Raining

when the storm comes

there’s a choice

avoid it

or learn to dance in the rain

today I dance

left foot right foot right foot left foot

the moon is on my side

it pokes its head out to watch

the clouds move slow

the rain comes down fast

faster

left right left right

I keep dancing

there’s a storm coming

it’s always coming

you can see

maybe today

maybe tomorrow

I choose to dance

when the storm comes I’m dancing

I wave hello and I move

left foot left foot right

right foot left foot left

I see it

I feel it

it feels me

let it rain

because I choose to dance

The role of a man

In the first episode of Vikings, Ragnar turns to his son and asks.

“What is the role of a man?”

“To fight and to take care of his family.”

“Good boy.”

The boy is young. But he knows. He keeps it simple.

Vikings is a TV show. Based on a period in history where swords and axes were the weapons of choice. And issues were settled with combat. Not so much anymore.

It’s unlikely you’ll ever have to fight someone with a sword. We’re blessed in a world where the requirements for survival are met for many.

But you still have to fight.

Fight the voice in your head holding you back from being who you want to be.

Fight the voices of others telling you who you should be.

Fight the fears preventing you from doing the work you know you can do.

Fight for the change you want to see in the world. 

And you still have to look after your family.

Your immediate family.

Your friends.

Your community.

Vikings may not sail the seas anymore. They’ve been lost in time. But the fight(s) never end(s). And your tribe needs a leader.

It’s not a problem until it’s a problem

This is terrible attitude to have.

Do you take care of your health when you’re unwell or before?

Do you take care of your relationships when they break down or before?  

It’s hard to notice things before they appear (you can’t) but it can help to work towards being prepared.  You’ll never be fully prepared. That’s life. Things happen. Things out of your control.

The cure?

Focus on what you can control. 

 

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Your heart thumps. Thump. Thump. Thump. 

You don’t know whether you can do it. 

More thumping. 

You’re walking out. It’s safe. People have gone here before. People have done it. People will do it after you. 

Thump. Thump. Thump. 

Your hands cling the guardrails. 

How you feeling?

Excited. 

You remember someone told you feeling nervous comes from the same place as feeling excited. 

You feel both. But saying excited helps. Excited and nervous. 

Thump. 

The harness goes on. Left leg, then hop on the left foot to get the right foot in. 

How’s it feel? Not too tight? 

It’s perfect. 

Strapped in. 

Do you want to look over the ledge? 

No. 

You sure?

You look over the edge. 

I shouldn’t have done that. 

The guide speaks. 

I’m going to count down from 5 and then you’re good to go. 

5

Thump. Thump. 

4

The thumps get faster but you can’t feel them.

3

No thumps. No nothing. You and and the edge. This is it. 

2

You’re body is ready. It’s not ready. It’s ready. Not ready. Ready.

1

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. You’re moving. Moving fast. There’s the edge. You look out. Keep moving. Left foot, right foot, push off. You’re in the air. Arms spread floating through. Time stands still. This moment is perfect. Everything stops. Everything is clear. Moving fast but clear.

Gravity kicks in.  

The floating is over. You’re falling. Thump. Thump. Thump. The ground is moving towards you. Moving fast. 400 metres, 300 metres, 200.  

Then the cord pulls tight. Tight enough to suck up all the gravity into its strands. The ground starts slowing down. The cord is getting tighter, tighter, tighter stop. It hits its limit. 

All the gravity is inside the cord. It has to go somewhere. Gravity cannot be contained. It ejects itself out. It can’t be contained. All the gravity gets shot out as the cord shrinks you feel it feel it all you’re going back up. Then back down. It repeats, ground tight gravity eject ground tight gravity eject.

Back on the platform the thumps come back. Thump. Thump. Thump.  You speak.

My hands are shaking. 

Everything is shaking. 

How was it brother? 

Unreal. You can’t describe it. 

You can’t. There’s no words for fear escaping the body in such a way. 

All it takes is 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. 

It might not be bungey jumping or anything requiring a harness. But when the fear arises, use the countdown to turn it into energy. Then direct the energy where it needs to go. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.

Shout out to the team at Queenstown Ledge Bungey. Today was unreal. 

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When a fire starts to burn (workout)

After walking around Queenstown all day Ludo and I decided to do a workout. He’s studying sports science and I’m into health so we’ve had plenty to talk about movement, the body and different kinds of training.

