Celebrating Birthdays and Existdays

Life Sep 10, 2021

Earlier this month (6th) was my 28th birthday. Yay! Well, that's the celebration. All good now.

Putting the standard celebration aside, according to what the world is advertising to me, my birthday is an important day to me.
How am I celebrating it? Well, it's this post! I'm not doing anything specific to celebrate it offline (getting my 2nd vacc dose instead, so that in itself is a gift!).

Instead, I wanted to deep dive into my own psyche: questions I want to explore, dreams I want to accomplish. Before I can reach that point, I need to do an audit on myself: what I'm doing, consuming, focusing on, and more. I need to know what I'm working with so I can get there. Clarity is my birthday present for now.

The two important days to one's life

I’ve been incredibly blessed with the opportunities provided to me. Living in different places, blending into different cultural backgrounds, meeting different kinds of people. Those experiences led me to build my own never-ending [[Textbook of the World]]. Through this, I want to reach out towards impossible opportunities. The day I found this desire was the day that I clearly cared about my own raison d'etre, and that was only a few years ago.

This rationale is according to the following quote by [[Mark Twain]]:

There are two important days that is important for a man: the day that they are born and the day they find out why.

Deconstructing this quote, we have Birthdays and Existdays.

Birthdays are...well, days when we were born. I don't think there's any other explanation for it 😅. A quick google search brings up the following explicit definition:

The anniversary of the day on which a person was born, typically treated as an occasion for celebration and the giving of gifts.

But if birthdays are the when, what about Existdays? These are the Why-days. That beautiful moment when we find out why we're here. Life became more colourful when I lived long enough to arrive at my Existday.

This is definitely the day where I don't ever want to betray myself. The day serves as a reminder of all the activities, moments, and experiences that have led me to this moment, and how they are in perfect synchronisation with my Why.

There are many articulations of my Why on this site, which I’ll compile into a growing post.

Based on the above, I took the first step towards impacting the world a few years ago. It was the day I published my first episode on Tempered Fables, and that was the day that I swore to myself the following:

This is evidence of my time on Earth. Let it be heard all around the world.

The first step to cultural immortality, indeed. Commemorating the day that we find out why we're here sounds like a noble pursuit I'm willing to celebrate. The previous letters are precursors to this. They're a milestone in the journey to this realisation.

What about the weight of your Existday? We can determine that through introspection. For myself, I wanted to explore the following question:

What do I not enjoy about my current predicament?

Currently, rather than being restricted in freedom, I’m free to do anything I want right now. Whether online or offline, those around me aren't preventing me from doing any of that. They are the safety net that allows me to propel through. And that’s okay.

What’s stopping me is myself. According to my understanding, and auditing the behaviors of the past 2-3 years, I have accepted that it's not worth being offline around me, and that is affecting my health. I don’t bother looking at the things around my physical body because none of that is interesting.

When I open the window and look out to the world, the only thing I look forward to is the weather. Not the city, not the people, not the culture. Where I am is in complete misalignment with who I am willing to become. I don’t have a compelling reason to go outside, and that is hurting my inherent nature to find adventures.

No, there is nothing that is stopping me from doing the good work that I need to do. My actual predicament is hesitation. I need the courage to do certain things, proceed with plans, to go ahead with ideas. I’m not trying hard enough. I’m really not trying hard enough.

It’s less about accepting the conditions around me (for all of these things to work, I would have inevitably accepted these definitions anyway). It’s more of doing these things despite the conditions provided, which is the step after. I keep forgetting to do this step - and not doing so makes me forget the true worth of all of these activities I’m doing. I had refused to recognise the potential visible impact I could see.

But after every call, after every recording, every episode, etc. I would be energetic. I forgot that energy, and I need it again. That external tension is key to living.

All I seek now is external, positive, conversational tension from the most ambitious of minds.

PS. If you know someone who fits this bill, let me know by tweeting at me or emailing me. I’d love to get to know more people. It could be a good enough conversation to be worth publishing on one of my podcasts, otherwise a private conversation would be worth it too. I also have a tendency to record them: here's why.

Podcast exhaustion

Adding onto the above, there is my relationship with podcasting.

I dove headfirst into the medium years ago. First episode out in 2018 and I've been non-stop narrating and talking behind the microphone for most of my career.

Ever since a few personal things happened (well, the pandemic was one of them), I didn’t want to talk in front of the microphone. Unveiling my podcast self became a chore. I didn’t want to touch Audition, I didn’t want to touch Descript. Not a single episode was posted according to my schedule. Hell, I didn't even have a schedule! So much for a podcaster.

I have a backlog of unfinished episodes I never bothered to publish. There are also some leftover projects and collaborations I committed to doing, but never proceeded. With genuine honesty, I feel shitty about not doing any of it, much to the disappointment of people I cooperated with even now.

