Axel Heyst's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
mooretrees
Posts: 278
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by mooretrees »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:17 am
I'm stoked to be taking a step in the right direction -- away from full time high stress work -- sooner than I thought I'd be.
That's the key isn't it. I think I missed that, so glad you mentioned it. Also, it's just great that you are helping someone else who needs the job, got to feel good. Really hope it works for you!

Jin+Guice
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by Jin+Guice »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Wed Jun 17, 2020 6:25 pm
Let’s suppose a hypothetical semi-ERE minded individual is facing an opportunity to re-negotiate his terms of employment to be super low hours (~4hrs/week) and ‘super’ low pay (10-20k/yr). He may or may not be able to retain full benefits, he’s not sure yet.

Is there a known sweet spot in that income range that he should target in his negotiations? I.e. some threshold above which will trigger undesirable tax ramifications, or below which will trigger ability to take advantage of some, um, advantages?
I think the $19,500 AGI limit I talked about is actually a pretty good salary target. It should keep you above the minimum limits for the ACA stuff and also make it so you don't have to pay any income taxes. If it's easy/ desirable I'd try to go a little bit higher just so you have a little buffer.

From a savings standpoint I think it's nice to be saving at least 50% at all times. IIRC, you are aiming for very low expenses and it's so fucking easy to make a little bit of money that it just seems like a waste not to save at least 50%. If you can get close to 1 JAFI, this income range will enable you to still save at least 50%.

Neither of these is how I think you should actually approach this though.

From a non-financial perspective, I think the bigger question is what would work best for your life? You get something out of your job, yes? What's the dream amount for you to work? Is this totally financially unviable for you to do? Unless you are feeling very unconfident in your emergency/ FU 'stache and/ or your ability to earn in the future, why not figure out what your dream scenario is and go for that?

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Thanks JnG. I think I'll take a little time out from the details here to refresh the Why here in my journal, as in, why am I pursuing ERE in the first place? What attracted me to it? Why am I motivated to hit <1 jafi spending levels? What am I planning on doing with my time?

I've worked in sustainability (MEP engineering for sustainable commercial buildings) for almost 12 years. When I started out, I thought I was on the front lives of saving the world from itself. I thought I was a designer who was helping to craft the beautiful future we'd all soon live in.

Then two things happened:

1. I worked a bit in the industry, and got a sense for just how little we were moving the needle, and in fact how much of what we were doing didn't seem to have any relevancy for the future whatsoever, and
2. I read a lot of books that deepened my understanding of the issues and possibilities (Joseph Tainter, John Michael Greer, Jared Diamond, peak oil blogs (I might have read Jacob's stuff back in the day), Daniel Quinn, etc), and more or less convinced me that sustainability professionals were fooling themselves, were still bought in to the Myth of Progress.

So at the same time that it started dawning on me that perhaps my industry was just a deep green band-aid for the structurally flawed wounds of civilization, my idea of what a sustainable future could look like evolved. *Could* being an operative word here, implying "possible, not fantasy, not hopium". My idea of what options are realistically attainable for humanity opened up in the John Michael Greer direction and closed down in the Star Trek direction.

I don't think we'll become a multiplanetary species, capitalism is inherently doomed to fail (it is an evolutionarily unstable strategy), we're not going to Swap our energy infrastructure from fossil fuels to hi-tech renewables, most of the Green Hype of the sustainability movement is a bunch of bullshit (hopium). Most of what passes for a vision of the future for "progressives" and people who accept AGW is a completely impossible veneer of "eco" on top of the structurally doomed systems of power and destruction. It's a bedtime fable for people who are in denial that their comfortable middle-class lifestyles are inherently destructive.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that I started piecing together a story that might point in the direction of a lifestyle that isn't just hopium, a lifestyle that might be relevant in the future. This thinking is highly influenced by collapse and world systems (Tainter, World3, ), a moderate, non-doomer view of descent (John Michael Greer), and the work of people who are looking to the past AND the future to assemble new ways of living (JMG again, Daniel Quinn, the work of The New Alchemists, rewilding, permaculture, etc).

Okay so what the fuck do I plan on doing with all that thinking? That's all well and fine, but how does that help me to answer the question "It's Tuesday, what do I do?"

ERE answered this question for me. It made *complete* sense. It was like the final piece in a jigsaw puzzle, except it was more like the missing 47 pieces I didn't know were missing. Living off of <1 jafi makes total sense to me. Building diverse skills makes complete sense to me. And, since the idea of working another year, much less four, semiERE (aka quitting now) makes total sense to me.

