The Education of Axel Heyst

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AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by AxelHeyst »

October Update

The animals were with me the whole month. They took over my canvas tent and Serenity was the kitchen/common space. Mr Animal cooked most of the meals, Mrs Animal baked a lot, and I gained weight. ;)

They also helped me move rocks for the shade structure bench retaining wall, helped dig out the Burrow, built some chairs, we spent three days in Death Valley, did various local hikes, and practiced idleness. It was absolutely a great time, I feel very fortunate that I got to spend so much time with them.

It highlighted for me how important it is to me/my wog to build sufficient shelter infrastructure for people to stay here. We lucked out that they arrived in the narrow window when a canvas tent isn’t absolutely miserable here. I want people to be able to stay any month. The Burrow is the next major project in this direction.

Between EREfest, the animals, and my time in Japan so far, I’m finally grokking how important good food is for social activity. My food is fuel attitude might finally be changing. Cooking will feature prominently in my Skillathon plan.

Mathiverse is staying with me for a couple weeks in January and I’m going to cook all our meals as my first Skillathon chunk… their palate is more discerning than mine so I’m going to get better feedback than I can provide myself as well as motivation to make decent stuff.

I’m in Japan with my family. We’ve been in and around Tokyo and then in and around Kyoto. In a few days they go home and I’ll be on my own here till mid December unless I decide to move my flight up. I’m probably going to be at workaways the rest of my time.

I’m glad I came. I’m getting lots of inspiration from many elements of the culture here, and reflecting on the elements of culture I don’t like. A rich environment for observation and reflection for me. Lots of ideas for projects and ways of approaching projects when I get home.

The timing worked well in another way; I’d already been introspecting away from stoke and towards devotion as a state goal before getting here. Less ‘away from’ stoke and more seeing stoke as something to be held lightly, with an attitude of devotion as the preferred state of choice. Stoke requires certain external variables to line up. Like flow, it’s nice when it happens but chasing it as The Goal can lead you to disappointment or clenching striving. My tagline of ‘Chasing stoke…’ felt discordant recently.

Devotion can be chosen at any moment under any circumstances. Japan seems like a good place to think about devotion… partly because it’s a place where you can see both the pros and cons / potential pitfalls of devotion focus instead of overly idealizing or romanticizing it.

Image
Death Valley

Image
Mr Animal’s shaksuka

midnightembers
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by midnightembers »

Axel - I'm intrigued by your move towards devotion. To me stoke is a simple, clear fuel, almost a binary --> do I feel its thrust or not? Devotion sounds trickier/more complicated/less purely motivational. Gentler, which, I suppose, may be a positive. I wonder if stoke burns hot and fast, while devotion is more measured and directed. If so, devotion might also lead to fewer activities directed at more focused goals?

I read the following recently, which may be applicable. Stoke could be all sorts of things. One's 'vow' (kind of like one's purpose (of being here, of life)) could be the broader structure -- the overarching devotion -- under which hot stoke-ish activities find proper place. Once properly devoted, productivity follows because stoke is deployed rather than chased.

"ethics and psychology are the bottleneck for finding your vow
finding your vow is the bottleneck on productivity
productivity is the bottleneck on strategy
strategy is the bottleneck on effective coordination between individuals and groups for the benefit of all beings"
(from https://tasshin.com/blog/talking-points-2023/)

The part of this forum that grabs me is ERE2, and I feel like this framing also gets at some of the conversation happening elsewhere here about attracting more individuals to 'the cause.' Everyone has a different purpose/vow/devotion to attend to. For some, purely embodying one good way 'to be' while devoted to other tangible projects is probably the most effective attractor. For some others it could be working directly on messaging/marketing/inspiring the general public, or being focused on bringing about more effective coordination.

I look forward to hearing how devotion develops for you. Cheers.

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by AxelHeyst »

I really like the lines you quoted. I didn’t understand how productivity fit at first but it made sense once I read the full post.

