Serendipity

When I travel, I do tend to have a list of a few bars and restaurants I’d like to visit. But those aren’t the only places I go to. 

I’ve become one of those people who likes walking into a random restaurant that I spot as I’m wandering aimlessly through whatever city I’m in. 

I only have two criteria (and even these aren’t fixed). Are there people in the restaurant? Are they mostly local? 

Sometimes the experience is less than superb. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised. 

This aimless wandering, this openness to serendipity is something I’ve learned from Ming. And it’s made life feel more like an adventure. 

I used to be destination-focused. Left alone, I’d go from point A to point B in the shortest time possible, the most efficient way possible. 

But in his article on Wired, Rob Walker questions if this obsession with productivity and efficiency is always a good thing. 

We have technology and algorithms to tell us where to eat, what to watch, who to seek advice from. It’s made life a lot easier. 

But Walker continues, “At some point you have to wonder if the thing we’re hacking away isn’t just annoyance or inefficiency, but potentially delightful serendipity. Or, you know, life itself.”

As we hustle our way to our destinations, perhaps we may have found the most efficient route. But would it really have been the best? 

Sex

Today I received an invitation to visit the Asia Adult Expo 2019 and I felt my heart leap. While other people may get excited over concerts or festivals, trade fairs float my boat, especially when it’s in the sex industry.

Ever since I first found out about it, sex has been a subject of interest to me. 

At first, it was a thing my friends and I whispered about in the corner of the classroom. Later, when I learned about it in biology, I realised that it was something as everyday as eating. 

I wondered why people talked about it as if it was something special, something dirty, or something so far apart from ordinary life. 

And I still wonder why people behave so differently when it comes to matters of sex. 

Why does conversational etiquette go out the window? Why is rudeness so easy to come by?

If you wanted to start a conversation with a stranger, would you start by telling them that you’re salivating? Would you tell them that you want to vomit? Or take a shit?

They’re all ordinary bodily functions, but hardly the best conversation starters. Especially if they’re uninvited and you’re talking to a person you’ve never spoken to before.

So I wonder why strangers on Instagram start conversations with “my cock’s wet” or “you make me wanna cum”? 

I often wonder what the rationale is behind questions like these. It’s not an engaging start to a conversation, so what’s the point? 

Pitch

There’s a book that I can’t get out of my head and even though I’ve already read it, I plan to read it again. 

It’s called Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time by Bill McGowan and I read it on the plane on the way to an event where I would have to speak in front of an international audience. 

Although I’ve done some public speaking — I’ve pitched concepts and products, been on forums, taught classes — I’ve never enjoyed it. And I’ve never done anything that seemed quite as intimidating as this particular event. 

But McGowan shares seven tips that can be applied not just in giving speeches or pitching. These tips can also help you “say it right” in negotiations, interviews, and even personal conversations. 

I zipped through the book, followed the tips I remembered to prepare my slide deck and practise my talk. I went up on stage, delivered and when I was done felt, “Now, that wasn’t so bad.”

It felt exhilarating. And perhaps I could learn to enjoy public speaking after all. 

I briefly share the seven tips that McGowan presents in the latest episode of Ledes and after my re-read, plan to write a longer article about it. 

If you’d like to read more about my learnings from the book, the article will be in my newsletter. Feel free to sign up and get updated on all the other books I’m reading. 

Disclosure: Some of the things I share in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you go through them and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. There are no extra charges for you, but it’ll contribute to my coffee (read: alcohol) fund. Thank you!

Read

I’ve been asked a number of times how I read so much.

My first answer is usually “I read a lot of trash” and that’s true. Weird af romance novels are my guilty pleasure. And with my Kindle Unlimited subscription, most of the ones I’ve been reading lately are basically porn.

My next answer is that I find moments to read. I don’t need an hour to sit down and get reading.

Plane delayed for an hour? I read. Standing in line for the bathroom? I read. The person I’m meeting is 15 minutes late? I read.

