My Last Day In Starkville

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Originally written on July 18, 2019

"What last advise do you have for me?"

"So this is it, the end of the line," said Garrett. I was eating my Subway, as we waited for Nathan to deliver his last words to me. Sean was on his way, too. In the summer of 2018, I crashed on his couch when I didn't have a place. In summer 2017, I played volleyball every thursday with his friends.

It was already about 4:45 pm. Guilia had promised to be there at 5 pm so we could reach Greenwood by 7:30 pm. The air felt heavy. It still wasn't dark outside but I had lights on. The door was open so Nathan and Sean could barge in. I blurted, "get married or get yourself a serious girlfriend."

I thought of what coaches and motivational speakers say, "lift yourself up, control your mind, discipline yourself." That is bullshit. To say "lift yourself" is like lifting yourself up with your own hands. But an object cannot apply force on itself, just like a knife can't cut itself, as Alan Watts once said. It cannot be both the subject and the object of the same force. To think otherwise violates the laws of classical physics.

Therefore, one cannot lift oneself up. This is why we need people to lift us up when life gets hard. I am not asking you to be weak. I am asking you to let yourself go, breathe out, and relax your system. A veil of psychological self-sufficiency only constrains your psyche and makes you proud. It is a hold on to feeling, not a let go off feeling. Suck up your ego. Ask for help.

Between two men with the same willpower, the one with more supporting friends wins. When I say get supporting friends, I am talking community building. Just like that, a serious relationship stabilizes a man/woman's life. A man with a supporting wife is much better equipped than a single man, everything else held constant.

Yes, a space shuttle moves by itself without external force. But it burns its own mass to do that. A car burns its own fuel to move. Similarly, the more you control yourself, the more energy you lose. As Kelly McGonigal reports in The Willpower Instinct, willpower appears to be a measurable quantity, which gets used up when used. The brain spends 20% of the body's energy. Yes, you can push yourself, but you literally will have to burn your fuel.

In Dragon Ball Super, Jiren lost to Goku and company, even though he was stronger than all of them combined. He was a hermit who lost to a wolfpack. He underestimated the synergy that emerges with group work. I have lived like a hermit, like a lone wolf. But I became much more powerful in a wolf pack.

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