Religion and Faith

Reza Aslan says in a recent article: “And yet, in the end, faith is nothing more or less than a choice. You either believe there is something beyond the physical world (as I do), or you don’t. You either believe you are more than the sum of your material parts (as I do), or you don’t. You either believe in the existence of a soul (as I do), or you don’t.

No one can prove or disprove these things, not any more than anyone can prove or disprove love or fear or any other human emotion.” 

His final sentence is the part he gets wrong. 

Love and fear are human constructs. They are socially subjective and definitional. They are not any more real than “delusions” or “hallucinations”. The difference is they provide a utility, for either social or physical survival. 

The “realness” of what the belief in is not important. It’s the “utility” of the belief itself.

Having faith in “god” or anything provides utility, regardless of whether “god” exists. 
Faith alone is sufficient, for it provides utility.

Acknowledging this, we can the abandon the limited definitional constraints of religion in favor of a more scientific vocabulary while examining the utility of beliefs, and collectively acknowledge a universal secular worldview.

Love and fear, like any words, are socially defined. They are still not “real” any more than people collectively believe that a supernatural event or divine miracle is real. If everyone believes it, it becomes as real as it needs to be for society and shapes their reality. 

It’s like saying there’s one language that is real or true. This is never and will never be the case.

Language is always limited to socially accepted definitions and usage

You can’t have your own private language and expect to communicate or have influence. 

He has a very secular take on religion, which I like, but I loath the fact that he’s stuck on there being a realness to the thing he believes in:

“My well is Islam, and in particular, the Sufi tradition. Let me be clear, I am Muslim not because I think Islam is “truer” than other religions (it isn’t), but because Islam provides me with the “language” I feel most comfortable with in expressing my faith. It provides me with certain symbols and metaphors for thinking about God that I find useful in making sense of the universe and my place in it.”

Admiring Weird

I am weird. And I like it. I like weird people. 

Normal is boring and unexciting

And normal never really exists anyway 

Being unique is about being different 

And being different means being a bit weird 

You can reject it or accept it, but if you learn to accept the weirdness, or what makes you different, you develop yourself in ways that people eventually learn to admire and even revere, wishing they had the courage to be different or weird 

Free will and Consciousness

Free will is an illusion.

The more you know, the more possibilities exist.

There are things we know we know, things we know we don’t know, and things we don’t know we don’t know.

If you were a child, and given two options to choose from (a false dilemma), completely unaware of other possible options, I would say this makes you less free. 
The more educated you become, the more possibilities and options you are aware of, and the ability to choose is expanded.

Our freedom to choose is limited by our knowledge and awareness of possible or potential choices.

If you are locked in a room, and you don’t know there’s a world outside of this room, you cannot decide to choose any possibility outside the room you don’t know exists, and you may believe you are free.
Only when you step outside the room does your world expand, and awareness of other possible choices increase, along with your freedom of choice. 

In this way, the concept of “free will” is an illusion. 

Only increased awareness, about the self and others and the world and the relationship to these things, brings about an enlarged freedom of choice. It is education and experience and stepping outside the comforts of these rooms we may not know we’re locked in that allows us to expand consciousness.

I think about the uneducated or those who lack awareness of themselves and the world, and it becomes immediately apparent that the whole concept of “free will” is severely misguided. 

In this way I think that consciousness is expanded by increased awareness, of self, others, the world, and the various relationships amongst these things. 

Democratic Capitalism

Democratic capitalism is the only system in human history that has empowered people to escape poverty by the billions. [Arthur Brooks]

Is this true?

I think of China, and since 1917, I’m confident that billions have escaped poverty under communism.

So, I feel that Brooks’ statement is a very ethnocentric evaluation of democratic capitalism.

But perhaps China’s success was in large part dependent on American democratic capitalism.

There are a lot of thoughts I have on the concept of capitalism. In life there are winners and losers, and history is written by the victor, which taints our perception of the good that prevails. Good for whom? Those who agree to subscribe to the institutions utilizing democratic capitalism for their benefit? How may lives have been lost as a result of the exploitation of democratic capitalism? (and democratic for whom? Americans?

Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” does a fantastic job chronicling the story of the “losers”, and it is much more macabre and subtle than history likes to remember.

Is any capitalistic society truly democratic?

It seems to me that democracy consistently breaks down as inequality increases.

I feel that America was most democratic when land was abundant, which is why democracy thrived so successfully here for so long. But as wealth concentrates and centralizes in the hands of a few, and property ownership and wealth decline, democracy seems to be eroding.

There was an interesting economics paper titled Economic Inequality and its Socioeconomic Impacts (Thorbecke 2002) that showed that as inequality rose in various countries, civil rights increased. Its as if governments attempt to pacify growing economic discontent with granting civil rights.

Language, Fake news: random thoughts 

Language is information storage technology.

The quick summary of the evolution of information storage and transfer goes like this:  We take sensory data through our sense organs which form impressions in our mind, communicate these impressions non-verbally, then we developed spoken or verbal communications, and then learned to communicate with drawings or pictures or pictographs, then pictures turn into more formalized transcriptions with symbols and later syntax, and then we began impressing this information onto clay tablets by hand, then written on paper by by hand, then copied with printing presses, then developed ways to store information with electricity using circuit systems, which later progressed into the computer and hard drives, and CD’s and DVD’s and flash drives, so on and so forth.

Language is entirely a sociological phenomenon, meaning it is a result of humans woking together.

To create and preserve common knowledge to form a unified conscious experience for the group.

Language is a means communication: Communicate is to make common= create a uniform understanding

Continue reading “Language, Fake news: random thoughts “

Zuckerbergs Manifesto, random thoughts 

I’ve developed this tendency to take contemporary leaders or companies or policies and do a historical comparative analysis, like… comparing the populist rise of trump to the rise of Roman emperors populist fascist regimes etc. examining the economic climate that lead to it, the policies that disenfranchised groups that lead to the inequality and inequity in the first place. Human nature has remained quite predictable and consistent throughout history, with little deviation, it seems to me, the more I learn, despite the technological advancements that seemed to have transformed society.
I am inclined to see Zuckerbergs vision of a more connected world much in the same way that the Catholic Church envisioned a more connected world.
There’s a tinge of imperialism to Zuck’s vision, though not the militaristic kind. Just a diplomatic imperialism of imposing this vision, of influencing the global community to embrace the values of Zuck and the institution of facebook.

Religion as it’s essence is an institution, just like any institution. It just so happens to be the first, and oldest, and most primitive, and the best (historically speaking) for providing a cosmic cohesiveness to our lives, a continuity of meaning and purpose.

The framework of institutions is utterly the same, whether it’s religion or business or government. How they are structured in terms of human organization to ensure stability and self preserve and mobilize and grow is always the same.

In college I did a little independent research assignment on the role of cultural capital for building the economies of developing societies.

Cultural capital is the glue to allows people to work together. It provides the necessary values to facilitate trust and mutual agreement of expected behaviors needed for transactions.

Religion, like facebook, is a network that provides people a place to connect and share in mutual values.

The problem is, unlike religion, there are no gatekeepers… there is no authority (except… I suppose Facebook is the covert authority, taking down posts and pages and people that violate its broad definition of ethics).

This is interested to think about. That facebook has a responsibility it can’t avoid, which is being the authority of values, or gatekeeper of what information is “best”, while also keeping in mind it’s so called commitment to “democracy” and open society.

The irony of all institutions is that, no matter WHAT their humanistic core values seem to appeal to, the number prerogative of an institution is::: Self preservation.

At any expense.

Til the death.

Throughout history this has undermined their value of freedom and human life, if there are groups who are at odds with the institution.

It’s not very Christian like to murder, except when something threatens the existential institution of church.

It’s not very American to torture, except etc

I’m curious how far Facebook’s benevolent vision will extend

It might not be an advantage to be totally globalized

I mean, schumpeters creative destruction comes to mind.

