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Welcome 'Round Here, an Existence Hierarchy, and Carousels
Hey you. Thanks for reading.
As I establish a cadence for writing, what you can expect here is four content recommendations (collection of interesting things I’ve read or listened to this week), a think piece, and a personal piece.
Alex Garcia has some of the best content on the internet about growing social following online through marketing strategy. This image came from his weekly mailing list showing how Poplight, a Kickstarter campaign used a 1$ buy in to express interest and then pitched the email signup as a lower commitment way of finding out more. Genius.
Chartr compiles data points from God only knows where and sends them out once a week. This *might* be a chart crime; 2015-2020 compiled into one segment might be breaking some data visualization rules, but interesting data nonetheless.
Silicon Valley Bank, a key lender in the tech and startup community, fell apart this week after the past year of rising interest rates collided with lack of deposits led to liquidation of some of the bank’s portfolio AND THEN a run on the bank.
I must have listened to this song 1000 times this week. Marcus King Band is a southern rock group with some very talented guitarists. Hard to have a bad day after jamming to this.
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Of the many intelligent ideas Justin Mikolay talked about on the podcast this week, there was one concept in particular I thought was worth visualizing.
Justin described a framework for how to think about the different levels of thinking and how it impacts our actions and outlook on life. My working title for this is the “existence hierarchy”.
Nature of Reality
I am a small organism living in a complex system.
We live in a complex, beautiful world that is simultaneously harsh and unforgiving. The starting point of enlightenment - our mere existence on a floating rock in space that may not mean anything.
Power of Influence
I have the resources to interfere and alter the outcomes of reality.
I am no longer strictly beholden to the seemingly random nature of existence. I understand that there is a correlation between my input and the output into the world which may not be as random of a place as thought before.
I can choose how I feel and respond to different events.
Not only do my actions have external consequences, I also am in control of my emotions. My steady state and feelings can be dictated through self talk, acceptance of my ability to influence, and responsibility to monitor it.
I will pursue and be known for a specific skill set.
I will use my ability to influence outcomes and control over myself to accomplish a personal ambition to be known for or be good at some skill, task, or otherwise.
I will channel my unique knowledge and skills to a worthwhile endeavor.
Personal gain only brings about a certain amount of satisfaction and for true impact I must use my acquired knowledge and skills to pursue a cause that positively impacts others.
While helpful to understand the existence hierarchy for honest self reflection, more value is likely to be found by internally asking what phase each of those around us is in. Interpreting the thought process of potential friends, partners, and other anchor people in our lives is paramount to understanding the motivation and actions of those who influence us the most.
Miss this week’s episode? Justin Mikolay, a guy I’ve looked up to and followed for several years, came on and talked about creativity, AI, thinking and working in systems, and much more. He’s a former submarine officers, speechwriter for General Mattis and others, and dedicated his time to summarizing some of the greatest thinkers of all time.
This last week, a couple came to our home to buy our dining room table off of Facebook Marketplace.
The gentleman came in, alone, rather awkwardly, looked at the table, and handed over the cash for the table. He looked like he hadn’t showered in days.
I asked what they were taking it home in. He pointed to a small blue sedan in the driveway.
“There’s no way it’s going to fit in there.”
I saw a familiar look in his face, one I’ve felt many times before. A friend with a larger vehicle who had intended to help them had bailed at the last minute.
“Let’s try and take it apart and see if it will fit.”
We disassembled the table and after 10 minutes attempting to find the proper angle to place the tabletop through the trunk, realized and accepted I had the power to help given my truck was feet away. I asked how far they lived, we hopped in, and drove to a small apartment building in an dark neighborhood.
I asked if they wanted a hand getting it up to the apartment, as not to intrude, and I was greeted with the same response as before. “He needs the help”, I told myself.
Carrying the tabletop, I maneuvered through a tight alley, ascended the stairs, and entered the apartment. It was modest, full of unpacked boxes indicating they had just moved in. My eyes immediately were drawn to objects that seemed out of place. A box covered with a tablecloth, sitting beneath 99 cent salt and pepper shakers, and surrounded by two small sitting pillows. Amongst the stacks of other items, an old baby carseat.
“Do you guys have kids”, I asked.
It took a moment for them to respond, a sense of hesitation that seemed abnormal. I turned around, seeing the woman for the first time and found that she was very pregnant. Later I found out her baby would arrive next month.
I told them we were expecting as well, wished them good luck. I shifted down the rickety stairs and out into the cold night. It began to rain.
I paused, observed my breathe fighting against the brisk air, and my jaw began to tremble.
A concoction of empathy and guilt, brewing deep beneath the surface, came gushing out, turning the streetlights on of many forgotten avenues.
The crushing fight of making it on your own for the first time.
Your brother who also needed to be understood.
Becoming a man and trying to provide for your family.
The carousel of memories began to spin, reminding me of why I tried to get off it in the first place. Suddenly, your life is laughably small.
I would later find out, the couple had lost their first baby to SIDS. They were hopeful for the next life they were about to bring into the world. Eager for a fresh start at their new apartment. Thankful to get off the floor pillows and sit at a dining table together, as a family. Ready to continue the fight against the world that would do anything to bring them down.