Reaching the checkpoint

Reaching the checkpoint

I have had a few false starts with this. This, being regularly translating my ideas and reflections into written form. Being on an extended holiday at the moment has provided the space and time I needed to connect and write. To enforce a bit more accountability, I have found in my partner a writing partner. To start off, this looks like #30daysofwriting, which likely means an exercise in quantity, more so than quality but hopefully the latter starts to pick up along the way. For the sake of continuity through the hashtag, once this starts (today) the act will need to happen every day. Failing this, a bit of tough love, we will be able to keep each other accountable.  

In asking myself why I am doing this, I came up with three key reasons: checkpoints, skin and writing. Undoubtedly, a myriad of other reasons exist but these are the main ones that came to mind. The shove to send me over the cliff edge was in the form of two books I have recently read, another activity I am doing a lot on holiday. Some articles by Nassim Nicholas Taleb centring around his book Skin in the Game and Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly (links are at the bottom of this post).

Taleb’s mantra centres around being biased towards action, observing what happens and modelling your world from this, not the other way around. For those not familiar with his work, he is a master of volatility (arguably not just in markets!) and most reknowned for his predictions about the 2008 GFC. Brown’s book also centres around putting yourself out there but the key takeaway for me was leaning into the vulnerability when you notice it. As I am sure has been written by a staggering proportion of people who start blogging, for most of us putting your ideas out there is a painful exercise in vulnerability.

Crash Bandicoot was my first console game. I got it on my PlayStation at age 8. Being the age I was, the second best part of the game was when you broke the box with a ‘C’ on it. This meant that when you fell plumetting to your death or were flattended by a boulder, you would resume your next life from the Checkpoint box rather going all the way back to the start of the level. This reminds me a lot of writing. It has been shown time and time again how unreliable our memories are, contrary to what we might think (or remember), but by articulating ourselves on the page, there is nowhere to hide. What it also means, is we don’t have to go back through our full trail of thought, we can resume from the last checkpoint we reached and push on from there. Mulling things over in our head often takes us on repetitive loops of the same thoughts and we never actually get our way through the whole level. 

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Brene Brown

The good kind of cyanide

The good kind of cyanide

Consider an orchard, on a vast and undulating landscape with apple trees as far as the eye can see. Imagine strolling around, passing between the trees, each one being distinctly different from the next. Exploring the many rows of trees through the vast lots across the estate. Whilst we wander around, we may come across a particular tree that catches our attention or that we feel drawn too. We then proceed to put ourselves under the canopy of this particular tree, to discover what originally drew us in. Alluring us may be the wondrous size, meandering trunk, or the enticing fruit. Whatever the case, positioning ourselves up against the trunk of this tree puts us into the firing line of where the apples fall.

Here is where we can allow ourselves to come into possession of the ripest apples. Those ready for the taking and most nutritious will fall from the tree and it is my hope that one may then drop onto our heads and reveal themselves. Not to strike us down but to increase our awareness and perspective for next time. It is worth noting here the importance of the trees own realisation that the fruit is ready – it does know best. We can become better at picking the fruit, in fact we should pick it to help encourage growth of new fruit however the sweetest and most ripe fruit will only come when its master is ready to release it.

What is most important here is that we do need to venture under the canopy of a tree. To be able to commit to that one tree for a time. To have the courage to know that committing doesn’t mean closing off to the rest of the orchard but simply giving its fruit a try, for now. What we often don’t realise is that there is no reason we cannot get up again. Get up and find another tree to explore the canopy of or even venture out to an entirely different lot. The apples are still there, they might be different to the rounded and deep red Royal Gala’s that we are used to and instead be an unknown green variety, cylindrical in shape with natural bruising.

Another integral aspect of our time within the orchard of life is finding others to venture along with. Again, into the canopies of trees together to test and compare apples from the same tree. Voicing our opinion with others about the subtleties of flavour or appearance, sometimes rigorously debating and justifying why one is better than the other, even when it is not our own. Further again, is hearing the perspectives of others who have explored beyond the boundaries of our own ventures. Understanding and empathising with them on the fruit that they have tried and tested.

Ideas follow a similar narrative to that of wandering around the orchard, we are enquired to commit to pursuing their reaches and discovering all that is contained within. The same again goes for the idea of this blog, it is a canopy which I have been teetering around the edges of but never actually committed to going under and spending some time in the shade leaning up against the trunk. No doubt, after I finish this first post I will have risen and found myself under another tree but I have at least now familiarised myself with it – taken that first step.

This blog will revolve around the strolling between the trees, traversing from one lot to another, in a search for the ripest and most nutritious fruit, the fruit whose seeds will then transfer into the ground and become their own growth within the orchard. Heck, these could even be the type of apple seeds that are worth ingesting. This is not to say that I know what the good fruit is but merely that this is what will be pursued. Some of the fruit of a tree may not even get bitten but simply draw a look, a touch, enough to satisfy a desire or to inform. There will be other times where we may sit and devour the fruit to gluttonous satisfaction (seeds included).

I look forward to the stroll with you and whoever else wishes to come along for the journey.