Yes I think of stoke as simple and clean. ‘Hot’, maybe, yes.

I think devotion is a different kind of thing. The only reason they’re both coming up together is because I’ve been focused on stoke (intrinsic motivation and Self Determination Theory stuff) for some time now, and viewing much of my life and decisions through a stoke centric lens… and now my attention is turning towards possibly replacing that with a devotion centric lens. I’ve gotten a lot out of thinking about stoke and by no means am I thinking that any of that attention was wasted. I learned (and unlearned) a lot.

Part of my work with stoke was learning to listen to myself and how to tell what I like. I was quite bad at knowing what I wanted and how I felt about things. I’d push through activities that I didn’t like and wasn’t good at out of a sense of obligation or vestigial work ethic. My own desires are much clearer to me now and I have no problem dropping activity I’m not stoked on.

Maybe stoke was work I had to do in order to get to / unlock devotion. (?)

The theme of devotion actually occurred to me back in 2014ish in Bali, observing the care taken in the preparation of the little rice offerings they put out in the morning and some of the ways they approached work and activity.

Something similar entered my head around then during a trip, an experience I loosely translate as ‘just make beautiful things’ and visualize as warm light in a dark void.

I didn’t do / was unable to do anything with these experiences at the time.

Maybe the relationship is this: first, choose activities you’re stoked to do. Then, engage in them in a state of devotion. Bonus points / next level is doing everything from a state of devotion whether or not you’re stoked on it. Maybe at high levels of execution stoke becomes a meaningless concept because the depth of devotion is so high, everything is godsong including doing taxes and hanging out with inlaws.

Anyways, I’ve got a lot of experimentation/practice to do before I’ll be able to articulate this better. I think Skillathon is a perfect vehicle for it because the structure of it seems to be at odds with stoke centricity… but perfect for honing devotion. That tension might be a perfect crucible for learning/exploring the relationship between the two.

midnightembers
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by midnightembers »

Bonus points / next level is doing everything from a state of devotion whether or not you’re stoked on it. Maybe at high levels of execution stoke becomes a meaningless concept because the depth of devotion is so high, everything is godsong including doing taxes and hanging out with inlaws.
Interesting thought you're raising: devotion obviates a need to be stoked. Or conversely, stoke is an implicit component of devotion. Productivity surges as it feels nearly effortless to engage in (devoted) action.

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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by mountainFrugal »

I think that you are going to find a lot of nuggets looking at it through the lens of devotion. Stoke and devotion are not mutually exclusive of course as you two have said. Devotion, at least in my mind, means showing up and giving it a try even if you are not actually "stoked" to do it at that time. In my experience, once I get started by overcoming the initial thoughts of not wanting to do something because I am not stoked in the moment, I often find that the stoke rekindles quickly. A few examples, running a mile, drawing or writing for 5 minutes, etc. If I am still not feeling it in the example of running, I will just walk home (this has only happened 2 times in recent memory). Give yourself the option to stop if you truly are not feeling stoked after overcoming the desire to not do something. If I have a number of days in a month where I have to apply this then I step back and ask myself whether that activity should still be a part of my WOG? Should I take a temporary break? Devotion without a way to reflect might get you back into grinding at things that you do not actually want to do anymore although at one time you did because "devotion". Or to put it another way, if you have a string of anti-stoke over time for some activity (weeks/months), it might be a good sign to move on. Ways to spend our time will naturally change seasonally with the environment or the seasons of life.

ertyu
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by ertyu »

Maybe I don't get it due to being too far behind on stoke development, but what's the difference between devotion as formulated by mtnfrugal above and old school forcing yourself at the behest of an internalized ego-slavedriver

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by AxelHeyst »

@ertyu: love.

