Forgiveness

I haven’t done this in a while. My first reaction is to be self-deprecating, to rip on myself for “failing” my goal. But it would be nice to treat myself as a friend or lover, in how I would instead pay attention and listen and not even forgive, but just not care at all. Things happen, it’s not the end of the world, it doesn’t matter what mistakes you made, but how you choose to move forward, and whether you choose to learn and grow from this mistake.

Thing is I don’t know if I have the capacity to learn and grow from every mistake or missed goal. I set a lot of goals, there are a lot of things I try to accomplish, and a lot of the time I miss.

It’s crazy, the world is far too demanding nowadays. What the heck happened? It wasn’t so long ago I was a little kid, I’d often get lost in my own head, noodling around on thoughts and made-up stories. I’d often just doodle, or work with my hands, or even just look around and stare at things. There wasn’t such a pressure to do, do, do, to accomplish so much. To judge the quality of my own existence by how many things I check off a to-do list. There was simply the act of existing.

Ain’t no daily meditation going to fix that; that’s a lifestyle change, if I think that’s an important form of living that I’d like to return to.

It just feels impossible. Everything is forward, everything moves forward so quickly, at such a ridiculous pace, that if I don’t move forward there is a fear that I’ll be left behind.

The fear of being left behind… what even is that? It seems rooted in comparison. Is it too easy to compare nowadays? Life online is quickly becoming a series of binary decisions… I swipe right, I like that, I close that, I open that, I ignore that… there are SO many decisions of preference being made nowadays.

To not have preferences. As always, and obviously at least for me, that’s going to bring up Buddhist concepts of detachment and observation.

But still, I want to CARE. I want to have a massive capacity to care. I want to care about everything. To care is to feel so alive.

Is there a way to solve this paradox, between wanting to care yet not wanting to express a preference, immediately, regarding every single thing I encounter? Perhaps I should, in a very disciplined way, select only a subset of things to care about? No – that is in itself the expression of a preference.

The other way would be to love everything. To only have ONE expression of preference, which is to love, as default. I do not like or dislike your Instagram photo, because I love every photo. I love every piece of the life I get the gift of experiencing.

Then I get to care, and yet I never have to judge.

Outpour was a lifestyle, when I built it. I lived this life, where I got to care, and I got to only love. I wish there were a way for me to do this on a daily basis; to get to express love and joy in a small way, just so I could feel those feelings, the feeling of swelling love and joy in the body, leaving no room at all for hate, or judgement.

Meditation is the removal of the bad; it is cleansing. But we need something that grows the good, that blooms the flowers.

It often seems like the world is fracturing, but there are still opportunities to touch people in ways that bloom flowers, and I know that can heal the world.

For a while I felt like that was my life calling. Money, that most exalted and weird and fucked up and crazy philosophy of the world, halted that dream.

Today, altruism is like art; because it doesn’t necessarily have a capital return, it needs patrons – usually people who have built businesses or made money in ways that are on the opposite end of the spectrum of altruism of art.

That’s not the way it should work. That’s so messed up.

Everything we humans do is a choice. We’re on this earth and we have needs that take up resources. We also have resources that replenish. There’s got to be a way to find balance. Clearly we have too many humans and therefore we have resource constraints and therefore it is very logical to believe that technological and industrial progress is good, and capitalism has proven to be the best system to drive technological and industrial progress.

People need to have more of a choice about the way that they live. Right now there is no choice. You are born with no resources and you must acquire them, and there is not enough of the resources for you simply to have them.

Step 1, bloom the flowers. Step 2, give people the choice to plant their flowers in the garden of their choosing.

The digital world, perhaps that can be infinite. Perhaps those resources can be expansionary instead of shrink.

And again, as often happens, we end on the conclusion that the Matrix will be our reality.

 

Freestyle

Okay, so I think these are more useful if I just freestyle. It’s really a nice break from the other parts of my day, most of which are extremely structured. I run my life in a list, where I constantly add and reorder items and review and reorganize the list. Seriously; I spent more time looking at my to-do list than practically anything else. And it’s long as hell.

