To get lost, on purpose

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Nothing is more abandoned than the desert. Yet, there is nothing more stimulating than letting the imagination fill in the empty space.

The blank page work the same way. We fill it in with fiction and truth, recasting observations and thoughts about our surroundings.

Curiosity is the best book. As more land becomes visible, we realize how much more hides away in the distance. It’s vital to get outside the bubble that is our screen-obsessed culture. We’ve let entertainment replace reading and thinking. We’ve outsourced our memory to social media. Society is becoming plastic.

Jettison the map. It is arbitrary, anyway. As the Polish-American scientist Alfred Korzybski once said, “the map is not the territory.”

We shall explore the world as a desert, as William Atkins writes “a library whose shelves have never been occupied.” The cost of distance is nothing compared to the rich expansion of the mind’s eye.

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Variations on a human theme


We’re all variations on a human theme, containing multitudes.

Some of the variations are more versatile than others. The brain’s wiring is more amenable to uncertainty than chasing exactitude.

The rare breeds prefer to keep the ball in the air, playing the piano with no end in sight. Time is constant, and so is their search of novelty.

But every person is their own ‘CEO of Me, Inc,’ for which the fractions of uniqueness are the great equalizer.

Difference is always celebrated. The theme, yet, remains immutable. That is until the cyborgs take their course.

Take action while you can

“Impatience with actions, patience with results.” — Naval

Inspiration is not a prerequisite for action. You don’t need emotional fuel, just as you don’t need a cup of coffee to start your day.

The mystical spark inside you thinks that placebos fuel motion. But they’re the excuse.

Excellence is the next five minutes. Small efforts drip over time. Little actions create waves.

Now if you could only never get tired of waiting…

It’s the hope that kills

Holding hands in air in hope

It’s the hope that kills you.

Hope is that tease of an emotional tug that keeps you on edge, craving for fruition.

But no matter how much you pray and imagine, it mostly yields nothing.

Hope is hopeless.

Luck is an idea that guarantees to hover over circumstance. Who doesn’t want the calm-inducing pacifier of a million dollars in one’s bank account?

Hope hunts down luck in the search of editing your own future. Good fortune almost always, never happens. You can only hope to feel it’s possibility.

Going first is not as bad as you think

No one wants to take the first piece of dessert because of the chance it’s been touched. People prefer the pieces in the back. The same goes for the first milk carton at the grocery. Why grab the first one we can see presumably untouched versions inches behind?

No one wants to sit in the front of the classroom because it increases our chances of getting called on. We prefer to sit in the back, hiding like a needle in a haystack.

No one wants to be the first to dance at a gala. But everyone starts dancing as soon as one couple makes the first move. People feel more comfortable in conforming when they can blend in.

Who wants to be first? No one, typically.

No matter how much we obsess with primacy, most people fear to take that first step. People desire success, but they refuse the extra attention that comes with it.

But being first can become normal quickly. The jitters fade after we decide to dive in. We halt the mind’s exaggeration and imaginary fears.

So that piece of cake is just as fresh. Buying the first carton of milk makes it taste no different than the rest. Sitting in front of the classroom is as equitable as the back. And taking that first dance becomes a pleasant rhythm everyone else wants to mimic.

No one actually cares about standing out as much as we think!

There’s no harm in being the first to make the leap. As opportunity dries up, hesitating to the end can even be more uncomfortable

The longer we wait, the worse it gets. In some cases, it’s better to go first and get it over with than fueling a sense of doubt.

Persistent novelty

Novelty is what keeps us coming back for more. It is the sugar of our existence.

Updated iPhone models, fresh tweets, a new day — novelty keeps us interested.

Of course, novelty is designed to keep us hooked. We pull the lever at a casino or refresh Instagram because of the variable rewards. We watch March Madness because anything can happen.

Time and activity have cash value. Their restlessness keeps us coming back. Rolling the dice, we expecting the unexpected, drawn like a magnet to parts unknown.

Novelty wears off but it never decays. Boredom is temporary, newness is permanent.

The magic of disengagement

We practice and then we walk away. We get out of our heads and go for a walk, a swim, make a cup of coffee — whatever disengagement there is.

Taking a break isn’t quitting. It’s letting neurons go to work without forcing them to.

Competence comes without comprehension. Nature cuts though the intellectual. We’re born to chase the to-do list but also do nothing.

Unhindered, we move like water over rocks. And the coffee pours itself, like magic.

Stuck in our own heads

Inattentive, we let the details slip right through our heads.

We are in a state of continuous partial attention, whipped around by facts, fake news, hyperbole, and reality.

The foreign invaders monopolize our “private” profiles and manipulate the entire public sphere into tribes that all think and see alike.

We turn a blind eye to the pleasant rhythm of dissent while also marching to the beat of our own drum.

To stop admiring our own words and lookalikes, and to start interrogating our own ideas.

‘Life is the art of drawing without an eraser’

Such self-assessments are no great problem at your age. You’re young and moving up. The drama of your own rise is enough. But when you reach middle age, when your energies aren’t what they used to be, then you’ll begin to wonder what it all added up to; you’ll begin to look for the figure in the carpet of your life. I have some simple advice for you when you begin that process. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Look ahead. Someone said that “Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” And above all don’t imagine that the story is over. Life has a lot of chapters.

