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Meditations in Luang Prabang

this place is the epitome of focus on doing nothing. its not off the grid but it’s not most people’s option 1, 2, or 3 in Southeast Asia.

the irony is I have spent a full week in one place for a change and although extraordinarily chill, this place would not strike me as the place I’d love to spend more than a full week.

one thing I have come to grips with is it is very challenging to actively do little to nothing. I’m wired to challenge myself. something I’m realizing in my time meditating in the temples here as well as in the waters of Bali is that perhaps my incessant need to one up myself and everyone around me has soured me.

Buddha teaches they the entirety of our existence is one long struggle with suffering ending in death. I may be phrasing it in a depressing manner but I get the ethos. there are parallels to Viktor Frankl’s Holocaust read Man’s Search for Meaning.

some of the things I realize about my time here include an almost unhealthy need to constantly ugprade myself. perhaps it’s an insecurity, but I prefer to label it a nasty scar from spending so much time in Silicon Valley.

here i push myself to meditate longer with each passing day. I ask myself to read books to improve my speed and literacy. I use the silence and peace to write more. in this private enclave in a lost corner of Southeast Asia, one would think I could truly just chill. but the thoughts pervade my mind. the need to keep working on myself. am I missing a larger point about life?

one thing I will be more conscious of is not being so hard on myself. I’m not sure if others would describe my life as a success or a failure. good news is I care more about what I think than others. when I think of the entire body of work which is my life I would qualify it as a success that’s fighting to put a defining stamp of success for the world to recognize. but when I think of individual moments my mind always recalls my failures first. maybe this wiring is the very trigger which drives me forward, but I believe there is a healthier approach which can yield smoother results. a more loving approach.

I read a quote by the famous monk “walk as if your feet are kissing the ground”. there’s a profound truth here which completely alludes me today.

second, I always find myself comparing and reconciling with the world around me. I can feel it in the quiet moments when thoughts bubble up out of nowhere. again it stems from this obsessive pursuit to be better. I think of the surfers at Echo Beach. I think of my time with Patrick in the Philippines. I give everyone all the credit in the world but myself. I remember when I was young I did that to my own family. thinking that for some reason the right answers were always everywhere but underneath my own roof. Johnny and I had a conversation in Cambodia with a Frenchmen and I think now to his statement that in life we are all faced with big questions and often you won’t find an answer but rather a better question to ask.

Sometimes we get trapped in our own self image. it becomes an identity. mine to constantly fight against the grain, to prove I am right and smarter than everyone in the room which manifests via my predictions. I look back and realize that much more my success draws from these traits.

today I’m convinced there’s a way to flow through life instead of hacking at it. think of life like an ocean rather than a jungle. even my time at Cloudflare toward to end was a stark lesson relative to my start. my start was hacking in all direction, at all my problems, getting distracted by everthing. by the end I found a groove learning to build a real network and staying focused on a single lane. A lot like a surfer who is focused looking at the horizon for his next wave.

a path that’s more about reading the waves properly. that’s where my vision should be directed. today my vision is focused on finding the Golden Nugget in the jungle. Here forward I want it to be focused on riding the next wave.

there is a key difference between my jungle and ocean. it is one that’s been bugging me for a while now. the Gold in the Jungle is an observation without active participation. it is simply identifying coordinates on a map with a timeline. the Waves in the Ocean implies doing the above while understanding both myself and the target are in constant motion. it also means encountering wave after wave. being in the ocean means identifying the right wave but also being intimiately in the action. it asks me to deal with the situation as it comes. there is no hiding the ocean which I learned on multiple occasions on this trip.

it should be spent more on watching the waves

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Laos: Temple of Silence

the session started with 4 monks. 2 locals were present. 1 Italian girl who was dressed in a full robe and 2 french women who were passerbys that chose to attend.

the chants reminded me of school. right away I lost my place in the book. the syllables as read in English don’t match the way it’s said in Laotian. I was doomed from the start.