So it’s pretty clear, at least to myself, that what I’m seeking in this writing exercise and through a daily practice of meditation (which I have not been practicing at all, I did it for one day) is a sense of peace, found through separation from my day to day, which is governed by a list. I guess it is not very peaceful to be governed by a list that only grows and which constantly needs reassessment and reorganization. It is as if there is constant pressure to abide by the demands of the list. I apply constant pressure to myself by adhering to this list, enslaving myself to my to-dos. And this is clearly not a net negative thing, it helps me be extremely productive. On a day-to-day basis the amount of things I get done is pretty large, and I try to be good about doing very impactful things. Over the course of a year the amount of things I get done, or at least assess whether I should do or not, is extraordinarily high. Lists are my key to productivity.

But holy shit do they bring some noise. If, instead of a beautiful, calm, clear, silent mind, my mind is like a typewriter, clacking and printing line after line, going back in corrections, in this mode of constant production, line to line to line to line. If I’m not editing then I’m erasing, if I’m erasing then I’m adding, I’m always, always adding.

This writing is the time when I am not writing in a list. There is not something I am accomplishing. It’s as if I let the typewriter run free. It’s as if I turn off the list machine, and just brain dump all the ink from the typewriter out on the table. It’s a release, an unburdening, a freedom of space from the typewriter, which is an analogy for my mind.

I talk about this a lot, it’s actually maybe cheating, it’s a way for me to write without actually emptying out my mind. But then again, why create any more pressure for myself? That’s okay. I should just write about whatever, sometimes.

So what is on my mind? What have I been thinking about recently…?

I’m pretty content. I have minor complaints about lots of aspects of my life, but I completely recognize that these minor complaints only shine through because I have no major complaints. I am bound to find something to want to improve, as it’s in my nature, and honestly recently all the really major concerns are out of the way for now. So all these minor issues crop up – and damn, there really are a lot of them, and they bug me, but it’s also easy for me to at least intellectually understand I should just be grateful that they’re not major complaints. I’m talking about feeling sick, not having quite as much money as I wish I had, needing someone from someone else and not getting 100% of it, my knee got sprained and still hurts, I have too many things to do, I’m kind of trying to figure out my new set of roles and responsibilities at Compound, just on kind of a minute to minute basis in my life there are things that aren’t 100% optimal. My back hurts right now, I have to use the bathroom, I have to meet some friends at a bar later and I’m worried I’m drinking too much to be healthy (not really volume, but frequency just over the past week), my fantasy basketball team is losing, crypto investments are dying, etc.

But in reality I am grateful for the arc of my life, and I am especially grateful that I think I have a really powerful ability to be grateful. It’s really the key to so much of my personality, I feel like this innate sense of gratefulness that consistently anchors me in every situation, and intellectually I read about how important gratefulness is, and I definitely see how it negatively affects the lives of those who are not naturally grateful.

It may breed contentment in a way that could be viewed as negative, but on a day-to-day basis it’s something I’m very grateful that I possess.

I do, as always, still wish I had more purpose, had a mission that fit at the intersection of income-generating and socially-beneficial. Not a lot of people are able to achieve those two things at once, they generally seem to be mutually exclusive in time, but easily stacked or ordered in time. It’s kind of a holy grail for me. I think it’s why I have so much respect for artists, I feel like being an artist achieves this sort of holy balance where you can be self-interested (it seems like a lot of famous artists are obsessed with themselves) let deliver a ton of beauty and value to the world. Giving people a lot of meaning through admiring the beauty of the art, also in the pleasure of interpreting the art, and some people use art as a channel to better understand themselves and their view of the world and their place in the world. It’s really quite amazing the impact art can have, whether visual, verbal, other. Takes people to another place of experience/existence.

So anyways, right now I’m pretty much crunched at Compound, and I need to be focused here because I believe in the company and am excited about the career opportunities it affords me, and I have the ability to play a big role in the future of the company and I’m excited for the direction the company is going. So that’s basically a mandatory focus that takes a lot of time. And then it’s mandatory that I work on our wedding, which I’m excited about and will be awesome, through April. So I really don’t have time to be indulging (not really indulging but you know what I mean) these sort of more spiritually exploratory and unfulfilled parts of myself, outside of those parts I can fulfill on the jiu-jitsu mats. But after April is really the time I should re-focus because not doing a wedding will free me up a lot. So I guess it’s pretty obvious, for the next 3 months I am booked entirely, I should use my free time solely to find peace so that at least I have a glimmer of that amidst the madness of the lists that dominate my life, and then only in May can I sort of come back to the spiritual side of my life and try to find a path towards more fulfillment. It’s simply what’s necessary right now.

