Insight Into Dedication: Transcending Sacrifice

Today I started practicing drums by 8 am. I spent 8 hours working on web sites for the Drupal Association and then spent almost 3 hours in the gym. I maxed out on the snatch, clean and jerk, and back squat, narrowly missing personal records on each lift. I also spent an hour in meditation to keep things smooth.

I look back over the last several months and realize that almost every day has been packed like this, although I may shift focus and spend more time on drumming, for example, on the days that I don't work online.

I've accepted that I'm completely obsessed with pushing the limits of my capacity in every direction, which putting everything I have into creating an optimized lifestyle. First it will be for myself, but eventually I know that I will be enabling others to live this way as well.

I would say that I'm sorry to the friends I've left behind and neglected. But, honestly, I've become very comfortable that my needs are complex and perhaps difficult for others to understand. My studies of personality development have taught me that there are, in fact, other people like me in the world. I've only come across a handful, and with each one of them I've dedicated every moment possible to working with them and learning the nuances of their craft.

It's About the Quality of the People

It may seem contradictory to jump from neuroscience to music, from supercomputing to weightlifting, from studying higher states and meditation to working to increase coherence within an open source community. But the reality is that I've simply done what everybody else in the world does - which is to try and build relationships with people who I'm compatible with. For me, this just happens to be experts who are freakishly obsessed with their respective crafts, because I also have such a psychological need to fulfill. In reality, the particular activity I've become involved in has been far less important than the qualities of people I'm around.

Honestly, I suspect that this is true because such people are so rare, and because I really can't identify with any other kind of person in any way that I find to be meaningful or rewarding.

Transcending Sacrifice

A few days ago I was listening to a discussion with Donny Shankle, who is one of the top weightlifters in America - and one of the most technically skilled athletes on the planet. He recently moved from California to South Carolina to continue his career as a weightlifter. During the discussion, he explained how people ask him if it's a sacrifice to train twice a day, to push the body so hard, and to move away from friends and family to pursue the sport. Donny sounded very frustrated by this thought, and explained that it's not sacrifice - it's what he wants. If you're talking about sacrifice, you've already lost.

Like Donny, I've noticed that my lifestyle has become unusually disciplined and routine, often lacking variety for months on end. I remember spending weeks at a time on the Campus of Maharishi University of Management, drumming twice a day, studying, and having incredible experiences in group meditations. During that time, I made progress in every aspect of my life faster than ever before. Ever since I became aware of the power of such a lifestyle, I've done everything in my power to maintain that momentum. Anything less than that and I feel depressed, anxious, and eager to get back to work.

Lifestyle and Personality Development

When I look back at the reason why I'm making progress so quickly - and in so many areas - it's impossible to pin down one trait, or one decision. It's a complex web of psychological drives which - for reasons beyond my grasp - inspire thousands and thousands of decisions to create flow and focus at every possible moment. This Saturday, for example, I had to make an unexpected trip across town, which threw my Saturday routine out of whack. By mid afternoon, I was upset (at least on the surface) because I had missed my first drum practice session and didn't have anything to show for it. A friend called me to hang out and I refused because I knew that I would be anxious if I missed another day of lifting.

You Have to Rock It

Every day, we are faced with contradictory opportunities that will lead us in many different directions. Optimized development requires unified, dedicated focus. This inevitably requires eliminating other activities in favor of pursuit of mastery. In higher states of consciousness, this is not a sacrifice, because we are so intensely driven that other experiences become less and less relevant - or even threatening - to our sense of self.

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