“Don’t prepare, begin. Remember, our enemy is not the lack of preparation: It’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is resistance. The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reason why we can't/shouldn't/don’t do what we know we need to do. Start before you're ready.”
~Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
The most important thing in life is to be as healthy as you can. If you are healthy, you are generally happier, less focused on your own problems, more likely to help others and expand your network of good will, which in turn makes you feel good. It all snowballs from being healthy.
I started posting a birthday thought 2 years ago at 27. I was not in a great place at that time. I was just trying to get that ever crucial clean bill of health. Most of my time was spent trying to claw my way back to feeling normal. Then at 28, though still not a 100 percent with my running, I was gaining traction and mostly content. My mindset shifted from focusing on injury to being grateful for what was working in my life. It piqued an interest in not wasting energy on things I can’t control and a fear of “squandering my life away on worthless pursuits”. At 29, today (September), I am continuing along that same line of thought: What do I want to dedicate my life to? What legacy do I want to leave? What is the big life plan, the purpose? But I don’t know for certain, most people don’t. Just keep being the best version of you so you are ready when opportunity knocks.
I also find I am not playing as much, not having any fun. I get too caught up in doing adult stuff, always feeling the need I have to be productive that I forget to have fun or just completely waste my life playing ont he phone. I feel the need to become some super mountain running athlete, to train 100 miles a week and lift weights and stretch and eat right and if I miss a session why even bother? I throw in the towel completely for a few weeks before reasoning I should get back out there. There is certainly value in dedicating oneself to a goal and taking on the tumultuous journey, but I am slowly losing the will, the drive to be a great runner. I continue to break down, mostly in a mental fashion, uncertain in the purpose. I’m a slave to the watch just ticking off the minutes for the sake of getting minutes in. I have sucked the fun out of it. I just need to go back to playing and having fun in all aspects of life.
I was fortunate this year to spend my birthday in America with my entire Family. I had to fly from Austin to LA to make it all happen, but I felt like being in two major cities on my birthday was fitting given my current binge of travel. It was actually 3 cities due to a layover in my old bagdaddy stomping grounds of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. I had a nice steak lunch in Texas with my Aunts/Uncles/Sisters/Parents then hopped a plane to LA to see my bro and wife. Really, the entire USA trip was amazing. 13 flights over 20 days meant I was on the go constantly, but I got to see friends and family on all corners of the country. I’m a lucky man.
I suspect big things (transitions?) to come in the next year. It will be my best year ever? I feel good, positive about it. To keep that ball rolling I must keep my body healthy, and focus on things I do currently have on my life (gratitude). Let my last year as a 20 something be the best yet. (Ironically, as I post this in November my femur is aching again. I may have stress fractured/reacted it again and my confidence is lost. How quickly the tides change?)
100 miles. I set a goal after running the Old Pueblo 50 miler in 2010 to run 100 mile race before age 30. I figured it would be a relatively easy goal given how well I was training at the time. That was before my downfall of injuries starting with a femoral stress fracture in October of that same year. I just ran my second ultramarathon 4 years later in August this year at Mount Rinjani. I now have less than 11 months to do it. My plan is to qualify for UTMB 2015 (update November = FAILED). This means I basically have to run two more big races before December 31st to get enough points to qualify. I will go to Eastern Java in Indonesia at the start of November to run BTS Ultra (dropped to 30km so will fail to qualify) and do the Duncan’s Run on the east coast at the end of December. Of course, if I fail to finish either, I’m out of UTMB. And even if I do finish and get the qualifying points, I still have to win the lottery to get in. So if UTMB doesn't pan out, I will look at a few other 100 mile foot races next year preferably one that falls on this list of Hardrock 100 Qualifying 100 mile races..
