“Keep going until we stop”

Here’s a talk given by Scott Stratten at TEDxOakville. It’s such a moving talk, and I want you to watch it, especially if you tend to make yourself busy all the time. Being still is not a bad thing. We need to be aware of what’s happening.

Cat vs. Curiosity

Curious CatWhen I was working on the about page of this blog yesterday, I got an amusing thought.

Cat vs. Curiosity.

Imagine a cat fighting against a giant monster named Curiosity. Well, in fact, Curiosity may well be invisible. When the cat seems to be playing, he may well be fighting against Curiosity.

A bloody battle.

Wait, what’s so bloody about it? The cat seems to be amused as if he is playing with Curiosity!

But, we are told that Curiosity killed the cat. Surely, the cat must have been fighting against Curiosity before his death. Let’s assume Curiosity did kill the cat… What does that mean? The cat shouldn’t have been curious and invited Curiosity to him at all?

After being amused by this thought on Cat vs. Curiosity, I tweeted:

Curiosity killed the cat? Nonsense. Curiosity made the cat’s life awesome. Even if the cat did die due to curiosity, the cat died happily.

To my surprise, 23 people retweeted it (at the time of writing this post) and it’s the most retweeted tweet I made so far.

That makes me wonder. I can understand that the positive nature of this tweet might have made those people want to share it with others, but there must have been more to it. My guess is that it depicted a story, like the one I told you in the beginning of this post. I knew about the importance of storytelling, and this Cat vs. Curiosity tweet made me feel it.

Speaking of storytelling, let me come back to the story of Cat vs. Curiosity.

I never know what happened to our cat. All I can tell you is based on my speculations. Actually, I don’t want to believe that the cat died at all.

Perhaps we were talking about a different cat, because our cat died happily or he didn’t die.

My bet is this: If the cat was killed, 1) it was another cat and 2) it was Fear that killed the cat. Not Curiosity.

Why not Curiosity? That’s a very good question. Curiosity is a good fellow. It won’t kill anyone (or any cat). It might look like rough and tough at times, but Curiosity makes sure that you get to have awesome experiences. I believe Curiosity was just playing with the cat as you do with your awesome friends.

My theory about the other cat that died not quite happily is the following. Curiosity did visit this cat, but Fear told him not to go with Curiosity. Fear is quite clever and good at convincing people (or cats) about this kind of stuff.

How did Fear convince this unfortunate cat? Here’s what he might have told the unfortunate cat.

“Curiosity is a dangerous monster… He killed other cats. If you stay here, you can be safe! It’s warm here and you won’t starve to death. Join me and other cats that managed to escape from Curiosity!”

OK, I’m not sure if I’d be the go-to-guy for working on behalf of Fear when he’s sick, but I suppose he’d be saying things like that.

I’m not in a position to judge that this cat made the wrong choice. Probably he got what he wanted anyway. However, if he did want to play with Curiosity and chose to go along with Fear instead, I’d say he did make a mistake. That’s a recipe for an unhappy (cat) life.

What if you were a cat and met Curiosity and Fear? What would you do?


Photo: stalkERR

Let’s make connections with yourself and others

Here’s my favorite part of The Connection Manifesto by Pace (@PaceSmith) and Kyeli (@Kyeli) Smith.

Before you know how to read or tie your shoes, you’re off to school. You spend 13 years, day in and day out, doing what others tell you to do, being shoved into boxes and molds. You get out of school, get a job, and spend the next fifty years, day in and day out, doing what others tell you to do, being shoved into boxes and molds. Eventually you retire, and then and only then can you enjoy life. When you’re 65.

Fuck that.

You can download The Connection Manifesto from here for free, and let your friends know about it if you like.

I read this manifesto recently, and it resonated with me. The Connection Manifesto introduces core ideas behind Pace and Kyeli’s world changing movement The Connection Revolution. I was moved by their manifesto, because they were honest and passionate about encouraging you to connect with yourself and others… about making this revolution happen.

