Horizon, ground, altimeter

The body shudders, the engine takes up half the plane

We’re sitting close, all of us, ass to back

We make a turn,

Now we’re on the runway

The trees start moving faster, the ground even more

Seatbelts! People fumble around their legs, reaching back, finding buckles

Out the window is a blur, we’re really moving

Wings cutting the air

You can’t see it but you know it’s there

Close the door!

It’s quieter inside but talking is still a shout

The wheels stop rolling, they’re not on the ground anymore

It’s smoother than I thought, big yellow cuts through the air

We head over the road, over the fields, over the ponds, you can see all of it,

My altitude meter goes out of the red, 1000 ft 2000, 3000

How’s the storm?

I’ll go around it the pilot says

I go over the steps in my head,

Horizon, ground, altitude, horizon, ground, altitude, horizon, ground, altitude

7000 ft is lock on time, keep your eyes on the meter

6000 ft is pull time

After 10-seconds we’ll be falling at 1000 ft every 5-seconds, just over a minute until creaming in John says

We pass through the clouds, we’re above them, 12,000 ft

Everyone starts checking each other one last time

My altimeter hits 14, time to jump.

The light comes on,

Open the door!

No one hears it

Open the door!

The door comes open

Out go the first two

Then the next one and a few more

We shuffle forward, Doily is strapped to my back, there isn’t room to stand so we keep shuffling

It’s our turn

My right foot goes against the door frame, my left foot goes on the edge, my hands are holding the side of the plane my hair’s in the wind and I can see the wing of the plane, except there’s no window this time

I do the checks, check in, okay, check out, okay, I look forward

Horizon, pause, up, my head goes up, I look over the wing, pause

Down, out!

We leave the plane, I get into the position and hold it, hips forward, arms out, legs bent and pointing

There’s no stomach feeling, just wind,

We’re floating, floating above a cloud

I do the checks again, horizon, ground, altimeter, horizon, ground, altimeter

The arrow turns to the left, 12, 11, 10, 9

We hit the cloud, terminal velocity through a cloud, it’s cold and wet

We come out,

Horizon, ground, altimeter, horizon, ground, altimeter, 8, 7, lock on!

I watch the altimeter closely, 6 is coming, the needle keeps moving, halfway, three quarters,

6 hits and I wave my hands, it’s pull time

Doily pulls it and the canopy comes out

The air rushes into it, fills it up like a deep breath to lungs

We’re floating still but the wind isn’t as harsh,

I grab on to the toggles, we guide it in

The ground comes to meet us, I pull my legs up and we slide in

Back on the ground.

We check the video, I didn’t have my legs in the right place

Doily speaks,

Don’t move your head so much, look at the ground with your eyes not your head

The ground’s boring, look at the air

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The sun came through the trees

We didn’t have to pedal much because the wind was against us. On the way there it was a battle. Two men on bikes against the wind. Two pedals equals one when the wind is that strong. The kite surfers were out and their kites were full of it. I kept peddling.

As you go along you can see the entire shore. All the water and the rocks. There’s a footpath the whole way along. Someone built this I thought. Someone made the right choice to build this. It couldn’t have been natural. A group of people put together and laid the foundations to make a path the whole way along. It goes for miles. Rocks upon rocks upon rocks. Now we were riding along it. You don’t notice these things but then you do and you can’t stop.

There’s a bend toward the end. The wind gets blocked by the cliff but then you hit the bend. You come around the corner and the wind isn’t blocked by the cliff anymore. You’re back to battling. We were battling. It was stronger than ever. The waves were washed with white. Once you hit the end of the bend you’re at the pier. We ride over the blue sign. No bikes on the pier it says. Someone told us once. Beautiful boys, there’s no bikes on the pier. She was a nice lady. We kept riding.

The pier used to be shorter. They wanted to knock it down but the community said no. Good choice. The rebuilt pier is 100 metres longer. You don’t notice it when you’re on it because it keeps going and you go with it. Then you get to the end and the sign shows the old pier and the new pier side by side and you can see it.

We get to the end of the pier and look out. It’s cloudy and the rainbow is over there. The sun is behind us falling fast. You can see Tangalooma from the end of the pier. My favourite island. Seeing it reminds me of all the times we’ve been there. It’s a good place. The ocean wind keeps playing with the ocean. I keep looking out as the island. It wasn’t there. The clouds were covering it. But I know where it is.

I turn to Sam.

Better go, let’s get dinner ready when we get home.

