Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“You’ve grown so much since you came to London. What was the cause of it?”
“I think the potential was always there, untapped.
Looking back, on a macro level, I notice a pattern of increasing life–density [<link; long read].
During my 20-year long gaming trance, without realizing it, I was laying the foundation, a bit like cubs in the natural world build vital life skills through play.
I loved optimizing and strategizing.
I loved exploring and adapting to new game environments.
I loved planning, drawing maps and solving intricate puzzles.
I loved deconstructing games and coming up with innovative designs and solutions.
I loved writing my ideas on gaming forums.
I loved being immersed in games for hours (and sometimes days) on end. Unbeknown to me, I was developing my capacity for Deep Focus.
I was unbalanced for a very long time. But by underdeveloping some life systems, I overdeveloped others.
There’s a concept I love which I know from Brian Johnson: one’s ‘Zone of Genius‘.
In Brian’s words:
We can play in one of four domains:
– Genius Zone: This captures who we are and what we’re doing when we’re at our ABSOLUTE best. Doing stuff that we and only we can do.
– Excellence: This is for the stuff you pretty much crush. The world rewards you for this stuff and pays you nicely for hammering it as well.
– Competence: This is for stuff you’re decent at but not really that good at and you’re not really fired up about.
– Incompetence: This is for stuff that you just aren’t good at. And you probably don’t like.
I’ve come to realize that my Zone of Genius is my capacity to Think.
My gaming years were my training ground. In an important sense, all those things I loved doing virtually, I am now doing for real, applied to my own Life-Game.
My gaming years were my unconscious phase.
Then, a little over ten years ago, I had an experience that shook my world and was the catalyst for a profound change.
It involved a girl.
It was a simple beautiful moment. Far away from home, near a castle, on a forgettable team-building trip, I saw a beautiful girl dressed all in black, felt a powerful attraction, and asked her to write me something on a postcard…
It may not sound like much, but for me it was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done. My hands were shaking, my voice was trembling… It felt like putting someone who is terrified of speaking in public to improvise a speech on a stage in front of a big room of people.
To me it’s still a mystery why I did it. What was that inner impulse that pushed me so far outside my comfort zone? It’s one of those experiences you could call ‘prophetic’.
What she wrote on the postcard is something I’ll never forget:
‘Pentru un azi care maine va fi un ieri indepartat.‘
Translation: ‘For a today that tomorrow will be a yesterday far gone.‘”
“Was that what triggered the process?”
“What triggered the Process was a burning desire to be better… for her.
I was a mess. A walking bundle of fears and insecurities. I totally lacked confidence in my own thinking and abilities. Her intellect and erudition made me experience a painful feeling of inferiority.
I yearned to change, but I had no idea where to start. In hindsight, the path I took was one of the best decisions of my life:
I started to read.
Well, I had been reading, but only lightly and casually. I started devouring books.”
“What did you focus on?”
“Philosophy. I read widely and chaotically, and over the following years, exposed myself to a huge variety of ideas. I started asking questions and engaging with the ideas. I started engaging in reflection and introspection.
I now realize, the main benefit I got from it was not so much from the ideas themselves, but from refining my capacity to think, and gradually building confidence in my own thinking.
It was in this period when I asked one of the most important questions of my life:
What is understanding?
I later called the seemingly paradoxical [<link; short read] process of understanding understanding meta-understanding [<link]. The inquiry yielded some beautiful practical insights. What made it special however, was that it was my own question, it grew organically from who I was.
I like to think of this period as the theoretical-philosophy stage. I also like to think of it as my second childhood and adolescence. Even though aimless and inefficient, I grew more in this period than in all the previous years of my life, on multiple levels.
But I still had very long way to go.
My theoretical-philosophy years were my semiconscious phase.
Before I came to London, which is something I’d never intended to, I felt lost, like I never had. I was jobless and depressed. This went on for months.
And then, out of the blue, I had another experience that shook my world and was the catalyst for another profound change, and the next stage of my growth.
It involved the same girl, now as a friend.
She invited me to Norway to spend some time there and clear my mind. Letting go of pride and accepting help from her and my parents was another important decision.
For most of my stay there, I was unchanged. But then, one day, she introduced me to a beautiful girl… Let’s call her V. I felt a strong attraction, and some deep fears and insecurities, which I’d skillfully dodged addressing for almost a decade, were once again revealed.
Nothing happened initially. I’d spent most of my time indoors, never once going outside on my own to explore the beautiful surroundings. A few days after meeting V, my friend suggested I do just that… and I did.
That decision changed my life. The long walk was a beautiful experience in itself, but at some point I ended up on a tall peak where I had an extraordinary view of the sea and the city in all directions. That view was the catalyst for a profound change. I experienced an epiphany, a feeling so strong that I burst into tears, stronger than anything I’d ever felt.
In that moment I made a COMMITMENT to radically change my life and Actualize my Potential.
What triggered the next stage of the Process was a burning desire to be better… for me.
A friend had been calling me to London for some time, but I’d kept refusing him. At that moment, I decided to go… straight from Norway… and I did.
This turned out to be another of the most important decisions of my life, and marked the beginning of my conscious phase.
The Process became Intentional, and methodical. I became one with the Process, channeling ALL my creative energy into it, with the same passion and intensity of my gaming years.
My life BECAME The Beautiful Game [<link; medium read].
I fully embraced the identity of Life-Artist/Designer, and started to think of my life as a work of art.
I became an Essentialist, and gradually eliminated ALL unessentials. Over the following months and years I designed and endlessly refined my many life-systems:
– my Identity, my pantheon of Values and my Purpose
– Self-care on multiple levels, most notably Love, where I profoundly healed my past [<link; medium read], and what Brian Johnson calls ‘The Fundamentals‘: Eating, Moving, Sleeping and Meditating
– my Commonplace Book
– the blueprint [<link; medium read] for my Masterpiece Day
With all these, I started essentially FROM SCRATCH.
With the foundation in place, growth started occurring at an increasing pace, and it exploded since I discovered Brian Johnson.
I like to think of this stage of my life as the practical-philosophy stage. And, inspired by Brian, I’ve come to think of myself as a Philosopher [<link; short read], in the ancient sense of word.
To answer your initial question, my growth was the culmination of the previous phases of my life, a combination of vision, clarity, focus, discipline, and artful expression of my innate potential.
And I feel I’ve only begun…“