The Art of Vuja De, Sans Forgetica & A Victory Lap
Plus how to respond next time someone asks 'What are you doing with your life?'
|Jonny Miller 🐢||Mar 6, 2019|
👋 Mahalo Curious Human!
🙏 Happy Nyepi ➫ Imagine if for a 24 hour period the entire UK & USA set aside the day for silence, fasting, self-reflection and meditation? No food or leaving your homes. Not even any... (gasp) internet! Well this is precisely what is happening tomorrow, here on the entire Balinese island for 'Nyepi' and I'm excited for the excuse to make a dent in my reading list.
💫 Cultivating 'VuJa De' ➫ the late, great comedian George Carlin once paused mid-stand up routine, as if experiencing a profound insight, before announcing that he had just experienced a powerful 'strange feeling that, somehow, none of this has ever happened before'. He called it 'Vuja De', and it is a wonderful lens through which to experience the world. I would dare assert that 'vuja de' sufficiently embraced, cannot help but leave you feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude and wonder at even the most mundane.
📝 This essay is literally breathtaking ➩ as many of you know I've been fascinated by how conscious breath control shapes our lives. For the left-brained skeptics among you, I present this magnificent Aeon essay which I won't even attempt to summarise, but it falls squarely in the 'must read' category.
🥣 Bowls of Light ➫ in ancient Hawaiian culture there is a myth that we all carry around a 'bowl of light'... sometimes stones find themselves into our bowl, but when it gets so full and heavy that it blocks out the light, we are free at anytime to empty the bowl into the sea (the myth inspired this song by Trevor Hall).
⛰️ What are you doing with your life? ➫ if a family member asks you this question with a concerned look, this is a brilliant response. I've been pondering the question of work related 'purpose' lately (reading this & that) and taking tentative steps along my own pathless path.
On that note, I'm signing off for the next twenty-four hours for 'Nyepi', but if any of the ideas or questions below strike a chord with you, please don't hesitate to hit reply and I'll get back to you as soon as the power comes back on.
Stay curious out there!
p.s. do you know of anyone in particular who may wish to join this growing global fellowship of curious humans? Well click on this here link and you can share this edition with them in the blink of an eye. 🙏
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👆 Some pictographic highlights from February 👆
Five Big Juicy Questions 😋
Q1 / What Are the Essential Skills & Mindset for the Future?
I have somehow ended up teaching a 'Future Literacy' series of workshops here in Bali to a group of recent graduates. As part of this, I've assigned them to design their own 90 day 'self-guided learning curriculum' and so far their 'learning questions' have ranged from researching perfectionism in entrepreneurs to impacting female literacy rates in developing nations. Our discussions raised the intriguing question of what exactly are the skills or mental models that we will need in order to navigate an increasingly uncertain future? (I was pleasantly surprised to see that curiosity was ranked #1 in this survey 🙌). One friend recommended that I help to accelerate these students into their first 'personal crisis' 🤣
I've also begun curating an online course directory with the intention of highlighting some world class (but lesser known) online courses taught by exceptional teachers (more recommendations welcome).
related ➫ Treat your ears and feast on this Joe Rogan conversation with Brian Cox (essential curious humans listening!) on how CERN is a powerful example of the impact of investing in curiosity and teaching the value of not knowing (pair with this gem from IDEO U on insights from '30 years of curiosity and empathy')
Q2 / What is the Role for 'Poets' in the 21st Century?
Friedrich Nietzsche once envisioned poets as 'philosophers of the future' who 'must have the courage to ask forbidden questions'... perhaps I'm biased but I think he was right. Or as Curious Humans reader Tom Critchlow put it in a recent missive on identity:
“...poets do not ‘fit’ into society, not because a place is denied them but because they do not take their ‘places’ seriously. They openly see its roles as theatrical, its styles as poses, its clothing costumes, its rules conventional, its crises arranged, its conflicts performed and its metaphysics ideological.”
Personally, I stumbled into the intimidating poetry scene pretty late but recently feel like the words of David Whyte, Mark Nepo, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Mary Oliverhave enriched my life and stretched my mind in ways that than I'm deeply grateful for.
