Issue 52

First, thank you for reading. :)

A year ago, when I set out to reimagine what my email (this thing you’re likely reading in email, which is based on some of the stuff I post to my blog) should be, my first thought was: “What do I like to get in my email?” What I like is when the entire email is actually in the email; no bait-and-switch, here’s-a-taste, but now you have to come to the web site to actually read it. I like when images are special; when they are just rare enough to be surprising and interesting. I like to take my time reading. I like when the font and colors are easy on the eyes. So that’s what I tried to create.

I wasn’t sure whether I should write this celebratory item to be in issue 52 or 53. (Or maybe I should celebrate on round numbers like 50 and 100?) Thinking about this reminded me that most of you (I imagine) don’t know these weekly 7 for Sunday emails have issue numbers.

You see, for obtuse technical reasons there are three features that are only available if you go to the web site to read 7 for Sunday. First, the issue number is in the header at the very top. Second, each issue starts with a reading-time estimate. I really like that feature; I love when what’s inside is clearly labeled on the can. Third, at the bottom of each issue are buttons to navigate through all of the issues. If you’ve never seen the web page version of 7 for Sunday, now would be a fun time to take a look (and it would take you about 4 hours to read through all 52 issues.)

This modular way to consider goals removes so much trepidation. A major win in your life is no longer at the end of “a journey of a thousand steps.” It’s a journey of nine or fourteen or fifty-five Blocks. It’s a staircase, not an ocean to be crossed.

~ David Cain from,

A year ago, when I set out to reimagine what my email should be, I was looking forward to seeing how it turned out after 52 issues. I think it turned out pretty well, and I hope you agree. Again, thanks for reading. I appreciate your time and attention, and I don’t take it for granted.


Vibrant – with Alison Coates

Embracing change, making unconventional choices, and the courage it takes to be your authentic self in a world filled with expectations.

It feels like those connections are now beginning to come together. I was reading a newsletter from the [local forest group.] It must have been published two or three years ago. And when I first read it, I thought: “that’s interesting.” And then I read it recently, and every article and person mentioned in there, I know… I now know who they are, I can put a face to those people, and I know more of their story and who they are. So there’s something brewing about the people in this community.

~ Alison (around 13:30)

Craig Constantine and Alison Coates begin with Alison’s breathtaking view of the Kyles of Bute and the ever-changing weather patterns in a remote Scottish village. She shares how the natural beauty of the area has become an integral part of her daily life and how her move to the village has shaped her perspectives. They touch on the evolving dynamics between locals and newcomers in the community, and Alison’s potential (budding?) interest in capturing the stories of the people she has come to know. Finally, Alison reflects on her youngest child’s non-binary journey, emphasizing the importance of normalizing discussions about personal identity.

Embrace Change: Alison’s openness to new experiences and perspectives has led to personal growth and a deeper connection with her community.

Normalize Identity Conversations: Alison’s willingness to discuss her child’s identity and her community’s reactions demonstrates the importance of normalizing conversations about personal identity.

Impact of Authenticity: By being true to oneself, individuals can find happiness and inspire others to do the same.

Build Meaningful Connections: Alison’s interactions in her village highlight the value of building meaningful connections.

Community Resilience: Alison’s observations of her village’s changing dynamics demonstrate the resilience of communities in the face of change.

(Written with help from Chat-GPT.)

Tough acts!

How I assemble 7 for Sunday varies. This week, I had the three quotes selected, and three of the other pieces chosen and written… and I was left staring at this spot between a quote from Asimov and a quote from Kelly; Tough acts to follow or precede. I racked my brains over this. I felt I should be able to find a joke a la Asimov, which also illuminated a shortcoming of my own… this is the best I could come up with:

Four years ago, when I left for college, I thought my father was the dumbest ape to ever walk the planet. Upon my return I couldn’t believe how much he’d learned!

Why slow learning? We live in an age of information overload, ever-accelerating technologies, and split-second learning. Citizens, learners, and workers today are required to continuously reskill, upskill, and newskill to keep up with this new pace. 

~ Tom Hodgkinson et al from,

Granted, the joke is weak. As a consolation prize, I’ve included that wonderful project for your consideration.