That means if I look to my to-do list and 2019 resolutions, it’s okay if I fail to design a project that really delivers social good or that brings in additional income, if it’s very effortful in the next 2-3 months. It’s okay if I don’t come up with an interesting side project and really begin to execute on it.

Ah and wow, reviewing the list, that’s the thing that I really want to spend time on that I’m not spending time on. I can dedicate time to thinking about that problem for fun, but I should not put any pressure on myself around solving the problem till May. I forgive myself in advance and that is how I will have no regrets. For now the focus is my wedding (entailing Melanie, family, and friends), Compound, and that’s really it. Some jiu-jitsu. And then finding peace through meditation, writing, volunteering. And some vague other odds and ends. But it’s impossible and in fact undesired to try to sink my teeth too much into anything else at this time.

I’m very happy to have emptied out the typewriter and discovered how to build a little space into my actual life, some forgiveness in advance. Grateful.

Idea 9

Alright, today random.org gave me #9, which is:

crypto customer service that owns customer relationship

I guess the idea is like, how do you have a crypto industry CRM. The analogue in the real world is call centers. Or maybe like Intercom or Zendesk. This is boring and realistically solvable in the same way as Web 2.0 companies. I’m going to skip it. Hitting Random.org again – 18!

Different realities

I gotta get these less abstract, haha. Gotta run for now anyway. I’ll be back – I have to be back!

All of Our Marbles

I saw Olafur Arnalds two nights ago, and man was it so incredibly beautiful. I only have a few minutes today, I have to run and get ready for my cousin’s wedding. But the beauty of those strings, pianos, bass really shook me up in a fantastic way. I left with this powerful sense of gratitude for everything that I have – to be alive, to have time to experience things, to have good friends and family, to be able to live with love and joy, and I left with a powerful sense of peace that I’ve been missing for a while, just because things are so hectic. It was truly wonderful, I can’t recommend it enough. And I suggest also that a microdose of LSD is probably the perfect way to experience it, but that’s best left as a story for another day!

Anyway, I had this idea while driving yesterday:

The key to the on demand economy (informational and material) is that people want to make as micro commitments as possible to exercise as much autonomy over their realities as possible. Extrapolating just a bit further, we can theorize that people want to inhabit as many realities as possible.

This is just a theory, but I think it’s a nice theory in that it explains a lot of how the world has changed, and specifically what types of gigantic businesses have been and are being built, and is still explanatory for the future, in that you could extrapolate from this to hypothesize about what are other things that would be successful businesses in the future. You see how the subscription model, the on-demand model, smartphones, news feeds, would all emerge or at least align with this theory. Storytelling, books, movies, entertainment. You break the information or material into the smallest possible pieces deliverable directly to the consumer at any moment that they request it.

And the last sentence is really looking into the future, you can see with VR, blockchain, etc. that people are going to be able to modularly exercise control over different components of their reality and I believe humanity’s experience will go that way – we’ll end up in the Matrix.

On the other hand, AI is interesting because it doesn’t fit the theory. Maybe the desires of corporations are different than those of individuals, as I think AI is an enterprise technology. It abstracts and hides away individual choice – it makes the choices it thinks are best, for you.

12 -> 14 -> 11

I ran the random # generator today, and got 12, then 11. So the first four times I’ve rolled the “dice”, I’ve gotten 12, 14, 12, 11. Doesn’t feel random, “RANDOM.ORG”!

11. some sort of blockchain-based thing where you can modularly create an environment (Minecraft)

Yikes this one is a bit nutty. The idea is sort of that we can formalize the way we construct our online realities (which are quickly becoming our real realities) into structure-able pieces, like legos, and build the realities we want ourselves. And you can apply this concept to governance, to education, to how you want to live life, you can choose what to experience but choosing the context that you build for yourself, by choosing the ruleset under which you operate.

