Looking sideways


An inner radicalism tugs away at the illusion of coherence. What we strive for often makes zero sense to others, if at all to ourselves. But we feel it.

The contrarian begs to differ if only to avoid the stuckness of traditional thought.

In all likeliness, it’s the things misheard, misquoted, misunderstood — mere accidents — that provoke innovation.

“I like hearing things incorrectly. I think that’s how I get a lot of ideas is by mishearing something.” 

Tom Waits

When we remove the obsession with absolutes, we roll the dice on what could be. Never certain in any outcome, confidently looking sideways at the cracks. Think different.

Facing opposites


face to face

We want to reduce the stress in our lives, yet we keep piling on the number of things we need to do. We travel arms wide open into a tidal wave of responsibilities.

We want to restrict the data tech companies collect from us, yet we swipe right at consent. All terms, all conditions, in favor of the Leviathan.

We want to think we’re a curious bunch, open to a world unknown, yet act like novices at the ways of seeing. What is new leads somewhere new, absent the spot.

We meditate to detach the mind from surfeit consciousness when simply going for a walk, doing the dishes, or shooting hoops produces the same relaxing effect. With little effort, the neuronal spike trains intensify in voltage.

Opposite to everything, without opposition to anything. Whatever one says is true, the opposite is equally true.

Inside the head


gif by Jason Clarke
  • Mute/unmute
  • Blind to our blindness
  • Freedom within the cube

Our sensory perception tells us how we should interpret the world, which is often a series of paradoxes. It’s the bits in the brain that make the world a reality, not the external stimuli itself.

“If you could perceive reality as it really is, you would be shocked by its colorless, odorless, tasteless silence.”

David Eagleman, neuroscientist

Like breathing in air, we take the information we need and spit it back out. A cycle of gases, presence is a gif loop stuck on belief.

The running conversation in your head


The mind is perpetually stuck in the future, worried about tomorrow instead of tomorrow’s yesterday.

It’s as if we’re running toward an elusive finish line, lured by the temptation of retirement.

Hold up…why do we move so fast?

Skimming and skipping produce a race to the bottom. We expect the algorithms and Google shortcuts to provide the answers and solve a lack of intelligence.

Learning, of patience, through experience, stokes pure wildness. It is how we evolve.

Insecurity is life. In the attempt to lock it into place, we forfeit the musicality of motion.

Putting down the irreality of our screens, foregoing speedy impressions, we finally realize our potential.

This pace is the place to be. 

gif via Toby Cooke

Open to detours


Open to detours, fixated on the wrath of curiosity. The single-minded goal-setter scrounges for practice.

In theory, doggedness is the least path of resistance. Like a magnet, we’re drawn to specialized learning.

But we can’t afford to put the right brain to sleep. Quiescent, it too begs to act.

The creative compulsion knows no boundaries. It explodes in those non-cash working hours, when you’re raging with inspiration.

Like making music, the notion of work and play intertwine.

“The physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at. But it is best understood by its analogy to music. Because music as an art form is essentially playful. We say you play the piano, you don’t work the piano.”

Alan Watts

We’re programmed to be ourselves, following the siren song of our vocation. Fight our calling, and we’ll lose. There will be no such luck.

When sharing is not so self-caring


Social media is a world where everyone tries to out self-promote each other and in doing so, stretch their lives further from reality.

Even the destinations — whether it be a restaurant, hotel resort, or kayaking trip — want to make their experiences more Instagrammable.

Sharing has commoditized life, turning us into an avalanche of rotating ads, blurring the lines between paid and organic. Every post is an ad in some way, shape, or form. Like TV, we start to develop an imaginary relationship with those on screen, doubtful we’d ever met in real life.

The blizzard of images droughts perception with seeing. We feel envious of those in our feed before we know why we may feel so. The contagion of jealousy spreads like a virus. The upshot is a homogenization of lives and content.