We started playing When a Fire Starts to Burn by Disclosure as pump up music.

Then we got into it. 

All these require are your body and about 20-minutes. 

1. 30 burpees no rest

Burpees get the whole body moving. To the ground, push up, up to your feet, jump reaching hands in the air and then back down to the ground. Do 30 straight as quick as you can with minimal rest. Your fire will be starting to burn after these.

2. 100 Push ups, 50 dips

We did 20 push ups on the ground then 10 tricep dips on the picnic table then 30-seconds rest. And repeated it 5-times to get the totals. 

This will have your upper body ignited. Mix the sets of push ups by doing one set slow and the next fast. 

By set 3 I got to 11 push ups before I had to stop. Rest when you need but keep the rest time between sets short. We’re trying to keep the fire alive here.

3. 10 hill sprints

Find a steep hill. Then run 40 metres up it and walk back down to where you started. As soon as you hit where you started, sprint back to the 40 metre mark. 

If you don’t have a hill, stairs or flat ground works as well as long as you’re sprinting. 

By number 7 your fire will be burning.

Movements don’t have to be completed. Get your heart rate up. Keep it there for a while.

After the workout, we went for a 20-minute walk for warm down.

Dinner was chicken, spice, potatoes, onions, mushrooms and broccoli all mixed together in a pan. 

Bonus points if you listen to the song to get started. The film clip is worth a watch.  

The Unshakable Adventuring Spirit

I picked up 3 hitchhikers today. 

Angelica from Poland was heading from Lake Te Anau to a hiking track. She moved from Poland to the US after meeting her husband on a Summer trip of climbing. She’s excited to go back to school in September to study International Business.

Ludo from France is wrapping up a 6-month stay in Australia with a couple weeks hiking around New Zealand. We met on a cruise boat through Milford Sound.

”I’m heading to Queenstown later today,” I said.

 ”Me too.”

 ”Want a ride?”

”Sure.” 

On the way off the cruise Joey from Holland started talking to Ludo. They talked about each other’s backpacks. These big gear carriers with zips and pockets everywhere.

 ”Where are you heading?”

”Queenstown.” 

”So are we, want a ride?” 

”Yeah man!” 

Queenstown is 4-hours from Milford Sound. We stopped on the way to eat bananas, apples and nuts.  The stereo was broken so we shared stories and looked out the window to pass the time.

Joey, Ludo and I went for burgers tonight. Ludo and I are sharing a room. Room number 4 at the lodge. 10-minutes up the hill.

3 different hitchhikers from 3 different countries all with different stories.

The one thing in common?

An unshakable adventuring spirit.

Reading the reviews

I went for a hike today.

Last night I was looking for the car park to start on Google Maps. I found it and the Google Reviews of the hike.

The one voted most helpful was one which said ‘The view is much the same on the way up, won’t interest regular hikers too much.’

I kept reading. Many had heavy positive views. But the ones which said ‘Too hard’, ‘Not the greatest’, ‘Not enough shade’ had the most upvotes.

Why?

The hike was a challenge. 2 and a half hours up hill. And then 2-hours down hill. Down hill is as much of a challenge as up hill.

Were the people reading the reviews looking for a way out. An excuse to say, ‘I read the reviews and it doesn’t look like it’s worth the effort.’

When someone else says it, it’s easy to agree and take their word for it. Sometimes reading the reviews can save time and effort.

Other times, they can get in the way. Get in the way of you having your own experience. After all, everyone who leaves a review has a different worldview to you.

The view at the top was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Starting in the dark and having frozen hands was worth it. Ever better than the view was getting to the bottom by 10 am and being able to say I’d climbed 5-hours and it wasn’t even lunchtime.

All these things I picked up from the reviews. Start early. The breathtaking views from the top. The hard climb. Cold winds at the peak.

Even the most helpful review was right. You could see the entire landscape the whole way along.

But that doesn’t mean you should always take someone’s word for it. Take it in. Absorb it. If it’s good advice, listen. If not, don’t.

I usually never read reviews. I don’t want the views of others to hold me back. I already do that enough myself.

Not this time.

Sunrise at Roy’s Peak, Wanaka. 

Sunrise at Roy’s Peak, Wanaka. 

Winners never quit

You might’ve heard the saying. Winners never quit.

It’s wrong. Partially wrong. Winners quit plenty of things. They quit the things which don’t matter.

