Being the inaugural entry to my blog, I suppose some explanations are in order. Not the least of which, who the heck am I and why would you want to read about anything I have to say? The short answer is, I am nobody and you wouldn't. But once we get past that, we get the long answer (located at the beginning of the next paragraph; feel free to skip ahead) and maybe, just maybe, I could say something that might be remotely thought provoking. At the very least, I have thought provoking friends, and if they say something of the sort, I'll write about it here and take credit for it.
Who am I really? First off, my name is Patrick Brown, and I really am a doctor. Just to make sure there is no confusion as to what kind of doctor, I have a PhD in Mathematics. So I have no license to practice medicine, but I do seem to act as though I have a license to be a pain in the ass, and those who have listened to me for any length of time know that I am well past the stage of practicing. I graduated with my degree in May of 2007 and rather than going straight into the grind of getting a “real job”, I decided to work on “other things”. I put those words in quotes to essentially let the reader know that I plan on getting into these things more specifically at a later date, so as to not be too verbose in this first entry. I wil often to use twelve words, when three will do. It's a curse. It can, however, make me entertaining to listen to, so hopefully that will be sufficient enough reason to continue reading.
Anyway, there is a reason this blog is entitled, “Roughing it in Vegas” even though I do not live in Las Vegas. You get one guess. That's right. I plan on moving to Vegas. TA DA! And while I am there, I plan on seeing how long I can go without getting a job. That's the roughing it part. Obviously, without a job, I will need to do whatever I can to maintain a minimal lifestyle. What do you “need” to have if you wanted to “rough it” for an extended period of time? Those topics, among others, will likely get a lot of discussion these first few weeks.
For those that feel beguiled by the name of the blog and the fact that I am not living in Vegas, need not feel wounded for long. My stuff is already packed and ready to be shipped and my flight leaves in two days. The first few entries will go smoothly, but I may miss a few in the coming weeks as I settle into my new surroundings. Of course, once I get internet access I will have no excuses and plan to write entries about 5 days a week. I'd like to leave most of my entries with something reasonably though provoking, so I'll start with:
Holding oneself back.
It's not in the dictionary. It should be. Either that or there should be a section in every dictionary for important expressions like this one. Alas, dictionaries hold themselves back by defining one word at a time, just as people hold themselves back in their day to day functions. Clearly this can be necessary. There are all kinds of morally questionable things people need to hold themselves back from doing lest they create utter chaos in society. The point isn't to think about those sort of actions, the point is to observe that people don't usually stop there.
Right now, I'm holding myself back. I could write about this topic, and most of the topics I'll be blogging about, for two or three pages. Of course, no one wants to read about a jobless loser ranting for that long about being a jobless loser and certainly not every day. Thus, I plan to keep these entires to about 400-600 words. Something that can be read in just a few minutes. Anything more than that, and people will quickly lose interest. For the astute in the crowd, yes, this first entry is well over that limit, but I do need to set the stage don't I? I will work hard to keep my future entries brief.
Anyway, back to the topic. I know I hold myself back all the time. I even sit back and question why from time to time and the answer is usually laziness or fear. Sadly, I don't use fear as an excuse very often. I have taken to heart Churchill's sentiment that all we have to fear is fear itself. Why is this sad? Well, it obviously means that my number one excuse for holding myself back is laziness. Who wants to be considered lazy?
So how do I hold myself back?
I get into ruts where I don't set goals for myself and if I do have goals, I stop working towards their end. This is a bit abstract, but as a mathematician, my training was in pure abstraction and I like to pass it on when I can because I like to think it helps other people to reflect in broader terms when I present things that way.
Here is a concrete example of what I mean. In the middle of last November, I finished up a writing goal and decided to take a break until after Thanksgiving. This was fine, I know I need to break from time to time to refresh the creative juices. Alas, after Thanksgiving, I never set a new goal and didn't end up writing again until after the new year. I should have set a new goal as soon as I had decided to take the break.
How do you hold yourself back?