“Yes: I am a dreamer. A dreamer can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
Wow. Just wow. I read this a few times before it hit me like a ton of bricks.
You see, I’ve always been a night owl. I struggled in high school because I would stay up too late playing computer games, which turned me into a sleep-deprived zombie the next day at school. And to make matters worse, I already struggled in school because I didn’t give a shit—no one explained why I should—so being tired didn’t help the cause. Left off
After going to college for a couple of years (because that’s what everyone else did), I started playing poker after seeing it on TV. I was hooked.
The next three years of my life were spent studying, playing, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, and being “up” in poker. For those three years, I was a “grinder”—I played long hours, usually late, day in and day out. I was a “professional.”
As the saying goes, it was hard to make an easy living, and I knew I couldn’t sustain it forever. It was far too stressful to lose $10,000 in a single day. I don’t miss those ups and downs, not at all.
Playing poker professionally didn’t help my sleep habits at all… in fact, it reinforced them. My schedule became 4 am to 12 pm, while some days I’d sleep into one or two pm.
I made sure always to get my 8 hours in, so it wasn’t like I was destroying my health or anything; I just went to bed late and woke up late. In the back of my head, I’ve known that I’ll one day have to “fix” my schedule, but I keep putting it off as something to do in the future.
Lately, I’ve been seeing research showing up in articles around the web about findings that night owls are more intelligent, on average, than their early bird counterparts. That makes me feel a little better about my sleep schedule. (Or this is just confirmation bias at play.)
For whatever reason, I like being up while the rest of the world (where I live) is asleep. I get inspired and motivated at night, usually after midnight.
Plus, the idea of sleep sounds depressing; I must stop reading, writing, plotting, planning, and learning. It’s hard to stop, so I usually stay up later.
I’ve read about some exciting research that suggests that workers are more productive when the weather is crappy outside versus when the weather is sunny. Weird, huh? They say it’s because the employees are distracted by what they could be doing, which hinders work.
Conversely, when the weather is crappy, employees are more productive. This must be because there is no possibility from the outside to distract.
I have found this effect to be spot-on. It explains why I have trouble sticking myself in front of a computer—where I do 99% of my work—when the sun is out and the world is calling my name to get outside and live. The flip side, of course, is at night, nothing is open, so there is no prospect vying for my attention.
Staying home and working is easy for me when the sun is down. Different strokes for different folks, neh?
Mr. Wilde’s quote above spoke to me more deeply than the fact that I’m a night owl. You see, I’ve always been what you would call a “dreamer.” I make big plans, and I work to accomplish them daily.
Of course, as he suggests above, this does not come without cost. The life of the dreamer/entrepreneur/artist can be lonely, and being a night owl only furthers the amount of alone time one spends.
Most people make their living through a job where they interact daily with people in real life. The artist creates their living (or tries to) from the privacy of their home. Some of us do a bit of both. No one way is the “right” way, and each comes with its price.
I value my solitude and alone time, but I also highly value time spent with other human beings. I thoroughly enjoy collaborating, debating, arguing, building, and being around real people, so my ideal work environment combines working with people in real life and solitude.
In my first two businesses, I’ve been able to remove myself from being too much in person and find the mix of being a bit in person and solitude. But now I’m building a new company—Wild Foods—so I’m back to a lot of work in isolation.
It’s going to be some time before I can hire a team and work with people in real life. As with all things, this is just part of the process. When I think about this, I’m reminded that all things in life go through phases.
Sometimes we have abundance; sometimes, we don’t. Sometimes we get to do things we enjoy; sometimes, we rarely do something we like. Sometimes we are content and happy and have a purpose; for other items, we desperately search for each.
Of course, such is life, and it’s all just a part of the process that is life. So I try to remind myself that I am working through a “tough patch” in energy, which fuels me to keep going. The best way out is, though, as it is so often said.
What about you? Are you working through a challenging period in your life? Maybe you are experiencing abundance; perhaps you aren’t. In either case, I implore you to recognize and appreciate your situation for what it is in the grand scheme.
You are probably in a phase one way or another. Remind yourself that your abidance and lack of abundance will not last. Remember that the only sure thing is change.
By recognizing the natural phases of life, you will be better prepared for your situation when you transition into or out of them. Instead of fretting when you are entering an inevitable difficult phase, you can embrace it because you know that it is the necessary step you must take before getting to a more desirable degree.
Instead of fighting it the way most people do, you can do your best to make it the best you can. And this is, after all, the only real thing you can do: accept things as they come. When you try to fight change, you fail to prevent that change, but you often make it worse and more complicated than it needs to be.
You cannot fight change; it is an inevitable part of life that we all go through. Instead, try to be like water, as Bruce Lee suggests, and “be the cup.” Surf the wave instead of trying to build a wall. You’ll get far better results, trust me.
As you experience change in your life, expect it to go from better to worse, from worse to better, from great to extraordinary, from excellent to terrible, and just about every other possible variation. Ride the wave the best you can.
The better you understand the natural phases of life, the better prepared you will be to live well in your best and worst situations.
Yours in Health and Life,