8:44 am Working title - "Applying to Sandbox under Modafinil"
12:40 Afterthought - I'm writing this after re-reading the entire text below. 4 hours later. One. Hell. Of a ride. I'm a bit more calm and slowly the usual thoughts are coming back and a normal state of focus is re-settling. This was my first Modafinil pill. The text conveys why I'd be a great Sandboxer not only through the content but by virtue of the state it was written under. It's performance art though it's a bit boastful to frame it this way. The content is very honest and quite personal at times. I was expecting that last bit and while writing I was under the impression it was going to be a mess. It isn't. I've put the very few paragraphs I've changed afterwards between two £ signs. The text below is still a pure translation of the Modafinil effect and it is truthful to the experience but some parts got really messy and unclear, hence the few £ signs. It's interesting as it shows where the "circuits" overheated in a way.
12:52 Afterthought - Regarding feelings per se, frustration is actually very hard to feel under Modafinil. I tried to upload the picture above 8 times without a single trace of annoyance. Patience is very strong. Looking at my to-do list, I clearly feel I can blaze through anything. I spoke to Anais after the text was over and I felt much more focused and calm than usual, despite being afraid I couldn't handle a discussion under Mdfnl. She's now working beside me and while others presence can affect one's behaviour sometimes, it doesn't while I'm under Mdfnl.
And now, I hope you enjoy this as much as I did and hope it (even) qualifies as a Sandbox application.
Why #1 - I took a Modafinil pill at 8:39am. It is now 8:44am. We are the 28th of September. It's a Saturday. For my WOW (nickname for sandbox applications), I wanted to create something that would express more than a single facet of who I am. I am a published writer but I'm also a body hacker. Writing about body hacking wouldn't cut it. Reciting poems on the fly during a workout isn't well perceived in the gym. So my latest acquisition came as an epiphany: I just got hold of a barely legal Modafinil pill. It's nearly impossible to buy it without a prescription and even then nothing comes near what I was lucky to get. Modafinil is the "smart drug" par excellence. At first, it was devised as a compound to remedy ADHD. But Silicon Valley CEOs and Ivy league students got a hold of it (Ritalin in the latter's case actually), having noticed it increases one's focus.
8:48 Update - It's been 9 minutes since I took the pill. I'll use the "Update" sections to take a step back and observe myself. It's been reported that people under Modafinil go into deep focus mode, forget to eat (I was advised to put an alarm to remember eating, I didn't ...)
8:52 Update - I just uploaded a picture and felt "something" is happening. I feel a tingling in my brain.
Why #2 - Looking at several Sandbox applications, most were great creations (some organise exhibitions, some create info-graphics, some do sculptures ...). I do have a craft and that is my writing. However, I wanted it to be more than just a text. So I thought about a 'super-text'. And for a 'super-text', I needed a super-brain. Hence Modafinil. In what follows, I want to avoid bragging so let me get rid of that right now and make sure it won't happen: At 24, I'm a 3 times published writer, launched my own data product design company in France, have talked at 4 TEDx conferences and dropped to 7% body fat ... once. Some might not be too proud about that last one. To me, it was an amazing experience.
9:02 Update - My brain is a bit "cold". As if something was spreading through it. Strange as I have some understanding of how Modafinil works but still imagine that it's 'spreading' like a solution through my head.
Why #3 - So I didn't want my application to be about what I did. But rather about who I am. I wanted to create a setting where I could actually express what I was all about. The very fact I'm writing this text under the effect of a potent drug conveys three aspects of myself:
- I'm a risk taker: In and by itself Modafinil is not 'dangerous'. Quite the contrary. However because of the deep focus it entails, one forgets essentials such as eating and sleeping and bad health effects ensue. That is a long-term drawback however and unlikely to happen if you can structure your supplementation around your life. Still, it's not a legal drug, no lab experiment has deemed it 'safe' yet and its effects were only reported by the few experimenters in the body hacking community. I consider it a risk to swallow this.
- I'm a systemic thinker: I like to create processes. One example is how I turn dreams into projects and projects into tasks and habits. My company's ambition and my vision for a product is an "OS for life". I deeply believe there is room for communicating, teaching and helping people adopt a complete system to drive their life forward by pushing the right behavioural levers at the right moment. More on that in what follows as my passion for this product spans throughout my life.
