Last night I sat with a friend and we wrote a rap song. Neither of us can play any music or sing. But it was some of the most immersed I've felt doing anything in a long time.
Around 2013 I started reading business books, looking for secrets to work more productively. This obsession shifted to consuming online blogs about the same thing. Article after article, the optimization was now aimed at more than my work. It crept into my morning routine, relationships, diet, exercise, sleep, and every conceivable aspect of my life.
My ability to do things that didn't benefit my "career" or "improve my health" faded. I stopped making silly YouTube videos. I stopped trying to learn music. Hanging out with friends felt like a crime against my time. Yet, as a social creature that craves creative output, I was unable to make a clean cut from those things. Instead, I wrestled with regret at not producing more art. I continued to spend time socializing, despite going to bed anxiously counting minutes not used to "improve" myself. It was the epitome of a lose-lose situation.
For a while, I thought that the right thing to do would be to find a way to unplug from the regret. "Those things are over," I wanted to tell myself. In 2019 I realized this was the wrong approach. The reality was that these things were what I longed to do from deep within. All the other instructions and bullshit I consumed were externalities that were in fact irrelevant to my life—my joy.
Since then, I've been working towards rebuilding my old instincts for what I want to do, and so last night I rapped. It was stupid. It was fun. It was not optimal.