Sipping on gin and…

I was clearing out some old files last night. I hard drive used for backups, old documents, scrambled writings, a ton of music, and pictures.

Some pictures made me happy. Some nostalgic. Others brought tears to my eyes.

Pictures are snapshots of a moment. Pictures may tell a thousand words, but they hide ten times as many. Because those snapshots of moments aren’t the moment themselves. They are representations. The moment was ephemeral, the snapshot a forgery.

In You Are A Badass, Jennifer Sincero says something like, “Focusing on the past is depression. Focusing on the future is anxiety. Focusing on the present is peace.” (Looking it up, she was quoting Lao Tzu.)

Though wonderful reminders, photos are the past. Even the ones your friends (and occasionally I) post on Facebook and Instagram. Lingering on them will only cause depression.

(The title comes from The Botanist Gin that I was drinking while clearing out folders. If you like gin, I recommend it.)

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Circadian living

Been conducting a personal experiment of sorts. First, I’ve taken what Dr. Satchin Panda said in his TED Talk (you can also hear more on the Bulletproof Radio podcast), and have been eating within a ten-twelve hour period during the day, no longer snacking later than that window.

Second, I’m being more mindful of the light that inhabits my senses. I try and wake at sunrise (to an extent), and shut down blue lights at sundown. I’ve been slowly adjusting into this experiment, and am finding a better night’s sleep.

(One exception to my better sleep were the two nights following my viewing of the film Hereditary. Honestly, that last ten-minute sequence – or however long it was – has been playing in my mind every time I shut the lights off. Didn’t care for the movie on the whole, but that sequence was enough to give me pause before crawling into bed.

Post-poetry

Have we moved past the age of poetry?
The verse that speaks most to us
is from an age gone by,
and as our language escapes us,
it seems less likely for us
to make use of the words
in the ways that the poets had.

We speak now in limited vocabularies,
forever adding words
To our dictionaries
but removing so many others
from our usage.
We stagger through life hindered
By our shrinking lexicons,
so suddenly incapable of
conveyance and appreciation
of language.

That it would be Gutenberg’s folly
To propel us in the ages of technology
While the actual inventions of his genius
Wither and rot to our consciousness.

Books no longer bound by conventions,
Electronic, delivered to illumined screens
and forgotten.
Words, too, sit unused, unheard,
Save for ramblings of intellectuals and
Essays, long-formed and mostly unread.

Where do unspoken words go?
What graves guard the deceased syllables
of prose and poetry?
When the world reduces its collective rhetoric
to mere utterances, what remains?

Learning to play

My great-grandfather George Heron was a professional golfer. My grandmother was an avid golfer most of her life, and my grandfather was a golf course superintendent. My father as well played, though hasn’t for some time.

I shoot like I’m swinging a baseball bat. It’s rather jarring how bad I am at the sport. However, it wasn’t something I was raised in. I didn’t learn about George H. until I was a teenager, at least. By that point, not ever having held a club, it’s easy to ascertain why it would be so difficult for me now. I haven’t played in a year, and that was just once in 2017.

So, out I go again. What I last wrote about frequency applies to golf as well, and there may be times when I ask clients out for a morning on the links. Though it’s okay for them to beat me, I don’t need to spend my paychecks on replacing all the golf balls I lost.

Delinquent Reading Lists

Books Bought:

  • The 4-Hour Workweek – Timothy Ferriss
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
  • Awaken The Giant Within  – Tony Robbins
  • Winter – Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • Noir – Christopher Moore
  • The Buddhism of Tibet: Or, Lamaism, with Its Mystic Cults, Symbolism and Mythology, and in Its Relation to Indian Buddhism – L.A. Waddell
  • Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
  • Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
  • The Collected Letters of Alan Watts – Edited by Joan Watts & Anne Watts
  • The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City – Edited by Jason Blum
  • Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival – Dave Canterbury
  • The Han Solo Adventures (Han Solo at Stars’ End / Han Solo’s Revenge / Han Solo and the Lost Legacy) – Brian Daley
  • Letters from a Stoic – Seneca
  • Zen: The Supreme Experience (The Newly Discovered Scripts – Alan Watts; Edited by Mark Watts
  • Beat Spirit: The Way of the Beat Writers as a Living Experience – Mel Ash
  • Unlimited Power – Anthony Robbins
  • The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic – Jason Surrell

