I watched films, listened to podcasts, journaled, drilled flashcards, and even took lessons in my target languages. I was doing all the right things, right?
For some reason, I was stuck on a plateau. After years of this process I was at the same level as before. After the initial joyous boost into “conversational,” I didn’t learn anything new.
I learned a lot the past decade or so. I’m more educated in nearly every way and I worked hard for it. I’m adept at many subjects. I earned a handful of new skills. A pressure to “achieve my potential” has pushed me through all of it.
My life became schedules, to-do lists, goals and habits. None of them were ever completed to full satisfaction.
This neurotic self-improvement worked. It educated me, got rid my insecurity of being an idiot, gave me marketable skills, and gave me some party tricks like being able to explain “the rise of China” to…
500 miles of West Texas authenticity on a bicycle
Big Bend National Park, TX. 2010
We awoke with some gusto knowing we had to hop on our bikes and ride through the desert. Though I had been on a couple bike tours before and Geoff was in decent shape, we decided to acclimate slowly with the first two having short itineraries.
We started off by riding our bikes around the parking lot, checking stuff. I was using Geoff’s 2nd bike, a hybrid mountain/road bike. It was a nice bike with comfortable geometry, but there was one troublesome part of it…
I shied away from leadership roles. I dropped out of college. I hid away in mediocrity — all because my fear of public speaking was too intense. Now, I adore the rush of addressing a crowd. This is what I did to change.
At some point during school I became generally nervous about speaking in front of class. The fear snowballed into an all-out phobia. By the time I was in high school, any mandatory speech assignment would ruin my entire day. The AM hours were filled with anxiety and PM hours filled with shame.
I would bite my nails…
It was the age of school shootings, counter terrorism and the very beginning of the iphone. We didn’t know it yet, but President Donald Trump, George Floyd, and Covid-19 were on the horizon. Americans were, and still are, trying to become better people, and a lot of them are flailing for something that makes sense. In 2008 I met a random man, camping in the middle of Texas. In 2010 him and I decided to go on a 500 mile bike ride together.
Austin, TX. Spring 2010
I took a greyhound bus up from the border and slept at Geoff’s…
I found this in my notes. I wrote it in between 2009–2011, while living on the Texas/Mexico border. My higher self is a pretty good supporter.
Congratulations, I think it’s badass you decided to focus on being a revolutionary writer and leader of culture. May the ideas of progress and sermons of radical change come to fruition as you work daily to fulfill them. May you work tirelessly with a zen approach.
While pursuing your calling, remember to keep your mind open and hungry. Take risks based on conviction. Maintain the art in all that you do.
Why do so many American adults aspire to learn just one foreign language and I’ve crossed that threshold five times in the past seven years? If talent was the answer than I wouldn’t have to practice every single day. So what is the reason?
Ever since I was a boy I’ve had the desire to communicate with foreigners. When I grew older, I desired to travel and get to know people from other places.
A belief that communicating in a foreign language is somewhat easy if you’re willing to put yourself out there. …
When I was young, I noticed my head was full of thoughts that were out of my control. It was concerning. So, when I first stumbled across Zen meditation it was a breath of fresh air.
“I am not my thoughts. I can observe my thoughts, let them go, and not react to them.”
This was an incredibly powerful concept for me.
At some point during adulthood meditation became one of those things that I simply felt guilty for not doing. You know, our old pal, perfectionism. This is obviously not the point of mindfulness.
<this is a conceptual rough draft, feedback appreciated>
Nothing says power like sitting at a table and carving up nations with your pen. This is the situation that Joseph Stalin, Harry Truman, and Winston Churchill found themselves in July of 1945. Their countrymen were still hauling bodies out of ditches, finding POWs, and in the case of the United States, still fighting and dying in the Pacific.
They had the task of dividing up the spoils of war, but something had changed from previous victories throughout history.
These great powers, along with the lesser powers of the world, still needed…
Medium is an elegant platform. I’m literally writing on it right now and I like it. Soon after publishing, actual strangers will stumble across my writing and judge it. My wordpress blog never did that.
But lately I’ve been swirling into a wormhole of wasted time. Everything I read is about Medium itself.
Medium is marketing to writers to get on Medium and then read about succeeding on Medium and then write about succeeding on Medium.
And why would I jump on this treadmill every day? The carrots on our sticks are all of the wonderfully witty writers that were…