For the Love of Life

The foundation of my politics (libertarian anarchist feminist), philosophy (apatheist pagan stoic hedonist vegan), and personal practices (adventurer psychonaut) are all united by one factor, my love of life. Not only life, but a life fully lived.

I stand against those who would suppress life. Whether they be kings, presidents, priests, or bigots.

I stand up for an individual’s right to pursue a life that they love as long as it does others no harm. Whether they be conservative, liberal, polyamorous, or straight-edge.

In my own life, I seek to expand my consciousness through travel, love, and drug.

My life is a love of life, which is why I exercise. To love life but to treat my body poorly with unhealthy food, lack of exercise, and neglecting my mental health would be a hypocrite when I have access to the knowledge and means to have these things.

I will never control all aspects of my health, but my health (and thus, my life) is not something that is completely outside the realm of my control, despite what the ancient Stoics thought. Health is linked to behavior, not only in quantity but quality.

I’m far from perfect (obvi), but recognizing the simple fact that to truly love and support life means starting with personal responsibility for my own life, to work to make myself strong and capable and healthy. Not only will this allow me to go on the adventures I want and live a longer life, it means I am respecting and loving the life of others. By taking care of myself I am doing my best to minimize the harm I cause others.

Neglecting my health means others step in to take care of me, whether that support comes from the state or from family and friends is irrelevant. In the end years of my life I will be dependent on others and if I truly love life then I must work to minimize that dependence. There is evidence showing what practices prolong quality and quantity of life, and most of them are available to us regardless of economic or social class.

I love life. Which means:

  • I fight oppression
  • I strive for equality
  • I seek to minimize harm to all living creatures
  • I seek to preserve a healthy environment
  • I volunteer in my community

I love life. Which also means:

  • going for a run
  • lifting weights
  • staying active
  • eating a whole foods, plant-based diet
  • meditating
  • reading
  • writing
  • fasting
  • cutting out unhealthy practices
  • traveling
  • expanding my consciousness
  • not wasting time
  • drinking water
  • sleeping well
  • see a doctor
  • test my own blood
  • take nootropics
  • track my micronutrients
  • building social relationships

 

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Icarus

“Parody of an angel
Miles above the sea
I hear the voice of reason
Screaming up to me
‘You flew too high, for now you’re too close to the sun
Soon your makeshift wings will come undone’
But how will I know the limits from life if I never try?”
The Melting Point of Wax, Thrice

I always liked the story of Icarus. The idea of taking a risk, soaring high, and experiencing the joy of the moment and seeing just how much you can accomplish fills me with inspiration. I know it is supposed to be a cautionary tale about finding the middle ground between laziness and over-ambition, but I think that is giving it too much credit.

These tales were not bestowed upon us by impartial and perfect gods. They were told by men to others as a means of providing guidance, and that guidance did not always come from a good place. I interpret this differently, the tale is meant to control ambition and keep people (particularly children) docile. It is meant to scare those who would excel, keep the populace from standing up to do what is right or pursue their passions.

Instead of fearing the sun we should all be children of Icarus (Spoiler: I think I’m going to introduce a group of technology anarchists called “The Children of Icarus” in the book I’m working on). We should thrive to cast off the chains of our fathers and push further towards the stars than they ever dreamed. The tale of Icarus falling to his death is just a scare tactic, like Hell or the Boogieman. We should work to show these tales for what they are, an attempt to control people and maintain the status quo.


Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

 

A Weekend Feast

For the last three weeks or so I have been really focused on developing productive habits, getting fit and healthy, and moving away from Facebook. I’ve been pretty successful at it but over the last week or so I’ve begun feeling kind of burnt out. I decided to pause the productivity and spend the weekend feasting a bit, every fast needs a feast.