So the "what to do" is answered, broadly, with:

Step 1 is to free my time up. I've dumped the majority of my adult life in to a pit of hopium, cancelled projects, and hype. I can't do what I need to do, the next steps, if I'm still working 40-80 hours a week and running off a completely depleted nervous system and slowly eroding physical body.

Status Report: I just got confirmation that I'm approved to go to 8hrs/wk, fully remote, making ~20k with no benefits. It starts in a week and a half.

Step 2 is to heal, recover, de-stress, unwind, etc from the past 16 years of having the hammer down. Initially, I thought I'd employ a sophisticated program of yoga, meditation, digital detox, etc etc. Then I realized, "wtf dude, that's just the opposite side of the same type-A coin". So my plan for 1-3 months is to do literally only exactly what the fuck I want to do. I call this my "Fuckitol" phase. I'm gonna get high and stare at the moon through binoculars, climb a bunch of rocks, and do weird stuff to my gf that she's (going to be) in to.

Step 3 is to introduce a bit of structure in to my life, pursue the Renaissance ideal, and aim to "fully internalize ERE/Wheaton Level 7", viewing the attainment of this level as attaining the first level of Black Belt, meaning, now I'm a base-level useful human and can start my real education.

Somewhere in there is, probably, getting some land and homesteading it. Putting down roots and integrating in to a community. Attempting to contribute something to the ongoing adventure of humanity, at a local level. That's what makes sense to this version of myself, but I do think and hope that'll I be a different person after Step 2. So it's up to that dude to figure out what exactly my life path is going to be.

Hail_Diogenes
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by Hail_Diogenes »

Nice!

Sounds like you're where I want to be. I hope you find some peace during your reset man. Sounds like it's well deserved.

I haven't read your entire journal yet but I plan to. For now, I can't definitely relate to the hopium and canceled projects you mentioned in the last post. I miss having ideas for side projects. I think I've become so accustomed to bailing on stuff due to lack of energy that I just avoid thinking about it altogether. It's like I know it'll end up unfinished and wasted. Hmmm. You gave me something to think about.

I'll have to work my way back to the beginning of your journal and catch up.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Hail_Diogenes wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 4:13 pm
I think I've become so accustomed to bailing on stuff due to lack of energy that I just avoid thinking about it altogether. It's like I know it'll end up unfinished and wasted.
YES. This. This isn't just "getting older", it's "getting ground down", and knowing that I don't have the life-energy to do cool stuff. And that's painful, so I just don't even let myself start. Which will lead to a life full of regrets at the end. So, I have to disrupt it now. This is central to why semiERE (as opposed to sticking it out to full FI) seems to be the right move to me. I don't have another 5 years to give to this.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Fuckitol! Great plan...seriously it is, I'm not being facetious.

Edit: I almost forgot. This is one of my favorite youtube channels. The most recent entry really made me think of you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH07l10BbZY
Last edited by classical_Liberal on Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

mooretrees
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by mooretrees »

I'm so excited to hear you are on the way to part time! Eight hours a week and 20 k sounds amazing. I'm really, really excited to hear how you change and grow during this next phase. Heart felt congratulations!! I can't wait to join you on the other side of this full time bs reality.

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

Congrats :) sounds great

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Thanks for the kind words everyone. It's so powerful to be part of such an encouraging community. Everything is signed and official, and next week is my first week of 8hrs/wk. I've got a lot to work through here in my journal, but for now let's do the June cash flow summary.

June Financial Summary
June was a month of change. We left our shelter-in-place compound in the desert and headed north - first myself in my rig, and then DW a week after. We met up with friends out in the woods and camped, climbed, and boondocked our way up the Sierras and into the Cascades. We're now in Central Oregon, having met up with friends who are moving here. Our plan for the next month is to casually wander the state, keeping an eye out for a cheap bit of rural land we can snag and set up as a dirtbag homebase all our own.

So, that much driving at ~14mpg means gas costs were up. Also, DW went a little nuts and is no longer allowed in grocery stores without adult supervision. :( Long story short, both our rigs are absolutely *packed* with food, every nook and cranny, and we should only need to buy a few veggies and a little bit of fresh meat in July.

Image

Image

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Observation: If we subtract support for DW, I spent around 1.4 jafi this month (which includes the capx of a Berkey filter, which will allow us to get potable water from lakes/streams). With DW, I spent 2.4 jafi.