Solo – with Bane

Craig Constantine and Bane free-dive into the world of training alone, where challenges are intrinsic and progress is incremental.

Bane discusses the personal nature of parkour practice. He emphasizes the idea that “your movement is your own,” highlighting the deeply individualized and intrinsic aspect of the discipline. He also discusses the balance between solo training and group training, noting that both have their advantages. He recognizes the value of training with others for inspiration and learning different movement styles, while also emphasizing the benefits of solitary practice for self-discovery and personal goals.

I’m not worried about forcing it and making it happen… I’m going to do it when I’m ready to do it and it’s about coaxing that readiness out of me.
~ Bane, 29:20

Balancing Solo and Group Training: While solo training provides personal introspection and development, group training offers opportunities to learn from others, gain inspiration, and push boundaries. Bane suggests that striking a balance between the two can lead to a more well-rounded parkour journey.

Sustainability and Flexibility in Training: Bane emphasizes the importance of sustainable training practices. Instead of rigidly adhering to a strict training regimen, he advocates for flexibility in incorporating various physical activities and training methods, which not only enhances physical capabilities but also prevents burnout.

Patience and Mindful Progression: Bane’s approach underscores the importance of patience and mindful progression. This mindset not only ensures safety but also fosters a deeper understanding and mastery of the discipline.

Learning from Different Environments: The discussion touches upon the significance of training in diverse environments.

Your movement is your own. It’s so personal in parkour… your challenges are intrinsic to yourself, to what you want to achieve, to what you’re capable of.
~ Bane, 25:00

Personalization of Parkour: Parkour is a deeply personal practice. Participants have the freedom to define their own goals, challenges, and techniques.

Books mentioned: Breaking the Jump by Julie Angel, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

(Written with help from Chat-GPT.)

Matrix – with Ryland Lanagan

Join Craig Constantine and Ryland Lanagan as they discuss Ryland’s journey towards longevity, where functional fitness and the sheer joy of movement lead to a healthier and happier life.

[When asked what gets adults engaged?] 100%, it is fun. Fun is that common ingredient… Everybody that gives themselves permission to come in and maybe falter in front of strangers or put themselves out there— Once you’re willing to do that and you start to learn techniques, or you’re starting to exercise, a whole cascade of things happen.
~ Ryland Lanagan ~24’30”

Ryland introduces his Movement Matrix Method, a structured approach to learning parkour that is specifically designed for adults. He shares his remarkable journey from an overweight and disheartened Army veteran to a passionate advocate for parkour. He describes how parkour became a lifelong passion that has not only transformed him physically, but also transformed his outlook on life.

Passion and Fun: The driving force behind Ryland’s commitment to parkour is the sheer joy and fun it brings. Parkour allows people to challenge themselves, experience constant improvement, and get a sense of accomplishment, all while having a great time.

Movement Matrix Method: Ryland describes his movement program incorporating a structured approach to teaching parkour skills, ensuring students progress safely and effectively.

Physical and Mental Benefits: Parkour offers numerous physical and mental benefits. It helps individuals feel proud of their accomplishments. Moreover, it’s a form of exercise that can enhance bone density, improve cardiovascular health, and increase overall strength, contributing to a better quality of life as people age.

Longevity and Functional Fitness: Ryland emphasizes that parkour isn’t just about flashy moves but also about developing functional fitness. It helps individuals maintain their independence and confidence as they age. Whether it’s carrying groceries, climbing stairs, or playing with grandkids, it enhances everyday experiences.

Starting Early: While it’s never too late to start parkour, Ryland recommends that people begin as soon as possible to avoid letting decades pass without engaging in physical activity. It’s important to respect one’s physical limits, start slowly if necessary, and commit to continuous improvement.

Passion is Contagious: Ryland’s enthusiasm for parkour is contagious, and he believes that sharing this passion with others can inspire them to try parkour and experience its benefits.

