(Note: This post was initially published as part of my newsletter. )
Welcome to the first issue of my newsletter, Negative Capability Weekly.
The first one is always special. It’s like a TV pilot, mixed in with a manifesto.
A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer.
Why I’m writing this newsletter
I recently started writing on my blog, which is a great way to consolidate, work on and experiment with ideas. The blog is where I go a bit broader and where I order my thoughts into principles I can use in my life and share with others. This newsletter is my attempt at going deeper.
The newsletter is my “diary” of the journey.
It’s a diary because I’ll be writing regularly about my progress, my wins and my failures. And I’ll be able to look back at it.
But it won’t be all about me. I want to share this stuff with you because I think it might be useful. And in case it’s not, let me know. Let’s keep each other accountable on what we learn.
It’s also a fantastic filter.
It’s a filter because I read / consume a ton of information every week and I realize how, what sticks is actually a very small part of it. Forcing myself to trim the fat off of this dangerously juicy information brisket will help me implement more o f it (absorb more nutrients? lol).
We don’t need more shallow fluff. We need curated recommendations or arguments that make us think.
What is it about?
For poet John Keats, great thinkers are:
capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason
He called it negative capability. It’s a pretty nebulous concept still not totally understood. Reason why, as the nerd I am, I’ve found it fascinating.
Especially these times, there’s an industrial amount of uncertainty. Being open to it – no, inviting it into our life – is critical if we want to live a good one. Not knowing makes us humble, honest and helps us empathize with other fellow human beings.
We’ve been seeing it a lot lately during the pandemic. Everyone just seems more willing to, even for a moment, wear other people’s shoes. To open up their hearts and even wallets, (with donations to important organizations and charities) to others.
My blog and this newsletter are my ways of exploring the intersection, the middle ground between knowledge and uncertainty. Between actively looking for the how-tos and simply being open to serendipity and chance.
Imagine you are putting together a puzzle. It’s huge. One of those trillion pieces puzzles people start as their life-project and hope they finish by the time they’re 60 or something. Anyway, you’re building your puzzle, piece after piece. You’re on a roll, you find exactly what you need and place it exactly where it fits.
Until you don’t. And you pick up a piece that looks so weird, you have no fucking clue where to put it.
Life tends to deal those from time to time. So you set them aside, just for a moment. You let them sit there until you know exactly where they are supposed to go.
These are the uncertain times that leave room for interpretation and creative thinking. It’s where we need to be good at being negatively capable.
But the same time, just vegetating on a problem doesn’t lead anywhere. And that’s why I want to go to the exact point where we find the balance.
For me, entrepreneurship, meditation, creativity, reading and learning all have to do with finding this balance. And that’s what I’ll write about, every Sunday. Taking from my life, my work and finding ways to connect the dots.
If this was the last link you click on?
In each issue I’ll send you links to 3 and only 3 pieces of content (written, audio and video) that made me think or that have given me an inspiring kick in the ass to either produce something or achieve a certain milestone.
I’ll be selecting these as if each was the last link I’d ever click on. That’s how important our time is, so let’s value it.
Here are this week’s picks:
- In this article the writer argues that creating luck for yourself starts with connecting ideas and giving meaning to them in your mind. It’s a big part of the concept of negative capability. It’s also another way of thinking of the “law of attraction” that sounds way less mystical and woo woo.
When two disparate events are connected in your mind as having a relation beyond physical cause and effect, you are creating meaning. When you create meaning, you reconfigure your attention to see more connections in a random world. When you see more connections in a random world, you are more likely to notice luck where you might not have before because your surface area of recognition is greater — your attention is more attuned to certain surroundings.
- If you are a fan of the WW2 mini series Band of Brothers or you’ve seen the TV shows Billions or Homeland, you might be familiar with actor Damian Lewis. In this podcast Billions’ writer Brian Koppelman sits with him to talk about his career and some of the techniques and mindsets he uses. It’s fascinating. They talk about how bringing an animal into the character affects your physicality, the Stanislavski’s system for training actors (hint: involves storytelling) and a lot more.
- This guy is a beast. And super humble too. He just sets up his camera on the floor, somewhere in whatever military base he’s stationed in and just starts cranking out pushups and burpees like there’s no tomorrow. No fancy, influencer quality production, just pure hard work and sweat. Following some of his workouts I got to 678 pushups and 339 burpees in one hour. Surprisingly the mental challenge is tougher than the physical one. If you want to get better at setting goals and stick with doing the hard thing, while getting super fit, check it out.
That’s it for today’s first issue. I’d love to know what you think about it, or if you have any questions. This is gonna be a bit of a learning curve and work in progress for a while!