Being “Yourself”

I’ve had an idea rolling around in my head for weeks now, probably longer – but every time I try to write about it, I get hung up.  Sometimes when I get like this it’s because I feel like the topic is particularly important, or interesting, and whatever I write isn’t quite good enough – I’m not doing the topic, the idea, justice.  That’s lame.  It’s an excuse to never write anything, to never get anywhere on the topic.  I’d rather just write what comes, and at another time, write about it again.  So here we are.

There isn’t a Jordi in the mountains, and  a Jordi outside of the mountains.  I’m just one, you can’t divide me into two.

This comes from “Unbound”, which I posted about a couple weeks ago.  Direct link to the quote here.  In context, he’s referring to the fact that he feels part of the mountains – that he just is who he is, honestly, no matter where he is.


Earlier this week, I was at a conference with some coworkers.  I like these people – I enjoy hanging out with them, they’re smart, caring, friendly – a good bunch all around.  I look forward to seeing them.  The conference was a few days long, and generally had 4 tracks running at a time – so we all went to whatever session most interested us.  Sometimes I found myself in a session with two or three others, sometimes there was no one else in the room that I knew.

I went to one session – more of a forum, or small group discussion than a lecture, and introduced myself to a few of the people at my table – all strangers, doing similar work to me.  I thought about the kinds of topics I could add value or speak intelligently on.  Just before the session started, one of my coworkers coincidentally walked in and sat at a table near me.

Upon noticing, my feelings about the session – about talking, sharing, etc, changed.  Not for the worse, necessarily, but there was a difference.  The suddenness of the change struck me – it was distinct, and obvious.  Why?

When the room was full of people I didn’t know, I was free to say whatever, and behave however came naturally to me, without much concern beyond whether I was adding value to the conversation, or getting what I wanted to get out of it. In this sense, in spite of the fact that the room was full of people, I was alone.  It was a room full of strangers, who I hadn’t seen before, and wouldn’t likely see again.

As soon as someone I knew arrived, things changed: now I had to be myself.  “Myself”. A persona consistent and cohesive with who I am the rest of the time – or who I think that person expects me to be, based on our past interactions. And that’s work.  I don’t think this version of “myself” is really measurably different than the person I am when I’m alone, but there’s some part deep down inside that feels particularly concerned with making sure I’m on brand all the time.

My brother recently commented about how great airports are.  They’re absolutely full of people, but none of the people know who you are, or particularly care.  They’re all busy with their own lives, and you’re completely anonymous.  You’ve never seen any of them before, and you’ll never see any of them again.  You are no one, or you’re whoever you want to be.

I think this might be part of the reason why introverts enjoy being alone, or why it feels so draining for introverts to spend too much of their day with other people.  Alone is easy, quiet, relaxing.  It requires no thought, no effort.  It’s honest.  Conversely,  it’s work to maintain a persona, even if the persona is exactly who you are when alone.  The constant awareness, the subtle effort underlying all your choices – your words, your mannerisms, your reactions.

Back to Jordi (who apparently is now my spirit animal): I’d like to be able to turn that background process – the one making sure you are who everyone expects you to be – off.  After all: there is only one Jordi.

Chauffeur Knowledge

In this world we have two kinds of knowledge, one is Planck knowledge, the people who really know, they paid the dues they have the aptitude.

Then we got chauffeur knowledge, they have learned to prattle the talk. They have a big head of hair, they have a fine temper in the voice, they make a hell of an impression, but in the end they’ve got chauffeur knowledge

– Charlie Munger, 2007 USC Law School Commencement Speech

I found this quote in The Two Types of Knowledge: The Max Planck/Chauffeur Test, which is a great read on the newly (to me) discovered, and seemingly pretty great Farnam Street Blog.

We’ve all met people like this – and speaking from personal experience, it’s infuriating.  I often can’t quite put my finger on why exactly I’m so frustrated – they’re saying the right things generally, but something about it is just not quite right, and it’s being glossed over, hidden, or defensively tossed to the side when poked at as unimportant.

This quote, but further, this article, sheds some light on the problem for me – it’s dishonesty.  Being able to repeat something is not the same thing as knowing it and having the ability to form your own honest opinion or idea about it.

If that’s the case, that’s fine!  Nobody knows everything, and it’s perfectly ok to not know everything, and to acknowledge it and give your opinion based on what you do know (even if all you have is chauffeur knowledge) – but the key is admitting what you don’t know, and being open to what you do.

I know that I’ve slipped into the chauffeur knowledge trap before.  I’d like to not do it again.  Fortunately, Farnam Street (with the help of Ralf Dobelli, author of The Art of Thinking Clearly has this advice:

True experts recognize the limits of what they know and what they do not know. If they find themselves outside their circle of competence, they keep quiet or simply say, “I don’t know.”

Low Touch Parenting

A coworker posted a link to this article on Facebook, which I found pretty interesting:

Low Touch Parenting

As a parent, I often feel inundated with guilt – about exactly how precious my children’s lives are, about what they’re supposed to be doing, what they’re supposed to be able to do, how they should dress, what I should feel, what they should say – everything. And I don’t even get the worst of it – I’m not a person who is necessarily prone to feeling guilty about this sort of thing, and it’s not targeted at me that often.  I feel worse for my wife, and all moms, who deal with a far more powerful onslaught of guilt, judgement, and armchair quarterbacking about who they ought to be, and what their relationship with their kids should be.  I’m consistently amazed at both how powerful “Mom guilt” is, and also how prevalent the ideas and forces that cause it are.

