0692 – dream bigger, recalibrate your life and walk into the dark

Things to write about when on holiday at Krabi:

Different types of music in different places. It’s interesting to listen to the music that plays on Thai speakers. It makes me think of both Chinese pop-rock power ballads and “Mat jiwang rock”. Their guitar solos are moderately technical and nuanced. The Thai language itself is pretty fascinating – it seems quite emphatic and emotional. I’m curious about how all the various Southeast Asian languages relate to one another – are there similarities between Vietnamese and Thai? What are the relationships between the nations?

I was reading up about the history of Korea, wanting to understand again how North and South Korea came to be divided. And it turns out that Korea was annexed by Japan in the early 1900s. The Allied forces (USSR and US) took them back, and then Korea was ‘temporarily’ divided during the Cold War. And those temporary divisions are now North and South Korea respectively. So it turns out that Korea in general doesn’t have a good impression or relationship with Japan? And the same is probably true for a lot of China?

I want to know more history. On one hand, it seems daunting and infinite. On the other, if you can watch a bunch of TV and learn about fictional characters and universes, you can definitely also take the time to learn about the world we live in. I remember enjoying Crash Course world history.

It’s interesting to think about how my priorities and interests and perspectives have changed over the years. I quite distinctly remember being 19 and being really excited about the prospect of learning tonnes of things about the world. I wanted to know philosophy and science and math, and the histories of all of them. Somewhere along the line – I guess in the process of becoming an adult with bills and a mortgage – I started to get a lot more provincial in my thinking. I was scanning some earlier drafts and saw that, if given $3m, the first thing I would do is pay off my mortgage. Which isn’t a bad thing by itself – I’m really saying that I want to be free from my current set of constraints. But it’s also a little saddening and troubling to me that I am so… constrained (lol) by my constraints. I’m allowing them to define the boundaries of my life, of my thinking.

Like, take right now. I’m writing this from a hotel room in Krabi. I’m thinking back to December last year, when I took a week off and spent it at home. What an unimaginative use of my time. I could and should have gotten on a plane to somewhere. I just know for a fact now that the mere act of getting on a plane and going somewhere changes my perspective and experience quite radically, and that change of scenery is really good for me. It makes me think bigger thoughts. It makes me think in longer time scales. It makes me see a bigger picture. And those are all really good things, those are all things I want more of in my life so that I can live a bigger, richer life for its own sake, and so I can contribute more, give more, be happier and more fulfilled.

Think bigger. Dream bigger.

These things feel relatively easy to say now that I’m on holiday. I know that life is going to punch me in the face the moment I get home, with lots of todos and obligations and so on. And that’s okay. I am aware of this now. I have been here before. I am more cognisant of the cycles and rhythms of life, and where I fit in them. I now know more clearly than ever that I should take regular breaks – plan them in advance, schedule them. It’s just something that I want to have on the psychological horizon so that life doesn’t seem so ridiculously relentless. Life should not feel like a jail sentence.

The thought that entered my head next was, “this is pretty much full-contact living”. But immediately I know that that’s not true. So many people have it so much worse. It’s tougher if you’re poor. It’s tougher if you have kids. It’s tougher if you have family members who are sick and dependent on you. And those are all things that are almost inevitably going to happen. I’m living a life of relative calm right now. It’s almost too calm. The nature of life is that everything falls apart. And the point of life is to experience it all, to try and have a modicum of Zen through it all, to see it as an adventure more than an ordeal, even as it becomes a hell of an ordeal just to get through each day. And I have it so much easier than billions of people. I owe it to myself and my circumstances to be bigger than this.

Looking at my time, it’s clear that I spend the vast majority of my time on social media. On Facebook, Twitter, Reddit. Why? Because it feels like I’m going somewhere, achieving something. Something is happening at the micro level, though not much is happening at the macro level. I need to switch this around. I need to spend the vast majority of my time working on what I’ve identified to be the highest order bit in my life: creative output. Social media should take up no more than 10% of my day. Ideally, it should take up 5% or less. The majority of my time should be spent writing.

I suppose a part of my frustration has to do with the technical debt I’ve incurred over the years. By not being better at tagging and sorting things, I’ve gotten to a state where – if I’m writing on a fresh sheet of paper (digital or otherwise), I’m going to end up repeating myself again. I’ve repeated myself before. And while I’ve said that I’m okay with repeating myself as much as necessary, this doesn’t feel like “necessary” repetition. This feels like pushing against a pull door because I haven’t figured out how to pull it. This is searching under streetlights because that’s where the light is, not because that’s where I dropped my keys. I need to look for my keys. To do that, I have to be willing to leave the comfort of the light and walk into the dark.

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