Analysis:
Skill at buying inexpensive groceries, and skill at cooking tasty food with inexpensive ingredients, is a high priority node to optimize. Related to this is leadership/guidance with DW, so we don't repeat the Great Grocery Splurge Debacle of June 2020. I'm not actually sure if she bought a bunch of expensive food or not, it's just that she bought a literal vanload of it. But a lack of guidance/direction from me contributed to that.

Also, we've both known that her ability to generate income is severely curtailed by an unstable lifestyle. And she's been following my lead in an unstable lifestyle, being on the road, moving around a lot, etc. So I accept that as long as we persist with not having a home base of our own, her ability to support herself is going to be very low.

Hence, we're on the lookout for some <$10k rural land. More on that later.

A month at this level of spending would have freaked me out a little bit before, but now that I'm facing 8hrs/wk of work, I feel that I now finally have the time to really address the underlying issues. I feel like I have enough time and space in my life to reflect, figure out root causes, think up solutions, test them, communicate them, and then practice them till they become habitual and unconscious. Before this would have all been very overwhelming.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:56 pm
Edit: I almost forgot. This is one of my favorite youtube channels. The most recent entry really made me think of you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH07l10BbZY
Devastating video, thanks for sharing.
Carl Jung wrote:[The normal man] may indeed thrive in the surroundings [of his society], but only up to the point where he and his milieu meet with disaster for transgressing the laws [of reality and human nature]. He will share the general collapse to exactly the same extent as he was adjusted to the previous situation. Adjustment is not adaptation; Adaptation requires far more than merely going along smoothly with the conditions of the moment. It requires observance of laws more universal than the immediate conditions of time and place. The very adjustment of the normal [individual] is his limitation.
I'm reading Daniel Quinn's The Story of B right now, and this seems another way to talk about how society is currently running an experiment on living contrary to the Law of Life.

Also, one of my long-time favorite quotes, helpfully found in the comments on that video:
Jiddu Krishnamurti wrote:It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
-

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

First Week of Reduced Schedule
This was my first week of officially being at 8 hours a week for my day job. So far, it's amazing.

I actually felt a huge wave of relief hit me on Friday and through the weekend, as it started to sink in that I didn't have yet another 40hr week in front of me. On Monday, I actually had a hit of anxiety/stress, I think partly due to a few normal work-related things that I had to sort out, some personal stuff, and then just the fact that it was Monday and maybe my mind-body is used to having a routine mild freakout every Monday morning?

The rest of the week went fine. I'm still very much adjusting to doing 1-2 hours of work in the morning, and then doing *anything I want* guilt-free the rest of the day. I'm not finding it hard at all to only work 8, I pretty much hit it right on the nose.

I've been reading more, journaling more, cooking more, and feeling more relaxed about the time I'm spending. I did yoga, hangboarded (a finger joint strength exercise for climbers), went on a couple walks, and went for a *lovely* rip on my moto out in the national forest, which is insanely good around here. I've also been diving in to a reflection and analysis exercise inspired by the yields and flows thread - will post that when it's a little further along.

I also have been putting more time in to my freelance project, a couple hours a day, which has been fun and rewarding and is exactly the kind of thing I want to do in the "efficient income side-hustle" category. Plus the clients are a joy to work with.

A snippet of the rig-dwelling lifestyle
In mid-June, we'd had enough of sheltering in place at the family compound down in the desert and decided to bounce. I left first, to meet a good buddy and climb. This was my boondock spot:
Image

The next weekend we camped with friends, and then DW spent a week hanging with her friends in the mountains and I holed up and worked. Then I drove further north, up in to Oregon, to meet up with yet more friends in the woods. We floated a river, hung out around the campfire, and ate out (outside seating) at a brewpub (my first time eating out since January). Then I climbed a few days, and DW caught up with me again and we hunkered down for the holiday weekend.

Now we're here (BLM land, this spot is popular and shared between harmless rednecks drinking all day blasting what DW calls "butt rock", and quiet climbers who show up at dusk, cook food on their tailgates, down a beer, pass out, and leave early):
Image

From my rip a couple days ago:
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We're still pretty strict about our covid practices, and are only slightly more 'exposed' than we were when sheltered in the desert. We go in to grocery stores once in a while (with masks etc), and get gas once in a while. Other than that we have no proximate contact.