So, on Saturday my partner and I biked up to the beach to enjoy the weather, enjoyed a beer at the 20th Birthday Party for Lighthouse Beer & Wine, and then went home to roll the night away. We walked around, chatted with friends, and just enjoyed the ecstasy that comes with serotonin (and the Snapchat sharing). Sunday was spent recovering with beer, pizza, naps, and Grey’s Anatomy. It was wonderful, and it had the intended effect of reigniting my passion for improving my life.

It was nice to spend some time without commitments, without goals, without minimum pages read or words written or minutes exercised. Sometimes, I just need some controlled time off to recharge and love life a little bit. Now, I’m excited to work out, get writing, improve my work skill-set, and continue reading about the random things that interest me. It was a good weekend.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Going Deep (Not a Blog Post About Sex)

I’m reading “Deep Work” by Cal Newport right now and I’ve come to a pretty interesting conclusion about myself: I’ve never really “gone deep”. I have never had periods of uninterrupted focus and work on a project or to develop a skill. I’ve never studied, written, or thought about something without interruption for 45 minutes, much less hours. And, of course, this makes me want to try.

I’m not sure what area of my life to give a trial run to in order to develop this skill. I’ll probably start small(ish) with one hour where I shut the door, turn off the phone, and unplug the internet; and then build up this skill from there.

But what should I work on?

My first instinct is to work on Work (as in, what I get paid to do), but I don’t think that is a good first run. I don’t currently have any projects that really lend themselves to deep work right now.

Writing is also near the top of the list, and probably will be the one I go with. I am most likely to develop a flow feeling while writing and I also have a hard time getting going, which some uninterrupted time should help with. But what should I write about? Not a blog post, that is over too quickly. And not something that requires research because I don’t trust myself with the internet. I think that leaves fiction writing, the thing that simultaneously terrifies me and excites me the most. Or maybe I’ll just write some erotica.

I could also work on some sort of skill development like coding, data visualization, a foreign language, musical instrument, or dancing. But, again, this would probably require the internet or a training schedule that I don’t have the base knowledge for. There are also some job and art ideas floating around my head but I haven’t flushed them out yet… though I guess I could use that deep work time to actually flush them out.

So yeah, it is probably going to be writing. Right now, I’ve got it scheduled for 10am on Tuesday. One hour of deep work. Let’s see how this goes…

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

It Started Last Night

It is no surprise that I am someone who is fascinated by human potential and productivity. I read self-help books, experiment with drugs and fasting and practices, I seek guidance from trainers and coaches and therapists. I love the idea of making the most out of this (probably) limited (probably) one life we have. I want myself (and everyone) to figure out what they are truly capable of, to aim for mountains to climb and books to write and children to raise.

Out of all the practices for a productive day, I’ve found that the most important one for me starts about 9 hours before my day begins. At night, I try and take some time to prep the next day. My motivation is lowest in the morning, I’m kind of a grouch, and I need to have minimal barriers to productivity before the day begins.

So, the night before I set out my journal and books to read. I put a printed plan of my daily schedule next to my computer (I rarely actually follow that schedule but having that foundation helps). I make coffee the night before and I set out my running shoes, shorts, and socks. If there is anything I need to download (podcasts, books, songs) or a run route I need to plan then I get that in my phone before I go to bed.

Also, I clean. A cluttered home and workplace puts me in a funky headspace in the morning. I pick up the house, do the dishes, put away the laundry, and clean off the table. I make sure my computer desktop is cleaned up, browsers clear, and programs closed. The only exception is I open a single browser with Asana open with my planned tasks of the day.

Then, with the house and life set up, I lay down in bed and run through a short mantra. This may sound corny, but it works for me. The mind is a powerful thing. I lay in bed and think to myself “I am thankful for this day and thankful for the rest I’m about to receive. My body is an amazing machine and the upcoming X hours of sleep will be enough to restore me. I will wake ready for another amazing day.” Now that I’m waking at 5am I am usually only getting about 6-7 hours of sleep, but since starting this practice I really haven’t felt that tired in the morning and I wake ready to roll.

