12 August 2021

Ideas are cheap

Over time, as the world closed up shop and receded into safe mode, the mind started to open up and create a bunch of noise.

April 2020

That was a fairly uninteresting month.

I say that because, although much of the world was blowing up with the spread of the virus, life did not really change that much except for becoming slightly more inconvenient and.. boring.

Being a regional Queensland town, the number of cafes and restaurants here in Gladstone to choose from was already limited, then the restrictions kicked in and businesses were forced to close down until everything blew over.

Leaving the house meant complying with the face masks mandate, and as much as you would like to interact with the wider public on a bare minimum surface level, it became obvious very quickly how difficult it was to put on a friendly face with only your eyes to speak.

Over time, as the world closed up shop and receded into safe mode, the mind started to open up and create a bunch of noise. It became relentless, there were no longer any easy distractions to occupy it.

The shift

Perhaps, it is with the rose tinted glasses of hindsight, that I can now appreciate all the good that was happening for me during that period.

I continued to work full time and my day job was able to continue as if nothing had changed, and through this I continued to earn a stable income.

Much of life around me stayed more or less the same and perhaps this is a direct by-product of living in regional town as opposed to a big metropolitan city.

While the rest of the world was caught up in a hurricane of change, there was something that I started to realise as I sat protected in that seemingly secured bunker of stability.

I started thinking about how change, in both big and small ways, can take one by surprise and expose vulnerabilities in less than favorable ways. Be it on an individual level, to a community level all the way through to states, governments and nations.

Redundancy is ambiguous because it seems like a waste if nothing unusual happens. Except that something unusual happens — usually.

- Nassim Taleb

I realised that, it was not because I was more prepared, or more skilled or more equipped than others to deal with the chaos brought about by the virus, but because I was more lucky. There was zero intention on my part of being prepared to deal with the changes, it was definitely not something that I was actively aiming for. It was by chance that my life stayed much the same at the time.

What is going to happen the next time I am not so lucky?

Distraction poor, time abundant

I had a lot of time to myself, and a lot of time to be.. bored.

As I sit here today, it feels strange to say something like this. I have since come to realise the abundance and potential that exists through the internet, but I recall the weeks and weeks that I had wasted feeling completely aimless, seeking out for any sort of distraction to take some of the restlessness away.

When the internet became a little bit too dull (crazy talk), I resorted to a tried-and-tested method that I knew would be a surefire way of getting myself out of the muck.

I resorted to distracting myself from the reality I was seeing at the time by reading books. Some of which were:

  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  • Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
  • Antifragile and Skin in The Game by Nassim Taleb
  • The Hard Things about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
  • The Great Mental Models by Shane Parish
  • The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  • The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgensen
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel

There was no ‘master plan’ for the books on the reading list. I would pick books up as I went along, and drop them if I started to get bored with the material (a gem I had learnt from Naval Ravikant).

The truth is, I don’t read for self-improvement. I read out of curiosity and interest. The best book is the one you’ll devour.

- Naval Ravikant

Then I reached a point where I had multiple books open at any one time, jumping in and out of different stories, timelines, perspectives and ideas. And it was all fun, on some days it even felt like there was not enough time to read what I had wanted to read and it was the rest of life getting in the way.

I started to realise what a privilege it is, to live in a world where I can so easily access the thoughts, the knowledge, the experiences of such exceptional people.

What a privilege it is, to have the time and freedom to be able to choose to learn, handpick what to learn from and who to listen to.

I was inspired and curious, humbled and in awe, but at the same time excited for the future.

What I started to perceive of the world around me started to evolve, to expand and grow. I started to see possibilities and ideas, while becoming less obsessed with my own individual angst, all the noise about closed borders, lockdowns and forced isolations.

Through these internal explorations, I found abundance and hope for the future, which sharply contrasted to the overwhelming sense of scarcity and despair permeating through the external world.

Having access to good information and great books, though, form only part of the journey. There has to be a call to action; ideas are cheap, and fleeting, if not captured through aggressive action.

The next step is to find a productive engine to utilise the stored potential energy of the discovered fuel source. This unfolds through the following stages of applying the knowledge gained into reality, dealing with chaos and encountering feedback.

The learning journey (created on Miro.com)