Freedom Doesn't Exist Without Structure
Six newsletters in 2023, complete ✅ (wait.. emojis can be italicized❓ 😂 😂 😂 )
In our age of information overload there is no quarter for pointless words. I want to produce words that both challenge you and speak to something you already knew but could not express. I want to entertain, to teach, to flow. And so I will continue improving this newsletter.
I’ve tried batching multiple ideas per post, but I’ll be returning back to the old format - a single idea per post - because that’s how I write best. For more granular life updates, let’s catch up, or go follow me on Twitter.
Wait, did I expound an entire meta-discourse in italics to avoid the appearance of showing off this super duper cool project I shipped yesterday that I secretly wanted to show off? Yes. I mean, yes. I mean, yeah. Nahhh, I mean, yes, yeah. Actually, I mean, sure. Yep. Correct. I mean…
Deep creative work where hours feel like minutes.
The spark of connection with humans both familiar and strange.
The sense of awe upon beholding naturalistic formations.
Overcoming the toughest physical challenges.
I’ve experienced these moments where nothing else existed. Just me, the activity, and the lack of time itself. Flow.
In the chaos of this new year, I’ve found myself searching for flow. How abundant this seemingly scarce resource was in my childhood! How can I recapture it?
The answer is, paradoxically, structure.
When I was a child, I had the freedom to build mini-universes with Legos, lose myself in video games, and play make believe with my friends. That peaceful freedom gave rise to flow.
However, I did not have the freedom to sleep or wake up whenever I wanted. I did not have the freedom to skip school, skip homework, or skip meals. Furthermore, my parents worked hard to earn money and worked hard to raise me. They created a bubble of structure amidst the chaos of the world (and the chaos of children).
In other words, my childhood took place within the structure and bounds that my parents had set for me. This allowed me to experience the freedom I enjoyed every day.
As I grow older, externally imposed structure falls away. I choose when to wake up, whether I want to eat, and what how I choose to work on. I grow more and more responsible for creating that structure myself.
When I adhere to good structure, freedom flourishes, because my needs are being met. When I neglect structure, freedom became constrained. And as we all know, it takes work to maintain structure.
When I am feeling trapped, it’s because I haven’t defined the right structure to move around in freely. And when life falls apart or I begin to plateau, I must let go of old structure to make room for new.
But it’s more than just about setting habits. Gazing up from my navel for just a second, and I see it all around me. Businesses would fall apart without the leaders who create order of the chaos of the market in the form of roadmaps and organization structure. Society would fall apart without our judicial system, our medical systems, our energy distribution systems, or food distribution systems.
Every day, we live normal lives due to the hard work of millions of other human beings literally fighting the entropy of the universe. On both the macro and micro scale, defining structure is one of the most important and valuable things we can do.
So the next time things are stuck, ask: How can I define some structure to gain more freedom?