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Day #64-66: An Essay I Read Recently

I recently read the written text of this speech delivered in Tomorrowland, from the main antagonist, Governor Nix:

"Let's imagine, if you glimpsed the future, you were frightened by what you saw, what would you do with that information? You would go to the politicians? Captains of industry? And how would you convince them? Data? Facts? Good luck. The only facts they won't challenge are the ones that keep the wheels greased and the dollars rolling in.

But what if... what if there was a way of skipping the middleman, and putting the critical news directly into everyone's head? The probability of widespread annihilation kept going up. The only way to stop it was to show it. To scare people straight. Because what reasonable human being wouldn't be galvanized by the potential destruction of everything they've ever known or loved? To save civilization, I would show its collapse.

But how do you think this vision was received? How do you think people responded to the prospect of imminent doom?

They gobbled it up like a chocolate eclair. They didn't fear their demise, they repackaged it. It can be enjoyed as video games, as TV shows, books, movies, the entire world wholeheartedly embraced the apocalypse, and sprinted towards it with gleeful abandon. Meanwhile, your Earth was crumbling all around you. You've got simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation. Explain that one. Bees and butterflies start to disappear, the glaciers melt, algae blooms, all around you the coal mine canaries are dropping dead, and you won't take the hint!

In every moment, there is the possibility of a better future, but you people won't believe it. And because you won't believe it, you won't do what is necessary to make it a reality! So you dwell on this terrible future, you resign yourselves to it, for one reason, because that future doesn't ask anything of you today.

So, yes, we saw the iceberg and warned the Titanic, but you all just steered for it anyway, full steam ahead.

Why? Because you want to sink.

You gave up.

That's not the monitor's fault.

That's yours."

Some may consider the narration to be over the top, or the prose to be too flowery, but there's definite truth in this.

Especially the part that I've bolded above:

So you dwell on this terrible future, you resign yourselves to it, for one reason, because that future doesn't ask anything of you today.

That line hit me the hardest because it describes me to the T right now.

Of course, my future professional and personal prospects are nowhere near the trajectory Nix is talking about. However, the effect is the same: I've resigned myself to keeping the status quo.

What's the evidence for this? The fact that I keep saying that I want to do X, Y, and Z, but only continue to do F, which is the same thing I've always been doing.

I'm still making progress in my traditional engineering career, and even my writing side hustle.

I'm not making progress with changing myself though. It's implicit in my behavior that I haven't committed to change deep down, thus the reason why I keep doing the same things that I'm doing, like not going to bed on time.

I only have myself to blame. I would say my failure is a direct reflection of not asking myself the following question:

"What do I have to NOT do today to build the habits that I want to have tomorrow?"

It stems to the line I bolded from Nix's speech: what future are you asking for if it doesn't ask of you anything in the present?

For instance, I recently achieved my goal of losing weight. Losing 15 pounds was mostly a result of NOT eating bad food and NOT eating a lot. All the healthy things I did would have been for naught if I had not also stopped doing unhealthy things.

It's clear to me now: for building habits, it's more important that you STOP bad behaviors than START good ones.

From now on, I'm working towards a personal future for myself that demands the most of me today. Anything less is not worth my effort.


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