Every year I write an article about the previous year. Sometime around my birthday.
One article? About a whole year?
Yes yes I know. There’s no way of capturing all the goings on in a year in a single article. Hell, there’s no way of capturing the goings on of a single day in all the pages ever written.
But that doesn’t stop me.
So I write the article I’d like to read. Sometimes it’s learnings, sometimes challenges, sometimes aphorisms (like this one), stories and more.
Hello late twenties.
I moved out of the family home, the home I lived in for 23 or so years. A year to the day last Thursday. I live by myself, 5-minutes down the road. At first it was hell. Humans aren’t meant to be completely alone for long stretches of time. But like anything, I’ve gotten used to it. I still go home for family dinner almost every night, say hi to my parents, my brothers, tell them I love them, show them I love them. Plus, eating dinner alone? No thank you. I write alone, code alone, read alone, create alone. That’s enough.
Why not move out sooner?
There doesn’t need to be a reason. But my good argument for not moving out was financial reasons.
Why move out when I can save and earn big living at home?
What’s wealth when you’ve got skill to fend for yourself?
That’s more like it.
Though I do think there’s a big disconnect in the West on moving out. You hear the stories. People lose touch with their parents. See them once or twice a month, call once a week (high estimates). I think we’ve got a few things to learn from the East in this regard. Where multiple generations take care of each other. Instead of work and careers becoming family, family stays family.
Two years ago, I called up the local pizza shop spoke to the girl on the phone, ordered. Then I put the phone down and thought, she was fun.
I went in to pick up my order and confirmed my suspicions. The girl from the phone served me. Hello, I said.
Hello, how are you?
Excellent hey, that’s a good one! I’m very well thank you.
I called before, I’m here to pick up an order.
Oh yes! I remember, I’ll get it for you, she smiled.
I walked along the water the next morning and replayed that smile over and over in my head.
The start of this year, running along the water with my friend, shirts off, fresh pump, our muscles bulging, soaking up all the sun could offer, we passed the colourful cafe and I saw the same smile. The smile I heard through the phone 18-months prior. We locked eyes. I slowed down, looked at the entrance to the cafe, said it looks like a fun time in there.
It is! You should come in sometime, she said.
Two and a half months ago, on a morning walk. I bounced down the stairs, decided to go right instead of left. Monday. Sprints day. I walked along the top, saw a dog off its leash, exploring, poking its tongue out, tackling a girl sitting on the edge. She didn't fear, she cuddled it. I looked closer. Walked closer. Looked closer. Walked. Looked.
It was her.
Dog in her arms she turned around, saw me looking at her, I saw her looking at me, our eyes said hello without saying it.
I kept walking and hit the beach. Did five, six sprints. Up and down the sand as fast as I could. By the third I took my jumper off and said to myself, I'll walk the top way home and if she’s still there, I’ll say hello.
I walked up the hill. Jumper in hand, heart beating for more reasons than beach sprints.
I got around the corner and took a peak. Is she there? She will be. She’ll be there. If not, well, I didn't think about if not. The trees passed and my view cleared up.
She was there. Looking out over the water. I could see her but she couldn't see me. I took a deep breath into my chest, into my stomach, into my balls, into my toes, felt the worms crawling around my gut and spoke to them. Said thank you for giving me energy, energy to walk over and say hello to the pretty girl I’ve seen twice before. The woman whose energy reached out and touched me twice before.
I walked over, stood next to her, she looked up and I looked out.
Quite the view you’ve got here, I said.
It is, isn’t it! Want to join? she asked.
We introduced ourselves. I told her I’d seen her before, she told me she’d seen me before. Fair’s fair, I said.
What are you reading? I asked.
She showed me. Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.
I've got the same book on my desk right now, I said.
For the rest of the day we talked, walked, looked at the sun, drank tea, stared, watched the rainbow lorikeets go by, they're my bird she said, your bird, I asked, yeah, everytime I see rainbow lorikeets, I take it as a sign, well that's as much a sign as any I said and leaned in, kissed. Listened to waves break on the shore, dreamed, smiled at each other again again again, drew circles in sand and danced around them.
