TwitCount Button

Letter from Bruce Springsteen

Up early again. I woke up at 4 and got up to pee, then got back to sleep till 6, but that was it. So I’m up! First cup of coffee is finished and I have the urge to write out my thoughts, so that’s what I’m gonna do.

It strikes me that some of my previous morning pages entries have ended up more like blog posts that brain dumps, and that’s kinda not the point of morning pages as I understand them.

I watched Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You last night and it was fantastic. It helped me with a decision, which was whether to help a friend out or not. I decided that I would. Dónal asked if I would like to record with him for a support slot to go out on one of his friend’s music channels. He wants me to bring my video gear and record and edit the whole thing as well as play with him. It’s actually a LOT of work, and that’s why I balked at first. My thought processes went like this:

  1. Do I fuck want to play (my typical spectrumy response to pretty much any request for me to leave the house for anything at all).
  2. I kinda would like to play, but fuck me, that’s a lot of work for someone else’s channel.
  3. Actually, tearing down my gear out of my studio is far too tall an order.
  4. Is this a room for growth in any way? Is it a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset thing (based on this book that I’m reading just now).
  5. Is there any way I could do it without having to unplug my digital mixer?
  6. What’s in this for me?

So I walked the dogs and turned off the audiobook (Mindset) so I could think about it. By the time I got home, I was no closer to making a decision. It was dark and I was wet and cold. In fact, I was probably closer to saying no if I’m honest and I didn’t like how that made me feel.

I decided I would put on the new Springsteen studio concert movie Letter to You for some down time, wondering whether that would influence my decision. And d’you know what? It really did. And the decision I made was that yes, of course I would like to record.

It was partly thinking about the signal chain that tech that prevented my getting back to sleep at 6.

Systems Thinking Book

Am I continuing with the Systems Thinking book because of my all or nothing approach to life? Is the challenge I’m finding in understanding it a mindset thing? It’s very scientific and I’ve always said simply and emphatically that ‘my brain doesn’t do science’. That’s a fixed mindset right there. Languages? Yep. Music? Uh-huh. Science and maths? Nope.

If I look back on that, it’s almost certainly linked to my high school. Every single pupil in my O Grade chemistry class dropped it. We used to play cards. I got chucked of maths for bad behaviour and was permitted to take only arithmetic after that, which I failed.

Prestwick Academy was the worst.

And now I’m left with the fixed mindset that I don’t do science or maths. To be fair, I do find them difficult and I really have no desire to get better at them. But when I come upon a book like Thinking in Systems: A Primer and I know it’s a concept that I want to understand, I find my brain struggling to parse the diagrams and understand the jargon. I mean it’s fairly jargon free, but you can’t describe a thing without using the words that go with that thing really. As a linguist I can understand that.

So, do I continue? I’m half-way through and have understood some of it. That’s better than understanding none of it, right?

I write this knowing full well that I will continue because that’s my character. It’s almost like I want to be able to check the box and say that I’ve read it, even if it means skimming some of it and not really taking it in. Is there any point in doing that? That’s my question.

Playing Guitar

I played the Gretsch White Falcon a bit yesterday while watching the Springsteen movie. It was unplugged, so kind of silly, but it felt nice. I think that’s the first time I’ve picked up the guitar in over a week. I’ve been thinking about that as I read the Mindset book. It talks about how talent is overrated and that perseverance is a super power. If playing guitar REALLY is my passion, how come I’m not playing all the time? Yes, that old chestnut again. I got good because I played ALL THE TIME. What happened? I mean I’m not going out to work now and am home pretty much all the time, so how come I don’t play every day?

I don’t know.

I tell myself that the environment isn’t right. The house is so cluttered you wouldn’t believe it. I don’t have a comfortable place to read and the clutter really weighs me down. That’s why I love sitting out on the porch so much, but I won’t be doing that again until spring. And I like to have a relaxing space to play guitar and to read. But I do still read. I go and lie on my bed and try to block out the clutter and it kind of works. But I couldn’t really play guitar in the bedroom as there’s nowhere to sit. I tried using my daughter’s bedroom as she’s out at school on the mainland through the week, but her room is cluttered too and it’s not comfortable sitting on her bed.

I can’t really get rid of the clutter for reasons that I won’t go into here, so now I find myself wishing we had a bigger house, instead of being grateful for the fact that we have a house and that ain’t right.

Wait, that wasn’t really about playing guitar, was it? Hmmm.

Building a Personal Operating System

I’ve been enjoying reading over the past few weeks, both for pleasure and for education – not that education and pleasure are mutually exclusive of course!

Having started August Bradley’s course on building a personal operating system with Notion last week, I chose a book from his recommended reading list and started it yesterday. It’s called Thinking in Systems: A Primer, by Donella H. Meadows and it’s very good.

