Something sustainable

What we need is something sustainable. Something balanced. Something deliberate without being forced. Purposeful without being obsessed with productivity. We need something like a great Saturday—or one of those Mondays where you’re not sure if it’s part of a three-day weekend, resulting in just enough work that it’s productive, but not so much that it’s a chore.

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/you-could-have-today-instead-you-choose-tomorrow/

Sustainable. Yeah, I’ve no idea what that means.

It occurs to me to make a note to have, “…but holy crap did he get a lot done!” put on my tombstone.

And I’m instantly reminded of my favorite de-motivational poster: “It could be that the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others.”

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The challenge

The process isn’t overly complicated or hard. The challenge becomes moving through it at the right pace in a way that aligns with your principles.

~ Farnam Street from, https://fs.blog/2015/11/how-people-make-big-decision/

This is the exceedingly rare case where what I really want to quote is a small graphic from the site, and I simply don’t feel like copying the image and uploading it, just to include it here. (You’ll have to click over.)

I found myself thinking about the little graphic, which has an outer circle describing a process for change. Starting at the here-and-now called, “doing,” forward over a “Rubicon” and then full circle to a new here-and-now of “doing.” There are several ways to fail at changing, by short-circuiting through self-defeating statements. And that’s what I’m thinking about today.

What self-defeating stories am I telling myself? Why?

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Mind your own

Not to support this side or that in chariot-racing, this fighter or that in the games. To put up with discomfort and not make demands. To do my own work, mind my own business, and have no time for slanderers.

~ Marcus Aurelius, med. 1.5

slip:4a652.

I recently had a run-in— well, to be accurate, I drove off the road… But I’ll call it a “run-in” with reality. (No injuries, no serious damage, just a bit of unexpected adventure in what should have been a boring car ride.)

First, as I touch-typed that previous sentence, I ended that parenthetical note by typing, “…a boring car die.)” If that’s not a Freudian slip, (where you mean one thing but say your mother,) I don’t know what it is. I stared at it for a moment and then corrected it, as it now appears above. Driving off the road didn’t scare me, but it has clearly been rattling around my thoughts recently.

Second, after more thought in the days after: Yeah, I’m ok with what I’m up to these days. Doing my own work. Working on minding my own business. Not making demands. Putting up with discomfort. …and that last one is not a passive-aggressive, “that’s ok I’ll just sit here in the dark.” (How many grandmothers does it take to change a light bulb? in case you didn’t catch that.) I mean simply putting up with discomfort; it’s hot, I’m sweaty and the gnats are annoying, sort of discomfort.

Anyway, I’ve just added this wonderful reminder from Aurelius to my collection of daily reflection prompts. There were 57, and now there are 58. It also becomes quote number 652 in my growing collection. If you’re curious about how these posts are created, it’s a mixture of scheduled posts and daily writing. Instead of scheduling this one out somewhere in the future—which does have the advantage of surprising me when they do pop out… Instead, I’m opting to drop it here to give me some room for more thoughts.

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Rolling up, clues, and glue

Sometimes I find things and I don’t know what to do with them. Here, for example…

https://a9.io/glue-comic/

Turns out I’m not the only one who obsesses over how to improve text-based communication. There’s a lot of context that we often infer, on-the-fly as we’re communicating with asynchronous messaging. Rolling that up (hiding it from sight) and down (revealing it) is not done by any current system that I know of.

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World class or bust

Gillard had a very simple ethos: “If your stuff isn’t world-class, you’re not going to make it”.

~ Hugh MacLeod from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2021/03/19/world-class-or-bust/

The other day I was in a Zoom break-out room with a few other podcasters. I was talking about how for 2021 I’m focusing on doing in-person interviews. How being a slave to a weekly schedule was (is, would continue to be,) putting pressure on creating podcast episodes. Most podcasters—well, every single one that I know of, but there must be some out there who aren’t, so I’m writing “most”… Most podcasters are willing to (happy to?) record virtually as that enables them to stay on their weekly production schedules.

Aside: Everyone believes that regular production is critical for podcast success. I disagree. “What’s one important truth that most people would disagree with you about?” is a good question, and this is currently the best answer that I have.

There are millions of podcast shows and many more millions of episodes. I don’t want to make a single episode of Movers Mindset unless it has some particular value or is special in some way; The human race doesn’t need simply, “one more podcast episode.” I believe that in-person, with the right guest, and with me doing my best work I can co-create something of value to humanity.