Moon in the sky

I walk outside, toothbrush buzzing

It's electric so it runs out every few days or so

Then I charge it and brush my teeth

The grass is a little wet from the evening dew

There's been rain lately so it's soft under foot

It feels good

real good

My teeth feel cleaner too

If you've got an electric toothbrush

You've got nothing to complain about

I look up at the moon and keep brushing

It's bright and full

Looking back down at me

only me

It's not only me but it seems like it

I want my teeth to be bright and clean like the moon

The sky is clear but my mind is full

Full of the buzzing of the toothbrush

My eyes dissolve into the sound

I adjust my pants and look into the yard

The timer will go off soon

I look back up and the moon is still there

One of those sights you could never get tired of

That girl you see from time to time

Beauty, real beauty

Just like the moon

The timer goes off

I rinse my mouth out and go to bed

Moon on my mind

The wrong metric of success

Dear Pauly, 

Many a man have drove themselves into the ground trying to chase after the wrong thing. Including me. 

More money than what covers basic needs.

The love of an evasive woman. 

Popularity amongst others. 

Stacy was a good girl, just not into me. I realised and got out of her house, slammed the door of the Sub and sped down the road. The speed didn’t make anything better.

A man needs to experience his first heartbreak. I don’t trust anyone whose never felt a wrench in their gut at the sound of someone’s name. 

Anyway, I tell you these these things because I somehow think it’ll help.

But in my experience, most of the best lessons have to happen first hand, then you can join the dots. 

Don’t confuse chasing after the wrong thing as success.

A man only needs a few things to get by. Some food, a mission, a deep love for himself, a place to sleep. Anything else is a bonus.

Keep creating Pauly. 

Talk soon,

Charlie

The most precious thing you can give someone

She was screaming.

You don’t know what’s happening Gregory!

You just wait Greg, I know what you’re up to!

More screaming.

There isn’t anything I don’t know Gregory!

I walked across the street. What was happening? Why didn’t Greg know? What did she know about Greg? There wasn’t anything she didn’t know. Was she an oracle?

I should’ve talked to her. I could’ve asked her about life. She could’ve help me figure it all out.

I pretended like I did.

Can I ask you something?

There isn’t anything I don’t know Daniel!

What’s the most precious thing you can give to someone else?

Give them a feeling!

What?

Something that penetrates their soul! Get deep! Really deep! Make it bubble up!

Make what bubble up?

You want it to be there in a year! In 5-years! When they’re in a cafe reading a newspaper and they look up and get nauseous thinking of the feeling! You want it to be so good it comes back! It always comes back!

I get it but why are you screaming?

Why do you think! Do you not listen! You’re just like Gregory! You don’t know what’s happening!

Imagining is almost as good as the real thing. Sometimes it’s better. Sometimes worse. Far worse.

She made me feel something. Unintentional or intentional? Who knows. She was talking to Gregory. Gregory didn’t know what was happening.

Her purple top left her stomach uncovered. And the pants she had on were dirty. Maybe she was crazy. Maybe I was crazy for taking lessons imaginary lessons from a screaming lady on the street. Gregory wasn’t. Gregory didn’t know what was happening.

Financial freedom has two extremes. One where you can buy whatever you want. The other where you don’t care about anything. She was financially free. Rich. Rich with the most valuable currency there is. Rich with effect. Effect on others. Effect on me. She had an audience. Everyone crossing the street was in awe. What was Greg up to?

Effect is precious. It can last an instant but be remembered for a lifetime. It can happen once and then again 1000 more times.

You could be sitting in a cafe in 5-years reading the newspaper. Look up for a second. Your stomach does a backflip. And it comes back, the feeling all over again.

How she smiled at you.

Or how she screamed from across the street.

Once you give a feeling to someone, it’s there. Always there.

Source: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-most-pre...

Milk or water?

There are two cups. One of milk, one of water. Drink the milk and you get wealth beyond your dreams. Drink the water and you get knowledge.

Which do you choose?

I’d choose the milk.

‘Look Dad, a bird!’

‘Do you know which one it is?’

‘No…’

‘That’s a lark.’

‘There’s lots of them!’

‘Do you want to know what a group of larks is called?’

‘What?’

‘An ascension.’

‘What does asksenchen mean?’

‘Asension means to go up higher.’

‘Dad! Look how high the bird is!’

Acquiring wealth is fun but it’s nothing compared to the pleasure of finding things out.

Source: https://qr.ae/TUy4cd

Being 13 is tough

Dear Pauly,

Being 13 is tough. There's a lot going on.

You're getting to middle school, your parents are starting to talk to you about your grades more, your friends are growing up. Some of them even have girlfriends. Multiple girlfriends.

