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Time Is the Ultimate Burden for Humans

Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

Photo by Rick Gebhardt on Unsplash


“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car.

You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”

— Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

A day in the life of a time slave

As humans we think we have no masters. We run Earth. We walk dogs on leashes because we think we’re the superior species.

I’ve learned the hard way that we do have a master, though. Our master is time. Time has held me captive for much of life. Years ago I suffered from extreme anxiety. My anxiety required time to sustain its cause.

I needed time to pre-prepare for every major event in life. Going to work was a major event. Drinks after work was major. A dinner with friends seemed like a monumental task. Leading up to the event I created ridiculous to-do lists.

A doomsday prepper is nothing compared to who I used to be.

A dinner at 6 pm looked like this: Lunch at 12 pm to ensure hunger at the right time, gym to calm the nerves, a shower to smell nice, a trip to the supermarket to buy bottled water to carry in case of vomiting, tissues on the way out the door to clean up any potential vomit, wet wipes to clean up any overspray, a map of the venue to find the toilets in case of emergency, a phone call to the restaurant to ensure they were good to go for the night, and a list of affirmations.

Affirmations created the dialogue between myself and the mental illness. I had to appear more powerful to him. He had one up on me: time. All the weapons I used to silence his wrath required enormous amounts of time.

A watch helped me execute every move with navy seal precision. Eventually time would run out. I’d have to face my fear. The fear never seemed to be as scary as the fantasy that drained all of my time.

Mental illness is gone from my life now. The burden of time isn’t.

Time limits cause the greatest suffering

Time creates urgency. The trouble is it prevents us from being lazy. Laziness is how we heal from the wounds of the week. If it weren’t for the constraints of time we could be lazy without guilt.

I long to be lazier. I put way too much pressure on myself to succeed. A near-miss with cancer in 2015 changed my biological clock. I went from a 20-something boy who thought they had all the time in the world, to a man who wants to experience everything there is in life with the time left.

Animals are the opposite. They have no concept of time. My deceased dog Alisha lived for 13 years. To her that felt like 100 years. She didn’t have death FOMO at 10. Or a mid-life doggie crisis. If she were a human she would.

We think time helps us be productive. What if it doesn’t? What if too much focus on time teleports us out of the present and into some anxiety-driven world? Maybe my anxiety wasn’t a mental health issue. Maybe it was due to an obsession with time.

Here’s how to relax the burden of time

The quote in the intro slapped me across the face. Time appears to go faster when we focus on it. Scientists have found that the way we feel time is driven by emotions such as happiness, sadness, and fear. This explains why fear altered my perception of time. When we’re always counting the minutes we miss the best bits of life. Try these tips.

Schedule no time tracking days

Sunday works best for me. I turn my phone off and forget about what time it is. I let my stomach tell me when a good lunchtime is. I let the darkness outside politely suggest a good time for dinner. I like to get lost in books without knowing how many minutes I’ve racked up.

It’s nice *not* to have the guilt of time ruin your day.

Find this hidden state

Flow states have become popular over the last few years. I’ve written about them extensively. Flow is where you disconnect from the burden of time. It’s where you do a type of work that you can get lost in. Mine is writing. I sit down to write for 8 hours straight. All concept of time is erased. If I enter a flow state in euphoria, the upside is even greater.

All of the cracks in life caused by daily tragedies are papered over when in flow. It’s hard to notice time. You’re so lost in the task that its relevancy to the moment is completely disconnected.

To be in a flow state is to be released from the shackles of time.


Elon Musk says “Time is the ultimate currency.” Does currency make us happy though? Do we need more currency? Or if we don’t focus on currency, but focus on simply living, will the reward be greater? I don’t know.

What I do know is too much focus on time makes me a lousy human. When the constraints of time are released everything feels different. That’s worth you exploring.


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Four Bizarre Lessons I Learned from Seven Astronauts (That Can Apply to Life)

Space has no race.

Photo by Tommao Wang on Unsplash

My silly space dream ain’t going to happen.

