When you have to, you will
January 13, 2018•668 words
9:25 PM. This is no good.
In the last two weeks, my home and I have morphed into a single homogeneous entity. An as of yet unnamed species, this entity seems to oppose its manifest destiny at any op or inopportune moment imaginable. Trapped in these confines, I devised a plan to escape, and successfully executed it at 8:30 this morning, wherein upon waking up, I immediately ripped apart the gooey organs connecting me into this habitable vessel, clambered through the front door, ran as quickly as I could without looking back, and caught the first (ok second) bus to the office.
I got away this time. But I'm not always so lucky.
My wife will sometimes offer to drive me to the office, but I like taking the bus. The trip is only about 28 minutes, and you’re sort of in the center of it: this is where life happens. Not at home.
The altering is the important part. Please: If you work from home, have somewhere you can go to sometimes. What a prescription. I had been averaging under a few microseconds of useful work for the past few weeks, but today, without the opportunity for endless distraction, and surrounded by fellow laborers, I had a replenishing full day of usefulness. And I had the chance to miss home. There was a tweet that I can’t seem to find now, by I believe Nassim Nicholas Taleb, that said something like: You’ve entered into perfect harmonious equilibrium when, at the office, you can’t wait to go home, and at home, can’t wait to go to the office.
It’s now about fifteen minutes until ten, and that is a style of describing time I have never used before. I sometimes have to remind myself why I’ve taken on this silly challenge of writing every single day. Surely the world is not in such dire need of any thing I have waiting to say. But, the reason is important, and amidst the countless challenges I’ve ultimately left behind and forgotten about it, this one remains as important to me as it was on day one:
It’s about the challenge. It’s doing something difficult on a scheduled basis. It’s to keep my mind sharp and on its toes. And in some ways, it’s to prove to myself that even the most ridiculous and rigorous of challenges, if you care badly enough, can be within reach. If it were about the writing, I could have surely prescribed doing it once every few weeks, or per week at most. But everyday?—the sheer madness of it could not help but arouse my always latent sense of competitiveness. Could I beat myself at this? Could I overcome laziness, boredom, volatile supply of willpower, a longing for easiness and worklessness—could I overcome the sick part of me that wants to bring me down, that wants me to give up, that wants me to explore the sick world of failure and what more comfortable challenges it may bring—could I overcome myself and commit to something ridiculous that I know will benefit me in some way were I just to keep it up?
Welcome to two hours short of no. It’s now almost 10pm, and the urge to postpone has driven me to the edge of comfort. But I’m here. I’m checking in. I made it. I’m out of breath, and I’ll try to do better, but I’m here.
With that said, I wouldn't still be doing this if I hadn't come to appreciate the wonderful improvements in mood and spirit it has contributed to. Nothing solves all of life's problems, but the fact that this remains important to me is 100% empirical. I urge you to explore and commit to a daily challenge of your own—commit to scheduled madness every day, and commit to it publicly. Tell your kids, tell your wife, tell your friends, your coworkers, your Twitter followers, your Uber driver, and your mom.
You’ll quickly learn that when you have to, you will.