The worries never stop. The internet says you should be one way. Your parents think you should spend less time doing that thing you enjoy doing. You aren't very good at anything. School work is a drag. You can't keep up with your friends on the sports field because you're overweight. You try. But you can't. There's a cute girl who goes to the events you go to but you're too afraid to talk to her. Plus, she's taller than you.

I know these things because I remember being in 8th grade. I remember standing on the sports field looking at my friends with hair under their armpits. Then being extra careful to keep my arms by my sides whilst I took my shirt off. I kept the shirt in front of me so my stomach wouldn't show.

My hair was always a mess because I didn't like looking in the mirror. I didn't really care anyway. I'd go to class and cause trouble because I needed attention.

I thought, "I can't wait to grow up."

Some years passed. I started to grow. I got hair in the places.

But the worries were still there.

13 is tough but so is every other age. The worries never go away, they only change form.

When you're 13 you're self-conscious about your body.

"Why don't I look like the other kids?"

When you're 23 you're self-conscious about your job.

"Am I earning enough money?"

When you're 33 you're self-conscious about your body.

"Am I getting fat?"

When you're 43 you're self-conscious about whether you can pay for your kids' school.

"Am I earning enough money?"

When you're 53 you're self-conscious about whether you've spent enough time on the things you enjoy.

"Should I sign up for next weeks piano class?"

When you're 63 you're self-conscious about whether you've got enough time left to spend with your grandkids.

"The doctor said I should be taking it easy."

I'm not saying these things to scare you Pauly. But I'm not going to hide the truth from you either.

You're old enough to start thinking about what you can and can't control.

Put it this way. You can't control when you start to grow. And as much as you'd like, you can't control when you first kiss a girl.

Spending too much time thinking about these things will only make you more insecure. It's hard to understand now but I thought about the same things when I was your age. Thinking about them all the time only made it worse.

I want you to try something. Sit down and think for a minute.

What are the things you can control and what are the things you can't?

You'll probably find there's much more you can't control than you can.

But there's one thing you've got within you. One thing that will follow you from 13 to 23 to 33 to 103.

The story you tell yourself.

Now they don't teach this in school. Because it's really hard to teach. Everyone is still trying to figure it out. No one really knows how to explain it. Including me.

The best example I can give is that movie you love watching. You know the one we put on when I came to visit last.

What happens in the ending scene?

Jira becomes King.

But you know he didn't start there.

He started as a young boy. You remember him walking through the streets. The merchants rushing up to him and telling him to get lost.

All he wanted to do was grow up like his older brother, Leroy. Leroy the tall Knight with the beautiful girl.

What happens next?

Jira goes through the forest. He gets lost. He's stuck and doesn't know what to do.

Then what?

Jira decides to face his fears. He fails the first time. And the second time. Then still manages to end up on the throne. But now he's self-conscious about whether he's a good leader or not. There's always something.

You're probably thinking, "yeah, but that's a movie."

And you're right. It is. But I want you to think like Jira. Think like the movie.

You don't have to go through a forest.

But like how Jira ends up in charge of the Kingdom. You're in charge of the story. The story you tell yourself every day.

Being self-conscious is not a bad thing. It means you're thinking about where you fit in the world. Many people would benefit from being a little more self-conscious.

You can't control the challenges you face in life but you can control how you think about them.

You will grow taller.

You will kiss a girl. You'll both lean in and close your eyes. Your lips will touch. Then you'll pull away. And she'll open her eyes and smile. And it'll be beautiful.

You can lose weight if you try. It's hard. But doable.

Every time you think to yourself, you're writing your story. Some thoughts will be good, others won't.

But when you focus on the things you can control instead of the things you can't, you become King. King of your own Kingdom. Just like Jira. Except you don't need a crown.

I didn't get hair under my armpits until I was 18. And I was still 190lbs still at 22.

If you can lose weight, it's better to do it earlier. You can control that one. With food, movement and sleep. Write back if you need some help.

Talk soon,

Charlie

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Source: https://qr.ae/TUyysR

Food, story and service

That's why people keep coming back.

Keep the story going and they'll be back. They'll always be back.

No one comes back only for the good food, they come back for the story.

The story behind it all. The show and dance. Johnny serves it with a smile.

The food wouldn't be nearly as good without the service.

PS you can change the word food out with almost any product or service. Try it.

How to use your body to manage your mind

There was 3-hours until my flight. Austin to Cleaveland. I did a lap up and down the terminal looking for a nice cafe to write. I found one.

The seat I was on was high. My feet couldn’t touch the ground. They were dangling there. The table didn’t match. It was too low for the chair. My thighs rubbed up against the bottom of the table.