(Written with help from Chat-GPT)

Protocols and platforms

Love ’em or hate ’em, big platforms with big collections of people and information about said people are currently ever-present. This deep dive from Masnick has a bias—one which I wholeheartedly endorse—but it is also an excellent description of what does “protocols versus platforms” really mean? What’s a protocol, and what’s a platform? How are they different, and why do they seem to have such different effects on the late-game situation? If you’ve so far avoided this topic, this is a good place to try spending a half an hour to see if it makes more sense.

After a decade or so of the general sentiment being in favor of the internet and social media as a way to enable more speech and improve the marketplace of ideas, in the last few years the view has shifted dramatically—now it seems that almost no one is happy. Some feel that these platforms have become cesspools of trolling, bigotry, and hatred. Meanwhile, others feel that these platforms have become too aggressive in policing language and are systematically silencing or censoring certain viewpoints. And that’s not even touching on the question of privacy and what these platforms are doing (or not doing) with all of the data they collect.

~ Mike Masnick from,


I am not a runner

I’m lately fascinated by the distinction between when I’m using an activity as a part of my identity (“I am a runner”) versus pointing out that I do an activity (“I run”). This sort of nit matters to me, because the nature of self-identity matters to me. If I am a runner, but then for whatever reason I don’t run… what then am I? What fascinates me isn’t the specific verbs, but rather: What actually am I? This locks me up thinking for long periods. I write. I run. I climb. I jump. Yes, but, what am I?

I look up at the sky, wondering if I’ll catch a glimpse of kindness there, but I don’t. All I see are indifferent summer clouds drifting over the Pacific. And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably shouldn’t be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature.

~ Haruki Murakami from, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I enjoyed reading Murakami’s essays. Particularly because I run poorly, I wanted to know what he talks about when he talks about running. In fact, he does talk a great deal about literally running, in addition to the larger perspectives on his life for which everyone loves the book.

But one thing is for sure: I run. But I am not a runner.


Words left unsaid

Every time I talk about this subject caring people ask if I am okay. I am right now, thanks for asking. Someday, sooner or later, I won’t be; that’s the way the disease works. When that happens, I’ll ask for help. Please join me in that promise.

~ Ken White from,

Every time I talk about this subject caring people ask if I am okay. I am right now, thanks for asking. Someday, sooner or later, I won’t be; that’s the way the disease works. When that happens, I’ll ask for help. Please join me in that promise.


What lies in that space?

In person, I try to not talk about technology. This is simply because I’ve spent such a significant portion of my awake-time already doing so, that I’d like to talk about something else now… for the rest of my life, in fact. But technology comes up a lot. These Days® artificial intelligence comes up a lot too. Mostly (in both those cases and others) I try to sit back and simply enjoy learning more about the people I’m with at that moment.

We dramatically overestimate the threat of an accidental AI takeover, because we tend to conflate intelligence with the drive to achieve dominance. This confusion is understandable: During our evolutionary history as (often violent) primates, intelligence was key to social dominance and enabled our reproductive success. And indeed, intelligence is a powerful adaptation, like horns, sharp claws or the ability to fly, which can facilitate survival in many ways. But intelligence per se does not generate the drive for domination, any more than horns do.

~ Anthony Zador, Yann LeCun from,

This is an insight—I’m going to call it a “wedge”—that I’d not thought of. There is a conceptual leap between “is intelligent” and “will strive for dominance.” For everyone I’ve heard speak about AI, the leap seems tiny, as if the one necessarily implies the other. But this wedge fits perfectly into that narrow space. In fact, it makes it really clear that there is a space between those two things. Interesting times.


RDF site summaries

…more commonly, Really Simple Syndication (RSS). If you don’t yet know what RSS is: RSS is a calm technology.

Introducing a quarter-century-old technology as if it were novel might seem a little strange. But despite the syndication format’s cult following, most internet users have never heard of it. That’s unfortunate, because RSS provides everyday internet users with an easy way to organize all of their online-content consumption—news media, blogs, YouTube channels, even search results for favorite terms—in one place, curated by the user, not an algorithm. The answer to our relatively recent social-media woes has been sitting there all along.

~ Yair Rosenberg from,

Of course, the real problem is that we’ve all had the idea that “newer is better” broadcast at us for years. The Amish don’t eschew all technology; rather, they’re very particular and intentional about what technology they adopt. The Luddites didn’t want to smash and rollback all technology; they were technically skilled workers who thrived via technology, but who had a specific bone to pick about a new technology.

