My First Car

Milestones and growth-steps are significant in a person’s life. From first birthdays to removing our bike’s training wheels, to our first kiss: our passage of time is punctuated by first-time events. We retain very little of our moment-to-moment experience in life, but first-time things tend to be raised like bookmarks in the files of our memory bank.

Few any more so than our first vehicle. It signifies a major step towards adulthood, granting someone their first major life responsibility: commanding a huge chunk of metal and circuitry that weighs as much as a couple dozen people, that can move with enough force and velocity to destroy anything in its path, as well as anyone driving it. They kill more than 1.3 million people a year and at least 30 have died since I started this post. Yet when we get our first car and take it for our first solo spin, the sense of mastering this responsibility and the freedom that comes with it can be intoxicatingly novel (ergo the multitudes of new licensees driving around for no other reason than to drive around).

I’m no exception to this, and through a bit of chance, a bit of serendipity, I’ve been lucky to find myself reunited with my very first love; the ultimate 4WD beast, the master of off-road all-terrain traversing, the ladies magnet above all other ladies magnets. Behold, the mighty Metro Jet Bandit:

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With an unparalleled traction and power-to-weight ratio, it handles sand and uneven stony surfaces with ease:

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…and looks at home on any surface:

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With a 5 L V8 twin-charged 1,156bhp engine, hitting a jump at speed can turn it into an aeronautic marvel:

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No need for driveway parking anxiety; Metro’s design team ensured the Jet Bandit fits easily within most car parking spaces:

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Metro Jet Bandit: Feel the Thunder

Idealising & Procrastination (Quora)

Quora question asked by Anonymous: Why don’t I make the right thing, even if I know what to do in order to become the person I want to be?

“I know I have to study and work hard in order to be a successful person. Still, I procrastinate. Another example: I’m reading a beautiful book, Wittgenstein’s Lectures. It’s one of the most fascinating books I’ve read this year. Still I keep on playing video games. How can I overcome this self-destructing process?”

I think this is a fairly common, certainly something I’ve experienced at times in my own life, so thought I’d post my response here as well:

Mental stimulation of any kind has a relationship with the reward system in the brain—where dopamine and other pleasure-associated chemicals are produced. The reward system exists to reinforce healthy and productive human behaviour by (basically) creating a pleasurable association with it. This association is built in part by the perceived reward of the behaviour in the mind, and in part by the chemical interaction in the brain.

Having an inbuilt reinforcement system is crucial because it structures human behaviour around social requirements, tying people to whatever role they’re suited to by literally making it feel better than doing something else. Only thing is, the reward system wasn’t evolved for modern society; it was evolved to suit the environment of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, which were a helluva lot more manual in nature than our own. Healthy and rewarding behaviour in a small tribe would be much easier to perceive than it is today—nutrition, ritual, shelter and security were clearly defined requirements with simple roles needed to maintain them.

Compared to our ancestors, modern society is covered by a thick layer of luxury, entertainment, technology, systems and automation. There’s a negative correlation between advances in technology and human requirement, and human requirement is directly tied to our sense of social value—something key when it comes to making conscious choices about what we do with ourselves. You may enjoy doing a particular task, but chances are, there’s very little social imperative that you complete it. Many gifted people (and narcissists) feel they have talent they are responsible for developing and disseminating into the world, but most of us, deep down, know our value is self-propelled. Which is fine by the way; it means we have infinitely greater choice with our lives than ever before.

The lessening human requirement means an increased need for human distraction, which has been increasingly provided by things like  entertainment, socialising and personal indulgence. These are all pleasure-riddled arenas that directly target the reward system, causing strong positive associations with activities that were really just intended to fill our existential void. In your situation I believe this may be playing a foundational role; atop this is plain-old idealism.

Rewarding behaviour doesn’t just exist in the physical world; mental simulation can be equally as strong, especially if we haven’t bonded with productive external activities thanks to having an Xbox. We can be as entertained and lazy as we like but the vast majority of us will still have positive and socially beneficial interests, so no matter how immobile we become, our minds still need to satisfy urges to accomplish meaningful goals. The reward system is finite—it can only go so far—so if there’s already been a huge allocation given to marijuana or World of Warcraft, you’re much more likely to relegate the ambition to an idealistic fantasy, simulating the journey of development and success in your head. This then becomes a habit pattern itself, which is where I believe you may find yourself based on your circumstance.

I’ve been there too, and it’s theoretically very easy to overcome. Mindfulness, discipline, support and routine are all crucial to becoming more behaviourally aligned with your ambitions, and these are all very developable.

Best of luck :-)

Wittgenstein on death

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Thoughts: death has a dictatorial relationship with the vast majority of us, affecting our lives with imposing finality, causing us to construct meaning and superstition in our existence relative to its ending. The fear of the eternity of non-existence has shaped the beliefs and cultures of the living, yet if we understand non-existence to be timeless, then the fear of being forever non-existent quickly evaporates. So long as we are consciously alive, our sense of being alive is never ending; fearing something we can’t sense, makes no sense.

Source: The Tractatus Logico-Philisophicus, 6.4311