I’m not going to be very straightforward today – just don’t feel like making myself easy to follow or understandable.

I don’t particularly feel like writing about a random creative idea today. The above one is fun, I can always come back to it, it’s too abstract anyway, at least for today. More of a thought experiment than something grounded in my life.

So what does resonate today? Well there are three quotes I have written down in my “things to write about” list that jump out:

  • Everyone in today’s society lives in constant contradiction of their ideals. In these young corners of the internet everything is simultaneously ironic and genuine.
  • I try to always ask myself when I meet someone new “is this person a force of nature?” It’s a pretty good heuristic for finding people who are likely to accomplish great things.
  • This is why the question of a person’s motivation is so important. It’s the first thing I try to understand about someone. The right motivations are hard to define a set of rules for, but you know it when you see it.

The first one is from an analysis of political subcultures on Instagram. It’s actually somewhat related to the idea I initiated this post with; at least my interpretation of the quote is related. Basically now we have so much freedom to construct the reality we live in, in choosing the filters and the bubbles we experience life through, that we often create contradictions in our lives, because we really aren’t thoughtful or nuanced or intelligent enough to understand how the different positions we choose actually relate to one another. So we live in a state of massive cognitive dissonance, or at least, we live in a state where we are constantly trying to understand what it is we actually believe, because there is no one in the world anymore that is telling us what is right to believe. This is a long-standing trend… the spread of information has obvious benefits, it enables the aggregation of information and therefore mass, rapid accumulation of knowledge which results in innovation, genius, creativity, dominance, monopoly, but it also overwhelms us with choices of what to believe in, and robs us of the time to think about what we should believe in.

So I like AOC, I like Lebron James, I don’t like Drake, I don’t like Trump, I like Obama, I like the Warriors, I like crypto, I like Frank Ocean, I don’t like the Kardashians, I don’t like Facebook and the advertising model, I don’t like Tesla, I don’t like Netflix, I do like Spotify… how do these merge into an approach to life that is cohesive, coherent, comprehensive? They almost certainly don’t. I cannot dig too deeply into my own beliefs or it is certain I will find contradictions. Things I like that I shouldn’t; things I don’t like that I should, at least based on the logic of my prior choices.

I am confronted with so many inputs every day, and I have to choose whether I like them or not; or at least there is a “Like” button in front of many of them. But if I were to seriously consider the meaning of a “Like” and try to align my “Likes” with the direction of all my past “Likes”, I would be non-functional. I would have to withdraw from society. So the alternative is I become very good at dismissing my past choices, at saying, Well look, I reserve the right to change my mind.

And that starts to sound like a very American thing to say, in the sense of our growing obsession with being present, in our obsession with independence, in our obsession with rationality, in our obsession with being objectively correct, of being logical. None of my past choices reflect the choice I am about to make; the choice I am about to make reflects the TRUE ME, the me that exists in this moment. Old Calvin is dead (from yesterday). New Calvin is reinvented in every moment.

So what does that mean? It paints a sort of freedom. But it also paints a sort of meaninglessness, a lack of arc in a life. It creates a feeling of being 31 years old and having barely existed, of not having a past that is meaningful except in its creation of this moment, of knowing that even this moment will become meaningless when the future becomes now. It creates a sense that if the future looks like the past, what it will really feel like is a rush of memory, and nothing more concrete.

There’s a lot I want to unpack here, I think I need the paint to dry in my life, I wish I had a conviction that defined my life, knowing full well that is not the path to happiness, but perhaps to something fulfilling.

And I know I have beliefs that could become convictions. One just needs the courage to make them so.

Returning to #14

Can take some time to return to #14, the idea of developing some niche useful utility based on understanding a very niche use case of some hard-to-acquire data or tooling, and then selling it. Using CryptoFinance as an inspiration – the creator basically built API integrations with exchange APIs, and then formatted that data to be available through an add-on in Google Sheets. It’s really quite intelligent, though must have taken a lot of work not only in the coding but also in the marketing. Being first to market with a functional product was probably awesome, although it’s actually a pretty broken product, though perhaps not his fault.