*

I think of “systems”

Systems are great until they’re not. Then they need to be revised and replaced, but systems are preserved and held into place by institutions

It’s organizational inertia which prevents these systems from evolving

It’s like tax code that gets so bloated it’s massively inefficient

The thought of dismantling and replacing is like… too ambitious, without dissolving the institutions that impose them

Or something

If that makes sense

I can imagine perhaps better systems that may develop if parts of the were developed independently, and maybe weren’t apart of a globalized standard.

I feel

A steely coolness, a bitterness that bites at old memories, the fondness of a family I can’t remember having, of long hours and long commutes and solemn reflections of my life amongst the people buzzing to and fro, of smog and sadness that chokes blue skies and real cries, and the horizon that calls me to stare deep into life where two halves meet, but the steely city sparkles, and my thoughts return home.

Love Letters

October 1st 2016

Linnea 11:55am

I’m curious – as a self-professed deep thinker, have you ever had to escape your own thoughts? What’s something you’ve recently learned about yourself?

Michael

More than you know, my dear. What’s your name? I’ve learned that life has a way of teaching me the same lessons over and over again. Specifically, I’ve learned that letting go can be more powerful, and require more strength, than holding on. What about yourself?

Linnea

Most recently? That being present is not a seamless act. I have to remind myself to appreciate the moment before it’s gone. That can be a tricky thing to do when you’re setting goals for yourself. Apologies for the random email. I have good friends in Nashville and was actually just there for a visit. The coincidence was a little too adventitious to ignore 😉

Michael

You won’t believe me when I say this… but I’ve always wanted to name my first daughter Linnea. It’s my favorite female name. It’s beautiful 🙂 And oh, don’t I know it. Journaling is an essential activity for me because of this dilemma. It forces me to settle into the present and collect myself, reflect on the here and now and be intentional with my thoughts and feelings. I think about this balance often, between being now, living in the present, yet being toward something, like my goals and visions for the future, which pull me away from the present. So yes, I relate all too well 🙂 What are your plans this weekend? I’m home visiting my family in Jupiter, FL for my birthday weekend. It’s my big 3 0 on Oct. 4th, so I decided to spend it home with family. I’d love to connect with you and talk sometime. If you’re free anytime this weekend feel free to text me or give me a call XXX-XXX-XXXX. Or send me your number and I’ll reach out to you. Talk soon, Michael

Linnea 5:22pm

Now you’re just flirting! 😉 How on earth are you so familiar with scandinavian names? Happy Birthday! That sounds like a great way to celebrate it. I’m actually in the midst of packing as I leave for Stockholm on Monday for my grandparents’ anniversary party. I won’t be flying home for the holidays this year, so I thought I might extend my visit so I can sneak in some family time. I’m looking forward to it. Feel free to respond directly if you like: Linzvonb@gmail.com I’ll probably be more inclined to check email while I’m gone than sign in here (watchful eyes!) 😉 Hej då! L

Michael 8:50pm

Hej!

Hi Linnea,

Thank you for the Birthday wish 🙂

Tonight was family night. My dad made a homemade family beef stew, and we indulged in some red wine and some aged cheeses, and followed up with an assortment of Italian desserts and butter cookies.

We just finished playing Yahtzee and I’m sipping on wine… we’re all winding down, playing with the dogs, catching up on life’s details.

So, when I lived in Jupiter, FL we were neighbors with a Swedish family. My father was friends with and did business with the mom, and I went to school with one of the girls, and her little sister was named Linnea. They were from Uppsala. They were also a beautiful blonde family, and Linnea was so sweet. The name just stuck with me. There is a beautiful, delicate flower named Linnea, which was named after the swedish Botanist Carl Linnaeus, which I’m sure you were well aware of.

I vacationed in Scandinavia last year, visiting six countries in all (Copenhagen, Berlin/ some other places in Germany as well, Tallin, St. Petersburg and the surrounding area, Helsinki). Of all places in Europe, my favorite culture was Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. I visited Stockholm while I was there.

That’s sweet you’ll be visiting your grandparents for their anniversary. How many years will they be married? And how long will you be in Stockholm?

You’ll have to tell me about your prior Match experience… doesn’t sound like it ended great.

How long have you lived in Boston?

What kind of things do you do in your free time?

My best,

Michael

October 2nd 2016

Linnea 8:00am

Re:Hej!

You mean the fitness junky actually allows himself to indulge on butter cookies?  Do you lick the crumbs whilst pools of tears well up in your eyes?  Fatty 😉

What a fabulously random connection, indeed!  Although, given a scandinavian’s genetic propensity to seek out the sun I can’t say I’m entirely surprised that a Swedish family ended up next door.  I had a bit of a bohemian bourgeois childhood (which probably accounts for most of my oddities).  My mum and dad moved to New Zealand when I was 7 and started an architecture practice together that took them to various parts of the world… Montenegro, India, Morocco, Brazil, South Africa, Dubai, etc.  I have great memories of traveling as a kid, but I think when I reached 14 my parents were afraid I’d turn into a surf bum/drifter.  So – I followed in my brothers’ foot-steps and moved to England for boarding school (hardly a seamless transition, but I survived). When my parents retired they started a hobby vineyard on a little island outside of Auckland (Waiheke).  It’s grown quite a bit in the last 15 years and they’ve made it a really beautiful place to visit.  I’ve heard Florida has some beautiful areas, but Key West is the only place I’ve ever had on my list of places to check out.  Is all of your family there?

<<How many years will they be married? And how long will you be in Stockholm?>>

63 years.  The party is being held in the same restaurant my grandparents met at (Den Gyldene Freden).  60+ years ago my grandmother knocked a hot plate of food onto his lap as she was running out the door to catch a cab.  He had the foresight to make her feel badly enough about it that she would agree to go on a dinner date the next night.  The rest is history 😉   It’s rather funny to think about, no?  The whole concept of serendipitous encounters at coffee shops and public venues.  These days, the guy probably would have just rolled his eyes and been annoyed and she would have thought he was a creep for asking her out. I return on the 17th but head to Copenhagen on the 14th to visit my eldest brother and sister-in-law (and to play auntie).

<<How long have you lived in Boston?>>

Not long at all.  I moved to the US a little over 6 months ago to work on a project with the California ISO.  While I was there, I was living in San Francisco.  LOVED it, but work brought me east.  Out of curiosity, how did you find me on there?

<<What kind of things do you do in your free time?>>

I’m a bit of an outdoor junky.  I grew up sailing, skiing, running, surfing, rowing, playing tennis/golf, etc.  The fact that my parents moved us to an island when I was 7 probably played a large part in that, as well.  I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone in New Zealand that didn’t enjoy the outdoors.  Music is a bit draw for me, as well.   I grew up playing the piano but picked up the guitar when I was about 14.  When I graduated from uni the first major purchase I made was a vintage 1965 Gibson Heritage guitar.  I named her “Beulah”.  I’ve reset the bridge for better compensation but for the most part she’s all original.  I’ve taken her everywhere.  I’ve also developed the uber nerdy habit of recording songs.

But enough about me!  I’m really curious about you.  You seem to have your hands in a little bit of everything.  What brought you to TN?  Does you tendency to try new things stem from a natural curiosity or are you just trying to burn off all the nervous calories you’ve ingested from your butter cookie binges? 😉  What are three of your worst habits?

I hope this finds you well.  Enjoy the rest of your visit with mum and dad!

L

Michael 11:42pm

Re:Hej!

Haha! You… have a sense of humor. Which I appreciate 🙂

Yes, the fitness junky knows how to indulge and enjoy himself from time to time, especially during his Birthday weekend. Incredible, I know. All work no play makes Jack a sad boy. Balance is key 🙂

A vineyard sounds like an amazing place to return home to. Lucky you!

*

Jupiter Florida is an beautiful stretch of coastline in South Florida. A bit sleepy for a young person, but anyone with a family, or anyone with a penchant for slow, relaxing days on pristine beaches or boating on warm aquamarine waters finds the area just dreamy.

Yes, all my family lives in Jupiter, FL. My two younger sisters, Jaclyn (28) and Erin (26) live together at the moment, and my mother and father live a block or so away. My sister Jaclyn will be married this upcoming May, so Erin will be on her own for the first time.

