Misc. Reader Replies (March)

Re: Friday Coffee, Austin

I lived in Austin for 3 1/2 years. “Lived” is a misnomer though. I was working about 70 hours/wk. One of my favorite places in all of Austin is the park trails on the southwest side that go all the way out to the lakes (can’t member the name of the park though it’s rigt off the highways). They are a beautiful way to spend a day – biking and hiking.

If you’re a foody hit Central Market on a Sunday (they hand out free samples). Central Market is what Whole Foods wishes it could be and is the ONLY place I can find baked goods and fresh produce as good as in NOLA. They use as much local food as possible and it shows. It’s worth an hour if you’re in the area.

If you like bbq (I don’t know your diet) I would say there are 2. Salt Lick is the famous one. They are with sauce. But the truly special place is Kreutz’s in Lockhart (about 20 minutes from Austin). You get in line, there is a giant smoker, you order by weight (ask for the end piece btw), and you get saltines or wonderbread. No silverware. No sides. Eat by hand and dont ask for sauce. As a side: Mr. Aand Mrs. Kreutz divorced. She got the business, he got the bbq pit. That pit has NEVER been out. The put it on a flat-bed trailer (lit of course) and threw a parade for the relocation of it to the new building.

Great city. Have fun.
Chris L
Re: Friday Coffee, Austin

David,

Been sitting here with Notion open, wondering if it’s worth the switch from Evernote or not.. they recently sent me an email with a whole bunch of feature updates which I’m happy they’ve done.. all except one, I can’t copy more than one paragraph at a time from my phone app! Funny world we live in, asking ourselves if this new tech thing is actually making our progress more helpful, or just taking up a bunch of our time to do the exact same thing we were doing before.

Read an interesting reflection from a fellow about doing a 1 month social media fast. He came out with realizing a reason why he checks his phone so much is to see if he’s missing an important txt or email from loved one or clients. So, he got a cheap smartwatch to get the alerts on his arm instead of a phone he’d have to keep tucked inside his person somewhere. Neat idea. But then again, begs the question, do we want to be that instantly available? What’s wrong with responding to things the next day? Or later that day.

Been contemplating the abstractness of being distracted with little devices recently. Even sitting in a cafe with a laptop, which I love to do, we’re distracting ourselves and effectively shutting a door to perhaps more vibrant human-to-human interactions we could possibly be having. All situational dependent I guess.

Cheers,

.ned
Re: Friday Coffee, Austin

Hola David! Sweet seeing that you are in Austin. Make sure to check out Barton Springs (or “doggie springs”, on the other side of the members area)! Also, there’s a very bohemian hippie vegan spot on S. 1st past Annie (heading south) you should check out, it’s called Bouldin Creek Cafe. Kiks and I were hanging around there in 2016, holding down the Teysha fort at that very strange orange building on the corner of S 1st and Annie. Ancient Ink Tattoo is there too. Luar, Adam, Puppet, and Mark, those guys are great. Say hi if you wander in lol. Really great memories from our (brief) time in Austin. I can’t imagine how much it has changed in just a few years. I hope it still maintains some aura of that spaced-out slackerville USA character… It’s still the live music capital of the world IMO…. and, of course, the tacos, Dios mío…..

Let me know if you have some free time this weekend man! Would be sweet to catch up on the phone or Facetime.

un fuerte abrazo,

D
Re: The Things We Cover Up…

Hey David,

This one struck a chord and I felt like sharing my thoughts.

It’s easy to avoid addressing our issues and our insecurities. It’s the same as instinctively saying “I’m good” when we’re asked how we’re doing.

Another insidious thing that derives from this is that we might just end up pressuring others to lie to themselves.

“Hey, if that guy’s successful and not complaining, I certainly can’t allow myself to!”, they’ll say, not knowing we face those same difficulties.

It’s tempting to push it all under the rug, but this emotional clutters adds up and ends up suffocating us.

Sharing those doubts helps us make them tangible. They are now lies that have a shape, and so we can act upon them or be held accountable for them by our peers (and vice versa).

Thanks for this email (and your initiative).
Gabriel
Re: The Things We Cover Up…

This particular email resonated with me as it (behind honest with yourself) transcends across multiple facets of life, family and business.