We're back to the plan of getting out to Michigan soon. DW might go first, and I follow later after a little more time dirtbagging around.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

Sounds like semi-RE is treating you well. Be kind to yourself as you unwind, don't expect too much for the first few months.

Your heading back to michigan soon? If you're coming from Oregon, let me know how you plan to make the trip. I'm off for at least another month and could maybe meet up with you on the way back if you're taking a more northern route.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

@mooretrees made a comment in her journal about my progress being rapid to this point, since January. I commented:
MrHeyst wrote:1. A lot of my rapid "progress" is attributable to having already done a ton of work over the past ~10 years, that got me to a place of being very ready to drop in to an ERE-aligned lifestyle. So from one perspective, I've been the foot-draggiest bastard there is on the forum. It's just that when I found the book and the forum, I think I already had most of the pieces laying around to get me to this point, I just had to snap them together and it came together without much effort. In the Yields and Flows thread, I think JnG made a comment that the discussion helped him understand why he might even want to get from a Wheaton 5 to a 6 or 7. My experience is the opposite; the minute I glanced at the Wheaton scale, it was like a shaft of golden light from heaven was shining on it with a blinking neon sign over it, saying "The Thing You've Been Vainly Struggling to Find for the past 15 Years".

I think a lot of it was having the Why sorted ahead of time. Most of the books that Jacob lets slip every once in a while as philosophically foundational to the genesis of ERE, I've considered foundational to my worldview for years. I just wasn't sharp enough to cross the gap from the Why to the How like he was.

2. The rest of the progress is actually probably attributable to my instability. "Agility" would be another word for it. I mean, in January I was #childfree, no debt, was able to exit my apartment within two months, I already had Serenity, and easy access to the family land. I didn't have to invent any of that stuff, I was able to sort of just fall in to it / let it happen.

I feel like I'm getting to the point where I'm actually going to have to start working for my gains, everything to this point has been fairly low-hanging fruit, and the shutdown was honestly a stepladder for even those because it discouraged going out, traveling, etc.
I want to root around in this a little more.

That agility I mentioned wasn't accidental, now that I think about it. Flexibility/ability to course-correct rapidly has been a desired design feature of my life choices for the past several years.

I'm currently experienced some frustration because every time we make what we call a "pivot" (we use that word to make fun of tech dbags), it costs money. Typically in the form of fuel costs, because our pivots have often looked like "actually, y'know what, fuck this state, let's go back to that other state 1,500 miles away". But it's also in the form of purchases we thought we needed for some pivot that we never wound up using (e.g. a $600 canvas tent and a wood stove), and sometimes paying for shelter (rent), and sometimes buying stuff that we "need" that we own, but are currently separated from because we didn't think we needed to bring it...

I keep having this idea that once everything settles down and we get some gosh darned stability in our lives, we'll be able to really tune our system and get our costs super low. But we never settle down. The four months of shutdown at the family land was by far the longest and most stable period of DW and I's relationship (since Fall 2018), and for me as an individual I haven't had stability longer than a couple months since I lived in the Bay in 2015.

And, yes, we just pivoted again. Ironically, we're pivoting back to a plan that we had originally at the beginning of the year. The plan changed several times and has now come full circle back to the original damn plan all along. We're headed out for Michigan asap. DW will be on the road within a week, after getting some work done on her van, and I'll be headed out within two weeks probably. I'll leave Serenity at my parents, and drive out with just my truck and motorcycle.

I think this is the right call. DW really wants to spend time there. Upon reflection, it might be really good for me to be away from the 'distractions' of all my friends and the mountains as I unwind from FT work (even though it's hard to give up the story of spending all summer climbing sweet Tuolumne granite slabs...). DW will be able to jump in to making an income in ways she's stoked on quickly, whereas she can't really generate income while we're dirtbagging around. We'll be able to assess if that area is a place we could find some land and homestead. We can't really make any other decisions until we've got a firm "yes" or "no" there, because Michigan is so important to DW.

AND I'm frustrated, because we just got up to Oregon, and the previous plan was "wander around the Cascades for a while". So we drove two rigs that get <15mpg 900 miles North, farted around for a couple weeks, and are now going to drive 400 miles (DW) and 900 miles (me) right back south before driving 2,400 miles East. Two rigs. I'm not going to get in to justifying the specifics here, it makes sense, but it feels like such a damn waste of time, fuel, money. It's another example of how our rapid pivots cost us money and life-energy.