My mother’s mother lives next to my sisters, and my mother’s brother Joe lives in another part of town. On the west coast are the father’s parents, as well as my mothers father and his new wife, and my mothers other brother, Michael, and his ever growing family.

The majority of our extended family lives in New Jersey.

Tell me more about your family. Do you have any other siblings other than your brother? How old are they? Are you close? Does your extended family all live in Sweden?

Oh! When I visited Sweden last year I was teaching myself to speak the language. If we talk on the phone I’ll have to show off some of my very limited Swedish haha. Maybe you’ll inspire me to begin learning again!

*

I’ve always wanted to move to San Francisco. After college I applied to several jobs out there, but an opportunity opened up in Nashville that was too good to pass up. Three of my best friends live out there, and two of them (Scott and Seth) work together. Scott started a children’s book and toy business out of college (Cassidy Labs), and he just hired my other best friend Seth recently. I’ve always entertained the idea of moving out there and working with them. Scotts’ father started a very, very successful children’s book business after he graduated college (Klutz Books), and Scott is following in his footsteps, with even more ambition. He’s always asking me to come out there and work with them. I’ll be visiting at the end of the month to look at their business and provide feedback from a sales perspective, and see how I can contribute in the meantime. I really would love to live out there some day. The culture and climate is much more appealing and in line with my values and lifestyle.

*

So, I came across your profile after I conducted a search looking for qualities I find desirable in a partner. I’ve done online dating a handful of times over the past few years, and when I first started I was pretty open minded as far as what qualities and values a partner possessed. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized how crucial some of these are in order to have a healthy relationship.

One big one is religion. In the South it’s nearly impossible to find someone who isn’t overly religious. While I was raised by very devout Christians, even attending Christian school for a number of year, I would describe myself as an atheist who appreciates the spirituality of consciousness. I like to think I’m a spiritual person, but I’m weary of mysticism or anything that deviates too far outside the current understanding of science. So there’s that.

And other things too. Having a relationship with someone who has an intellectual bent or worldly interests is more important that I initially realized. It’s important that the person I spend time with enlarges my perspective and adds to my insights and inspires me in some way. It’s vital that they stimulate me, not only physically and emotionally, but mentally. If that makes sense. And I’m not talking entertaining me. It’s about having their own set of unique interests that occupy their attention, that they cultivate on their own. It’s actually difficult to find people who “think”, or develop their mind through books, or culturally enhancing experiences like museums or travel or art festivals and the like.

And I have ambitions, and a career, and it’s important my partner has their own as well. At least until we start a family.

So long story short, I thought you were quite beautiful, and you seemed to possess a lot of the qualities I find really attractive in people. People like yourself, and the qualities I’m attracted to in a partner, are rare, so I’ve had to expand my search to outside Tennessee and the surrounding area. Otherwise online dating and finding a compatible match would be hopeless, and I will never want to settle on matters of love and relationships.

*

I also play the guitar. The Gibson Heritage is beautiful! I have a Fender acoustic, and a Gibson SG Standard Electric. Picked up the Fender when I was about 13, played for about ten years, taking music theory classes throughout high school, playing in jazz band, and doing the occasional coffee house/ open mic night in college, then upon graduation from university I just never picked it up again. My career became very demanding, requiring a lot of travel, so it became an afterthought. Instead I devoted those energies to fitness, in large part because working a corporate job usually wrecks your health unless you’re conscientious and make an honest effort to stay healthy and work out. I recently started playing around on it again, which has been enjoyable.

What kind of music do you like?

Will you share your songs with me? I’d love to hear you 🙂

*

I moved to Tennessee to attend Vanderbilt University. There were many reasons I chose the school, one of which was the warm weather, as well as the relative close proximity to Florida. I’ve moved over… 15 times? I honestly lose track. Thirteen times before I was 18, and then twice since then, not including summer internships here and there. Six elementary schools, two middle schools, three high schools, some home schooling, public schooling, private schooling, and an all boys military boarding school. My father was a Naval Officer, then in sales, then he owned a manufacturing company, got into real estate and semi-retired for a period of time, which brought the family down to Florida.

And you are a very clever girl 🙂

My curiosity…. that’s a long conversation. We could delve into some existential questions about my indefatigable quest for meaning and purpose and knowledge and personal growth, as well as some theories on my childhood development, and the dynamics of my youth, which involve parental influences, and the incessant transitioning from place to place which indelibly shaped me, forcing me to learn to constantly adapt, as well as a host of unique and even traumatic experiences that shaped my sense of self and undoubtedly fueled this drive for self preservation, which manifests to others as curiosity and passion. Or maybe its just the butter cookies. We may never know 🙂

Honestly though, I just have a hunger for life. For new experiences. New perspectives. New thoughts. New feelings. New worlds. Curiosity and wonder are essential elements for personal growth, in my opinion.

My three worst habits? Oh boy…. ha!

  1. I bite off more than I can chew. Always say yes to too much, or take on more than is reasonable. Always have. I’m a great multi-tasker, but it leads to immense stress when things begin ballooning with extra work or responsibilities.
  2. My phone can be a major distraction. Not every free moment between tasks should be spent on my phone. I remind myself that being in the present, and tending to my senses is healthier than constantly transitioning from one task to one distraction to another.
  3. I have a tendency to rush, and don’t take my time. It’s not that I don’t have time. It’s that I find myself in a hurried state, with my mind occupied by things other than the present. I’m constantly reminding myself to breath, and be in the moment, and take the extra 30 seconds to be more intentional with whatever task is before me.

That took some effort to answer honestly 🙂

What about you?

*

And I realize I’ve just written a novel.

Have you ever attempted a long distance relationship? You never elaborated on what happened during your last Match experience. I hope it didn’t leave you too jaded 🙂

What are your passions? Things that really move you?

Do you enjoy traveling? Weekend getaways?

What are some of your life goals?

Don’t feel obligated to get to all the questions. I realize we could end up writing books back and forth to one another, which may or may not be exhausting, or really enjoyable.

I am interested in keeping in touch and learning more about you.

I hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip to Sweden!

My best,

Michael

October 3rd 2016

Linnea 7:49am

Hej då!

I’m waiting to board my flight but wanted to shoot you a quick note.  Thank you for your email – I loved it.  I’ll reply at length when I’ve settled in but I can’t tell you how refreshing it is (in any context) to bump into someone so articulate/thoughtful.

More to follow,

L

PS: I just randomly bumped into one of the girls I used to mentor in SF.  She was waiting for a flight back to San Jose and I just found out that she’ll be enrolling at Stanford in the winter.  I’m so proud of her!  Such a brilliant girl!  (pic attached)

Michael 9:43pm

I hope you arrived safe and sound!

Thank you for the picture. It made me smile 🙂

Michael

October 4th 2016

Linnea 10:03pm

Long email. Have a snack and maybe a pee first.

Haha! You… have a sense of humor. Which I appreciate 🙂 

The result of having grown up with three older brothers is that you learn to develop a sense of humour out of a preceding sense of survival 😉

A bit sleepy for a young person, but anyone with a family, or anyone with a penchant for slow, relaxing days on pristine beaches or boating on warm aquamarine waters finds the area just dreamy. 

Det låter som himlen! And so nice that you get such a big welcome whenever you fly back!  I’d forgotten how great it was/is to have so many people to hug at one time.  Are you regarded as the more adventurous sibling?  Or do mum and dad have eyes on you returning home at some point? 😉  Speaking of which…

I think it takes a copious amount of confidence/courage to be on such a different page than your parents with respect to religion.   Have they been fairly understanding?  Despite my beliefs (or lack thereof 😉 ) I’ve come to understand and appreciate the fact that some people make sense of the world by believing in something greater than themselves.  The idea that there is some “master plan” or “guiding hand” relieves the anxiety and fear associated with the realisation that anything can happen at any moment and there is no “great and powerful Oz” behind the proverbial curtain.

