…there’s a difference between hearing about it and experiencing it.

There’s no excuse for being uninformed when it matters, there’s also no good reason for being inexperienced.

There’s often a piece of glass between us and the world as it’s delivered to us. That glass magnifies the awareness, but it doesn’t have the same impact as experience does. It can’t.

Our awareness has been stretched wider than ever in history, but often at the cost of taking away a lifetime of experiences.

— Seth Godin

Like so many people on the internet, I am trying to figure out ways to limit the power this little brick of glass, metal, and light in my pocket has over my life. As someone who enjoys collecting and sharing knowledge, I sometimes struggle with drawing the line between where I should focus my attention—on the real world or the digital one—at any given time.

I’ve largely left social media, though I still feel the tug of Instagram more than I’d like. I am deleting apps from my phone left and right. In some cases I found ways to do the same actions from my computer when I’m home, or better yet, not do them at all.

While all of this helps in one way or another, it is still easy to become overwhelmed and drown in the infinite river of the internet, thinking that I’m doing yourself a favor by learning—AKA becoming aware—of all these new things. They’re shiny and exciting and they can maybe be used in conversation to teach someone else something, or make me sound more interesting.

The infinite internet is a constant pull, a tidal wave of overwhelming information, and distraction. Seth Godin offers simple advice, “Find your footing and do your work. It’s a choice.” That work he’s talking about, is making sure that your life is filled with experiences and not merely awareness.

It is hard enough turning away from the allure of the ever-growing internet and all the things I can learn from it, but/and now I must attempt to find the experiences I should be devoting my life to having. As with the internet, there are an infinite number of paths, and so many of them seem grand.

I want to have an answer for you, dear reader (and more importantly, for myself). But I do not. At least not right now. I have a list of experiences I want to have, and some experiences that I’ve ruled out, but how to choose the rest of them while avoiding getting sucked down the rabbit holes of merely being aware is something I must figure out. Perhaps learning out in the open, showing my work if you will, can help someone else struggling with this too.

Smartphone as Teleportation Device

Craig Mod continues to be one of the most important thinkers that I read. In the ongoing battle to be less drawn into my phone, this framing is helpful. If you’re not getting both Ridgeline and Roden Explorers in your inbox, you’re really missing out.

A smartphone excels, above all, at teleportation. It takes you from where you are, and places you elsewhere. If not physically, certainly mentally. This is great when you’re where you don’t want to be — on a packed commute for example. You can listen to a podcast, read an article, and be far, far “away” from a squished train. The issue is when this teleportation superpower intrudes on moments when you want to be present.

Craig Mod

My two favorite writing tools. 15471E46-3C8B-411C-9029-CF3B52FDE61C.jpg

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Anything but plain. 8D4DEF0F-1A21-444A-A132-EB855EEE1020.jpg

Sign. 852A0B76-8FCE-46A3-9EA7-FFEA671C4F22.jpg

Work travel means the opportunity for aerial photography. Slow shutters and clouds combine nicely. 17302B2C-60D4-4380-BBA9-2D21C079D51F.jpg

Rainy Austin morning lull. A84C7E1A-1A69-43F6-8DAF-823AC704D711.jpg

Contrast. 1DCF05C8-8C84-41C1-9896-77E4D039209C.jpg

Chance of angry clouds above Austin today? 100% 04A7B8D1-413D-4AEC-B0B1-22E82EBE4B35.jpg

Plant among the flat irons. ACC76F66-6BEB-430D-9B6C-7BD947C9EC12.jpg

Few things better than a hide wrapped notebook for keeping thoughts in. 56298B04-6ED4-4E1D-AC48-3FD8F109D889.jpg

Navy Bean has a favorite coffee spot. A123B249-F511-4EB5-AF0C-B0ED2703AA0A.jpg

Reflect on the yellow wall - have a bee-autiful day. A158B2AB-C2BB-45A3-8B94-6A7B454B7943.jpg

Long sight lines. 0E960A64-D3A3-4D0A-B72B-24BCC37DB5F9.jpg

Open skies in the Flatirons of Colorado. 758923F9-F6B7-484D-AC01-748A8880EBD4.jpg

I was going through my 150,000+ image archive looking for something else and stumbled on some ten-year-old concert photos from college. Grace Potter is incredible live. See her if you ever get the chance.

Short rides. Long shadows.

It felt good to be riding outside again after lots of time indoors on the trainer.

Happy National Handwriting Day! Written for you in my Hobonichi Techo with my beloved Lamy 2000 with Mike Masuyama needlepoint grind.

Do I give up on Field Notes?

I’ve been a devotee of pen and paper my whole life. The only reason I looked forward to “Back to School” season was school supply shopping to pick out pens and college ruled notebooks for my notes. In high school I found craft-store fountain pens with rough nibs and watery ink.

It wasn’t until college, with my own money and a wonderful site called JetPens that I truly joined the stationery world. I discovered the finest pointed Japanese pens and paper that was smoother and more beautiful than the Moleskines I’d been writing in, and fountain pens. I was soon a Pen Addict, reading the blog and listening to the podcast religiously. Through this window to the pen and paper world I discovered brands like Sailor, Leuchturm 1917, Kaweco, and Tomoe River. But I kept hearing about this company in Chicago making pocket notebooks that inspired nothing short of fanaticism.