I actually think I’ve only unlocked the door to devotion by undoing a bunch of old self hate stuff and becoming capable of self love, which I’m experiencing mostly as awe and gratitude directed outwards. Observation of little mundane things like a hummingbird checking out a bit of red string or the expression on the face of a stranger on the metro will make me fiercely happy about being alive.

I think this is prerequisite.

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by AxelHeyst »

A couple more thoughts/context:
.I experienced deep existential anxiety around finding and doing Work that was Important and would help to Fix all the Broken Things since I was 20ish.
.Something something transmuted sin and shame story something something The Fall from the Garden something something Myrh of Progress something something outwardly projected belief of internal inadequacy and the existence of a pure unblemished world that ought to be stroven for etc.
.Circa 2015 the thought that maybe all that is possible is to try to make small things of beauty (understood entirely broadly and inclusive of intangibles like relationships, experiences, thoughts, moments, etc). Tend your garden. I’m still not absolutely sure of this but I think about it a lot.
.The growing suspicion that there is a link between trying to fix everything, aka unacceptance of brokenness, and the brokenness of things. Maybe the people who go around trying to fix things from a place of self hate are the very people fucking everything up in the first place. This was a very uncomfortable thought for entirely personal reasons (and is one of the main reasons I don’t w*rk anymore).
.Cue internal self-love work and exploration.
.My best story about the purpose of consciousness is that everything is god and that we are recursive vortexes of godstuff spun up into sentience for the purpose of noticing how neat all this shit is. Since we’re little bits of godstuff this involves self love/worship as well.
.The attitude or state of devotion is thus our gift back to god, which is in itself a gift back to us (the state of devotion feels nice).
.Devotion might be a *way* of doing things (process) that tends to generate results that are either harmless or beneficial to others. So instead of devotion being a punt on my original desire to Do Good, it might be the answer I was looking for but had to give up first. (Seeking devotion *in order to* fix all the bad broken shit the evil people did… would be doing it wrong/ missing the point / probably generate negative unintentional side effects.)

delay
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by delay »

For a long time I was atheistic and thought that physics explains everything. And physics does predict the movement of planets. But most other things? I've tried to observe them and make predictions using physics. It gets me nowhere.

So physics is just a human model. And religion is too. The model of physics has its uses, but so does the model of religion. When I compare the stories of the Manhattan project and the resurrection of Christ, I have no way to verify anything about either. But the resurrection is story that brings hope, and resembles the depth of winter, when the Sun stops sinking and starts rising. Religion seems to be the better model!
AxelHeyst wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2023 7:40 pm
.The attitude or state of devotion is thus our gift back to god, which is in itself a gift back to us (the state of devotion feels nice).
Amen! The purpose of life is to serve god, which is to serve yourself.

ertyu
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by ertyu »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2023 7:16 pm
I actually think I’ve only unlocked the door to devotion by undoing a bunch of old self hate stuff and becoming capable of self love, which I’m experiencing mostly as awe and gratitude directed outwards. Observation of little mundane things like a hummingbird checking out a bit of red string or the expression on the face of a stranger on the metro will make me fiercely happy about being alive.
Would it be fair to say self-love is what remains when the self-hate is gone

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by AxelHeyst »

@delay Hammers are good for driving nails. Saws are good for cutting boards. 8-)

@ertyu I’m not sure. That’s not really how I thought about it / worked through it but that idea might work for others. For me it might be more accurate to say that I focused on develop self-love and that pushed out or starved the self-hate. Like, instead of figuring out how to hate myself less I worked on loving myself more. I went towards what I wanted more of rather than pushing away from what I didn’t. Hating self-hatred is sort of a loop, isn’t it. This might be post facto narrative building though.

ertyu
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by ertyu »

Makes sense. It's unlikely to be a straight-line process. What did you arrive at, what does it mean to love oneself? Might be a cool blog post, I'd enjoy extended musings on that.

Divandan
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by Divandan »

@Axel, was wondering if there was an update on the book/release date? I have been re-reading several chapters of ERE again and figured it would be a nice companion book on your synthesis of information as well.