In recent decades we’ve been fire-hose, continuously fed the idea of techno-optimism… except without the really critical part: one can’t simply hew to, “technology is good.” Technology is nothing more than a tool. There are excellent tools, poor tools, and all tools can be used for good or evil. It’s the consideration we put into our decision to adopt or eschew a technology that matters most.


There is only discipline

I often mention the false sense of urgency that I experience. I have lots of ideas, sure, but it’s more than the frequent appearance of those endless new opportunities. It’s more so the sense that anything I’m already working on, I could do just a little bit better. There’s a pessimistic paranoia that old, greying system administrators develop; they look both ways even when crossing one-way streets. All of that combines within me. I’m not sure if all that striving leads me to feel there’s a scarcity of time and opportunity, or vice versa— I have a sense of scarcity, which leads to the sense of urgency and incessant striving.

Schopenhauer’s pessimism is based on two kinds of observation. The first is an inward-looking observation that we aren’t simply rational beings who seek to know and understand the world, but also desiring beings who strive to obtain things from the world. Behind every striving is a painful lack of something, Schopenhauer claims, yet obtaining this thing rarely makes us happy. For, even if we do manage to satisfy one desire, there are always several more unsatisfied ones ready to take its place. Or else we become bored, aware that a life with nothing to desire is dull and empty. If we are lucky enough to satisfy our basic needs, such as hunger and thirst, then in order to escape boredom we develop new needs for luxury items, such as alcohol, tobacco or fashionable clothing. At no point, Schopenhauer says, do we arrive at final and lasting satisfaction. Hence one of his well-known lines: ‘life swings back and forth like a pendulum between pain and boredom’.

~ David Bather Woods from,

For five months I’ve had a single sticky-note on my monitor which reads, “There are no miracles. There is only discipline.” It’s a strikingly clear guide star. I believe that a disciplined person knows not only when to strive, but also when to ignore an idea, when to pause for the time being, and when to rejuvenate.

Most often that sticky-note triggers my thinking about living a balanced discipline. I see the note (it’s unfortunately only on my monitor, but should be added to the interior of my eyelids) and then I notice if I’m feeling harried, or if I’m striving… Why? Is this thing I’m doing, or that thing I feel I should be doing, actually urgent? And how—get clear here, Craig—did this or that even get to be the thing I’m doing, the thing on my radar, on my to-do list, on my to-should list… What would it be like, to simply be?



In March of 2022 I returned to tracking my activity. For me, what gets tracked gets optimized. I created the simplest tracking worksheet that did what I wanted and I set about keeping track. There are things I loath about my current FitBit; I can’t quite entirely disable the notifications. And touch screens don’t work with sweaty fingers, which leads to frustration just when I’m exhausted. I’ve never had an Apple Watch, but maybe it was time?

When I bought the phone last year, I went all out. I got the 1 terabyte model (a ridiculous amount of storage space, in hindsight), because I expected to have the thing for a while. But I’ve come to resent this phone.

~ Chris Bailey from,

I went to the Apple Store to arrange for a battery replacement for my iPhone, and I intended to spend my waiting time examining watches. I spent an hour exploring and testing, and picked one out. I bought it, booted it up, synced it to my Apple ecosystem, and strapped it on. I went on my way with a new phone battery and $700 in conspicuous consumption on my wrist. Intending to lean into wearing and using the watch as much as possible.

And for the next two days I wanted to rip it off my wrist and smash it with a hammer. I spent endless hours trying to disable this, silence that, adjust this feature, avoid setting up that other feature… All because I wanted the Watch’s better GPS tracking of distance covered, and better biometric measurements. I struggled with trying to sleep with a digital screen strapped to my wrist—there is no digital screen that will ever exist, which is permitted in my sleep space. Alas, the Watch is the antithesis of calm technology and it was clear I was never going to change its DNA.

On the third day, I carefully put it all back in its packaging as best I could. I drove all the way back to the Apple Store. I knew Apple had a 7-day, no questions asked, full money back guarantee. I handed it back to a rep. They of course asked, “Was there a problem? Or something you didn’t like?” My reply—

“Meh.” And then I left.


