When Apple announced their iMac with 5K display I was hypnotised – it was the best looking desktop computer that I had ever seen. The Mac of my dreams.
Little did I know that it was going to be one of the WORST investments I made in the past 4 years.
This is a story about a computer. But it’s actually a lesson.
According to Goodreads, the most quoted fragment from the best selling book The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo is:
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”
This being the most popular quote is clear proof that people only remember the good and uplifting stories. Also, one of the reasons why “The Alchemist” is dismissed by serious critics who consider it easy reading, a “chicken soup for the soul”-like motivational book.
Way less quoted(80 times less frequently) is this other crucial fragment: (more…)
Once upon a time I owned/wrote a pretty popular website/blog on productivity and lifehacking, which was called Hack The Day (don’t look for it, it’s been closed down for years and the domain is now owned by scammers). While starting up, I reached out to popular bloggers. That’s how I succeeded in being the first small blogger published by the hottest blog on habit change, productivity and mindfulness of the decade : “Zen Habits” of Leo Babauta.
I wanted to link to it, but Leo has removed all guest posts from those days. So I managed to recover my article from some long-forgotten archive. I’m posting it here, for your enjoyment : the software-related tips might be obsolete, but the general advice retained its value.
We don’t usually remember mundane things. Repetitive tasks somehow tend to blend together as we remember only general, global ideas. Need proof? Just ask yourself what you did in a given day in the past. Let’s say… April 27, 2001. Most people(me included) will fail remembering anything from that particular date, so they’ll just use the general information about that period, as well as their common-sense, to extrapolate what they might have been doing on that particular date. Me, I was in the last semester of my second year of college, so I probably studied, or worked on the numerous homeworks and projects. I was also, probably, spending time with my girlfriend from college. Nothing more comes to mind, though. On the other hand, what about February 17, 2000? Well, that’s a lot easier – it was my birthday, I visited my grandfather in the hospital, and it was the last time I saw him alive(he died one week later, may he rest in peace). I even remember a few of the things we talked about, and how one of the hospital roommates did a magic trick with a cigarette. What about December 31, 2007? That’s even easier – it was the date I proposed to my lovely current wife, and I can remember a lot more things from the date, including moments from the New Year’s party afterwards.
Forrester: What are you doing?
Jamal: I’m writing.[…]
Forrester: Is there a problem?
Jamal: No. I’m just thinking.
Forrester: No thinking. That comes later. You write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is to write. Not to think.
Forrester: Start typing that. Sometimes the simple rhythm of typing gets us from page one to page two. When you begin to feel your own words, start typing them.
Forrester: Punch the keys for God’s sake! Yes! You’re the man now, dog.
Sean Connery as William Forrester, a character inspired by J. D. Salinger – Finding Forrester
“When asked ‘How do you write?‘ I inevitably answer ‘one word at a time‘”
I could write this blog post in over 1000 characters, going on and on about the importance of starting something – anything
as opposed to just sitting on your ass, thinking about how to start. How the simple act of typing
– whatever random first words – unclogs that area in your brain responsible for inspiration. How, when you want to write something(a blog post, a short story or even an essay) but you don’t know exactly what, you could start by simply copying a random passage from a random book, and leave your mind flow from there to your own next sentence, own next scene. In the end, you might want to rewrite that initial first passage. Whatever. Don’t think about that end part, just think about the NOW.
But I won’t do that. Instead, I’ll just let the magic words of Stephen King and Sean Connery’s character from Finding Forrester sync in.
The year was 2005. I was having my lunch on a bench in the Trocadero Park, at the shadow of the Tour Eiffel. Hordes of tourists were bustling on the esplanade, photographing the breathtaking view. Me, on the other hand, was quite unimpressed by the view for which tens of millions fly to France each year. I had seen it hundreds of times. I was working at less than half a mile from the glorious symbol of Paris, in a software company providing the trading floor software for most of the banks in the top 50 world. Living and working there, in the 16eme Arrondissement, the poshest quarter of Paris, showed me that everything is possible; even for a Romanian geek born in the last decade of the communism regime and whose parents’ salaries were less than $200 per month. Me, on the other hand, had gotten my raise and, at age 24, was earning monthly more than both did in 1 year.
Duminica pe la amiaza am purces la plimbare dand curs invitatiei de a vizita si bloga despre o cafenea relativ nou aparuta in capitala, Coffee Cabinet.
Nu a fost greu de gasit – de la Victoriei am luat-o pe Ion Mihalache; exact inainte de Don Taco’s, vecina cu fast food-ul ala cu strumfi, cateva scaune si mese insirate pe trotuar. Am intrat putin sceptic, cu atat mai mult cu cat pe usa trona mare o reclama de genul “cel mai bun cappuccino din Bucuresti” – stiti si voi cum e cu lauda de sine…
Daca exteriorul era lipsit de pretentii… interiorul a compensat cu varf si indesat. Mobilier sic, aristocrat chiar, candelabre de epoca, tapiterie deosebita, zaharnite intereante, de ceramica, schite in creion inramate pe pereti.