Infinite Ascent.

by CJ Quineson

change can’t save you

notes to self

change can’t save you, a higher purpose can’t save you, meaning can’t save you, enlightenment can’t save you, because the problem isn’t you, the problem is the box you’re in, and the only thing stopping you from getting out of the box is you

though the truth is tempered—sure, some of your problems can be solved by doing more emotional work or trying harder in therapy or meditating ten times as much—the biggest problems in your life now aren’t ones you can solve by changing yourself

this isn’t “nothing can save you.” something can save you, and it’s getting out of the box

but what if i step out of the box and i’m still sad? what if, despite everything you’ve done to try to feel better, it’s still you who’s the obstacle, in the end? what if, despite everything, it’s still you?

that’s not what you believe, though. it’s not you; you know that

you’ve given this advice to others and now it’s time for you to take it, for your gut knows what to do more than you do. you’ve felt this discomfort for a while now, you’ve thought about it and written about it and talked about it for months now

you got more in touch with your feelings. you feel the twinge of pain when you hear your friends talk about their work as a source of joy, you feel a ringing hollowness when you say you’re satisfied with having a day job, you read the news about cool ai stuff or cool pl stuff or cool math stuff, things you know you could do, in fact, things you could’ve been doing

but none of this answers: why don’t i feel better, then? you think it’s something outside us? look! we ran away from home, we graduated from mit, we live in a great city, we have a cushy job, did any of that help?

but it did help, we’ve gone over this, this is the sispyhus argument, this is taking charge of your life, you’ve written it out, you’ve left evidence that these things have helped

think about it. there was a time when the biggest problem we had was living with your parents, and when that stopped, things did get better. it shored up the internal problems, the emotional problems, the trauma, and while there’ve been rough patches in mit, moments that added more weight to carry, the world has been kind to you, it’s lifted more things off than it’s added

and now we’ve come full circle, and the biggest problem is something external again, and it doesn’t mean that all that working on ourselves was for nothing, because if we didn’t do that, we’d have more problems to deal with

you’ve outgrown your box and it’s time to get out

but i don’t want to get out. i’m tired of being hurt. i’m tired of raising my hopes up. saying, this thing, this is the thing that’ll make me feel better. if only i ran away from home things will be better and nothing will ever get bad again, and was that true? no! and now you’re saying all i need to do is get out of the box and things will be better? no!

and besides, if the only thing stopping us from getting better, from feeling better, is the box we’re in, and the only thing stopping us from going outside the box is ourselves, then isn’t the thing stopping us ourselves again?

we’re running in circles