I starting thinking.

The world needs more well-designed chairs.

I had a good view of the planes and the rest of the walkway. People going places. Two guys at a table in front of me starting leaning into one another. As if one had a secret to tell the other. Then the one leaning in pointed across the cafe. I looked where he pointed.

There was another man. He was talking. I could see sounds coming from his mouth but not enough to know what he was saying.

The voice was familiar. He kept talking.

He was leaning over the rail with his elbows on one of the high tables. Sunglasses on, hat on.

I start thinking.

That’s Matthew McConaughey.

I looked away.

He started speaking.

This time I recognised the voice. I’d heard it the night before watching Tropic Thunder highlights.

It was Matthew McConaughey.

I was alone, 8000 miles from home and 10 feet from Matthew McConaughey.

I started thinking again.

I’ve got to go and say ‘Hi’ to him. He probably gets it all the time. But now’s my only chance. I’ll just go and say hello. No photos. Just hello.

My heart was racing.

More thoughts.

Why’s this happening? He’s just a man. A man like me.

He got up with his wife. They were leaving. I’d blown my chance.

Then they stopped. She went into the bathroom and he stood in the hallway.

I’m going. I could feel my heart in my chest. You know it’s a good time when it starts.

I went over.

‘Hi, I’m Daniel, I’m a big fan of your work.’

He stuck his hand out and grabbed mine.

‘McConaughey.’

‘I was watching Tropic Thunder last night.’

He smiled.

‘Where are you off to?’

‘New York.’

‘How come?’

‘Got some work.’

‘Have a nice trip.’

He smiled again.

I went back to my seat. My feet dangled.

I opened my journal and started writing.

Met Matthew McConaughey today. He introduced himself with one word. I said about 30.

I sat there for another 2-hours before my flight came.

Want to manage your mind?

You can do it by listening to your body.

If the body changes, your mind will come along.

It’s natural for your heart rate to go up in uncertain situations. Most people would write this off as fear. But the thing is, fear is caused by the same hormones as being excited.

Same energy but a different form.

Knowing this, the next time you get nervous and your heart rate goes up, you can remind yourself.

‘I know this feeling. I’ve felt it before. Instead of letting it hold me back, I’m going to use it to push me forward.’

The best thing?

It works in reverse too.

Raise your heart rate and you can change your mind.

Humans work best when they’re running away from something or chasing something. Either way, you better get moving.

Source: https://qr.ae/TUrkgl

Quality: the only universal criteria

The teacher would hand out the sheet with the boxes on it. Each box had words in it which were supposed to specify how you got a certain mark. The words were all the same with one or two changed in each box.

‘The student shows sound understanding of the topic.’ That was worth a C. Sound was the mid-tier. Not good. Sound.

‘The student shows great understanding of the topic.’ B.

‘The student shows exceptional understanding of the topic.’ This was the money. Enough of these boxes and you got an A.

I never got why exceptional was the word for an A. I thought it meant something like accepted. ‘Your work is accepted, here’s an A.’

When doing assignments I never paid attention to the criteria sheet. It was always overflowing with words. So many it lost its meaning.

All I wanted to know was what I had to do. What I had to hand in to not get in trouble so I could get back to gaming.

All my assignments looked great. I made sure of that. I had a thing for good looking documents. I’d finish a physics assignment and hand it in. A+ for aesthetics, B for content.

University was the same. More criteria sheets. More lack of reading. More reading the task sheet 6 times and asking myself, ‘What do I actually need to do?’

Then came creating online. No criteria sheets. Anything goes.

My first blog post was crap [TK — link]. Crap but honest. I tried to get my girlfriend to read it. She was good with words. Since then, I’ve probably had 6 great, 277 sound and 3 exceptional posts.

There are no criteria sheets on the internet. So it can hard to start making anything. ‘What do I actually need/want to do?’ Notice the addition of want.

There may be plenty of things you want to do. Too many. So it’s unlikely you’re stuck with a lack of ideas. Instead, a lack of direction.

The cure?

The universal criteria.

You already know this one.

People like things which are of high quality.

Things that teach them something. Things that entertain them. Things which suit the story they repeatedly tell themselves every day. Things that work.

If you’re a maker and looking for a guide or some criteria to adhere to, make it quality.

Everything else is up for debate.

You have to work up to be a level 35 boss

Sam and Josh are the bed trying out my new bed base. I'm at the desk writing.

Sam speaks.

This is like a psychologist session for me.

I look up.

What are you thinking?

