On a tuesday, I woke up early enough to have a proper breakfast. L was home from work, so I got a chance to apologize for being snippy with her a couple evenings ago.
When I got to work, I had the presence of mind to remember that I didn’t have that much time to finish some lesson plans for the batch of programs I’ll be starting next week, so I wanted to buckle down and work on them. I pulled something out from my student days, the Pomodoro technique. In a nutshell, this is about breaking tasks down into 25 minute chunks, and then staying focused on working for 25 minutes (called a pomodoro) and then taking a five minute break. After two, then four pomodoros, you take longer breaks. Very simple, but usually I can stay focused for 25 minutes without straying off topic, and I like the fact that it builds in the human need for breaks. One of the stranger things about it is that sometimes I have a hard time deciding what to do in that deliberate five minutes of break time. It makes me realize how much of the smartphone time and internet browsing I do is complete bullshit, because when I have the choice of how to deliberately relax, they don’t appeal to me.
At some point in the day, I read this post by Seth Godin about uncertainty. It’s short, so I’m just going to copy the whole thing:
Often, the most important work we do doesn’t bring a guaranteed, specific result. Usually, the result of any given action on our part is unknown.
Uncertainty implies a range of possible outcomes.
But a range of results, all uncertain, does not mean you are exposing yourself to risk. It merely means you’re exposing yourself to an outcome you didn’t have a chance to fall in love with in advance.
A simple example: the typical high school student applying to a range of colleges has very little risk of getting in nowhere. Apply to enough schools that match what you have to offer, and the odds are high indeed you’ll get in somewhere. Low risk but a very high uncertainty about whichcollege or colleges will say yes.
That’s not risky. That’s uncertain. It takes fortitude to live with a future that’s not clearly imagined, but it’s no reason not to apply.
Another example: If you speak to 100 people, it’s uncertain which 40 people will be impacted by what you say. But the risk that you will resonate with no one is small indeed.
The question to ask every organization, manager, artist or yourself is, “are you hesitating because you’re not sure the future will match your specific vision, or is there truly a project-endangering risk here?”
A portfolio of uncertain outcomes is very different from a large risk.
I haven’t completely processed that all yet, but it’s blowing my mind that it’s possible to divorce the emotional risk aversion of uncertainty of outcome from risk of harm. I feel like some things that I’m trying to get better at right now (meeting people and getting a new job, for example) are classic examples of things that have little risk of harm, but a lot of uncertainty of outcome. The more I focus on lack of risk, the more comfortable I will get. The more I seek certainty, the more likely that I’ll trip myself up and get discouraged.
It made me realize how much I wanted a new job and have more people in my life that I could play music with. I need to get going a little bit more with that, develop a little more hustle.
The only thing that happened of note at work is that I got my ass kicked in chess by a 10 year old.
I went with roommate K and friend M to taco tuesday ($1.50 for 4 tacos) at a sketchy ass western bar in Gresham called the Stagecoach Saloon. I had a good time. Afterward, we went for a couple of drinks at Edgefield. I’d never been before, but I love McMenamin’s restorations. There was a super cool urinal (I’m a fan of cool urinals) with working pressure gages above it that I wish I had taken a picture of. We played some darts and shuffleboard.
After that, we headed to another bar on the property, a cozy place with a woodfire stove. We got too hot and went outside to sit by the fire pit. It was lovely.
Practiced a little piano when I got home. I’m trying to practice every day, although I’m finding it hard to push through with no goals. Went to sleep quickly and with cinematic dreams because the internet wasn’t working, so there was nothing to do while falling asleep then to simply fall asleep.