A holiday passed

Halloween and Thanksgiving have passed, and Christmas and New Year’s are fast approaching. While this year has been simultaneously too fast and too slow, it was only a year ago that we were thinking of what the holidays mean.

Holidays are different things to different people. Where in the past it could have been about family, eating, or even shopping, now it’s about health and how to engage with people – family or otherwise. And, yes, still about shopping. (While online sales were high, the number of Americans shopping this year was less than last year, with the average total purchases also being down.)

This year, the holidays seem about patience, and prudence, and preservation.


The world outside

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Why does this seem so relevant, nearly seventy years after the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring? I suppose because, on one hand, it really can be dangerous leaving the house right now. But that wasn’t the danger Tolkien was speaking of.

The danger is in being changed. Of opening yourself, as well as the door. Staying inside, metaphorically speaking, is complacency and growing comfortable. Old-fashioned, as were those hobbits in Hobbiton.

As Oscar Wilde wrote in An Ideal Husband: “Nothing is so dangerous as being too modern. One is apt to grow old-fashioned quite suddenly.”

Other people’s dreams

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

We tend to find a dream through modeling – that is, we see someone working at something we think we would like, or living a life we would like to have – and that’s how we decide to make progress towards a future goal.

But it seems that there is a special group that are able to envision an entirely different way of life. Further separated are those who find ways of transforming those visions into reality.

There is nothing wrong with modeling. In fact, many business and self-help icons will tell you that modeling is an efficient means of achieving success.

The alternative in goal-setting, though, is to work towards that which has never been created. To develop something truly original.

The mind is a powerful tool

Here’s a confession for you. I’ve started reading Napolean Hill’s Think and Grow Rich like three times, and each time I just can’t seem to finish it.

It’s a bit embarrassing, really. This seminal work of putting the mind to use in directing your future – the benchmark of self-help gurus from Tony Robbins to Wayne Dyer to Robert Kiyosaki – and damned if I wasn’t flummoxed by it.

But, I always remember that first story in the book. It just sticks with me.

Edwin C. Barnes, who with nothing more than the burning desire to work with inventor Thomas Edison, took a freight train to the inventor’s factory in New Jersey and asked to partner with him. What he got was a job as a floor sweeper, which he accepted without hesitation.

Just a few years later, Barnes took Edison’s invention, the Ediphone, and sold it to great commercial and personal success. His dream became true because he thought and believed and then acted upon it.

While I suppose I never had the burning desire to finish Hill’s book, perhaps I absorbed some of it through mere repetitive osmosis. Have a burning desire. Act upon it. And the mind will corroborate to achieve your success.

Online learning

This has been a great opportunity for inside learning. I’ve been spending time with Lynda.com and Khan Academy. But there are a lot of other good learning resources.

  • For coding and programming, Codecademy.
  • For careers in tech like product management, sales, operations, and more, visit School16.
  • Coursera offers online options for free, as well as paid.
  • And even Yale is offering it’s Science of Happiness course, online for free. 

The journey is the destination

When I started writing this blog four years ago, it was two parts. One, it was an opportunity to ship regularly. To write, and practice writing, and publish. To accept imperfection. Because, writing itself is a process, and I often let words tumble as they may.

The second, and perhaps the more important aspect, was as a coping mechanism. It gave me a platform to lay out my thoughts on a lot of personal issues. And I didn’t perhaps put as much intimate detail into these posts as I could have. As I’ve written recently, the dichotomy of public/private perception has been a challenge for me to work through. That is, being afraid of opening up.

It isn’t that we don’t do it as a species. Even culturally, some are apt to show their emotional content without any pretext. Americans, I feel, not so much. Me included.

It’s hard to open up – to expose your self and what you believe are your weaknesses. To “showing your throat” to what may be a dangerous opponent. And yet, the more we train ourselves not to, the harder it becomes, even with those we care about deeply.

While we shouldn’t go through life as an emotional whirlwind, it is important to try and be as authentic as possible – which means not closing off the feelings that we’re afraid to let others see.

It’s what I sometimes try and do here. Just to brush against authenticity. It doesn’t happen all the time. Even here, the Resistance feels a need to make its presence known. But it’s not about getting there. It’s all about the steps that are taken between here and there.

A quarterly update

Checking in after the first three months of 2020. Where do those pesky resolutions rate?

I’m following my two focus words: Adventure & Bravery. In Alaska. During a pandemic. Well, we’re all being a little bit brave, aren’t we?

All in all, three months in, life is progressing – though admittedly on hold until the threat of COVID-19 subsides. When the world starts turning again we’ll be well underway into the second quarter of the year.

I’ve been reading a great deal, looking at potential creative endeavors, and reworking some projects that I’ve put off during this downtime. When this clears up, it’ll be a great time to hit the ground running!


Into hiding

One could make a case for now being a great time to hide. There’s certainly a lot to hide from.

What I find interesting is that many of us are being faced with ourselves in a way that we aren’t accustomed to. We’re mostly locked down, unable to do those things we’ve grown used to doing – such as eating out, grabbing a drink in a bar, maybe attending a movie or a show or a sporting event.

We look at ourselves, and wonder, “Now what?”

But apart from the safety we seek, we’re able to look inward in a way that our lifestyle may have been preventing. Wherever you go, that’s where you are.

It isn’t a good time to hide. It’s a good time to find yourself.