St George marathon, year two

I am a slow runner, but, girls just wanna have fun yu know? When I first started this hobby almost 3 years ago, my goal was to run 1 mile without stopping. Now I have 4 half marathons and 2 fulls under my belt. Running has become a consistent part of my life and I don’t see that changing. It gives me a place to think and reflect, it teaches me how to enjoy physical effort, it shows me that consistency makes all the difference, it makes me into a more energetic human, and it gives me a chance to participate in super fun events with friends and family. And the events always re-energize me to keep getting out there and putting in the miles. I’m p happy after this weekend.

Now I gotta go get some water, all this humblebragging is wearing me out ūüė™

twenty four

Here I am, I’m twenty four. It’s p good so far. These are some pictures from my weekend trip to my hometown.

I’m going to gush a bit and I’m positive that I’ll feel stupid about it later, but I exist and I’m here to do my thing and I guess part of that is talking about my feelings into the void of the public internet. ¬Į\_(„ÉĄ)_/¬Į

Another year passing makes me reflect on the fact that I actually like who I’ve become in my few years of adulthood. I can see clearly how everything I’ve experienced has contributed to who I am and where I am. And I’m excited that there’s a lot more time to experience more things while I’m around here on this big green blob of space dust.

My outlook on life for the past few months has been pretty nihilistic and also optimistic to a ridiculous extent and stuffed with joy and love and authenticity and I am just enjoying the crap out of it. It’s like a daydream or an alternate reality that a couple years ago I never would think possible. For me, the tough process of breaking down some of the structures and expectations I grew up with has made space to define my own values and it’s turned my world into something bigger and brighter and more hopeful than before. More than ever, I feel like I can choose to embrace things that are actually important to me and honestly understand and connect with and appreciate fellow human beings.

So hooray for being more of a legitimate adult than I’ve ever been and having more wisdom than I’ve ever had (which isn’t very much). If I could go back and give my young self some advice, here are some of the things I’d say. But I don’t think it would change anything. It turns out most cliches are true, you just don’t really understand them until you’ve lived them.

+ be self sufficient above all else. never forget that you are one hundred percent capable of (and responsible for) doing things for yourself

+ your perceptions/beliefs aren’t the only way of seeing the world or living life. there’s a lot of value in genuine open-mindedness

+ pain and suffering and heartbreak and embarrassment don’t happen “for a reason”. they are just part of the human experience, whatever that means to you

+ move away from your hometown for at least a few years and figure out who you are apart from all the things and people you grew up around

+ find the voice inside of you quietly telling you what’s right, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re selfish for listening to it

+ be your own guy, do your thing, nobody else is gonna do it and nobody else actually even cares. you know you were born, you know that you’ll die, but the in-between is all yours.

+ you can give money to charity, aspire to change the world, volunteer, try to help a lot of people and have a lot of friends, etc. But one of the biggest differences you can make is just being kind, patient, understanding, validating, and present in the small moments and interactions with other people

+ take care of your body and mind. you pay good money to maintain your car and your possessions; it’s stupid not to invest in yourself too. sleep, healthy food, therapy, exercise, self-care.

Cheers to another twenty four years (at least) and a lot more mistakes and challenges and embarrassing cringey moments and successes and lessons and whatever the hell else happens.

balance, transcendence, namaste, kombucha, avocado toast

I was hiking and listening to a podcast a couple days ago and I want to jot down some stuff that I liked and think will be valuable for future reference.

It was talking about these three pursuits of a quality life: 1) truth, 2) beauty, and 3) goodness. I actually just googled it and found another word for these is “transcendentals” (because they are worth pursuing in and of themselves, not as a means to any specific end).

The word “transcend” is sort of a buzzword (no shortage of yoga mats and throw pillows with the word) but I actually like what it means in this context. I read a book by this dude Sam Harris last year where he talks about how the default, mindless state of being a human is seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, and just constantly wobbling back and forth between those two states. Rising above or “transcending” that constitutes what he calls “spirituality”.