Books Read:

  • Later Essays – Susan Sontag (unfinished)
  • The 4-Hour Workweek – Timothy Ferriss
  • Oklahoma! – Richard Rogers & Oscar Hammerstein
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson (unfinished)
  • The Collected Letters of Alan Watts – Edited by Joan Watts & Anne Watts (unfinished)
  • Awaken The Giant Within  – Tony Robbins
  • Homeland – R.A. Salvatore (unfinished)
  • Magic The Gathering: Arena – William R. Forstchen
  • The Way of the Superior Man – David Deida (unfinished)
  • Death Warmed Over – Kevin J. Anderson
  • Blame – Jeff Abbott
  • The Last Minute – Jeff Abbott
  • Braving the Wilderness – Brene Brown
  • Small Favor – Jim Butcher
  • Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo (unfinished)
  • The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less – Richard Koch (unfinished)
  • You Are a Badass – Jen Sincero (unfinished)

Well, here is basically March through June of this year. I’m hoping this is comprehensive, but I know I picked up a few other books here and there. March was a slow month for reading. I had been thinking about the new job, a show opening, etc., it seemed like I just had a lot on my plate. April didn’t seem to go much better in that regard. May I did a little more reading, even revisiting some books I had read previously.

To start, I can’t say enough positive things about 4-Hour Workweek. It was both an enjoyable read as well as highly motivational. Something about the freedom to travel while working has led me to revamping my spending habits as well as my work habits.

The new job is mostly from my home office, though I take a lot of meetings. My plan is that after the first three months, the face-to-face meetings will be condensable into “office days”, where I can batch all my meetings into one or two days for the week. That will free up my time to make those travel arrangements.

I’ve even traded in the Prius for a Rav4, so that I can get a tow-along camper and hit some camp grounds.

That’s some of the effect the book had on me. I listened to the audio book and mostly it was on two business trips, Daytona to Naples and Back, that I was able to listen to it. I recommend getting the physical copy (in addition to the audio book, if need be) so that you can have access to the materials in it. I believe that they are all online at Tim.blog, along with his weekly podcast and other resources. Again, I highly recommend checking it out.

Fresh off the motivational bandwagon that is 4-Hour Workweek, I tried Subtle Art. I liked it, but I haven’t been able to finish it. This one speaks more to changing mindsets, and honestly, my mindset of not giving a f*ck is pretty well established. I’m able to let things go and move with the flow, and this book did not resonate with me as much. I will finish it though, and there are certainly some wonderful highlights in it.

And then I had to try a Tony Robbins book. I had never read anything by him, or listened to anything that was recorded, but I had heard about him for many years so I thought I would try it out. I got the audio book of Awaken the Giant.

I enjoyed it. This was a quick read, and had a lot to do with changing your mindset. But again, having been a convert to the mindset changing your reality, much of the content was not useful in an applicable way, but rather more informational. Found another Tony Robbins book in the library sale bin, so I picked up Unlimited Power. It’s in a stack right now to read, which I’ll get around to.

The rockiness of 2016 taught me how amazing the power of thought, intention and mindset could be. After such a heavy nonfiction motivational slant, I wanted to lean in to some lighter reads. Arena and Small Favor were both books I had read previously (Arena I first read 20 years ago, and have likely read it a half dozen times since). Both are about wizards, each facing great odds too balance the scales of good and evil. Quick reads, mind-easing in their straightforward approaches. I love them both.

I read a few other books in the Magic the Gathering series, tied in to the card game, but found Arena to by far be my favorite. I’ve actually read all the Harry Dresden books Butcher has written, and am eagerly awaiting the new novel. I probably saw the television show, which only lasted one season, but enjoyed it enough to entice my getting into the series.

Early on I had been delving into Susan Sontag’s essays, but it got pushed to the side when I discovered the letters of Alan Watts. As I’ve written before, I find the faith, culture, and language of Asian nations to be extremely interesting. Alan Watts devoted much of his life to understanding Zen Buddhism, and brought that understanding to Western audiences.