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

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@divandan, progress on the book continues but (clearly) all of my past estimates for completion were wrong. That said, I’m *pretty sure* I’m happy with the manuscript and will not be doing any further significant revisions. From here on out it’s copy editing, proofreading, making the figures and diagrams publish-ready, formatting, etc.

Since this is my first book project I simply don’t have the experience to accurately guess how long the rest of it will take. I can tell you that I work on it no fewer than 1.5hrs a day 5-6 days a week and am planning on ramping that up to 2-4hrs a day (I find I can’t write more than 2 hrs, but I can fiddle with diagrams and play with formatting longer).

I’m spending zero hours a day on it while in Japan though, so the project is taking a 1.5 month pause.

March? April 1st?

Divandan
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by Divandan »

Sounds good! I am really looking forward to reading it when it does come out. Is there an official/unofficial way to preorder and show my support to the project? Thanks!

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

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The two weeks with my family in Tokyo and Kyoto was great - better than I expected it to go. We saw a lot of temples, ate a lot of ramen, did a tea ceremony (for foreigners), saw kabuki, rode the Shinkansen all around, and drank conveni beers. We walked ~4-8miles a day which is astounding for my parents. The time was great and also just a lot of stimulation so I’m sure my parents are still decompressing from it. It was cool to get to spend time with my brothers in that environment- in particular my BIL comes totally alive while traveling. I feel closer to my family.

I’m now a week in to my first workaway in Nakatsu, Oita prefecture. I’m living in the house of a local guy who runs an animal shelter as his day job and is developing a field with dreams of permaculture in the future. I’ve mostly just been processing firewood for him. The only other foreigner I’ve seen in this town of 80k is the English teacher.

For me this workaway was less about learning anything new from the work, and more about having the cultural experience of more day to day Japanese life. Also, resting after my intense two weeks with family. He cooks normal Japanese food 3x/day, we sit around the kotatsu in the evening, we went to a nearby Onsen, visited Usa Shrine, I shower ALL THE TIME like every single day, whoa, and I walk around and explore the town while he’s at work.

In another week I’ll go to the second workaway which is more about learning from the (American) host, who is a huge direct drive DC micro grid nerd. I return to the states Dec13.

As per usual, traveling makes me want to be home. (I actually looked up if my ticket was changeable (it’s not)). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: it makes me not take home for granted, and I have lots of ideas of what I want to do / how I want to relate to my place when I get back. That said, I definitely didn’t *need* to go on another trip so shortly after my bike trip - the timing wasn’t my call. I’m glad I decided to take the opportunity to spend a month after the family time as I doubt I’ll be back.

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by AxelHeyst »

Divandan wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2023 9:43 pm
Sounds good! I am really looking forward to reading it when it does come out. Is there an official/unofficial way to preorder and show my support to the project? Thanks!
Nope! The comments and interest is great motivation and support (/terror at the prospect of disappointing people :P ), it really does mean a lot. I’m sure I’ll have some sort of preorder thing once I get to that point and will be sure to make it easy to find.

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by AxelHeyst »

Thinking about devotion while reading Musashi (thanks for the rec @theanimal) got me thinking about self-discipline again, which led me to start folding that into my daily behavior. On day 2 I went out with my workaway host, got sauced, and fell into a yt shorts wormhole until 0430 with a 0630 wake-up time to process firewood and haul rocks all day.

Which led me to my hungover Micro Epiphany of the Week: I used to think self-discipline was about always doing what you told yourself you were going to do. It is, but it’s also and perhaps more so about always getting back up after inevitably *not* doing what you said you were going to do and not stewing in your own miserableness about it. There’s a higher level of discipline which has to do with not using mere failure as an excuse to totally Fail.

