Thawing A Frozen Mind
In February of 2015 I was depressed.
My life was a stagnant pool of water. Setting boulder problems three or four days a week transformed my body into a sack of drying meat tied around some rebar. My relationship with my girlfriend was on thin ice. I felt aimless.
I almost feel ashamed about what I'm about to say, but not really: Tai Lopez helped me out of my funk. Yeah, the "here in my garage" guy from Youtube. That dude. I willingly succumbed to the marketing ploy. He ran an EXTENSIVE ad campaign on YouTube last year that – if I remember correctly – got tens of millions of plays. Is the dude somewhat of a greasy salesman? Yes. Do I want to live the same kind of Beverly Hills Playboy lifestyle he lives? Nope. Does he make a shitload of valid points about finding your own purpose in life? Yup. In retrospect, I could have easily found the meat of his message elsewhere, for free. But I was completely unfamiliar with the concepts and didn't know where to begin. This invasive YouTube advertiser bro would be a great starting point for me.
So I signed up for his 67 Steps video course. Each day for 67 days, he (or should I say his marketing team) would email me a new video highlighting one of the steps in the program. Every video consisted of Lopez sitting in his library, talking to the camera for a single take. I believe each video was an hour or so. I won't go into too much detail, but much of his content was insightful and very helpful, but also a little too wordy for me – an average Millenial with the attention span of an infant. I cancelled my subscription about halfway through; it's a money suck, and like I said, you can find most of Lopez' main points elsewhere. So I did.
One of the most useful morsels I absorbed from the 67 Steps program was the idea of making haste slowly – i.e. festina lente, a Latin translation of a classic oxymoron from ancient Greece. The adage calls for pairing a sense of urgency with diligence in all of your endeavors. I took it to mean the following: anything worth working towards takes tiiiiiiiime.
Getting bogged down by anxiety is all too common. The knowledge that I wasn't doing much with my life gave me massive anxiety. That, in turn, was one of the primary contributors to my feelings of depression. It became a cycle. But becoming aware of the cycle is what let me begin to escape from it. I certainly haven't pulled off the full escape, but I'm getting closer.
What became crucial for my mental well-being was the acceptance of two things:
- Attaining the knowledge of "what I want" is an ongoing process for me.
- The search for such knowledge is meaningful in itself, and I should cherish the work I do along the way.
Where The Work Lies
Another concept I eventually gleaned from the 67 Steps (and elsewhere) is the idea that, in order to do meaningful and enjoyable work, I should concentrate my focus on an industry I already understand using the tools that I already possess. When I understood the logic behind this idea, it suddenly made more sense to use my writing skills in the climbing industry. The opportunities are few and far between in such a niche. The money is scarce. But any alternative – becoming a scientist, going to law school, training to be a mechanic, etc. – just doesn't make sense. Why not hone the skills I already possess, and apply them to something I understand and love?
Yesterday, while listening to one of his recent podcasts – titled Waking Up; check it out if you're interested in philosophy of the mind, ethics and morality, or religion – Sam Harris offhandedly blew my mind. Here's a quote:
"Sometimes things take as long as they take. In fact, they always do."
And I thought:
Shit! Yes! That is so true!
I'm 28 years old. I've never had a full time job; I've never had a salary; I've always felt external pressure to have those things. It wasn't until recently that I accepted the notion that the work itself is what truly matters. I will never sell myself short on what I think that work should be. And like I wrote earlier, the process of finding what that entails is half the fun.
So if you find yourself in a similar position, just stop and take a look at yourself. What do you love? What are you good at? In today's world, it's becoming easier and easier to combine those things into work you love. Maybe you could even create your own business around them, or convince a company you respect to create the perfect position that's symbiotic for both of you. Who knows. Just don't settle. Make haste slowly.