“I think novelists come in two types, and that includes the sort of fledgling novelist I was by 1970. Those who are bound for the more literary or “serious” side of the job examine every possible subject in light of this question: What would writing this sort of story mean to me? Those whose destiny (or ka, if you like) is to include the writing of popular novels are apt to ask a very different one: What would writing this sort of story mean to others? The “serious” novelist is looking for answers and keys to the self; the “popular” novelist is looking for an audience. Both kinds of writer are equally selfish. I’ve known a good many, and will set my watch and warrant upon it.”
Stephen King, intro to The Gunslinger
“There will always be a More and Better just beyond our reach, no matter how high we climb. We could always have a little more money and a few more choices. But as we see it, we don’t need to work harder to get more money to have more choices because we already made our choice. We chose our family and our friends and our place. Like any life ours comes with trade-offs, but on balance it’s a good life, we’ve already got it, and we’re damn well going to enjoy it.”
I liked this article. It put these thoughts in the right order… not too cute, not too brash.
It’s a struggle for me to walk this line between ambition — the call to a better me, a higher thing — and what we know is the stuff of happiness — being in the now, being grateful for what you have, focusing on relationships.
I struggle to not put “settling” in that last bit. It feels a bit like settling. “Settling” feels a bit like giving up.
So I like the way this guy makes The Medium Chill feel a little less like giving up.
A while ago I had an existential crisis. Like, literally in the park with my son on a shitty Portland day while I recorded an audio note about how nothing matters and I should just become a janitor and stop trying so hard.
I thought through the muck and landed on this as my new mandate: make some people’s lives better in small but meaningful ways.
That’s my medium chill mandate.
“We thought foursquare was crap, and believed the design nerds flocking to Gowalla validated our attitude…
… of all the lessons I’ve learned through this journey, this one sticks out like a splinter. Play by your own rules.”
“You sell your expertise, you have a limited repertoire. You sell your ignorance, it’s an unlimited repertoire. [Eames] was selling his ignorance and his desire to learn about a subject, and the journey of him not knowing to knowing was his work.”
Don’t compete on right/better. Compete on joy/goodness. Don’t be the best designer or the best surfer. Be a good designer and a happy surfer.
This is by far the best quote I’ve heard about this. Your expertise will always have a limited supply in comparison to your ignorance. Acknowledge that, and make your learning – your discovery – a contagious joy.
“Carpenters who work every day with their craft don’t get magazines about hammers.”
Thanks to Mumford’s sons and other “look at the cabin we made our music in and our evening bonfires and how close we live to the earth and each other and how hand-made everything is and oh yea I made this jam myself” kinds of things, we’re all getting a bit too precious about “craft” and “work.”
I’m guilty too. It feels good to have a name for my work now, an industry. And it feels good to invest my life in a career direction (as opposed to living project to project).
But watch yourself. It’s easy to over-adorn and over-glorify the “job” and what the “job” means and your role in the whole universe thing — especially when you’ve got on suspenders and big ol’ work boots.
Making your own jam is cool. Making music with your friends in cabins is cool. Taking your job seriously is cool. Geeking out about the details is cool. Being precious about your work, being pretentious about what you “do” for a living, making porn out of regular ol’ good and hard work is not cool.
“Except, of course, there is. Somehow, what troubles people isn’t so much being average as settling for it. Everyone knows that averageness is, for most of us, our fate. And in certain matters—looks, money, tennis—we would do well to accept this. But in your surgeon, your child’s pediatrician, your police department, your local high school? When the stakes are our lives and the lives of our children, we expect averageness to be resisted. And so I push to make myself the best. If I’m not the best already, I believe wholeheartedly that I will be. And you expect that of me, too. Whatever the next round of numbers may say.”
It’s a long read, and you won’t know what it’s about till about 75% through, but there are a number of juicy things to think about in here.
One that sticks with me is the story of the doctor who, with all the same research and tactics, does much better than his peers in treating Cystic Fibrosis. The difference was his tenacity, all-in-ness, dedication to seeing the improvement… even if it’s the difference between 99.95% and 99.5%.
Thx @genuinechris for the recommendation.
“Farts are — I just refuse to be snobbish about certain shit with comedy. You know, farts come out of your ass and they make a fucking trumpet sound. That shit smelling gas comes out of your ass and it makes a toot sound. What the fuck is not funny about that? It’s perfect, it’s a perfect joke. It has all the elements.”
“Some people can say, ‘well, I’m just not an entrepreneur.’
This is not true. Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur: an ability to fail, an ability to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on those ideas, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure. Or be an entrepreneur at work. An ‘entre-ployee.’ Take control of who you report to, what you do, what you create. Or start a business on the side. Deliver some value, any value, to anybody, to somebody, and watch that value compound into a career.”
Make the list right now. Every dream. I want to be a bestselling author. I want to reduce my material needs. I want to have freedom from many of the worries that I have succumbed to all my life. I want to be healthy. I want to help all of the people around me or the people who come into my life. I want everything I do to be a source of help to people. I want to only be around people I love, people who love me. I want to have time for myself.
THESE ARE NOT GOALS. These are themes. Every day, what do I need to do to practice those themes?”
Making the list of goals is hard. Or maybe it’s too easy and my mind immediately goes to all this unhelpful shit like directing a movie or being an NYT bestseller or whatever.
I love the way James turns that in this quote. “You want to direct a movie? Every day, what do you need to do to get closer to that?”
I can make that list. I can start that habit.
Of particular color and value here are the thoughts of Merlin on resolutions which you can find in this fabulous podcast episode. (Fast forward to about 41 min).
Write the list, then throw it away and start the tiny habit.