My courage is uneven at the moment. I have a specific professional project that I am struggling to push myself on. I tell myself that it is something I want, but if the truism “having is evidence of wanting” is any indication, I am struggling to convince myself I really want it. Except I am fairly sure I do want it and I’m just scared.
I used to love it when people said no to me. I was the kind of “chip on my shoulder” young person that used a no to fuel myself. “I’ll show them” was somewhere between a mantra and a battle cry.
But now I find myself anxious to publicly go out and see just how many people will say no. I don’t know if I find it as motivating as I used to. I tell myself I don’t mind but perhaps some other unexamined element of reaction makes me afraid.
This could all be an elaborate ego protection ruse on my part. Maybe I still love the motivation that comes from no. Maybe I hate it. But I have not really done enough fucking around to find out yet to know one way or other.
My gut instinct is to simply declare in public my goals and a timeline to force myself into it. But then I’ve been working through my tendency to rely on willpower and force to motivate myself. Perhaps a big forcing function will simply send me back into my old coping mechanisms of addictive overwork.
I’ve always punished myself by doing things. If I am anxious I almost always find ways to kick a hornet’s nest to force an action rather than gentle build momentum.
Whatever I do I would prefer I do it with as much gentleness and respect for my inner child as possible. I am prone to abusing my inner child’s feelings by disregarding her fear or her desire to keep distance from the rest of the world. I deserve better than forcing misery onto my inner child.
I think I might have a case of the yips. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s most commonly referred to as type of performance anxiety associated with experienced athletes. They suddenly find themselves unable follow through on techniques they otherwise know well.
Though as it turns out it’s not actually a form of anxiety at all, but rather a failure to consistently execute on muscle memory in experienced professionals which manifests as a loss of fine motor skills or a struggle to follow through on common chains of decision making, especially ones that are subconscious.
You might also associate it with analysis paralysis, a phenomenon in which someone has access to all relevant information but gets lost in decision making rather than simply acting on their reasonable informed instinct. One’s ability to simply execute what is in front of them is diminished not through lack of knowledge of experience but rather inaction.
I am an experienced startup operator. I am also a competent angel and early stage investor in private markets with a speciality in technology driven businesses. At this point, I’m not only well into my career with a number of concrete successes (I’ve built and sold companies) but I’ve also got generational memory from being the daughter of a startup operator. And yet I’m still nervous about swimming into the deep end of my investing career. I’ve got the the yips.
I hadn’t noticed that I had the yips till I came back from a wilderness medical incident technician certification course. I was doing a hands on course meant for front line first responders in rural and back country scenarios. It was heavy on scene and scenario execution so you could build muscle memory and quick response times.
The more chaotic the world, the harder it is to act with confidence as complexity builds.
Only by getting outside of my own skill set and professional world did I finally see how much I’m holding myself back from acting. Whether it is out of fear or analysis paralysis I do not know. But I do know that if one does not act the consequences can be dire. We are all default dead unless we make decisions to remain alive. There is no safety or progress to be found by staring at your problems and becoming overwhelmed by the challenge. If there is a cure for the yips it is to simply keep playing no matter how hard the game becomes.
If my brain is a sponge I think I’ve been sopping up more than I am designed to handle. But I am holding on and facing a lot of new information and acting on it quickly.
I’m at a wilderness medical first responder class. And I’m the odd duck out on the class. Everyone else is living with much harder realities than I do. They are the ones that fight our wars. Provide our security. Fight our fires. They keep up with where our most vulnerable live. It’s an on the margin make your best call world.
My body can feel that this reality is very different from what I live with and on different class and wealth bands. People that are more buffered from harsh realities often don’t want to face the costs of our lifestyles. But we are not in a morally neutral systems. And a lot of violence still happens on the margins.
I feel somewhat invigorated by the immediacy of decision making in these chaotic environments. If you are in a natural disaster like a wildfire your capacity to react calmly under extreme conditions is a given. So naturally we arm these people with more agency and skills as it’s a set of problems with a lot of nuance and grey areas too.
I am frankly exhausted even though I didn’t do anything that intense. I did some traumatic brain injury drills. And I worked on how to properly stint and secure broken bones if you are in the back country and need to hobble back in to society. I learned a lot about agency and context and the need for high emotional intelligence as you cope with those who are in need or duress.
I suppose with that in mind, it’s no surprise that I’d like to enjoy a good long night of sleep and a big breakfast in the morning. One has got to enjoy living when you have the chance.
I’ve been slowly making my way through a Korean show on Netflix called Extraordinary Attorney Woo. It’s about a young woman with autism who has a gift for the law. It’s warm hearted and charming and a bit of a relief to watch if you have autism or are on the spectrum. I highly recommend it.