When I had to set boundaries for my Sister and Mother, due to their toxic personalities, it took a while to put my finger on the problem. This was it. To face their past was simply too to hard – they feared vulnerability and had identified as a victim for so long, they feared who they may become – and so live a lie. I was then able to forgive them for not having the eyes to see or the courage to change, but also knowing that I can’t help them, so was able to move on without them in my life, and without the guilt.

This thinking really helped with my Branding/Graphic Design business. I can see the signs of when some clients are really stuck in their ways and I know I can’t teach them how to pivot and grow their business. It’s a lot easier to understand it’s “not me”, my strategy or business processes.

T
Re: It’s a 24/7 World

“The problem is our best selves come out in the spaces between. In the “pause between the notes.”

I love this. Reminds me a bit of Bertrand Russell’s idea of the importance of idle time. We’re alwasy busy bees, even when we’re ‘relaxing’ we’re still so often staring at our phones, our social media accounts, our gaming libraries, news feeds and photo collections. Almost as if we’re scared that running out of an activity will somehow run us out of existence.

Actuelly, I’ve recently put a reminder into my calendar to just ‘create’. And what it means is to, once a week, take my time. No scrolling, no running, no watching, reading or playing anything. I just force myself to sit down in a quiet room with a piece of paper in front of me, allowing my mind to wander for a while – and if there’s anything to write about, I write it down, see where it takes me. I’ve found it to be a really nice way to see what’s really going on underneath the surface in the absence of input. When all that’s left is output in its purest form. I felt like it kind of matched the topic of your e-mail.

So thanks for this. It reminded me, once again, of the importance of idling. 🙂

– Maaike
Re: Breaking the Spell

Love it! Only comment would be that there seems to be a certain sense of duality between PRESENCE and living in the moment (a meditative life, if you will), and SEEKING, I.e living in the future and shaping your now in a way to get you to that future.

How do you navigate this duality? As it seems that they are inherently in dichotomy with one another.

Awesome email as usual.

– Abhi
Re: Breaking the Spell

thank you so much for writing these, the last few ones in particular have been so spot on for me, but this one, I had to print out and put on my desk. I keep going through cycles where I’m absolutely flying through work, and not just any work, but the most important, high yielding work I can do, and my brain just sorts this naturally and quickly as if there was no other option, and then inevitably after a few days of this amazing “speedy” brain mode, I start to slow, my mind starts to go crazy with anxious thoughts before bed and then I don’t sleep, and fall into a slump of a day, a week, sometimes much longer, and it’s terrible because the entire time I’m in the slump, I’m distantly aware of this vastly superior “brain mode” that I just can’t find the way to access.

This may not be exactly what you’re referring to, but in my own way I feel that it is similar. Being self employed, the urge to work 7 days a week, not because I have to, but because I want to and I like what I’m working on (when I’m in the proper mindset) is very strong. I have been trying very hard. It’s so frustrating when 99% of my productive days, whether it be ROI positive ideas / campaigns I’ve created, or just general life and company direction, come from this well rested “speedy” days, and then I fall into these slumps where my brain feels so lethargic and I procrastinate and “work” on tasks that I know deep down will never move me forward to where I really need to be right now.

I can’t help but feel that I’m wasting 50-75% of my life on these “slow days” and I’m trying to find a way to achieve this “speedy mode” more. I feel like I’m living as two people, one of them has an insane drive and focus and any obstacle can be overcome, and then some days I wake up and I already know I’m going to be useless beyond basic functioning that day. I know I’ve kind of deviated from your post a little and don’t feel like you need to analyze this, I just read so many of your helpful emails and I wanted to let you know that they have a huge impact on me and this one in particular.

Thanks,

Matt

Re: Breaking the Spell

Outside of my work, which is design ( I work for myself), I play the cello and I also love to dance ( I want to do more of that!) Playing cello takes extreme focus in its own way. It does not come easily to me at all, but I persist. I started as an adult. Dance is more of a release, but depending on which kind, can demand focus too (like a ballet class). These are very worthwhile diversions from work. I feel like I am using a different part of my brain. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s like letting a field lie fallow.