- I'm a dot connector: The risk taker part is the boost to "knock down doors". The systemic part is to understand how to "knock down doors". And the dot connection, prior to both, is to figure out which door to knock down.
9:13 Update - It's very different from other Saturdays. I always write on Saturdays. Usually, the "observant self' is much more present. Here, it's as if he faded in the background. My nose is dripping a bit but I don't care. Hunger is completely absent and my mind will simply not move away from the strain of thought I'm focused on. In my head right now, there is only this text and nothing else. Not a single other thought is entering my "focus centre". Barbara, my house mate, just walked past me and the way I noticed that is different from how I do usually. There is a small change in how we, or I at least, react to other people's presence : A small variation in behaviour due to sheer awareness. It is completely absent right now. I wonder how awareness and focus are related. Ok. Back to why.
Why #4 - Ok. I'm supposed to write about why I'm great for Sandbox. I'll get back to that. I think. But wait a second. This is amazing. I know I'm supposed to write about 'how I feel' in the 'Update' section. These are the rules I set at first. But this is something else. My mind is racing right now. I don't know if my fingers can keep up. A gazillion ideas are coming to the front. But my mind is sifting through them at a speed I've never experienced before.
9:20 Update - How long has it been ? I took the pill at 8:48. That's 32 minutes. Interesting. It took me longer than usual to do the math here. The stimulated brain area could be different ? My fingers are cold but it's the least of my concerns. Is it because of the warehouse I live in right now ? The rest of my body is ok. Back to why.
Why #5 - I've broken personal goals down to 5 aspects. Personal improvement is the pursuit of a higher personal health. Health in its wider definition of course. Consider this framework : Mental, Spiritual, Emotional, Financial, Physical. Improving one's health is precisely about creating processes to sustain and move oneself forward an upward in each of these. Hence, my Sandbox application isn't a listing of my accomplishments. My greatest accomplishment cannot be blogged about, it cannot be photographed, it can't be put in a CV or even bragged about. In and by itself it seems like the most natural thing to most. My biggest accomplishment and the reason why I'd be a great Sandbox member is §
9:27 Update - Sweaty armpits. Interesting. So I'm trying to formulate this idea in a very clear way but my mind is not 'delivering' here. It's interesting. Normally I find words much faster and reading some phrases above, my style is less elegant than usual. It feels as if 'Modafinil focus' is a trail blazer. To be confirmed.
Why #6 - My biggest accomplishment and the reason why I'd be a great Sandbox member is : An upgraded life. Why is this an accomplishment ? "You're just living, like everyone else". Let me ask some more questions in response to this question : Do you feel you have blind spots ? You know you do. Conceptually, you realize that the person you are right now is not completely aware of everything it is and isn't. Your subconscious is partly responsible here but mainly it's due to the way we remember and perceive ourselves. Memory is a construction. Remembrance is an effort. We don't remember things down to the atom and the tiniest detail but rather our minds grab and store some 'pointers' for later use.
9:33 Update - I should go to the toilet but it's not really important. It's interesting that the "state" in itself is now a "given". This is who I am. It feels as if the drug didn't 'change' me but rather melded into my being. This sounds extremely un-scientific. I wonder if I should amend this text later.
Why #7 - So if our conception of ourselves is a constant construction, an effort really, if it isn't a 100% accurate process, if we don't really know who we are exactly at any given moment, and we still want to improve, how can we make sure we're actually improving. If we want to make A better but the subject before us is A*, it's impossible to improve A. Remember Alain de Botton wrote how unhappiness stems from the fact that we don't know ourselves well enough. The reason why you end up buying clothes that dissatisfy you or choose a career that doesn't fulfil ° you is not because of disillusion or surprise down the road. It's because, upfront, when the decision was made, you didn't have the right elements at hand. You were thinking this would be perfect for A, but it was A* you were asking for feedback. At any given moment, when you make a decision, you're not connected to yourself but to a proxy of yourself. That is the § very source of unhappiness.
9:42 Update - This is good ! I like that last paragraph. Lacks elegance but it's proper insight. I think it was hanging around in my head but it just materialised. Correction then : Modafinil is good for dot connection. But not in the traditional sense. Usually, I connect dots by sifting through a lot of material I've encountered °. I draw a map and I see how Senegal relates to Moscow ° (metaphor, metaphor). Now it's different. It's a bit like someone cleaning a room at high speed § and finding out there are things that belonged to a same group.
