Have you been so immersed in something that you lost sense of time? Dipped in an idea so deep that you see nothing else? Driven in a world full of potential that you don’t know which end to pursue first? Well, I’ve been there too, at multiple stops in my life. And I, my friend, am a sucker for immersion.
Once upon a time, I used to wake up and rise straight out of bed with excitement. Every single day. I was eager to get back to what I was doing the night before. I was even dreaming of it in my sleep, waking up several times to the ecstasy of achieving these goals. I would then spend most of my waking hours facing the screen religiously (literally unless I had to eat, use the bathroom, or sleep). Finally, I’d get to bed when I could no longer keep my eyes open, and repeat.
I wasn’t possessed, nor was I crazy (although my family would beg to differ).
I was immersed.
And maybe a little bit cuckoo.
At the time, I wasn’t exactly doing anything important. I was just your next door awkward gamer kid immersed in my own world playing my MMORPG (massively multi-played online role playing game).
My life in the game wasn’t any perfect. In fact, it was its imperfections and problems that made me immersed by continuously striving to fix them. I had in-game money problems, so I was looking for ways to make money. Slaying green dragons made me 200K gold pieces per hour. Cutting Yew logs made me 180K gp/hr, but required less effort. Slaying blue dragons makes a bit more, but I didn’t have a high enough slaying level to slaughter them, so that was another problem for me to solve. I had skill problems. So I was looking for ways on how to gain experience points and levels. And so on…
I was so immersed that any moment I wasn’t playing was a complete waste of my time. Possessed with so many thoughts, I would rush out of bed because I knew time spent sleeping could be time spent gaining XP and GP. I gained gratification by solving these problems. I felt accomplished. And I wanted more.
I reflect back on these times and recall a similar time of my life later. When I was starting my first startup. I wanted to wake up so fast in the morning to get the work done. I had money problems, so I was looking for ways to make money. Doing direct sales made me $X/hr. Paid ads on social media made me $Y/hr, but were easier. Partnerships made me a bit more, but I didn’t have enough experience to hire & manage a team to forge these partnerships, so that was another problem for me to solve. I had skill problems. So I was looking for ways on how to gain experience and know-how. Reading a book on hiring, asking a mentor for advice, and so on…
I also had lots of sleepless nights. Also barely left the sight of work unless I had to eat, use the bathroom, or sleep. And most importantly, I also rose out of bed with energy that I still wonder how I managed to gather to this day. I was a machine. I woke up at 5 and went to bed at midnight. Then repeated every day.
You have to realize that I didn’t do this because I had to. I did it because I wanted to. I was too blind to even think of why I was doing it. I was just high on passion. Doing it was a no-brainer. Not questionable. I was inspired. I was driven.
I saw this again when I started working on my second startup. I was so carried away that I lost sense of time. Pushed social settings away. Postponed travel & leisure. And here’s the thing: I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
As an ambitious person, you crave these feelings and miss those times. You feed off accomplishing virtuous goals. You become so productive that no one can stop you. You become a machine. And I don’t think that’s entirely a bad thing. Yes, balance is nice, but so is the feeling of accomplishment. Yes, taking care of your health is important, but living longer while not fulfilled never made anyone happy.
Men do not care how nobly they live, but only how long, although it is within the reach of every man to live nobly, but within no man’s power to live long. —Seneca
So what I’m saying is: here’s to the crazy ones who live for the thrill of getting out of bed every morning to face life’s challenges head-on. Here’s to never losing that spark. Here’s to doing less of what doesn’t excite you, and doing more of what does excite you.
We all have responsibilities that aren’t necessarily fun. We all do shit that we would really rather not do. And I’m not suggesting to stop doing so. I’m not promoting a life of leisure. But that suffering is in the micro, and that suffering is part of the journey. Take a step back and look at the macro, and if it looks like in the grand scheme of things, you’re getting where you want to go, then keep hustling. If not, then it’s time to pick another form of suffering.
Do what sets your soul on fire.