And the dancing hasn’t stopped. Come to think of it, none of it has. And something inside me tells me it won’t for a long time.
Became an author (of two books)
Writing is easy when you’re writing something you’d like to read. This year, I finished two books, two books I'd like to read.
The first, a novel, Charlie Walks, the story of a computer engineer who wants to be a writer. I started and stopped the book half a dozen times across four years. Let other things get in the way. Things less important.
I wrote the whole first draft by hand.
People say they get writer's block. They’re trying too hard. Thoughts stream through my head all day. Charlie Walks turns a handful of them into 60,000 words.
Now it’s out, it’s time to start working on the next one. And I owe my friend Dave $500. I bet him I’d have it out some time ago (2019). And I lost. Maybe it’s $1000. I’m not sure. Better sell more copies.
The second, an online companion book to my TensorFlow for Deep Learning course. To teach machine learning and deep learning, I read, I write the code, I build things, I create materials, then I go back through each step again. By the time video lectures get recorded, I’ve done the thing I’m teaching close to a dozen times or more.
So I wrote some code to turn all of the materials I already had into an online book. I enjoyed it. I’ll do much the same for all of my future code projects. Explaining how your product works and benefits the person using it is the second most important thing in business. The first? Making something good.
My only metric of success
What would my 18-year old self think of me now?
The person I was before the world told me who I should be. The young blissfully ignorant warrior, hunter, creator, a decade since, what would he think?
He’d be proud.
He’d tell me I’m slipping a little right now as I write this. Finished two large projects for the year and taken a foot off the gas!
Don’t be silly!
Enjoy the rest but use the momentum to carry you forward. Keep the party going son! The ride never stops. Yes yes you’re right.
Eighteen year old me would see a fit, healthy, sovereign individual. Someone who lives their truth. Someone who loves and provides for themselves and those closest to him. Someone who wakes up and dances towards freedom a little more every day.
Younger me knows deep down a secret of life but hasn’t yet quite being able to put his finger on.
I’ll do it for him.
The youth instinctively disrespect the old who aren’t living their truth.
The benefit of the 18-year-old you success metric: no one else knows it better than you (no competition).
28 x ~2 ideas for 28 years
On my birthday last year I started a note titled “28”.
A place to jot down random thoughts throughout the year, many of which are below. Some expanded on, some not, some similar, some different.
- Which path will give me the best memories? Which path will give me the best stories when I’m older? (Alternative point of view: any path has great stories if your skill level of telling them is high)
- How did this year go so fast? — A question asked by those stuck in routine. Their mind skips through it all (no novelty).
- If you are too concerned with fortunes, one day you’ll meet a man who is not concerned with fortunes and you’ll realise how poor you are. (Your possessions end up owning you)
- The poorest man I’ve ever met had a net worth of $25 million.
- The wealthiest man I’ve ever met had an annual income of $78k per year.
- Sensible people get paid for doing what they enjoy doing.
- Create more than you consume and you'll never be poor.
Health and fitness
- Food: If it requires a label or ingredients list of any kind (outside of a Grandma-style recipe card), you don’t need it.
- You can eat 5-star level restaurant meals if you learn to cook half a dozen foods really well. Actually, most people don’t care for 5-star level restaurant meals but cooking food for someone is about a close a connection as you can get.
- Rest (sleep, doing nothing) implies the rest. If you lack rest you lack the rest.
- People who say 10,000 steps per day isn’t a useful health metric need to take more walks.
- The more primal the movement, the better for your health (sex, wrestling, walking, dancing).
- Walking (preferably in nature) is as necessary a human activity as sleep.
- Tan naked more often.
- Men: try not ejaculating for a month and see what happens.
- Men: if you're not waking up with an erection, you could be in better condition.
- Aerobic fitness and strength fade as soon as you get a cold but skill, such as being able to throw a punch, kick, dance or choke someone out stays around for years.
A wonderful coincidence of opposites
- The tightrope of life is everywhere. Pleasure implying pain. Everything requiring nothing. Up implying down, breathing in implying breathing out. Good implying evil. Life implying death. How could you know you were alive if you hadn’t been dead before?