9:44 Update - Barbara ° dropped something in the kitchen. Quite a noise. And though it wasn't different in volume from a natural perception, it's as if it happened 'somewhere else'. Barbara is now working next to me on her photography project. She doesn't know I'm working on this. It feels as if she's 'somewhere else'. Same for the train passing in front of me (the warehouse is just next to train tracks ... I know, lovely). The train is 'somewhere else'.
9:46 Update - My fingers are speeding again. There's a paragraph I didn't finish up there and I should get back to it. Klaus did tell me that there would be misspelling problems when I take this. Clearly. I'm thinking of leaving it as is.
9:47 Update - Ok it's a bit frustrating here. My fingers aren't going fast enough. I want to continue the thought. Barbara just asked me something. I just said 'yes'. I have no idea what it was. Interesting. Ok let me finish the paragraphs up there and get back here. I'll put a ° next to the words that were misspelled °. I'll put a § before the sentences that weren't finished right away because I had to jump and start another paragraph.
Why #8 - This is amazing. And it actually relates to my last "Why #7" and my last point there. Knowing oneself. So let me sum this up and go forward and let's not forget I'm still applying for Sandbox here. I was saying in Why #7 that we can't know ourselves. I've read Osho when I was younger. Paulo Coelho incidentally as well. A book about personal magnetism also. I spent the 11th and 12th year of my life consciously asking myself several times a day "who are you ?" envisioning I'd be able to figure it out and avoid the 40-something break down people experience later in their life by tackling and solving my existential questions early on. So. It's hard to know oneself. It takes a lot of time. It's essential however if one wants a shot at happiness. Happiness is all about gearing your end goal to what you truly are and want. It is a project that stems from something deep inside you. If it doesn't, you're heading to Rome when you should be going to San Fran. Hence the way an "upgraded life" (apologies for such a pompous term, it's just to put words on a concept) helps accomplish happiness is by § putting in place a system to make sure you're constantly gearing your everyday life according to your inner self. Just like a company needs day-to-day operations to be fulfilling a long-term strategy, milestones and goals: same for oneself. I treat myself like a public company. My shares fall if I fuck up. It's fun.
9:58 Update - Just finished my coffee. It was freezing. Very bad taste. I really don't care about going to the toilet. I need to remind myself constantly of the actual thread that I'm trying to develop. My mind is a bit jumpy. Ok. I need to go to the toilet. let's see how it feels to move.
10:04 Update - Waw. It's complete absence and complete presence. Let me italicise ° the word 'and'. What I mean is I noticed my hands just now like I never did before. I don't want to compare to other drugs but just there and then, it felt my hands are extremely 'present'. Still, when I flushed the toilet, this warehouse being what it is, a terrific noise goes off each time water comes to refill the flush. Amazing. The sound was just as I remembered it from the hundredth of times I had heard it but it was in a different dimension, on a different frequency, 'somewhere else' than usually. It's hard to put in words to someone reading and has never experienced all of this. But it's an interesting challenge. Read this then close your eyes. I'm struggling to convey the experience here. You're at a club and the music is loud. You go to the toilets in ° the club and you still hear the music. It's quite loud but when you close the toilet door the music is different. It's still there. It's still playing. It's still loud but there's a door. And you hear it. You still experience it. Very differently however.
Why #9 - Where were we ? Wait that's interesting. How quickly do I remember where I was ? It took a bit less time than usual. So I'm back to saying why I'm a good fit for Sandbox. Actually no. I'm saying why I can actually bring something to the group. I think it needs edge in all honesty. I think it needs to take more risks. I think it needs to bang more doors and question more status quo's. You're putting 30 great under 30s in a room and then what ? Asking them to chat ! So you concentrate all this potential in a room and just look at it instead of putting constraints on creation to spur § I think such an organisation needs to be goal-driven. But I digress. Back to my biggest accomplishment. £ The one I believe makes me a great Sandboxer : How I've come to know myself better and strived for a higher state of happiness by implementing a system. £ This is science btw. Why ? Because it's replicable. So the steps are the following : §
10:13 Update - It's interesting. I'm still censoring myself a bit. I wonder when I'm going to stop. This could go on for hours. I opened another window in my browser as I have notes about the system I'm describing and it felt amazing to open a new window. I'm 'experiencing' my browser differently. My style is gaining a bit of elegance as I go along from what I sense.
