the place of stillness

“We are so distracted by and engulfed by the technologies we’ve created and by the constant barrage of so called information that comes our way, that more than ever to immerse yourself in an involving book seems socially useful… The place of stillness that you have to go to write, but also read seriously, is the point where you can actually make responsible decisions, where you can actually engage productively with an otherwise scary and unmanageable world…”

Jonathan Franzen

thinking about forever

“The future never really felt like my concern. I was an exceptionally large child growing up with weight issues from as early as I can remember and at some stage it was drilled into my head that people like me didn’t have a long life-expectancy. It was just always there as an underlying assumption. I wouldn’t have that long here, so why worry about it?
In some respects, I’m thankful to that feeling. Sure, it has been incredibly corrosive to my psyche in a hundred different ways, but it also helped make me who I am. I write like my arm is falling off. I don’t tend to sweat the big things, and I take everything a day at a time. I like those things about me. If they had to grow from resignation and fear, then that’s fine. Roses have to grow in fertiliser. I’m not here to prosecute nature.
But this all changed when I met Miranda. She offered me something different.
Partly, it was possibility. The idea that good times were ahead was far from a certainty. I’d hardly entertained the idea. Now, I can believe in it. It’s still not guaranteed. Nothing in life is ever guaranteed. But there’s a chance. There’s something to work towards.
The second and most important part was the belief that I could deserve such a thing. Importantly, it was not that I deserved happiness with her. It was that I deserved it on my own, irrespective of anything else. That’s a belief that I’d never really had before. It still makes me a little uncomfortable. Even now, my natural instinct is to undercut it, to make some joke at my own expense because that thought sits alone, too vulnerable, ripe for the picking. But, right now, I won’t. It’s alright to be genuine and vulnerable.
The promise of this relationship isn’t a happy ending. It’s a happy journey all the way to the end. All of a sudden, the future looked like somewhere I might want to be. My proposal was the first time I felt confident I’d made the right decision. I’m a constant second-guesser. Every breakfast order is a Sisyphean task. But this was simple. It made sense. I’m confident. I’m excited to start this new phase of our lives together.”

James Colley shares insight into his childhood. I had similar experiences and have similar thoughts. From The Big Issue #573

→ the world’s more interesting with you in it

I love this article

“In the perfect movie adaptation (of Silence of the Lambs), Hannibal calls Clarice on the phone, and he says it just a little differently: “The world’s more interesting with you in it.”

I think about this line all the time in our contemporary era. The world is so big and full of people and we’re receiving updates about it all constantly. Sometimes it’s a relief when people — particularly celebrities or artists — mess up and do something awful and we feel we can now just write them off completely. We can unfollow. We can cancel our subscriptions to them, so to speak.”

I cancel as much as anyone, I suppose, but I often find myself thinking of that Hannibal Lector line, with a little change to the pronoun. “The world’s more interesting with him in it.” (I used to apply it to Kanye, but never to the president.) Sometimes I modify it for use on music, movies, books, etc.: “This book wasn’t for me, but the world’s more interesting with this book in it.”

The line works in many contexts. You could, for example, flip it around and aim it at yourself: Don’t disappear on us. Don’t cancel your own subscription. Stick around. Keep going. The world is more interesting with you in it.

 

london: november 2018

I spent a few days in London for work this week. It’s my last work trip of the year ☺️

Whilst most of my days were busy with work, I was super jet lagged which meant I woke up at 4am every day and whilst it was dark, it seemed safe enough to explore around the area of my hotel (Shoreditch) before breakfast. There was plenty of street art and old buildings. The streets were so dirty – garbage and suspicious fluids everywhere you step 😳

All in all a nice few days – but I won’t be rushing back.

 

new yorker desk calendar

I have a New Yorker desk calendar this year and it’s the best $10 I’ve ever spent – I get a new cartoon every day, plus a way to visualise how long I’ve got left in the year – the calendar disappears by the year’s end.

This is my favourite cartoon so far:

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new wallet

I’ve got a new type of wallet for the first time in my life. I’ve decided to ditch the bulky one with a zipper and coin purse I’ve had forever and change it to a simple card sleeve. I’ve moved every card I can into either Apple Pay or Stocard and I’ve just kept the essentials (driver’s license, Medicare card, health card and public transit card) that won’t work digitally. I have one physical credit card – although it’s backup for Apple Pay and I’m not sure I really need it. The centre holds couple of bank notes. I’m liking it already 😎

sculptures by the sea?

I visited the Sculpture by the Sea Festival last week in Sydney. It’s Australia’s largest outdoor sculpture festival with exhibits along the rather magnificent coastal walk from Bronte to Bondi Beach.

It was opening day and the festival is renown for being insanely busy – over 500,000 people visit it over a week or so. Lucky for me it was bucketing down which not only meant I had it almost to myself – it was just super lovely to be walking along and enjoying the rain falling over the sea.

