Health

Until you’ve mastered your craft, you will be prone to regular and potentially costly mistakes.

It is in your opponent’s best interest to force you to make these mistakes as often as possible. They do this by applying pressure.

Pressure comes in many forms. An opponent might pressure you by manipulating your perception of the time you have (or don’t have); by raising the intensity of their own play, demanding your reaction; by raising the stakes of the play, putting more on the line; or by simply apply force through leverage they have over you.

Adapting quickly to pressure is a hallmark of a great competitor; but no-one develops an aptitude for negotiating pressure without being forced into mistakes countless times over.

It’s how those mistakes are processed which separate the good from the great.

Truly great players relish opportunities to grow, seizing them with all the tenacity they can muster.

Pain is your body telling you that you’re taking risks you probably shouldn’t.

Pushing through that pain is the only way athletes achieve true greatness.

We’ve all heard the pseudo-scientific ‘mind over matter’ arguments: the suggestion that we’re all capable of magnificent physical feats, we just need to learn to hack our minds.

This obviously isn’t true. Athletes spend valuable years honing their bodies to be capable of grand feats. A normal person can’t will their body into running a 100km marathon, KO’ing a trained MMA fighter, or dunking a basketball into a hoop they can’t reach; but those who have crafted their bodies to be capable of those feats can hack their minds to propel themselves beyond their competiton.

Being capable of greatness and achieving it are two separate things.

The great athletes of our time are known for accessing ‘another level’, because they each found ways to trick their bodies into accepting that losing their game of choice was the equivalent of death.

This mindset, while potentially unhealthy, is the only way a person can truly lay their body on the line.

Fighters talk about being prepared to die in the ring; and those that are telling the truth will always be the scariest and most challenging opponents to overcome.

I’m not an advocate for the idea that the honour of victory is more valuable than life itself, but the power that thinking endows is undeniable.

As we return to our gyms and our pursuits, there are a larger proportion of us groaning up stairs; but a similar proportion who are happier and healthier than we have been locked up.

Pain isn’t bad; involuntry pain is.

Those pains we choose are gifts, not detterents; from them, we grow. We must listen to our bodies, as to not overwork and break ourselves. But when the little aches and pains of progress linger, the answer isn’t neccessarily to rest. Sometimes, the answer is to push harder.

The stories we tell ourselves aren’t always accurate – especially those in which we play either a hero or a villian. The truth is always more complex (and more painful) than ‘I was right’ or ‘I was wrong’.

By externalising the dominant narratives we tell ourselves we can get a glimpse into how the story might read from the perspective of others. This is hard, because our own biases are always the loudest, but it is possible.

Externalising and identifying these narratives opens up the opportunity for us to deconstruct them; to challenge the dominant tale from all angles in an effort to adapt or solidify our own.

Change happens; it always will. Sometimes, that change is going to knock your feet out from under you.

When you fall, you have multiple variations of two options: brace, tense up and protect your vitals; or roll, committing to the momentum of your fall.

Bracing limits your risk of serious pain, but almost guarantees a rough landing.

Tumbling leaves you vulnerable, but comes with an opportunity to spring back to your feet immediately.

Which are you more inclined to do?

Is your default a limitation?

It kills me to watch this unfold, but I can only try to understand. This is the consequence of ignored, systematic oppression; this is the cost of the demagogue experiment. Hate breeds hate. It’s going to require a whole lot of compassion to counterbalance that hate once the embers settle and the smoke fades.

Just remember that Australia has oppression in it’s own back yard, too. Hundreds of uneccessary deaths in custody without prosecution.

Bridging these divides takes more than scholarships and handouts. It’s not just about ‘sorry’, and it’s certainly not about ‘get over it’. America’s hate is a cancer with which we are also plagued. What we do about it is up to us.

If you’re pained enough to post to your timeline, show up at your next election.

There are an unfortunane number of people prone to thinking that they are in on something that everyone else is blind to. You’ve met these people; they’re usually quick to tell you what they know and, more importantly, what you don’t. They will immediately trust the word of anyone aligned with their beliefs, but refute every qualification held by anyone with a differing view. The problem with people who are suceptible to this is that, aided by a little fear, they can be convinced of nearly anything—and some falsehoods, once believed too deeply, can be perpetual.