Why #10 - The steps:
- Understand who you are (Alain de Botton)
- Fix a goal
- Make sure you're using your own scale (Alain de Botton + Barry Schwartz)
- Make sure your scale is appropriate : not too high, not too speedy, not too limiting, challenging enough ... flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
- Enjoy the process / the journey (Srikumar Rao)
It's a tinkering, tweaking process. Happiness is hackable. My CTO said "nothing is un-hackable" yesterday. Amazing. Now, the system up there is void if it doesn't translate into actionable steps. £ Steps to draw your dreams from yourself, turn these into accomplishable goals and constantly make sure you're on track both when it comes to being truthful to yourself and being efficient from an execution point of view. £ Things you actually do on a daily basis to ensure you're on track. We all have good resolutions. We're all good people. What we lack is a system to follow through. So:
- Every second of my week is planned. I have an agenda describing exactly what I do every second of the day. Before I go into details, you might think it's stressing but I also schedule relaxation in there. The goal of planning your life down to the hour is avoiding decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is a surefire way to dissolve willpower. Willpower is a finite resource. It's a thruster °. You have a big boost once in a while, better make the best of it and use that as the fuel to write down a plan.
- One can see in the week up there how mornings are dedicated either to Workout and Research or to Research and Nanominded (the name of my company). On days where Nanominded occurs very early in the morning, the activity is not aimed at business development but rather to personal development. These are the mornings where I'm learning a new skill. Lately "becoming a growth hacker", "creating great wireframes", "executing a great hand stand" and "becoming a better negotiator" have landed on my next to-acquire skills.
- Break_Day is a time of the day dedicated to passive meditation. That ° goes from "doing nothing" which is crucial (Inspired by Bertrand ° Russel's "In praise of idleness" and Seneca's "On the shortness of life"). Break_Night is about active meditation, offline reading, events and meeting people. These are activities defined in advance.
"Isn't it an OCD approach to life ?" The "obsession" per se can be useful if managed properly, obsession could bring about perfection. It's the "compulsion" part that needs to stay under control § And that's where Saturdays come in. On Saturdays, I write. Only writing means more to me than blogging. Words are transformative. Writing is always a re-writing of a fragment of yourself. It's memory made ink or pixels. Memory manifested. That effort, that construction I mentioned earlier is a conscious process now. That's where the "dockyard" part comes in.
- Sat and Sun are for "Write + Dockyards". Dockyard is where ships stop to refuel and Sat and Sun are exactly that. Besides writing °, which in other terms, is a self-reconstruction, Dockyards allow to review, evaluate and fix the 5 health aspects mentioned above, the goal being to ensure that each aspect is ok and improving. It is also a time to make sure one is on track, that the process, the OS for life, or put simply the agenda, is actually bringing one that much closer to goal completion. It's the time to review your goal-tracking record. I use "Smarter goals" to track Spiritual health by recording "3 blessings" every day and my physical health ° by tracking every day whether I was on track or not regarding my nutrition and workouts (loss of strength ° or not ...).
10:40 Update - I'm looking at my hands for a moment. They still look 'different'. It's an amazing way to figure out if the effect is still kicking.
Why #11 - Other elements in the OS for life :
- Regarding the dockyard, I also evaluate financial health by looking at my financial spreadsheet. Emotional and mental are extremely important. Saturday is a day to think about how emotional relationships with others are going. It breaks down into : romance, friends, family, business partners) §.
- The mental aspect concerns the skills I'm developing. It's an evaluation of whether I'm effectively becoming better at said skill.
- The small stuff such as errands, syncing the Fitbit, recharging machines, laundry ... are also scheduled in. It simply takes the wondering out of the equation. You don't need to think about it 3 times a week anymore. You know you need to do it on Saturday. Worrying about these tasks would be a drain on precious willpower and decision making capital during a given week. §
11:07 Update - Barbara called. It's about that thing she asked for earlier °. While taking the call, I was extremely conscious of the phone against my ear, her voice which felt very new and my ear itself which was touching the phone lightly. Touching the phone to end the call also felt like a new experience. I can still feel the pressure against my finger.
