#1: It was the middle of the night.
11:45pm — June 15, 2014
We had rented a local island out for the party, and I was dancing my heart out with the others as the bass notes of Summer by Calvin Harris shook the air.
Those who weren’t dancing were swimming (or spooning, or both) or having philosophical chats around one of the many campfires on the beach. This was Day 4 of Afest, and everyone in attendance was absorbing the excitement of the final evening at its absolute climax.
Out of body experiences abounded.
And that was the point. Those moments were the sole purpose of how the last few days were designed. If you weren’t having personal breakthroughs, you were doing it wrong.
Despite the fact that almost everyone in attendance was an entrepreneur, Afest was more about personal development and mindfulness than business. Mindset was the number one focus here. If you came with a closed mind, you either left in frustration after the first workshop on Day 1 (which to my knowledge has never happened), or you were partying to Calvin Harris right now as a completely different person.
Tomorrow, we would all be saying our goodbyes.
We’d be heading off in our own directions, dispersing across the globe in a matter of just a few hours, ready to take on the world and its spectrum of opportunity.
Truth be told, this wasn’t the first Afest I had experienced. In fact, I had attended Afest a year prior, immediately after having graduated from college. I was the youngest person in attendance that year. At the time I had maxed out a new credit card just to buy the $2000 plane tickets and cover another $2500 in hotel costs to attend. It was the best decision of my life.
After all of the BS (that’s bullshit, not bachelor of science) business classes and tests and certifications and internships, nothing had pushed me further through life than discovering the secrets to becoming the master of my thoughts.
This was all a massive investment in my own mind.
It was an experiment on whether cognitive efficiency and mindfulness can accelerate entrepreneurial success.
At 23 years old, I felt like I had an advantage over those my age who weren’t paying attention to this stuff, and I was younger than everyone else who actually was paying attention to it. Plus, I was young enough to recover if it all went south, right? What did I have to lose?
I knew what I wanted to accomplish with my life — improve and expand humanity. That was it, plain and simple. I gauge success in that mission through how my existence leads to (1) increases in standards of living across the globe and (2) us getting people on Mars and progressing toward intertemporal travel.
Problem was — I didn’t know the next step.
C’est la vie.
Much of this had been weighing on my mind over the past few days. I had spent the last 12 months honing this life mission to make sure it was what I really wanted.
Now that I had it crystallized and embedded so deeply into my mind, I was ready for the universe to throw me the next step — because I sure as hell wasn’t seeing it.
You might think that’s a strange approach. Why would I expect the Universe to send me an instruction manual?
One of my theories I had was that all of the seemingly disparate lessons I had learned over the past few days and the past year of personal development exercises would somehow align themselves in my subconscious and lead to a key insight that would thrust me down a clear path toward success.
Some call that naïveté, but I called that luck — as Seneca defined it, the intersection of preparation and opportunity. At this point, I could stare at a tea kettle and have a deeply existential moment.
But despite all of this preparation, to my mild disappointment, that insight hadn’t shown up at any point over the past 72 hours.
As the song ended, my feet had a few seconds to sink into the sand.
I looked around slowly at everyone with a feeling of ecstatic gratitude (after all, we were partying in Thailand).
I looked up at the starry sky, contemplated infinity, then briefly considered the futility of contemplating infinity…
and BAM! That was it. It hit me. Stroke of insight. Hallelujah.
Granted, it wasn’t insight that you get during epiphanies or LSD trips, and it sure as hell wasn’t a road map to changing the world, but it was something, and I knew well enough to trust it.
As soon as I got back to the states, I needed to find an engineer.
Next episode: Kiss Chronicles #2