- Life is a series of coincidental opposites. For you to exist, the whole universe had to exist, for the whole universe to exist, you had to exist. Follow this thought and watch it unfold.
- I used to think I was a man experiencing the universe. Then I thought I was the universe experiencing a man. Now I realise I’m both.
Humans and communication
- Statements not questions. Instead of saying “would you like to go to coffee?”, say “I’d like to go to coffee with you.” Instead of “when are you coming to visit me next?”, say, “I’d like to see you.” Instead of “would you like to have sex?”, say, “I’d like you to be my lover for the next 3 days.” Watch the confidence work wonders. Speak your truth. And watch others speak theirs.
- Obligations versus options. “Would you like to come to the bar at 7 p.m.?” versus “We’re going to the bar at 7 p.m., you’re welcome to join.” One feels like the person has to do something, the other feels like a graceful invitation.
- You owe your enemies a good debate.
- My favourite kind of people have a healthy element of irreducible rascality.
Creating and sharing your work
- Talent is overrated. Skill is acquirable.
- Get rid of the bland descriptions. Specific specific specific. People have come to see you, specifically you. Bland: I write about life. Specific: My writing is like the voice in your head found a keyboard. I’m biased here (obviously).
- Good explanations are nothing short of magic, treat them as such.
- Repeated practice over time is of the holiest of human skills (especially practice when you never know when/if the payoff will come).
- Non-fiction can (and should) be as enjoyable to read as fiction.
- A good first draft is worth more than any fancy special effects. A good product is worth more than any fancy advertising.
- Release your tension by turning it into beauty. Tension is a gift from life telling you to give your gifts.
- Copy the best until you develop your own style. For how would you know what your style is if you hadn’t tried to recreate others? (many of the ideas in here I've copied and stolen from others)
- What if instead of backing off when things were going well, you injected more love?
- The frame is as important as the picture itself. You can sell a $4 bottle of wine for $500 if you’ve got the right story. I went to a restaurant where even the paper towels matched the quality of the rest of the place. They charged more, much more than other places. And it made sense.
- Effort and love like honey, too much and you get sick, too little and life becomes dull.
- Better to make something you believe in and lose than to make something you don't believe in and win.
- Burnout is far more common in those working mediocre hours on something they don't believe in than in those working maniac hours on something they believe in.
- Most of your best work will take far less time (luck) or (more likely) far more time than you think. My latest TensorFlow course took two to three times longer to make than I thought it would. My first book, two years longer.
Life, time and getting back to nature
- Take care to see beauty in the world. There’s lots of it.
- Animals never worry about heaven or hell, past or future and they get on with life just fine.
- You truly appreciate someone only if you respect their benefits as well as their limitations.
- You feel most alive when you die into the moment. Be present above all else.
- Design your life so you're as excited to come back from a holiday as go on one.
- It's strange that a bet that always pays off: betting on yourself, isn't placed more often. Be the one in 1,000,000 who goes all in on themselves.
- No self-respecting person should ever run for a bus.
- Instant coffee and microwave meals are a punishment for being in a hurry.
- Sex, life, any creative endeavour, mealtimes like listening to or playing music. Why would you ever hurry to the end? Each phase of the journey is as important as the rest.
- Being young, wanting to be older. Going to primary school, wanting to be in high school. Going to university, wanting to graduate. Getting a job, wanting the raise to come sooner. Building a business, wanting to become rich sooner. Writing a book, wanting to publish it sooner. Reading a book, wanting to finish it sooner. Learning a skill, wanting to know it sooner. Cooking a meal, wanting it to be ready sooner. Waiting for a meal, wanting it to be ready sooner. Finding a partner, wanting them to come sooner, fall in love sooner. Getting married, wanting the wedding to happen sooner. Having children only to later want them to grow up and move out. Being old and waiting for retirement to arrive. Then it does. Be careful what you hurry for, the more you hurry, the quicker you die.
- Many relate being relaxed with a low energy state. For me, relaxation is sustaining high energy over time, done best by ridding one’s life of energy sucks: TV, news, bland conversationals, any form of digital meeting.
