I, Globalist

I imagine a different world.
I imagine no countries.
I imagine religion as a personal conviction.
I imagine a friendlier, more tolerant world.

It isn’t hard to do. It requires only that we accept, that Our way is not the only way, and that it’s not about being right and wrong.

Why does it matter, where you were born? Or which team you root for? Or what god you worship, if indeed any at all? Or whether you’re more attracted to men or women? Or whether you love a multicolored piece of cloth on a pole?

None of that matters, except in these made up contexts, reinforced by teaching children that those who are different, are also bad. That We and Our ways are superior.

It’s a holdover from the days, where tribal survival could come down to fighting over limited resources needed to live. This is outdated by several centuries and uncivilized. And in the pockets of the world, where basic survival is still an issue, the rest of us could fix that, if we really wanted to.

It is dangerous think small, not past our immediate horizon. Not bothering with the bigger picture, with understanding, with curiosity or empathy. As a species who thinks so highly of itself, we fail in this on a regular basis.

We can do better.

I do believe humans have a basic need for possession, so let’s keep that. You can own your own things, including a plot of land, from which you can ban whomever you want, should you so desire. On an individual scale, I think this is healthy. Who doesn’t need a bit of privacy?

Although tribalism is inherent in us, we are no longer bound by the tribes we are born into, and we can even belong to multiple tribes at once. Your clothing identifies you as belonging to a certain tribe, whether as a corporate lackey, an all-black goth, or a skinny-jeans-wearing hipster. Going to a stadium for a sports event or a concert, is a tribal ritual. We form clubs and unions, churches, political parties and so on, to be with our various tribes.

Being social creatures, it is good to be among the like minded. But we don’t have to be stupid about it.

You can be part of your tribe without disparaging others. You can support your team without hating the opponents. You can dislike a musician without writing off their fans as morons with poor taste. You can worship your god without thinking of those who don’t as infidels. You can love your flag without thinking of those who don’t as hateful.

You may say I am a Globalist (since Dreamer means something else, these days).

I am fairly sure, I am not the only one.

This post was inspired by the current state of affairs, and by the wonderful song by John Lennon/Yoko Ono, Imagine.

I, Polymath

Everyone is told to specialize, to “pick one thing” and become an expert in that one thing. But for many creative people, specializing in a single field can feel like an impossible ask. There are too many exciting things out there, it seems, and you want to try them all! It turns out that there can be good reason to not specialize.

This is a topic, I have fought with more than once, going back more than a decade. I am now in my early forties, and I still unapologetically experiment and dabble. Not because I get easily distracted by the next shiny thing; I do tend to finish at least one project in whatever discipline I am exploring. It’s because I love learning, and finding patterns and overlaps between various skills and art forms.

This passion for passions is what led me to write novels, take pictures, code video games, and make music. It turns out that my kind has a name – several in fact: creative generalist, jack-of-all-trades, renaissance man, or polymath.

Mr. da Vinci, pictured above, is another famous polymath. Not bad company, right?

The times when I fought against it, were usually efforts to try and fit into the perceived expectations of a job market, a freelance client, or product launch. No single title seemed to stick. The closest I’ve come to a title that might cover it all is “storyteller”, given that conveying a story is part of all of the things I seem to take an interest in. It’s more of a theme than an actual job title, though.

You might say, that my specialty is the accumulated knowledge and high level overview that comes with studying many disciplines. Despite our specialist-centric society, there is real value in such experience. For example, it can, as the Dude might put it, really tie the room together, when you are working with several specialists. I am pretty good at herding and translating between groups of specialists, and I credit that to having varied experience.

The downside to being a polymath, is that I am not the worlds greatest writer, photographer, game designer, or composer. But I can communicate with all of the above with a fair amount of confidence and authority. This comes in handy when managing projects and events, hiring, scoping, and prioritizing when the specialists are too focused on their own issues to see the bigger picture.

After all these years, my advice to someone with many passions would be to not specialize in one at the cost of the others, but to seek the middle, where there is overlap between them. What are the themes and approaches that can be applied across your passions, and where do they intersect? For me, they connect thematically through storytelling, and pragmatically through cross-disciplinary communication and project management skills.

Little Victories

little victory
Celebrate the little victories. Sounds kind of corny, doesn’t it? Perhaps it does, but nevertheless it is something myself and my better half have been reminding each other of, when we’ve gone through rough patches, where Life doesn’t line up with expectations. Those times where it is easy to fall into a pattern of negative thinking, which affects happiness, productivity, sex drive and almost every other aspect of existing. It sucks, as you probably already know.

All of us experience tough times, maybe after losing a job or a loved one, or dealing with illness – experiencing adversity is just part of Life. There are countless ways Life can try to fuck you over, and if you let it, negativity can spiral out of control and suck ever more parts of previously mentioned existence down the drain. If you’re caught in a negative thought pattern, you have to fight back.

This is where celebrating the little victories come in handy. It’s not so much about high fives or actual celebration (those are fine too), it’s about being observant of the positive things surrounding you. By consciously observing the positive, I open myself up to seeing even more positive things, thus training myself to focus on a positive thought pattern, rather than a negative one. Instead of expecting to lose, I am reminded, that sometimes you win. This is why I like to celebrate the little victories.

What exactly constitutes a “little victory”? It can be whatever, really. Maybe you got the perfect parking spot, or got a thank you note from a client, maybe your dog finally rolled over on command, or you passed that level in your favorite video game. As I said, it’s about looking for something positive, so if you recognize it as such, you can count it.

In our household, we sometimes have exchanges that go along the lines of “I hit the perfect level of cream in my coffee this morning, it was so good.”, which is answered with a “Sometimes you win”. It has become a ritual, pointing out these tiny moments, and even when Life isn’t particularly tough, and things are just chugging along, observing little victories is a habit I never tire of.

Try it yourself, and see how many little victories you can recognize in a day. What little victories have you had today?