Greetings From California Amigos,
As this Mailbag hits your inbox, I’d like you to imagine the dust flying off in transit — ’tis been a while since we last convened here!
I am currently on the tail end of a West Coast road trip that went something like this: Calgary -> Vancouver -> Seattle -> Portland -> Newport -> Bandon Dunes -> Bend -> Redwood National Park -> San Francisco -> Palo Alto. All of these miles driven.
The impetus for the road trip is that come September 1st, I am moving to Vancouver to take on an exciting new professional endeavour. As such, the purpose of the trip was to venture out to Van to get a feel for the city and look at neighbourhoods to live in. Truth be told, I don’t know Vancouver well but after a Wednesday night run along the waterfront in Kitsilano, safe to say I’ll be able to make this new city home! The Pacific skies greeted me with a 10/10 sunset over the harbour, people of all ages roamed the beach in droves, the massive Kitsilano salt water pool buzzed with life on top of 20+ beach volleyball games along the shoreline… Let’s just say Vancouver’s Golden Hour was in fine, fine form.
Anywho, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind last 12 months full of twists, turns and character building experiences. I guess that’s probably the way it should be as a 29 year old. Much of this time was really not all that fun in the moment(s) but ripe with life lessons when reflected upon in silence and through conversation with close friends & mentors. Surely some of the most difficult months “between my ears” I’ve experienced in my 29 years on the planet but ultimately, some of the most defining and change inducing. I also take some solace in that I don’t think I’m alone as someone in their late 20’s (or your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, dare I say 100’s?) figuring out how to live an authentic life rich with purpose and fulfillment.
Rather than put a Bandaid on the things I was experiencing, I really tried to face the music head on and lean into the discomfort. I sat with it in silence. Meditated on it. Reflected. Read about it. Learned. Tried not to ease the pain by avoidance or distraction of what was (the brain’s default wiring to pain is to run away from it / distract itself / turn to a vice as a coping mechanism). I certainly wasn’t perfect regarding the latter, far from it, but looking back on a few of the darker moments, I am grateful for the resilience exhibited behind closed doors.
Peeling back the layers to truly understand yourself is a painful, vulnerable process but incredibly rewarding in the end (but really, there is no end – just the pursuit). One’s deepest insights and breakthroughs very often come in times of greatest discomfort.
There are no shortcuts to understanding yourself on a fundamental level. No hacks to heal deeply seated insecurities or shortcomings about yourself, nor is there a way to bypass the discipline it takes to call bullshit on the fallacies and false self narratives we’ve bought into since having the autonomy to make our own decisions in life.
One option is David Goggins concept of putting your insecurities on a billboard and waking up everyday to them in plain sight and then working your ass off to conquer them. This blunt approach works for some but not all. Whatever method or route you take, you come to understand & appreciate the ancient Buddhist philsophy “No mud. No lotus.”
The people I have largely looked to for thought leadership are Tom Bilyeu’s podcast – Impact Theory, Seth Godin’s blog, The Tim Ferriss podcast, Finding Mastery by Michael Gervais, Tony Robbins Netflix documentary I Am Not Your Guru, Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday and Ryan Holiday’s modern translations on stoicism. I have also started to come across some other great content of late: Dax Shepherd’s podcast Armchair Expert, Sam Harris’ podcast Making Sense, Jerry Colonna’s interviews on various podcasts, among others.
The past year has been heavy on experience building and light on writing (at least in the public domain). My intention is to start sharing some of these experiences in small doses and pass along some of my thoughts from along the way.
If any of what ends up on paper is an impetus for you to engage + challenge + contribute to a fruitful discussion, I will gladly welcome it. If on the other hand it’s merely something you enjoy with a cup of coffee in hand, that works just fine.
I’ll leave you with a line from the most important book I’ve read in the last year, “Everything is Fu*cked: A Book About Hope” by Mark Manson.
“Call me crazy, but I believe that changing and improving your life requires destroying a part of yourself and replacing it with a newer, better part of yourself. It is therefore, by definition, a painful process full of resistance and anxiety. You can’t grow muscle without challenging it with greater weight. You can’t build emotional resilience without forging through hardship and loss. And you can’t build a better mind without challenging your own beliefs and assumptions.” – Mark Manson
Brew, Sip, Think, Repeat.
** Kitsilano Beach’s Golden Hour below…