The show really pulls on my heartstrings. The episode I am currently watching features the struggles of 10 and 11 year old kids who are at after school academic centers. I won’t ruin the plot but a young man sets out to “liberate” the kids by letting them play. I found myself tearing up the show went about discussing the need for healthy playtime.
I hated going to school even though I love learning. I found so much of the pressures of school upsetting. Being inside, being around lots of people and loud noises, and just generally being obligated to things like homework and deadlines to be exhausting and anxiety inducing. I found myself tearing up watching these Korean kids in similar situations.
I was quite lucky to have a mother who sent me to Waldorf schools and even the occasional home school year. When I could pace myself I’d would rapidly out run the curriculum. I just needed breaks and playtime and my own opportunities to self direct. I hated discipline from the outside but had plenty of my own if given the chance to be self directed.
I’m still an autodidactic type as an adult. This week I am taking a wilderness medical incident certification course. I’ve got some strong sense that this is meant to wrap around some wider learning experience about the practicalities of living in a more chaotic world. It’s a bit of learning by doing. Some perspectives have to be unraveled first hand.
I’m not very temperamentally even. I run hot and excited and passionate and I’ve got a mean streak a mile wide. I can only assume the reason I’m so popular with some men is they love a bitch. Everyone does.
It’s not the most appreciated trait in popular culture but it does seem to be the dominate preference of a lot of very intelligent people. At least these days plenty of people both conservative and progressive appreciate the necessity of a ball buster. It’s a status object too. We don’t trust men with weak wives. It makes them look weak.
But I’m not sure anyone thinks it’s a particular good thing for the majority of women to act forcefully. If you hold your ground it can bring out howls of ostentatious victimhood. Which if you point out, they quickly gender the tactic a dark feminine trait of less less powerful that they learned from you.
It’s a really stupid party trick that somehow works well past the age of reason. After about 21 you should have really learned men tell you are weak because they know you are powerful over them. But honestly I still get caught flat footed by it. It’s a fickle power to be wielded without assurance or trust. But it is still a power and it’s insulting women women don’t claim it.
Women deciding to dismiss the uneven hold of their power makes balancing power for everyone a bit of a mess. The default switches from human manufacturing got reset.
Gender essentialism is pretty deep. It’s very jarring for the literal minded mainstream of society in particular. And unfortunately for everyone the world is run by the mainstream and they are prone to revanchist sentiment. Just look at everyone simpering for monarchy. Even if you are above that sort of thing no you are not. And so the uneven bars of progress continue. If you aren’t a realist about it you might get screwed.
I’ve been procrastinating on two core projects for the fall. Both of which involve making a modest investment between $100 and $250 depending on how fancy I want to get. So it’s not a throwaway amount of money but it’s also not money I should be hesitating on.
I’ve been in my head about it for two or three weeks even though I regularly need to make decisions about much larger sums of money for projects with much longer time horizons. I finally got myself over the hump on clicking order after going over my plans with my husband Alex for an hour. Which we’d definitely bill at more than we spent.
PROJECT ONE: TEST APPLE ORCHARD
The first project is getting in a few apple saplings in a fall planting to test out where we want an orchard. It’s not a full orchard with a big wiz-bang multi-year permaculture plan. We literally just want to get in four to six dwarf trees in the soil as soon as possible as we’ve been told it’s feasible to do fall plantings of heartier Zone 4 varietals.
We did a soil sample and the results came back with very encouraging results. Our back pasture has excellent quality soil despite being compacted by horses.
And yet I struggled to make a purchase. I made a trip to the nursery. I fucked around on a bunch of websites. I ordered catalogs for next year’s spring plantings. Finally this afternoon we threw caution to the wind and bought six dwarfs from Stark Brothers. The total came to about $250 and if it all fails well I’m glad I spent the money on fruit trees instead of a disposable consumer good.
PROJECT 2: SEED STARTS
The second purchase was seed starter supplies for our winter hydroponic crops which we plan to cultivate in the barn. We got a LettuceGrow system early in the pandemic and absolutely loved the quality of greens we got out of it. We’d been able to buy starts (aka seeds that have sprouted and begun to grow) for it in Colorado but this winter I wanted to do my own growing from seeds up into starts.
The goal was to have constant rotation of red and green leaf lettuce along with romaine and kale by staggering seed tray starts. It would be easier and have fewer failure points if we did a new batch of seed starts once every couple of weeks for consistency and move them from one grow light seed tray to the LettuceGrow once it fully sprouted.
Here were all of my friends and colleagues just out there doing the work. And I was too scared to experiment myself. Finally today we bought everything we needed from Amazon and purchased six or seven seed types from Johnny’s hydroponic collection. All told for everything it was $86 for a set up that should work for many seasons.
