Random Notes: Unexpected joys; Improvisation; Iteration with learning

I'm going to post these little jottings that I've been making while on the road – no order, structure yet, they're the bones of what I'll be writing about later.  Advisory: may contain platitudes, truisms and inanity.

Unexpected joys

The joy comes mostly when you realise how it's all been leading up to this, how it all just fits together perfectly, how this marvellous moment could not have come about exactly as it is without all the other apparently less marvellous moments that contributed to you being here.

Improvisation

If I have a choice, I will always go for something made up as I go along over something with a prescribed or predefined method. This doesn't mean that there's no thinking beforehand, preparation or structure, just that I think it's importance to keep allowing for the possibility of novelty or creation to blossom out of what you're doing. This is allowing yourself to be wrong that you've already found the optimal way of doing something.

Iteration with learning

The trick is silencing the voice that says “you should know this already, you've done it before” No. In circumstances like these, you haven't done it before. Those people who have done something similar before didn't do exactly what you're doing with exactly the resources and background you have, they also did it within a different space-time. And you only really learn when you fail, so fail early and fail often and then go round the loop again. The thing to avoid is iteration without learning, that's trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results, that's nuts.

Originally posted on Please Look After This Englishman

Taking Stock

I'm aware that in the rolling daily updates there's been little talk of how it's actually going for me how i'm _gulp_ *feeling*.  

Well the headline is I feel great.  I'm really enjoying the whole thing.  Taking it much more easily than last year.  Hardly worrying at all, except when I do. 

The "Solve it while I sleep" posts have had a big effect on me – it's a great way of putting down the worries and getting on with what's actually happening, ie I probably need to sleep.  So that's the "what happens if I ask for help?" part covered – basically, if I ask for help, even in a supposedly indirect way by writing on my blog, I get what I need.

I have also repeatedly had the experience of being offered something that makes me wince or gives me a little twinge, the sort of thing that ordinarily I'd say no to or accept an "easier option" – and finding that the thing I'm avoiding is really much much better than I could have expected.

I had this when Robert offered to take me to the TED livestream and the other option was to hang out and relax in Half Moon Bay, perhaps down on the beach.  I chose to go out with Robert because a little voice was telling me to go where there are more people, different people, that's where you get your energy.  And it's true, I do, I'm totally extraverted like that.

I nearly didn't go to Tracy's Mardi Gras party.  I would have missed out on so much loveliness if I had sat all evening with @moethecat.

I've also been resisting the urge to go home and hide under the covers – I've stayed out (drinking water) for as long as other people wanted instead of insisting on disappearing when the sun goes down.  Much more fun, though it still feels far from natural.

And today, Phil just asked if I would bring my uke to play in the car driving downtown.  erk.  But good to just say yes and then of course I ended up playing a few times out in the sunshine and having lots of fun with it.

So all of that comes under the "Giving up control" bit of the strapline.

Overall, pretty well then: giving up control and asking for help only leads to good things :)

Originally posted on Please Look After This Englishman

Day 10

There's nothing like it getting dark over a cold, grey wet Illinois and waking up in glorious Arkansas sunshine.  I'm back in the South – hurrah!

Into Texas and we hit Dallas at around 11am.  I would have a double seat to myself from now on as Marisa was getting off.  We had a whole hour layover so I walked with Arie and Marisa away from the station for a while looking for coffee.  Thank heavens for Foursquare, we found a Museum Cafe and started walking towards it.  

I looked left to cross the road and there was something weirdly familiar about the scene.  I ignored it and kept walking but it was bugging me.  The I looked up and saw the memorial to George Bannerman Dealey.  I was in Dealey Plaza.  Yes.  That's the former Texas School Book Depository Building and hmmmm… that grassy knoll over there… really weird, completely unexpectedly I was walking through a historical site, a place where a man had his brains blown out by an assassin or assassins about a year before I was born.  The museum we were heading to had loops of video of that day in November.  I didn't know how to feel, I can understand the power of the memory of that President, but commemorating violent death a few yards away from where that violent death  took place? I don't know, I still don't.

Anyway we got some much better coffee that was available on the train and chatted with Kheira the barista who, on hearing we'd found her via Foursquare said incredulously "Really? How old are you?" We explained that this is what we do and what SXSW is all about.  We encouraged her to spend her spring break in Austin and get a clue about this stuff :)

Back on the train and able to stretch out.  I was impatient now to get to Austin – we had another 45 minute layover in Fort Worth, just half an hour or so away. I remembered how big Texas is West to East but hadn't quite clicked the North-South dimension too.  McGregor, Temple, Taylor no idea where I was just counting down to "Next Stop: Aaaaaaaaaaustin Texasssss"

Finally we were off the train.  The bizarre thing was that of course this was the same train that I'd caught out of Austin last time I was here.  So the light was exactly the same as then (which is where my twitter/FB profile pic was shot) I made a little piece to camera about being back and headed off to stock up at Whole Foods and find beautiful people.

Which of course I did in the form of seesmic veterans aplenty.  @philcampbell, @orchid8, @danpatterson, @iKrissi – we headed from there to The Ginger Man I think where we met up with half the population of Birmingham and watched @hermioneway have video of herself shot from a handheld projector onto her bottom – enlightening stuff :)

And so to bed, chez @orchid8, in my favourite bottom bunk bed in Austin, with rocket ship sheets – total luxury.

Originally posted on Please Look After This Englishman