Internet Culture Politics

Day 326 and The Long Now

A culture lacking optimism is a culture without a future. Even before the pandemic, American youth had plenty of reasons to temper their optimism. Inequality, corporate dominance, rising debt particularly for school, unaffordable housing, lack of social support for family, the changing climate and the frequency of natural disasters all tend to weigh on you.

I’m a optimistic person so I always presumed I’d find a way around things. And I largely did. I got an education. I started my own company. I sold it. I found I had developed a valuable skill set. I met a man through one of my best friends and we got married. All was well in my American dream for many years.

But cracks had always been there. Little details that made me question common cultural, social and political assumptions. I discovered the limits of modern medicine with a chronic disease. I saw the disaster that financialization could wreck on families with a bankruptcy. I wasn’t naive about our systems and their inequalities.

But the knowledge that the future could be worse than today wears on you. Once you start living in a liminal state it gets worse. The pandemic made it harder for me to believe in the future because the present became a holding pattern. Ben Hunt at Epsilon Theory calls this The Long Now.

The more we put off investing in a future the more the long now stretches on. We borrow against all the things that could build us a better tomorrow. And we fall back. We put off doing things that would make our future better because it’s rational to do so. What if things get worse?

I’m tired of living in the long now. I’m investing in myself. I have been investing in my body and my health. And I’m ready to invest in a home. Not because I particularly want to own property but because I want to stop the long now and believe that my future is something I can build.

Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 191 and Logistical Leverage

I hate logistics. It’s not that I am incapable of operational tasks, but I do not find them enjoyable or energizing. I’m happiest working from the 30,000 foot vantage point and most stressed when keeping tabs on the 1,000 foot details. Thankfully I discovered this about myself early in life and had the good sense to choose a life partner that feels the opposite.

My husband is a genius operator and loves logistics. He can find efficient ways to manage nearly everything. He is a COO both professionally and personally. He manages everything about our household. I used to feel a bit guilty about the fact but I’m objectively terrible at home economics as frankly I just get in the way when I try to pitch in. All those sit-com jokes about husbands who can’t fold laundry right? In our house it is reversed. Which is a bit embarrassing as I worked in fashion but bygones. I just get in Alex’s way and he would prefer not to be slowed down by my bumbling efforts.

Recently I had to take on life & home workload in addition to my own. He had to take his first trip since the pandemic began. I haven’t been without him since February of 2020 so it has been a while since I’ve had to manage without him. And wow did it show!

I maintained the same of basics into my system, the same routine, supplements, diet and treatments with the only addition of Alex’s workload. I only added an additional 2 to 3 hours to my time obligations, so roughly an extra 9% my day, but it had close to a 30% impact across all my core metrics.

Because I track so many biometrics on a daily and even persistent basis I know my physical and emotional baselines. Without Alex managing life, my physical capacity dropped across the board over two days. The additional household logistics, errands, cleaning & cooking & overhead dramatically impacted my capacity.

Within 48 hours all my body’s baselines worsened. My HRV went down an astonishing 22%. Whoop gave me recoveries at 33%. My RHR went up by a full 10%. My qualitative pain scores went from consistent 3s and 4s to a 7. My energy scoring went from a perceived 6 to a 2. Gyroscope dropped my health grade from 85 to 78. It was a mess.

It turns out that Alex has added significant capacity to my life. Work that takes him just a few hours a week enables me to thrive. It takes very little from him but it means the difference between barely getting by and having the capacity to work for me.

Maybe it wouldn’t be as easy for another person. Alex is a very high leverage person in general but particularly for me. 10% of my day for a 30% improvement is significant. If your spouse is the operator in your partnership it may be quite fun to quantify their impact. Nothing says I love you quite like proof of how much their efforts impact your biometric data.