Sunday, November 30, 2008


By one definition, freedom is the space / ability to do what you want.

Orca Starbuck explained Aldus Huxley to me saying that he recommended that people do what they want. Apparently people are generally too removed from themselves for this to be practical, so he recommended that if you thought you might want something, go ahead and act on it.

It sounds like crazy talk, but in the absence of constraints, doing what you want seems like a better methodology than either of the alternatives 'doing what you don't want' or 'not doing what you want'. In my experience Huxley's warning proves true, and just understanding what I want turns out to be a challenge.

One reason for this is that 'wanting' isn't as dimensional one dimensional as your parents like to think when they ask questions like 'don't you want good grades?'. Sure I want good grades. That plus I'd like to be the Paul Graham of India by running a successful hightech incubator, plus I'd really like to come up with an answer to how we're supposed to live on the planet. This list goes on.

But, right now I want to respond to the people trying to chat with me in gmail, and later I'm thinking I want to watch HellBoy 2. I don't particularly want to work on a budget for upstart. Powering over the lower desires in favor of the higher goals may be a sign of discipline and an effective personality. It also seems like a recipe for being miserable.

In college I remember my friends studying literature grappling with reading lists which were humanly impossible to get thru in the alotted time. Many were well trained and spent all waking hours doing coursework, thereby developing a profound hatred of literature which lasted many years after their last force fed masterpiece.

The question for me is whether I can strategically create mental spaces which are more inclined to 'want' to do the hard work - budgets, marketing plans, presentations, code ... necessary to bring the dreams into being. I have by no means nailed this, but a few things seem apparent. Good health, adequate sleep, adequate preparation, passionate colleagues, quickly achievable objectives and consistency all seem to contribute towards a mental space in which I 'want' to do 'hard' work in the moment.

While I'm thinking about how to manage time and priorities effectively I thought I'd plug my cousin Dana Rayburn's blog on adult ADD.

1 comment:

ethan said...

I've been thinking much along these lines myself lately. Often the problem is that the benefits of doing "hard" work are deferred into the future and it requires a leap of intellectual and emotional faith to engage in something with no immediate reward. I've found it valuable to severely limit my options when I'm trying to achieve something. Turning off the cell phone, spending time in places with no internet access, creating an imposed structure to days which otherwise would have none. It's something I'm struggling with everyday, especially having not had a home for longer than a few weeks at a time over the past year.