Be you. Be weird.

One of my first shows out of college, I was backstage on Sundays with a handheld UHF/VHF television, probably a Sony Watchman, watching football games. At the time I followed the Miami Dolphins with a religious fervor.

I was new to the theatre. I worked in a sports venue and I grew up a fan of Miami. So, it was just something I did.

In the theatre, there are a number of types. The sports fan is among the rarities. Admittedly I don’t follow sports all that much now. Still own a good deal of Dolphins swag, but I couldn’t even tell you who they got in the Draft.

But the thing is, sports or no, theatre or no, it doesn’t matter what you’re in to. You just need to be you. No one else. Be weird. Be yourself.

Usefulness of lists

I go back and forth on lists. As, really, I do with most things. I’ll find lists useful… until I don’t. Right now, with the chores piled up from being gone for three months, I’m operating on list mode.

Recommendations for how to use lists include:

The purpose of listing to-do items is to get it off your mind. According to David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, “…if it’s on your mind, your mind isn’t clear. Anything you consider unfinished in any way must be captured in a trusted system outside your mind, or what I call a collection bucket, that you know you’ll come back to regularly and sort through.”

While I generally find some way to revel in my procrastinations, my to-do list this time around has been getting checkmarks in the completed column. Here’s to keeping it up.

Meditation on failure

It doesn’t matter that we fail from time to time. In fact, we should know failure. That failure creates an opportunity to learn like no other.

If all we had known was success then we aren’t pushing ourselves. We’re doing a disservice to the world that can influence, and a disservice to our own well-being.

Certainly, I have failed. Made decisions that ran counter to my own best interests. I’ve lied, cheated, and stole. I’ve broken laws and misused trusts that were placed in me. For the pain and suffering I’ve caused I am deeply sorry. I hope that in my failure I’ve learned enough to make amends.

And still, it is my desire to do better, to be better. There aren’t many opportunities in life that don’t require the rocking of the boat from time to time. Safe sailing yields no new treasures.

So fail, then. Live openly, live truthfully, and live bravely. You’ll get knocked on your ass from time to time. But all you can do is get up, dust yourself off, and try again.

Searching…

I worked with a guy who would delte every text message on his phone that didn’t come from his wife. It was an elegant system, in that once the loop was closed, he no longer needed the text message. So het got rid of it.

On the other end of the spectrum, someone like Stephen Wolfram apparently saved basically every scrap of paper he’s ever received, and uses digital backups of all his informational correspondence and projects. It’s databased, and he can basically find just about anything he’s ever worked on, in some form or another.

While I’m at neither extreme, I am defintely closer to Wolfram in the hoarding bits of paper and computer files. I’m nowhere near as technological as he is, but last year I did start scanning documents that I had collected over the years.

This comes up because (while in seclusion), I’ve been cleaning up my computer files some. This time has given me some insight into how I systemize my computer, and my life. Needless to say, it’s been a little messy of late.

But that’s okay! It’s fun to be messy sometimes… as long as you can find what you need.

 

Building routines in solitude

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

The past five weeks or so have been hectic, to say the least. Routines are either strengthened in such circumstances or fall apart.

Personally, I’m only now coming into a routine I’m getting happy with. And mostly I’m stealing it from other suggestions, or I choose to fall back on old habits.

Every morning I write my morning pages (MP), a la Julie Cameron. I’ve been doing this on and off since Nov. 2015, and this year I’ve been fairly dedicated to it. In quarantine, it’s been no problem.

The challenge I’ve had is actually waking up and doing the pages first thing. I’ve unconsciously built up a routine of checking my phone first thing in the morning. Well, that had to stop.

In Dalio’s Principles, he says it takes about eighteen months to change a habit. I’d always heard it was twenty-eight days, before reading Dalio. While a little research may enlighten my understanding, I’m going to wait a bit before running down that rabbit hole.

Following my MP, I do a morning meditation. I either use my Insight Timer app, or I’ll use one of the guided meditations I have from the CDM Spiritual Center.

Then I sit down to write. That pretty much makes up my morning, other than coffee and something to eat for breakfast. Coffee actually comes first once I shamble out of bed. The food comes in at about 11 am.

I’ve actually set this out on the calendar app, and try to follow it as closely as I can. The afternoon routine will come in a later post. I’m still tweaking that one.

The Procrastination Trap

There’s a saying: “Why put off to tomorrow what you can put off altogether?” It’s a riff off the more popular: “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can get done today.”

In the age of doing so much, staying on all the time, busy schedules and busier inboxes, it’s easy to procrastinate.

What I’ve realized is, the longer you put it off, the less likely it is to get done. Regardless of your intentions.

There is a cumulative power in putting this off, and two days postponed is greater than one plus one: it compounds.

Of course, this applies to work without deadlines. That’s a different form of procrastination, and any of us who have jobs or went to school recognize putting things off until the deadline looms.

Most of this insidious form of procrastination – putting off until it’s a vague notion in the back of your mind – spring up from personal projects. Things you might actually like doing. Yet, it put them off for the more “important” things.

If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to reprioritize.

Opposing views

I was making my way through Dalio’s book Principles, and a passage stuck out to me:

When two people believe opposite things, chances are that one of them is wrong.

Principles, Ray Dalio, pg. 190

This led me down a rabbit hole of thought, and I’m not convinced of the premise. For every belief I have, there is someone who will disagree with me. But it’s because belief isn’t a statement of factual information, and maybe I’m just caught up in the wording.

Facts can be proved and disproved. Beliefs are much harder to handle in that regard, and while Dalio suggests a doctrine of thoughtful disagreement to get to the bottom of a problem, to “find out which view is true”, I can’t help but think that every belief is true, while at the same time it may not be.

This duality of truth/untruth in belief causes many disagreements. The book is about business principles, and I can see where this methodology of thoughtful disagreement can work exceptionally well for deciding matters where differing viewpoints may crop up – marketing practices, manufacturing, product development, and investment strategies. Beliefs in that sense will have some form of comparable quantitative data to support or contradict them.

But beliefs that revolve around more fundamental human conditions – religion, politics, life purpose, etc. – these are much more difficult to quantify. Likely that Dalio intended to avoid that train of thought in this section, but I felt like getting my head around it anyway.