And “do it every week” doesn’t figure into that formula at all.

The idea of trying to do something at a world-class-or-bust level is a fairly new one for me. I have lots of hobbies and mostly I don’t care about being world class. But I do care about the Movers Mindset podcast being world class.

Do you have anything you’re intentionally pushing to that level?

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Music or no?

Music and exercise were inseparable for me. That is, until this past year. I can’t remember the last time I had music playing in the background while I exercised. And, strangely enough, I’m digging the silence. Here’s why you might hit the off button on your audio player too.

~ Brett McKay from, https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/the-case-for-not-listening-to-music-when-you-work-out/

Two years ago I nearly became a runner. I was starting to run short distances pretty often. And I was always running with a specific music playlist.

But that’s the only activity I do with music— hiking, biking, rock-climbing… no music. Parkour? Absolutely not, because I need to hear the noises I’m making as part of the feedback. (Am I landing softly? What rhythms am I generating? How’s my breathing? AM I breathing?)

These days I’m doing everything—including driving long distances—in silence.

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It’s vastly more complicated

Most modeling efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic have sought to address urgent practical concerns. But some groups aim to bolster the theoretical underpinnings of that work instead.

~ Jon Fox, from https://www.quantamagazine.org/chasing-covid-19s-r0-and-other-numbers-that-define-epidemics-20210322/

Setting aside the specifics of 2020 and the pandemic, the human race is taking enormous strides forward in biology, virology, epidemiology, and a couple other -ologies I’ve not bothered to look up. Also, Quanta Magazine consistently hits it out of the park with article after article like this one—deep dives on all sorts of science and mathematics topics.

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Meridian

So meta even this movie?!

Yes, I really should never be watching visual entertainment. But sometimes the day goes so insanely well, that I have to choose what to do with the last hour or so of my day: Start something else, or choose some entertainment. Why I sometimes choose entertainment is left for another day. I digress.

I watched this 10 minute long film called Meridian the other day. Film Noir. Clearly a new movie, but set in 1947 Los Angeles. Hard boiled detective and a green partner. Mysterious woman. Missing people. The ocean, freak storms. It was almost surreal—parts of it definitely were. It has a story, but no resolution. Sometimes you just have to Wikipedia…

oh! Now I get it. It is literally a digital codec test piece. Really, go read the short Wikipedia article on, Meridian (film).

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Two roles in a conversation.

I assist in an online podcasting workshop where a student recently asked, “Could knowing all these [interviewing] techniques be making us more aware of the style, and […] getting us further away from the natural, inherent style we all have […] ?”

I’ve mentioned before that I distinguish between “interview” and “conversation” in what I’m currently recording for podcast publication, (for Movers Mindset and other shows.) Today, I’m just going to gloss over that distinction and riff off this student’s excellent observation. Whether we label it “interview” or “conversation,” there’s a key milestone people go through when they realize that practicing something intentionally, is going to—at least partially—paper over their own innate style. This is a normal step in any journey involving mastery practice. After sufficient practice, you will find you still have an innate style; It’s simply different than the one you started with.

I believe that my role as a conversation partner, (being who my guest needs me to be for us to have a great conversation,) and my role in serving my listeners, (being who the listeners need me to be for them to enjoy and/or learn from a great conversation,) are antagonistic. The better I perform at one of those roles, the worse I perform at the other. That’s the balance I’m trying to work out each time I press record. Techniques which serve well for one role, can be detrimental to the other role.

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Villians and a new word

If you do not know the cinema-history relevance of the movie, Rashomon—no, not Rushmore—please check out the Wikipedia article. I’m not suggesting you watch the movie; You will not like it. (If you are the sort of person who would enjoy the movie, then you have already seen it!)

The villain in Rashomon is humanity’s craven need to present itself in a positive light, even if it must perjure itself shamelessly to achieve this.

~ Steven Pressfield from, https://stevenpressfield.com/2019/01/kurosawa-on-villains/

That is the greatest one sentence summary of Rashomon I have ever seen.

Unrelated, that piece by Pressfield talks about how villains may have evolved in the past to become who they are, but that they certainly are no longer changing.

Question: Does that make me a villain if I am no longer changing?

Also, new word [to me], “helpmeet”— No, there is not a missing space there.

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