I'm of two minds here.

The argument for stability. This option looks like forcing ourselves to get stable. Pick a spot, and do whatever we gotta do to staple our asses there for longer than 6 months. There's a lot to be said for this option: rootedness, the ability to become part of a community, not always having to sort out where we're going to boondock next, being able to get really efficient with our local resources, etc.

The argument for fluidity. I'm distrustful of getting too rooted. I'm concerned any stability we could scratch out would be an illusion, as I think the world (climate, society, economy, etc) is only going to get less and less stable, so the more adept we are at pivoting and staying mobile, the better we'll fare. I have some ideas about how we could make our pivots less costly, perhaps the problem is not that we pivot but how we pivot, in other words our pivot strategy has little slack in it, it's too tightly coupled, something along those lines. We could design our lives a little better with some strategic thinking to make pivots a fluid, normal, ERE-aligned feature of our lifestyles.

I suspect the answer, for us, is a third option, somewhere in between or orthogonal to both. A dynamic equilibrium. A refuge somewhere we can relax, be rooted, have space, not have to deal with dirtbag logistics all the time. But also a lifestyle of moving, travel, but in a way that's not so costly. I don't know exactly what that's going to look like, and I've typed enough for one journal entry.

--

Soon, we're going to have daily access to showers, a full kitchen, a workshop, and all the beaches you could want. I'm looking forward to taking advantage of the situation to a) chill out, and b) work on some foundational skills, like cooking.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

@AxelHeyst
I was having this same thought process about 1-1.5 yrs ago. Interestingly this problem was at the top of my mind, right before and after I had decided to go part time. I considered the problem one of "depth vs breadth"
c_L wrote wrote:I have also come to the conclusion that one's preference on depth vs breadth, and/or stability vs mobility, has a large role in many of my thoughts. I think either preference can have significant amounts adaptability build in, however, choosing one in any given realm is probably the most efficient course of action if goal is to reach minimal labor/monetary costs and max "Q". I recently posted on the Excessive Housing Costs thread wrt this as well.
I was on this kick across many things, here "Q" meant quality of life.

After a lot of consideration I still think this is a personality preference. I also think there is some amount of mutual exclusivity here in any given realm. That is, if one wants to set up a system around one type of preference, it's a hard thing to have your cake and eat it too, without being too wasteful. You can have a lot of friends, but that probably makes it hard to spent too much time with only one. You can have a lot of hobbies, but that limits your time to focus on one. You can have a rig set up to travel, but that makes it harder or more expensive due to redundancies to put down roots for a period of time.

For me, there is something very, very appealing to going to a new place, learning the in's and out's, make a few friends. Then get a bit bored and move on. However, since staying in the same place (at least as a home base), for the longest period in almost a decade, I've also learned the pleasures of finally have a bit of depth. By focusing on the home base +travel plan in my semi-ERE, I have no doubt handicapped myself in many ways. Made things more difficult to reach sustainable ERE systems. So, I'm not saying my way is a good way, it's just one way to try to "do both" to some extent. I just think there needs to be a conscious choice made for how one wants to proceed. Am I going for depth, breadth, or some combination therein? This applies to many of life's choices, not just to travel or stay put.

Edited to add: I don't mean to say there is permanence in choices. Because with ERE there aren't. There are just "transitional costs" of money, or life energy, or other capital. To choose to go full on travel, then shift to "home base" next year can take some energy/time/capital. So, if you are like me, like to keep options open, and know you may change your mind, then focus your system on keeping the transitional costs as low as possible.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Thanks c_L. I have to keep reminding myself to chill out a bit, I don't have to have it all figured out right now, and indeed my aim at the moment is to unwind in order to be able to think clearly about my path. The very next action in my "figure out the rest of my life path" project is "stop thinking about the rest of your life, and focus on the skill of calming the hell down".

----Axel's Theory of Adventure----
Something I struggled with a little as I got in to ERE was the gripping fear that I'd have to give up fun 'adventure'. This was silly, but the fear was rooted in something a lot of us deal with, which is social media making us think we need to have a million dollars in gear to have a legit adventure. We think we need a $40k truck with $20k of ARB overlanding gear bolted on to it just to go to Baja for a few weekends a year. This is capitalism trying to sell us adventure, and distract us from the fact that adventure isn't a commodity.