I was thinking about what I could do that is somewhat similar. So what are some of the key pieces?

  • He is grabbing data that is hard to grab and aggregate. For many people it’s basically impossible, for others it’s many hours of work. He just did the work for you, of writing integrations to like at least 5 exchanges though he actually has hundreds, and he actually aggregates it as well. Most people can’t talk to an API, let alone aggregate that all into one data pipeline. He has to pull from multiple APIs and then reformat so the API responses can play with one another.
  • He has great customer service; super responsive and super available on Twitter and Telegram and email.

I mean that might actually be it. It’s not even that functional due to constraints outside of his control, like Google Sheets putting a cap on API calls out of Sheets. It actually breaks for me all the time. There might even be a better way to do what he’s trying to do, but his product is super MVP. It’s probably good enough for most use cases, which is portfolio tracking on a daily basis (although that product is free). Then he has a product he charges $10/month for, which is based on an artificial performance constraint he can control.

So he purposefully delivers a product worse than he could for free, then charges $10 for a better product, then charges $39/month for a product that should be awesome but actually breaks all the freaking time and isn’t even very useful to use.

And he has some decent documentation.

So where I can do the work of aggregating data for people that they want? At first I thought maybe something to do with networking in crypto, but I don’t think that is it. Something like Roll Review is back in this arena, more about aggregating feedback on videos for them.

Aggregating newsletters is fully commoditized.

Maybe even just building the exact same thing as cryptofinance with some slight improvements could win over the entire market; although there are products like the CoinMarketCap API or the CryptoCompare API already. Maybe understanding Google Sheets Add-Ons. Maybe ContactOut for Google Sheets.

Or actually maybe making Google Sheet templates… no that is like not niche enough. The value prop has to be super clear – getting prices into Google Sheets from crypto exchanges (through primarily I only use one API, the CoinMarketCap API). Could build this and provide it for way cheaper to crowd him out of the market, that would be pretty simple actually. Especially if the integration were super simple, though then you have a migration cost as the cryptofinance function is already implemented in a spreadsheet. Unless you could Control-F the whole thing into a different function, but then what is the point.

No, it would be good to come up with something original. Researching available APIs and see what can be aggregated would be cool. Cryptonative would obviously be cool but it’s not necessary. What other types of data… needs to be a niche I can understand, or at least seek to understand.

Product Manager HQ is a niche providing value within that niche and people are also willing to pay. Build super niche services within a niche. That’s why I want to do something in jiu-jitsu, because it’s such a good niche that I have a passion for; but it’s unclear people will pay for it; well that’s not true, hundreds of people came out to this jiu jitsu tournament paying at least $100 each. Maybe like $50,000 worth of value there. Who try to film every single match but don’t get much value out of it.

The problem is the distribution on that is super hard. Actually if there were a way to aggregate attention for jiu-jitsu that would be great. I wonder how Occupy Democrats is doing it. Because Facebook owns all the attention, it’s really hard to get a differentiated viewership.

Hm maybe a good way to start would be to build something that solves a problem I have, because that’s an easy way to imagine CryptoFinance and Product Manager HQ starting… basically needing to build my own portfolio management tools; and then also trying to streamline my learning, development, and networking around being a product manager. Then opening up my solutions to other people. So find something that you’re solving in your own life in an interesting way that takes up a lot of time and energy, and sell that to other people who might want the same solution.

I’m not sure there is anything right now. That’s a good frame though; look for ways to solve problems in my own life in automated, streamlined ways that are scalable (easily shareable with others).

competed today

Competed in 4 matches (should have been 5, I missed one) at the BJJ Tour All-Star tournament today. Learned a ton. Didn’t get the results I wanted, but really learned a ton that should be a great tune up going forward. One big breakthrough was I lost the nerves I used to have; now getting out there is calm and chill and I can play the game. Well, I know I’m still spazzing a little bit, but it’s starting to slow down for me. Excited for the next one and to moving up and on, coming home with some more success than I did today.

Still got out there and competed, which was one of my action-oriented resolutions for 2019. And definitely had fun on the mats, and off, with my teammates for the day.