Forecast for the Future

"Every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself. The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact that he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. 

Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not that far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."

- Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The (Working) Manifesto of Hyperliving 2008

Hello there, friends.



The New Year is here, and with it comes the annual rolling out of resolutions: "Quit Smoking," "Exercise 5 times per week," "Lose 15 pounds," "Have sex no less than 19 times per week." Und so weiter.

I have never before, as far as I can remember, made a New Year's Resolution. I've always said to myself that NY Rs are stupid, that you shouldn't need an artificial "moment" to get yourself to commit to something that you should already be committing to anyway.

Of course, the sad truth of the matter for me is that the real reason I would say that is because I am an undisciplined man. I avoid resolutions because I fear the broad commitments I'd be required to make to see them through. The idea of resolving on such a specific day, the beginning of a new year, that I MUST commit to "live right" indefinitely is well... scary.

This "scariness" is really just Fear, and I've come to think that owning up to this fear is probably the most important step I need to take in my life. Because at the end of it, my fear is all about Failure, about me trying hard and still not succeeding, about resolving to accomplish something I want to happen and then finding out that I simply can't do it. I have lived with this fear and have allowed it to dictate (or at least affect) the outcomes of my life over and over.

Today, however, I make my first strike against Fear and Failure as I begin My Year of Hyperliving.

The Tenets of Hyperliving in 2008
- I shall live each week of 2008 as a new challenge to commit myself to a task and see it through.
- I shall do these tasks as best I can, and when I cannot succeed, I will reflect to the point of consideration and then continue moving forward to the next task.
- I shall not be tripped up by fear or uncertainty.
- I shall not be deterred by failure, because the only failure in this game is giving up.
- I shall blog the shit out of this activity until I can blog no more.

The Backstory
This idea for "hyperliving"--written in quotes for the last time--came out of an incident this past July where a friend came to my house for a barbeque but requested that I provide veggie burgers because he was going vegan for the week (yes, I see barbeque and vegan as spiritually contradictory enough to say "but"). To me, as admittedly someone who, to put it nicely, does not quite understand what drives the Vegan Mind, the idea that my friend would consciously choose to go seven days eating only vegan seemed both crazy and ineffective--beyond the general silliness of forgoing meat and cheese, what good does it do to commit to something like that for only seven days? But then an idea dawned on me. Maybe going vegan for a week was silly, and going vegan for good (or even a year) out of the question, but what about the idea of going vegan for a week and then eating only pizza the next? Or maybe even, how about just stringing together a bunch of arbitrary one-week commitments back-to-back?

The tiny misshapen wheels in my mind began to spin and soon enough I had reached the conclusion that perhaps the best idea of all would be to dedicate an entire year to living out 52 one-week commitments, one after another, as an ultimate sort of test of both short-term and long-term discipline. And who, I thought, would be more appropriate to put in a run-through with this game than me, a man lacking in discipline of all forms? I have struggled all my life to push myself, to follow through with things to where I am going above and beyond "sorta doing it" and into "locked in and committed to excellence."

And so an idea was hatched, and I immediately spent the next two hours brainstorming with my friends for potential "activity weeks" that I could do and came up with a list of about 75. I left the bar at 3:30 a.m. feeling gleeful and ready to take over the world. (Yes, this was all hatched in a bar on a Sunday night. Erm.)

Unfortunately, it became immediately clear that there were a thousand different reasons why I wouldn't be able to "get started with the game just yet," but that it would "definitely happen soon." And then it didn't, until December rolled around and I finally began putting some time into thinking to myself about what I want to do with my life, where I'd like to go, and what I'd like to happen. I realized that I felt weighed down by complacency and indecision and that it was finally time to, in the immortal words of Motley Crue, "kickstart my heart" with a jolt of some Hyperliving.

The rules of the game
Here it is: each week I will commit myself to some variation on the theme of "living right"--a game of one-week resolutions, one after another. These weekly resolutions will range from "Go vegan" to "No spending money" to "Visit a different place in New York City for one hour each day" to "Listen to only Phish." Some of them will be difficult and some of them very easy; some will require abstinence, while others indulgence, or activity, or focus . The only true theme tying them all together is that for each I will be committed to the aims for 168 hours, no more and no less. And when the week ends I will move on to what comes next.

Commencing in the next few days and continuing until the year is over, I will make available on this blog four subseqent weeks of activity--these four weeks will essentially be set in stone once published unless unexpected necessity for change arises. The weeks beyond those four, however, will be made up of the various concepts I have floating on my list and put together in an order as I see fit. I have come up with approximately 100 different weeks so far, but I am aware of the fact that it's only a start and there are surely a million more exciting things to add. This is where I would like you, my friends and not friends, to step in.