Still not convinced? I heard recently that Charles Darwin shared late in his life that he regretted feeling as if he had regressed into a 'machine for grinding out facts and figures' and saying that if he were to live is life over again: "I would make it a rule to read some poetry...at least once a week, for perhaps then the part of my brain now atrophied would have been kept alive through life, the loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness."
Q3 // Sans Forgetica: What is the Case For Introducing Deliberate Obstacles in Life?
Stoic philosopher Seneca was known for introducing a practice of deliberate poverty into his life and the musician Brian Eno created a series of 'Oblique Strategies' that were creativity-inducing comfort challenges, cunningly crafted to create chaos and move his victims towards the deeply uncomfortable.
But the latest innovation in deliberate obstacles comes from RMIT's behaviour science lab and it's an open-source font of all things: "Sans Forgetica is more difficult to read than most typefaces – and that’s by design. The 'desirable difficulty' you experience when reading information formatted in Sans Forgetica prompts your brain to engage in deeper processing."
Q4 // If You're Actually a Billionaire... How do You Best Spend Your Fortune?
Long ago (10 years back, yikes!) I stumbled upon a DO Lecture talk from the philosophical travel writer Rolf Potts on the topic of time = wealth, which inspired my life-direction changing year of travel.
His idea of 'time being our truest form of wealth' returned in a recent Tim Ferriss conversation with Graham Duncan who made the point that a 'a billion seconds is just over 31 years' so for most of you reading (disturbing arguments for impending human extinction notwithstanding) you are likely a time billionaire. The question then becomes: how might we spend our allotted fortunes?
My own thoughts align closely with Leo Babauta who writes: "And so, accepting that we are choosing how to best spend our time, we can then accept that we have to let go of the rest... we are owning the fact that we choose to do these things, to be fully there with them, and to do them as best we can, fully and with love."
Q5 // How does one learn to 'Adult' Well? (And What Might the Journey to Greater Self-Awareness & Human Maturity Look Like?)
There are surprisingly few models out there relating to the stages of adult development. The two that come to mind are Keegan's superb 5-stage model in which he talks about the 'personal Copernican shift' of transfromation & Bill Plotkin's slightly dense but nonetheless compelling eight 'ecocentric' stages of human development. It's hardly surprising that most of us lack the motivation to explore the terra incognita of our inner landscapes when there's barely a map or trail to follow.
As Nietzsche put it 'It is also an agonising, hazardous undertaking thus to dig into oneself, to climb down toughly and directly into the tunnels of one’s being...' it's infinitely easier for us to check bank accounts or social media followers as signs of validation and personal growth. This is an area that I'm going to be digging into a lot more, so any thoughts or ideas in this arena would be much appreciated 🙏
Et Cetera 😲
I double-dare you to not clickety-click on all the linkety-links
🏃♂️ Just run
📱 F*ck your phone
💻 Tab overwhelm, solved
🙅♂️ This person never existed
📝 Last year's personal reflections
🌳 Growing an African world wonder
🌊 Your body's crazy reaction to water
🥖 How might baguettes actually move
🤽♂️ How men fought to free their nipples
😲 Type “breathing exercise” into Google
👨🎓 Why the MBA is increasingly irrelevant
🤣 Minimalist 'lifehacks' and 'optimisation'
🤓 Nerdy but awesome single use websites
🐬 Dolphins trip on hallucinogenic puffer fish
🤦♂️ Pixar's new short tackles toxic masculinity
🎮 A new multiplayer game is out, it's called life
👨⚕️ Your microbiome needs fiber (not kombucha)
🤝 Alternatives to the icebreaker 'what do you do?'
🤖 AI just solved the world's most important problem
🖥️ Do computers unleash the mind but suppress the body?
📽️ Awe-inducing Nat Geo documentary series hosted by Will Smith
Parting Poem 📝
This one is called 'A Victory Lap'.
As you take your one
last victory lap
around the sun.
Did you have the courage
To peel away the masks,
And reveal truth beneath.
Did you have the courage,
To embrace the timid voice within
Like an old friend arriving home.
Did you have the courage
To take the greatest risk of all,
The risk of being human.