I don’t have the dollars to ride on one of Branson’s rockets. I’ll never be rich enough to go to space because I’m not going to allow myself to become Lambo-successful. Nope.

I want to use money to buy back my freedom, instead of purchase “stuff” that enslaves me. Yet space fascinates me … and most people.

Seven interviews of astronauts taught me these bizarre lessons. Apply them to your life.

“The Overview Effect” is an odd phenomenon that changes your reality

Frank White has the cool title of “space writer.” He came up with the phrase “The Overview Effect.”

It’s a mental transformation astronauts go through while in space. They change from inward-focused to outward-focused. They get to come to terms with the fact Earth is part of a larger universe, as opposed to us earthly prisoners who think our planet is the only one in the galaxy because we can’t visit space. What we can’t see doesn’t exist.

Frank believes The Overview Effect could save Earth.

If all the climate change skeptics could become space tourists they would stop thinking carbon emissions are a fantasy that doesn’t need urgent attention.

There is so much more to life than the earthly planet you are born on. Zoom out to consider most of what you think is important, is actually a teeny-tiny problem an earthly citizen faces. Earth life is inherently selfish. Galaxy life is where deep thinking stems from.

Home is Earth, not a state

Astronaut Chris Hadfield took a photo of Pakistan where six million people live. When he looked back over those photos he no longer saw Pakistanis as “them.” No. Chris says, “I realized that that part of the world had become us for me”

From Earth, countries feel like different places. From space, all countries feel like one place.

Another astronaut, Nicole Scott, couldn’t wait to see her Florida state from space. As her stay in space continued she came to the conclusion “Earth’s my home.” When your feet are on solid Earth ground you’re in the middle of it. From space Nicole found that once you’re outside of Earth you get a feeling of interconnectivity. Her advice is to separate ourselves from things that are important to us so we can understand them in a new way.

It’s not just current residents of Earth that these astronauts thought about. Astronaut Jerry Linenger began thinking about ancient civilizations while staring at rivers. He realized modern humans need water to drink the same way humans from ancient civilizations did. With the exception of Apple Watches, are we really that different from ancient civilizations?

Dinner in space has no race

American astronaut Leland Melvin describes going from the US to the Russian segment of the space station for dinner. On his mission there were Russians and Germans that his fellow Americans used to fight against. Other members were French, Asian-American, and African-American.

While at the space dinner table they each look at their homes as the world zooms past them in the window. “There’s Virginia,” Leland says. Leo sees his home in France minutes later. Then Yuri sees his home in Russia.

The trip around the world took 90 minutes.

Leland expected the excitement of being in space to be the highlight. He later realized the human-made borders that space dinner obliterated was the true magic of his trip. They now had a shared home.

The imagination is more powerful than you think

Astronaut Mae Jemison found her imagination went to a whole new level.

She felt like an outsider in space. On the other side of the door to the spaceship is the atmosphere that doesn’t support her species. Without a spacesuit she’d be dead. This reminded her of her tourist status. She pictured herself in space alone, in a big glass bubble with her cat. That would really make her feel like she was “on top of the world-d-d-d!”

She even tried to imagine being in another star system 10,000 light-years away. One thing none of the astronauts seem to have imagined is aliens. They go to space and imagine they’re alone. Weird.

Astronaut Nicole Scott’s imagination made her feel like she could almost reach into the Earth from her spaceship window.

Imagination is a powerful human experience. It can completely change the way you think and cause you to have odd thoughts you didn’t know you were capable of having. But imagination can solve problems too. If you can imagine a solution then the outcome you’re seeking becomes possible.

You’re already in paradise

On a spacewalk, Mike Massimino, got to see Earth from different angles. He got to see her gorgeous curves. Inside the spaceship feels like being stuck in a home with windows. Once you’re spacewalking it feels like being in a backyard with limitless distance in front of you. Life is open outside of the spaceship.

The whole experience made Mike say “our planet is a paradise.”

