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February 2024

Post image for How to Feel 20 Percent Better

On a whim I decided to commit to three small changes for the remainder of Lent, not because I’m religious, but because I like the idea of temporarily renouncing things.

I kept the changes small because small is easy, and might still be worthwhile. First I renounced the scrolling of Twitter and Reddit, because I kind of got into that again over the winter. I just took five minutes to block them on my phone, and I don’t miss them. I also started drinking more water again. I’m not sure when I got away from actively drinking water, but now that I’m doing it again I feel more energetic. Lastly, I stopped pushing my bedtime past my old bedtime by 15 or 20 minutes. I forgot that I used to be more strict about that. Again, I’m not sure when that happened, but I was able to correct it in a day.

That’s it. There’s no attempt here to “reach my potential” or “turn the corner” or become a “new me,” I just decided to change these little things and keep them going at least until Easter.

My expectation was that such small changes would yield proportionately small benefits, maybe worthwhile enough to keep doing afterward. But I feel like I’m getting way more out of them than the small effort I’m putting in.

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Post image for There is No Future, and That’s Good

Next month I’m going on a trip to the US, but I won’t know the destination until I’m in the cab on the way to the airport.

A friend and I hatched this “surprise trip” idea a few years ago. One person chooses the destination and books flights and hotel, staying within a certain budget and other agreed parameters. The other person packs for any destination in the United States, and doesn’t find out where until shortly before going through airport security.

Most people probably wouldn’t want to travel like this, but it works for us. We both like surprises, and we both know how to have fun almost anywhere. We did it once already in 2018. I was the planner and my friend was the surprisee, and we had a great time touring Boston. This time I’m the surprisee, and anticipating this trip gives me a feeling I haven’t quite felt before.

It’s interesting because I’m looking forward to the trip, but I have no idea what I’m looking forward to. Thinking about it brings no images to mind, just an exciting void. Mostly I end up thinking about Boston, one of the few places I know we’re not going.

When my mind fails to find an image, a seed from which to envision this upcoming trip, it feels something like I’m standing on a cliff, looking out into impenetrable darkness. Nothing can be seen that way, and right now there is nothing that way, but it’s still the way I’m headed. The landscape will form just as I move forward into the nothing.

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