I've no idea if this is due to my age or the average age of the people surrounding me - mostly in their 30s - or my parents and grand-ma getting older - the former in their 60s, the latter in her 80s - but I hear more and more 'complaints' about how hard nowadays are, how doomed we are, and how better it was in the past. I know how inevitable it is to think such things when you grow up. This is genetically speaking how we work, how our brain is operating. Which is why we can find some exact same complaints by 'older people' about their youth and current state of affairs from centuries and millennium ago. Still, I find it challenging to watch myself and my closest people fall into this trap.
I read a wonderful - sometimes disturbing - article about history; more precisely about how storytellers (and their biases) crafted our history. I highly recommend it. It also made me realise there is 'story' in the word 'history'. Never really paid attention. By the way, in french, these are the same word: 'histoire' [pronounced his-too-ar]. So we could say 'raconte moi une histoire' [which would translate into 'tell me a story'] and when we're talking about history add something like 'l'histoire avec un grand 'H'' [history with a big H]. I realise now - deeply rooted in our language - how history is only a story of the past we collectively agreed upon.
My kids are still young, respectively 4 and 2 years-old. The more I observe them, the more I tend to think they already hold all the right keys to live a good life. A few things here: it's not about 'my' kids, but kids in general. Since mine are the ones I observe the most, on a daily basis, of course they're the ones I might refer to the most. Then, when I say 'holding the keys to a good life' I mean: they already possess, play and use all the right ingredients to live life at its fullest but of course, everything is still raw. Hence childhood by the way, as a time to mature, learn, develop and we - adults - have such an important role to play here.
I'm sad. We got some tear gaz downstairs yesterday because the police was breaking up a local rally. I've seen/ heard/ read [on- & offline] things I couldn't have imagined possible. My only consolation prize is to know that my great-grand-ma [named Tiszelman; born in Poland and who ran away during the 30's to come to France] isn't here anymore to (re-)experience such darkness.
I've heard 'virtue signalling' a few times in the past few years - mostly on twitter actually - and while I understood the concept and critics pointed out behind it I also felt pretty distant. Like a 'oh here's something between some activists and companies'. And then recently I realised (a) that behavior is present all around me way more than anticipated/ thought at first (b) it affects me and my mood pretty often. Let's unpack this.
I spent last saturday with both my kids, their mother, and a few families from their school in the biggest park in downtown Lyon, named 'Le Parc de la Tete d'Or' [or in english: 'the golden's head park' -- I never realised but, what a name!].
Last time I've posted here was more than 2 years ago, late Feb. 2021 exactly. I'll dig into the why, how, 'what happened in between' in another post. Meanwhile, I find it quite funny to come back and pick up on the latest article published: Listen to the experts.
I've contemplated all the recent frenzy around the vaccines. Well, I should say the 2020-all-year-round frenzy in almost every thing, area and topic but let's breathe & stay calm for the moment. My birth country - France - was proudly last in the 'intent to get a COVID-19 vaccine' rankings. What a vote of confidence.
Meanwhile I was reading a good book - which was first a documentary - called: The Media The World And Me. A common theme was: how to (re)build trust?
I feel 'trust' might be the most & biggest missing component in today's society. Who to trust? Why? What to trust? How to learn to trust? How to regularly check where our trust is going?
I came across Arnold Schwarzenegger's comment when he got his vaccine.
I said this to someone in the comments, but I think a lot of you need to hear this.
I always say you should know your strengths and listen to the experts. If you want to learn about building biceps, listen to me, because I've spent my life studying how to get the perfect peak and I have been called the greatest bodybuilder of all time. We all have different specialties.
Dr. Fauci and all of the virologists and epidemiologists and doctors have studied diseases and vaccines for their entire lives, so I listen to them and I urge you to do the same. None of us are going to learn more than them by watching a few hours of videos. It's simple: if your house is on fire, you don't go on Youtube, you call the damn fire department. If you have a heart attack, you don't check your Facebook group, you call an ambulance. If 9 doctors tell you you have cancer and need to treat it or you will die, and 1 doctor says the cancer will disappear, you should always side with the 9. In this case, virtually all of the real experts around the world are telling us the vaccine is safe and some people on Facebook are saying it isn't.
In general, I think if the circle of people you trust gets smaller and smaller and you find yourself more and more isolated, it should be a warning sign that you're going down a rabbit hole of misinformation. Some people say it is weak to listen to the experts. That's bogus. It takes strength to admit you don't know everything. Weakness is thinking you don't need expert advice and only listening to sources that confirm what you want to believe.
This is beautifully written. I agree. My only concern goes towards people, institutions, systems that have a big audience and don't care about lying. They don't care about trust. They don't care about their impact long-term on other people's minds. They are dangerous. I don't think it's a good tactic to fight them directly. Our best option is to educate each others, giving our trust sparingly and staying alert. Utilmately, not being afraid of a 'I don't know' or another 'I changed my mind'.
Few recent examples that made me laugh [kinda].
My wife is pregnant. She needed a drug for something specific. I went to the pharmacy, explained what she was going through, told them she was pregnant and they gave me drug X. Few days later, she was still suffering. We called the doctor and told her everything, she recommended drug Y. I went to the pharmacy again and got it. We read on the package later that day that this drug wasn't recommended for pregnant women. We called the doctor again: "yeah but no worries the drug company just has to put this on the package for the insurance company, but of course in your case, this is harmless and exactly what you need". Hmmm. Interesting. Great way to build trust for sure [towards the pharmacy, the doctor herself, the drug company & the insurance company].
Politicians are the best at this. Sorry the one below is in french only. But @ 1min04, french minister literally declared "risk of importation - of coronavirus - from Wuhan is close to 0" & it goes on like this. Even worse @ 3min54: "the blue mask protects from nothing". Well it didn't age well [original footage was from late January 2020].
