I admire people that experiment with their own life.
I got SO inspired after reading this article about marathon runner Dean Karnazes. Some key quotes:
He had pushed himself to the point of death to find out whether he was strong enough to survive. He was.
“Somewhere along the line, we seem to have confused comfort with happiness.”
“The human body is capable of extraordinary feats.”
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!! What a ride!”
Yesterday, I beamed with excitement after reading this article about memory fanatic Piotr Wozniak. Key quotes:
He pursues extreme anonymity because he wants to avoid random interruptions to a long-running experiment he’s conducting on himself. He’s exploring what it’s like to live in strict obedience to reason. On first encounter, he appears to be one of the happiest people I’ve ever met.
With SuperMemo growing more and more popular, Wozniak felt that his ability to rationally control his life was slipping away. “There were 80 phone calls per day to handle. There was no time for learning, no time for programming, no time for sleep,” he recalls. In 1994, he disappeared for two weeks, leaving no information about where he was. The next year he was gone for 100 days. Each year, he has increased his time away. He doesn’t own a phone. He ignores his email for months at a time. And though he holds a PhD and has published in academic journals, he never attends conferences or scientific meetings.
His days are blocked into distinct periods: a creative period, a reading and studying period, an exercise period, an eating period, a resting period, and then a second creative period. He doesn’t get up at a regular hour and is passionate against alarm clocks.
A checklist Wozniak wrote a few years ago describing how to become a genius: You must clarify your goals, gain knowledge through spaced repetition, preserve health, work steadily, minimize stress, refuse interruption, and never resist sleep when tired. This should lead to radically improved intelligence and creativity. The only cost: turning your back on every convention of social life.
Then there’s my hero, Tim Ferriss, of the 4-Hour Workweek book, who tried radical experiments with work-time, outsourcing everything possible, only doing email once a week, keeping all phone calls to one minute or less, and firing 90% of his clients to focus on the most profitable few.
In my own life, for the last two years, I’ve been on an experiment to take all of the “someday I’d like to...” and “I wonder if I could...” things, and start doing them.
- got divorced (it was mutual and happy)
- moved to London for most of 2007
- started lessons in Spanish, Mandarin, surfing, and Rails
- went to India for a month with nothing but a tiny backpack
- restructured my company so that they don’t need me at all
- starting a new company based in Hong Kong
What’s amazing is realizing how many things you’re considering doing, but not doing!
It feels great to fanatically eliminate the time between thinking something and doing it. (Hmm... kinda like an improvisational musician, right?)