Saturday August 20. I stayed up super-late last night playing Destiny 2, trying to get to level 65 in the current season so I could unlock some fancy stuff. Mission accomplished! I got a long-desired piece of armor, a pair of boots that makes you run faster called Traversive Steps, and also a cool bow called Trinity Ghoul. It was a good day! There are just two more days left in the season before everything resets and starts again with a new chapter of the Destiny story, so that is sort of my weekend goof-off plan.
Reviewing Friday's Constellations
Let me start with a review. Yesterday I came up with this list of "visceral visions of myself" so I could imagine what kind of activities they would do to achieve my own ends. The one that stood out the most was The Engaging Shopkeeper. I ran the list by a good friend and he said that this archetype embodies the rest of them, which I'll list here again:
- The Best Girl
- The Magician
- The Infectious Sunflower
- The Investigative Designer
- The Reluctant Assassin
- The Catalyzing Incubator
- The Job Creator
- The Conceptual Currator
- The Time Traveling Librarian
I'm imagining all of these as constellations that float over my strategic horizon, by which I can steer my life path toward a prosperous and fulfilling future. I can imagine several constellation groups:
- The Engaging Shopkeeper is probably my north star and the anchor of a group comprised of "The Best Girl", "The Magician", "The Investigative Designer", "The Reluctant Assassin", and "The Conceptual Currator".
- The Best Girl is the southern star, and the anchor of personality group constellations like "The Infectious Sunflower" and "The Time Traveling Librarian".
- The Job Creator is the western star, part of a loose conglomeration of "The Catalyzing Incubator" and other unnamed business-related activities
- I'm not sure what lies to the east...maybe this is the Neurodiverse cluster.
- Directly overhead? The infinitude of possibility, I guess, a mixture of all the constellations influencing each other!
I like the way this is shaping up, and it would be neat to make a STAR MAP of these constellations. However, that would take real work and I'm realizing that I haven't been doing any yet! So let's talk about that.
I Still Have to Do Hard Things, But What Are They?
While I'm pleased at getting back into the habit of daily writing, I'm not actually MAKING anything that requires focus and perseverance. I know, I know...I said that the big idea behind the August 8 GHDR changes was to use structured procrastination as my foundation, but steering takes more effort than staring when it comes to movement toward a particular constellation.
I'm going to characterize "hard" as the following, which is based on the retrospective I have on what challenges I've faced over the past few decades.
- If there is are zero immediate consumers of my work output, it's harder to start. I work best when there is a question that someone has posed to me and would like an answer. I am highly driven to answer questions.
- If there is more than one uncertainty to resolve before I do something, it's harder to start. One uncertainty at a time, and uncertainty can take many forms.
- If there is more than two days of time/effort required, it's harder to maintain my energy levels and big-picture focus. I need daily reporting with partners who are also stakeholders working with me to create. Two weeks is the maximum before I burn out and collapse.
- if there is more planning than completed work items, then it's hard to stay enthusiastic. Planning has its place, but it takes tremendous effort to stick to it.
In all of the above "hard things", it all becomes much easier when I have partners who are invested stakeholders. I like working with people to answer questions and turn theory into something cool that you can see and touch. People seem really important to me, which has me thinking that I've missed something big.
The Missing Archetype
One of the assumptions I've made is that I have to be a self-sufficient creator to create products and experiences that other people value, and largely I have to do this alone. But you know what's missing from the constellation archetypes? The Inventor/Creator! That I didn't even think of it suggests that being a creator isn't really that important to me as it is being involved with people working together to make something cool. It's the people part that comes before the creating for me, but all this time I have been trying to create by myself instead. And I find it extremely hard.
Why make it so hard for myself? Maybe I need to introduce a new strategic horizon / constellation group that's related to some of the following:
- caring hospitality
- being a good host so everyone feels welcome
- being a good conversationalist
- group project planning and management
- ensuring people are seen and heard and not overlooked
- recognizing contributions from everyone
- understanding psychology
- building a transparent and supportive organization
- being a good communication designer
These are all things that are REALLY IMPORTANT to me. In fact I spend most of my time thinking about this stuff and less time about making things. I get more excited sharing something I know to someone else who might be able to use it. In fact, I tend only to get excited about making things to prove to myself it works, and therefore be assurred that I am making a good recommendation instead of pulling something out of my butt.
I'll let this stew in my brain for a bit, but I think I'm on to something pretty important.
Lastly, it occurs to me that I am in a kind of staycation, where one chooses to do vacation-y activities without leaving home. Thus justified, I went to spend some money to tickle the brain with some new sensory data:
The new bakery near me, Woodman's Artisan, sells a French-style white bread called pain de mie, which literally means "milk bread". As we're entering the beginning of the tomato harvest here in New England, this seemed like a good time to give it a try. I'd like to head down to H-Mart in Burlington Massachussetts to pick up some shokupan from their Asian-style bakery, a Japanese milk bread that is their normal bread loaf (shokupan apparently means 'every day bread'). It's taller and fluffier thanks to a hot water flour treatment that geletanizes the starch in flour, and it's the best white bread ever.
I stopped by the local TKK Chicken/Kung Fu Tea franchise, which is from my ethnic home country of Taiwan---that this franchise exists here in Northern New England is a minor miracle. Grabbed some Ooolong tea and spicy fried chicken; this is the best chicken in the area by far for its moistness and perfect level of brining without turning mushy. I also stopped by the Lanna Asian Market and the owner Joy was there. I haven't seen her in months, so it was good to catch up. I picked up a few extra thing as staycation treats such as the fried hot peppers with sesame snack from Thailand which is AMAZING. Expensive, but a bag of the stuff lasts for a long time. I save the sesame+pepper spice crumbs to sprinkle on vegetable dishes and noodles.
My last stop was at Lull Farm, which is a nice working farm with a good selection of fresh corn and other home grown fruits and vegetables. I grabbed a few just-off-the-stalk ears of bicolor corn on the cob and some regular local tomatoes. It's a bit too early still for the heirloom tomatoes to be out in force, but in a couple of weeks there should be an abundance of them. Maybe I will learn how to make salsa...I love salsa.
For my staycation reading, I bought a new Kindle Paperwhite Signature. This was a bit of a splurge, but I need to get phones and tablets out of my bedroom so they aren't always beckoning me to do just one more swipe through Social Media. My social media feeds are pretty well-tuned to show me nice things, so it's not stressful but it is extremely addictive. I have to remember that The Lizard Brain is always in charge at night and it can't be trusted to make good decisions. I wrote about this last Wednesday, and knowing that there are times when it's active will hopefully help me avoid doing dumb things that feel good in the moment but are bad for long-term stability.