We all want what we don’t have. Social media generates a false narrative of unnecessary desire. Instagrams are just pictures on a wall, temporarily surfing over the hopes and fears in our genes. It feels good lying stuck in the ludic loop.

But irreality is ephemeral. The long-term narrative eventually wakes us up to the fact that we’re barking up the wrong tree. Life is here and now, attracting itself and trying to love you back.

Less fixedly


chuttersnap-776317-unsplash.jpg

Assumptions provide fence-sitting answers. They give the impression of solving issues but they’re really just band-aids that make us feel safer. Half-truths also hinder inquisitiveness.

“We must be ignorant of what we are looking for, or we would not go looking for it.” — Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Rather, like a dog with a bone, we should be running off for a half hour and then coming back. The external stimulus has to be interesting enough that even we get bored of it, we revisit it later.

The last thing we want to do is externalize the whimsical nature of life to the certitude of a photo. Life goes on beyond the screen. Memory hinges on context and keeps developing each time the story gets told.

Confidence basks in the chase of uncertainty if only to ensure that the truth remains unfixed.

One small change


gif by @val421

Sometimes it is one small change that makes all the difference. And seeking it makes our aspirations feel alive.

The alternative is adopting other people’s anxiety, locked into a cohesive occupied mind like a flock of sheep.

When you go for it, you should expect to fail but learn a lot too. Escaping the treadmill of everyday life is so much more exciting.

As they say, the best things disrupt your life. It is much better being wide awake chasing ideals than enduring a life oblivious to us.

We, the data


Dissolved into data, we produce a feast of trackable interactions.

[easyazon_link identifier=”0553418815″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]They[/easyazon_link] are the editors as much as much we are the authors. While we create everything, they produce nothing, yet the internet still owns our words.

The attention merchants munch on the aggregate and peel off the niches into targeted prey.

Our eyeballs are the oil, primed, pumped, and then exhausted into tanks of consumption.

Monetization of the ego starts at birth, built for entertainment in the first place. We make, make, make until we are over-marked and sold to the highest bidder.

The nothing special


Look for a way of life, unmoored from staring at the donut hole.

Conversely, the hybrid of work and life is what makes the donut whole.

The game of goal-setting is paradoxically non-interventionist.

You don’t attack the carrot, you chew on it slowly.

The policy of non-engagement holds into force the inertia of nature’s progress.

Overworked and lost in the myriad force of competition and conformity, you inevitably emerge with fewer exuberant efforts and more residual impact.

What remains is essential, remarkably slow, vanished is the hurry.

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.” — Virginia Woolf

Alone in the mess



You can never feel alone when you’re enjoying yourself.

Like a magnet, you’re drawn to do what we’re born to do. The vocation calls you like an ambient siren song dangling emotional clarity.

The goals that forced upon you are often dreary. They produce zero enjoyment, so fraught with ‘ought,’ threatening to stain the attentiveness to the present.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

The intuitive self, while sometimes feeling detached, invites you to travel down the road of discomfort for a long time.

Pursue the strength you think you have and embrace the pain.

The middle of the road is already too full of indecisive fence-sitters suffering at the glitch of mental software called FEAR.

Crossing to safety


gif by Wells Baum

Home is where the heart is, but it is not where we discover what the world is about.

All reality exists in the streets, behind the shadows of a passerby.

What is artificial is the parochial nature of home.

We are blind to what we can’t see, organizing our periphery to notice and absorb what is under our control.

What remains ensconced remains enclosed, behind a wall of shallowness. People often make the mistake of accepting the reality of the world presented.

We flinch at what we don’t know. Little do we know, that discomfort leads us to the other side.

When we strive to get outside the bubble, we may come out changed.

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.

‘The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work and gave to it neither power nor time’


“It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.

There is no other way work of artistic worth can be done. And the occasional success, to the striver, is worth everything. The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

Mary Oliver, Upstream: Selected Essays