Jim Lovell from Apollo 13 is the seventh and final astronaut I learned from. He says he knows what heaven is like because he was born there.

You don’t need to die and go to heaven. You’re in heaven on Earth. That’s what you can learn from seven astronauts.

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Live a Low-Key Life to Remove the Drama and Stress from Your Day

Life Lessons by Tim Denning

Photo by Bani Abdelhakim on Unsplash

A private life is massively underrated.

I spoke to a friend of mine yesterday for the first time in a while. We lost contact due to the lockdowns and reconnected over the phone. She’s a 40-something legend. She’s the ultimate definition of low-key.

The conversation drifted towards the pandemic. She knew the basics about how to stay safe and protect others, but she had zero clue beyond that. The daily news agitates her. It’s already hard enough to live alone and not be able to socialize for long periods of time.

She has two businesses. One has been smashed by the pandemic. Her income has gone right down. Her other business is a startup eCommerce store on Instagram. Things aren’t going well.

The eCommerce business has drained all of her savings. Someone in her position would normally be screaming from the rooftops. It turns out nobody knew about what happened to her businesses.

She decided to be low-key about it all. To get back on her feet she has chosen to move to a rural area for a while to live with a friend for free in a caravan — a good escape from the pandemic. She plans on rebuilding her businesses quietly from her tranquil new location.

Most of her friends like me had no idea about her troubles. That’s low-key.

People can’t screw with what they don’t know

Keep yo whole life low-key and let people assume incorrectly — Trai Turner

Many people over the years have made false assumptions about me. They’ve assumed a lack of response to a message or a ‘no’ to an invitation is me being an a-hole.

They’ve even complained to people I know or gone on Twitter to cry. The truth is they made incorrect assumptions. Because much of my life is a mystery — on purpose — they come up with a narrative to serve their own selfish cause. There’s a lot to be said for keeping huge parts of your life private.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example. His business life is known all around the world. Tell me one thing: Have you ever seen Gary’s children or wife in any of his content? Nope. Gary’s family is private. He doesn’t talk about what his wife thinks of his work or personal situations he faces at home.

You can be hugely transparent in one area of life and keep the rest low-key.

People will make false assumptions about whatever is public about you. Let them. Without evidence people see the truth of the situation.

You can post online and still be low key

Private people have mastered the art of constantly posting on social media and still living a low-key life you know nothing about — Pammy DS

Posting content on social media is now a popular thing to do for most people. The fear is that publishing content online makes you flashy and anything but low-key. I disagree. You can use social media to write, or post photos, or publish podcasts, or upload Youtube videos and still be low-key.

It’s all in how you do it. Do you publicly name and shame? Or do you disagree with ideas rather than people? Do you share every detail of your life? Or only the details about the niche you represent?

I follow Aaron Will on Twitter. He’s low-key. Most of his life I have no idea about. But his philosophy on psychology is something I know intimately.

Leave out many details on social media from your life. Purposely create gaps in knowledge so nobody knows everything about you.

Ditch all the overpromotion

Many people are walking billboards. They wear clothes with huge Nike ticks on them — or worse, football jerseys covered in sponsors’ logos … yuck. They ask people to follow them everywhere.

As soon as they get the email address of one internet user, they bombard them with promotional emails asking for stuff. When they hear a person has a problem that their job solves, they go straight into pitch mode and forget you’re a human being with a heartbeat.

Overpromotion is loud noise. I choose underpromotion.

I have zero website for my online school. I mostly only send blog posts to people via email. I don’t use generic email templates. I have zero automation on my email list because I don’t want to treat people like robots. I try to answer direct messages and be polite, even when someone is extremely rude.

The question that drives my entire day is “how would I like to be treated in this situation?” This philosophy makes hard decisions for me. It stops me from being some marketing douchebag who is trying to collect $100 bills to fund the next Bentley.

Low-key is simply being real.

