I’m writing this week’s newsletter with my head in the clouds. Literally. I’m flying to Toronto for our TKS team retreat. I had an amazing and clever idea for a new name for this newsletter but it came to me at 2 am and I didn’t write it down. All I remember is the word “and” 😒. So helpful.
Today I have 3 short blurbs to share.
Confession: I missed last week’s newsletter because I tripped myself up over what to say. Lately I’ve been finding myself trying too hard. Trying to do what? I don’t know. Be interesting. Be insightful. Be original. In the end it’s paralyzing and I end up anxious and skipping out on the act of writing. The same thing happens in recording videos. Yes, I’ve been doing this again for TKS. No, there’s no vlog this week 🤣 But if you want to see what I’m referring to, here’s an IG post I had to record a couple of weeks ago.
I get most nervous when I feel like I have something I’m supposed to say or some way I’m supposed to appear. When I re-record it without having a pre-determined agenda (like my last newsletter’s vlog), things seem to feel okay. It’s only when I try too hard that I look and feel awkward. The same is true for writing.
New life plan: don’t try so hard.
I have been fascinated with clouds for awhile. Sometimes I just stare at them and am amazed by the detail and depth you can find in a single cloud. Different shades of white and grey, different shapes combining into this looming mass that appears solid from below, but is nothing more than an illusion up close.
Today from the plane I noticed something different about clouds: they seem to sit on an invisible shelf in the sky. If you’ve spent any time looking at the sky you’ll notice that clouds usually sit around the same height in the air (though I’m not sure why yet). But today, as we flew at cloud-level, I noticed they actually flatten at the bottom as if literally sitting on something solid. That blew my mind a bit. What is it that causes that phenomenon? That’s yet to be learned.
Last weekend I picked up The Cloudspotter's Guide as the title and premise intrigued me. A habit I’m trying to cultivate is following my curiosity. It’s advice I espouse but rarely follow. Instead I put something on my to-do list where it goes to live a sad, unnoticed existence. I’ve learned if I don’t do it now, I don’t do it ever.
What have you noticed lately?
Last week I was talking to a new coworker (hi Aatik! 👋🏼) and we were getting to know each other. He said I seemed like someone who took personal growth/development seriously. I was telling him about my fascination with learning and mastery, despite not feeling that I’ve committed to learning any one thing.
We got into the topic of me trying to learn piano (~2018) and how I failed at that. I had a brief moment of insight when I realized that I didn’t totally fail at learning piano (I did), but more specifically I failed at learning piano on my own. My default pattern is to assume I can do it alone. Perhaps what I’ve been avoiding all this time is that sometimes I need others to learn effectively, and that’s not a bad thing.
To that end, I’m going to sign up for piano lessons once we’ve run our marathon. It’s time to try again, but set myself up for success this time.
First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami:
Murakami’s newest collection of short stories. I’m surprised I’m writing this, but I found it pretty boring. None of the stories really hit for me and most of the stories felt like unfinished thoughts time. They were more like random journal entries of a story than something meaningful. Maybe that was the intent and I had different expectations. Despite that, there were a few lines that caught my eye.
Of course, winning is much better than losing. No argument there. But winning or losing doesn't affect the weight and value of the time. It's the same time, either way. A minute is a minute, an hour is an hour. We need to cherish it. We need to deftly reconcile ourselves with time, and leave behind as many precious memories as we can, that's what's the most valuable.
Why vulnerability is always worth the risk
We’ve often seen vulnerability as a way to be true to yourself and more authentic. More interestingly, this post shares the idea that vulnerability is less about yourself and more about being able to connect with others. Not only can someone see you as who you really are, but they are able to connect with you in ways that weren’t possible if you had a mask up. The post is short and doesn’t say much more than what I’ve summarized, but it sparked ideas within myself. One way I’ve found to connect with others quickly (students and co-workers usually) is to share my own insecurities. I find it helps humanize you and allows for more personal connection quickly. The less in-secure about your insecurities you are, the easier they are to share.
Spotlight on Duke Ellington (Album)
I’ve been listening to this Duke Ellington album when I’m in the jazz mood (cooking, flying, reading, always) and it has me feeling classy.
PS. I upgraded my flight to business class using some points and damn I felt like a king. I cannot fly again until I win some sort of lottery so I can afford to do it again.
PPS. I switched my newsletter back to Buttondown this week (idle hands make the devil’s work) so if anything feels broken or something, I apologize! Hopefully you didn’t even notice.