I read the English translation instead. I tried to find my groove. there were brief moments when I was in the moment. the awkwardness and feelings of being out of place were powerful . I was a foreigner wearing the wrong clothes with a temple filled with orange robed monks.

once the chanting ended there was a long period of silence. for how long I could not say possibly 30 minutes to 1 hour. for the first stretch I was in the zone. then in the middle my mind started to wander hard. a dozen different life scenarios played through my mind. my focus was lost. when it came back it was only half strength constantly finding reasons to no be in the moment.

when the long silence ended the 4 monks at the front facing forward turned around and faced directly at us. it was a intimidating as I did not understand the culture.

by the end of the chanting the 2 french passerbys snuck out. at the end of the long silence the 2 locals bowed respectfully and left. it was just me and the Italian with 4 monks.

the Italian girl gave her offerings of soy milk to the monks and shared some of her concerns. they said a prayer together. the head monk turned to me and asked where I was from.

we talked briefly. it was quite the initiation via silence. Laos is not atop most travelers lists, when I first arrived I felt the calm and almost not enough to do vibe.

after today I got my first sense that this is a strong dose of exactly what I need for my own personal development. this is the perfect place for cultivate my patience, bring my mind to the present, and chill the fuck out.

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Prediction: America vs. Coronavirus

this is all off the cuff but this is a rough cut of how I see things playing out, primarily informed by my understanding of our government, businesses, and citizens.

usa will handle this situation poorly. like many things which are on our doorstep it’s another once in a generation type of scare which makes it difficult to prepare for as there are few playbooks to work from.

in our case we have had the benefit of watching other countries deal with it before it hit our shores. sadly, it appears we have done little to prepare for it.

worse yet, the many cases of people citing they cannot and will not be tested. this willful denial of testing is so American. we cannot have a problem if the numbers say so. it’s a lot like our stock markets at the moment.

the difference with the coronavirus is that people die and the issue propogates exponentially when not dealt with aggressively on the front end.

here is my prediction: we are currently at 12 deaths and 225 cases. by end of March we will be well into the thousands with over half of the states reporting cases.

I don’t foresee the fed forcing cities to be quarantined and will leave that to cities and the cities will leave that to companies.

companies will be forced into a difficult decision and will likely offer optional work from home choices to their enployees. the real economy will suffer. the fake economy (the stock market) will flourish hitting new all time highs.

by end of April we will start to see the beginnings of the outbreak. the state and federal governments will begin to take more aggressive China style measures but unlike China we will have let the cat out the bag too far and our slow reactions will cause the recovery period to be prolonged.

this fear will sweep the nation while Netflix is in production making their next hit series documenting the Coronavirus.

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2020’s: Hot Mess Decade

we live in times of great dishonesty and fakeness. repeated fakeness is the poor man’s version of dishonesty. another term the poor use is hustle but let’s save that for another day. dishonesty without consequence is the rich man’s privilege.

the poor are faking it till they making it. that happens on Instagram. that happens in their shopping habits. the rich are drawing directly from the coffers of freshly minted money. that spigget doesn’t run dry until the revolution arrives.

so why bring this up? because with everyone playing this game together, the sober ones see the reality but are told it’s not cool to discuss and get swept aside. this is the natural progression of humanity. en Vogue always Trump’s the truth.

until humanity’s collective intellect rises we will always be driven by our basest emotional drivers. I’d give it another decade or two until the poor realize there’s a problem they’re willing to put their bodies on the line for.

people at the bottom knowingly get taken advantage of. on some level they must know at a certain age. for some they stick their head in the sand. for others they progressively think through solutions then come to realize there are only two. one requires enormous amounts of money. the second requires masses of human support.

the first option of making enough money is futile because that’s playing the rich man’s game. this leaves option two, which the rich man has also figured out through utilization of money to sway popular opinion through fake news, subtle advertising, paid influencer statements, etc.

so if societies problems stem from a lack of money but we also cannot outearn the rich then we are left in the position where we are helplessly complicit in being taken advantage of.

this is why after thousands of years the collective might of a herd of buffalos has never figured out they can easily out muscle a small pack of Lions.

the only conclusion you can draw from all this is the rich are good and getting better with each passing day. the rich are the living American dream. the poor fight to protect the rich because the rich are the poor man’s dreams. it’s a vicious cycle for the poor. and things will never change unless the poor make a move because doing nothing but running from the real threats is just being another buffalo on the Savannah.

My Prediction: Trump reelected. Bernie should be president if people used their brains. we’ll never know since it’s not the popular vote that counts. the American people will continue getting scammed by the rich for all of 2020. China will take over during this decade in terms of sheer economic might. America slowly loses power and influence as its population becomes less intelligent as a whole and it’s leadership makes increasingly desperate moves to ward off collapse via debt through hyper inflation. we live in the era i call The Hot Potato.