So I came up with a formula to guide my thinking about adventure. It is:

Adv = Ambition of Goal / [Skill * Gear * Fortune]

We tend to consume images of adventure of professional athletes (high skill) who have all the latest sponsored Gear, and they go after hugely ambitious targets. So we tend to assume that if you don't have a huge ambitious target, it's not an adventure. I think this is wrong! The ambition of the adventure is a factor of the adventure, but not the measure of the adventure itself.

If you scale back the ambition of the goal, and then play with the factors of skill and gear, you can have yourself a fine adventure.

The Mongol Rally is a great example. The rules of the rally force you to have absolute shit gear (a <1L displacement car, that cost less than 1,000euro or something like that). And the culture of the rally encourages people who have absolutely no idea how to fix cars, so they have low skill. It's completely ridiculous, but it's a genuine adventure. And here's the thing: if you were to do their route in a kitted-out Land Rover, and brought your mechanic buddy along (because, let's face it, it's a landy and it's *going* to break), it'd be more of a road trip rather than a legitimate adventure.

I think the common attitude that if you're going to do anything outdoors you need the Best Gear for it robs people of real adventure. People are over-geared for the ambition of their goals, and thus just have a fine time outside. An ERE approach to adventure: be competent, have shit gear, thus have adventure. (Also, having shit gear encourages you to have good skills. Many pieces of gear can make you stupid, such as climbers who have a fancy whiz-bang ATC but don't know how to use a carabiner instead in case they drop it).

(The Fortune variable there is what climbers would call "objective hazards", including things like the weather, wild animals, rockfall, mechanical failures, interaction with other humans, etc. If everything goes well, even an ambitious adventure can be a walk in the park. If everything goes wrong, an actual walk through an actual park can turn in to the greatest adventure of your life.)

RoamingFrancis
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by RoamingFrancis »

This theory of adventure is genius! I love it!

classical_Liberal
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

People used to live hard, adventurous lives for survival.

Post industrialization, people began doing hard, adventurous things for there own sake.

Today people do adventurous things in easy-mode for the instagram photo op.

It's a shell of what it once was. The point of adventure was to do something hard, not "win" at adventuring.

AxelHeyst
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Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Week 2 of Semi-ERE
I had a realization over the past couple days.

I was concerned that I'd fuck up my 'Recover from Burnout' phase by being too type-A about it, and so I thought I'd try to just "do whatever I want to do on any given day", and let go of any shoulds - I should be doing yoga every day, meditating, taking baths in heated milk while being massaged by forest nymphs M/W/F's at 1620 sharp, etc.

I discovered a flaw in this plan. There is a difference between what my conscious mind wants to do (climb! meditate! go for a walk! stare out at the vista for an hour!) and what my unconscious self has been conditioned to do over the past 15 years. I'm used to being in front of a computer for 8+ hours a day. I'm used to waking up, doing a couple things, and then computering for hours. Even if I don't have anything to actually *do* on the computer, I feel compelled to be in front of it. This is one example. Another is simply that I don't know how to plan / spend a day where I have the entire day at my disposal - I'm used to having 2 - 4 hours a day of expendable time max.

Yesterday I want on a motorcycle ride, and came back after a couple hours. And then realized it was 1pm, and I had another 8 hours of sunlight left. Why the hell had I come back? I was enjoying myself... but there was a subroutine running in my head that said "Sorry, can't, got some work to do, gotta get back and check email and work on that thing." (I went out for another 4 hour ride, bucked my extra fuel tank off in washboarded sand, but didn't realize it for 20 miles, and barely made it back, so the day was salvaged.)

This is exacerbated, I think, by the fact that I've been WFH for 4.5 years now. Being in my own space vs. an office isn't a signal to my brain to do what I want - in fact, Serenity is a bit of a "whelp, might as well sit down and get some work done" spatial trigger for me.

Long story short, I'm becoming conscious of mostly unconscious mental patterns that limit what I allow myself to imagine as possible for how to spend my days. This is really what is meant by "wage slave", isn't it? The master isn't my boss, the master is myself, that part of my brain that has internalized the goals of the company I work for as my own, and conformed my behavior and thoughts to the mission of the greater good of the company. God.

It seems to me that my next goal, then, is to disrupt these mental patterns as much as possible - I need to de-train my brain, take back sovereignty over my time, uproot the tendrils of thought-control I've allowed to take deep root.

Two methods occur to me, to be used either/or or in conjunction. I suspect the next few months and years will be a process of taking multiple passes.