It further occurs to me that this is a move that love unlocks: when the discipline comes from a place of self hatred, failing is toxic proof of that hate which feasts on your soul which looks like dark rumination on how you aren’t even worthy of being the kind of person the disciplined practices will make you become, so, bottoms up again, asshole.

Love unlocks a more playful attitude to the whole thing. I was able to laugh at my sillyass self and restart my workouts and morning sits the next day.

AxelHeyst
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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

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### November Update

Japan in Three Parts:

1. With family. Actually great. A major shared family experience.

2. First workaway, Two weeks with a local Japanese man helping him process firewood. Lived in his traditional Japanese house and ate traditional home cooked Japanese food. And rested.

3. Second workaway, building a thermal energy storage and heating system for a greenhouse, and also a greenhouse for his experimental radio receiver. I live at the project site 15’ from the beach, which I have entirely to myself.

This second workaway is really remarkable. It’s a perfect fit for my skills and interests, I get along with the host well, he values my work, the setting is pinch-me-am-I-dreaming. I’ll do a longer post on it after I get back home.

I was (predictably) feeling homesick shortly into my first workaway and hoped that this last workaway would consume most of my attention to make the time go faster. It is doing that, and making me feel like the extra time I gave myself in Japan is going to good use. I’m very glad I came here and took a gamble on it (there were clues that the host was disagreeable).

—-

Skillathon24 design continues. I’m converging on a plan that feels very aligned with moving forward my ambitions homeoteletically rather than just chucking random skills at the wall. The plan is also variable so I can adjust as I go.

I’m reading the book Musashi. It’s a How to Be a Good Man handbook thinly disguised as a novel. It also includes several variations on How To Be a Total Failure of a Man. It’s extra fun to be reading it while in Japan and having been at some of the locations in the book.

mF linked to Paul Graham’s essay on Default Dead or Default Alive, which simply looks at if a business would survive or fail if it kept going the way things are currently going. I think this is a useful concept for thinking about one’s semiERE system. By the numbers I think I’m default dead, but it’d take a long time. By the end of 2024 I should be at least marginally default alive. I’m still in that early phase Paul talks about where it’s too early to properly answer the question because things are still getting spun up, but he says you should err on the side of asking the question too early. In short, I’m doing the early work of getting myself to a place of being default alive. Once there, I can entertain grander / aggressive / riskier ventures.

I’m feeling prepared to ramp my level of execution up another level without destabilizing into stress or burnout. Already 2024 is looking very full, but in a good way that I’m excited about. I wouldn’t have been up for it even a year ago but I am now.

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Re: The Education of Axel Heyst

Post by jacob »

AxelHeyst wrote:
Wed Nov 29, 2023 6:44 pm
I’m reading the book Musashi. It’s a How to Be a Good Man handbook thinly disguised as a novel. It also includes several variations on How To Be a Total Failure of a Man. It’s extra fun to be reading it while in Japan and having been at some of the locations in the book.

mF linked to Paul Graham’s essay on Default Dead or Default Alive, which simply looks at if a business would survive or fail if it kept going the way things are currently going. I think this is a useful concept for thinking about one’s semiERE system. By the numbers I think I’m default dead, but it’d take a long time. By the end of 2024 I should be at least marginally default alive. I’m still in that early phase Paul talks about where it’s too early to properly answer the question because things are still getting spun up, but he says you should err on the side of asking the question too early. In short, I’m doing the early work of getting myself to a place of being default alive. Once there, I can entertain grander / aggressive / riskier ventures.
Bringing these together, you might want to ponder which "fundamental element" (fire, air, water, rock) comprises semiERE vis-a-vis ERE vis-a-vis FIRE. Since Bruce Lee discovered Proclus, many fighters identify with Water. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical ... -Platonism

I suggest the following (based on unspoken metaphors):
Careerism: Fire
semi-ERE: Air
ERE: Water
FIRE: Rock

PS: I also suggest reading Book of Five Rings if you haven't already. You can skip the part about sword stances.

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