The goals I have and finding the fastest way possible to do them. Having fun as well. But I'm scared.

I speak.

What are you scared of?

Scared of doing them. Scared of them being impossible to reach. I don't have time or experience or the money to do it myself.

Josh speaks.

You are a level 1 crook at the moment. You have to work up to be a level 35 boss. That's how mafia works.

We laugh. He was talking about a meme going around. And he’s right.

I speak.

Write down what you're thinking. You may get lost in thoughts but found in the words. It helps me. And it's free to try.

Sam listens closely.

Then get up in the morning and write 1 thing down on a piece of paper. What's 1 thing you want to get done that day? Then do it the next day. Learn what it's like to get something small done.

He nods.

I continue.

Hey Siri 20-minute timer. I set a timer.

When it's time to do the thing you wrote down, set a timer for yourself. For the next 20-minutes do nothing except work on that thing. For the first few minutes it will be hard but then as you go on, you'll get into a flow.

He smiles and picks up his phone. Facebook is more entertaining than me.

I go back to writing.

I think of something else to tell him. Patience. But it can wait. I don't want to over lecture him. The best way to teach is to set an example anyway. I know I can do that.

He's holding himself back. I'm holding myself back. We're all holding ourselves back. It's the old version of ourselves. Our old way of thinking.

That's why we're scared of the goals we have. Because the old version of ourselves doesn't have the brain capacity to handle them.

Can you imagine trying to run the latest apps on an old operating system? The latest version of the Quora app wouldn’t run very well on iOS 6.

To achieve what you want to achieve, your old ways of thinking have to be upgraded.

This is where writing has helped me. Write down the best version of your future self. 3-5 years from now is a good timeline. Not too long. Not too short.

How would they think?

How would they make decisions?

What actions would they take?

Those are the features you want in the most important software there is: your way of thinking.

The role of film

When you're shooting with film, you have to be more careful about what you choose.

A short-film director told me about how he had to work 15-hours at the supermarket to purchase 4-minutes worth of film.

When he went to shoot, he made sure every minute mattered.

Questioning everything. 'Does this need to be here?'

I wanted to know what would happen if he took the wrong shot.

'What happens if you didn't get the shot you wanted?'

'Well, that was tough, but you couldn't do anything about it,' he said, 'I'd have to go back down to the supermarket, work 15 more hours and then try again.'

We kept talking about how far devices have come. You know the spiel. 'The device in your pocket can now do so many things that weren't possible.'

The roll of film got me thinking.

What would you do if every day you only had 16-hours of film?

8-hours for sleep and 16 to the do the other things.

When you're shooting with film, every frame counts. There aren't any retakes, but if you don't get the shot, you can always work towards getting the next one.

You can try the hot sauce too

The other day we did a hot sauce challenge at work. There were four sauces.

I joined in. I didn’t really want to eat a cheerio but I did. A single cheerio won’t kill you in the long run. The sauce might though.

I cut the cheerio in half and went straight for the top 2 sauces. People were saying they were the hottest. I didn’t need to waste my time with the entry level sauces.

You had to get the second tier sauce out with a chopstick. It was thick. I lathered the half cheerio up and put it in my half. It was an instant burn. Tolerable but enough to know you were eating something hot.

Then came the hottest one. The others were crying. Their faces were red. I was one of the last to try it.

 ‘It’s hot bro,’ said Ron, ‘real hot.’

The bottle had Ultra Death written on it. When you unwrapped the plastic seel on the lid, a keychain with a human skull fell out. Skulls and Ultra Death, the real deal.

I covered the cheerio. There was a lot of sauce. The colour was like lava flowing through a blackhole. My mouth was still tingling from the last one. So I popped the second half in.

Hiccup. Hiccup. Hiccup. They began immediately. I can’t tell if it was my body rejecting the cheerio or the hot sauce.

My eyes starting leaking. My face began changing colour to match the sauce. This was hottest thing I’d ever eaten. All my senses heightened. I could see sounds.

It felt like there was a charcoaled rodent clawing the back of my throat. I walked over to the tap. I cleaned my hands. That stuff would send someone blind if it went in their eyes. I didn’t want that. I could see sounds.

The burning continued. 10-minutes of pure inferno. Then the burning was less intense but there was still a low level hum throughout my body. ‘I don’t know what you’ve done but we’re staying on high alert for a while,’ it would’ve said.

A few guys went round 2. Ron even lathered up another whole cheerio with the second hottest and hottest. It didn’t end very well. But he won the challenge. You need to go through pain to get the glory. 

What’s the lesson here? If someone else can do the hard thing, you probably can too.