South Africa. The reticular activating system in the brain shows that when you see something once, you start noticing it everywhere. Like if you buy a Toyota car, you start noticing everyone Toyota in every carpark and on the street. Or if you meet someone from South Africa, you start noticing every connection to South Africa. I met a mixed race girl born in South Africa that told me about her father taking her into the “white” toilet because there was no bathroom for mixed race. Her dad died soon thereafter and her mom couldn't raise her because of the social pressure of a black woman raising a mixed race child. She is my age so it’s crazy to think that in 1994 this was still a major problem. For an outsider who knows little about the country’s history, the story sheds light on the magnitude of Nelson Mandela’s Mission who died last December. The other link to South Africa for me has been the mining industry. During the apartheid years of the 70-80-90’s, there was a trade embargo by most countries towards South Africa. This drove innovation across all sectors, especially the expansive South African mining industry. Many of the mine managers across Australia are South African. I just found out that a regular visitor at work spent 30 years working in the South African Mining Industry. He told me he runs a lot but has slowed down in his older age. I asked if of Comrades Marathon. He ran it 7 times. He told me it was one of the greatest experiences of his life – Ten Thousand People running 56 miles from Durban to Capetown with spectators lining the entire course (I believe now it has 20,000 runners). But the Two Oceans is more beautiful he went on to tell. I looked into entered that afternoon…Entries are still open. Finally, the most beautiful girl I talked to was from South Africa. I met her on the street in Ubud Bali in April this year. But I played it “cool” and never got her name or contact info. Maybe she will enter comrades next year?
Voluntary Poverty. Kevin Kelly mentioned it in a podcast. I have been living a "Voluntary Poverty" lifestyle for some time choosing to ruthlessly cut spending in areas of little value to me and lavishly on things I get satisfaction from (experiences). I've hacked my living situation for the past 3 years so I could money that would go to rent on airline tickets or tanks of gas for my Hyundai. I can’t even get a credit card in Australia because I have no bill paying history: No water or electricity and my cell phone is pre-paid, no contract. If I got laid off tomorrow, my lifestyle wouldn't change. I would just keep bumming around in national forests, grilling prawns over open flame, doing a long trail runs in the morning, charging my camera/laptop at the library and cruise down tot he beach or a yoga class for the side benefit of a shower.
Time. It’s flying by. Too fast. I waste a lot of time messing around to hack my living situation so I do not have pay rent (see above: voluntary poverty). I am starting to realize I could save a lot of time if I had a fixed place to live and to shower and to store perishable goods. There will be a cost associated in the regular rent check, but it would save time. I am getting to the point as people do when I am beginning to have more money than time. A cash strapped student may find it more reasonable to do menial tasks than to pay someone to do it: change the oil in his own car, or do his own taxes, or true his own bike wheel. I will continue do these things as I see fit but I find myself second guessing menial which I could pay small sums of money in exchange for a few hours of time to do what I really want to.
Podcasts. I have been listening to many, almost too many. The content is often so good and actionable that I just keep consuming more and more without any action. I just end up writing down all the book recommendations or resources they give without taking real action to make my life better. Nevertheless, Kevin Kelly on Tim Ferriss and Lewis Howes, Nassim Taleb on James Altucher, the Hardcore History podcast, the Dirtbag Diaries podcast and Rolf Potts on Tim Ferriss.
Nassim Taleb. I will be working through some of his great books and papers soon. He sounds like a brilliant and philosophical man. And he is Lebanese, reads/writes like 5 languages, and keeps a Philosophical Notebook so that makes him a cool guy.
Wizard Beards. I wish I never trimmed my beard in August. I trimmed it before going to the USA. I wish I would have cut my hair instead. But now is time to start growing the wizard beard again…or do a Kevin Kelly Amish beard.
Deep Work and Killing the Passion Hypothesis. I am still really bad at this but at least I am aware of how much time I waste on menial tasks. One of my favourite reads this past year was Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You. In it he kills the passion hypothesis instead arguing that you should get really good at something first because it will lead to more life happiness and fulfilment. Also, this article from Ryan Holiday crushes the passion hypothesis. Passion is Not the Problem.