Natalie
Re: The Business Found Me

Hey David,

I’m late on this one, I’d been saving it to re-read instead of skim, and just got back to it. Man, am I glad I did.

This. This has been my sabotaging loop for a long time. Decades. Really.

” I feel some fear as I hit send on this post. That I’ll be misunderstood.

But that’s just the analytical part of me layering on top, asking if I’m “doing it the right way.”

Which is good to recognize. And I’ve taken it into consideration…”

For me, the wording – the loop – has been “Am I doing it right?”

Having done a lot of work understanding when it started, and presently being in the struggle how it played out, I wanted to share my story and reaction to your newsletter.

I went to school for one thing, which was itself a correction of a desire to do what I thought was less respectable, ‘not real work’ – Art. Because adults know Artist isn’t a ‘real job’, right?

However, I quickly realized that the field I was excelling in wasn’t the right outlet, so I began to learn different things, more creative things, and I found a way into a different, more creative industry.

I was – and in some ways still am – self taught; when I saw something I wanted to create, I dug in and made it happen. Things were hacked, used multiple programs (often trials), screen grabbed, smashed together, and output through equally elaborate work-arounds with hardware.

There were articles about how to do it easily, or how professionals did it, but I didn’t have the money or contacts for that. I just created my own solutions, got past the barriers, and even when it wasn’t exactly ‘right’ it was very exciting and satisfying.

But.

When I made the leap into a new job, I was immediately confronted with training on how to do things ‘the right way.’ Weeks of unlearning the things that had gotten me the job, of being reviewed on work of lesser quality because I was focused on how someone else had decided the creative process had to work.

Here’s the real, deeply insidious side to this genuinely critical event: It never stopped.

Just like you mentioned, Fear created a mental trap and had me in it from the start. I had made what people perceived as a huge, family affecting, rash, possibly immature decision and I couldn’t allow it to fail. I simply believed the stakes ofexternal judgment were too high and I doubled down on proving them wrong. I gave into the Fear.

On every project, in every studio, I looked for ‘the right way’ to do things. I subverted my own skills and confidence in order to conform, even going so far as to ask people with less experience “Am I doing it right?” And so the evaluation of my own work by other people’s standards just kept going, because I took it with me everywhere. Or maybe I took it wherever Fear led me.

In one sense it worked. I made it a very long time as an employee, survived layoffs, gained seniority, even made it in to management – though arguably on the strengths of my degree and previous career. But north of 50 and out of full time work since 2013, the price of this approach has made itself known.

I gave up my voice, my curiosity, my desire to create for its own sake, and have realized that finding them again isn’t simply a matter of changing offices, I have to go back and find myself again. Train myself to reclaim what was already inside me, what brought joy, what got noticed in the first place that I foolishly let go.

I look back at how creative I was when I had so little, and how now that I have more tools than ever, I’m the least creative I’ve ever been. I don’t have that part of me anymore that created freely, without restraint, that shared creativity without fear. It’s hard to accept I let it happen. Really, trying to get that back is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced.

And so I write this, in a way as catharsis, as encouragement to myself, to retell the story in a different way as a reminder I still have a fight to win.

But that’s not all.

I write to tell you, and maybe others you mention this story to – that I believe these words, this idea, are so very relevant to Creatives and the consequences around them are truly high.

I hope people read them, listen to them, roll them around when there’s no distractions, and hold them up against themselves. Depending on where we find ourselves at this moment of life, it may be uncomfortable or it may be confirmation, either way it will be Important.

For you to see this Truth now, and to share it with others, is encouraging and inspiring. I didn’t realize how much I needed to see someone call it out, to know that it’s not just me.

Thank you for reading, thank you for your writing, and take care.

– Don

Re: Mimicry

Just as unsuccessful is when we copy ourselves.

We’ve done something similar before but the inspiration for this project just isn’t coming.

But the deadline is.

We fall back on what’s worked before.

We’re thinking of what’s worked before instead of being open to allow creativity in.

It still works but feels a bit flat.

We dress it up but the spark isn’t there.

We hope others won’t notice…

…but we do.

We haven’t cheated but we haven’t created.

Hopefully, we’re uncomfortable with the feeling.

– Tom

 

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