October has shaped up to be a month of consuming content. Not creating much—just a lot of consuming. This seems to be what happens whenever I travel at a fast pace, which is exactly what’s happening right now. I spent 3 days in Washington, DC followed by 5 days in New York City. Tomorrow, I fly to Edmonton for 5 more days. And the week after that, I’m travelling to Richmond, Virginia for another few days. (Then I’m done for 2018.)
With all the travel and slow living experiments I’ve done, I’ve learned there’s a simple equation for how my output is impacted by the rate at which I’m moving through the world. It goes like this:
slow pace of life = create more
fast pace of life = create less
In this instance, “create” doesn’t just apply to content. It means the way I show up altogether. When I’m settled in, I cook more, try more new recipes, spend more time maintaining my relationships and so on. And that makes sense—the same way being busy often results in letting some of those things fall by the wayside. When I move too quickly, I feel like I can only manage what’s at the surface. But when I slow down, I can dive deeper—and that’s how I prefer to live.
The reason I love doing experiments is because they teach me so much about myself. Now, I just know: when I travel a lot, I probably won’t get much deep work done. But that doesn’t mean I’m not being productive. If anything, I’ve found myself reading/listening to more books, audiobooks and podcasts this month—and I’m getting pickier about what I consume. I want to consume content that inspires me, or at least makes me think. Like the interview with Louis, the can of cola.
I was recently introduced to the new podcast Everything Is Alive. Each episode is an interview with an inanimate object. Things you would find around your house or in your neighbourhood. A bar of soap, an elevator, a lamppost. Through a series of thoughtful questions, it shares its life story, and I have never listened to anything like it. It’s a fantastic podcast for hopeful minimalists, because it makes you think about how you would treat your belongings if they were alive.
The episode with Louis has really stuck with me. Without giving much away, I will just tell you that Louis has been sitting on the shelf for a long time. He’s a generic can of cola, so it seems he’s been forgotten—continually shoved to the back of the fridge. Where things took a turn for me was when the host, Ian, began to prompt Louis to talk about what his inevitable future is: to expire and be tossed out, or to be consumed. Louis’ answer to one question hit home.
Ian: When you think about being consumed by a human, do you think about the human you want to be in?
Louis: If and when I’m finally consumed, I hope I’m consumed by someone who enjoys it.
YES! Yes yes yes. So much food for thought (no pun intended). This is what I’m talking about!
He then goes on to say: Truthfully, here’s how I expect to go. Assuming that I am consumed, I’m expecting it’s going to happen in the middle of the night. Someone’s going to open the fridge and pull me out and that’ll be that. It would be nice to be poured into a nice big pint glass, you know? A frosty mug would be a pretty good way to go. That would be pleasant. I doubt that’s going to happen though.
If that doesn’t make you think twice about how you consume things. Wow. Louis isn’t looking so generic, after all.
Since this is a month of consuming for me, I thought I would share some of the things I’ve enjoyed. :)
Company of One by Paul Jarvis – It comes out on January 15th, and if you read just the description you’ll know exactly why I love it so much. I seriously can’t wait for more people to read it, so we can have conversations about it. SOON!
Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow – A look at how our subliminal brain (or unconscious mind) influences our experiences, how we view ourselves and others, and the meaning we attach to things. The cover alone is wild (you have to see it).
The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu – This is all about how our attention is captured (often by “free” information) and sold. It’s an entire industry. Blogging is part of it. I’m obsessed with this topic + anything Tim does, right now.
The End of Absence by Michael Harris – A look at how technology (like smartphones) has created what he calls a “loss of lack”—basically, we have no opportunities to be alone with our thoughts. He encourages us to take pleasure in those moments when we find them.
To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins – This is a memoir about his 14,000-mile bike ride from Oregon to Patagonia. I’m nearly halfway through the audiobook and never want it to end. Genuinely savouring this one.
Everything Is Alive – Unscripted interviews with inanimate objects. Aside from Louis the can of cola, I think Dennis the pillow and Paul the tooth were the two funniest guests. Enjoy the laughs—and deep thoughts.
How to Fail – Interviews with now successful writers about their careers, including all the mistakes and failures. I resonated with Jessie Burton and Olivia Laing, and am curious how the new episode with James Frey will be.
Hurry Slowly – My favourite podcast! The new season just started! I loved the episode with Priya Parker about the art of gathering. I really want to create some intentional gatherings for us in 2019, so I will read her book. :)
The Ezra Klein Show – I’ve listened to countless episodes of this podcast, and have now found myself digging into the archives. His interview with Tim Wu (Dec 20, 2016) was great. And listen to his chat with my friend Chris Bailey about his new book, Hyperfocus.
Waking Up – I’ve known about this podcast for years, but only started listening recently. Episode 136 on “digital humanism” gave me so much food for thought. Honestly, any interview you find with Jaron Lanier will be interesting. (Actually, Ezra Klein has had him on a few times! Check those out, too.)
TV (Pure Entertainment)
Follow This: Part 2 (Netflix) – There are two episodes that touch on topics we discuss here: (1) Tech Addict and (2) Teen Boss. Teen Boss is about teen “influencers” and it is particularly scary.
Killing Eve – I watched the first 4 episodes on my flight to DC and was hooked!
To end things on a delicious note, here’s a new recipe I tried and loved: magic garlicky tofu! The name says it all.
This was originally shared in my newsletter.