The #1 way to live low-key

Lower your ego. Too much ego is flashy. Your ego forces you to do dumb stuff. It forces you to take screenshots of your bank account and go “look, my bank balance for the last 30 days is $300K so trust me.”

The book “Ego is the Enemy” really brought me peace of mind. I started noticing when my ego did a lot of the talking. I realized how much devastation and drama my ego caused if I didn’t get my way.

So I stopped talking so much. I stopped caring about every little thing. I let the bad bosses use their employee flamethrowers. I let abusive comments or emails rest in peace because my grandpa always said “let sleeping dogs lie.”

Most noise in your day simply goes away if you practice inaction. Follow-up is rare. If you are in the middle of an email chain and you don’t respond, the thread usually dies. Or they follow up with a one-liner, you still say nothing, and then they may call you on the phone to discuss.

Then let them rant over the phone, sit in silence, and then say “I need to think about what you’ve said.” This reply messes with people who love drama. They don’t know how to react. When they’re the Tasmanian devil, you be Yoda who has gone into exile for decades to chill in a tranquil rainforest. Chaos struggles with longer time horizons. Draw out confrontations. Then ….

When you react to the noise with silence a lot of the stress disappears.

It all boils down to this

Mind your own business. You’ve got enough of your own problems to solve. Don’t worry about what gripe Mandy from HR has with you. Don’t worry about the negative comments you get when you put yourself out there online.

Just be yourself. Keep huge parts of your life quiet. Celebrate your big victories in silence so other peoples’ envy doesn’t enter your life.

When you live low-key you become more inward. You forget about all the external validation. That’s how you experience life-changing peace of mind.

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Four Underappreciated Traits Of Truly Cool People

Tim Denning Cool People

Photo by Sour Moha on Unsplash

The concept of cool needs to be resuscitated.

Images of washboard abs on Instagram or some startup bro bragging about a $100m investment are the poster child for cool. Yuck.

Is there a more normal version of cool? These stories can change your mind. Here are the overlooked traits of truly uber-cool people.

They think bad luck is good luck

I consider myself lucky in this situation.

Jessica is a recruiter and said this. She thinks she is lucky. Let me explain.

Her husband became terminally ill with a rare form of brain cancer known as Glioblastoma. She took care of him for five months. Then he tragically passed away. That left her to deal with her grief and with what she calls “end of life tasks.” So, she took a leave of absence from work.

Her employer let her finish up right away when she told them that her husband’s life was nearly over. They could have made her work the week out. But they didn’t and that ended up being a blessing. Jessica’s husband died two days after she finished work.

Had her employer not have seen the urgency, she would have missed those last two precious days. That’s why she thinks she is lucky.

It unfortunately doesn’t end there.

Back in 2017 Jessica went to a country music concert. She danced the night away. She felt free from the stresses of corporate life. Then a gunman opened fire on the 22,000 people in attendance. 58 people died and 500 people were injured.

Jessica survived the ordeal with only a few scratches, although she suffered survivor’s guilt. How did Jessica explain the experience?

I’m grateful for all the doors that have opened since then…I told myself: I’m living for a reason.

Uber-cool people can take unexpected tragedy and inspire others with it.

They challenge society’s rule’s when it’s logical

Reenie Peppler loved her daughter. She was an angel.

At 13-years-old Rennie had to bury her angel due to cerebral palsy. A person on the internet asked the question “What is the one picture that describes the lowest point in your life?”

Rennie replied to the question with a photo of her daughter, dead, lying in an open casket (see the original post here if you dare). I wasn’t prepared when I saw the photo for the first time. The reactions to the photo became negative.

People believed Rennie had done a very bad thing by posting a photo of a dead teenager on the internet.

The act she committed began in isolation. Until … another mother who lost her child posted a photo of the open casket containing her daughter.

Rennie is uber-cool. She didn’t break any laws. She simply disrupted a societal paradigm about children and caskets, to make people appreciate their kids more, and to hopefully get them to work less at slave-driver jobs so they can spend time with them.