The coastal track is glorious in itself which made me wonder whether the sculptures are even necessary – do we need to augment nature by adding human made objects to it? I’ve never seen sculptures hiking but I’ve still enjoyed various landscapes across Australia.

But then again the sculptures were fantastic and they did have an amazing backdrop which you couldn’t replicate in any gallery.

I had no expectations when I took the bus out there in the rain to check it out – and I was blown away by it – not by the photos I took, but walking in the beautiful rain and being mindful of the experience – without having to worry about crowds. That experience was priceless.

there’s a lot of joy to be found in normal, ordinary life

“Through this crazy experience, I discovered what is most important to me, and it’s not money or pretending to be something or someone I am not. Real, ordinary life with my family and friends was truly invaluable.

Sure, sometimes life can seem a bit mundane and boring after what I experienced, but that’s OK. Not everything in life needs to be totally exhilarating, and there’s a lot of joy to be found in normal, ordinary life.”

Dan Saunders who was jailed after spending $1.6 million from a secret ATM loophole #

JOMO

This week’s challenge to myself: turn any negative fear of missing out (FOMO) thoughts into positive ‘joy’ of missing out (JOMO) thoughts.

donnellys castle, pozieres

During our long weekend drive last weekend we had a picnic stop at Donnellys Castle
in Pozieres. This recreational area is North-West of Applethorpe and a short detour from the main highway.

The granite boulders in the park are particularly stunning – you can climb above them and in the caves under them.

Our kids had so much fun running around – even if they were a bit scared of yowies!

bright yellow september brisbane trees

Each September in Brisbane you’ll start to see bright yellow flowering trees – these are known as ‘trees of gold’ or tabebuia aurea.

As these trees are deciduous and lose their leaves over winter, they gain the blossoms before their new spring leaves so this makes them visually stunning, this year because we had a very dry winter they are even more stunning with abundant blossom.

As soon as these stop blooming along come my favourite flowering trees: purple jacarandas.

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sacrificing or suffering for work?

“The most likely to fall into such pattern are those of us who aspire to bring our whole self to work. That attitude is admirable and often necessary. We want to be all in. But then we find ourselves being always on.”

“In most businesses, we seldom value pace. If you run fast today, you’re asked to run faster tomorrow, and so on. We know that resting, at least once in a while, will make us healthier and more productive…but we choose to keep going, regardless.”

Are You Sacrificing for Your Work, or Just Suffering for It?

a big fall

Almost two years ago I was walking through a local forest with our three boys when Finley suddenly started screaming and crying out. I realised he had fallen face-first over the side of a large boulder and was at the bottom injured. I raced down and found he had fallen on his elbow which was dislocated. Three surgeries and almost two years later the only thing that remains is a feint scar and his arm is well and truly back to normal.

On Sunday we visited the same forest and Finley wanted to climb up on the same boulder again. Despite the five metre ledge – he had no fear or anxiety present. I was told the reason he fell off the boulder was he dropped a crystal he was carrying that day and he fell down towards it trying to get it. Standing on top of the boulder Finley spotted the missing crystal half way down that he lost almost two years ago. This time he let me fetch it and he was reunited with the crystal after all this time.

I am constantly amazed how resilient children can be.

amsterdam, august 2018

Spending last week working and hanging out in Amsterdam was fun; here’s some observations from an Amsterdam/Netherlands newbie:

  1. I knew there would be bikes but I just didn’t realize just how many there would be. It’s a shame motorbikes and small cars (Canta’s) also share the dedicated bikeways.
  2. The tourist party scene full of “coffee shops”, mini casinos and sex in the city is alive and well, it’s just not my scene at all – rather disgusting.
  3. Riding a bike 10 mins from our hotel just south of the city centre means you can discover a windmill, the Amstel river, beautiful green countryside and a small goat farm. Riding outside the city center is much easier as there is less “traffic” and it’s still flat like the rest of Amsterdam.
  4. I noticed there’s rubbish and litter everywhere – some people just throw and leave rubbish and expect some other people to clean it up. The party scene makes this even worse.
  5. Someone tried to swipe my wallet in broad daylight – besides this I felt safe most of the time.
  6. Most of the prices were similar to Australia but in Euro instead of AUD which mean it was about 40% more expensive than home.

traps

“There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.”

Philip Marlowe

realising when a diversion is out of control

“A large part of efficient time management revolves around avoiding distractions. An ironic aspect of life is how easily we can be harmed by the things we desire. Fish are seduced by a fisherman’s lure, a mouse by cheese. But at least these objects of desire look like sustenance. This is rarely the case for us. The temptations that can disrupt our lives are often pure indulgences. None of us needs to gamble, or drink alcohol, read e-mail, or compulsively check social-networking feeds to survive. Realising when a diversion has gotten out of control is one of the great challenges of life.”

From the book The Organized Mind by Daniel J. Levitin