During my alcoholic phase I had a pretty major blackout. Not as bad as some I’ve heard of, but my worst – I found a party boring, so I left at about 9pm. When I woke up the next morning I couldn’t find my car. I asked my roommate where it was, and he informed me that I was wrong about the previous evening. I found the party boring, so I figured drinking a lot would make it more interesting. I was a complete ass for hours, until my roommate finally drove me home at 2am. I remembered nothing of that. Hearing the previous night’s details recounted was like my own personal The Hangover.
And it occurred to me – from my point-of-view, last night might as well never have happened. In my timeline that night was erased, and replaced with sleeping. What was the point of even having lived through those events?
I’ve always had a bad episodic memory. I have a hard time remembering a lot of my life. Years go by and I look back and think “What the hell happened? Where was I during that time? What was the point of living through that crap?” Years of not-drunkenness, to be clear. Years of playing video games, and reading, and surfing the net. Years that might as well have not existed.
In a desperate attempt to be relevant, to do anything of value, I started the HPMoR podcast. Because I believe in Eliezer’s vision of what humanity can be, and this seemed like a non-offensive and very fun way to help spread that, just a little. And it’s worked… not too long from now the podcast will be complete, and there will be a new thing in the world, a thing that wouldn’t have been here otherwise. I have something to look back on and say “There. That thing is a result of my living.”
That’s just the most drastic example, of course. Soon I will have a house that has been turned from a smoked-out dump to a nice place to live! Every time I work out I consider it a step toward building a body that is a nice body to live inside. I can look at old pictures, and look in the mirror, and say “I have changed a thing for the better.”
And of course now I’m starting to write as well. All this crap is hard, and I don’t spend all my time on it. I still play games or read or drink a bit, to rest and relax and recharge. But now those things are rest stops on the way to being productive. And being productive is no longer a chore, no longer work I have to trudge through until I can play again. Now it is what I do so that I matter, and play is a way to get back to doing that well. I don’t want to lose years of my life without anything to show for it again. If I go all my years and never accomplish anything, then why did I even bother living in the first place? Might as well have skipped right to the end with a jump out a window and saved myself a lot of trouble. The time for doing things is now.