It is my belief that it is best to tell the person how you feel. Feelings are not facts. Everyone has emotional reactivity based on their family system dynamics, expressing how you feel is not a hostile act. Strong people appreciate, knowing how they their perceived. If they don’t, you now, have a valuable data point on how to interact with them in the future and how they may be reacting to you.
Many have the instinct to he concerned about how someone will react and let that color their intuition. You win either way by addressing something head on.
That’s the beauty of the approach. You will find out. They will respond and you can assess by their response and your own reaction to it if you want to continue with your instinct or update your priors.
Emotional reactivity is part of our autonomic nervous system. It’s not always right. It’s only sometimes right. And learning to tune it is part of the fun. You want to improve your heuristics over time. You will get more clarity on the world and your place in it. If you wish to persist in feeling anxious and uncertain being passive will have that effect. It literally hurts you. You have agency in deciding to address how you feel head on.
Have you ever been bullied? I gather it’s a common experience. I am not sure if I was bullied much as a child. It’s possible I was but I think it’s equally possible I have always had enough social power that I could have been a bully myself.
I do know I was raised on stories about the importance of standing up to the powerful and fighting for the weakest. If you saw someone being taken advantage of in a situation it was your obligation to render aid. I assume these stories hindered any inclination to bully myself but I can’t be sure.
At this point in my life I struggle with whether to believe my ego and its narratives about dominance and power. Any stories I might have about being a victim to circumstances have to contend with the objective reality of how well my life has gone.
I feel it would be dishonest to suggest I’m not powerful. And I don’t feel as if I was unduly dominated or coerced by others in my younger years. Maybe I’m wrong.
A common story seems to be the intelligent suffering abuse from the stupid but powerful. Maybe I didn’t experience this because I was a woman.
I knew I was intelligent but it was not a hindrance. I don’t know if that’s a typical experience. Lots of intelligent people seem to experience social discrimination from those with status and standing that are insecure about their own intelligence. I was only ever treated well for being intelligent.
I suppose I’m thinking about bullying, intelligence and dominance because the current moment in artificial intelligence is focused on whether or not intelligence is what makes the difference in civilization and its progress.
I dont assign a ton of value to raw intelligence because so many other factors matters to humans. We are social pack animal. Plenty of idiots hold power and plenty of very intelligent people can barely feed themselves. But if folks who have taken IQ tests want to feel superior I can’t really blame them. I feel superior for all kinds of random non-factors like my taste and my hobbies. It doesn’t mean I am superior.
Thanksgiving is one of America’s strangest and most utopian holidays. We take a day at the end of the fall harvest season, just as we head into the darkest time of the year, to give thanks for having survived the last the cycle.
Everyone who makes it to the Thanksgiving table is symbolically finding a place of security, abundance, friendship and family. Even if it’s just for an hour.
It’s within this bittersweet context that I think being grateful for disappointment is a worthy objective. I say the serenity prayer with that thought in mind.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
While I am grateful for all of the things that went my way this year, I am as glad that I have been able to accept the things I cannot change.
The disappointments in life are endless and personal. Our own family stories are shaped by the intimate family dynamics of feeling loved, secure, safe and empowered. No childhood is without some emotional ups and downs.
If you feel disappointment it’s a privilege. You extended enough empathy and love that you could be hurt. The trust required for this is one of life’s most human experiences. To love people that have disappointed us is to find peace with forgiveness. May we invite that forgiveness into our lives.
I give Thanksgiving for being able to feel connection with full knowledge of its risks and rewards.
I figured I’d earned a a little treat as the prior day of news and social media has been somehow equally tiresome. If you like audio, AI Breakdown Podcast quotes me at 20:00 on why I’m skeptical of regulatory capture masquerading as ethics.
Our home in Montana is county land off of a dirt road. Our USPS mail box requires a half mile trek to get there and back. It is the perfect amount of walk at sunset when you want to take a short break and stretch your legs.
I had some skincare waiting for me so the anticipation added a pleasant boost to my already happy mood. It was golden hour as the sun set in the west. The Spanish Peaks were washed in light and clouds were orange. As far as being content with the human experience, it’s hard to get much better than that for me.
