Music on this Monday

I’ve added three tracks to the chimpwithcans playlist: Link

Genesis, “Turn it on” – a track which rocks and which I wish I played back in the day because of the drums. And those crazy skipped beats! Oh man I gets me this one.

The Cars, “I’m not the one” which has a very modern synth and electronic beat for such an old track. Mellow and excellent!

Finally I have included the new one from Arcade Fire, “Unconditional II (Race and Religion)” because it’s a new Arcade Fire track and it includes Peter Gabriel!

I took three old tracks off too. Out with the old and in with the new!

Happy Monday, chimps!

Recent resonations

The internet is full of rubbish. We cannot trust most of it, cannot filter all of it, and at the same time we cannot take our eyes off of it.

The following links are for good things I have read / listened to recently. I’m going to call them “resonations”:

  • Tim Ferris interviews Mark Zuckerberg – Zuck is obviously a tech nerd – but he’s also a sporty, musical, family man. No hint of lizard origins here. link
  • The symbolism of ESG – My background as a “sustainability professional” means that this resonates. Are we guilty of searching for too much meaning in finance? A separation of God and mammon required? link
  • Extraordinary men – The Big Red Car is at his best when talking military history. Something that Europe and Ukraine are in the midst of. link
  • Where do symbols live – Seth Godin as the liberal antidote to the conservative BRC and ESG articles: link

Happy Tuesday Chimps.

Drumming memories.

Drums are clunky and clumsy to sit down to. Bits are threatening to fall over, poke your leg, clatter and clash in a big noise. But once I do sit down, it feels like a beast is at my beck and call.

Everybody has something that eases their mind. Different people are affected by different things. Some friends have told me surfing does it, others running, others fine art and drawing. We are all so different, but everyone has something they absolutely love and fall into so deeply that they don’t even notice time passing, or tiredness, or anything else but the task at hand. I have a few things. Golf. Motorbikes. Fly fishing. Music.

The problem is, I stopped playing drums. I got busy. Then I grew older and got REALLY busy. And then I forgot what it felt like to sit at the very bottom of a song and push the other instruments forward. Control the tempo and the sound. For me, there is really nothing like it.

My friend came to town the other day and we met up at a guitar shop. He wanted a Fender to pass on as a family heirloom. I tested some out with him, and I played drums as he strummed the blues. I remembered that great feeling all over again.

I need to start playing regularly.

Happy Tuesday chimps!

Faith

In the early 2000’s I remember hearing about then US President Bush and how he found God. He described the emergence of his faith as a little mustard seed which was planted inside of him and which he couldn’t ignore. Apparently he was wild as a young man and faith played a large part in guiding him to the Presidency. At the time, the mustard seed metaphor made me wrinkle up my face in disgust. Sentimental American codswallop. I found the concept so foreign and I was angry that the leader of the Western world was charging into wars and deciding fate, based on this mustard seed faith of his. Where was the proof? Where was the science?

At around about the same time I had various people try to pursuade me into religion. One friend took me to his evangelical Christian church where they all closed eyes and swayed to Christian pop music, others argued about science and faith with me at University. It all seemed like nonsense to me.

But….everyone has some sort of faith. It might be faith in science, or faith in nature, or faith in Allah. Faith in 7 billion forms (souls?) makes the world go around.

The default in life is entropy – things fall apart inevitably – and so we need guidance to help us in the slog of keeping things together day after day, lest we default to a survivalist, bestial way of living. When you place something at the top of your life’s mountain – an ultimate value – you then orientate your life around this ultimate value. In this way faith guides your actions no matter who you are. What is in question is the ultimate value of choice. Only relatively recently have we killed God as the ultimate value guiding our lives, leaving the question up in the air:

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?

Friedrich Nietzsche

What do you place as your ultimate value in life? Do you place love at the top? Compassion? Nature? Prestige? Socialising? Being fit and skinny? The options are endless and the question has been part of human existence forever. It is older than dirt. This means you have to choose your ultimate value to live by, and if it is not God at the top, then what replaces God?

Sunday morning paragraph

Waking up is sometimes so easy and sometimes so hard. Creeping out of the bedroom, I gazed at my sleeping children strewn across the floor on camp beds (we’re on holiday). Chests rising and falling. Dreaming pups. Part of me wanted to wake them up too, and the other part is low on sleep and dreads the energy required for the day ahead. Now the sun is coming up and I’m clinging to my coffee. My eyes blink at the silver peach sky outside and at the computer screen inside. I couldn’t sleep and decided to try and do something meaningful. Write? Meditate? Yoga? We’ll see how many of the holy trinity I complete before the house springs to life. Happy Sunday chimps.

Acting “as if…”

What would happen if you really acted “as if…”

I’m not talking about doing this for a little while, or doing it as a joke – i mean committing completely to the idea that you can change your behaviour, your world and your outcomes purely by acting out an ideal.

This must be where the “fake it til you make it” saying comes from, and I always dismissed this as inauthentic and deceptive. Now I think differently. Sometimes you don’t fully buy into an idea, but you act it out anyways. People stray in their beliefs and behaviours, not because they have it all planned out but because they act like part of a group. Eventually the acting stops and they really feel like they belong.