So this article resonates with me.  I love my kids very much.  I want the best for them – both now, in their little tiny lives, and in the future, as they grow up to be adults and maybe have children of their own.  And when I think about what that really means – what “the best for them” is, the best I can come up with is this:

The most important thing I think I can give my kids is permission to live their lives as fully as possible, and the best way I can think to do that is to lead by example.

As if to really accentuate the point, I’m finding it incredibly difficult not to clarify that further – to reassure you of all the things I do, or try to do, to make sure they’re perfect.  But that’s the problem – wanting, needing to show the world just how committed we are to our kids.  So I won’t.  I love them, I want what’s best for them, and that’s what matters.

Cinder Cone

Cinder Cone is one of my favorite films on Vimeo, and I find myself coming back to it pretty often.  It’s hard to identify specifically what draws me to it so strongly, but it gets me every time – the music, the camera work, the general vibe, the fact that the project work is defined by seasons – it’s all just so good.

If I had to choose one moment though, it’s this one:

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 10.29.43 PM.png

It’s so good, because the moment is so relatable.  He’s so excited about this treehouse (and who could blame him?  The location, the design, everything about it is amazing), he’s going to sleep in it before it’s done.  At first, it just seems like a funny little shot, and maybe that’s all it was intended to be – but it’s so good.  Life should be full of experiences in which you’re so excited about it (whatever it might be) coming together, you’re so excited about the outcome,  that you want to sleep in an unfinished treehouse.  Or you know, whatever the equivalent to “sleep in an unfinished treehouse” is for the thing you’re doing.

Or maybe I actually just want to spend every night in an unfinished treehouse.

Bushy

I just want us all to imagine how this day went:

It’s a Tuesday.

You wake up in the morning.  You’re in Alaska.  You’re a pro skier, but it’s summer time, so you’re doing whatever pro skiers do in the summer (Not sure what that is?  Buckle up.).

You get up, have some breakfast, give some thought to what you might do today.  Soon enough, you round up the crew, and head out to your plane.  Because you also have a pilot’s license, and a plane, I guess.  Why wouldn’t you?

So you take off, in your plane.  Where are you going?  Literally wherever you want.  Today, “wherever you want” seems to be up a river somewhere.  Why a river?  Because it’s beautiful, and while you’re there, you want to skim your wheels on it.  And, having done this before, and everyone having agreed that this is possibly the coolest thing that anyone has ever done, and they’re going to go ahead and follow you in a helicopter while you do it, to get it on film.

And then while the wheels are on the water, you accidentally hit the smoke briefly.  Because the smoke button is right next to the stick.  Or steering wheel. I don’t know, I’ve never flown a plane.

It’s a Tuesday.

 

 

Author’s note: I actually have no idea what day of the week this was filmed on. I’m sorry.

When We Were Knights

You either live a genuine life that’s true to who you are, or you don’t.

✔️ Wingsuit POV footage
✔️ Spectacular landscape photography
✔️ Quotable dialog
✔️ Atmospheric soundtrack
✔️ Hijinks
✔️ Tearjerking story that makes you want to get out and live

There’s really no reality, no scenario where I don’t love this film.  I’ve probably watched it 10 times. I’ll probably watch it 10 more.

The more surely the future is known, the less surprise and the less fun in living it

When the outcome of a game is certain, we call it quits and begin another. This is why many people object to having their fortunes told: not that fortunetelling is mere superstition or that the predictions would be horrible, but simply that the more surely the future is known, the less surprise and the less fun in living it.

Watts, Alan W.The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

This book, (and maybe Alan Watts in general), is completely nuts.  Way out there, much further gone than I can really stomach very easily.  I’m not sure I can finish it.  Even so, it’s sprinkled with all these little nuggets which, when removed from the greater context that he’s providing them in, are pretty great.

The Shooter and the Farmer

When the members of the Frontiers of Science discussed physics, they often used the abbreviation “SF.” They didn’t mean “science fiction,” but the two words “shooter” and “farmer.” This was a reference to two hypotheses, both involving the fundamental nature of the laws of the universe.

In the shooter hypothesis, a good marksman shoots at a target, creating a hole every ten centimeters. Now suppose the surface of the target is inhabited by intelligent, two-dimensional creatures. Their scientists, after observing the universe, discover a great law: “There exists a hole in the universe every ten centimeters.” They have mistaken the result of the marksman’s momentary whim for an unalterable law of the universe.

The farmer hypothesis, on the other hand, has the flavor of a horror story: Every morning on a turkey farm, the farmer comes to feed the turkeys. A scientist turkey, having observed this pattern to hold without change for almost a year, makes the following discovery: “Every morning at eleven, food arrives.” On the morning of Thanksgiving, the scientist announces this law to the other turkeys. But that morning at eleven, food doesn’t arrive; instead, the farmer comes and kills the entire flock.

Liu, Cixin | The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past)

I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but this was by far the most interesting proposition to me.

What do we really know?  What can we really know?