Issue № 37

There was a script?

I’m pretty sure there was no script. If there was a script, I definitely never saw it. In the very early days, there was for my part a lot of, “why?” Why, why, why, but seriously, why? There was a prolonged period of, “what if…” and a long list of things that got tried. (We jumped ATVs over people. Just sayin’.) Then there was a too-long period where I realized that when I multiplied my power of agency by my charisma I could achieve much mischief; never quite Evil per se, but rather than get myself into trouble I realized it was fun to get others to get us all into trouble. (I was aiming for “get themselves into trouble” but I usually missed that mark.)

Gaining agency is gaining the capacity to do something differently from, or in addition to, the events that simply happen to you. Most famous people go off-script early, usually in more than one way.

~ Simon Sarris from,

You know that stupid question, “if you could get a message to your younger self, would you and what would you say?” I think I finally—51.5 years on!—have a message which I definitely would send back to myself: “Make more decisions; don’t often go with the first idea you have.” Whether it was mental or physical or who-knows-what, I was too often fast out of the blocks at the sound of the starter’s pistol. But too rarely did I consider if I even wanted to be in the race. I was crawling, and one day I stood up and ran (according to my mom, and apparently saying “why? why? why? why?”) so I’m confident I had the agency thing sorted. But what was I seeking? To where was I running? And really, maybe just right here in this moment is sort of nice, no?

Just time

[I]t has been said that time is money. That proverb understates the case. Time is a great deal more than money. If you have time you can obtain money—usually. But though you have the wealth of a cloak-room attendant at the Carlton Hotel, you cannot buy yourself a minute more time than I have, or the cat by the fire has.

~ Arnold Bennett

If this isn’t fun

If this isn’t fun, what would be? Because at this point, I don’t have any excuses for doing anything which isn’t simply, directly enjoyable. I don’t mean that I’m going to be petulant, and rage-quite taking out the trash and dealing with drains. I mean that upon careful inspection there isn’t anything which can’t be simply, directly enjoyable in the moment.

One rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Am I having a good time doing this?” If you’re not enjoying yourself when you’re engaged in what seems important to you, if you can’t find spontaneous pleasure and joy in it, then there’s likely something wrong. When that happens, you have to go back to the beginning and start discarding any extraneous parts or unnatural elements.

~ Haruki Murakami from,

The other day I spent an entire day stacking firewood. It’s a lot of work; but it’s not really that hard. I’d load the wheelbarrow (which is kneeling, squatting or stooping labor), run it to the stacks, stack stack stack. Repeat. After a few trips, I’d retire to the patio and combine some relaxing with some digital work. The parts where I managed to be aware of what I was doing—the sounds, smells, sights, and visceral sensations of hard work—it was definitely enjoyable. Most likely because I find the results of the effort (a warm fire in cold winter) meaningful. It’s any time the meaning seems to be missing that I find I get into trouble.

A quest

To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions.

~ Sam Keen

To love one true

It warms my heart any time I discover someone writing on the open web. But boy howdy is it a good day when it’s also someone I know, who I think more people need to hear from.

I write because I need to.

~ Jesse Danger from,

I’m biased, of course. Most people don’t write out in the open (I’m not criticizing.) Being a someone who does simply means I understand the urge, and the challenge (and the fear) that goes into the pensive from which writing ensues.

Know thyself

“Know thyself” is a piece of advice which is as old as civilization, and probably a great deal older. To follow that advice, a man must do more than indulge in introspection. If I would know myself, I must know my environment; for as a body, I am part of the environment, a natural object among other natural objects, and, as a mind, I consist to a great extent of my immediate reactions to the environment and of my secondary reactions to those primary reactions.

~ Aldous Huxley

Maybe try a map?

First a hat tip to Austin Kleon. His most-recent post, _Do you have a nemesis?_included a mind map, which is the most-recent of the countless times I’ve encountered mind mapping. I’m a fan of Kleon for many reasons, not least of which is that he, like me, flouts the usual guidelines for the capitalization of one’s titles.

I’ve tried mind mapping a few times. (What’s that? Did I overdo it with software and processes? …yes, of course!) Today, I was feeling unmotivated to write for Open + Curious. I thought, “Just start. JUST START!” But I simply didn’t want to face the blank screen of the digital document.

Instead, I opened my idea garden wherein I capture interesting nuggets to be seeds for future writing. In my garden, I rarely (I first wrote “never,” but I don’t want to jinx myself) have trouble finding a nugget to write about. I grabbed my favorite pen, and flipped to a blank sheet in the little binder I keep. So much action! I felt like I was already writing. /s

On that mind map I wrote the “something new” at the center. It’s not a meaningless bit of meta; it’s the central idea from a captured nugget. At this point, staring at the paper with my pen in hand felt great, versus facing a digital document which always feels too structured for me to think in. (ref. Sönke Ahrens.) In just a few minutes of thinking and scribbling I had all those bubbles. Then I had a title. …then a route. …an outline. And from there the writing felt doable.

Until next time, thanks for reading.



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