That being said…. it’s never stopped me from being appreciative of the prayers of other people.  I’ve never been under the impression that one has to believe in “God” to appreciate the sincerity or love that is associated with someone praying for you to find peace.  And at the end of the day, maybe that’s all that really matters.  Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to make sense of the world in the same manner that you do but if you can still love them and treat them well, that’s enough.

Tell me more about your family. Do you have any other siblings other than your brother? How old are they? Are you close? Does your extended family all live in Sweden?

Very close.  My parents tend to split their time between Europe and New Zealand and my brothers live in Copenhagen, Paris, and Sydney.  I also have two nieces and three nephews (the youngest are identical twins whom we call “Baby Napoleon” and “Baby Machiavelli” – the stand-offs between them are nothing short of epic).  My brother Joran is closest to me in age and we tend to holiday together since we both grew up surfing in NZ (sidenote: most of my holidaying tends to revolve around surfing).   As for Anders and Axel…. they’re my true-to-form “big brothers.”  I was an oops baby (the byproduct of a little too much good wine and a frisky weekend holiday), so by the time I was 7 they were both away at boarding school.  I saw them on holidays and summer breaks, so we really never had an opportunity to fight.  My crowning achievement as a little sister is that I introduced both of them to their respective wives.  That either makes me an amazing match-maker, or, some kind of witch.

Most of my extended family is scattered around scandinavia and the rest of europe, but sweden tends to be the summer meeting spot as they all have cottages in the Stockholm archipelagos.  I don’t know what time of year you were here, but island hopping in the skärgård tends to be a pretty common warm-weather past time.  I missed it this year but the autumns can be pretty spectacular, too.  I’ve already spent a few hours nesting in my favourite cafe windows.

I really would love to live out there some day. The culture and climate is much more appealing and in line with my values and lifestyle. 

It’s definitely a special place.  I think my only real critique is the infrastructure.  While I lived there I did a lot of consulting in the Pacific NW and I was much more impressed with NW culture and their focus on long term urban planning.  I think CA has been so focused on developing silicon valley that they’ve forgotten the importance of keeping pace with a lifestyle that attracts creative minds.  The state is really struggling to keep up with population demands and it’s creating a severe strain on their resources.  I had so many friends there that were overworked and stressed out by the fact that they were commuting hours each day and spending so much of their income on rents/mortgages for places that weren’t particularly nice or ideally located.  But then again, I did move there from London so the same complaint probably holds true for any number of global cities 😉

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized how crucial some of these are in order to have a healthy relationship. 

So crucial!  And it’s certainly interesting to read/hear someone else saying the same thing 🙂  Sometimes I wonder if part of the problem isn’t the simple fact that some people are so terrified of being alone that they don’t spend enough time getting to know who they are and what matters most to them.  Have you always been independent?  Or is that something you think you’ve developed over time?

My career became very demanding, requiring a lot of travel, so it became an afterthought

Hopefully the recording I’ve attached doesn’t strain your ears (be kind!  it’s a work in progress!).  I love Fenders, but my father had a Gibson that he used to play whenever we went sailing as kids so I think I grew up a bit biased.  I’m a nostalgic sucker.

What kind of music do you like? 

So many kinds…. I’m all over the board.  But in the spirit of reciprocity, here’s a random selection for your delectation:

1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSVwJyxeVYI

2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKBWxvN0VMc

3) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JUDYDIvxcA

4) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-IXwKgbhdE

5) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFo-Fp2eJWQ

6) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xl-QtGP5h7o

7) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfxzVQSjcP8

8) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCeLjMjZSHo

My father was a Naval Officer, then in sales, then he owned a manufacturing company, got into real estate and semi-retired for a period of time, which brought the family down to Florida. 

Tell the truth.  He looked at the electoral college map and decided that he wanted to influence the outcome of every American Presidential election.  From what I’ve learned, it always comes down to Florida in that country.  Your family is sick with power 😉

My curiosity…. that’s a long conversation. 

One better shared over wine?  Or butter cookies?

Honestly though, I just have a hunger for life. 

One of my favourite quotes is from L’Élégance du hérisson.  It’s an approach to life that has always resonated with me:

We have to live with the certainty that we’ll get old and that it won’t look nice or be good or feel happy. And tell ourselves that it’s now that matters: to build something, now, at any price, using all our strength. Always remember that there’s aretirement home waiting somewhere and so we have to surpass ourselves every day, make every day undying. Climb our own personal Everest and do it in such a way that every step is a little bit of eternity. That’s what the future is for: to build the present, with real plans, made by living people.

What about you? 

1) I’m not terribly adept at recognising when I’m over-taxed.  And when I am, I tend to forget to eat.  It’s not a conscious thing (I love food and adore cooking) but when I’m stressed I tend to forget to keep myself nourished;

2) Although I love it, it can often be difficult for me to be “in the moment” when I’m hosting groups of people.  I tend to go out of my way to make a dinner or gathering especially conducive to a relaxed/enjoyable time… but I can often be more focused on making sure that my guests are enjoying themselves that I forget to immerse myself in the moment;

3) I’m terrible at pretending to like someone.  That may not seem like a bad habit, but I think you’ll agree that there are times when we have to deal with people we don’t enjoy very much.  While I’d never be outwardly rude to someone, I become very quiet and distracted (which is pretty much the antithesis of my natural self).  In other words – I don’t have a poker face.  And the more you know me, the more obvious it will become to you.

And I realize I’ve just written a novel. 

I’ve just written one in return.  We’re even.  😉

You never elaborated on what happened during your last Match experience. I hope it didn’t leave you too jaded 🙂

I think I may have made it sound worse than it truly was.  I have an unusual background and a past that is layered with immense happiness and great sadness.  The funny thing about that though is that I’ve learned to view them on the same spectrum.  My grandmother used to say that a person can’t know true happiness without having experienced just a little bit of sadness in their life.  Without the latter, they have nothing to compare it to. I like to be as honest about the things that have been good in my life as the things that have been painful, but some people are uncomfortable sharing that kind of intimacy.  And sometimes it’s difficult to gauge when to share it and when to wait. I think some people approach online dating the same way they approach filling out a shopping list.  They add anything they could conceivably need/want (even if they aren’t going to use it right away).  There’s very little thought around whether the things they want are also the things they’re ready for (which is where I think getting to know who you are independent of someone else becomes important). Suffice it to say that I’ve met more people on match that knew their list better than they knew themselves.

Don’t feel obligated to get to all the questions. I realize we could end up writing books back and forth to one another, which may or may not be exhausting, or really enjoyable.

You write incredibly well.  I suppose I’d like it less if I didn’t enjoy the book so much, but thus far I can’t quite put it down.  That being said, I will for the moment as I’m making brunch for everyone in a couple of hours and I want to fit in my run before everyone wakes up.  I hope this finds you well.  Are you back in TN?  Is 30 everything you anticipated?  😉

L

PS: Where in Nashville do you call home?  My friends are in Five Points.   

October 5th 2016

Michael 12:02pm

Longer email 🙂

Linnea, you’ve left a greater impression on me these past few exchanges than anyone has the past few years. I don’t know what that means, but if I were standing at the foot of a doorway cracked every so slightly, and that doorway was your life, and my eyes managed to capture the beauty of what my imagination sees now, I would not hesitate to run through that door and never stop exploring.

I also should mention that I love reading these messages. Thank you for putting the time and energy to articulate yourself the way you do. You have a beautiful voice when you write. It’s more enjoyable and refreshing and interesting than you know 🙂 

Are you regarded as the more adventurous sibling?  

It depends on who you are asking. I fear very little. I like to think that no matter who you ask, my life undoubtedly has more plunders and heartache, but more joy and achievement. If these ups and downs constitute adventure, then yes, I suppose I am the more adventurous sibling.

To my mother, I am regarded as the golden child, the child who insists on failing, and growing through things, rather than around things, and struggling for the glory that comes with triumph. I tend to do things my own way. You could attribute this to stubbornness, but I would say its born out of my desire to live authentically. I have difficulty listening to anything other than my heart and the convictions that resonate with it but, as we all know, the inexperienced heart is a poor guide. Fortunately life rewards those who optimistically persist through these struggles with wisdom, and there is nothing in the world I would trade for the wisdom and perspective my adventures have afforded me, no matter what the initial cost.