— John Gardner, Personal Renewal

Art as stimuli

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We need art just as we need food. Yes, art is unnecessary. It is “everything you don’t have to do,” as Brian Eno put it. But it’s also the fuel that powers emotions and deeper thinking.

“Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God. It is so extraordinarily full of magic, and in tough times of my life I can listen to music and it makes such a difference.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

Alter an image, modify a sound. It doesn’t matter if the visual or the audible illustrate irreality. For the maker and the viewer, art offers an exit out of happiness.

Inspiration is stimuli

Art helps drive human progress. It is a snapshot in time, illustrating the context and habits of now and yesterday. Cinemagraphs of waves reminds us that water controls the Earth. Images of loose plastic remind us not to dump problems on tomorrow.

Art reminds us to slow down, to compel ourselves to see the beauty of what’s already there. So obsessed with innovation, especially in the chase of ephemeral pixels, it’s easy to forget how we had it before. We must build responsibly.

“Another flaw in human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Stylization is inessential. But it drives culture. It ensures the durability of both uniqueness and artifice.

The effect of expectation

The placebo creates a ceremony of expectation. It builds off novelty and reinvigorates confidence in the possibility of recovery.

We all fall victim to the soft mental implantation of a placebo, the oldest medicine in the world. One simple belief kickstarts a chemical revolution. But in reality, the answer just needed to be poked from dormancy.

Reawakened, the inner narrative thrives on hedonic editing.

We certify the belief in our internal storage. Over time, it gains credibility and records the transaction on the human block chain of the genetic code. Truth happens to the idea

If at first, we expect, then we can succeed. It is faith that moves mountains.

Assume everything and nothing

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We suffer from a surfeit of choice. Stuck in indecision, we end up doing nothing at all. Perhaps intertia is the best solution in these dizzying times. Instead of forcing the issue, we let nature take its course.

But more often than not, life doesn’t move unless we do. It begs for action and a subsequent reaction. Even more, in doing, we realize how much more is invisible.

Passivity and dynamism coexist

Surrounded by a morass of distraction machines, it’s no wonder we permit the frustration of ‘what’s next’ chip away at our patience. “Patience is the key to joy,” wrote Rumi.

Staring into nature’s green space may not solve our problem, but it will help us think expansively. We can assume that the best answer lies beyond us. That is until we realize that the answer cramped inside us all along.

The wait never means never if we never get tired of waiting it out right now.

The search continues.

Newsletter: Nappuccinos, audio illusions, and Tesla’s American experience

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The audio illusion

Each week I like to highlight some the articles written on this blog in a condensed format. It reminds me to take a step back and review why I thought it was worth posting in the first place. If you enjoy these reads, you can sign up here to get the weekly newsletter delivered directly to your inbox. 

Interesting Digs

How taking an afternoon ‘nappuccino’ increases productivity. If you start to zone out around 2 and 3 pm (thank you circadian rhythm), you may benefit from a pre-nap coffee. Remember: “The caffeine won’t fully engage in your bloodstream for about 25 minutes, so drink up right before you lie down.”

Tesla: American Experience. Motivated by wonder and awe, he exploited his imagination to foresee the wireless networking and cell phones we have today. Tesla was an artist working with dreams and visions but “his medium was electricity.” Excellent documentary on the magician on PBS.

This is what happens when you reply to spam email. In a hilarious TED Talk, comedian James Veitch details his emails with one spammer who contacted him about a business deal. Into the second week, James got the spammer to start replying in ridiculous code revolving around candy.


Digging = Donating

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Thought of the week

‘I’d rather be a lightning rod than a seismograph.’

— Tom WolfeThe Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Video of the week

Stems by Ainslee Henderson
Watch

Ainslee Henderson takes interesting “stuff” (wood, stick, wire, leaves, broken electronics, etc.) and turns it into stop-motion puppetry.

The placebo effect of a good luck charm

NASA engineers eat peanuts before every launch as a lucky charm. Picasso held on to his fingernail clippings to maintain his spiritual “essence.”

You can more read about artists and their peculiar amulets in Ellen Weinstein’s new book Recipes for Good Luck: The Superstitions, Rituals, and Practices of Extraordinary People.

Why do some creators hold onto some strange and unique amulets?

The primary reason for holding on to such talismanic devices is to establish an aura of positivity. As artists, the muse sometimes works against you, wanting you to fail or hide. Hanging on to or wearing an object of fortune allays those fears and sets the tone for confident action.

Elle photographer Gilles Bensimon likes to surround his photo shoots with items from his collection. You can see them on display at the Gobbie Fine Art gallery in New York. Writes Quartz:

Crafted from found objects—string and bottle caps from Phuket, a cracked mask from Venice, a piece of sea glass from Long Island, New York—the 74-year-old celebrity photographer uses them to ward off bad vibes on his set.

But lucky charms go beyond the workplace and creative endeavors. They also have everyday importance.

Everyone needs some type of pacifier to calm down, whether it’s the lucky necklace, rock, or prayer they cling onto before takeoff. These items act as security blankets, placebos, and in doing so, instill the confidence to proceed.

As they say, let go (or rather hang on) and let God…