Joshua Keel

We’re not machines

October 27, 2019

My wife was away most of the week, and as is my tendency, I went into full-on bachelor mode. I’m not sure why I do this, but most of my good habits seem to go out the window when I find myself alone. Before my wife and I moved in together, I lived alone for years. But now that it’s not my norm, it feels like being let out of a cage somehow when I’m truly by myself.

I always have these grand visions of being amazingly productive while she’s away. I want to get so much reading and writing and thinking done. Then, I find myself watching Netflix, eating Chinese takeout, and staying up late instead. I have noticed this pattern over and over, but as of yet, I have not figured out how to correct for it.

I have long since stopped blaming myself for my personal failures and flaws such as these. I used to mercilessly beat myself up, drive myself wild with guilt and shame over habits I couldn’t break, moral failings I couldn’t seem to overcome, and addictions I couldn’t shake. Now I realize that these things take time. And I’m only human. It’s not an excuse—it’s just the truth.

We aren’t some kind of machines where we just flip a switch and change our behavior. It can take years to overcome programming that has been ingrained for decades, since our early childhood and teen years. The only real failure in my book is to give up on ourselves, to consider ourselves irredeemable and lost.

You’re not lost. It’s just hard, being a human, sometimes. Have faith and take courage, my friend.

Things I loved this week

We’re living through a fascinating and terrifying time in American history. Vox and Ezra Klein’s new podcast, Impeachment, Explained, helped me understand the historical context of the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors”, and why impeachment of this amoral, criminal president is a must. I highly recommend listening to at least the first episode.

I’m almost halfway through book two of The Three-Body Problem trilogy by Chinese writer Cixin Liu. This sci-fi series about Earth’s first contact with an alien race is mind-bending. The second book is even better than the first. The style is a little slow—this is not an action-packed, thriller of a series—but very rewarding.

Scott H. Young’s list of his best book recommendations is fantastic. I haven’t read most of these, but I do highly second his recommendation of Cal Newport’s books Deep Work and Digital Minimalism. I also totally agree with his pick for favorite novel, The Count of Monte Cristo—it’s a masterwork!

Side note: I’m going to have to stop linking to Amazon, and instead link to IndieBound for future posts. I’m trying to become more conscious about my purchases and support my local bookstore!