July 16th – July 31st, 2017
My key habit for today has been to rest, and I’ve done a good job of that, Netflix binging from a horizontal position for most of it. Now it’s evening and I’m down the street waiting on a coconut smoothie and two helpings of pad thai from the food carts – which will cost me all of $4 – and taking a moment to look around and appreciate something I haven’t appreciated before.
Muay thai and BJJ practice again today. Loving it all, but wary that I’m learning too much sport and not enough self-defense. There’s talk in training of techniques to score points, and when you know someone isn’t allowed to punch you in the face or kick you in the nuts you leave those areas wide open. Still, much better this than nothing.
On my way back from training, did an hour of boxing today. Got some Dire Straits in my ears as I ride the scooter down streets lined with pagodas and memories. That stadium over there, a pink hotel on the corner, that little music spot by the moat… can’t help but smile thinking back. Life’s been good to me.
Ever since reading Cal Newport’s book last year I’ve been measuring hours spent on deep work, aiming for at least 60 each month, about 15 each week. This month is two-thirds done and so far I’ve only racked up 23.4 hours of deep work. That’s mostly because of travel. Got very little done in Istanbul and I’ll get very little done in Japan. Visiting such places is nice, but my work has to suffer for it.
Was told today of a Dutch man who worked all his life, never married, no kids, and never left the Netherlands until he retired at 65. Then he took a trip to Southeast Asia and traveled around a bit. That’s all I know of the story, and there’s surely more to it, but still it strikes me as a sad life. Work all through your prime and then get a little reward at the end? What a waste.
And then right after hearing that story I end up sitting in front of my computer all day, trying to churn through a bunch of work stuff. Even decided to skip training, though that was partly to give my back a rest, too. Feeling nicely accomplished though as I wrap things up tonight. Launching another product next week and I’ll have a good break from work while in Japan. Discipline equals freedom.
People are quick to throw out the “racist” label nowadays. “That’s racist!” they’ll say, though it usually isn’t. It’s like someone screaming “MURDERER!” at you because you brushed your teeth and killed a bunch of bacteria. But more important, when you label someone racist, even if it’s justified, you destroy any chance of having a conversation with them, of having them appreciate where they might have gone wrong.
Just finished recording a two-hour podcast with the Cuz on the topic of eating animals. We went deep on it, talking about souls and consciousness and the holocaust… all the while trying not to be too preachy. I don’t think we can be preachy actually, because neither of us have good answers, just lots of questions and contradictions what with our human brains and all.
Final fight class. Skipped the last two because of back pain but sucked it up today. An hour of MMA, then muay thai sparring. Took some hard kicks down low and punches up high. Sometimes you think you’re doing great and then a right hook comes out of nowhere. These past two weeks have been a decent intro to the fighting world. I still know almost nothing, but that’s more than I knew before.
I love lounge access, man. Less food options now that I’ve resolved to be more disciplined about vegetarianism, but I still get a kick out of rolling up to a lounge, handing over my special black card and getting ushered in to a plush hideaway like a VIP. The lounge in Chiang Mai today even had a 15-minute complimentary massage.
First time in Tokyo. Trying to appreciate it despite the pouring rain and only four hours of sleep and two weird plastic-wrapped rice ball things for breakfast. There are moments. Reuniting with herself, of course. But also that graceful old lady writing on the train. And me trying all the buttons alongside the toilet. And how damn polite and friendly everyone is here.
Heading up a stack of steps to a shrine. Everything’s so clean even though there are no bins. There are signs warning about bears, monkeys, snakes and boars. An old man is exercising up and down the steps, inviting us to join. We’re alone when we get to the top. On a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji big and bold from here, framed with cherry blossoms in the spring. Now it’s not so spectacular. We have to settle for stellar.
Random “superpower” I’d love to have: the ability to fall asleep instantly, whenever I choose. There are nights when I’m wrecked tired yet lie awake for hours, mind racing. Or days like today, traveling from A to B to C on a bus, a bullet and a train… trying to nod off for a little bit to catch up on some z’s… but nothing doing. The result is me sitting on my ass most of the day and being dog-tired by the end of it.
There’s a narrow pedestrian street that runs through Nabeyacho in Kyoto, discreet little bars and restaurants all along and in the alleys perpendicular. Neat wooden facades, tiny gardens, occasional lanterns, hushed conversation. We see an elderly couple exit a restaurant with a host and watch as bows are exchanged until the couple disappears around a distant corner.
Second lap of a supermarket in Nara, on the hunt for some food to comfort my tired and limping self. Trying to do the vegetarian thing but the deck is stacked against me here in Japan. Sushi seems like the best compromise this eve. Will pick up some muesli and yogurt and flowers as well. Then head to the checkout for an encounter with another beaming worker bee.
Hundreds of tame deer in the park here. Quite the scene with them wandering over little bridges, across open fields, along gentle streams. Flowers in the foreground and the tops of temples and pagodas peeking from the tress. You buy soft crackers and the deer walk right up and eat them out of your hand. Some have even learned the trick of giving you a little bow before and after, proper Japanese style.
In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?