Rather than scrolling through my social media feeds — which, after my cleanup, is almost non-existent — I read.

If we think about how much time we spend, on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, and imagine using that time reading instead, we’ll realise that it’s easy to read a lot more.

But that said, reading is overrated. I read because I enjoy it, not because I feel it’s something I must do.

When I am knee-deep in a particularly gripping book, it’s hard for me to even think about doing anything else. There have been days when I can’t sleep because I want to know what happens next.

Text is always my medium of choice. And perhaps that’s the real reason I read as much as I do.

Disclosure: Some of the things I share in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you go through them and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. There are no extra charges for you, but it’ll contribute to my coffee (read: alcohol) fund. Thank you!

Stock up

How can stoicism be practised even during the good times?

Today’s reading of the Daily Stoic email newsletter suggests that during the “good times”, we stock up our “Fortress of Fortitude“. 

That we “prepare for an uncertain future and to never be so naive as to expect things to always be booming and pleasant”. 

When we are on top, we should enjoy it, yes. But we must remember not to let it go to our heads. 

We must continue to practise the same kind of mindfulness, to keep journalling and strengthening our character. 

Sometimes I think: it’s when times are good, that we are most at risk. We are at risk of being too comfortable. We are at risk of revelling too much in the now and thinking too little about the future. 

We must continue to build on what we have, lay down new foundations, discover new possibilities. 

When times are good, we have resources in abundance and we must deploy them in the most effective manner so that when the hard times come (and they will), we still have the resources we need to thrive. 

The Daily Stoic email reminds me that the worst that could happen is not any of the negative things that could happen in the world or in my personal life. 

It would be for that to happen and for you to turn inside to your cabinet of fortitude or your inner citadel and find it empty.”

Disruption

Work-batching and time-blocking are great methods for maintaining productivity but as Barry Davret says in his article The Time Management Secret Nobody Talks About, there’s a lot less advice on how to handle disruptions. 

And at some point, disruptions are bound to happen. 

We can try our best to control our environments but there are too many variables. The only real thing within our control is ourselves. #stoicism

In times when we find our well-planned schedules disrupted — like when you’re heading home to meet a deadline and get into a car accident — Davret suggests that we take a step back, instead of reacting with rage or indulging in self-pity / a complain fest. 

He provides a checklist of questions that we should ask ourselves, to take us out of a “knee-jerk emotional reaction” and decide our next course of action. 

I’ve found that most cases of disruption to my schedule are out of my control. Disruption in the form of interruptions or distractions are things that I’ve factored into my work day. 

These can be minimised or controlled by doing things like scheduling time for providing updates (so you don’t get asked), turning off notifications, saying “no”. 

Task transition journalling is also a great way to identify what my disruptors are and figure out a strategy to minimise them.

Sick

What do you do when you’re ill?

If you’re like me, you probably try to power through your day. I’ve learned and am still learning, that it’s not sustainable. It’s not effective or productive. Especially when all your body wants to do is rest.

“I just need to get through today,” I tell myself. And then I tell myself the same thing the next day. And the next.

At some point, my body stops believing me.

It’s not that I’m a workaholic. There are just a lot of things I want to do.

But it’s the times when I’m sick that I wonder if that’s sustainable as well.

And the question that’s been on my mind the last few days is this: how do I combine my wide variety of interests into one thing that will bring me ultimate satisfaction?

Is it even possible? And is it even required?

I’ve been asked countless times to focus. And yes, I’ve somewhat done that by cutting out a lot of things that don’t generate value, by saying no even to things that I desperately want to say yes to.

But what if I enjoy the exploration? What if I want to follow my curiosity down rabbit holes?

Back when I was taking trumpet lessons, someone asked me why?

“You’re not naturally talented,” he said.

I wouldn’t delight an audience, that’s for sure. But what if just playing the instrument (and possibly sucking at it) makes me happy?

And if that’s my goal, wouldn’t that be considered successfully achieving it?