While I’d never tell anyone to just go nuts putting shit in the ground without some research, I do think it’s possible to be too in your head about growing. I’ve been reading so much about fancy techniques like permaculture that I had neglected the most basic lesson of both startups and gardening. Execution is exponential. Just start doing something. Make it small. But you have to just start. Just plant. Just make things.
Nice and easy does it every time. Or so says Frank Sinatra. Who I’ve got to be honest doesn’t seem like a dude who isn’t pushy. I’m extremely pushy so I get it. Taking things slow isn’t my vibe. But if he can take it slow maybe so can I.
I’m getting the urge to rush again as my body settles into Montana. The better I feel the more I test my boundaries. Today I stupidly sat in an uncomfortable chair when I fell into focus fugue on something I was rushing to get done.
The problem now of course is To simply hold your horses To rush would be a crime ‘Cause nice and easy does it every time
I should have taken an extra beat and settled myself somewhere comfortable to work but I didn’t. I was rushing by all the stops along the way to finish my task. I still got it done but I wish I’d followed Sinatra’s good advice. Rushing was indeed a crime against my spine. Perhaps for the rest of the week I’ll just play on repeat in my head “nice and easy does it every time.”
I hope I can capture even a fragment of my emotions as I am on the other side of several hours of post-moving therapy. And I am drained but also armed with more wisdom than when I started the effort.
Moving is obviously a traumatic experience for most people. Anyone who moved as a child has some memories of how the change revealed new aspects of who they are and what makes them feel safe. Parents worry about it a lot about moving and for good reason. I know my mother certainly did and she did her best to protect me.
But we know that life is chaotic. Any type of change is already in a dance with accelerating entropy. Expect your unfinished shit to get drawn into the accretion belt surrounding the event horizon of your fears. Black holes are scary because we know they will kill us unless we commit enough energy to the fight to escape.
Sometimes some parts of us don’t make it. They become lost to the nothing. The dark impenetrable inversion point where we are forced to face the powers of destruction within us. Of course, it’s natural to sacrifice some part of yourself to banish the demon we know to be who we are.
It’s actually shocking to realize that inside of you might be some kind of personal Kali ready to rend the apocalypse at your weak side. But then you try not to think of it too much right? You’d rather ignore your demons right. Don’t feed the wolf right? Feed the good they say.
I am here to tell you that the shadow exist even if it scares you. It’s pulling you in just like that black whole. You can fight it your whole life. And maybe you win. Maybe you have that kind of fuel.
But if you ignore that shadow you will be pulled in it no matter what. Wouldn’t you rather run the calculation on how to achieve escape velocity? It’s going to be expensive. But it’s better to know the costs of living.
I still can’t locate a few basics that are part of my every day routine. My razor is AWOL, the box with my night time cosmetics routine hasn’t been located, and I’m not entirely sure where most of my tee-shirts are located. I don’t think they are lost but they sure aren’t found yet.
I keep making amazing progress on adjusting to the new house and unpacking, only to find that I’ve actually got no idea where something crucial might be located. My ambition to get into a routine? It’s bumping up against the reality that I’m still basically lost.
And in my case I got literally lost on the drive back from the airport. I had full on meltdown as my phone wouldn’t connect to the CarPlay and some urgently late California driver cut me off which forced me onto a right turn only lane. This ended up putting me on a highway for an additional 20 miles of transportation. I found myself lost and hollering into the phone “I have no idea where I am” as I couldn’t get myself turned around or in roads I recognized.
I got put in a hotel room for the final days of packing up our Colorado townhouse. I’m useless at lifting heavy things right now. I find this to be vaguely insulting as I used to be an avid power lifter.
But I can’t dispute that the high cost of my energy makes it uneconomic to involve me in physical labor. My family and friends reasonably want to keep me out of harm’s way. My role in our groups is to be Tom Sawyer not the paint brush brigade. Or if you prefer a story with less moral grey area, I am the mouse Frederick from Leo Leoni’s classic tale about story tellers and community. I scan the horizon and organize people. It’s probably the original professional path for the disabled. We’d have gone instinct in a Darwinian view of simple capacity and yet here we remain.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to mitigation of tail risks recently as the person tasked with keeping our group out of harm’s way. The average prepper isn’t much more convinced that the world is ending than your average person. We simply think that probability being what it is, it is worth doing some work to stay out of harm’s way if you can. Complicated worlds have complicated risk profiles. Buying insurance is just doing the math.
But I agree with the basic gist that culture wars are getting hot. But I’m also a native of the West and deserve to be there as much as anyone. I code just as much right wing as I do left wing. My plans are to integrate back into country living. I am all for good neighbors and church and building sustainable communities. But I am also virulently anti-MAGA as populism tends to go badly for diverse populations. And I believe the only way we keep anyone out of harm’s way is by simply resisting simple narratives and taking sides.