My father always would say “You’re the only person I know who goes rolling around in shit and comes out smelling like a flower.” I laugh whenever I think of that.

The whole adventure and curiosity thing go hand in hand, I suppose.

There was a turning point in my life, a series of events that formed a catalyst that sparked the trajectory that changed my course forever. During this period I read several books that changed my life forever. One of which was “Self-Reliance” By Ralph Waldo Emerson. Another was “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen.

Self-Reliance provided me the material to justify my vision to march into the unknown, to set lofty goals and aspire for ideals beyond the comprehension of most everyone around me, and to take on projects and embark on journeys that have catapulted me to where I am today.

I have a tattoo of the opening line of this book, which reads in Latin “ne te quaesiveris extra” and translates to “do not seek yourself outside yourself” or “seek yourself within”.

Or do mum and dad have eyes on you returning home at some point?

My father and I don’t have the best relationship, so I don’t think it matters to him whether I return home or not. However, my mother, whom I love deeply, would love to see me move closer, especially when I start a family. She wants to be a grandmother, and always drops hints about job opportunities in the area, or homes to buy in the area, or other incentives about the convenience of family. I miss my mother and sisters, and would love to be more involved in the day to day lives.

On God and religion.

I agree with your attitude on god and religion. We could talk for hours and hours on the subject, I’m sure. But I do believe in “truth” and I do believe in “love”, and I could expound on what each of these means to me, but I’ll just say that if “god” is anything at all, god is “truth” and “love”, which can only be experienced in the present moment, devoid of ego and self-interest.

I love all people, truly, and withhold all prejudice, knowing that I never want to be judged by anything other than what people experience of me first hand.

I could really go on and on about religion, and the utility of it from an anthropological consciousness creating, sociological world building, or psychological pacifying perspective.

My faith is in faith, is in knowing that my choices, and the decision to choose my thoughts, specifically good and true and loving wholesome thoughts, is my greatest power. For thoughts become actions, and actions become habits, and habits become character, and character becomes destiny.

Have they been fairly understanding?

No.

They operate from a world view that is radically departed from mine.

As with most people, they tend to surround themselves with people and books and experiences that reaffirm their beliefs. I don’t blame them.

Who wants to willingly create dissonance? Especially when you’ve worked so hard to create resonance.

Of course I believe it is only through the recognition that all dissonance is a byproduct of inconsistent or inaccurate beliefs, and this is why I strive to plunge head first into challenges, so I can modify by belief system and discard faulty assumptions and amend it with more accurate knowledge about the world and my relation to it.

However, they are very loving people. They freely give their time and their resources and their love to anyone in need. So their heart is in the right place.

On Surfing

I love that you surf! I love that you appreciate the outdoors and have a sense of adventure.

Coincidentally enough, I grew up surfing. I started when I was 14 when I lived in New Jersey, and continued as long as I lived in Florida. That was my lifestyle.

My best friend Jamie (in above picture) who currently lives in Maryland is still a big surfer and takes trips to Costa Rica and Puerto Rico and other surf spots regularly.

Last time I surfed was about 5 years ago. I was reunited with my surfing buddies drinking at a local bar in Jupiter, and there was a full moon and a beautiful ground swell and a low tide at the pier that was producing clean sets of chest high waves, so we got the idea to do some moonlight surfing, which is pretty spectacular when the water is calm and glassy. The bioluminescent phytoplankton creates beautiful outlines of color on the wavebreak.

Suffice to say it was a really memorable experience, and my last.

I had a short board and a fish. The fish was my favorite board to ride. It caught any wave, big or small, and was just a blast to whip around on.

On San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest, and the infrastructure 

I agree on the San Francisco infrastructure thing. I haven’t been to Oregon or Seattle, but I’ve been told they’re much “better” places to live in terms of managing population demands. Regardless, the climate is stunning, and the natural resources, like the beaches and countryside and mountains, all within a 3-4 hour drive provides just an incredible array of opportunities for enjoyable outdoor activities and pastimes and hobbies.

That either makes me an amazing match-maker, or, some kind of witch.

Haha! You are funny ;-p

I recall Socrates saying “By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”

Have you always been independent?  Or is that something you think you’ve developed over time?

I’ve always been independent. I walk to the beat of my own drum. I’ve never been someone who is drawn to the crowd, or what is in fad. I have a healthy skepticism for what is trending. I prefer the timeless, which isn’t always most popular. Timeless ideas. Timeless wisdom. Timeless values. Timeless art. Timeless style. Timeless beauty. Things that symbolically represent the most enduring aspects of humanity and the human experience. I like to think that as I’ve grown and gotten clearer on these things, they have reinforced this independence.

This isn’t to say I’m not experimental, of course. Bucking convention is a hallmark of being independent.

Your music

 I love your music. You create a beautiful mood and moving melody 🙂

And I love your taste in music. Similar to mine.

A few songs I’ve been listening to recently:

  1. Glades- Drive https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IaHV7hExmA
  2. Night Beds- 22 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgYpsIIe_m0
  3. Astronomyy- Nothin on my mind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQs9hco8HVw
  4. High Highs- Open Season https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCySSeANvIc
  5. Jaymes Young- Dark Star https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NTw50gYp20
  6. MTNS- Lost Track of Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_3HItLoAyQ
  7. Ghosts- On an On https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=me3p6AmGzEI
  8. LANY- ILYSB https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6ns7yt1Jik
  9. Gregory Alan Isokov- The Stable Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8ljNixuCwc

My curiosity…. that’s a long conversation. One better shared over wine?  Or butter cookies? 

Both. 🙂

I have an unusual background and a past that is layered with immense happiness and great sadness. 

I would love to learn more about your background and this layered past.

Your writing and words resonate with me. I understand where you’re coming from. In a very profound and unexpected way.

Also,

I love that quote you provided.

I like your mind.

Your comments on relationships and modern day dating… could have been taken right out of my mouth.

People are too often searching for a partner to complete them, rather than complement them.

This is something I’ve had to learn in my own time.

 I like to be as honest about the things that have been good in my life as the things that have been painful, but some people are uncomfortable sharing that kind of intimacy.  And sometimes it’s difficult to gauge when to share it and when to wait.

I am the same way.

My philosophy is this: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

I truly believe I cannot say the wrong thing to the right person.

Too often I’ve been too conscientious of being myself, and laying out those uncomfortable details as you mentioned, in fear that the other person wouldn’t understand or appreciate or accept me.

It’s no way to begin a relationship.

And its more of an indication of being comfortable and accepting myself. If I cannot accept myself, and all of myself, and be honest about who I am and where I came from, then I cannot expect the other person to do the same.

This I believe.

A committed relationship is a communion of souls. A unification of two wholes. If we cannot accept the other person for all that they are and all that they are not, then it was never meant to be.

No matter how painful it may initially seem to lose them or feel rejected, it is infinitely better than prolonging something other than love and acceptance.

Tolstoy says “When the man is right, his world will be right.”

We attract what we are.

Only when we are honest and loving with ourselves can we enter into an honest and loving relationship.

So anyway. I hope I’m not too off base.

Are you back in TN?  Is 30 everything you anticipated?

Yes, I am home 🙂

30…. It hasn’t really settled in yet, to be honest. I’m not sure what is suppose to happen when you turn 30, but I’m still waiting for it. Perhaps it’s due to my denial that arriving at 30 contains anything significant. I’m sure with more deliberate reflection I’ll have some  new insights. Perhaps even life changing. But for now, it’s just another day 🙂

Where in Nashville do you call home?  My friends are in Five Points. 

I live downtown Nashville, right off Broadway, in a large industrial studio with 20 ft high ceilings exposing their rafters and massive wooden crossbeams and old red brick with chalky mortar. I have four ten foot tall large windows lined across my living room that overlook the Cumberland River which flows through the heart of Nashville. Its an old space, and its located in the center of Nashville’s madness. I’m not sure what your experience is with Nashville, but its considered music city, and the past decade, or more specifically the past 5 years, have seen an incredible pace of growth and massive influx of residents and tourists. I’ve lived here for about seven years now, and the past two years I’ve noticed a change overnight. The construction alone is enough to cause traffic congestion, with over 100 sky cranes dotting the cityscape, but the population surge puts it over the top.