A vulnerable person desperate for status and meaning will clutch onto the closest belief which makes them feel intelligent and in control. For some, that results in turning to faith. Religion offers the vulnerable a socially acceptable way to become ‘enlighened’: believe, and you get to join the we know something you don’t club. In this way, religion is a kind of conspiracy; it binds tightly those who believe and arms them with infallible premises to dispute with those who don’t. Religions, like all organised conspiracies, generate a cognitive bias which cannot be challenged by the logical standards of truth.

“Science adjusts it views based on what’s observed. Belief is the denial of observation, so that faith can be preserved.”

Tim Minchin

Conspiracy is attractive to vulnerable people because it arms them with an illusionary safety net: they are the ones who see and understand, and those who don’t are wrong by default. They never have to risk the embarrasment of being found out or losing an argument; your disbelief of their premise makes you wrong by default. The visciousness of this thinking is that it self perpetuates; feeling like you’re ‘right’ all the time feels good. So good, that just talking about the conspiracy can become its own form of self-gratification.

The sad result is that these people become insufferable to those who don’t share their delusions. The deeper one falls into conspiratorial thinking (which was meant to increase their status and likability by making them feel wise and in control), the further they isolate themselves from anyone outside of their conspiratorial bubble. For some, this works just fine. There are plenty of people who live entire, happy lives within two degrees of separation from someone who attends their church or mosque. But, in times of doubt, it may prove more difficult for those tricked into believing that malevolant reptillian humanoids walk among us to find meaningful engagement and community.

To return to reality, a conspiratorial thinker would have to accept the observations of the experts they have learned to distrust and denounce. If they wished to reclaim their place in the logical world, they would first have to admit to themselves that the ‘special knowledge’ at the root of their illusion of superiority was a lie; that they have been tricked, deceived and likely exploited by people and sources they have grown to love and trust; that the world might not be out to get them in the ways they feel it is; and that much of the fear they have been publicly projecting might actually reside within.

The problem with illusionary knowledge is that it leads to illusionary superiority. The problem with illusionary superiority is that it isolates you from those not under the spell of your brand of conspiracy; and the problem with that isolation is that, in order to give it up, you have to revoke the comfortable, infallible power you’ve grown dependant on weilding.

Tragically, this is often too painful. Its easier to believe that you’re a misunderstood genius than a delusional fool. Instead, they stay stuck in their unpopable bubbles of delusion, frustrated at the world for not understanding.

Never waste your time arguing with someone who has learned to believe in the things which make them feel good, instead of the things which they can prove. Facts won’t persuade someone to give up superiority which is grounded in illusion. Their knowledge and, in fact, their entire conception truth is not governed by logic or reason—their knowledge is governed by their insecurities.

Intelligent people love being wrong; every time it happens, they get wiser. It’s the foolish who can’t bear it; their fragile egos deny their ability to grow.

SpaceX was delayed a few days. Which, of course, is no big deal in the grand scheme.

In fact, of all the people I spoke to today, not one complained about it. Not a single disgruntled soul. Two, however, were thoroughly disappointed by the tardiness of packages which they had been expecting on their doorstep last week.

If we can forgive NASA for taking their time due to the weather, can’t we forgive our postal service for taking its time during a global pandemic.

People aren’t guilty for letting down our expectations.

We’re guilty for setting such fragile ones.

In her acceptance speech for the US National Book Award, writer, scientist and ecologist Rachel Carson argued that the arts of science and writing are inextricably linked.

The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is part of the reality of living; it is the what, the how, and the why of everything in our experience. It is impossible to understand man without understanding his environment and the forces that have molded him physically and mentally.

The aim of science is to discover and illuminate truth. And that, I take it, is the aim of literature, whether biography or history or fiction; it seems to me, then, that there can be no separate literature of science.

Rachel Carson

Even ficticious work, which does not seek truth in the literal sense, uncovers and explores the nature of humans as we are, have been, and could be.

Science and writing are seperate forms of exploration, unfied by the same motive.

It’s important that we do whatever it is we need to do to feel fresh.

Stuck at home for a Zoom meeting? Iron your best shirt, do your hair; presenting well isn’t only for the sake of the people you’re meeting.

Worried about running your usual track? Find a bush trail and run until your breath is at one with the crisp morning air.

Terrified of the supermarket? It’s highly likely that somewhere nearby is a small, foreign grocer who could really use the business. Pick up something you’ve never tried before.

Life is strange right now but adapting is on you.