Somewhat wacky

At this point I’m resigned to my nature being unchangeable. I need structure to work within, and I cannot suffer long stretches of boredom. I’m comfortable knowing that at least some of what I do makes the world a better place; I’m comfy with my internal validation. I also know that if I start to focus too much on making money I lose my spark. What I’m left wondering is wether there is some thing focused enough that people could dig in and follow (in the sense of deeply understanding the thing, my motivations, and my goal.) I’m certain however, that without that clear thing I must continue to explore and satisfy my curiosity, and not focus overly on monetization.

If you’re thinking about running a membership program, you’re probably a bit wacky. Everything I write about membership programs should be filtered through the lens that: I live a somewhat uncommon, sometimes extremely wacky life. It’s good to keep that in mind. My work is mostly, inherently, non-commercial. Or less commercial than it might be “optimized” for. When people ask me: Who are you? What do you do? And I tell them — I walk, I write, I photograph, I make books, I run a membership program. Their suspicion is plainly visible: No, but what do you do to survive? As if the soul itself wasn’t a thing to be nourished. This is survival, I want to say.

~ Craig Mod from,

I’ve tried several times to create membership systems around passion projects. The core problem I encounter is that bolting on a membership system creates in- and out-groups. Any passion project I’ve had feeds that passion through my connections to the other people who engage. The in-group has always been too small to sustain my passion. If you wish you can support my work. But for the foreseeable future, I’m focusing on the passion and not the monetization.



Learning to distinguish the map versus the territory is an essential step. It’s critical to learn what a map is, and what maps are good for, in order to proceed with one’s life. Maps enable me to see and do things otherwise impossible; maps reveal unknown unknowns. Maps can also frustrate me endlessly. Sometimes I don’t want to have an opinion; I don’t want to spend the energy to have an opinion. I don’t care how I get from here to there. Just. Tell. Me. how to get there. And of course nothing in this paragraph has to do with literal maps of the world— I’m not talking about cartography nor driving directions.

On closer examination, it turns out there are many things wrong with it. Thousand True Fans is a hollow philosophy. It is Chicken Soup for the Digital Creator’s Soul, ultimately devoid of any real nutritional value.

~ Dave Karpf from,

Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans is a map, before it there was another map, The Cluetrain Manifesto, and there were others. When you find a new-to-you map it opens your mind to new possibilities. I would assume the first children’s books I encountered were astounding, but wouldn’t have the same effect today. (I’m not denigrating either of those works; I’m not suggesting they are “children’s books”.)

But I do get frustrated. I see a terrific map, and then I want to make a terrific next “move”. That’s not how maps work, Craig. You look at the map, then you take the next small step informed by everything you know, including the new perspective from the new map. You write one sentence (for example, on a page soliciting support for your work) and that’s informed by all the maps you’ve previously seen. Big picture. Little steps.



If I identify the main feature of my personal growth—a task well worth your effort too—it is a shift in orientation. Where once I was primarily interested in changing the world (in the sense of carving my own path, creating a unique path; not trying to change the entire world) and changing others, I am now primarily interested in understanding the experiences of others. Where once I was focused on developing tools of reason and logic to understand reality, I am now free to build upon (not abandon!) those tools to use empathy and compassion to understand others. Certainly, this remains an aspirational work-in-progress, but it is work, in progress, none the less.

But what if the primary way in which we are unique, and one of the ultimate causes of our remarkable rational and linguistic capabilities, turns out to be the unique way in which we are emotionally drawn to one another and the world? What if humans have become so rational and linguistic because of the very special kind of social way we interact and emote? How might it change our way of understanding ourselves, our relationships with and responsibilities to one another, our fellow animals and our planet if we came to see the foundation of human uniqueness not in our capacity for reason, but in our capacity for empathy? If we realised that we are the very special animal we are because of our very special ways of caring for and about one another – a care that we project into the nonhuman world?

~ Hayden Kee from,

What if, indeed! I clearly see a trend in the sorts of things I read, the blogs I follow, the podcasts I listen to, the conversations I seek to create, and the movement opportunities I chase. How about you?