I’m talking about Field Notes.

Back in 2012 when I bought my first packs—FN Traveling Salesman, FN Expedition, and FN01b Redblooded—they were still a relatively small operation. The Field Notes team printed only 24,000 books. Since then, Field Notes have taken off, with limited editions printed in the hundreds of thousands. Combine that with the one-offs and collaborations and you have a product worth collecting.

I am one of those collectors. I do not have every edition ever printed. My collection was never going to have a pack of every edition. I was late to the game, but more importantly, and wisely, Field Notes got ahead of the insane collecting by creating editions where every single book has a different cover (see the image at the top for an example of this).

I am proud of the collection I have amassed. It is a collection in two parts: half my collection might be anathema to the purists, the filled books, all 132 of them dating back to 2013 and the more traditional pristine-in-plastic, unopened collection, numbering 222.

At my rough average of 18 per year, I have enough blank Field Notes to last me 12 years.

All these words, my history with Field Notes—which contains a good chunk of my personal history, this collection of notebooks, filled and unfilled, are building to some questions that have been troubling me.

Do I give up on Field Notes?

Do I give up on my collection?

I have nothing but love for these little Futura-typeset pocket notebooks. I am an ardent believer in the power of putting pen to paper and there are few notebooks better for capturing thoughts and lists every single day than Field Notes. Hell, this essay began in a Clandestine Field Notes.

Is it okay if my collection stops here after seven years? Can it still be a collection if I have this gap?

Truthfully, my collection was never about keeping these notebooks pristine. I get more value and joy from carrying a Field Notes every day, jotting things down, using them for what they are made for. I have some cool limited editions that I have enjoyed far more by writing in them that keeping them mint.

Of late I feel behind on my Field Notes. Watching the number of unopened or empty notebooks tick upward brings a weight that I don’t like.

Perhaps what my collection needs is refinement. Instead of subscribing and collection my 24(!) plus books a year—and all the cool extras Field Notes creates that I admittedly rarely do anything with—I will grow my collection slowly and deliberately, adding only those Field Notes I’m excited about (I mean c’mon, three colors of gilded edges?!).

Will the gaps this new method creates make my collection incomplete? Definitely.

Should the completeness of my collection matter to anyone but me? Probably not.

Is it still my collection? Hell yes.

Danny Macaskill keeps doing mind-boggling things on a bike. I’ve been watching his videos for more than ten years now and he continues to innovate.

Spent New Year’s Day on the rocks at Enchanted Rock State Park. Climbing outside is a lot tougher than I expected and it made me realize just how much having a big cushy mat under you gives you confidence in a climbing gym.

I think this is true for a lot of things. A safety net of any kind can give you the peace of mind to try something that’s a bit beyond your reach or skill level.

Thoughts on Resolutions

For a long time I thought New Year’s Resolutions were a bit silly and generally a recipe for disappointment. I do still believe that you don’t need a new year to give you the permission to make a change to your life, however there is something special about the changing of the calendar that does lend some momentum. For New Year’s Resolutions, I tend to focus more on building systems to get to my resolution or goal. As James Clear points out, “You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” Building new habits or routines is critical to keeping your resolution, but if you’re attempting to build a brand new set of routines—maybe based on the morning of the hottest new thought leader—you must remember The Morning Routines We Idolize Are Often From People Divorced From Reality, or to paraphrase Patrick Rothfuss, be careful comparing someone’s on stage with your backstage. With this in mind, focus on being kind to yourself as you build your new habits, routines, or systems to live up to those New Year’s Resolutions. A single day failure in your system does not lead to a failed year or resolution if you pick back up again tomorrow. Put simply: be kind, keep going.

If you’re looking to add a new skill or interest in the new year, might I recommend keeping them hobbies, not side hustles. Cultivating an entirely unrelated hobby is a great way to nourish your mind, relax, and learn, but modern competition culture, it’s easy to get caught in the trap that you need to monetize your hobby or be the best at it right away.

I am often asked by friends and fans why I don’t compete in races or triathlons. My answer is that I’m not trying to “win” my hobby. If I’m being honest, I’m really not even interested in getting much better at them, my goal is mainly to just do more of them…The only purpose is the process. It’s so easy to forget that.

Having wide-ranging hobbies exposes you to new ideas and perspectives, to the adjacent possible in you interests and fields of work, which can help you in all areas of your life. Should you be resolved to make a bigger change professionally or along the lines of your vocation, I’ve been turning over lots of highlights from the essay The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius which pairs nicely with this note—from the previous cited McHale—that Good Things Are Hard and Have High Failure Rates, We Should Still Try. No matter what you’ve resolved to do in the new year I would love to talk with you about what you’re trying to accomplish and noodle on any systems that might help you get there. Best of luck!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the internet I want to be part of is focused more in small spaces—like Micro.blog—and I think Yap is an interesting idea in a similar vein. Slack, while wonderful for instantaneous communication is a river of chat that quickly bogs down and becomes ineffective when treated as a knowledge source or repository. Chat is—or in my mind, should be—ephemeral and Yap helps make that possible in a world where so much is archived for seemingly little reason. 

LATA 65 is making deviant artists out of the young people over 65 years old of Portugal. If you want to make some public art of your own, I highly recommend picking up some Krink K-60s or K42s for making your own marks. I’ve been crushing on this MTA-inspired box set.