Reader Involvement
As I will be posting all of this stuff on the INTERNETS, I would hope to get participation from friends and readers in two different ways:

1. Surely many or most of you are more creative than I and can come up with some sterling weeks of hyperliving--therefore, I welcome any and all suggestions you might have for me for the year going forward and hope that at least 20 or so of these weeks come from ideas that I would have never thought of on my own. Please email any suggestions you have to yearofhyperlivingATgmail.com

2. Again, since I'm putting all of this up on the Internet, I very much encourage any and all of you to check out "the weeks ahead" and join me in my completely pointless weekly quests to do something crazy for seven days. Most importantly, if you do join in, I'd like you to share those experiences here, or at least with me. A lot of the things I'm deciding to do will only matter because of who I am, and what I want and need. I enjoy smoking cigarettes and so going a week without them will be odd for me; for some of you, however, such an "activity" might mean nothing. You could call me out for how nice your life is that going a week without smoking brings you no trouble, or you could even decide to smoke 4 packs a day just to see what it's like [Ed: it has been pointed out to me that I originally wrote "smoke 4 packs a die," which is about as much of a Freudian Slip as it comes]. I'm interested in any and all thoughts you have. And also, though I have only just been informed about this site a few days ago, it would be remiss of me to not mention the website Learning To Love You More in conjunction with this project. Learning to Love You More is "both a web site and series of non-web presentations comprised of work made by the general public in response to assignments given by artists Miranda July [Me and You and Everyone We Know] and Harrell Fletcher." Specifically, the site posts random "assignments", eg "Write the saddest song," "Make an encouraging banner"etc. for its readers to do and then put online. While this project is quite different than mine, the spirit of a shared understanding within a community (and yet one which nearly always produces uniquely different experiences) is the same and something that I hope is explored here.

Upcoming Weeks of Hyperliving

To give you a rough idea of some of what is to come, here's a smattering of 25 possible weeks I'm considering so far (in addition to the ones listed previously):

1. Make a different themed mix every day.
2. Have a one-hour phone conversation with someone important each day
3. Eat only fruit and nuts for one week
4. No music for a week
5. No bathing
6. See a (music) show every day
7. Exercise for 2 hours every day
8. No phone usage (outside of work requirements)
9. Write a different type of poem every day (haiku, sestina, sonnet etc.)
10. Attend a different "meeting" each night
11. Go one week without saying the words “computer,” “internet,” or “technology” (including at work!)
12. Wake up at 5:15 every morning
13. Spend five straight hours on Wikipedia every day
14. Tell someone important one thing I hate about them that reflects one of my own weaknesses.
15. Write seven songs in different genres
16. Strike up a conversation with a stranger on the subway and see if it can become meaningful.
17. Watch all nine episodes of Ken Burns’s Baseball series (two each on Sat and Sun)
18. Go a week without using computers (outside of absolutely necessary work)
19. No sex/masturbation
20. Write two pages describing my feelings about and relationship with a friend
21. Read primary texts of a different religion each night
22. Swap lives with a friend (apartments, clothes, rituals outside of work)
23. Listen to nothing but pre-2000 Phish
24. Ask someone else to make at least five decisions for me each day.
25. Stab someone and spend a week desperately trying to come up with solutions

There are many others on my plate, but I know there are even more great ideas I haven't thought of, so please let me know if you think of any. You'll note also that a number of the items listed are music-related--well, I love music and its embedded in the fabric of my day-to-day life, so for me many of the most interesting challenges will be related to music. I recognize, however, that this may not be the same for everyone else, so I'm interested in hearing feedback on the good, the bad, the cool, and the not very interesting.

And that's it: A Year of Hyperliving, beginning right now. Each weekly project will run Sunday to Saturday, so this week's project is more like "Week 0: The Prequel," and will begin with some letter writing. On Sunday, January 6, I will post the activity of the week to come as well as the four weeks that will follow. Each Sunday, I will provide some thoughts on what has transpired as well as what's to come, and I will try to fill in with pictures and videos whenever possible. But again, please comment below or email me at yearofhyperlivingATgmail.com with any thoughts or ideas you have--this project will only get better with input from other (not retarded/crazy) human beings. I encourage you also to forward Hyperliving onto anyone you know so they can check it out and take part (or rag on me, as they deem appropriate).

So once again, to recall Vince Neil and the Crue: "Ok boys, let's rock the house."

Here we go.

love,
Jeffrey

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3 comments:

hotdoorknobs said...

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Emma said...

Jeffery... I finally stumbled upon an internet cafe after days of searching and upon checking my email I found this little gem. this is a fantastic idea. I am riveted with excitment and am thinking about joining in for such things as the letter writing campaign. I do not think that you should stab anyone as it seems like the ultimate point should be to better appreciate and understand life and all of its variaties. I understand that pain is, for some people, a part of this process but I don´t think that killing and maiming others will help you to become a wiser person. It also seems like a lot of the activities are Jeffery-specific. I think, for example, that if you´re going to be sedentary on Wikipedia for 5 hours a day then you should also spend another week excercising for the same amount of time or more. 14 looks difficult but meaningful and, aside from the letter writing one, impressed me most. I can think of two other suggestions: spend a week learning about the plants in NYC (and medicinals or edibles) to enrich your perception of your natural environment; interview one homeless person every day about thier life. Do it Jeffery.

MertMengelmier said...

23. Listen to nothing but pre-2000 Phish
25. Stab someone and spend a week desperately trying to come up with solutions

I wasn't aware Phish existed pre-2000. I love it. This is gonna be great.

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