You're designed by your surroundings – the question is, are you designing them?
You've heard a million times you're the product of your environment – and it's true.
But if the environment is the producer of your life, who is the director?
For most of us, there is no conscious composer orchestrating life and we tend to find ourselves trying to play along without sheets of music, without a conductor, and with instruments that are out of tune.
When this happens, our life becomes less of an orchestrated symphony and more like a bad rehearsal practice. The problem is, your life is no rehearsal.
Beethoven remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time – but did you know he composed his greatest works when he was deaf? It's true, and even though his hearing was so poor he was unable to hear himself play, he used vibrations and conversations with friends to still compose music.
👆 is fascinating but it's really not the point. The concept behind 'Becoming Beethoven' is to transform a shitty rehearsal practice into a symphony you compose.
For the past few years, I lived abroad in Costa Rica & Mexico – away from savory conveniences I took for granted in the United States. Being in a foreign country and living in nature, instead of a familiar environment full of televisions, Amazon Prime, craft beer, malls, etc., I broke threads of addictions that quietly tugged my strings of behavior.
I hadn't realized what controlled me until I wasn't in control, but once I identified it and got honest about the things I wanted in my life, I was able to start writing the sheets of music, consciously conduct my behavior, and fine tune my instruments.
I became the composer of my own life and started to design my environment to design me back in the manner I chose. My environment was the producer but I was the director.
Writing the composition
I recently moved to Austin and knew I'd be surrounded by the tempting conveniences I'd missed – but when I was honest with myself, I knew I didn't want them. I've lived the life of happy hours, cheeseburgers, football games, bars – and although I loved it, I was over it.
I'd played those songs too many times and I wanted to write something more beautifully complex. My goal was to cultivate an environment that would help me expand – a new one that forced me out of my comfort zone to learn new skillsets. But I also wanted to be in the best shape of my life, have plenty of time alone to think and write, garner a strong community of progressive humans, and not fall into the traps of old habitual behaviors.
But let's be honest, the best tacos in the country and craft beer is really fucking tempting – especially when I haven't had access to many familiar conveniences for the last couple years. I knew I had to get clever.
If the environment was going to produce me and I wanted to expand, I had to become the director by designing the environment. So I chose to live at a state park in a campsite surrounded by trees, in a popup camper on top of my car just steps away from a swimming hole and waterfall.
Every day I take hikes and get lost in nature. Every evening I build a fire and sit in silence. Every morning I work out at one of the best gyms in the country (Onnit) and then work from a dope coworking space surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs. I'm only a 15-minute drive to downtown Austin but I live in what feels like a completely different world.
It's the perfect combination of having access to an amazing city with rich culture while being alone surrounded by nature. It's challenging me, expanding me, forcing me to listen more – all while having the conveniences and social life of an amazing city.
Become the composer of life by designing your environment to produce the outcome you want instead of simply being a product of it.
Become Beethoven, and if shit hits the fan – like going deaf as a composer – you will have tools and experience to use that shit to cultivate a richer garden.