What if you can't turn it off?

. 2 min read

As I understand it, about half the world has seen the video in which Joe Rogan interviews Elon Musk. Rogan is obviously high - he has Elon freaking Musk in his studio and yet he's doing all the talking. Musk even throws him huge bone at one point: when Rogan wonders what it's like to have ideas constantly popping into your head, Musk responds by asking, "what if you can't turn it off?" Rogan, instead of diving deeper into the juicy subject, changes it.

Now, while I'm not an idea fountain like Musk, the question he asked resonated with me with respect to another matter. I wonder if I'm the only one with this problem or if this is common to all people in a process of constant progress. I'd like to know. You see, the problem I have is that once I start something, once I decide to do something, I cannot quit or give up - not because I have self-respect or because I have an iron mind, but because I'm afraid what would happen if I did.

A real-life example might clear the point. A few years back I tore my quadriceps during a regular 30-minute morning run. It was agony. I had 25 minutes of running behind me and I was five minutes from home so I could have easily limped the way back. But I couldn't stop. Even if running (or light jogging at this point) with a torn muscle is far from the most pleasant thing to do, and to prevent more damage to the muscle I should have stopped immediately, I couldn't do it. You know why?

I was afraid that if I stopped now, I'd risk never running a 30-minute morning run ever again.

I was afraid of losing the habit I'd created with so much effort. Naturally, after that day, I waited for the muscle to heal before running again. But it had to be 30 minutes, and once I got back to running again, it was again 30 minutes. It couldn't be 25 minutes. It would have been giving up.

So even to this day, if I've decided to publish one article every day and one video every day, I cannot take a day off, ever, even if it's someone's birthday or if I'm sick or if it's Christmas. Because more than the work and more than missing out on something, I fear what would happen if I didn't do it. I fear I might lose the habit and the pride I have in myself for having executed it so consistently.

Blankly put, I fear I would lose everything.

That's the thing I can't turn off.