Leave the Dead
I was traveling through the dark woods. I had started my journey alone, but as is natural I fell in and out of various groups and with various companions. At times I camped alone, and at times the campfire was loud with merrymaking and good company. As I traveled through the swampy part of the woods, I began to have a regular set of companions across my travels. We traveled during the day and made merry at the campfire at night.
I download a pdf on my computer. I pick up my phone and it’s already there. I open it in my pdf app and highlight a few sections that catch my eye. I sit back down at my desktop and the annotations are already in my notes app. I work them into a blog post and fire off an alias. A minute or two later a new post is on my site.
Attention Hijacking and Supernormal Stimulus
We can’t help it. We’re browsing the internet innocuously and some article grabs us: “Jim Carrey Sickened by Will Smith’s Oscar Win Standing Ovation.” One article quickly becomes ten more. We quickly find ourselves on social media embroiled in arguments about the latest JK Rowling tweet. The arguments beget more arguments. Hours pass without us noticing. We turn to porn and find we can’t just look away. It’s not about getting off, it’s about consuming as much as we can.
The Toolbox Metaphor and Blame
A toolbox is your collection of tools to solve a problem set. Most people own a literal, general purpose toolbox. Some people own several toolboxes, specialized for solving specific domains. I refer to this as the toolbox metaphor: a collection of different tools for solving problems. Though I frequently use the toolbox metaphor when talking about skill building, it applies to the tools we use to self analyze as well.
Guide Rails and Guard Rails
A guide rail is the thing that keeps a tram or roller coaster on the right path. It limits the carriage to a single correct course of action. If the tram or roller coaster is not following the guide rail, something has gone wrong. A guard rail is the thing along highways and other roads. It keeps you from going into danger. It doesn’t dictate your path, but it blocks off dangerous paths.
Intentional Slowness for Better Learning
When I was an amateur hiker I frequently thought to myself that I should be the one who walks in front of the pack. After all, I can hike very quickly. I can easily take the lead and move the entire group quickly through the landscape. As I said, I was an amateur hiker and was both foolhardy and well over-estimating my skill. As any experienced hiker will tell you, this is a terrible idea.
How I Store Data
I have a problem when it comes to data - I have too much of it. I’ve been burned multiple times by losing access to some piece of content that was online. I’ve also lost data to a cloud provider changing policies, locking my account accidentally or having their own data loss. So I took it upon myself to own and backup all my own data. So far that’s actually gone really well, and as we’ve seen more and more privacy issues stemming from the cloud it’s reinforced that decision.
The Campfire Metaphor for Friendship
So you’ve spent a long day hiking through the woods. You’re tired, hungry and want to eat something other than granola. It’s getting dark and it’s getting a bit cold. You find a small clearing and remove any debris before creating a small campfire. It’s just some big sticks and tinder, no need for a roaring flame when it’s just you. You put down your bag and start enjoying the warmth when you hear a set of footsteps.
A Collection of Advice
Most everything I’m about to say here is obvious to someone - but the sum of it is (hopefully) not obvious to everyone. This is kind of a catch-all of the little advice that’s too small for its own entry but still useful. None of these are “life hacks”, just sane advice. Grooming Use a real facial cleanser when you shower and wash your face daily. The exact brand and whatnot doesn’t matter, but the improvement of using a decent facial cleanser over just bar soap is significant.
Authentic Selves and Pop Philosophy
We often hear people talk about wanting to find their true selves, or to be their authentic self. This often coincides with a big life choice like leaving college or going on a months long road trip. Life gets too confusing and you just need to align with your own internal truth through some mystical, journey-like experience. This mindset isn’t foreign to most of us. When our life circumstances change, it often feels like we change with it.