I was talking with my daughter the other day and giving her a hard time about taking her phone away until she got her homework finished up, when she surprised me by saying it was a pretty good idea. The conversation ended up with “shocked me” holding two phones, while she went to study for her exams. Later when I talked to her about it, she explained to me that she knows that she needs to get ready for her college entrance exams, but sometimes it’s just so hard to focus.
This is something I think many of us share in common. I know for myself it’s something that I’ve had to fight my entire life. I was always interested in learning stuff, but I rarely found school particularly interesting, let alone confusing social interactions and clicks that made life miserable on a daily basis. Another thing I always found amazing was how even the stuff I was interested in could be made boring and a chore. Even worse, I’m one of those people who need to see the connection of why learning something theoretical is useful and practical. My resistance to this has gotten better as I’ve grown older, but that doesn’t mean that I agree with the structure that is “modern education”. Interestingly enough, I recently saw a video that proves I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Check out the attached “RSA Animate” video. It validates this feeling I’ve had over the years in so many ways!
Self-discipline is not easy. It’s something that I’ve always had to work at, but it’s really the only way to get things done. It took me a long time to learn this. Unbelievably I learned this from one of my greatest distractions in my entire life: MMO’s and computer gaming. I’d tried to get into computers before joining the Army, but I was too poor to have the equipment I needed for it to hold my attention. At that time the only thing I could afford was a tape drive for saving data, which made five and a quarter floppy drives look like “light speed”! It wasn’t until I got out of the Army and back into computers that the technology really become affordable and once it did my life was forever changed.
Computer gaming made computers fun and it was primitive enough that you had to actually learn a lot of hardware, software and networking to be able to game. In this way it made learning fun. I didn’t mind pouring over book of data, of learning about interrupts for motherboards and peripherals and how they interacted with the operating system. Whatever I needed to get my games to run and play multiplayer with other gamers was all that was important.
Over the years my addition to gaming lessoned, but the things I learned had forever changed my life and given me a career in System Administration. One was crafting in Anarchy Online and other MMO’s. Crafting is one of those parts of the game that’s not for everyone, but in Anarchy Online and even in the beginning days of World of Warcraft it was needed to access the higher content of the game. Without a fully functional guide or enough characters with specialized skills it was impossible to reach certain game content. Usually this meant months of leveling up a character and the required skills needed to get to this point. I cannot even begin to tell you the months upon months of crafting I did online. Studying any information I could find on how to access these areas and the steps needed to craft what was needed. Of watching my online character’s hands make a twisting humping movement that is the universal symbol for crafting in MMO’s. Sometimes it was just boring shit. Making the same thing over and over until your skills were high enough to get to the next level, because that was the only way to get the special key or amulet made that would allow you into this super-secret dungeon.
I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know when I made the connection between doing this online and doing this IRL, but suddenly I realized I could do the same thing in my own life to make it better. I could level up. Yea, I know just how nerdy that sounds, but none the less it’s the truth. At the time it was an incredible concept and something I started doing consciously. Something so profound that even now when I’m studying for a new certificate or learning a new language, in the back of my mind I’m standing in some virtual world with my hands twisting to craft this new item or skill.
Although it sounds cliché so say this, during this epiphany time period in my life after I’d been doing this RL translation, I came across a movie in 2011 that changed my perspective on this even further. The name of the movie was called Limitless. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth checking out the video below. Not so much that the movie itself is so incredible, but the idea that you could take a pill and overnight have access to your mind’s full potential grabbed my imagination. Although the main character in the film happens to start out as a failed writer, the film itself wasn’t what made me want to write. I’d always had the desire, but never seemed to get around to doing it.
At this point in my life the thought that hit me was that why couldn’t I do this without a pill? Why couldn’t I just learn what I wanted to do? I mean, really what was stopping me, the work of learning how to do something in and of itself? Just a few years before watching this video I’d learned German and was starting on Polish, I dropped thirty-five to forty pounds, I’d finished a college degree, picked up about thirty certifications for Information Technology and moved to Europe. Basically all of these accomplishments had been purely based on motivation and the belief that I could make my life whatever I wanted it to be. It was at this point in my life I wrote my first book Flight.
Surprisingly enough while I was getting the links for this blog on the movie Limitless, I ran into something even more interesting than the movie. It’s an IRL “Limitless Style” drug that the news is starting to talk about. The youtube video was posted March 22nd, 2015. Supposedly the drug is called Provigil (modafinil). For those of you who are interested I just linked the news article below. I had heard of biohacking. Many of us do this to an extent. If you think about it biohacking can be as simple as taking vitamins or eating healthy all the way to taking specific drugs to enhance muscle and endurance, but the articles on this drug is pretty crazy. Who knows, maybe there is a drug that can help you be a “better you”. Just remember, no matter what, bio-enhance drugs or not, it’s your choice. You really can do anything you set your mind to do.
Anyway, there will always be new and exciting things that pull your attention and distract you from things that you need to do for yourself and your family. I mean, look at the up and coming future of gaming with Magic Leap’s “Alternate Reality” glasses. The possibilities this creates for gaming are sick! While Magic Leap is not out yet, Microsoft’s Holodeck will be here soon. Soon as in possibly the end this year or the beginning of next and integrates with Windows 10! Check this article out: http://www.howtogeek.com/214395/head-mounted-displays-whats-the-difference-between-augmented-and-virtual-reality/