MAKING SURPRISES

Love this from James Clear’s 3-2-1 newsletter:

“Children are joyful and treat each day as a miracle—in part because they are continually surprised.

Each day, they hear a new word or listen to a new song or learn about a new animal. It’s their first time visiting that restaurant or jumping in that pool or riding that rollercoaster. The world is continually unfolding before them.

How can you introduce more surprise into your life as an adult? How can you renew your sense of childlike wonder?”

James Clear

How, at 46, do I introduce wonder and surprise? That’s a tough one.

Going biking in new places brings about some surprise and wonder, as the weather may change, or I might show up right when a steam train is leaving the station, and I can try to “race it.” Those small, spontaneous moments, I guess.

Running is always a surprise, too, because I sort of never know how the body will feel. Most days it can be hard to get out the door (especially with the heat wave we have here on the east coast), but then 1.8 miles into the run everything feels great, or I see a breathtaking sunset, or I come across a dog who loves racing me from the other side of the fence.

In part I think it’s just getting out and doing something, throwing myself into the world and seeing what happens. That’s looked different in the past few years due to COVID, which has meant a lot of missed opportunities to meet new people, so lately it’s been about the experiences, and the scenery.

NOTHING SHOCKING

From @joysullivanpoet via Instagram.

I always thought of these people as having the “audacity to dream,” and how I loved being around these folks, something I’ve been lacking in recent years given the pandemic and all.

The dreams have withered though. Maybe it’s because I’m 46, over a decade since I got rid of all my stuff and started riding across the US with my laptop, and crashed on the couches of my friends.

Money is hard to make, free time is scant. The time for dreaming is hard to come by, so maybe the dreams get smaller. I’ve heard more than once in the past few years, “wow, I wish I could just have health care,” or something similar. Like, that’s a dream for some people in America, which is fucking gross.

PLATFORMS

Saw this on Twitter recently, from Adam Bartlett of Gilead Media (copying and pasting because I don’t trust Twitter embeds will be around forever):

It’s so wild to watch the entire indie label world go from being based around forums and newsletters, to social media, and now on to…what? There isn’t a single platform I can think of that isn’t a complete shit hole right now.

Am I shaking my fist at a cloud right now? Maybe, I guess. But things were definitely cooler before the ALGORITHMS took over and I think that’s probably an indisputable fact.

via Twitter

Adam ain’t wrong.

Back in the early 2000s bands had websites and email list.

Along came MySpace, and lots of folks jumped there, and it became the #1 music site in 2006.

In the same year, Twitter launched. I think Facebook opened up to everyone, too. Bands and labels eventually moved the bulk of their “getting the word out” operations to these sites.

So over a decade of neglecting email lists and websites, as social media sites have revealed who they really serve (investors, advertisers, their boards, Elon Musk), and we’re left with a bunch of “followers” and “engagement,” which is about as useful as “thoughts” and “prayers.”

Email still works, regardless of the few people who leave comments saying “my inbox is a wreck, I miss so much stuff.”

These are the same people who follow 3000 accounts on social media platforms, and are probably among the 70% of the people who don’t see your social media posts anyways.

Start an email list, send to an email list.

“Yeah, but my fans don’t use email.”

Bullshit.

They use emails to sign up for social media accounts. They get receipts emailed to them for concert tickets and vinyl orders.

What’t the alternative? Are we just going to start making more video content for whatever Instagram is becoming? And TikTok?

A majority of bands and labels can’t even figure out how to use Twitter which has been around for over 15 years, but you’re telling me they’re gonna “figure out” the new breed of social media platforms?

Make music videos.
Post your songs.
Release your vinyl.

But for fucks sake put it on your website, email you fans, and go drink some coffee. Use the countless hours of banging your head against the wall over social media algorithms and go write a good song, or strike up a partnership that will go a lot further than a $20 “boosted” fucking post.