- Don’t try (look up the word sprezzatura).
- Persuasive inversion: You’re more convincing the less you seem to care.
- Believing everything someone says is harmful to you and them (if you believe everything I say, please unfollow my work).
- Discarding beliefs can be as (sometimes more) pleasurable as acquiring them.
- If you want to know if you really appreciate something, deprive yourself of it.
- Avoid anyone who takes the extremes of any set of beliefs too seriously. Most religious texts can be read like novels, playful, fun, gripping, helpful but never to be taken too literally.
- There’s always more than two options. Study online or go to university? You can do both. Study online and go to university. Hell, go and be an alpaca farmer in Colombia if you want to. And if you do, please let me know.
Truth, love and beliefs
- Being good at doing nothing correlates with your ability to do something. If you can get good at sitting and doing nothing, you can get good at anything.
- Less career goals, more family goals. My most important role in life until I’m a father is being an older brother. Every young person wants someone to look up to. Even older people do. I guess that’s where God might’ve come from.
- Better to live with a broken heart than a closed one.
- The truth depends on where you’re looking at it from and what pair of eyes you’re using. What’s the correct orientation of Orion’s Belt? It depends on where you’re looking at it from.
- There’s more truth in a blade of grass than all of the scriptures ever written.
- If you’re being honest, your head and heart want the same thing.
- Beware the power of the printed word. Just because it’s in print does not make it true. (Many of the above may be BS)
- The biggest ego trip going is getting rid of your ego.
- If you’ve got the ability to love, love yourself first.
Books, reading & learning
- You only learn when you're scared or surprised.
- I’m one of the top 3 smartest people I know.
- I’m one of the top 3 stupidest people I know.
- Many adults talk of the perils they survived through school, then automatically send their own kids there.
- History books teach us to prefer war instead of peace.
- Good books are a conclusion for the author and an incitement for readers. Great books are an incitement for both.
- The people who say they don’t read fiction books are the people who need to read fiction books.
- Reading a good book again returns more than double.
- Reading like honey, read the thoughts of others, to develop your own but read too much and you get sick, unable to develop thoughts of your own, too little and you'll lack the ability to meet others where they are.
Speaking of books, due to writing my own this year, I haven't read as much as usual. Instead, I've been rereading a handful of books again.
- You're It! by Alan Watts (audiobook) - You know it's a good book when you can't summarise it. This book is what introduced me to the idea of the coincidence of opposites. I listened to it once back in 2017 and loved it. The second time was even better. I'll go back through again within the year.
- All of Derek Sivers' New Books - How to Live: 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion, Hell Yeah or No: what's worth doing and Your Music and People: creative and considerate fame. Read the first for many examples of the coincidence of opposites, the second is the first book I bought 5 copies of without knowing what was in it, I gave one to my girlfriend and two to my best friends, they're all big fans. And the third is compulsory reading for anyone creating and selling their art in the modern age.
- The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida (audio and text) - This book has made me a better leader, lover, creator and man. I've recommended it to my closest male friends, though it'd be a valuable read for anyone. It explains many of the interactions between masculine and feminine energy. I now understand many of the things that pained me growing up dealing with men and women, friends, partners and lovers.
- The Alabaster Girl by Zan Perriron - Read this book if you want more beauty and an abundance of beautiful women in your life. It'll open you to the way of women. No yuck, no sleaze, only love, alabaster love. I grew up around men, four brothers and with men, at an only boys school, this book shone light on many of the things I missed in my experiences with women.
- The Lindy Newsletter by Paul Skallas - The only newsletter I count as having the quality of a book. The Lindy effect explores topics and ideas that have passed Mother Nature's grandest challenge: survival.
Notes to self for the next year...
Keep creating relentlessly, the more you give your gifts, the move the universe gifts back. Aim high son, real high.
Learn and create more about the fundamental skills: farming, cooking, love-making, speaking, writing, fighting, crafting. Write more poetry and stories and make some fun videos. Be aggressive with your trial and error.
Have fun and love yourself and love others, it’s contagious.