Then, after all that work, the day begins. 🙂


Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Week 3 Progress

This week was a little rough. I was good all the way until after the run on Saturday and then my motivation started to tank. I think it is a combination of things. First, I’ve been in the new routine for about 20 days and I’m past the exciting stage. Second, I have a hard work deadline this week that has been adding stress (more on that below). Lastly, now that my 9-mile trail run is over I need a new upcoming goal… luckily, I have one at the end of next month which will require some training.

So, in the spirit of my post on Sunday I’m going to start mixing the mundane and intimate.

  • Tentatively and cautiously, I’m going to start logging onto Facebook daily with the sole intention of checking three personal groups, my messages, and to share my blogging. If this practice turns into a distraction then I’m going to go cold turkey again.
  • This week I’ve only been able to hit the gym once and only ran a handful of short runs. I have a deadline this week that has been taking a lot of time and stressing me out and, unfortunately, yesterday I backslide and turned to food. It didn’t really help (it never really does).
  • My daily journaling has become really therapeutic to me. I didn’t think writing down my (mostly) mundane details of my day would be beneficial but it has been.
  • At D&D my character (Gory)  got swallowed by a giant fire centipede thing and was almost digested to death. He always rushes into combat a little recklessly and rarely does that much damage, at least the rest of my party (who are mostly pretty squishy) stay safe while I distract the baddies. He also almost got squished by a boulder and tried to climb a statue of a Giant god and steal a weapon, much to the annoyance of our Frost Giant ally.
  • I had a much-needed massage on Tuesday. It was super relaxing and therapeutic. I wish I could have got myself into a more present headspace though, I kept thinking about work and house hunting. It was hard to be in the moment.
  • Also, I’m interested in going back to school for massage therapy again. This happens every year or two, but this time I’m actually in a stable financial position to give it a try. I have some reservations though.
  • I volunteered to head the Marketing Committee for the Cape Fear Community Land Trust. CFCLT is a non-profit that I volunteer for that helps low-income residents with affordable housing in the area. I feel like I’m in over my head a bit but the whole board of directors is supportive.
  • Anna and I put in another offer on a house this week. Like a previous offer, it sounds like we have a lot of competition and someone is driving in from Charlotte with cash… so we may be fucked. It sucks, we can’t seem to find a house that is both in our price range, in good enough condition to pass a VA inspection, and have just a few of the things we are looking for in a home.
  • I’m currently reading “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, “Time Travel: A History”, “Deep Work”, and slowly working through “Getting Bi”.
  • Our new kitten is freaking hilarious and I find him infinitely distracting.
  • I’ve started experimenting with fasting more and did a 42-hour fast this week that went really well. I think I’m going to implement one every week or so and stick with my 8/16 (or 4/20) eating window.
  • I started a fantasy world-building writing project in the last few days that I’m actually really excited about and enjoying. It has been a while since I had that kind of love of writing. I don’t know what it’ll turn into yet, but it feels good.

As far as physical fitness progress goes, things slowed down a little this week but I’m still on the right track. Hopefully, next week I can be a little more focused on health and fitness because I shouldn’t have a heavy workload. No major changes to my weight but I am starting to notice some more muscle definition, particularly in my back and shoulders (the pictures don’t really show it that well, but my love handles and terrible posture are out in full force)

Weight:
Beginning – 187.5 lbs
Week 1 – 177.5 lbs
Week 2 – 176.4 lbs
Week 3 – 175.8 lbs
Total Loss – 11.7 lbs
Weekly Loss – 0.6 lbs

Waist Measurements:
Beginning – 37.75 inches
Week 1 – 36 inches
Week 2 – 36 inches
Week 3 – 35.5 inches
Total Loss – 2.25 inches
Weekly Loss – 0.5 inches

               Week 3                                                   Beginning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m pretty happy with my progress, even if it has slowed a bit. Each day has been in the right direction, sometimes the progress is slow but it is still trending towards health and fitness.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Struggle

I’m struggling this afternoon. I don’t have Facebook to distract myself (which is a good thing) but I’ve been turning to food (not a good thing). I know the triggers, work stress. I have a deadline fast approaching and I don’t know how to get into the deep work state without food. Knowing this doesn’t seem to be preventing it.