STOP AND REST

From a recent trip down to West Virgina, this on the Baltimore National Pike. Views for miles, a fun place to get off the highway and stretch your legs.

I haven’t driven more than 2 or 3 hours in awhile, but this was a full, eight hour day from early morning to late afternoon.

Of course, after all that driving, you wind up at a place like Burger Carte, which served up burgers so good, we went there two nights in a row.

THE TODDLER

This is America.

“I don’t understand why Biden is not on TV every single night talking about this – it’s terrorism. It’s decades of killing social and civic fabrics. It’s fixable,” from another of Melody’s Tweets.

I KNOW NOTHING

I know what the President said 13 seconds after he posted it, along with the 100 replies to that the statement, and the 14 articles that will be written about soon after. I know that the President read something.

But I don’t know if my neighbor had a good holiday.

I know so many random bits of NBA trade gossip, but can’t tell you the hours of the three places to get coffee here.

I know what my friends had for lunch, several time zones away, but I never checked to see if there’s a soup kitchen or community pantry in my town.

I feel like I know so much about such little things, and the big things right in front of me are invisible.

I JUST KEEP DANCING

Via @_meanmachine on IG

Not as many miles as I wanted this week, but it’s been brutally hot out, so the few miles I’m getting feel like more bang for the buck. Running in the heat is double duty on the heart; one for the run, two for the internal cooling.

There was a half mile stretch the other night where things came together. Warmed up, legs felt great, sun beating down, and settled in at my 10:30-ish per mile pace, which I am not usually doing. I’m puttering along most of the time, really, as I don’t want to press, and wipe myself out after every run – life is hard enough already!

But yeah, that little half mile section felt good. Settled in, accepted the discomfort, eyes on the prize, chest up, and yeah, got it done.

Today’s run at the nature preserve didn’t have the same vibe, but it was a lot more climbing, which felt good. I didn’t run much of it, but I got the heart rate up, saw some buffalo, and got home without destroying myself. Felt good to have all that under control.

HOME IS WHERE I’LL BE

I’m working out of a nearby co-working spot again, which is close enough for me to walk home for lunch. This tiny side street always amazes me, with the shade, the trees, the church; it’s a great space, though this photo doesn’t really capture that.

Nights are quiet in a college town when school is out, so I’ve taken to doing some night riding with my fixed gear. Very slow and deliberate, listening for crickets and speeding trucks.

I keep thinking to upload photos like this to Instagram. They’d get a few likes and comments, remind people I’m alive. But I am burnt to a crisp on social media.

I liken it to the food court at the mall. As teens, that was the place to be. It’d be weird if all our parents were there, too. That’s social media. Oh, and the mall cops won’t let you see some of your friends, too. That’s the algorithms.

My website is the tiny store front on a side street with no foot traffic. If you want to see what I’ve got in my shop, you’ll have to open a web browser, as I’m nearly done placing ads at the food court for you to come check out my stuff.

Does this mean less traffic? Maybe people will forget about me? Sure.

But I email friends, and text with pals, and get on the phone and Facetime, too. I’m not lacking, and for that I’m grateful.

Investing my time and energy at the food court is over.

FIND THE GOOD STUFF

I removed Twitter and Instagram from my phone, as both were sucking up way too much time. Way too easy to just lose 10 or 20 minutes at a time and come away with nothing of any value.

Of course my brain somehow found Google News, or Apple News, which is just throwing more blunt force trauma into my eyeballs on the regular. No thanks.

Then I remembered, wow, there were design sites I used to frequent which always linked to the coolest stuff.

So in hit up Swiss Miss and found earth.fm, which is amazing nature sounds from all over the world.

Then I found this amazing video, too. A soothing, gorgeous video. Absolultey inspring.

So scrolling through Swiss Miss didn’t flood me with all these things. They were spaced out over several days, not just video after video, pummeling my senses and stealing my attention.

Worth checking out: https://www.swiss-miss.com/