I started reading "Hagakure," which was written by the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716. I don't agree with everything in the book - some of the things Yamamoto-sama says sound crazy to my modern sensibilities, but there's some powerful quotes in here about bushido. Here's some I liked, with some thoughts of my own -
We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.
The first book of philosophy on bushido I read was the Budoshoshinshu. It had a significant impact on my thinking. One of the largest tenets of bushido is keeping awareness of your death in mind when you live. I try to do this, because it gives you a sense of urgency and importance.
A lot of times the principle is misunderstood - the principle is actually make preparations as if you'll live forever, but live this day that you'd be proud if it was your last. Bushido is not about being reckless. It's about keeping awareness of the end with you, and in doing so, living much more.
It's almost paradoxical - the man who is aware of his death, who relinquishes his claim on life, he lives much more fully. The man who is ignorant of his death does not live as much. Death is not something to be afraid of - it's something to be aware of. Being aware of it makes you more alive, and more effective, and more purposeful.
On No Status Quo
Some time ago I realized that if I want to make good things happen, I've got to start working hard. I'm about to graduate from college, and if I want to live the kind of life I've always wanted, I really have no choice but to work my ass off.
And so I did. Or at least I was trying my best.
I started writing this blog. I was spending 20+ hours a week at my part-time job. I revived my iPhone photography website. I was studying direct response marketing and copywriting. I spent more than an hour each day hand-copying successful sales letters. I was working out four times a week. I was doing all of that while being in my last semester of college. Most of my classmates are already freaked out, even if they aren't doing anything else.
It's probably not hard to see that my life was not exactly fun most of the time. My quality of life was suffering, and I was beginning to feel isolated from other people. Not good for an introvert. And my productivity was beginning to suffer.
More and more often I found myself mindlessly spending time on the internet. It's one of the things I really don't want to do, yet I was often wasting hours online. My motivation was getting worse and worse. I was still more productive than I'd have been a year ago, but it was obvious that I could do a lot more.