I do love my space, and I enjoy the close proximity to everything, and I appreciate the energy buzzing all around me… but I really look forward to the day I own some land and a small farm away from it all.

Five Points is located about 1.5 miles from my apartment in East Nashville, which is where more of the “neighborhood culture” resides, where physical communities of people live, rather than apartments and condos and developments.

It’s nice. I like it over there.

********************

Sooo…. hopefully you’re still with me. haha.. and hopefully I answered your questions. And hopefully that wasn’t entirely overwhelming to get through.

There are a bazillion things I’m curious to know about you. Here are a few, and please answer at your convenience and leisure:

What did you study during your undergrad? Why?

What kind of work do you do? How did you get into this line of work?

You mentioned you’re an energy analyst. Have you always worked in the energy sector? Or is it more consulting?

Are you pretty much set on establishing yourself in Boston?

Is there anywhere you see yourself living in the near future? Any driver other than career?

Are you doing what you love? If not, what would you do if you could do anything in the world?

You’ll have to tell me about what its like being home, seeing your family, your day to day while you’re in Stockholm.

Do you have many close or best friends? How often do you keep in touch?

What are your 3 greatest strengths?

What are 3 qualities you look for in all your relationships?

What are 3 things you fear the most?

What are 3 experiences that shaped you forever?

What turns you on creatively, emotionally or spirituality?

What turns you off?

What is your Myers Briggs personality type?

When is your birthday? 🙂

Talk soon,

Michael

October 6th 2016

Linnea 11:44am

Hi –

Just a quick note to see if mum and dad are okay?  From everything I’ve read, things are looking rather hairy down there?

Michael 12:00pm

Thank you for asking!

I’ve been checking in with them all day. Its suppose to be serious. They’ve been sending me pictures.

It’s been 10 years since the last hurricane. I was there for those in 2004/2005, and they were pretty serious, and they were Cat 2. This one is suppose to be a category 4…

Linnea 12:19pm

She sounds adorable 🙂  And I’m relieved to know they’re prepared!

More to follow…

 

October 7th 2016

Linnea 12:46pm

En av två…

Hi –

Firstly, I hope everything is okay back home.  It feels a bit odd replying to your email without knowing (or at least acknowledging) how scary that must be.  It’s not exactly an unfamiliar feeling (in large part because my parents live on a tiny island).

I think I’ve read your email a dozen times by now and the truth is I’m not entirely sure where to begin.  Perhaps with a simple thank you…. for being so honest. In truth, it’s been a bit surreal.  Right down to the RWE reference! (Self Reliance is one of my grandfather’s favourite essays). In point of fact, he recited a particular quote from it a few nights ago while we were toasting:

My life is not an apology, but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady.    

You remind me a little of him. Perhaps one day I’ll have the opportunity to tell you why 🙂

this is why I strive to plunge head first into challenges, so I can modify by belief system and discard faulty assumptions…

That’s not always an easy endeavour, is it?  Assumptions can be as comforting as they are erroneous.  I think that’s what I meant with respect to confidence/courage.  Realising that so much of what you assumed to be true is (in fact) false can be overwhelming.  It’s easier to assume, which is why I think it’s so great that you’ve actively resisted that temptation.

My best friend Jamie (in above picture) who currently lives in Maryland is still a big surfer and takes trips to Costa Rica and Puerto Rico and other surf spots regularly. 

Love the photo/s! (and the beachy boy band hair…). I also think you’re long overdue for a session!  I loved Costa Rica but have yet to check out Puerto Rico.  Our most recent trip was last December.  We met up in Papua New Guinea and surfed along Wewak and Kavieng (both of which were recommended to us the year before on a trip we took to Bali).  I took up kite surfing 8 years ago, but depending on the country it can be difficult to find a place with decent rentals (and lugging all that gear around absolutely stinks!).  In many respects it’s all mental.  I find it meditative…. it’s a bit like the left and right sides of your brain meet somewhere in this delicious center where you’re so focused on the swells that you don’t feel the difference between the movement of the ocean and the movement of your own body (they’re basically one and the same).  I’ve found kite surfing to be more physical, but it also forces you to focus and let your senses take over.  I suppose either sport helps me escape my head and the value of that (at times) is priceless.

And I love your taste in music. Similar to mine. 

High Highs and Gregory Alan Isokov are both on my recent downloads.  I loved the rest – thank you!

I live downtown Nashville, right off Broadway, in a large industrial studio

I quite love the fact that you have so many books.  When I moved from London I purged all but a suitcase full of my favourites (which, I can tell you, was no easy task!).  I’ve never been a fan of reading on kindle-esq devices.  I need to be able to feel the pages and smell the bindings.  Also – I’m quite jealous of your ability to keep house plants alive!  I’m absolute shit at this. Out of curiosity, what would you say is your most sentimental possession?

What did you study during your undergrad? Why?  What kind of work do you do? How did you get into this line of work?  You mentioned you’re an energy analyst. Have you always worked in the energy sector? Or is it more consulting? 

Electrical engineering and finance.  I sort of fell into the energy industry out of uni. I started in resource planning and power generation design and then migrated to power operations and merchant strategy (i.e., energy markets). That’s ultimately what brought me to the east coast.  Eastern Canada is an interesting market to follow because the Ontario power network is directly connected to the New York and Midwest energy markets and indirectly connected to the New England and PJM markets. It’s also connected to regulated utilities in Quebec and Manitoba (both of which have significant energy transactions with other utilities in the United States). In light of this, the operation of the Ontario energy market can have significant impacts on the North American North East and Mid-West power interconnections (i.e., political and economic brouhahas of epic proportion).  My familiarity with both the US and Canada made me attractive as an analyst/consultant. And my familiarity with renewables upped the ante with respect to all the political pressure being exerted right now on the US to change its energy resource mix.

Energy traders tend to have a variety of backgrounds, but I’ve found that having familiarity with power operations and transmission can be enormously helpful in identifying the resource constraints that create obstacles during real time and day ahead trading.  Understanding market design was an exciting challenge for me (mostly because I was so used to looking at the operations of a plant or the distribution of a transmission line in the context of reliability). Connecting all those pieces and learning how they can create challenges and opportunities in the market place was a bit like linking two puzzles together.  I still have moments in a day where I can look at something a hundred times before it finally clicks for me.  I like that about it.  I think if it ever became automatic I’d start to feel indifferent about the work I was doing.

Are you pretty much set on establishing yourself in Boston?  No. But since I’m a dual citizen of Sweden and the UK, my visa requires sponsorship.  Thankfully, however, I’m in a niche industry which has afforded me the benefit of long term renewals (my time here doesn’t expire until 2021).  So, unless I’m made redundant or the US decides it doesn’t want foreign workers to tax the hell out…. I have options 🙂

Are you doing what you love? If not, what would you do if you could do anything in the world?  I’m content and I find it interesting/challenging but I wouldn’t say that I love it.  I think that’s part of the reason I started mentoring and volunteering.  Building relationships with people is something I love.  Helping people succeed is something I love.  But I’ve learned that that’s something I can do independent of my profession.

You’ll have to tell me about what its like being home, seeing your family, your day to day while you’re in Stockholm.  I’ve attached a few photos below.  I have a number of friends in Stockholm that I’ve been visiting during the day but most of my nights have been spent with my parents and relatives.  Lots of dinners and brunches, wine, board games, sailing, and riding horses (my grandparents have a small estate about an hour outside of the city that I’ve been spending some time at).  The weather is only just starting to turn, but there have been full afternoons of sunshine.  We’re all rarely here this time of year, so it’s been a fun departure from our summer traditions.  Tomorrow evening is the anniversary party and from what I’ve heard a number of my aunts and uncles will be arriving in the morning.

