Brain in a Jar

Rich has this statement he likes to throw at me when I'm doing something stupid.

"You aren't a brain in a jar, Stephanie."


A year and a half or so ago, when we first met, I was downing 3+ (actually, I didn't count, it was a lot) cups of coffee per day, barely sleeping, barely eating, and working every single hour that I could think of working. I wanted to be free, to be successful, to save up money, to start a company, to do many things. I had no time for rest, I thought.

Meanwhile I'd watch Rich work in his job at the time. He'd work from home mostly. He'd always get 8+ hours sleep. He coded maybe 5 hours a day tops, if he really needed to, usually less. He ate super well, always exercised and took care of his health. He was really successful. He had lots of time for rest.

As time passed and I compared our two ways of living, I realized something was not adding up here. Maybe I was doing things wrong.


I was reminded of this recently because over the past few weeks, I've been very sluggish and depressed/anxious and it's been hard to work at all. It makes sense, with recent events in my life. I still had a lot of work to get done, and pushed onward anyway. I didn't work a lot or anything, just a few hours a day, but even that was getting tough to do. I was starting to get worried.

Eventually I caved in. I laid in bed for a few days, barely working at all. I literally laid in bed most of the day, just sunk in my own heavy thoughts and endured assaults from past memories. I did my best to treat my body as well as I could, and rested.

It came to a crescendo. I cried for longer than I'd cried in a long time, after days of just thinking. And I realized a lot of things, and connected the dots from the past few days on reflecting on life, and woke up from the bad dream.

And I was okay again, for now. I felt rejuvenated and ready.


It's amazing how taking care of my body has fixed other parts of my life. Stressed all the time? Addicted to coffee? Lashing out at others? Having a hard time focusing? Having a tough time with productivity? Feeling sluggish? Having a hard time sleeping? Eat well and rest.

I once took some psychiatric medicine with the sole purpose of maintaining my lifestyle of not sleeping/eating and working all the time. Let me tell you, eating well and resting feels so much better than that felt. Eat well and rest above all else, and if you don't think you're able to, really question that before you give up on it and make a plan to make it happen in the future.

Eat well and rest.


It all reminds me of this lovely essay by Paul Graham, called Life is Short.

Life is short, and we're not here to work anyway, even if we could do it all the time, even if we say we love our work.

Take care of yourselves.

You're not brains in jars.

Shine a Light on Darkness

Leaving the Island