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Post image for You can’t go home again. Again.

I’m back home now, and I’m feeling something I haven’t felt since the last time I returned from a big trip.

Friday night I came in the door, dropped my bag, sat on the couch out of habit. Instead of the relief I had looked forward to from the plane, I felt an intense uneasiness. My apartment is clean, spacious, utilitarian and unlike New York City in every way, and to this moment it makes me queasy.

It’s no wonder, either, that feeling so comfortable in the crowds of Manhattan (“like a warm bath,” I kept saying) I feel quite out of place in a city that is so starkly different, even if I do call it home.

What is a surprise, though, is that I’d been enduring some measure of this restlessness all the time without recognizing it. My living situation is nearly perpendicular to my actual values, and I didn’t realize it until I fit so well in a place so dramatically different than here.

It was a revelation to me that I crave a buzzing social life, walkable shops, dinners with friends, art and art people, cafés that aren’t franchises, buildings that are older than my parents. Yet I live in a dull park of two-level apartments at the edge of the city, with nothing in its walking radius but box stores. This is not a neighborhood.

One afternoon in Manhattan I was in a museum and I had to find a way to write something. I’m sure a lot of writers feel it. It comes on with the same kind of urgency as having to pee.

I quickly ended up sitting on one of the viewing benches in a room dedicated to Kandinsky, typing on my phone.

Things I have learned in ny.

Read more. Get healthy. Get calm but stay playful.

Create something everyday. Poem, stream of consciousness, article, drawing or narrative.

Find your people. Get close to the action.

Absorb art.  Read More

Post image for There are no clean slates, and you don’t need one

If you’re already going strong on a New Year’s resolution, then good for you. Run with it. Don’t let me get in your way.

If you didn’t get around to making one, you didn’t miss anything. In fact you might have dodged a bullet. I’ve made a lot of resolutions that did work out, but none of them began on a January 1st. I figure just about any other day is a better day to make a real change.

The problem with New Years-ing your resolution is that it gives undue weight to the idea of a clean slate. It seems like January first really does reset something, and that it’s important to harness that rare chance.

But of course, it’s just another tomorrow. There are no clean slates. Past failures will still visit you in your head, from whatever year. Bad internal dialogues will still occur, and you’ll still have the same preconceptions about yourself and the kinds of outcomes you can create.

All of this stuff is real, and it doesn’t respect the Gregorian calendar. The glowing Times Square Ball doesn’t have any special powers to obliterate your weaknesses. Making a change must include confronting certain patterns and personal liabilities. You have to take them on willingly as a part of the deal — you can’t trick yourself by pretending they only exist in 2011.

So if you think you need a clean slate to make a change then you’re going to have trouble once you realize a new calendar year doesn’t really clean anything. Self-doubt will appear in 2012 too.

Most people use January 1st because it seems worthwhile to exploit whatever whiff of an advantage it seems to offer. They gravitate towards it as if they recognize that their chances aren’t so good to begin with. Admit you don’t need it, and pick a different day. Pick one that has no sentimental significance, no false help. Don’t even use a Monday.

Of course, if you’re serious about making a change, you know that it isn’t a matter of improving your chances. It’s all up to you, not the fates, so you don’t need to line up your plastic trolls and rabbit’s feet like the old ladies at bingo. You’re much better off if you don’t hang your hopes on anything you don’t plan to control.  Read More

Post image for Mold and The Law

My house is moldy and Parkinson’s Law is mostly responsible. If you’re not familiar, the Law is usually spelled out like this: “The time required for a task expands to fill the time available for its completion.” It works for money too.

So when you’ve settled into a schedule filled with recurring tasks, they each have a tendency to expand until they press up against the next one, and then they don’t move around very easily. Without much variation (a day job does this quickly) the parts get dusty, then mold grows between them, and you begin to forget that they can move at all. Instead of a series of independent tasks, a routine can come to look to the mind like it’s one solid, familiar ring, seven days in circumference, studded with the odd unexpected task or birthday party.

I’m doing some house cleaning and I still have some mold problems, so I’m giving a large part of a routine a quarter-turn by dialing my regular article forward to Mondays for a while. I’ll see where the other bits reassemble around that. It’s like defragging my schedule, for you computer geeks. Call it a mini-experiment.

Certain important things (namely reading books and meditating — probably the two most wholesome things I do) have been flung out of the ring due to substantial G-forces, and there are no obvious gaps for them to jump back in safely.

I’m aware it’s more of an internal adjustment that isn’t really meant to interest you, but I thought I’d say something today because I don’t like to be a mysterious no-show. You might also want to try this kind of defrag in your own routine and see how it settles out.

And while I have you here for a moment, there are a few interviews I’ve done with other bloggers that I never had a good chance to share.

Sui from Cynosure asked me about self-love and hard times.

Nicki from The Veggie Tales talked to me about food.

And (quite a while ago) my friend Srinivas from BlogcastFM interviewed me about blogging in this podcast.

Anyway, see you Monday.

-D.

***

 Photo by Monster Pete

 

 

Post image for How to avoid terrible curses

In April I told you people that an established publisher had contacted me wanting to know if I’d considered writing a book. I was naturally very flattered but unsure of what angle to take on it, so I appealed to you for feedback and you delivered. Thank you.