The absurdity of it all

When I sit down to journal, it’s usually most productive for me to be prospective; to record my observations on my past actions and thinking with the intention of setting out ideas and plans for self-improvement. But sometimes, right in the middle of a large train of thoughts, I’ll veer into this stream-of-consciousness recording of all the things I did in the previous day. It’s usually a mind-boggling list. And it’s usually only a small portion of the stuff I’d hoped to get to that day. Day after week after month after year this appears in my journals. It’s absurd. I’ll never finish even a fraction of what I daily hope to do. And yet, every day I continue to expend tremendous energy just to appear normal.

It would be easy to conclude that an absurdist view of life rules out happiness and leads anyone with any sense to despair at her very existence. And yet in his book, Camus concludes, “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” This may seem impossible, but in fact, this unexpected twist in Camus’ philosophy of life and happiness can help you change your perspective and see your daily struggles in a new, more equanimous way.

~ Arthur C. Brooks from,

Fortunately, it’s clear to me that I’m not alone in thinking what I’m doing is absurd. (For example, Jake Gyllenhall touches on it in a great conversation with Sam Jones.)



Previously I’ve mentioned David Gross who’s written a long series of articles on virtues. It’s worth discovering his Notes on Empathy.

The basis of empathy is being able to see things from someone else’s point of view. Empathy lets us ‘walk a mile in another man’s shoes’, look at the world through the eyes of another, or any number of other now-clichéd phrases. But while that perspective-taking seems intimately tied to the emotion of the thing – you walk in someone’s shoes to feel their pain, look through their eyes to understand their feelings – it need not be. As recent research suggests, there are times when becoming too emotionally involved actually stifles our empathetic capacity.

~ Maria Konnikova from,

I wonder the ordering of the following shifts in my experience, and how these shifts influenced each other: The decrease in the frequency, duration, and intensity of anger I feel? The realization that the anger I was feeling was not—certainly not as often as I believed it was—righteous indignation, nor even true indignation? The understanding of what petulance is and feels like? The increasingly frequent experience of empathy and the emotional experiences it enables? The shift to experiencing frustrations (in the noun-sense that a door is a frustration to movement) as opportunities for further exploration, rather than as blockades and existential crises?


Creating something

I’m the obsessive type. I’m ordered and process driven to a fault, but not quite (or at least, only rarely) to the point where this affects my ability to function. I’m continuously thinking about things like can I carry something else if I’m going in a certain direction— which is fine when heading out to run errands with the car, but which can stop me in my tracks, and cause me to turn in circles in place, before moving from room to room. I’m also obsessive about doing things. I’m the guy you want physically setting up your complex computer systems and networks—physically arranging everything. I’m the guy who got really into roller skating, bicycling, skiing, Aikido, scratch-building radio-controlled gliders, sailing… there’s a much longer list.

I learned one lesson on my own over the years and many obsessions: Do or do not. I am unable to “spend less time” on an obsession. I have to lean into it, or let go of it. Many of my obsessions paid off either as income or simply being useful to my personal growth. Being able to assess when continuing an obsession is not going to do either of those things for me is a hard-won skill.

But there are some heuristics you can use to guess whether an obsession might be one that matters. For example, it’s more promising if you’re creating something, rather than just consuming something someone else creates. It’s more promising if something you’re interested in is difficult, especially if it’s more difficult for other people than it is for you. And the obsessions of talented people are more likely to be promising. When talented people become interested in random things, they’re not truly random.

But you can never be sure. In fact, here’s an interesting idea that’s also rather alarming if it’s true: it may be that to do great work, you also have to waste a lot of time.

~ Paul Graham from,

Graham’s point about creation is a second lesson about obsession. I agree, and I think an obsession’s being about creation is critical. I stumbled really near this lesson a few months ago when I wrote Being Genuine for Open + Curious where I wrote…

A great conversation is one where we (and our partners) feel the joy of creation, even if that’s while discussing a contentious topic. We have little chance of being creative if we know, or think we know, where things are headed.

Creation is critical. I need to imagine the world differently, and then try to go and create that new world.