Everything, Nothing, Infinity and Imperfection

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108 days ago I started a project where I would create a shader and post it online. Every day. Whatever I had that day, even if incomplete, would get posted. My primary goal was to learn how to write shaders. By the way, all my sketches live in a github repo: https://github.com/asalga/fragments
and my posts exist as videos on IG: https://www.instagram.com/andor_saga

My secondary goal was to (mostly) overcome perfection. I knew my sketches wouldn’t be exactly what I’d like them to be.  Well, they are actually far, far from what I’d like to be able to do.

The main goal was to learn shaders, the second goal, which I feel has been eating away at my life and happiness is the need for perfection. So sometimes I would create sketches, that were terrible, but I had to accept them as they were, their imperfections, and ultimately, my own imperfection. It’s been difficult. And sometimes I feel it’s impossible. I think I’ve gotten better? There’s certainly more things I do and leave as imperfect. Like, blogging for instance. I don’t really care about grammar or spelling as much as I used to. They are certainly important for some things, but beating myself up over trying to portray that I’m perfect at spelling and grammar–is a waste of energy.

I feel like I learned A LOT when it comes to shaders. I learned SDFs, SDF operations (intersections, unions, repetition), glsl syntax, …I would sometimes get these incredible insights, I started being able to vizualize 3D objects and rotate them in my mind. I was never able to do that before. It’s been a lot of fun. And I hope to continue making more sketches.

In terms of acceptace of imperfection, I think that’s going to be a life-long deal.


New Year Habits

Last year I decided to begin exercising. Not for a few months or a couple years, but for the rest of my life. I made a resolution to do some form of physical or mental exercise for 15 minutes a day every day. 15 minutes may sound meager, but by making a small habit change, I could later on extend my time without too much difficulty. I managed to keep my commitment to bike, run, meditate, or do yoga every day.

I had some slips when I missed a few days while moving apartments and traveling, but this small habit change got me to start running, and I eventually ran my first half marathon (: So, it worked out well.

If you’re setting some New Year’s resolutions, here are some tips on forming your new habits:

Make it quantifiable

You must be able to measure your goal so it can serve as an indication that you are on the right track. Either you did it or you didn’t, there should be no ambiguity. Setting a number to your goal is the easiest way to prevent this ambiguity. My metric was 15 minutes. Either I spent those 15 minutes on myself or I didn’t. So figure out: How long? How many pages? How many phone calls? What time? Put a number on it so when you are done, you can tick it off.

Keep a log

‘Ticking it off’ is an important step in habit forming because it helps motivate you and, like I mentioned before, it shows your progress. Jerry Seinfeld has a productivity secret: Don’t Break the Chain. This is a great tool that I use to help me on working on my goals. Upon completing your task, tick it off your log to track your progress.

When you fail…Start over

Don’t be hard on yourself if/when you fail, simply start over. Last year I did some traveling, which threw my routine out of whack. I ended up missing some days of exercise. I could have beat myself up over this, but that would have been counter-productive. If you go back to your old habits, simply start over.

Do what works for you

Don’t set yourself up for failure by doing something you hate. Forming new habits can be difficult, so there’s no need to make it even more challenging. You know yourself best, so choose a task that is somewhat enjoyable. Personally, I love stationary bikes. It’s hands-free, I can listen to music, and I can enjoy the scenery while I pedal away. So, if you want to succeed in your new habits, make sure to do what works for you.

Good luck! (:

Excuses, excuses…

Yesterday, my legs hurt like hell. It was my second day running and after my run, I had trouble with stairs and even walking. Moving my legs in any way was painful.

I began running as a form of mental exercise, not a physical one. I wanted to practice getting past the mental barriers I create in my life. I figured, if I can overcome the pain, the doubt and fear of a physical exercise, I can get past any mental barriers too.

Today was the third day and things were different. I slept in to recover and I thought my legs would be better by morning, but they were in a worse shape than ever. Getting out of bed was hard and walking was slow. I had to go downstairs one stair at a time. I looked my window and saw people, cars—I was too late. The streets were busy, it was cold, I didn’t want to cause any damage to my muscles, yesterday I had a beer, I’m tired, I have to work—these were my excuses. Look inside yourself and understand your excuses are just as stupid and these stupid excuses are holding you back from your potential.

I remembered this was a mental exercise. The whole point was to break through any mental barriers. I got honest with myself and realized my excuses were ridiculous. If I didn’t get outside, I could rest my legs, yes, but mentally it would be worst thing I could do for myself.

I asked myself, “What if?”. What if I did run today? Would my legs break? Probably not. But more importantly, how would I feel if I could do it? I would have overcome a huge obstacle. I would cry in pain, but hell, I would feel incredible mentally. That was enough for me. I put on my shoes and I was out the door. My run was about 3KM total. By the end of it, I had snot running down my nose and I was gasping for air. It was ugly, but I loved it. I had broken past my mental and physical barrier.

Tomorrow holds a new challenge, but I believe I have the courage to take it on.

Get honest with yourself today, what are your excuses? Write them down. Are these going to hold you back from your ultimate potential? Will you be on your deathbed telling everyone stories about why you couldn’t fulfill your dreams? Or will you tell everyone you managed to fulfill your ambitions even in spite of all your many challenges?