Do you have many close or best friends? How often do you keep in touch? I have a few.  My closest is probably Caroline.  She and her husband live in Toronto but split their time between Canada and NYC.  She was the first person I met when I moved to England and we’ve been close friends ever since.  The friends I mentioned in TN were actually introduced to me by her family (her father was an American who was quite widely known in equestrian circles).  I competed in dressage and hunter/jumper events throughout uni (eventually making it to the AQHA World Championships) so that’s how I got to know a number of my American friends.

What are 3 things you fear the most?  regret (it’s debilitating); hurting someone I love; losing the people who mean the most to me.

What turns you on creatively, emotionally or spirituality?  music; art; literature; philosophy; the vulnerability that comes with being honest; making a conscious effort to remember moments that make me happy.

What turns you off? Ignorance; indifference; laziness; selfishness; the inability of someone to connect themselves (and their actions) to the rest of the world and/or other people.

What is your Myers Briggs personality type? ENFJ.  What are you?

When is your birthday? 🙂 July 28th.

I have a number of questions for you that I’ve saved for something I wrote last night.  In all honesty, I keep hesitating on whether or not to send it.  Not because it’s anything I’m ashamed of, but because it addresses some of the questions you had that relate to my past.  So – I’ll call this Part 1 and when I’ve finally stopped editing the other and grown a pair, I’ll send over Part 2 😉

fortsättning följer….

L

Linnea 12:46pm

PS: We’ve been going through old photos while I’ve been here and my mum has been digging up ones she’s scanned over the years.  I’ve attached a couple that made me laugh. For the record, I no long turn my horses into unicorns (or dress as one whilst riding) but I might re-introduce the hair scrunchies…

Linnea

Dreams, strengths, qualities, and experiences.

I’ve never measured experience by how many times one has loved or been in love because I don’t think it’s the same each time.  How you’ve loved someone and how they’ve loved you can influence your life in so many ways.  It may only take one time and one love to learn all of the things you might have gleaned from decades of relationships.  In my case, I got a whole lot in one.  He died three years ago.

When you lose someone you are in love with it can be difficult to put words to the things you feel.  Especially when they’re taken from you so suddenly.  I had a very dark year…. and each year that has passed since then has been different in a number of ways.   The past 2.5 years have largely been a re-exploration of the things that make me happy.  One of those things has been a life focused on exploration/travel… and good company.

I tend to scare men off by telling them all this.  Especially men my age.  There is a lot to my past and it’s heavy, which is why I usually wait until I’ve known someone for a while because it inevitably creates a lot of questions… “Is she incapable of being in another relationship?  Is it possible for her to love someone again?  Is she an emotional trainwreck?…. etc.”  I’ve never felt like I could pacify those concerns with a handful of encouraging words.  The most I’ve ever been able to say is that I haven’t given up on my life as a result of having lost someone who used to be such a large part of it.  It never stops hurting but I take great comfort in believing that that time in my life was one chapter and I have so many more years left to write others.

I joined an online site because I’m not like most people in their late 20s.  I grew up rather quickly.  As a result, I tend to see things differently than most people.  Putting myself out there… being honest about what makes me happy and what doesn’t allows people with a similar outlook (in theory) to introduce themselves to me.  I think that’s why I’ve never measured the value of a relationship by what it is so much as how it feels.  Some people can touch your core without trying.  It’s very rare but it is an amazing feeling.  That’s ultimately what I want.  The rest is an adventure.

I know this has been a lot to read.  I’m not expecting an opus in return.  I wanted you to know why and how my past has framed my life (and continues to do so) because I’m attracted to you.  That’s new for me.  I want to trust that feeling and I’d like to pursue it (right now and when I get back)… and I felt that giving you an honest piece of myself helps me do that.

Take some time with this.  If there’s anything that concerns you, please let me know.  I have a dozen questions for you, but I thought it might be best to wait until you’ve had a moment to weigh the pros and cons of moving forward with me.  Regardless of where you land on that, this whole exchange has been incredibly encouraging.  So – thanks for that mate 😉

Sweet dreams, Michael.

Linnea

October 9th 2016

Michael 8:19pm

Hello Linnea! 🙂

I received your emails. I loved them all. Whenever I get one it’s like a little treasure I get to indulge in.

I’ll probably write you a couple emails. I’m sitting on my couch at the moment doing some reading, and I just switched on the presidential debate (goodness…).

I had a friend from college visit this weekend. He had a conference in Nashville this week and came a couple days early and stayed with me. We caught up and went to Oktoberfest and indulged in all the German festivities…

The weather is turning… ever so slightly. It was in the high 80’s last week, and this weekend it’s been between the high 60’s and 70’s, which makes for perfect weather. I’ve been waiting all summer for it. Typically it stays between 50-70 until January, then winter begins for a couple months. Not too bad in Nashville, mostly rainy, with the occasional snowfall, which doesn’t stick around more than a couple days.

So anyway….

Regarding the hurricane: Fortunately Florida was spared the worst! The storm veered north, and it crept along the coastline, so no major damage or storm surge. They maintained power throughout the storm, so suffice to say it wasn’t that bad!

Thank you for asking 🙂

And no, it is not an easy endeavor. And yes, you’re right. Assumptions make everything easier. Not necessarily better. They say ignorance is bliss!

And yes….I love books. It’s crazy. I have hundreds… hundreds and hundreds. My dream is to have a library in my home. A big, beautiful library in the study with walls of books, tall ceilings, a large fireplace, leather couches, wingback chairs, and a large wooden desk for writing.

My books are my most sentimental possession. Or maybe my journals. Probably my journals. Or my guitars. Any of those. If I had a fire, I’d rescue those things. What about you?

My ability to keep plants alive… it’s a skill I’m still perfecting. It’s been a journey finding plants that survive with the sunlight in my apartment, since I face east, and only get sun in the morning till noon, about. But I’m good at watering. Vegetation gives a room life. There’s something so refreshing about greenery in a space, plants, flowers, just something to add color amongst the woods and leathers and metals comprising the furniture and apartment and decor.

I love helping people. Love. I love empowering people. I love giving people hope and instilling a healthy sense of self worth in others. I dream of being  teacher/ educator, and I often fantasize about committing to write a book compiling some of my life experiences that could provide some helpful perspective to people. I always feel that I have more life to live, and more experience to gather before I write something like that, though.

I’m an ENFJ as well 🙂 Coulda, shoulda guessed. Reading your responses before you mentioned you were an ENFJ… I was like. Yes. Yesss. Yes! And then you said ENFJ, and I was like, of courseeee she is.

Thank you for the pictures… I love seeing you 🙂

And you were the cutest little kid 😍 Loved those pictures!

I will write back to your other email!

Affectionately,

Michael

My college friend visiting this weekend: 

October 10th 2016

Michael 12:32am

Re: Del två

My dear Linnea,

Thank you for sharing this with me. My heart aches when I hear stories like this.

Thank you for being honest and vulnerable with me, thank you for trusting me with something so personal.

I have endless questions for you. Questions about you, questions about the relationship, and how things ended.

When I read your words, they speak to me, like I mentioned in my previous email, in an unexpected way, a way that resonates deeply with me, with my soul. I have to stress how uncommon this resonance is, how rare it is to find myself so attracted to someone because they feel so familiar, and yet totally unknown. It feels very good, and exciting, and intriguing, and interesting. In a word: stimulating, on many levels. And I can’t help but yearn for more.

For the sake of relating, I will tell you that I am no stranger to loss, but loss of a different kind. I lost two best friends within four years of each other. One when I was 13, and the other when I was 17. Their deaths, and the tragedy surrounding them, have had a profound impact on my life, and the encounter with death, especially with someone so close and at such a young age, shaped me indefinitely, and caused me to look at things in ways most people never do, or at least aren’t forced to do until much older. As you said, you grew up rather quickly, and in a way, these experiences forced me to do the same, by exposing the delicacy of life, which in turn presented in me a seriousness and maturity that aged my soul many years sooner than others my age.