Anyway, back to this podcast situation. So they’re talking about these three things worth pursuing in life, and talking about how we can pursue them. Intellectual exercise brings you closer to truth: reading, studying science, using logic. Spiritual exercise brings you closer to beauty: art, nature, meditation, prayer. Social exercise brings you closer to goodness: being part of a group, doing service, doing your part to improve your community.

It’s important to have a balance of the three. If you forget one of them, it can throw you all out of whack. A few concrete examples:

  • Truth without beauty = rigidity, coldness. Example: you think yoga is stupid and useless because you don’t believe literally in “life energy” or “chakras”, so you miss out on what could have been a beautiful experience.
  • Beauty without goodness = selfishness. Example: you go to church and love to sit and experience the hymns, sermons, and worship, but when it comes to volunteering within the community, you lay low and avoid helping out.
  • Beauty without truth = naivete.¬†Example: you get swept away in a new religion or cult because of a charismatic leader who inspires emotion in you, but you don’t think about the claims logically, and you find yourself being controlled.
  • Goodness without beauty = exhaustion. Example: you have a giant checklist of things to do for other people, but you aren’t spending enough time on self-care or “spiritually feeding” yourself, so it wears you down.
  • Goodness without truth = misdirection. Example: your child confides in you that they are homosexual and afraid of not being accepted by their peers. You love them and want to help them, but you are misinformed, so you put them in an extreme form of conversion therapy to “turn them straight”, which hurts more than helps.

While listening to them talk about this, I started checking myself. I found myself taking an inventory of these three exercises in my life. What am I doing to pursue them? Here’s what I came up with. Some are part of my life currently, and some are goals to prioritize going forward.

“Intellectual exercise”

  • reading news about world happenings, new scientific research, etc
  • approaching and discussing things using critical thinking
  • reading nonfiction books and watching documentaries
  • pursuing further education: classes at community college, using free online resources to learn about various subjects (youtube videos, khan academy, etc)

“Spiritual exercise”

  • enjoying inspiring or interesting media: books, movies, music, video games, art
  • hiking or jogging in nature
  • yoga
  • meditation/prayer
  • therapy and introspection
  • playing instruments
  • gardening
  • cooking food

“Social exercise”

  • being a good friend/family member: texts, phone calls, birthday cards/gifts, making an effort to make plans, looking for ways I can help out
  • being kind to people I interact with: coworkers, train attendants, the grocery checkout guy, etc
  • volunteering at the animal shelter, taking good care of my dog
  • making ethical consumer choices (diet, beauty products, clothing)
  • donating money monthly to worthwhile, financially transparent charities and causes

I think putting these into writing will be helpful going forward. I hope to look back on this list in a month, two months, six months, etc. to evaluate how I’m doing and tweak my priorities over time. NAMASTE FRIENDS, NAMASTE.

08/17

Hi, August 29th. This month ->

I became a PADI certified scuba diver. If you’ve ever wondered what the bottom of the Homestead Crater is like, I’ll fill you in. It’s very dark and hot and the sand feels gooey and you can stick your hand up to the elbow in it and feel bubbles blooping up from the bottom. I think there is a sea dragon down there.

I went to a developer conference. The talks! The swag! The food! The javascript twitter celebrities! I listened to talks about D3 data visualizations and finite state machines and React Native and it was all so fun. I was talking to the Gosh Damn creator of the Elm programming language for an hour over dinner before I realized who he was. I met the author of my favorite Javascript satire article. This is too nerdy so I’m gonna stop there.

I enjoyed summer a lot. I had fun every single day. I did a lot of stuff by myself, too.

I went to the Book of Mormon musical. Salt Lake City is where that show belongs. How did it gain any traction and acclaim outside of Utah? Do people with no background in Mormonism even get the jokes? How can something be so offensive without being mean-spirited? Why is the song “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” still stuck in my head after weeks? So many questions.

I continued to Sorta marathon train. Yeah I’m using this cool new training plan, it’s called Sorta, it’s where you sometimes run but usually don’t. I’ve run a couple half-distances and they weren’t much trouble, so I’ll be okay, but I won’t be fast or anything. It’s about a month away. (I know this sounds totally irresponsible, but I really will be fine and it’ll be a lot of fun)

I moved! Four blocks down the street! That was a whole thing. I was really sweaty that day. But then I took a shower and sat on the couch and everything was fine and the same except I was in a different apartment.