They admit an unfair advantage

Imagine if you could be happy 24/7/365?

Entrepreneur David Rose has been happy every day for 64 years straight. He has the secret to living a happy life. It’s called hyperthymia. David describes the condition as ‘a benefit’ because he has been wired since birth to see the world better than it is due to his condition.

What makes David cool is that he admits he has an unfair advantage. He doesn’t walk around town shaming people for not being as happy as him. He understands that this condition gives him a gift, so he uses it to help others as a mentor and money guru.

Some of us are born with unfair advantages. Admit them. When you do it makes you cool.

They fight for the voiceless

A friend of mine on LinkedIn is uber-cool. He doesn’t republish viral posts, or share huge successes, or talk about never-ending promotions he gets. No.

His posts are bizarre. There’s nothing else like them on LinkedIn. My friend has chosen to stand up for the voiceless. He shares stories about people that society forgets about. He tackles hard topics like “More people question God or the existence of God than they do the honesty or ethics of their government.” A comment like this is sure to leave a bunch of people in pinstripe suits lost for words.

Somehow he finds factions of society that most forget and then shares their debate to bring light to their issues. There’s no right or wrong in the way he writes. The words simply act as a conversation starter that busts any paradigms you had on the topic before you read it.

Social media doesn’t think he’s trendy. These posts don’t rack up millions of views. But he’s the quiet guy in the back of the corner starting intelligent conversations that bring about real change. That’s uber-cool to me.

Takeaway

Turn bad luck into good luck through the lens you view the world through.

Challenge the rules when they’re unfair, and lean into the backlash. Admit any unfair advantages you have to actually be authentic rather than hashtag authentic. And fight for the voiceless. Why? Any of us can become the voiceless. The voiceless are all of us in at least one area of our lives.

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The Question “Are You Vaxxed?” Is Quietly Dividing People

Tim Denning Covid

Photo by Tim Zänkert on Unsplash

To be vaxxed where I live is a status symbol.

I’ve had my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. There’s one more to go so my friends aren’t holding any parties yet. Well, actually, we can’t. I live in Melbourne which has one of the harshest and longest lockdowns since the pandemic started.

As vaccination rates increase I’ve noticed a new trend. We’re dividing each other subconsciously into two groups: vaxxed, and those who refuse to get vaxxed (uneducated).

One of my good friends refuses to get vaccinated. His mother is a nurse and her employer made it mandatory for her to get a jab. With the encouragement of her immature son she refused. She gave up a career as a nurse over misinformation about vaccines.

My friend regularly posts on Instagram about the pandemic. He claims we’re all being fooled, that this isn’t real. He’s gone from gentle self-help quotes to full on conspiracies. He argues that a pill similar to the one Joe Rogan supposedly took is the answer to covid.

Recently he claimed covid is just the flu. It’s no big deal. Days later he got covid because he refused to stay home and wear a mask. His credibility has plummeted. One of his business partners called me the other day.

“What’s up with our mutual friend?”

Me: “His brain has been manipulated by the misinformation. Add in his newfound love of religion, conspiracies, and government bashing, and, well, I suggest you distance yourself.”

The unvaxxed seem to be susceptible more than ever to conspiracies. They listen to celebrity chefs who run health businesses — not hospitals — and the mothers of supermodels when it comes to making a decision about the vaccine.

Your personal source of news has become a big deal. If you choose social media over science then the chance of ending up in the unvaxxed category can increase.

The Great Divide

Plans for Christmas are underway. Some family and friends have chosen to have the vaccine. Some haven’t. Those who haven’t are being reevaluated in my social circles. Do we want to risk getting the contagious delta variant of covid, that we may spread to our elderly relatives? Nope.

Lockdowns haven’t worked in Australia. Record cases in both Sydney and Melbourne continue. Suppression just doesn’t work. The only way to slow down and rebuild from the pandemic is vaccinations. The longer it takes for the unvaxxed to wake up, the longer it takes for the slow return to some kind of normal to occur.

