January 31, 2010

Changes

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Looking back on the goals I made last February, I accomplished only one: 2x bodyweight deadlift. I did make progress on all of the others, but of course doing all of them was a little ambitious. Still, I'm working every day, and little by little, I'll get there. I'm very fond of Olympic Weightlifting and the gymnastics moves I'm working on, so I'm sure progress will continue. I can't make up for 28 years of not doing really any lifting or gymnastics in the space of eighteen months.

That's really how it is with everything though. Your habits and what you work at everyday are what decide where you end up. You can't accomplish it all in one day. You can't have a healthy relationship, a rewarding job, and a healthy body without working at these things every day. The same works in reverse. You can't get fat and unhappy with where you are in life without neglecting these things for months at a time.

This is something I've been thinking about since I recently finished reading "The Borderlands of Science," by Michael Shermer. It is clear that our society prefers to see genius as some kind of magical inspiration: that innovation and brilliance are things that you are gifted with, not things you have to work for. Examples Shermer shows are the myths surrounding figures like Mozart and Newton. Music was Mozart's entire life, yes, he was gifted, but he had worked his talents since an incredibly young age. Newton spent years failing to solve the problems our society boils down to some 'a-ha' moment under an apple tree. Yes, it's more dramatic and interesting without all of those years of practice and study, but the dramatic version is very misleading.

I am an extremely curious person (as is Lucy, which and whom I absolutely love), and I have spent a lot of time reading books, listening to lectures, and researching many subjects which have nothing to do with my area of study in school. There are people who do not do the research, they hear part of a story on the news, and then talk about the subject like they actually know something about it. If you attempt to augment anything they say, you either come off as a know-it-all, or the subsequent discussion is completely fruitless. No, I do not have a Master's degree in religious studies, but while you were watching "The Real World vs Road Rules" I was reading Hume and studying biblical history. You don't get to understand and preach to people about an issue you have only put five minutes of thought into.

If you don't try to learn something new or study things you are interested in. Shut the fuck up. Seriously. If you don't invest some of your time everyday in becoming more knowledgeable or even practicing abstract thought, you probably don't have anything to offer other than mis-information and confusion. This goes doubly for religious people. I can't compete with your religious thinking; I've only had ~20 years of practice, while you went pro. And you can't compete with my knowledge of the history of your religion, or my reliance on things like logic and reason. The older we get, the more our paths diverge and the less likely it is that we will be able to talk to each other productively.

You can not play World of Warcraft for hours every day and expect the other things you want in life to just fall into place for you. If video games are important to you, and that's what you see yourself doing in 20 years, by all means, level another character. It takes many, many hours of doing something before any potential can be realized. The longer you neglect something, the longer it is going to take to catch up. It's true that some people are more efficient than others, and some people are more gifted than others. However, the difference is in degrees not in kinds. Just do what's important to you every day. Do the things that are part and parcel to where you see yourself in the future, and don't expect results otherwise.

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