April 20, 2020

Striving After the Wind

7:31 AM

This whole quarantine thing has made my sleep schedule completely irregular, so I’m writing this at 5:35 AM in what feels like a regular midday afternoon, as I woke up at 10:30 in the evening. Today I’ll probably go to sleep around 2-3 PM, or maybe I’ll just try to survive until tonight and then go to bed at a reasonable time. Having no mandatory classes and the ability to watch lectures and do assignments at any time I want, coupled with the fact that no one is doing anything because no one is allowed to go outside, has rendered my sense of self-control completely useless and I no longer feel the need to maintain a proper sleep schedule.

But, as usual, that’s not really too important. I guess what I wanted to write about today was determination, or in my case, the recent lack of it. I have a few small projects running in the background, but none of them have been too challenging so far. Or, to put it in a more accurate light, I have not been challenging myself with the quality of the work I expect myself to put out and the things I should probably learn in order to improve the respective skills. Basically, I do not feel like going out of my comfort zone, opting instead to revel in what I already know how to do and spending my time watching TV and playing video games.

Of course, I have mixed feelings about this, as I do for just about every part of my identity and personality. For the longest time I have been a “go-getter” type of person who believes that I, like most people, am capable of so much if I apply my time and effort to various skills and fields. That was the original sentiment behind the Adventure, and still remains one of my strongest motivators for daring to create and explore. But on the other hand, none of it even really matters in the end anyways.

The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible is perhaps one of the most profoundly negative pieces of literature I have ever read, not because it focuses on the negative side of life, but because the king who wrote it acknowledges repeatedly that life is not only filled with suffering and sadness, moreover, it is meaningless. There will never be anything truly new on Earth, and no one is able to fulfill their life purpose through the things achievable in this world. Even if I eventually become the best at piano or graphic design and create something truly spectacular in the eyes of the world, I will never be able to take any of that with me when I die. Whether I am successful or not, I die all the same. In neither case am I able to take my achievements with me, nor will the things I’ve done in this lifetime pertaining to my career and hobbies play any role in my eventual succession into the afterlife, if it exists.

This all sounds like pretty sad stuff, and if I told you all this in person, you’d likely frown and attempt to make some sense out of my exceeding negativity. But I will reiterate the idea that life is not sad, it simply is not worth much. Whether you decide that is sad or not is up to you, but it is a simple fact of life that the small scope of ~100 years and the limited knowledge of the universe is simply not enough to answer the question of finding true fulfillment or obtaining lasting satisfaction. Everything is fleeting, all is ephemeral, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change that.

And believe it or not, that’s not even the main focus of this piece. That was simply the backdrop (although quite grand in scale) for a much smaller story, the one that is currently taking place right now. That story entails me sitting in front of this computer, writing this with about 25 other tabs open in Google Chrome, just having made and consumed two batches of fries, and finally and most importantly - trying to figure out to do with the rest of my day.

Because I’m writing this, I’ve subconsciously ruled out option A: A for Autopilot, which entails wiling the hours away with random YouTube videos, eating, and a whole lot of video games. This is pretty much my default, no-plans idea of a rest day, and unfortunately I’ve had about 21 cumulative rest days so far. You may ask then: what’s so difficult? Surely you can just select option B, or option C, or however many different schedule plans you have on this fake list of yours.

You see, the issue lies not within the inability of me to choose between the remaining options; it’s that there aren’t remaining options. Of all the ways my day could go, I only know option A to be true to form, as it is the only one that will almost 100% of the time go according to plan. There’s really no way to screw up a day of playing video games: I won’t get bored, I’ll have a lot of fun, and I know that I won’t have to find anything else to do due to frustration.

Let’s say for example I decided that option B was to practice piano and design something on Illustrator. Sounds simple enough, but what if I get frustrated while playing piano? What if I’m unable to think of a design or logo to make? Then suddenly option B is not even a viable option to pass the time for a couple hours, much less the entire day. The same goes for almost any combination of non-entertainment activities, and for any mix-and-match of entertainment and productivity, the entertainment will slowly drown out the latter due to its extreme resilience and inability to disappoint. Thus when using the option model to decide what I am going to do today, there is really one option: option A.

So the issue must not be within the system but with the system as a whole. Now we’ve reached the conclusion that I should not be using the option model to decide my daily schedule, as the prospect of the option becoming invalid presents a mental stress too difficult and annoying to deal with.

And this is where the whole “life is meaningless” thing must come into play. In order to find a more suitable option for determining how the day goes, I must find a way to give myself goals and progress directions without fully committing to the idea that success must occur in that very same timeframe.

But I don’t want to solve this problem too quickly. There are still many video games to play and fun periods of time to mindlessly enjoy. Plus, none of this matters in the first place, so I should really just do whatever I want to do.

Whatever that means.

- Sam