Making connections with yourself and others. I believe this is very, very important. Making connections is a big theme in what I want to do as well – making the world more romantic. So, I was naturally interested in what Pace and Kyeli had to say about it.

It’s something people tend to miss or are afraid of doing when interacting with others. I don’t know if there is any single, unifying reason behind it, but I bet one of reasons why some people might be afraid of making connections with others is because they have to be authentic in front of others.

To be authentic, you can’t hide your vulnerability. You can’t impress others by putting on a mask. But if you can’t hide your vulnerability or impress others by putting on a mask, what’s going to happen? What if others judge you for who you really are?

Well, the answer is: nothing happens unless you make a big deal out of it. Trust me, you’ll be much more impressive when you show up as your authentic self.

But how do you make connections with others? In fact, what do you mean by ‘connections’ anyway? That’s a question I want to think over a little bit more… I can answer the first question though. Well, I’m not sure if people I interact with feel the same way, but I tend to ask them what their childhood dreams were and/or what their current dreams are. I’m more interested in these things than in how they make money (the typical ‘what do you do’ question, which I hardly ask), where they are from, and whether they have siblings or not. The trick is to be really curious about what their dreams are. I mean, aren’t you curious about such things more than those boring, average questions like the ‘what do you do’ question?

I can imagine some people getting frustrated about me calling this kind of questions boring, and I can understand that frustration. But let’s face it. It is boring. Imagine you could meet anyone you admire and ask one question. Would you really ask Andy Warhol (for example) how he earns money or where he’s from? You wouldn’t, would you? It’s totally fine if you would, but… Anyway. And don’t tell me the man sitting next to you might not be as interesting as Andy Warhol. He could be. In fact, assume he is as interesting as Andy Warhol (or whoever you think is interesting) and he will be.


Hi. What’s your dream?

Photo: ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser

Can you count how many things there aren’t in the world?

Can you count how many things there aren’t in the world? There isn’t a frog that speaks Japanese. There isn’t a machine that lets us experience anything we want to experience. There isn’t a 50m tall human being. I’ve counted up to 3 so far. While I actually made them up and checked that they don’t exist, I believe it’s safe to say they are non-existent in this world as of today. There are many more things that don’t exist, too. Indeed, I’m not sure how many there are — or rather, how many there aren’t.

But I bet… A lot. A countless number of them.

The examples I mentioned above are quite fancy, but note that non-existent things can be more ordinary like a car. If you want a car, but don’t have it, there is a car that doesn’t belong to you (if anything can belong to anything else at all). You could list up things that you want, but you don’t have. Then you could count how many of them there are on the list. Some of you might have a million things on the list, while others might have only a few things on the list. The thing is, there could be infinitely many things that you don’t have.

Now, how about things you have? Even if you have a lot of things and it is tiring to count them all, the number of things you have is limited unlike the list of things you don’t have.

So, the limited number of things you have vs. the (almost) unlimited number of things you don’t have. If a battle is to be fought between these two, what happens?

Let’s say you’re unhappy about what you have and tend to want a lot of things that are much better than what you already have in your view.

The bad news is that what you have seems to have no chance of winning over what you don’t have in terms of quantity. Your list of what you don’t have keeps growing, fueled by your strong desires. You might get frustrated by the fact you don’t have things you want, and that sucks.

The good news is that when it comes to quality, what you have is so much better than what you don’t have. Suppose you have a bowl of rice in front of you and you don’t have a slice of bread. If you eat the rice, you’ll have the rice eating experience (e.g. it gets you full and if you like rice, you’ll enjoy it etc.). But you can’t even try eating a slice of bread that isn’t there. The non-existent bread won’t give you anything. You might get grumpy for the bread not being there, but why should you when you can eat what you do have and enjoy it?

This piece is more like a rant than an argument, but in short, my point is simply: appreciate what you have and stop worrying about what you don’t have.

I’m somewhat intrigued by the idea of ownership and I’m inclined to think that what we can really own privately is our conscious experiences and that’s all. You can’t have my experience of seeing the blue sky at a certain time and place just as I can’t have your experience of seeing the blue sky at the same time and place. This thought leads me to want to appreciate my experiences that occur each moment.

