Two things I want to do with this particular piece is touch on a topic that I think is universally important, as I try to do with every piece I create. Secondly, introduce two of my very favorite people to listen to while taking a long drive, walk or run. This will all blend together as I peel back the layers and it might get a little into the weeds, please bear with me.
Being able to step back from life and just observe everything going on around you is something very hard to do. This has been on my mind a lot more this particular week because of many things going on around me. Currently, I am pushing through the most vigorous 6-month crash course in Cyber Security I have ever seen. Probably the most vigorous course I have seen period. This course consists of 11 SANS courses (6 of which are measured with a certification test). The course also includes some administrative things like writing a small group thesis paper on Pearl Harbor (about 80 pages+ research and briefing). The weekly reading is around 1200 pages give or take and the material included is very dense. Some of the material I have a working knowledge of. Some of the material is brand new to me. Not an easy task but also not impossible. In order to maintain my sanity, I have turned to a lot of “wasted” time thinking and meditating when I’m not reading or catching up on sleep. I step back away from the class and try to understand what it really looks like from 30,000 feet. I am not unique in doing this but I take it one step further and try to incorporate small tweaks here and there in order to make my learning experience as fruitful as possible. I don’t just want to learn the material and take tests, I want to understand why this all matters. I want to be able to use this knowledge not just for Cyber Security but universally in other aspects of life because it is all relevant.
In my pondering, I have discovered a couple very important points. How much time am I dedicating to the task at hand? How much space am I giving myself so I don’t have a meltdown? How much free time or social time in enough? Is that free time or social time for the sake of being social, is it another compulsive reaction to boredom, or is it fulfilling a fundamental social need in the hierarchy of basic needs?
By virtue of being a human I, like many others, require some sort of social interaction. I also require a lot of recovery time from too much social interaction. I would call it a virtue of introverts but I am not a pure introvert. I would classify myself as an ambivert, meaning I am able to function just fine in most social situation without being too weird. I’ve learned how to navigate most of the social waters of life. The introverted portion materializes as my need to recharge my batteries after a long social interaction such as a barbecue or a dinner party. My batteries literally get drained from all of the social buzzes. I would attribute it to the introversion as well as just not being completely excited about most conversations. My whole feeling about it is that if you are going to invite me to hang out at least fully engage me and not have me there to keep you company while you check Facebook. Do that shit on your own time. We are supposed to be hanging out and Facebook breaks down our communication as people. I am an advocate for technology and making things more accessible to people in whatever form be it Facebook or Google or whatever platform. I am not an advocate of substituting physical proximity for actual intimacy. Again, not a perfect person and I fall into the trap as easily as others. I do think this is a fundamental problem in our world today. So is the social event meant for socializing in person or is it just a platform to get a bunch of people together in order to not feel alone?
I choose for the most part to hang out alone when possible. My reasoning is simple. There are so many social things going on and I like others am bombarded with social media also. I have commitments I have to keep with people. I have people I care deeply about whom I try to maximize my time with. When I engage in random social interaction and hanging out it takes time away from everyone else I care about. Not that I care about any one person more than any other. I am always ready to pull off the road and help someone. I’m always ready to stop and talk to a homeless person. I’m always ready to stop what I am doing and ask someone whats wrong if I see someone distressed. I just choose to spend my time where I want more than choosing to spend it where everyone else wants. I am not in control of my time when I give it up for someone else. If I am not in control of my time I will beat myself up because of it later when trying to gain that time back or make it up. One thing we can’t do in life is buy back time. We can’t rewind the clock. Call it selfish or antisocial. I call it “trying to manage my own time on my own time”. The only way I can be in the moment is to manage my time and control it as best I can.