So, I'm all in to listen to the experts but honestly, it's getting harder & harder to know who's one.
I remember the first time I saw the human lifespan laid out in weeks by Tim. I wouldn't be able to describe exactly how I felt but I was intrigued nonetheless. Then I saw the pdf printed out on a friend's fridge. Somehow, I found it cool. Like a good reminder you only live once, not for so long, so you better make it count.
Later, I read The Tail End [Tim's work again]; what a slap in the face. I wanted to visually lay out few of my own tail end for a while. I finally took some time this weekend to do it. I took 90 years as my own lifespan.
Below is my own life in weeks.
Green cells: weeks I've already lived. White ones: weeks I've left. Darker green ones: weeks I've lived with limited freedom [i.e I was still living at my parents home]. Lighter green ones: weeks I've lived with unlimited freedom [living by myself; I was literally able to do whatever I want].
Grey cell: mid-life. Pink cell: when I started dated my other half. Blue cell: when our son is born.
Then I laid out few linear stuff. Like amount of books I still have to read - if I continue to read 2 a month = 1368.
If feels like a lot. Still - as Tim wrote it perfectly - I'll have to:
accept that I’ll sign off for eternity without knowing what goes on in all the rest.
I haven't played any video game for way too long [I used to be an avid gamer - and I collected a lof of video games systems as well]. I told myself earlier that 2021 should be the year I start to play again. A good pace seemed to be a game a quarter. In this scenario, amount of games I still have to play = 228.
Amount of soccer world cup finals I still have to watch = 14!
Now comes the most important part: relationships. Which is also the scariest one because nothing is linear here. I wanted to highlight 2 examples below. First one is with my mum. I can pretty much say I've seen her everyday of my life until a bit more than my 19. Then, I only saw her 5 days a year on average. If I'm lucky enough & she lives until her 90, it means I'll be 66. Below are the amount of times left to see & enjoy each other face-to-face.
That one was a shock. I'm in the last 3% of my time spent [physically speaking] with my mum. Tim wrote:
When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life.This made me realise one thing in particular. I better enjoy my time with my own kids as much as possible right now. By the time they turn 18 and decide to leave our house, we'd have spent almost 90% of our time with them!Last one I laid out. One of my best friend I met when we were 11 y/o. We pretty much saw each other 5 days a week from our 11 to 18. Then, we both travelled a lot and we're now living in 2 different continents. If I look back the past years, let's assume we see each other 3 days a year on average. Being the same age & lucky, we'll both live until 90. Our time together looks like this.
1. Living in the same place as the people you love matters. I probably have 10X the time left with the people who live in my city as I do with the people who live somewhere else.
2. Priorities matter. Your remaining face time with any person depends largely on where that person falls on your list of life priorities. Make sure this list is set by you—not by unconscious inertia.
3. Quality time matters. If you’re in your last 10% of time with someone you love, keep that fact in the front of your mind when you’re with them and treat that time as what it actually is: precious.
I started last summer to count my stuff. As beautifully written by Mathilde here "[...] knowing I have too much is something, knowing what is too much is something else". At that point, I was able to put an exact number: I had 187 books. It felt too much.
Right away I decided to tidy this up and started to screen them all. Few questions were in my head to help me pick up which ones to discard: (a) do I think there is a 90%+ chance I'll re-read it again in the future? (b) am I even able right now to 'sell' that book to anyone? [i.e I remember enough what this is about and/or the emotion it created in me] (c) if one of my best friend were to visit me today and ask for a book to read, would I be proud enough to recommend that one? If the answer was anything else than an easy 'yes' [to all 3 of these questions], I'd discard the book.
Result's below. I today own 86.5 books [.5 because I co-own some of them with my other half]. And yep, I also love magazines and I do plan to sort them out next [even though I bought a new one 2 days ago].
To get rid of them in an easy & efficient way, I chose to give all of them away for free. I put few pictures on our local Buy Nothing group and few days later, 3/4 of them were out of the house.
The smiles and happy faces I got from people who came to our flat to pick up the books and the few minutes discussions downstairs to share few anecdotes [if any] made the whole experience very meaningful. Overall, I felt great. Almost 3 months later, I still feel great about this but I also don't really know how I should buy and deal with books in the future.
I decided that - going forward - a book should be either a learning or an entertaining experience. Period. So I literally said goodbye to the books as a piece of decoration or furniture at home. In other words, no such room for me as Karl's one below.
Donated a bunch of books tonight. So much feelings at the same time inside myself right now. Overall, I feel happy, lighter, proud & freer. First day of the rest of my life.— Kevin Straszburger (@k7vin) August 3, 2020
When people are putting a photo on Twitter or Instagram of ‘look at my pile of books that I’m reading’, it’s a show-off thing, it’s a signalling thing. The reality is I’d rather read the best 100 books over and over again until I absorb them rather than read all the books.Now - even though I stand behind that mindset 100% I still find challenging now and then not to pile up a new book [or magazine] and to give it away as soon as I finished reading it - unless that specific title should enter my top 100 of all time. Then I wonder what that number should be. Should I hold on to 10 books at home? 20? 50? 100? Few days ago I realised how space played a huge role in this answer [in my answer at least]. If I live in a tiny house or a van, my answer will literally be different compare to a few floors mansion. That lead me to think about my kinda perfect home in terms of space. Do I really want to live in a big flat for instance? Why? To pile up more stuff at the end cause I'd need to fill up all this space? Should I intentionally dramatically limit the size of where I live [at least the indoor size let's say; outdoor would be different; I'd use a garden to play or relax; not to pile up stuff]?