Monday, May 25, 2015

A Week of Input Deprivation

By way of introduction, I direct you to this article at The Art of Manliness:  10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action.  As with most of the articles at The Art of Manliness, it is well thought and and provides a series of action steps to be taken (if you are not a reader of The Art of Manliness, you should be).

In reading the article, one of the items listed by the author Kyle Eschenroeder as an action step really leaped out at me.  I reproduce here in its entirety:

II. Input Deprivation Week

Go an entire week with zero information consumption.
I first tried this last year and it was wildly successful. I got more done in one week than I had in the month prior. I also ate the best I had all year and solidified my meditation practice. It was so effective I offered it up to the readers of my blog, StartupBros.
Most of the people mocked me or called me naive. A few actually tried it, though. And many of them are still practicing it to this day. It’s the most effective way I’ve found to boost output.
It’s also the most painful.
You are going to, for an entire week, live without information input.
Stay with me on this.
For one week:
  • No reading books.
  • No reading blogs.
  • No reading newspapers.
  • No going on Facebook (even just to post).
  • No watching TV (shows, sports, news, anything).
  • No watching movies.
  • No listening to talk radio.
  • No going on Reddit.
  • No going on Twitter.
  • No information input – only output!
You must force yourself to spend an entire week with yourself and the people immediately surrounding you.
This will, first and foremost, force you into action by stripping away every activity you run to in order to avoid actually doing the work you know you should be doing.
Besides that, it will increase mindfulness, increase the respect you have for your own ideas, you’ll have more ideas, unsolvable life problems may begin to make sense, you’ll have an increased appreciation for the news that actually matters, you’ll become more social, you’ll gain perspective, and you’ll become more original.
It sounds too good to be true but it’s not. It’s what happens. The only way for you to appreciate this is to do it.
Pretty radical stuff, especially since I am an information fiend and glut.

Which got me to thinking about the whole thing.

I consume information in two ways.  The first way - the correct way - is when I take it in to fill a need or question - like, for example, learning about the Period of the Successor states following Alexander the Great's death last night in Dividing the Spoils by Robin Waterfield or how to raise quail or make cheese or simply do something.  The purpose of this consumption is to fill a need, the sort of analogy one might find to eating when one is hungry.

The second kind of consumption - the one I have just become consciously aware of - is the sort of thing that is the equivalent of mindless eating, the consumption of information because I am bored. This is the kind of thing that works itself out in Facebook or Twitter or scanning sites breathlessly to find out what is going on in the world.  It is not information designed to meet a need or better me; it is information designed to distract me or to fill my ennui or simple dislike of the situation I find myself in.

It is not healthy and it does not move me one step closer to anywhere I want to be.  In fact, it seems to prove on of the comments of the author directly:  "This will, first and foremost, force you into action by stripping away every activity you run to in order to avoid actually doing the work you know you should be doing."

So this week will be a modified version of the Input Deprivation Week.

Books, I cannot give up.  It is my hobby and my relaxation and frankly (with my current schedule) does not consume a lot of time.

All else, for a week, is off limits.

I have a bit of work to do to prepare for this - gather my quotes for the week so that I can immediately post them and not have to look, perhaps prepare some of the others things I must do for writing - but other than that, I am retreating to a form of Solitude (or as much as I can manage in my life).  For a week.  Just to see.

To see what, left alone with my thoughts, I can accomplish.




Friday, May 22, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Shout Out and A Free Offer

So my friend Act II is in the process of putting out an e-book and guess who got quoted? (3 guesses and the first two do not count).  Pretty cool, no?  I show up somewhere (no idea where yet - I have not read it either) in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Better part? They are free!  If you just go here and give him your e-mail he will happily provide you one as well.

Speaking on his behalf and as his friend for more than 30 years, I can assure you that as a man of the arts (music director, composer, and writer for many years) it will be well worth your while (and did I mention it was free?).

What are you waiting for?  Get yourself over and request a copy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Less Than They Should Be

I am grappling with things being less than they should be.

This seems to be a common thread running throughout large portions of my life: things seem less than they should be.  By "should be" do I mean "as promised (by something I do not know or cannot recall)" or "as expected (mostly by myself)"? The two are quite different, of course.

"As promised" indicates that some guarantee was given to me by something or someone - even if I cannot seem to recall who gave it.  "Work hard and reap the benefits" for example, or "Endure and reap success".  They sound really good and even to some extent may try to be true, but too often I find myself on the other end of what these seem to imply:  the job that never moves forward no matter how much effort is invested, the relationship that continues to slide regardless of what is supposed to be.

"As expected" indicates that this something that I set up by myself.  I chose to believe that something would result in something else, perhaps without any guarantee or facts supporting the item:  the relationship that would never work no matter what I believed, the job (The Firm) that would have succeeded as presented even though I wanted it to.  Call them perhaps dreams or fantasies rather than expectations, perhaps.

So how does one grapple with these?  This is the problem I find myself facing.  For many of these things that are less than we expect, merely getting up and leaving is not an option - it is just not something that is possible or even desirable. At the same time, living at a level of less than one expects drains one of the zest of living - day after day living at a lower level of achievement or energy eventually enervates one to the point of even wanting to try.

I wish I understood how to change this - since, after all, the only power to change things ultimately derives from myself.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pointless

The pointless too often fills our time,steals our energy,
takes our lives.

We invest in that which we cannot avoid doing
in hopes that we can eke out a future
which very well may never arrive.

The mediocre is held as the standard,
the average as exceptional,
and status quo as a glorious thing.

Fight the pointless:
take back the energy,
take control of your life.

Make that which you are doing valuable
or do not do it at all.
Design the future instead of waiting for it to come.

Ignore the standard:
Only the mediocre worship mere effort over achievement,
and glorify the pointless.