I’ve tried many different personal operating systems to help me achieve my goals, but have never really understood how to plan for the weak points. I tend to have an ‘all or nothing’ character, so I’m either merrily ticking off my habit tracker every day or not ticking it off at all on any day. I’ve tried bullet journalling, OmniFocus, GTD, Things, Streaks. They all have the same problem – me!

What I like about August’s course is that its fundamental focus is on systems with flexible software that you don’t have to try and shoehorn into your personality. He’s just put up his Notion template, which I haven’t duplicated to my own Notion account yet or even really looked at. I’m a little hesitant to do it because it will have that ‘shoehorn’ feeling, but I’m pretty certain that the course will teach me not only how his system works, but how to change it to fit my own goals and aspirations.

I’ll be diving into his videos over the weekend, while keeping my all-or-nothing character in check so that I don’t get grumpy when my daughter needs to use my studio to record her audition pieces. To that end, part of setting up my own personal operating system will have to include a way of adding flexibility and the expectation of distractions. It’s probably more of a Mindset issue, the idea that what I call distractions are actually distractions, or if they’re just life encroaching into my unrealistic expectations of myself. So not over planning will be important, and also being able to focus for fixed periods of time and plan for that by not picking up my phone when it buzzes and by actually communicating with my family in a nice way that I’m unavailable for this chunk of time.

I’m really looking forward to this!

Mindset

Oh, and speaking of Mindset, I’ve also started another of August’s recommended reading books, Mindset, by Carol Dweck.

So far it’s okay, but not really telling me anything that I didn’t already know. Still, I’d never really had it explained to me before by someone else so I think it will be helpful in the long run.

It talks about the growth mindset vs the fixed mindset and I think my characters has elements of both, but probably tending towards more growth than fixed. I’m sure I’ll be able to use what I learn from this book to tweak my personal operating system and make allowances for potential points of failure.

Or will it end up being Yet Another Course that I’ve spent money on and changes nothing? Again, I refer you to Mindset! I think I’ve got this!

Writing is a Skill that Requires Practice.

Slept until 08:46. Result! Still feeling tired though. I made Illy coffee again because Len was still sleeping. She got up just as the last drips dropped into the mug. Ugh.

I read a nice quote from Scott Adams’ blog yesterday that kind of sums up what I’m trying to do here:

Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis. I didn’t know what I was practicing for, exactly, and that’s what makes it a system and not a goal. I was moving from a place with low odds (being an out-of-practice writer) to a place of good odds (a well-practiced writer with higher visibility).

Scott Adams

It was that that inspired me to make this a thing that I do and not just a thing that I think about. And besides, I LOVE this Ducky One 2 keyboard with cherry red switches!

Yesterday’s Goals

What were yesterday’s goals? Let me check…

  1. I didn’t decide on the Notion course yet. I’m letting it percolate. I did reread August Bradley’s sales page and it *almost* converted and still very well might.
  2. Profits reinvested into Finiko and Finalmente as well. I had four plans cash out in Finalmente yesterday!
  3. Adding more Last.fm posts seems like a thing to do maybe one at a time as it’s not moving the needle on anything.
  4. I did get all the guitar exercises done, and done well too, including recording one and playing the teacher part to the recording AND tabbing one out in Guitar Pro.

Small Wins

Installing Guitar Pro and tabbing out a tune. That was a bit of a hurdle that I’d been putting off for a long time. There’s a real learning curve to that software, but I managed to figure out enough to notate a whole exercise!

Content Consumed

I did the dog walk loop in the middle of the day and listened to an enjoyable episode of Roderick on the Line. John Roderick talked at length about a relationship and went into the emotion behind it. It really get a lot from John’s candour, but this one in particular was quite moving and inspirational.

I started reading Mindset, by Carol Dweck. This came up on Jim Kwik’s talk for Teachable’s Share What You Know Summit, but the reviews put me off buying it at that time. It came up again on August Bradley’s course page as a prerequisite for the course, so I thought I’d give it a go. So far I haven’t learned anything from it that I didn’t already know. One reviewer suggested not bothering with it but reading Scott Adams’ book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, instead. That seems more in my wheelhouse.

Can I do the thing that Ali Abdaal recommended in a YouTube video and stop reading a book? Can I really do that?

But wait, let me give Carol Dweck’s book a proper chance. I’ll read more today.

Today’s Goals

  1. Post the Blue Compass mic clamp back for a refund
  2. Post a book away from someone who asked for it on Bookmooch
  3. Learn Malagueña from the Solo Guitar Playing book.
  4. Read Carol Dweck’s book.
  5. Walk the dogs around the circuit.
  6. Write to Teachable with my questions. They didn’t respond to my Tweets.

Doesn’t sound like a really full day, does it? I could do more guitar but I want to NOT over extend with my goals and end up not fulfilling them. And I can spend as much time as is left reading and making notes.