At this stage the unvaxxed are simply being selfish.

It doesn’t end there. Everybody being vaccinated with two jabs isn’t the end. Next comes the era of booster shots.

Governments are already implementing restrictions on the unvaxxed. It’s their choice but their selfishness means they won’t be able to participate in normal society. Restaurants, hairdressers, shopping malls, and international travel will be for the vaxxed.

The unvaxxed risk permanent exclusion. That’s a weird future to imagine.

You’re forced to choose a side

Quiet checking of people’s vaccine status has already begun in my network. Before we consider a post-lockdown coffee we ask the question “did you get vaxxed?” It feels weird to ask the question. On the surface the question is disguised as a moment to brag.

Deep down it’s an investigation.

Even when I get the answer, I go deeper. Anyone who has been vaccinated knows a few small details about what’s involved — where to get it, wait times, questions that get asked beforehand, brands of vaccine.

There are no vaccine passports where I live so trust determines whether you’re about to catch up with an unvaxxed drongo or a normal, functioning member of society who has lived through the pandemic and seeks for the devastation to slow down.

I find it funny in my own circles how those who refuse to listen are the same ones who are skeptical about vaccines and won’t take them. They’re the same people who told me Bitcoin was a scam, even though the cryptocurrency industry is now a $2 trillion+ market backed by the biggest financial institutions in the world. It just doesn’t matter to them.

They’re ignorant. They refuse to have an open mind. They won’t open an article you send them. They can’t see that the unvaccinated are clogging up our hospital system.

It’s all fun and games until you need a hospital.

Last week I tried to get an appointment with a specialist at the ear hospital about my hearing. They told me I’d have to wait six months. No amount of money or health insurance could get me an appointment. Think about that.

This is the very real reality created by the unvaccinated, who act like Batman and end up a Joker in the hospital. I’ve been lucky so far. Nobody close to me has got cancer.

My fiancé hasn’t been so lucky. Both her grandparents got sick (not covid). Their local hospital had no space due to covid so they were forced to stay home. Now, both her remaining grandparents have passed away. International border restrictions meant she couldn’t see them one last time. This is what can happen when hospitals are jammed up with unvaccinated people.

Thanks to everyone who is getting vaccinated

It’s not all bad news. I’m quietly proud of people all around the world doing their bit by getting vaxxed. “We’re all in this together” is the cheesy slogan the unvaxxed have forgotten about.

The unvaxxed are being selfish. Plain and simple.

The world can’t move on from the pandemic unless the unvaxxed *don’t* qualify for access to basic freedoms like restaurants. It’s sad to say but we’ve run out of patience.

Science doesn’t dispute the existence of covid. Governments get zero joy from lockdowns, and it’s not their evil plan. Getting everybody vaxxed once is the first step. The second step is to make booster shots the norm, the way flu shots are in many countries.

When you make plans with other people, whether you realize it or not, you have to choose a side: vaxxed or unvaxxed.

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Pain Is Fuel You Can Use to Grow

Respect by Aretha. Anthony Bourdain. 100 Foot Wave

Photo by Vitaly Otinov on Unsplash


Humans are programmed to avoid pain and gain pleasure. What if pain is the very thing we need to grow beyond the challenges that hold us back?

I go through a lot of different pain. I just never show it — Roddy Ricch

25-Year-Old Washout Jazz Singer

I recently watched the movie “Respect” based on the life of Aretha Franklin. She dealt with the struggle of motherhood from 12-years-old. The movie suggests her first child was the result of a rape. The truth is still unknown.

Singer Ray Charles says Aretha’s religious father ran the equivalent of a “sex circus.” Later in life Aretha got married to an abusive man. They ended up divorced. Then she married another man and divorced him later too. Before her death in 2018 she got engaged once more and then called it off.

Her career didn’t start off with a bang either. She spent years as a jazz singer, signed to a record company, producing music to impress anyone but herself.