Realising you can’t win at everything is the first step towards becoming a winner.

And if your goal is to win at something. The next steps is to start quitting the things you can’t win at.

What does winning mean?

It may mean a gold medal. It may mean being the best in the market. It may mean being able to work on the things you want to work on.

Knowing the thing you want to win at is as scary as it is exciting. Scary because it means to get there, you’ll have to quit all the other fun things in the way. Exciting because now you know where you want to get to.

The filter of quitting what doesn’t matter is what people first get stuck with. Spread your attention across too many things and you’ll fail to make significant progress in any of them.

The next filter is quitting when the thing that matters gets hard. It’s often not because you’re good enough, you could be. It’s because you haven’t been through this kind of challenge before. This point is when winners don’t quit. Instead, they seek out the uncomfortable situations. They know if they can get through them (and they can), they’ll be doing something others can’t.

Now you know this, the saying can be reworded.

In beginning, winners quit everything. Everything that doesn’t matter. Then when it gets hard, winners never quit.

[This blog post is a riff from the ideas Seth Godin talks about in The Dip. I’m listening to it at the moment. If you’re seeking to be a winner at what you do, I recommend you check it out.]

The same things

  • To love

  • To be love

  • Importance

  • Meaning

  • Fulfilment

  • Happiness

  • Pleasure

  • Status

  • Stories

  • Experiences

  • Memories

  • Relationships

  • Adventure

  • Survival

We're all seeking similar things. Some things overlap with each other, some don't. Some come at different stages. Some never do. Some seem to be there but aren't.

You don’t have to damage the trees

Bruce started talking.

I built a pathway through the forest. I made it so none of the trees were damaged so it winds a bit. You might have to watch out for some overhanging leaves and branches.

We walked along the pathway. The forest was pitch black but Bruce had a torch. 

There were some stairs. Bruce stopped and turned off his light. 

You could see them everywhere. Thousands of them. Scattered across the rock wall, their tails glowing like stars in the night.  Bruce started telling us about them.

The glow worms build a little nest in the rock wall and from the nest they lay out strings of a web like substance. It looks like fishing lines hanging off the side of a boat. The fishing lines are used to catch insects for food. 

We all listened to Bruce.

I’m not sure where the cave came from but it might’ve been from the gold rush. 

I asked a question. 

How did you find it? 

I was walking along the river one day and got lost in the forest. And I stumbled upon it. Then I came back at night and got bushed.

The group chuckled. We assumed bushed meant lost.

We got closer to the glow worms. Saw some of the fishing lines hanging off. Some of them had lines as long as your finger, others not so long. They weren’t as bright if someone turned their light on. You had to make sure it was dark pitch black dark to really see them.

It started raining. Bruce started talking.

Well if you’ve had enough of the glow worms, we can head back. 

Everyone turned around and started back on the pathway. 

The pathway was well made. Really well made. I told Bruce. 

This pathway is well made. 

Thank you. It’s been a fun project getting it through the trees. 

It snaked around trees and weaved through the forest back to the opening.  It went where it had to go.

The path you’re building can to. It doesn’t have to damage the trees either. If there’s something in your way, you can always build around it.

 

What pencil do you use?

Stephen King was at a book fair. 

He was talking about the process of writing. If you don’t know Stephen King, he’s published a few (many) books. And a few (many) of them are bestsellers.

When he finished his talk, he started to take questions. 

Someone asked, ‘What pencil do you use?’.

Stephen told them. But it wouldn’t matter what kind of pencil. The pencil itself doesn’t write the words. It could’ve been a special pen. The words still wouldn’t write themselves. 

Maybe great books have been typed on a typewriter or started as scribble on a legal pad.

Having the right tools helps you create your art. Having better tools may help you make better art.

But it’s unlikely you can’t get started with what you have right now. Don’t let claiming you don’t the best tools prevent you from starting. 

Sitting around

There’s always something to do. Always a way to occupy your mind.

A screen is always within reach. A source of information. Something to start the thoughts.

But when was the last time you let them flow in on their own?

I went for a walk today and listened to an audiobook called Leap First by Seth Godin. It’s a short listen but worth it. It’s about showing up to work on the thing you know you should be working on. Seth mentions Neil Gaiman numerous times throughout the book. And one part especially stands out to me.

Gaiman has written many popular books. Some you may have read. Some you may have seen as a TV show or movie.

So what do you think his secret was when Seth asked him?

