I used to get this question a lot, sometimes framed in skepticism but other times just curiosity. The simple answer is that not everyone wants to become a non-conformist, or any other particular means of self-identification. Plenty of people are happy with the way things are, which is the definition of conformity. It’s not always a bad thing.It’s also like asking, what if everyone wanted world peace? It would be wonderful If everyone wanted world peace, but not everyone does. People generally operate in their own interests, and some people benefit from conflict and strife. It’s no surprise that the world is full of constant conflict. Being a non-conformist, or just a rebel in general, isn’t about fighting for the sake of fighting. Nor is it usually about rejecting an orthodoxy or culture. When it is about those things, the rebellion is usually superficial and short-lasting. Read More
If you didn't love your childhood, you probably don’t love the place where you grew up. Maybe you tried to get as far away as you could. Years later, maybe you realized it wasn’t the place that was so bad, it was just the experiences you had at the time. Or maybe your beliefs were confirmed: that place really was designed to produce misery, and if you have any say in the matter, you’ll never go back.These thoughts were on my mind as the Delta Connection plane from Salt Lake City touched down in Bozeman, Montana. I felt jumpy and anxious on the short flight, as if I’d had too much coffee or not enough sleep. This being book tour season, both of those things were probably true, but they weren’t the only source of the discontent. See, I lived in Montana—the eastern, flat part—for several years as a child. I have very few happy memories from that time, and most of those involve playing video games or riding my bike around town by myself. They are memories of escapism, not of friends or community or anything that felt like “belonging.” Read More
Dear Self,Your problem is that you think everything matters. The things that you do every day, the tasks that occupy your mind and draw on your energy—you think they are helping you make linear progress towards a significant destination. And maybe you are making progress. But what if you’re just making linear progress on something that is ultimately inconsequential? Read More
My hotel breakfast server was very friendly. It took a while for him to come over after I was seated, but when he did, he was all smiles and exuberance.I ordered eggs, coffee, and a smoothie (thanks, Starwood). “That’s a great idea!” the server said, and seemed genuinely happy about my order. Over the next twenty minutes, he came back several times to check on me. There was just one problem: my breakfast never arrived. Read More
I went to the hotel gym one morning while I was traveling. When I finished on the treadmill, I went back to the elevator to head down to my room... except there was just one problem. Yep, once again I’d forgotten my room number.I spend 100+ nights a year in hotels and still haven’t perfected a system for remembering where I “live” on any given night. Sometimes I carry the little check-in envelope around in my pocket, and sometimes I take a photo of the door, but at least once every dozen nights, I start to walk back toward my room before realizing I have no idea where it is. This time, I tried to retrace the steps that took me out of the room and to the gym. Was it 1406? I thought it was. It sounded like the right number. I went back to floor 14 and everything felt familiar. I turned down the hall and came to the room, which looked like the right one. The door was slightly ajar, and I assumed I’d mistakenly forgotten to close it all the way when I left. Not ideal, I thought, but it happens. Read More
I recently went to see Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, a curious film in the sense that it focuses much more on the subject’s love life than it does her love of art. Still, it was good overall and I’m glad I went.The film showcases the development of several abstract and other non-traditional artists, including Jackson Pollack. I've always liked Pollack’s work, but I don’t think I understood the audacity of it until seeing this new film. I often feel inspired when I hear about larger-than-life figures who pursued big ambitions. People like Pollack, and Peggy Guggenheim, did big things. Then I went home and I thought: “What big thing am I doing?” Read More
Every evening the sun sets, then rises again a few hours later.Yet something feels different about this particular sunset and sunrise. Oh, that’s right ... it only happens once a year. Yep. It's time to stop writing the old year’s name whenever you fill out the date for something. For the next 365 days, the world has a new number. If you wander out and about today, you may receive wishes of happiness from your barista or whoever else you encounter. You may notice the gym is especially full today. A new crop of well-meaning people with good-intentioned “resolutions” are off to the races. Online, people are talking about “new year, new you” and you’re like … okay. How does this new year somehow make a "new me"? And yet. It is a New Year, after all. Something is different. So why not use it as a catalyst for something positive? Read More
I recently stumbled upon an essay from Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon who died earlier this year at the age of 37.
I read the whole thing several times and was struck by several passages, including this one:
"Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed."Read More
Some past reflections and enduring lessons learned during the launch process:***
This morning I woke up at 7:20am, and it felt so late. There was a touch of light outside—what was that? Oh right, sunrise.
For the past few mornings I’ve been getting up at the entirely unreasonable hour of 5:30am or sometimes even earlier. My breakfast place opens at 6am and I’ve been at the front of the line shortly thereafter. The sun rose two hours after I’d been awake.
Two nights earlier, I went to bed with my laptop on the nightstand. Yep—it was another product launch week.
As I made another cup of coffee on the morning after having slept “so late,” I thought back on the launches over the years. How many have I done? I honestly don’t remember ...Read More
Greetings! Every year I devote an entire week—and usually several weeks of blog posts—to an Annual Review, where I look back on the previous year and make plans for the coming year. Many of our readers now do the same thing, some by following the same structure I use and others by modifying it to suit their own needs. This year the review is considerably abridged, mostly due to my recent tour of India. When the option came to decide about the trip, it was a tough call. I don't think it would always be the right decision to shorten the important Annual Review process, but in this case I was so excited to visit India that I decided to switch it up a little.Read More