Oh, and each moment seems to be unique in the sense that a moment that’s happening right now had never happened before and will never happen again. This moment is what I have at this moment. That moment is what I have at that moment. I don’t want to miss the beat of this moment by thinking about that moment.


Image: Robbert van der Steeg

At least you survived

I was listening to a bonus material of Question the Rules by Johnny B. Truant (@JohnnyBTruant) and Lee Stranahan (@Stranahan) earlier today. This conversation between Johnny and Lee was about faith and belief – going for what you want and really believing in yourself during that process, to put it in a less woo-woo way.

In a segment of the audio, they talk about finding opportunities in seemingly bad situations and seizing them against the odds, so to speak.

After all, we could take advantage of bad situations. For example, we could learn something from those situations. If we do learn something, then those situations become valuable lessons that prosper us.

But it’s up to you to choose how you will respond to those situations. Are you willing to learn something, or will you simply feel bad about what happened and do nothing? It’s your choice.

The next time you are caught in a bad situation, stop and think if there’s something you can learn from it.

If nothing comes to your mind… well, perhaps you should know it didn’t kill you. You survived. And you can stand up again and be stronger than before.

Image: Adrian  Wallett

Review: The Art of Non-Conformity

In the past two years I’ve been inspired by Chris Guillebeau. I wrote about Chris before, and he is famous in the blogging world. But for those of you who don’t know about Chris, he runs a website called The Art of Non-Conformity where he posts articles on unconventional lifestyle, entrepreneurship and traveling. He also wrote a free e-book A Brief Guide to World Domination, which I translated into Japanese with Etsuko. (If you have Japanese friends, please refer them to this page for the Japanese version of the brief guide.)

Chris recently published his first book – it has the same name as his website, but with a n extra subtitle: The Art of Non-Conformity — Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World.

I finally got a copy of his book and read the whole thing straight after. What you’ll read below is my biased, subjective review of the book. (I believe there are some good, objective reviews outthere if you prefer. Check its Amazon page for example.)

What I like about the AONC book

  • His message is strong and his style calm and passionate. It doesn’t have a cheesy, motivational-speaker-type, in-your-face vibe. It’s perhaps because of his guru-free way of thinking, which I like love.
  • It’s like the best of the AONC website. There are a number of posts on his website, and one could get lost in it. This book puts together essences of his posts and thoughts in one place and organizes them in a neat way. I was already familiar with the way Chris goes about things and the content of the book itself didn’t surprise much. However, it was refreshing to see his thoughts running a straight line and connecting with one another.
  • He does give you practical tips on living an unconventional life. He tells you how by sharing his own stories as well as stories of other unconventional catalysts. (Since Chris lists their websites and twitter accounts on the book’s bonus webpage, you can connect with those unconventional catalysts as well. They are real people and not someone’s inventions!)
  • When it comes to the book’s content, I especially liked the chapter where he compares his graduate school experiences and his writing career. He wrote a master’s thesis and it was read by three people. His manifesto was read by more than 100000 people, and it changed and influenced many of them. That inspires me. Really. And that makes me think as well. In a good way.

The AONC book is like a developed version of his manifesto. So, if you’re curious about the book, you should check his manifesto as well as his articles.

How do you want to live your life? Do you want to live a remarkable life, or an average life? You don’t need to be modest about your answer, because it’s your life and you don’t need to make others comfortable by how you answer this question. Perhaps you are already living a remarkable life and that’s great. Perhaps you are actually pretty happy with living an average life. If you feel like living an average life at the moment, but you want to live a remarkable life, the kind of life that is purposeful and meaningful (by your own definition), then this book can be helpful for you to take the first step towards the life you want to live.


In the previous post, I promised to give away my copy of The Artist’s Way – I got two comments within the post and two other comments on twitter. I’ve used this service to choose the winner randomly. The winner is …



Thanks to all of you who commented on the previous post :-)

photo: Hamed Saber