Indonesia. To think that I couldn't place Indonesia on the Map before I moved to Australia three years ago is absurd. They just elected a new president, Joko Widodo, Read A New Hope in Time Magazine. It is the 4th most populous country in the world at 253 million, 90% of the population is Muslim, 13500 islands (17000+ at low tide), 4th most Facebook users, and the middle class is emerging as people living below the poverty level has dropped from 24% in 1999 to 12% in 2012. I enjoy going to Indo. My dollar goes a long way, the people are friendly and extroverted, the culture is still bizarre (in a good way) to an American like me, and the mountains are beautiful. I have run some fantastic trail ultra-marathons in the past 3 months. It is an up and coming hotbed for trail running. They have a few race directing wizards devising some epic trail races. Their latest masterpiece is the GP100: 100km with +10,000m vertical gain. I did the Mount Rinjani Ultra in August and it was probably the best single day in the mountains I have had. And the Sunrise was THE BEST I have experienced.
A life of adventure. #dontwasteyourlife. Some of my favourite books are about men who lead adventurous lives. Where Men Win Glory, Into the Wild, Unbroken, Roughing It, Steve Jobs, anything by Jack London and currently Shantaram are a few good books that come to mind that reinforces my desire to lead an interesting life and experience all the world has to offer. “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. That’s the whole point- figure out by doing. So none of this nonsense about being ready” ~Austin Kleon.
Jack London. I read Call of the Wild and loved it. The Game and to Light a Fire also. But I recently enjoyed reading series of articles about the life and man that was Jack London. He never stayed in one field too long and had wide experiences. The adventurous life is there if you want it.
Appreciating Good Work. I have been consuming some great creative works such as Shantaram (43 hour audiobook) or the Searching for Sugar Man documentary (see South Africa above). I appreciate great creatives and their work more as I get older. In my adult life, I find it so hard to focus and actually do real work, even for 15 minutes a day. I’m flooded with meetings and interruptions and distraction from the web and email and smartphones. Then of course doubt and wanderlust and mental sidetracking enter the picture. I respect anyone who can push away distractions and eliminate things from their life to make great stuff. See Jack London, Shantaram, Steve jobs.
Notebooks (commonplace books). I have one for travel, one next to bedside and one at work. Always cheap notebooks, A4 or A5 size (preferably A5 for compactness). I always lose notes on my phone or computer. So rather than scatted all over the place in different digital compartments, notebooks neatly compile everything in one place which allows me to easily review my notes a few quick flips of the page.
Good Reads. Not elementary, easy to consume internet top “10 lists” or “how to live” articles. There are too many good books to read and not enough time. Don't waste more time than you need to on the phone/internet. I know it is addicting. Kevin Kelly he takes a disconnected day once per week not because phones and tablets are bad for us but because they are so good. It makes you appreciate how great the technology is. I think social networks are great, especially for hyper nomadic modern men like myself, but I don’t fully utilize it and end up wasting my life with them instead.
Digital Trail. I have been thinking about building a more serious webpage, a landing page for my life. This blog is a nice record, but I want to add some other elements in to display and archive photography, gear lists, book notes, travel tips and logs…etc
Photography. I have been to so many amazing and exotic places but I still feel like I am not capturing the essence very well with my photos (or written word). I am always so goal oriented, to see as many places as possible as fast as possible and as cheaply as possible that I don’t take time to truly take in a place. I rush the photographic process and feel awkward taking pictures with a million other tourists all taking the same picture. I’d like to move my photographic output towards local people vs. landscape. Taking photos of people adds that uncomfortable element of human interaction, especially with people groups with mysterious customs. If nothing else it will force me to have uncomfortable conversations.
Time. And not wasting it. See above: On Wasting Life and Time
Very late posting this. Should have went out in September but I have been a busy busy boy.
Picture is from my recent trip to Java Indonesia, Borobudur Temple.