It’s nice to feel joy when everything is uncertain. Not that life ever offers much certainty, but it’s easy to feel grim when the problems facing my country and the planet seem insurmountable.
A beautiful sunset in the west could just as easily be read as sad metaphor. A lot feels like it’s going wrong if you read the news or spend time on social media. American decline, global warming, conflicts and strained spheres of influence all paint dire picture.
But that’s all outside my locus of control. The things I can do for myself are broad and life affirming. I enjoy a walk in the quiet beauty of nature because I’ve been graced with building a life where sunset in the west is a good thing.
Maybe I never got over my skis, but I don’t feel like I went through shock or denial as capital markets tightened. I remember a world before interest rates were low. I remember bad times. I have memories of bankruptcies and struggles to raise capital.
I was a teenager watching my father when tech crashed the first time. I was living in San Francisco working for a venture backed company that had acquired my startup when Sequoia said RIP good times and the global financial crisis unfolded.
Maybe the elder millennial timing of my life wasn’t as shitty as we thought. The constant crises were the norm. Unlike Gen Xers I never had a fear of selling out. I was much more interested in finding a way to survive. And I was disappointed to learn that the institutions didn’t really offer that anymore.
When I had good luck I didn’t think my accomplishments were my own. I mostly thought of them as accidents of survival. Praying for exits was less of a joke and more of a bitter reality. And when they did come it was a surprise.
I have made my peace with the risk of resetting the chess board. My optimism has always been tempered by expectations of crisis and chaos. I might even believe it’s for the best.
The real challenge wasn’t in my sights yet. I did a layover in Dulles before heading to Chicago O’Hare for a final direct to Bozeman Montana. When I got to O’Hare, I had all the bags for a five week trip in Europe on my person.
I attempted to walk to the airport shuttle area only to get lost inside a parking garage. Finally I made it into what looked like a side alley for the shuttles and busses. And proceeded to wait for an hour for the Hyatt bus. Sunk cost fallacy caught up with me fast as I didn’t want you to lug my bags back to find a taxi half a mile away. I was already at 11000 steps, exhausted and half mad from 15 hours of transit.
I was in my own 9th circle. Middle management road warriors of a certain age fighting for an airport shuttle to a Hyatt Regency 30 minutes late. One lady blamed the extra traffic on “the immigrants” while a regional sales director discussed selling mortgage products to Wells Fargo wealth managers during the run up to the global financial crisis.
The woman who sold mortgage products to wealth manager began discussing her “hot mess labradoodle named Karma” and I swear this is not a joke.
She told her companion you can tell things are bad as her trip to Big Sky is too expensive this year. That I don’t lose it on her in that moment is an act of self control.
The delay at the shuttle was so long the line ended up being 50 deep to actually check in at the vast conference hotel.
And what a display of American exceptionalism. Not only was there a pharma conference (that’s where the mortgage product woman was headed as sales is sales) but there was also a regional dance cheer competition for tween girls and a field hockey & lacrosse competition for boys.
The demographics of this odd mix did explain why there are dozens of “not yet rich enough for ozempic but rich enough for Little Miss Subshine’s glitter and a stay at the Hyatt.” White obese stage mothers who spend too much at Ulta were heavily represented. Blessedly the lacrosse and field hockey boys were just noisy.
My flight touched down at 7pm. It’s now 9pm and I am finally checked into my room. I pulled the disability card with my ankylosis & begged a guy to get me a keycard. Tried to tip him $40. He wouldn’t take it. Compromised as I insisted on $20.
We discussed the mortgage products sales lady & how he didnt think his generation would ever own a home. He was a zoomer. He’s probably right.
As I finally gave up on the day, laying in bed I can hear two kids kid above me practicing catching and tossing with their lacrosse sticks Thwack and release. Over & over. Thankfully I had ear plugs. Only one three hour flight left to get me home to Montana.
I’ve begun the twenty four hour process of getting home from Europe. The “before times” of simple direct flights from one major transcontinental hub to another appears to be over for me. Regional jumpers here I come.
I switched up my return travel to America once I changed my itinerary to include Amsterdam. This made booking the long leg travel leg of my return flight modestly easier. Amsterdam is a major hub in a way that Tallinn isn’t.