So here’s a reset, and a declaration of what I intend to do.

Rules of the Mad Scientist

Reset of optimism

To celebrate these two days, I want to do a complete reset of optimism. I want to rediscover the reasons why I'm happy whenever I am, and put them in front and center of my attention through [[Environmental Design]].

There were some setbacks in the beginning. For example, I’ve been told to shut up more often than not. I think I want to make use of that attribute of mine for the next few decades.

Whatever I find fun, pursue it until exhaustion

Use up all of my energy as much as it possibly can, so that I don’t have to disappoint myself by betraying my own expectations. That way I know I have done as much as I possibly could, and with that level of acceptance, I can easily let it go as much as I can and move onto the next muse.

Play through working

This is a special type of commitment. It involves framing every task as an imperfect necessity: to do things with the best of my ability with low expectations. Imperfect execution over ideal vision, and to introduce rapid iteration when we can. It's a synonym of striking the iron while it's hot.

Exist in isometric form

I'm going to play in 3rd person narrative. This may be the biggest change yet.

There is something defeatist about starting all my thoughts in first person. Not that all of them harbour that feeling, but it becomes the default, and we can never depend on our system defaults if we strive to improve them.

Putting that aside, I'm going to figure out how to shift my consciousness to an isometric point of view automatically. Kind of like a game of Civ6 or Divinity 2:

Looking at items and experiences from a top-down perspective seems like it would be a healthy habit to build. I'm getting some results from my time diving into [[Alexander Technique]], and I want to see if I can apply it here.

Accountability at the core of everything that I do.

There are a few ways I'm going for accountability.

One is the upcoming 💌The Inner Transcript. If I set the cadence to something not too intense, say twice a month, it will be possible. I feel I don't have a strong enough support system for my circumstances at the moment, so I'll need to develop it myself. There must be no hesitation in achieving a level of accountability for myself, and I need ways to push myself through attracting people to the right place.

Next is the accountability circle that I want to keep in touch with in terms of what I'm doing. I'll call them [[The 100 Mad]].

They have access to a private table or roadmap of stuff I'm doing etc. and are free to contact me when they want. If they help me this way with their eyes and encouragement, I can help them with anything they want. Maybe pass them my number and private email for everything, not sure how that will work. Maybe it's a case-by-case basis.

But the goal is to achieve conversational tension: accountability through conversations, calls and livestreams. The more I'm in the crowd, the more I'm 'performing', and the more I can go into a state of [[Pretendsion]]. I'm considering hiring a productivity coach to keep me in good company as I'm tackling all of these. Nothing makes me more tense than putting money on the line.

I need people as crazy and mad as me to accept what I’m doing.

The goal is to prevent hesitation from seeping in

No matter what form it takes, hesitation is always there to prevent me from doing the things I want. When faced with peril, I give up and tragically say yes to returning to my defaults. This time, I want to combat them.

I need to audit these moments of hesitation and creating solutions to them seem like the best way. Tackling these emotional conflicts with logical procedural solutions seem correct. There is a process and solution for everything, I am merely unaware of it yet. The first step, is to wear what I want on my sleeve.

If I want to celebrate every day

I don’t think I want store-bought gifts anymore. I appreciate them, but I have no utmost desire for them. The only exceptions would be created gifts: handicrafts, paintings, and things that cannot be 'bought'. Even a handwritten letter is so meaningful to me. There were many times in my life where I have cried from receiving a heartfelt letter written by a friend.

Voice recordings, recorded videos - these are items that I can bring with me until the end. They don't deteriorate and they don't fight against time. The gifts that are triggers for memory that help make my birthday memorable. The gifts you create for someone give them a powerful reason to remember that they have lived until this day.

I want to celebrate my birthday internally, meaningfully. I want to celebrate it with people and making experiences with them. It doesn’t have to be the main reason why we would be hanging out, doing stuff together, etc. but it being a byproduct would be a lovely coincidence.

Birthdays are a lovely coincidence of the art of memory-making. I want to be memorable with you. That’s all I want for my birthday.

I want to explore a world with my cherished friends. That can be done through a conversation. And with every conversation, a birthday, and to take a synonym of my favorite song:

But don't change your hair for me Not if you care for me Stay little valentine stay Each day is Valentines day.

Every day is Valentine’s.

To be showered in love that way. That would be my favorite present of all time. Here’s to a lovely, small, unassuming birthday, one of many, on the way to becoming immortal.

Thank you for letting me be part of your memory, my friend ❤️

Tags

Norm

Norman Chella is the Podcast Rainmaker, Polymath in Progress and a very strange writer. His creative pen name is N.T. Cloever. You can find his words right here.

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