I Am a Human Guinea Pig

March 2, 2009

Hello, all. It’s been a while. Again. Sorry about that. But, I’ve been busy. No, not too busy to blog. But busy enough that it hasn’t been crossing my mind as much as it usually does. Let’s fix that, shall we?

The reason I’ve been so preoccupied is really very simple. I’ve taken on a few life experiments that have had the intended result of really changing my life up. Fortunately for me, all of the changes thus far have been for the better.

You see, I’m a big fan of “What if…?” I’m an even bigger fan of actually finding out. So I experiment with my life. I went for six months without internet in my apartment when I last moved, and I grew my hair out for a year, just to see how long I could get it before it either got hideous or bugged me too much. I just shaved it last night.

Right now, I have three experiments going on in my life. Here’s a brief rundown of them. In the near future, I hope to give you a more in depth look at how each of these experiments are turning out.

Sleep & Wakefulness: Biphasic Sleep

About 4 months ago, I started a sleep schedule commonly known as biphasic sleep. Essentially, it means I sleep twice a day, for anywhere from two to five hours each time. I get about six hours of sleep a day—sometimes more, sometimes less. Overall, this has been a phenomenal success.

I went into it expecting, well, nothing. I certainly wasn’t expecting to come out more alert, more productive, more responsible, or more energetic. But that is what happened.

This experiment is still going, and unless I come up with another hair-brained idea for sleep, it’s going to be around for a very long time. I don’t suggest this one for everyone, but if you have trouble with sleeping a “normal” schedule, you might want to check it out.

Social Life: 100% Social. Aim for the sky, knowing you’ll miss.

Starting January 1st this year, I made it my goal to do something social every day this year. Yes, that is a lofty and practically impossible goal. That’s exactly why I set the goal, knowing I would most likely not achieve it. Perfection wasn’t my aim here. I’ve already failed at 100%, but I’m still going at the experiment as though I haven’t.

My intention is to get out of my house, train myself to be better at meeting new people and making good first impressions, and just see what it’s like not to be a hermit. It’s now the beginning of March, and I’m currently at 53 out of 59 days of successful socializing. If I keep going at this rate, that is right around 9 out of every 10 days, which is better than most people achieve.

In this case, I’ve ended up with some very unexpected results. Most of my original aims haven’t come to light. But I have learned more about myself in the process. This one I most definitely *do* suggest people try out, in some variation. The results have been positively staggering.

Physical and Emotional Well Being: Krav Maga

This one is brand new. I only started the classes last Friday. Krav Maga, for those who don’t know, is an Israeli martial art designed during WW2 to be easy to learn, brutal, and effective. It’s not designed for tournaments, and it’s not designed with honor in mind. Krav Maga is pure, unadulterated survivalism. I decided to try this out for many reasons, both physical and emotional.

I’m not in great shape. I’m not even in good shape. In fact, I’m a fat-ass in a skinny man’s body. I’ve tried getting into various sports to shape up, but nothing has stuck. I’ve always enjoyed martial arts, but the tournament focus of the majority had turned me off. Krav Maga seems like a pretty good fit.

Emotionally, I’m a very shut down man. I keep as much anger or frustration as I can hidden from the world. With no outlet for these negative emotions, they eventually come out in fear, depression, and unexpected and inappropriate tears. I needed to find some outlet for these emotions, and the more internal outlets—such as working out in a gym, or writing—did no good. Martial arts are a socially acceptable outlet for some of the energy that I keep pent up, so I figured I would give it a shot.

I’ve only been to two classes so far, but I can say this much: No activity has left me actually enjoying being in pain or willing to endure the agony I feel after any real intensity of aerobic exercise. For once, I see it all as a challenge instead of a nuisance or an obstacle. That is a completely new experience for me. The only question is whether it’s a change in my outlook, or something about Krav Maga, itself.

So what’s next?

Those are my experiments right now. It’s been a very interesting four months, an even more interesting 2009, and it’s about to get even more interesting. In the coming weeks, I’ll write a little more in depth on each of my experiments: the road that led me to each of them, the benefits, and the drawbacks. And I’m already looking out for my next big experiment.