into a vacuum. It's all a means to an end, an end motivated by our human, animalistic, and biological desires.

It's all really a long-winded way of saying dissatisfaction begets determination which begets perseverance which begets (business) success.

-Theo