I experienced eclipse FOMO because I couldn’t make it to the path of totality.

I started getting into mountain biking. Someone offered me a trade for their pimped out Giant Reign and I couldn’t say no. It turns out hiking on wheels is pretty fun.

This month’s playlist is pretty low effort, and I was way too into Ty Segall.

Ready for ya September. And then Halloween and fall weather and Thanksgiving and Christmas and skiing and 2018. So much to look forward to.

You don’t need to explain yourself

This title is from a fortune cookie I opened last night at Charlie Chow’s Dragon Grill. It’s a pretty great establishment. They have three different types of noodles and they’ll even crack an egg in your stir fry upon request.

I was thinking about how some people are born into the world questioning everything. When you think about the stereotypical rebellious teenage kid, you think of someone who acts out, rejects the status quo, refuses to care what other people think. It’s the stuff of parenting nightmares.

I was the opposite. I was a weird, sensitive kid. For the most part, I was wholeheartedly compelled to please authority. My parents, my teachers and leaders, my friends’ parents. I didn’t need much discipline. For me, there was no worse punishment than simply disappointing someone I looked up to. I’d break down when facing a teacher with forgotten homework assignments, spend weeks in a silent guilty depression when a church leader reprimanded me for being chatty, beat myself up over A-minus grades. I rarely pushed boundaries on any of the rules and expectations put on me from the day I was born.

And it was great for me. I was a “good kid”. The system I was born into worked like a well-oiled machine. Good grades, good college, good job, good habits, good functioning member of society. I am thankful for all of this and thankful for my upbringing in every way.

But all those things that made me a “good kid” are still residually part of my adult self, and it turns out they’re some of my worst qualities now. I’m a serial people-pleaser. No matter how capable I’ve grown to be, still I stress out over how I will frame my intentions and justify my choices so that the metaphorical grown-ups of the world will approve of everything I do. I think too much about what other people believe is right and good rather than what I believe is right and good, and it seeps into almost every aspect of my decision-making. If you’ve ever read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: I am more of a Peter Keating than a Howard Roark.

As an adult, I find myself wanting and trying to be a little more like the rebellious teenager. Maybe he turned into a critically-thinking adult with a strong sense of identity and integrity. He lives life on his own terms. He does what’s right because he knows what’s right and he deeply believes in it, not because it’s expected of him by some third party. It seems like a good way to live.

I guess I just really liked this fortune cookie. It was a good reminder. You don’t always need to explain or justify yourself. The main person who has to live with the consequences of your decisions is you, assuming you don’t choose to directly harm — or make yourself dependent on — someone else. You are allowed to do things because you feel good and right about them deep in your core. Nobody else has to understand, and you don’t have to make anybody else understand, and that’s okay.

I’ve worked a lot lately to internalize this and let it influence my actions. It gives me confidence. It makes living better.

As it turns out, being alive and experiencing consciousness and existence is actually pretty absurd and incredible. Like those cats with tiny legs.

I just want to run trails and eat nectarines

On Saturday morning I ran a trail half marathon and I got home and showered and put on this stupid shirt and ate a nectarine. I sent a stupidly grinny snapchat selfie (bc am millennial af), half-eaten fruit in frame, to my friend with this caption: “ASK ME HOW MY SATURDAY IS GOING.”

Trail running is the best. It’s like hiking, but a little faster. There are hills to climb and branches to trip over, but nobody cares how fast you go and you can’t compare any two different routes anyway.

I’ve always always been a road runner, but I think I’m over it. It’s still fun but why would you choose repetitive pavement-pounding over bouncy rock-dodging and stream-hopping and pinecone-squishing? While also seeing some of the most beautiful scenery in the world?

Other nice things that happened this weekend:

  • I bought a gaming laptop!
  • I walked to tower theater and watched some short films from Sundance this year since I didn’t make it to the festival!
  • I had a frappuccino!
  • I made hash browns!
  • I hung out with a very beautiful and elegant poodle!
  • I went to a mexican restaurant and got a drink with a rubber ducky floating in it!

