November 2014 Archives

November 15, 2014

Break Your Own Internet

PAPERMAG: NO FILTER: An Afternoon With Kim Kardashian

Yes you’ve seen/heard about the photos. Read the article.

No wait; go back and read the article. I’m so very impressed by it. I think it’s the second most profound thing I’ve read today (here’s the first).

“There’s nothing we can do that’s not documented, so why not look your best, and amazing?”

If you’d told me I’d be pondering the brilliance of Kim Kardashian quotes, I’d likely ask if you’d unwittingly started following Kim Kierkegaardashian. But here we are, looking at a one-two punch delivered in a flippant comment.

  • There’s nothing that we can do that’s not documented. I blog my thoughts, Tweet my reactions, Instagram my meals, share media on Facebook, rate my media on Netflix and my places on Yelp. But even beyond that Comcast tracks my watching habits (and, perhaps my surfing habits as well), Rdio tracks my listening activity, Google—via Android—tracks my location, my searches and my schedule. Increasingly, there is nothing I can do that isn’t recorded, documented, or at least noted. And I’m not even remotely qualifying as a celebrity.

  • So why not look your best, and amazing? Are we practicing mediocrity, or are we establishing excellence? To have an “on” and “off” state for our awesomeness means, POSIWID, that we accept less than our best from ourselves. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying we won’t fail, make mistakes, or fall short. But what I am saying (and realizing personally) is that not striving for the top means I always end up with failures, mistakes and shortcomings, and that whatever I do—whatever I end up with—is documented forever, if not by social media and big data by the impressions I make on others.

The article picks up on this brilliant perspective:

To mere mortals who occasionally visit the grocery store in yoga pants, her willpower and self-discipline are a marvel. Imagine being filmed and photographed constantly, yet never saying anything seriously controversial or appearing unkempt. The effort involved seems torturous, impossible. And yet, though her life requires work of a sort — roughly two hours of hair and makeup each day, regular meetings for her assorted businesses, wardrobe fittings, photo shoots, 5:00 a.m. workouts — you don’t get the sense that she is hiding or suppressing her true, private self.

[…]

We’re accustomed to our performers having onstage and backstage registers, but for her there is no division between the two. This is, indeed, the definition of a reality star. She’s not performing, that is — at least not visibly. She is being, and being is her act. Her appeal derives from her uncanny consistency, as does that of her show.

I never thought that I’d be slapped in the face by the work ethic of a reality star, but, as the article notes, she has a clothing line, a makeup line, a line of tanning products and a line of perfumes. She also has a game app that has reportedly earned $43 million since it launched in June. And me, well, I’ve got…

OK, Kim. I may not be able to break the internet, but I’ll make a serious effort to break my own barriers.

November 2, 2014

The Aurelian Challenge

I recently read Meditations, and really enjoyed it. Of the many admonitions I drew from its pages, this was the greatest challenge put forth:

I’ve been fascinated by the working parts in this suggestion, hoping I can get them all reflected in my daily living.

  • Live your last day, every day. This is the hardest to execute, as so much of our living is based on the pretext of another day coming. Buying groceries, making plans, seeing projects through to completion. But the crux of this concept, if I understand it correctly, is to bring to resolution as much as possible each day until each day could be your last day. Perhaps there will still be food in your refigerator and plans incompleted on your actual last day, but will you have lived without regret? Will there be nothing that you are sad to leave outstanding or undone? Perhaps you should do those things now, as tomorrow really isn’t promised.
  • Without frenzy. Much of today’s life, it seems, is about hoping from one whirlwind to the next. Multitasking your life away at work, juggling anything that comes your way. Keeping romance aflame through activity and spontaneity. Partying aggressively with wanton abandon and living in the moment. At first glance this may seem to satisfy the “live your last day, every day” challenge, but in truth this constant chasing and grasping, however earnest, is of little substance. The opposite of frenzied is calm, ordered, and systematic. Perhaps it is impossible to make such sense of the world at large, but we can through practice make our actions less furtive and reactionary, more measured and reasonable.
  • Or sloth. This one is self-explanatory. While downtime is necessary, there’s not a person in the world who hasn’t felt that they could have used a segment of time more productively. Again, this is something that comes with practice; a working into the fibers of our being a disposition for active thinking and doing. In the same way that authors are encouraged to write a page a day if they ever hope to accomplish the novel, we too should fight laziness daily if we hope to accomplish our life dreams.
  • Or pretense. If it really were your last day, would you still care if people talked about your outfit? Whether your car matched your position in life? Whether your business card correctly displayed your credentials? Would you still not tell that person you loved them for fear of rejection? So much of our lives exists in a state paralyzed for the order and form of society. Screw that. Live to better yourself and to improve your community. If it doesn’t hurt society, it doesn’t hurt you. Sure it may bruise your ego, and your pride may be shattered, but those things were restricting your anyway. Live with sincerity.