I’m only into the 1930s with his letters, reading about his concern for his parents back in England with the coming war, and his newborn daughter with her curiosities.

The idea of letter writing makes me think of how we use language – how when we email, or text, we’re not crafting the sentences as we used to do when letter writing. I believe that’s part of the reason the mailing of letters is gaining some popularity again. I prefer handwriting notes, and pen my journal pages every morning.

Watts’s letters are my before bed ritual, and I usually read three or four before putting the book down and going to sleep. (In my quest for better rhythms, turning lights off, etc, I’d been trying to figure out how best to read before bed. I just purchased a little clip light on sale, something made by French Bull. It’s cute, and seems to do the job.)

Audio books from the library for my daily commutes included 80/20 Principle, Braving the WildernessDeath Warmed OverThe Last MinuteBlame, and Six of Crows. I’ve read a few Abbot books, mostly about former-CIA special operative Sam Capra. I’ve read them out of order, though, and am still playing catch up. Last Minute is number three in the series. (Start with Adrenaline.)

Blame was an interesting one, a standalone about a young woman with amnesia, resulting from a car crash where her passenger, a boy about her age, died. Starting up two years after the crash, some weird things start to happen, making her question what happened the night of the crash.

I remained pretty riveted, waiting to see what was going to happen. A couple plot points that I may have disagreed with, but the characters were fleshed out and it was easy to follow, even when jumping through three separate timelines (pre-crash, immediately following the crash, and two years later).

Put in 80/20, listened for a disc, decided I needed more attention to it. I’m planning on picking it up again once I finish You Are a Badass. I enjoy Badass. There are many elements I recognize, partially from my self-help book exploration, and partially from my own journey over the past two-and-a-half years.

Six of Crows also was another non-starter for me. I think I need to read the other two books in the Grisha trilogy, then maybe I’ll revisit Crows. 

Then there was Brene Brown. Daring Greatly has been on my reading list for many years. I hadn’t picked up a copy. I checked out Braving the Wilderness, and gave it a listen. Holy shit. I remember listening, nodding my head yes, laughing. It’s great. She’s got a wonderful conversational tone, and some good insights. I also listened to her on Super Soul Saturdays with Oprah, both episodes. And bought Daring Greatly.

As you can see, I did some book shopping. I like getting books when life seems to be overwhelming, but I also like getting books on discount. So, used books and remaindered are my go-tos. Or the library. It’s like a book store, only free.

I think I’ll try and be a little more consistent with these lists, so that I’m not cramming four months into one post. Until next time!

On frequency

“Frequency makes starting easier. Getting started is always a challenge. It’s hard to start a project from scratch, and it’s also hard each time you re-enter a project after a break. By working every day, you keep your momentum going. You never have time to feel detached from the process. You never forget your place, and you never need to waste time reviewing your work to get back up to speed or reminding yourself what you’ve already done. Because your project is fresh in your mind, it’s easy to pick up where you left off.” – Gretchen Rubin

Where I find myself after every time that I take a break from writing. Blog, journal, whatever. One project I was excited to work on this year was a book on film craft, and I’m six months overdue on the projects I had planned.

I think it’s a common struggle for creatives – the real world difficulties that creep up. And, scope creep. Of life. Saying yes to projects that may hold a small level of interest, but should be said no to so that focus can be given to the truly meaningful tasks.

I’ve improved my “No” skills, but still not to the point that I need them to be. And as long as I fill my time with those “yes” things, I’ll reduce the time I have available for frequency.

To study

My life is a rolling, rollicking mess. It’s not what I would have chosen for myself, but there are few things I would change.

I’m a student, trapped in my cell of a dorm and buried under a pile of homework with seventeen research papers coming due.

My core classes are finance, relationship studies, home economics, nutrition and psychology. My electives are philosophy, history, and yes, even writing.

I’m a student of life, as we all are. I’m no longer enrolled at University, but I still learn. There are stacks of books piled around my room, and I juggle them, figuring what to read and what to store away for later.

Right now, business is winning. I’m delving into classics that I have lying around: The AskEngage Now!, and Achieving Excellence in Fundraising. I’ve returned to the nonprofit sector after a year’s hiatus, and it’s been a whirlwind.

So, study I must!