What I didn’t mention is that I had been contacted almost six months earlier, and I’d been stuck on it since then. I didn’t really know what kind of book I wanted to write. My post was intended to get me moving by creating public accountability and stirring up some ideas.

It didn’t, really. I pecked at it over the months, and a clearer outline began to emerge. I wasn’t in love with it, but it was something that could be built on. Yeah, I could pull this off, I thought sometimes.

Two weeks ago a literary agent contacted me, unaware that a publisher had already expressed interest, and it looked like it was a sign that now is the time. After avoiding it a bit more, I dug out my notes and got to work again. I ignored my doubts and kept putting words down.

What quickly happened surprised me. Saturday morning, on my 31st birthday, I had my first moment of clarity about what I should do. It hit me like a truck:

I have no desire at all to write a book right now. None.

And just like that, a yearlong spell of uncertainty dissolved. In hindsight it had been that way from the beginning, but I felt like that shouldn’t matter — the opportunity was so great. But there is no opportunity if the author isn’t interested.  Read More

Ok, the site’s new facelift is live. There are still some bugs, but I didn’t want Raptitude to be offline any longer, so I’m putting it up now. There are a few weird things going on with formatting, and I’m still testing stuff. One problem you’ll notice on some older posts is the “R” signature has a big white block around it, which I never noticed before because the old background was white. I’ll have to go through all 200 posts and delete them manually because they are part of the content.

In the mean time I could use your help though. Please enjoy the site as normal but drop me an email about any bugs you find: graphics out of place, formatting problems, or whatever, and I’ll have them taken care of.

Thanks for your patience, I hope you like the cleaner look. Two years ago I just threw together the site in the stock Thesis theme which is really dull and common, and it’s been bothering me ever since. It’s all about the content anyway but I’m glad to have a simpler and saner design. Thanks to rtcamp for their endless patience with me, and thank you for reading.

-David

Post image for The site it is a-changin’

Raptitude will be receiving an interim redesign this weekend, so it may be offline for a bit, or it may be online and look funny and things may be broken. It will look different on Monday for sure. See you on the flipside.

-David

Photo by UntitledBlue

Post image for I’d like your input on something

Of everything that’s happened since I launched Raptitude, what I’m most proud of is that I’ve attracted a such an intelligent and discerning audience. That flatters me to no end and assures me I’m doing something right.

I feel extremely lucky to be able to bounce ideas off a large group of particularly thoughtful people. I’d like to hear your thoughts about something.

I’ve been approached by major publisher asking if I’d thought about doing a book.

Something may or may not come of this, but I’ll be writing a book sooner or later anyway. Thematically, there are lots of places to go with it. Essentially Raptitude is about human evolution through personal evolution, but that includes a lot: living in modern society, contending with the human condition, courting habit change, honing quality-of-life skills, fluff-free spirituality, self-reliance, self-examination, practicing sanity in its various forms, and even making cookies.

So I have three questions for you. I’d appreciate your answer to any or all of them, as well as any other comments you might have.

1) Would you read a Raptitude book?

2) What is Raptitude about, to you?

3) What would you like to see in a book?

Even if you don’t normally comment — and I know the vast majority of readers don’t — I’d like to hear what you have to say about this.

Thank you. You guys are the best.

Photo by David Cain

2010 was my best year ever, but I plan to say that about every year from here on in. It was also Raptitude’s best year ever, with over 1,000,000 unique visits during the calendar year. This is all thanks to you, the reader, because I did virtually nothing except write content. Thanks for sharing.

Here are the top 10 posts of the year:

10. 3 Pieces of Advice I’d Give My 18-year-old Self If I Could

I tried something a bit new here by framing the post with a fictional narrative, and it paid off. It was fun to write and many longtime readers told me it was their favorite post of mine. Everyone had different ideas about what they’d have liked their teenage self to have known about life.

9. Die on Purpose

At first glance it’s a quick way to get an objective look at the moment, but it’s bigger than that. It’s actually a shortcut to a liberating insight about who we are and what the human condition really is. Some readers really understood the enormous implications of this simple technique, and I received a lot of glowing emails about it. An unusually short post, for me. Read More

Post image for Two Milestones

On Wednesday Raptitude surpassed one million unique visitors. Thank you for supporting me.

And yesterday was the final day of my twenties. What a trip it was.

I love you all.

~David

***
Photo by pshutterbug

At the end of my overseas trip I spent a week winding down in the peaceful surf town of Noosa, Australia. At that point I had over 5000 photographs and two hundred video clips, and I knew people would want to see them. So I took some time to put together a montage of photos and video clips, set to music, to tell the story without an endless stack of photos.

Two weeks ago I reported a laptop disaster in which I thought I lost them all. I was most upset about losing the video. It captures the feeling of the trip pretty well, and losing it was like losing a bunch of awesome memories.

If you hadn’t heard, I did manage to recover all the data, and a week later my laptop mysteriously emerged from its coma and started working again.

So the video is finally online.

It’s about fifteen minutes long, and takes you through my experiences in three beautiful countries: Thailand, New Zealand and Australia. I promise it’s worth your while. Read More

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