So yeah, trying to keep all of those in mind on a daily basis is a challenging endeavor. But I think it’s an effort worth striving for, a character worth obtaining.

Finding the Promised Land

We’ve recently moved to a new apartment. It’s a bit far from San Francisco, but its location is attractive. Even so, Frulwinn noted that this is the fourth place we’ve lived since we moved to California in March of 2011.

I understand her weariness, but I’m not as beleaguered. In fact, I feel I’m getting closer to finding what it is I didn’t know I was looking for. I’ll explain.

While it’s easy to connect dots in hindsight, I can’t help but feel God’s providence in how things have turned out. I had no idea that moving to work at Twitter would provide the only way I’d be able to pay off taxes we’d incur. I’d never have developed the friendship I have with Tav, Fru’s cousin, if we hadn’t lived together and formed that bond. Had we not moved from there to Daly City, I might not have begun wandering Pacifica’s coast and falling in love with California’s natural beauty, nor would I have had the space and solitude to consider my experience as a journey of self-development, strengthening me for self-sufficiency. Even today, as I spent a little time in the Marin Headlands, I came to a fuller awareness of an actual love for California that has been stunted by my difficult relationship with San Francisco.

Thus, finding ourselves living 20 minutes north of where we first started, outside of San Francisco, feels an awful lot like circling around and honing in on the target. I think a lot of life is accepting that everything happens for a reason, determining if that reason is discernible and understanding how long it will take us to discern. I believe we are in California for a reason. That’s a new wrinkle I’m trying to make more sense of, and making sense of it means being somewhat available to gaining new perspectives.

So this move, as with all the others, is a good one—driven by progressive positioning and a desire to better ourselves. I hope it will teach us even more about who we are, what we need, and where we should be. Rather than find a place and conform to it, as so many others, I am committed to finding the place we need to be and that fits us. Luckily, we’re one move closer than before.

Therapy

I’ve recently begun meeting with a mental heath professional. While I’d been considering it for years, I think the realization of how great a burden I placed on my mind and heart while dealing with financial issues convicted me of the need to just talk out things with someone.

Truth be told, I’ve needed to talk things out for a while. These years in California have not been my most social or successful (because I don’t consider my net worth as an indicator of success). They’ve been hard, and the few people who I do trust enough to share with candidly are in the wrong place. But even before we moved west, I still wished for someone to confide in.

I’ve not yet confided fully with my therapist, but trust takes time. We’ve started to build a rapport, and that’s important. I’m not in any particularly stressful situation right now, so it’s an opportune moment to set the foundation properly—and it’s only now I’m realizing how important that is. Haste makes waste, and I fear I’ve wasted more opportunities for developing relationships in the past few years than I should have.

In the end, I’m not looking for a breakthrough so much as a clean plate. An opportunity to exist with minimal cognitive overhead—having worked out and documented my foundational principles, I increasingly use those models to manage the reduction of things clogging my mind—little things that should be easily handled. I’m hopeful that this mental health practice, along with physical and spiritual practice, will result in a great leap forward towards the optimized me.