“I let myself get really bored, bored to a point where all I can do is write.”

That’s it. Gaiman’s secret is he spends a lot of time sitting round.

Why’s this valuable?

Because when you let your mind wander, the thoughts will start to come in. Many of them won’t be worth listening to. Listening to the right ones is a skill. All skills require practice.

“Yeah but I don’t have time to sit round.”

If you don’t have time, you’re probably someone who could benefit from doing nothing for a little. When was the last time you gave yourself a chance to think?

Of course, the work will never get done by sitting round. But stopping to reflect may change the what the work is.

The “2 Year Self Apprenticeship”

My friend sent me this post. 

The ‘2 Year Self Apprenticeship’ model by @lewismocker

The ‘2 Year Self Apprenticeship’ model by @lewismocker

Reading it was a form of confirmation bias. It was as if I was reading what I’d been subconsciously (or consciously? How do you tell?) doing the past 2-years.

I’m in between step 4 and 5. 

It started with creating my own AI Masters Degree. That turned into a job as a machine learning engineer. And the creating hasn’t stopped. Publishing work online has opened more doors for more me than any of my previous ventures.

I haven’t figured out 6 yet. But it’ll come. In the meantime, I’ll keep making.

Enough about me. What can you take away from this?

The post already says enough. I won’t repeat any of it. But I can add a lesson or two.

A) Choosing yourself is hard but worth it

It’s not for everyone. The traditional paths are there for a reason. They’ve stood the test of time. They work for some but not for others. 

When I was younger I thought I’d be a TV star one day. My mum took me to an audition for an advertisement company. I was nervous but I liked being the centre of attention. After the audition we never heard back. Dreams shattered.

Then one day my mum found out the company went broke. I was 10. 10-year-olds don’t understand companies going broke. Why wasn’t I going to be a TV star?

Everywhere I went I felt like a combination of special and the one who didn’t fit in. I liked that. Maybe everyone feels it? Probably.

Aghh. Enough about me. That’s a 2 count. 

When you pick your own path, you’ll have people questioning what you’re doing. You’ll get advice from all angles.

But there will be something inside of you telling you to push forward. You can’t explain it. When you try to tell someone else, they might get it, they might not. All the advice they give comes from a kind place but they’re not in your head. They don’t have to lay in bed at night with your thoughts. They don’t have to sit down at lunchtime and stare out the window with the feeling in your gut of the thing that’s pulling you. 

Then you do it. You make the decision you’ve had sitting in your brain your body your soul. And it happens. The whole universe starts getting behind you. But it doesn’t make it any easier. You’ll keep coming up against obstacles keep questioning.

Is this the right thing? 

Will things work out?

Where’s the answer? 

Yes, maybe, no, it doesn’t exist, all valid answers. 

Choosing yourself is a daily practice. You make the decision. Then you follow up with the effort.

Then tomorrow happens. And you repeat. 

B) Online is great but people are better

The internet is amazing. It has lowered the barrier to entry to education, to creating, to making, to sharing, to meeting, to finding. You know this. But it’s not perfect. You know this too. 

You can learn from the best in the world and then remix their ideas with yours and share them. Others can find your work and learn from it and do the same. The snowball gets bigger. 

The one thing the technology hasn’t replicated yet is the feeling of connection. Online communities are everywhere but they’re not the same as sitting down at a table with like-minded people.

Someone messaged me the other day. ‘Hello Daniel, I’m a self-made XYZ as well.’

The message meant well and I thanked the person for the kind words. But I’m not self-made. There’s no such thing as self-made. 

This one is an asterisk on the end of the ‘2 Year Self Apprenticeship*’.

*Take advantage of the online resources available to you. But don’t forget about your offline relationships.

An offline relationship can be completely online but it takes more than the odd like to convey it. Interact with those who are in your circle. Message the people whose work you enjoy, share it and say why you like it. These kind of acts are what keep the snowball growing. 

Keep learning. Keep making. 

 

 

 

Learning how to lose

I lost my two Jiu Jitsu fights today. 

The first one on points, the next one by arm bar submission.

Martial arts is great for the body, great for the mind and great for the ego. 

It teaches you how to lose. When you go up against someone, there’s a winner and a loser.

Learning how to lose is a skill. In the beginning, losing leaves a dent in the ego. The dent never goes away either. Every lose is still a lose. Except now you realise the value in losing. Because losing means learning something.

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