Why #12 - Data is binary in tracking the Spiritual and Physical side of things. Accomplishment in the Physical instance is about compliance. If you stick to it, you'll reach your goal. Same for all the other aspects of health I'd say and my physical journey has been a transformation in that regard : "You are what you repeatedly do, hence excellence is a habit". Each of us has a master quote in his life. I believe that's mine.
11:13 Update - I'm not sure if the effect is waring of. I doubt it as my mind's filter is still very acute and no thoughts besides the OS for life, the Sandbox application and observing the effect of Modafinil on me are arising. I'm not worried about anything else. Hunger is completely absent. There are moments where I look outside the window and an amazing clarity sets in. I'm not searching for meaning or admiring beauty. The scenery looks like an overlay on top of my thoughts that are now sitting outside. It's interesting as it relates to § I jumped to another paragraph and forgot what I was writing. I have a fear of looking up actually. I feel it's disturbing. I haven't looked around for the last 2 hours. It feels like a fight against oneself which brings me back to Why.
Why #13 - Why I'm experimenting and writing under Modafinil + Why I've developed an OCD-ish system for my life + Why I'd a legendary Sandboxer are interrelated § To explain why, let me mix a couple of insightful quotes : "Change is the only constant in life" + "Be like water". The former is by Heraclitus, the latter is from Bruce Lee. Let me bullet point this:
- If the only certainty there is, is that there is no certainty, one needs to be infinitely adaptable. Hence, one needs to be like water.
- If, despite the wild randomness that surrounds one's existence, one still wants to make progress, like the sailor on a rocking boat in a perfect storm, one needs to hang on.
- This equates to resilience. One needs to "keep at it". And what better metaphor that the ultimate destroyer : "water". Water will destroy anything. Provided it is given enough time. In the long run, water will always win. let me find a picture.
- Darwin mentions it in a quote about the power of small creatures and time :
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” ― Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species
Einstein refers to this in another way in his wildly misunderstood quote :
"Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it ... he who doesn't ... pays it."
The idea here is that however lame a notion it might be, repetition is a master force of the universe. It is the right arm, the execution director of Time itself. It is the way the ongoing clock of the universe imposes its view of things and its master plan.
- This is where the OS for life and that crazy detailed calendar fits in. It is the custodian of repetition in one's life. Modafinil experimentation is the personal knack to break through barriers just like water shapes ° things through sheer stubbornness and resilience. My application to Sandbox in all of this ?
11:32 Update - My other housemate Dan just woke up. I didn't say hello. I really should. But it feels he's 'somewhere else' and even if I turn and see him and say hello, I won't actually find him § so I turned. And I saw him. And indeed, it felt like he's 'somewhere else'. I have no idea what to do now. Back to work. § I have pictures and documents hanging around on my desktop, which I don't like but I can't get myself to stop and organise it. This is clearly a different level of focus.
11:40 Update - In that last "Why #13" paragraph, it hinged on poetry and I felt I found my style again only tinted by the strange focus layer of Modafinil.
Why ° #14 - My application to Sandbox in all of this ? I should be wrapping up now. This has been going on for 3 hours straight. Ok. So Modafinil is not fading away. My back is hurting but I don't really care or truly realize the pain. It's just there and I'm busy with something else. It's as if you had someone you dislike nagging you and thinking he's putting a dent in your mood ° whereas you're actually completely indifferent. So. My application to Sandbox in all of this ? I'm not looking for a network. I'm looking for a tangled bank. Funny how quoting Darwin once brings back all of Darwin. A tangled bank is the ideal meeting / mating environment for ideas. I want that. It's full of microbes and small resilient, stubborn creatures who despite themselves, and because of their eagerness to survive will end up changing the shape of the shore's rocks. And survival is not as selfish as it's said to be. Survival in its purest form is a positive sum game. These microbes created the perfect environment for other creatures to evolve. We owe them a lot. Same for Sandboxers. I'm £ actively £ not looking for networking opportunities. I'm looking for a tangled bank. Somewhere I can bring my edgy self and push things forward. Accelerate 'survival'. If not and the ambition of the community is not of "compound interest" then ... the Modafinil has been / still is a great ride and my hands are looking amazing still. Unto some more writing.
11:50 Update - I really don't feel like re-reading this. I feel like moving unto something else. I'll put an afterthought up there at the beginning afterwards. I'm a bit less afraid of looking up. Looking left and right feels a bit weird. As if I'm in an un-familiar place (the place where I've lived ° for the last 6 months).