Discover more from Tangent
Talking it out and realizing new things
Welcome to this week’s edition of Tangent and happy first week of summer if you are in the Northern Hemisphere! ☀️
Over the past few weeks I’ve had very interesting conversations with old and new friends, online and in-person. As I was thinking about these conversations, there were four themes that stood out. I am calling them conversation epiphanies.1
These are completely random (dare I say, tangential), but I know at least one of them will resonate with you.
If you hit the subscribe button, I hear that it will bring sun to your city in the next few days. Worth trying out.
Acceptance + Agency
It all comes down to Acceptance + Agency. And at the root of these concepts lies Awareness. Acceptance is releasing tensions, scripts, and fears that no longer serve us. Agency is figuring out what we control and taking actions to feel empowered (reducing fear/increasing confidence). The genesis of awareness is curiosity–you have to be curious about the why behind your actions and why the world is a certain way.
You are not happy with your job. I get that. What are the things you cannot control and accept those by what they are, removing the “good/bad” judgment form it? What are the things you can control? What is the minimum action you can take to prove to yourself that you do have agency over those circumstances? Perhaps you take a day off. Perhaps you find a way to take more than a day off from your job.
This is essentially a summary of how I went from being depressed by my job to a sabbatical. The problems and resolutions that you face will be unique to you; acceptance & agency are singular to your human experience. But usually any discomfort we experience in my life, and the path out of that discomfort, can be reduced to this.
If you are a nascent writer/artist, there will come a point where you will want to monetize your content. I realized that thinking about how to monetize Tangent took me down an anxiety loop that went nowhere. There is plenty to improve writing craft-wise, and it will take a looong time. I need to prioritize developing that creative muscle. If I can be opportunistic about monetization opportunities with my creative writing, then great. But it shouldn’t direct my efforts.
This is not a cop out from focusing on sharing creative work (as I wrote previously). But I think the effort to monetize creative work, in addition to financial realities people have to face, is also a matter of prestige. We crave signs that we are taken seriously–not only seen, but respected.
And we are programmed to think that ANY work we do in this society, creative, or otherwise, has to have a worth to others in order to be taken seriously. This script is brittle in the face of the complexity and subjectiveness of creative work. For some, your work may be priceless. For others, it may be worthless. So trying to gauge prestige and “seriousness” in your creative work is like having a bad compass in the Alaskan Wilderness (good luck).
Presence in Parenthood
More than the latest stroller, the coolest toy, or the best school, what children really need from parents is presence. Being there. Fully there. No one will remember your promotion in 30 years, but your kids will remember how you showed up in their life.2
This is rich to say from someone who doesn’t have children. But I am a son. And I am a direct product of how present my mom and older brother were for me and how not present my father was. And talking to close friends that are some of the most kick-ass parents I know, this seemed to be a key to their success as parents (which you could argue it’s subjective, but that’s a longer discussion).
If you believe my point above is true, then the question is: How do you plan your life to be a present parent? What are the tradeoffs you have to make?
It feels like you have to rebel from society and surrender ambition to be there for your children. And I don’t know what I’ll end up being like as a parent. But it’s worth exploring.
Tell People What They Are Good At
It is so important to let people know the strengths you see in them. Call out their light. Don’t wait. It’s a gift–a genuine way to deepen your connection to others. It’s not easy for everyone to see the best in people. Yet, it is an underrated skill worth developing.
I choose to see the best in people because I think we are creatures capable of great beauty. And beauty is what the essence of all moments we experience that make life worth living, big and small: A cheesy arepa that tastes like a new discovery every time, a tree that sways to the rhythm of your breath, a smile from a toddler who fully acknowledges you as their parents scroll through their phone. These are beautiful moments. They are within us.
Media Worth Consuming
1. Being held by the world - Phil Nguyen: Phil writes in his blog, Phil in the Blank3, about his recent breakup. I found familiarity in his reflections and delight in the way the universe sent him the signs he needed to see.
2. It’s Not Advice That You Need - Alex Michael: This is a brilliant piece by my friend Alex Michael that is a reminder to realize our agency (tied to point #1 above). Here is an excerpt from his piece:
Having no other choice, I started to write some better scripts, ones that accounted for my actual beliefs and desires. This inspired some progressively scarier decisions that inched me toward a life that was more my own. More importantly, it also sent a message to myself that I was the kind of person who does scary things because they feel right.
3. Twitter thread on breathing by Charlotte Grysolle: Breathing is such an overlooked components of our lives. Yet, we don’t really know how to breath. In this thread, Charlotte makes a compelling case as to why mouth breathing is not good for you, we need to breath slower, and the hidden powers of deep breathing.
Photo of the Week
Whenever I’m in a “boring” place, I challenge myself to find something interesting about it. Just one thing. And then fixate on that for an uncomfortable amount of time.
At the Cancún Airport a couple of weeks ago, I went through this exercise. What seemed to be a pretty standard airport sign became one of my favorite photos taken this year.
Until next time!
Did I use the term “conversation epiphanies” as a way to express thoughts which sound a lot like my “cookie dough” ideas, but without using the exact same term so that you don’t think I’m doing the same schtick twice in one month? Yes. Yes, I did.
It needs to be said for that one person that is going to say “but what about people that don’t have the luxury of being with their children? The person that had to work multiple jobs just to feed their family?” Obviously, my reflection isn’t really about them. They need to find ways to show love a different way. I’ve been the child of this situation, so I get it.
I’m talking about those middle/upper-class parents who feel like they need to provide the “best” for their children while omitting the most important thing: Presence. The ones who hire a nanny, 3 au pairs, and God knows who else because they want their child to be taken care of, but manage to spend zero time with them. This isn’t because people are “bad.” It’s far more complex than that.
One of my contenders for blog name of the year.