Only once Aretha took full creative control did her music start to take off. She chose a white band to play on her songs. The fusion between the two created a new kind of music.

Then in the 70s she recorded an album in a church that became a huge high in her career. She had to overcome the pain, find herself, and then return to her gospel roots to grow into the sort of singer she wanted to be.

Her eyes are incredible, luminous eyes covering inexplicable pain. Her depressions could be as deep as the dark sea.

I don’t pretend to know the sources of her anguish, but anguish surrounds Aretha as surely as the glory of her musical aura — Jerry Wexler

The Drug-Fuelled World of an Odd Chef

A book about cooking in New York back in 2000 became a cult classic. Hard drugs and the culinary world hadn’t been blended together at that point. Many, like my childhood chef friend, use hard drugs to work the long hours required to keep a busy restaurant in business.

Add in a pinch of sex, a lot of racism, and the secrets of the restaurant industry (like what days not to order fish) and you have a recipe for literature chaos. Anthony Bourdain wrote this book called Kitchen Confidential. It’s a tough read that I’m not sure, because of all the racism, would be allowed to be released today.

Anthony’s journey was simple: take hard drugs (like heroin) to work long hours in New York kitchens, write a controversial book about it, and become a tv show host that travels the world and eats odd food.

Anthony found a way to take the pain from his life that he covered up with drugs and turn it into enormous growth. His eventual suicide showed that growth alone isn’t enough.

When rapid growth in life takes you so far from what is considered normal, you seek to trade in growth for an ordinary life.


The Boxing Match With The Ocean

The documentary “100 Foot Wave” depicts big wave surfing. The main character in the film gets an email one day from a lover of big waves. He’s based in Portugal and claims there is one stretch of ocean that has the biggest waves he’d ever seen. The beach doesn’t have those California vibes.

When you look out at the ocean from the sand it looks like a boxing match between two huge loch ness monsters is going down. At the top of the hill is a huge cliff face that could easily rip a human body into two. The wipeouts from each wave blend into each other and seem to never end.

We find out later in the movie that this stretch of ocean has a strange layout. There are deep sections and multiple tectonic plates that all meet each other. The result is, enormous waves that come from multiple directions to create one of the deadliest stretches of ocean anywhere in the world. To have a human anywhere in that water is plain stupid.

Big wave surfer Garrett McNamara decides to travel to Portugal and meet his fellow fan of huge waves. Somehow Garrett manages to ride a few of these waves. One session is caught on camera. It looks as though the wave behind him is as tall as the Empire State Building. The photo scores Garrett a world record and the award for riding the biggest wave of that year. It’s recorded as 70-foot high.

70 isn’t a round number. He wants to ride a 100-foot wave. The pain he goes through to do it is tremendous. Other surfers are encouraged by Garrett to come to Portugal.

Several of them nearly drown.

Riding the wave is the easy bit, thanks to the help of a jet ski. But once the wave ends in a white, foamy, wipeout, the surfer is dragged under the water for several minutes until a jet ski can come and rescue them, assuming the jet ski doesn’t capsize due to the same enormous waves.

Garrett faces several major accidents in a row after his 70-foot wave. His wife and two young kids watch in horror. By this point he’s one of the oldest surfers still competing. The pain of his injuries doesn’t stop him.

He uses that pain to fuel his growth in the sport for many more years. There is a scene towards the end where he gets to tackle the giant waves of the Portugal sea again as a 50-something-year-old. Another close call happens. Somehow he makes it out alive. By this point he no longer fears the ocean or death (this is a bug, not a feature).

Pain takes him a long way towards his goals. This time I can’t help but think pain can fuel your growth although there is a ceiling. There comes a point where the real possibility of death needs to be prioritized over growth.

Takeaway

Pain can help us grow beyond our setbacks. Pain is one of the best motivators there is — it has helped me go far beyond my limitations. What Anthony Bourdain and Garrett McNamara teach us is not to take it too far.

Too much growth can become a disregard for the severity of death and what that does to the ones we love after we die.

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