I guess I’m just going to push through today, do the best I can. Get my work done even if it means packing on an extra few kCals today. I’ve been pretty good with my workouts and diet over the last few weeks and I don’t think one bad day will hurt things too much.

The Subject of My Desire

First, I want to thank whoever sent me such a nice message on SurveyMonkey. I know you said that you didn’t need a response, but I still want to thank you. It is nice to know that we’re not alone in our home purchasing struggles. Camaraderie during this process is incredibly nice. Also, I’m glad that my openness about my health and fitness journey has been beneficial to you as well. To be honest, it is difficult not to only talk about that because it is such a big part of my life right now. I’m not turning this or my Instagram into “fitness only” but I will continue to update with progress, struggles, photos, and my thoughts when I want.

Anyway, thank you so much and I’m really happy that my request for deeper connections is bearing fruit. I think I’ll do weekly summary blog posts about the intimate and mundane in hopes that it will plant seeds for private discussions with friends and strangers.

Now, onto my normal blog post.


“Remember that it’s not only the desire for wealth and position that debases and subjugates us, but also the desire for peace, leisure, travel, and learning. It doesn’t matter what the external thing is, the value we place on it subjugates us to another… where our heart is set, there our impediment lies.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 4.4.1-2; 5

The problem isn’t what we want, it is that we want it. The desire for things outside of our own control is a slave-master and a roadblock to happiness and fulfillment. I don’t know where the line is drawn between the healthy pursuit of things and an unhealthy craving or desire. Maybe it is about recognizing the journey and the impossibility of a destination. I can develop healthy habits to grow stronger and healthier but if I allow the end goal to be my drive then it becomes a craving.

There are so many things I want and would like to experience… a six-pack, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, writing books, traveling the world, being debt free, doing DMT… but when I strive after binary things then I reject the fluidity of life where true beauty and meaning lies. If I associate my identity with a task, with an end goal, then what happens to my identity when I reach it? Instead of wanting a “thing” I think it is better to develop a process.

Instead of a desiring a six-pack I become someone who exercises regularly and eats well. Instead of desiring to publish a book I become someone who writes daily and works to improve my communication skills. I am in control of the process, but not the result. At least that’s my reflection on today’s stoic passage.


Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/user/show/5292148
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Why Fasting?

Fasting is my newest experimental interest (obsession?). While it may seem foolish to intentionally go without eating I think there is a lot of value in this ancient practice. It really speaks to me on a few different levels.

First, our bodies and minds (but I repeat myself) evolved in a world where famine was inevitable. We have mechanisms in the body that not only work to address periods without food but actually work better in fasted states. We did not evolve to have access to glucose 24/7 and it taxes our internal systems to be constantly in a feasted state. It is beneficial to my health to fast from time to time.

Second, it is a good Stoic/Buddhist practice. If free will exists, then I want to exercise it. I don’t want to be a slave to a few molecules of sugar or a pleasurable sensation. Food is a tool that can serve many important purposes, but like all tools it can be dangerous if used improperly. Far too often I’ve turned to food in times of stress or to get pleasure, I let the food take control of my actions. I don’t want that to be the case, I want to have a healthy, happy relationship with food and fasting helps me accomplish that.

Third, I love experimenting on myself to see what I’m capable of. I jump into new things just to see how it feels and to break myself out of my comfort zone (comfort is my number one enemy). I don’t want to look back at my life and think “dang, I wish I would have tried that” … I think that thought process will be inevitable but at the very least I don’t want to see much wasted, stagnant time. Fasting is an experiment to see how my body reacts. Can I work out without food in my belly? What happens when I don’t eat for a few days? What times or situations do I struggle the most with food? What are my stressors and how can I handle them without hummus? My life is a test against myself and the ideal me.