What if you acted as if:

  • you were very organised and a fitness fanatic
  • nothing really mattered
  • everything mattered more than we could possibly know
  • God exists
  • you were an entrepreneur
  • your morning smoothie was a super food curing illnesses and lengthening your life

Happy Monday, chimps.

Taking technology for granted

We often take technology around us for granted. I think we do this mainly to spare ourselves some headspace. If we constantly tried to be congniscant of all that happens around us, we would overload. But still – reality can bite you hard when tech fails.

Lights and TV work until there is a power cut. Cars cruise down the road until they conk out. Sanitation is an afterthought until something goes wrong with the toilet or the drains.

A new variant of this (excuse the pun) is the impact of COVID on airlines. We used to think flights were always available and plannable. With lockdowns and border security around COVID, flying anywhere in a plane is becoming a gamble. You might be able to, you might not.

I just said goodbye to my parents after a lovely visit. At the same time, a new mutation of the Covid virus means SA is on most peoples’ red list. No more family trips for a while.

I look forward to flying to my family again. I look forward to taking air travel for granted again some day.

Work

Work nowadays is a strange setup. Running our own company has meant my wife and I have a lot of flexibility to manage the impacts of COVID. We worked from home and office long before the virus hit, and we have continued largely unaffected for the last couple of years. Our business model hasn’t (yet) been affected by lockdowns or virus infections. Thank goodness, we have stayed afloat.

We always remain cautious with the knowledge that businesses are fragile and vulnerable entities in the best of times. We constantly need to pay attention.

I used to be more concerned with finding my “purpose” in work – with doing what I loved. Now I rather love what I do – mainly because I am so lucky to have anything to do at the moment. Work can simply disappear. In a country with astronomical unemployment, and a virus pandemic looming, this is clearer to me than ever.

Love what you do.

Attention split

Yesterday I wrote about family, health, and hobbies as a way to divide up your attention. I recently read an interesting article on priorities. It is slightly expanded compared to yesterdays approach, so here’s a more detailed way to divide up your time:

  • Work
  • Education
  • Religion/Spirit
  • Exercise
  • Recreation
  • Family

It is revealing to apply these categories to my life.

Work is work (very clearly defined). I am either working delivering reports for money, or helping to organise the broader company with my role as operations officer. It is clear what needs to be done and who the clients are (internal and external). This could take up my whole day if I wanted it to.

Education happens for me through reading and listening to podcasts. It is not happening in a formal way (degrees or courses) and i think this is becoming the new norm for many people. I seem to focus in on a few categories – finance, marketing, technology and psychology. These are broad categories and i perhaps spend too much time noodling around on the internet. At its best, my time spent here is educational. At its worst it is a swamp which i need to escape from. Again, it is easy to spend hours on this category.

Religion/Sprituality has become interesting to me only recently. I believe this category ties in with psychology as there is a fundamental religious drive or instinct which humans have. I am also interested in the behavioural impact of ritual, community, setting high goals and understanding hierarchies around you. I have only recently seen the benefits of religion for those around me. Otherwise my life has, to date, been pretty much wilfully ignorant of religion. This category mixes often with education for me. It might one day be good to separate it out as its own category to manage.

Exercise in my life is what you call a complete shamozzle. Non-existent. Pathetic. In need of attention. I tend to blame the other components of my life and claim there is no time. But I definitely have 45 minutes a day to fit some exercise in. This category has historically been tied up with the ‘Recreation’ category as i used to gain good exercise from social and enjoyable hobbies such as team sports or squash. However, co-ordinating recreation and socialising with exercise seems a step too far for me at the moment. It is probably useful to tackle them separately for now.

Recreation for me would include socialising, music and sports i enjoy. I have very little of this in my life at the moment. But there is enough through social media, work and family to get me through for now, while our kids are so young and in need of attention. However one day this bird is going to have to spread its wings again and become social and more self-serving with the hobbies! Drumming, squash, golf, cricket, rugby, bike riding, podcasting and listening to music. Oh the joys that await.

Family has become almost everything for me. So much so that it scared me and forced me to write posts such as this one to figure out what is going on. We have a big family which needs a lot of attention at the moment. I love them very much. I find balance a hard thing to manage when you love something that much.

Words, Plans and Aims

Why write anything, anyways? Write to express yourself – but what does that actually mean? One way of thinking about it might be that we humans need to aim at something, and the best way we have of doing that is to express the aim in words. Use words to express what you are aiming at. Don’t hold the words inside. Express them to the outside world. This makes a huge difference. So, for example:

Important to me is that I have a family to raise, a body to look after, and sport and music to enjoy.

So, three broad aims. Family, Health, and Hobbies.

Right now, life is tilted towards the family. We are in a critical time for our young children. They need attention most of the day. Pay attention to the thing you are aiming at.

I want to incorporate more of the hobbies gradually. But this is a slow process. Far slower than I ever thought it would be.

Health has slowed down too as i have been recovering from an operation. But this recovery is done now so I need to think about getting stronger. I need to start aiming at sports.

Of course, it’s not so simple. Life likes to tie us in knots as we make big plans. Money, for instance. What to do about money? And socialising? Pffffft…I can almost hear the Gods laughing at my aims and at all those plans I like to make.

Still, writing down and talking out loud about my aims helps me find direction.