But finding a path that gets me to Montana takes some doing. I will arrive arrive in America and then go on to another hub which will then get me to Montana the next morning. It will involve an overnight in an airport hotel in lucky me.
Schiphol is also the of the worst airports I’ve ever had to navigate. It was packed in every instance from checking bags to airport security lines. It had an odd habit of listing airports logos together within a shared affiliate group. So within an Alliance group so Lufthansa and United were listed together but when I got to the check in at Terminal 1 counter 1 they said I had to go to the actual United individual desk three “terminals down.” At Terminal 3 counter 26. Then United accidentally checked my bag to a wrong flight but I thankfully caught it and moved it by hand to the baggage guy.
I proceed to a mass of humanity with no extra clearance shortcuts or priority. It was a blind crowd teaming and shoving get through security. That took almost an hour and a half even with a few sneaky jumps. And it was another 20 minutes in passport control.
It was such a schlep then to my E gate from I didn’t even try to make it to the lounge for coffee as it would have hindered boarding. Mind you I arrived two and a half hours ahead of time and got to my gate with barely 10 minutes to spare on boarding.
The bright side is a couple in business class wanted to be seated together so I got moved to the L window line on the 787 Dreamliner so the end of the mad “start stop” dash of a poorly run airport was met with a fantastic seat.
There are three empty seats in business class. A friend of mine’s name was called. I wondered if it was the same guy or just a common name. Turns out it was him missing the flight. So lucky me that I made the gauntlet as others did not.
I don’t want to call the trip a failure as I doubt anyone is paying enough attention but me to notice. I didn’t get to attend as many meetings and events as I’d hoped and I feel guilty about it.
But I am noticing the challenge of doing work as a digital nomad while also coping with emotional family obligations and responsibilities.
I’m trying to decide what constitutes a failure mode for me. Am I doing what’s best for the longer term goals I’ve set for myself? And do I know where must I set painful boundaries?
I struggle mightily to be separated from family and friends. But I am also coping with the new reality of closed borders, impossible visas, and challenges to uniting everyone in my extended chosen family unit. Many people can’t get to America anymore.
It’s on my mind as I am considering rearranging some of my time in Estonia to go to the Netherlands for the Network State conference next Monday. It’s exhausting to be on the road but I also firmly believe the network state will be an emerging organizer for populations that aren’t well served by their current geographical state.
That’s ironically why I’m in Estonia in the first place. It is the most progressive of the nation states with its e-residency program and I’m excited to do more business here as it’s welcoming to all who can make a contribution.
And yet I feel like I’m not doing all that I’d hoped while I’m here. There are too many directions to go in and no good choices. I long to be more specific about some of them but the salient point is that I have freedom of movement that many others do not. And that’s the failure mode that undermines us all.
A swirling milieu of discourse has brought a renewed focus in my inbox & timeline on what constitutes the pursuit of excellence; that old Socratic dichotomy of the individual human’s personal virtues and his role as citizen in the wider communal project of civilization. The tensions have never felt so taut to me.
Please forgive my focus on revanchist populism, but the good of the many versus the singular hero is a subject of fascination for both fascists and socialists alike. Costin Alamariu has set the warrior master return traditionalists on fire as he’s come out from under his nom de plume Bronze Age Pervert with a complex overview of the tyrannical Athenian philosopher kings and their cultivation (yes he means eugenics) of antiquity’s aristocracy.
Everywhere I look, we are all debating whose rules matter, from Nature to God to man, and how we should use that authority to determine how we organize. It’s a bit surprising to see intelligentsia overcome with fervor for the proletariat and the aristocracy when you’d imagine both classes look back with disdain at the academic class.
It’s a ping ponging back and forth between the individual and his wider group responsibilities to his people from every ideological direction.
I see it in Luke Burgis and Freddie DeBoer’s concern with mimetic collapse and the recursive artistic malaise. If our system produces no truly novel art is it a failure of our elites to pursue excellence? Is it among our elites where genius and high culture produced? Or is it the opposite? Do we seek out frontiers when pushed from the boundaries of those who build and work?
As a post enlightenment matter, a petit aristocracy of the technical bourgeois is the most balanced of the positions between the masses yearning to be free and recognition of a desire for leadership earned through meritocracy lending a guiding hand.