So for whatever reason, the universe has thought up I have had this theme playing in the back of my head. Why people do the things they do and how we are either in the moment or not in the moment. Being able to turn off our devices for 10 min or even an hour or day. Being able to understand and communicate with people in a way that conveys intimacy and mutual understanding. It has come up in a few articles I have read as well as some journaling I have been doing. Maybe it’s that old “recency bias” playing tricks on my mind but I will tell you this, it happens repeatedly many many times a month and over the course of years. I do feel like I just pay a little more attention to it and heed the little hints life is trying to throw at me. The only way I can do this is to shut it all off… all of it. When I meditate I usually “go under” for about 20-50 min at a time. I have got to the point where I don’t really rely on guided meditation but instead just have ambient noise in the background with interval bells to keep me focused but not out of focus. When meditating I shut off all communications. I put my phone in airplane mode. I know its a very scary place to live with no signal. I choose this place because it is quiet. It is peaceful and it is uninterrupted. I have written about task switching and the power of staying on task. Task switching sucks but most people take it at face value because we are all so used to it. We let the emails and other distractions invade our lives and we don’t bat an eye at it. I choose to not do this whenever I can. I will purposefully go out of my way in order to keep this equilibrium with myself. I probably piss a lot of people off in the process but it’s their problem, not mine. So whenever you can, where ever you may find yourself, if you have 5 min to just shut your phone off and just daydream or just sit quietly and drink your coffee/tea, do it. Try it out and tell me after you have done it if the world has fallen apart because of it. I can guarantee you it has not nor will it. Even while writing this all of my notifications are turned off.
Now for the best part, the intro. If you don’t already know of Tim Ferriss [@tferriss], he has a very powerful platform he has used to introduce me to so many world class people. He has a small following numbered in the millions of listeners and readers. You may know him from the 4 Hour series of books. In recent years he has been podcasting and I have listened to every single hour of every single podcast (some more than once). The spread of different people he has interviewed ranges from sports legends, top military leaders, world class performers of all kinds, and some lesser known masters of their craft (at least lesser known to me). He interviewed a man named Cal Fussman [@calfussman], who has written thousands of interviews for Esquire Magazine. Cal has interviewed some of the worlds most influential people through the last few decades. Cal was nudged by Tim to do a podcast and in lieu of doing his own Tim invited him to be a guest host on his podcast. Cal decided to bring a long time friend on the podcast to interview, Larry King [@kingsthings]. Just the fact that Larry King is being interviewed is completely amazing. Being interviewed by Cal Fussman.. is a 10X multiplier. Doing it on Tim Ferriss’s podcast… 100X. Funny enough Cal and Larry discussed a lot of things I have been thinking about this week and helped solidify this posting for me. So if you haven’t checked out Tim’s podcast please go here (https://tim.blog/2017/08/16/larry-king/) to see what it’s all about and leave your feedback. I promise you will not be disappointed!
One of the key points that Larry mentions in the interview with Cal is a time when he interviewed Swami Satchidananda. He was wondering about dealing with situations that normally would cause you anger. Swami’s response was, “When you’re angry, the last thing you get is information” when dealing with people and situations that are less than optimal, not over reacting but rather taking control of the situation in order to get the information out. Not blowing up when a normal person would and seeing the results, “Who owns that moment? You do. Who is going to get information? You are, by not being angry”. Some very powerful ways to handle things indeed. Without giving away all of the goodness I will simply say to go check out Tim’s podcast and blog. This episode, in particular, is a gem and worth your time. Don’t miss it.
For Cal and Tim, if you should happen to stumble upon this writing, my thoughts on starting “The Fussman Factor” is a great idea! To take the master of storytelling and let him craft a live interview session on a regular basis would be a waste not to attempt. Not to mention the potential list of guest who would appear on the podcast alone…worth its weight in gold. If starting your own podcast is still not an optimal idea in your mind, I would recommend potentially teaming up on Tim’s podcast as a co-host on or just showing up once in a while as a guest host. That in itself would be amazing and less intimidating. All the best!
Feature Image Credit: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiFpJ-wmeLVAhXG2SYKHQ1pACAQjhwIBQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.esquire.com%2Fentertainment%2Fa8171%2Fencounters-with-larry-king-080910%2F&psig=AFQjCNGZyc6xeUqIBUjj8QJIa0VsaUQNSQ&ust=1503194311838648
Also published on Medium.