Here and Now

Why is it that no special moment is complete without taking a photograph? And why are you more excited about the photo than you are about living in that moment? The photo might vaguely resemble you (depending on your hair day, time of day, weather, the camera and so much more).

Don’t get so lost in the abstractions that you forget to live what you’re abstracting about. Be here and now.

Take the wonder out of your art


Magic and wonder in your art comes after endless hours of being lost & being clueless in the trenches of the experience. Don’t let the lack of magic be the reason you quit. The act of creation is rarely magical. That comes later.

They’re not going to see it

If you share something you’ve made with the world, they will never see that feature you stayed up late working on. They won’t even notice the little flourishes you added towards the end, even less the time, money or sacrifice it took for you to make it.

If this disappoints you, stop. It was never for them. It should never be for them. Because if it is, you’ve just given them the power to tell you that you’re bad, and you should feel bad. And the next time you think of colouring outside the lines, you better reign it in, because someone out there might not like it.

Make to please and amuse yourself first, the others don’t matter as much.

Motivation is for amateurs

This is a quote by Chuck Close:

 the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will – through work – bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art [idea].’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you [did] today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.

To go with this, I read this Seth Godin‘s quote:

Our need for motivation is due to our need for reassurance . We are paralyzed by our fear that it might not work, and we let the fear de-motivate us, giving us the perfect excuse to not create.

You owe it to yourself to create. Ignore that flight-or-fight response and just sit down to start the work. The stress is the same as you would feel if a bear was outside your cave, it’s a hand-me-down from when we used to be hunter gatherers.

Just. Start. You will notice that it’s more tedious, boring work. 

The Tree that Never Had to Fight

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

– Good Timber by Douglas Malloch

Don’t seek comfort.  Don’t seem discomfort either. But be ready to be OK with discomfort to do something that’s worth it (according to you)

Absorb what is useful, discard what is not


Don’t put effort into pointing out what’s wrong with that book, this song, the lecture, her diet, their philosophy. It might be more productive to pick what’s useful, be grateful for it and move on. Your time here is limited, don’t waste it.

If we build it, will they come?

Computer programming has come a long way. It used to be that you’d make software that did your taxes for you, and it had to just do that without breaking. The question used to be ‘Can we make this’ and if the answer was ‘yes’ then, it was common sense that people would come. 

Now the question has changed to ‘Will people use this?’

So many services you use today come from bold experiments that changed something. Making software is the easy part now, knowing what will work is difficult /(or impossible). Or maybe they had to pivot before they made an impact.

Scott Adams (he created Dilbert) wrote a blog post about the pivot where he puts his points forward (please read the full post, it’s worth the read) 

  • A start-up in 2014 is a guess- testing machine
  • The Internet is a psychology experiment
  • In a complicated environment, systems work better than goals.

We thought computers will change the world. Turns out that’s only partially true, what computers make potentially possible only lasts if  our latent psychological needs/urges are met.

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Why you will never understand the greatness of Bruce Lee

If you’re like me, you know Bruce Lee for being a bad ass in kung fu movies and not much else.

Here’s what you probably didn’t know about him:

  • He created a martial art system of fighting called Jeet Kune Do
  • He’s considered the father of mixed martial arts (MMA) by Dana White, the creator of UFC
  • He’s considered the first Asian male lead to have been successful in Hollywood
  • He’s the one who bought the idea of Kung Fu films to Hollywood
  • He has trained Kareem Abdul Jabar, George Lazenby, James Coburn and Steve McQueen
  • He introduced and popularised nunchaku to the western world (maybe influencing Michelangelo (the ninja turtle) to take them up)

This doesn’t even begin to cover why he was significant. But I’m not trying to list the reasons.

My point is this. Bruce Lee is a celebrated artist in your eyes, but you don’t necessarily know why, and that’s OK.

He was influential enough to the people who matter, the ones with the influence and taste about martial arts and kung fu films. Now, it’s difficult to find people who have never heard of him. 

It gives me a better idea of how ideas spread, and what happens to them when they end up in the mainstream.

Embarrasingly enough, I don’t know why Micheal Jackson is so popular (maybe you don’t either?) but I’m sure he, like Bruce Lee, broke boundaries and raised the bar for what it meant to be a pop star.

Don’t obsess over the Hammer, but over your vision of the table

There is this prevalent, unfortunate myth that its the tools that make the artist.

So the beginner guitar player spends his time looking at reviews of the perfect guitar pedal that will make him sound amazing overnight instead of putting in the time knowing her scales, modes, chords to then move onto play songs.

The beginner web developer looks for the perfect software that will make him a rock star developer instead of putting in the time hand coding sites on notepad.

Websites like lifehacker now publish weekly articles on the tools artists use to create their art.

This is a shame, because tools never made groundbreaking art, what makes your work groundbreaking is putting in the human hours, having the human passion, facing the human fear of failure and doing the thing anyway.

You have more of a chance of sounding like Jimi Hendrix if you put in the time on an old guitar from the pawn shop than to spend time replicating his exact setup.

Just for the record, I think you should spend your time looking for your own sound. Jimi Hendrix’s place is already taken.

Nobody never listened to the yelling lunatic

You’ve seen them, they yell in the streets for people to wake up and see the truth, the one he’s willing to tell you, for free. Nobody stops or pays attention, all that passionate yelling for nothing.

The cult leaders do the opposite. Get the first follower, then the second, and so on. No, it’s not for everyone, and no you can’t get in easy. That’s how you build an army of followers who will drink your special kool aid when you need them to.

If only the yelling passionate lunatic knew better, he could have his own cult.