Method 1: Discipline = Freedom
My idea to just be a total free spirit isn't working. This method is to allow a bit of type-A in to the recovery period, and approach it like a training regime: set up a schedule of yoga, meditation, locking my devices out of the internet for certain periods of time, and other recovery period activities.

Method 2: Disrupt and Bifurcate
This method is to intentionally engage in an Event that is suitably disruptive and lengthy that it forces a "reset" of my ingrained habits. The Event doesn't necessarily implement new long-term habits, but it disrupts the old habits. Examples would be: a thru-hike, a vipassana retreat, perhaps a psilocybin therapy session, a long road trip without a phone, a long art project taken to totality of attention in the absence of access to the internet, a short-term hermitage, etc. The point of this event is to break those old habits, allowing for a cleaner adoption of new ones on the far side. (This implies that a plan for far-side habits must be in place before the bifurcation event, to safeguard against slipping back in to old behaviors).

I think ideally, I engage in bifurcation events at some appropriate level of frequency, and introduce healthy disciplined action in between them.

--

I'm still caught up in life logistics for the next couple weeks, so this is all somewhat theoretical. I still have to sort out health coverage, DW and I have to get ourselves across the country and get established there, and a few work projects require my attention for another couple weeks before I can put them on autopilot. There's too much instability for the next ~2 weeks to try to implement anything significant, but I'll be mulling it over and starting to pull together a better recovery plan for myself.

classical_Liberal
Posts: 1776
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:28 pm
This is really what is meant by "wage slave", isn't it? The master isn't my boss, the master is myself, that part of my brain that has internalized the goals of the company I work for as my own, and conformed my behavior and thoughts to the mission of the greater good of the company. God.
That's some Yoda level s**t there.
AxelHeyst wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:28 pm
Two methods occur to me, to be used either/or or in conjunction. I suspect the next few months and years will be a process of taking multiple passes.
Third option. Systematic desensitization. This is what worked for me, YMMV. Plan nothing that doesn't absolutely need to be planned. Everyone has a few things in life that need planning, you'll miss out on some good stuff without it, so don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. However, for everything else, just do whatever suits your fancy at any given time. If you're enjoying something, keep doing it until your not. If you wanna be type-A, do something worthwhile and clean out your rig or start a project, or do something to help your GF get more time. But ONLY work on those things when you feel like it. Literally practice stopping it before it's done, whenever you're sick of it, and leaving it for the next time you get all type-A and feel like you want to work on it, not out of boredom. You may get bored. You may think "well if this is all I'm gonna do, I should just go back to work".

After awhile you'll begin to appreciate this freedom. Like, it's totally awesome I can stay up until 4AM to play this video game Im into. Or it's great I can go hiking for the next few days or a road trip for a few weeks and have no one to answer to. Eventually though (maybe months), you'll start to settle into a healthy routine for yourself. You'll learn AH likes to wake up and enjoy coffee and reading for two hours, followed by a hike for some cardio. Then on to daily duties for PT work and around the campsite, afterwards a motorcycle ride...

Whatever, I totally made that up, who knows what your days will look like. The point is eventually you'll know how a perfectly structured day and week looks to you. You'll begin to enjoy some of the life maintenance activities that used to seem like chores (laundry, dishes, etc). Once this happens, strangely enough, you'll start to feel like being more productive again. Things that used to illicit that "Mr Yuk" feeling seem more interesting. Now you're ready to be productive again in some form. Maybe it's time to travel, or start that hobby business or whatever. For me, this is when I contemplate picking up another work contract.

Good luck!
Last edited by classical_Liberal on Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

AxelHeyst
Posts: 258
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Location: The Mountains, USA

Re: Axel Heyst's Journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:03 pm
However, for everything else, just do whatever suits your fancy at any given time. If you're enjoying something keep doing it until your not.
The problem is that "just do whatever suits your fancy at any given time" isn't that simple for me. It seems that without planning, I'll do the exact opposite of what you're suggesting: I'll start doing something I don't really want to do (farting around on the computer), and I'll keep doing it long after I'm consciously aware that it sucks and I'd rather do something else.

And then if I do trick myself in to doing something enjoyable, I typically stop doing it well before I've stopped enjoying it (my ride yesterday). It's like I have an anti-fun routine running in my head.

Maybe I'm just impatient, and need to give it some time. I really do like the idea of organically discovering what a great day looks like to me (although I'm concerned because I'm quite kaphic I'll just turn in to a lazy piece of shit).

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