Lastly, the studies showing the long-term health benefits really speak to me. I’m almost 40 years old and I know that if I want a chance at a healthy heart and mind later in life then I need to start building healthy long-term habits now. I’ve seen members of my family and friend’s families face diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and other health issues that accompany age sooner than necessary. I don’t want to be a burden on my family and I want to be able to enjoy as much life as possible, and that means taking responsibility for my health now instead of later. Fasting is a tool to help me with that. Studies show that it helps with treatment and prevention of obesity and cardiovascular problems and slows aging. There may be future studies that bring these results into question, but with the best information I have available it seems that fasting is a great regular practice to add to my health routine or, at the very least it is not harmful when done responsibly.

I’m currently about 36 hours into a 42(ish) hour fast and I actually feel really good. I’m no longer hungry (but I was yesterday) and I have a fair amount of energy. I also have a sort of mental, euphoric high. My mind feels at the top of it’s game (which is another evolutionary feature, we get sharper as we have access to less food). I’ve been doing the 8/16 Intermittent fasting pretty consistently for quite a while now and I think that was necessary to get me comfortable fasting for over 42 hours, and I’m glad I’m at this point. I think this will become a weekly thing for me.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/user/show/5292148
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

On the Trail

I’ve always loved being outdoors, particularly in the woods. My family was never really into outdoor stuff but growing up in Oregon it is nearly impossible not to have some sort of affinity for nature. I remember as a young teenager exploring the random forests, woods, and streams that surrounded my home and the homes of my friends. We hiked up and down hills, talked about life, and hoped to catch a glimpse of naked girls in a river or stream… for some reason, I believed that girls just randomly hung out and skinny-dipped in streams that were just a few yards from roads and residential neighborhoods. I never found any naked girls, except the ones in the porn mags that always seemed to be hidden throughout the woods.

Since moving to Wilmington it has been difficult to explore nature in a way that feels natural to me. Luckily, I think I found a way: trail running. I’ve been running a lot lately but I find it so fucking boring sometimes. Just running around on concrete or a track feels so dull to me, I’m just not entertained or motivated or challenged by a flat run through a city or on UNCW’s track.

Trail running, though, is very different. It is a return to nature that demands constant vigilance. If you stop paying attention to the present for even a second you may trip on a root or crash into a tree. It is a very Stoic meditative exercise, your mind can’t wander too much or you will pay the consequences. And why would you want your mind to wander? All around is beautiful nature and fresh air. It is marvelous.

Last weekend I participated in a 9-mile run at Brunswick Nature Park and had a blast. I wasn’t trying to race or anything but I kept a really good 9ish-mile pace for the entire thing. I wasn’t even thinking about my time, I was just enjoying the moment. I felt actual joy while running, I felt goofy and had fun. I’d jump down hills and spread my arms like wings and bound off rocks. It was a childish joy that I rarely feel anymore, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Yes, my body was a little sore afterward and I was tired. The little muscles around my ankles and feet were particularly tender because they aren’t used to being used to stabilize on rocky terrain. That doesn’t matter though, my body will heal stronger and I’ll get out there again. My next group run isn’t until May but I’m trying to find ways to implement trail running into my routine. The college has a lot of woods and trails to explore, and I picked up some hiking boots to go rucking in. Rucking is definitely a different game than trail running, but I think it’ll be equally enjoyable and therapeutic. (I also have an overnight rucking event next month that I’m nervous/excited for… so I gotta break in my equipment).

One of the things I’ve really been missing here in Wilmington is a group of people to do physical activity with. I’ve got some great D&D friends and drinking friends, but I don’t have a lot of people to get outside with. Maybe trail running and rucking can help fill that hole.


Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/user/show/5292148
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”