What I have lived for, plus what I have lived against.

Soundtrack (play the music while reading, don’t watch the video)

 

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for friendship, the search for knowledge about minds and evolution, and unbearable desire to make mankind very happy. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.
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Three enemies, simple, but overwhelmingly strong, have kept me from reaching as high as I could so far: a desire to click the next hyperlink, sugar and other addictive substances, and the insurmountable desire to remain awake at late night time.
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I have sought friendship, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because it seemed more legitimate than romantic love. In true friendship I see the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints poets and Singularitarians have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what–at last–I have often found.
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Passionately I have fought the desire to click the next hyperlink. I installed Adblock, Chrome Nanny, Facebook Nanny, Stay Focused, Wunderlist, Beeminder, I wrote notes to self in my desktop, I created mental rules for when to consider turning off the web, I got a kindle and bought physical books, yet again and again the acceleration of addictiveness has found a way into my dopamine system.
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With equal passion I havesought knowledge about minds and evolution. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the jelly fish shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Darwinian power by which algorithm holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Sugar and other substances, quadrillions of times smaller than me, too I have sought to understand and avoid. I would not be shocked if I have diabetes already, nor if, decades from now, my cause of death turns out to be cheesecake. Avoiding a little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Friendship and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always gratitude brought me back to earth to give back. Echoes of opportunities for awesomeness wasted reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, anti-touch societies, social people who didn’t geek, geeks who don’t socialize, and the whole world of loneliness, have shown how far we are from the end of the human experiment. I long to alleviate this evil, but I, alone, cannot, and I too suffer.

To remain awake at night was the promise of dreamland. A magical place where all your actions are justified, where the bohemian and the workaholic can both be you, where artist meets stallion meets rockstar. Above all the night was at one time the elixir of signaling youth, and a timeless space where I felt no reason to use time efficiently and direct attention towards anything in particular. After 10pm, existential risk, OkCupid and SMBC-comics were on a par, and the world too, suffers.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

 


 

Analysis: Russell, who wrote the beautiful original on which this is based, was approximately as lucky as I am, in the timeless grand scheme of things. Being born 114 years sooner is a disastrous, unbelievably large disadvantage, but it can be overcome if you are the grandson of the British prime minister, had tutors to educate you, were visited by Darwin in childhood, are brilliant, lived 97 years, and had personal contact with the kings, czars and presidents of your era. 114 years later, I get to have equivalents or even improvements over most of his at the time hyper-scarce resources on the cheap, via division of labor, internet, and a globalized very large society living in the global macro metropolis of big cities.
The cost however is that what has provided me with advantages only dreamt of by kings in the late eighteenth century, comes now, like the water in a cactus in the desert, surrounded by thin layers of poison and thorns, which only great tools and long-term minds can reach. Many times I have fought against the addictive cacti of life. Few times I have won. This very writing itself is an attempt to signal, to me and to others, how more interesting my life will be if I at some point finally find a way out of these pernicious malignancies that separate me from a full potential.

I have come a long way, but as the amazing book title that never stops amazing me says: What got you here won’t get you there.

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