 

I like these people

Here are two very important people looking serious at my company’s summer party. We did our part to rep the rare “unmarried adults without children” demographic. Even if they only came to this thing for the free food, I appreciate them a whole lot.

Weekends in my city

A few times a week I get smacked in the face with this weird feeling of satisfaction and real actual joy to be existing.

For starters, my typical weekdays are very good. I get to see the sun poke through my blinds every morning, go running, cook food, ride the train, write code, read books, pet my dog, be with great people. And then, on top of all that, every week for two days I don’t have to work and I can do absolutely anything I want. Weekends. They are marvelous and mysterious and I don’t know why we are allowed to have them because isn’t life supposed to suck and be difficult?

(I’m oversimplifying. Of course life is hard sometimes, but honestly, those times are easy to forget while at a late Saturday morning brunch being served crispy hash browns by a tattooed waiter.)

On those two special days, I can sleep in or I can wake up early and go running at Liberty Park. I can go to a museum or outdoor concert or on a motorcycle ride or pub crawl. I can run errands on my bicycle or catch a movie at the Broadway theater or clean the bathroom or practice drums or get my car washed or aimlessly walk around Costco. I can go to Caputo’s for a sandwich with the freshest mozzarella or Purgatory for fried cauliflower tacos. I can go rock climbing or hiking or river rafting. I can buy peas and bok choy from the farmer’s market and make a stir fry.

I know things won’t always be this way. There will probably come a time when I choose to have more actual responsibilities, and I hope I’ll cherish that time too. But for right now, I have the luxury of free weekends, and I’ll run with it.

This past Sunday I woke up wanting to be in water, and decided on a tube float at the Weber river. I was thinking it’d be a relaxing activity perfect for snacks and drinks and less-than-practical swimwear. The class 2 and 3 rapids had a different idea. I ended up with a Pringles can full of river water, missing sunglasses, and a lot of scrapes and bruises. Falling into a rapid while trying to eat cubes of watermelon from a tupperware was terrifying and hilarious and I would definitely do it over again.

Maybe this is turning out to be more of a love letter to Salt Lake City than to weekends. Or maybe a love letter to summer in general. Whatever the variables are, life is above average right now and I hope it stays that way.

P.S. I took exactly zero photos this weekend, which is weird for me. Also, I recommend watching the movie The Big Sick. Laughed, cried, was charmed, 10/10.

Power tools and a planter box

I bought some power tools: a drill (with bits!) and a jigsaw. A friend had offered to lend me his. I told him I just wanted to have my own. Also, maybe this is weird, but I thought it would be nice to be the one lending my drill to somebody else.

Sometimes, you want a certain thing, and then you find a way to make it. Other times, a vague need to make a thing happens, and then you have to figure out a thing to make without filling your house with useless garbage.

My tiny patio was empty and fresh herbs are always useful, so a planter box seemed like a good enough idea. I drew up some plans loosely based on¬†these instructions¬†and bought lumber from the Lowe’s where I bought my tools.

On a weeknight after work, a couple of friends watched and fed me pizza while I put it together inside my apartment. At first I was clumsy, but by the time I finished, I was fast at switching drill bits and confident with my high-speed saw (and also pretty sweaty). I celebrated my success by vacuuming little piles of sawdust from the corners of my cramped kitchen. A coat of sealant and a bag of soil later, the box was ready for my tomatoes and herbs.

I’ve never had such a good excuse to constantly make tomato basil pasta and mint mojitos. Which reminds me: this summer has kicked ass, to be honest. I’ve been in a funk for a long time, but this season has been so good and normal and easy and relieving. (I am sounding extremely¬†eat pray love)

Also, this is the first time in my life I’ve successfully kept herbs alive for more than a few weeks. I can care for dogs and cats and even human children, but the daily water needs of a basil plant have, in the past, proven to be too high maintenance for me. This time I’ve been diligent. It’s probably because I don’t want dead plants in my pretty box.