I believe that these experiences force us to confront the greatest adversity life has to offer, which is loss. But I also believe that in this adversity is the gift of opportunity. The opportunity to grow, and evolve, and become something greater and different than we were before, and ever could have been had they not occurred. We can choose to let these experiences make us bitter, or better. We always have a choice.

I am inspired that you have experienced a re-exploration since that loss in a way that has brought you happiness.

I really would like to get to know you more and more, and be apart of this journey of yours, and share in that happiness, in some way. I believe we have much more to talk about, and many experiences ahead of us to share in, and I look forward to pursuing these nascent feelings with you.

Thank you for impressing upon me the beauty of your heart and mind. It makes knowing your beautiful face so much more incredible.

I will write you more in another email, but feel free to update me on your weekend, and how your vacation is going, and any other thoughts and feelings you feel obliged to share.

I’m off to bed. I’ll be thinking of you.

Sweet dreams, Linnea.

Michael

Linnea 8:23pm

Re: Del två

One of the most difficult things about moving forward (I’ve found) is balancing the past with the present.  Particularly when so much of the past has helped to shape or influence the person you are today.  When I mentioned that I crashed and burned on match, a lot of it related to the timing of when/how I shared that aspect of my life.  It’s one thing to tell someone that you’re interested in (or dating) that your last relationship ended because of a mutual parting of the ways but it’s quite another to tell them that it ended because the other person died.  It sets a different tone to your interaction.  And if you wait too long to share it…. it can add an additional layer of awkwardness that is (for me) unnecessary.  So, thank you…. for being so warm and open.  It’s a huge relief to me for so many reasons.  The only thing that makes me the slightest bit sad is to learn that there’s any aspect of what I’ve shared that is relatable.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  And I can’t even begin to imagine what that would feel like when someone is just a kid.  I would love know more about your friends… whenever/however that feels best.  Incidently, it doesn’t cause me any pain to talk about JP.  Especially with someone I’m so keen to know more about 🙂  To quote Dirk Wittenborn, “We are the sum of all people we have ever met; you change the tribe and the tribe changes you.”

I’m relieved to learn that Matthew was uneventful!  I don’t know if the same can be said of Hurricane Trump 😉  I watched the debate with my parents yesterday morning and it led to a barrage of questions.  Namely, “What are you doing in that country?”  “Do you have friends that support what this man is saying?”  “How can a country vote for a progressive african american man twice and then consider voting for a rascist sociopath!?”  I think my father is convinced that the UK and the US are either headed toward civil wars or they’re experiencing the last throes of systemic racism and bigotry.  I’m inclined to think it’s the latter.  At least…. I’m hopeful it’s the latter.

<<My dream is to have a library in my home. A big, beautiful library in the study with walls of books, tall ceilings, a large fireplace, leather couches, wingback chairs, and a large wooden desk for writing.>>

What are you reading at the moment?  I have a horrible habit of starting too many books at one time.

<<If I had a fire, I’d rescue those things. What about you?>>

I have a few sentimental possessions.  My grandfather (the who you remind me a little of) bequeathed to me a first edition copy of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In The Willows on my 18th birthday.  It belonged to his father but since I was the only grandchild he had who took such an active interest in his narration, he wanted me to have it.  The other is something you might find amusing (and your parents might find blasphemous) 😉  It’s a crucifix.  It belonged to my mother’s mother (Nimma).  We were very close.  She passed away two years ago and I suppose I’m overtly sentimental about the things that remind me of her.  She had what I like to call a “quiet” faith.  She never felt the need to “teach” or “instruct.”  She knew I didn’t believe and yet that changed nothing for her.  She was an active supporter of LGBT rights and the disenfranchised,

donated her time and money to community outreach programmes, and never had a bad thing to say about anyone (even when they had it coming). She lived with me for about 6 months after JP died and I think I can safely say it was because of her presence that I didn’t unravel altogether. So – totally worth being a walking contradiction 😉

While we’re on the subject of sentiment…. I’m curious; are most of your tattoos related to something meaningful?  I always find myself asking people about their tattoos, but I recently realised that I need to stop.  The men in Boston tend to misinterpret the question as an invitation to take their shirts off *laughing*  It’s kind of like the guy in the gym making too much noise with the free weights…. “Whewwww!  Is today Thursday or Friday!?  I’ve been making so much money I can’t keep track!”  Simmer down Captain Wow.

How long have you lived in TN? I was/am under the impression that you moved there from Florida, but I might be misremembering the timeline.  Are you doing what you love?  And at the risk of broaching a subject that might be a little too intensive (and if it is, feel free to disregard it) but it seems clear to me that you have a very deep devotion to your family (they’re in so many pictures with you).  Do you ever feel like you wear different hats with them?  If so, is that something you’d value in a partner? (i.e., that ability to adjust to different environments/people)?

The weather here has officially turned.  It’s dark and broody…. perfect for coffee and roaring fires.

Stop being so handsome, Txxxxx.  It’s very distracting.

L

Linnea 8:26pm

*the ONE you remind me of 😉

 October 11th 2016

Michael 1:02am

Pics

I was going through some old pics on my computer, to delete and organize, and I thought I’d share a few: Baby picture, headshot from university, parents and my sister Jaclyn and I at Big Sur in California, Jaclyn and I, me holding our family cat Princess as an eight year old (approx), me visiting Stockholm Sweden, me in las vegas.

Linnea 12:51pm

One cute vintage pet photo deserves another 😉  are you sure you’re not Swedish?  😉

Michael 11:16pm

Haha! No, not Swedish, although I swear I’ve heard that all my life.

Is that a Bernese Mountain dog!? They’re one of my favorites!

October 12th 2016

Michael 1:02am

Re: Del två

Hello Linnea 🙂

I hope you’ve been well. It’s a bit late, and I’m winding down for bed. I’m reclining on my big leather couch. It’s my favorite. It’s deep and wide, and stuffed with down feathers, making it excellent for repose, or reading.

I’ve been waking up early lately, before my alarm clock goes off. I typically wake around 6:15am, and I’ve been getting to bed late. I try for 10pm, but my mind is always active in the evening, thinking, reading, journaling or writing. I try and try to make a habit of doing these things at the start of my day, early in the morning, but its never the same. The evenings are after you’ve had a full day of experiences to reflect on. But I would like to be more intentional with my mornings, and have some time to reflect and plan out my day, mentally organize what’s ahead of me. But it never sticks.

How are you? And when can I hear your voice?

So let me get to some of these questions, or at least comment on the email…

****

On the Past

 I’m very comfortable with my life, and my past, for the most part. I’m not a big fan of denial, or suppressing, or compartmentalizing. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I like to believe that’s best. You asked about my tattoos… I’ll elaborate later on how important this attitude is to me. When it comes to sharing, my only hesitation is being sensitive to the other person. Some people may not be comfortable with certain aspects of life’s experience, such as death, and similar topics. So I always gauge my audience, and make sure these are introduced in a way that’s easy to understand and embrace, without causing someone to pull back in fear, or draw inaccurate judgements.

If you’re comfortable, tell me more about JP. Anything you think is worthwhile sharing.

Or maybe these conversations are best left in person? We have time.

I like that quote. I’m really big into quotes… which you’ll learn. They stick with me. I read them, and they just capture these sentiments in a way that I never feel the need to reinvent. But they’re like little nugget of gold, pearls of wisdom.

On US Politics

Good lord. Don’t even get me started with US politics. It’s embarrassing, on many levels. I disavow all of it.

On Books

I’m reading a few books at the moment. As usual. I laughed when I read that you do the same 🙂

I just finished the book Tuesday’s with Morrie.

Before that I started “The Sacred Canopy”, by Peter Berger, an iconic sociologist, and I have another another fifty pages or so to go. I read excerpts of this book in college, and was a huge fan of his book with Thomas Luckmann titled “The Social Construction of Reality”, another seminal work in the field of sociology.

I have a small book I’m starting tomorrow titled “In Praise of Love” by Alain Badiou, a contemporary French philosopher whom I’ve never heard of. I subscribe to book reviews, and whenever I see a good one I purchase.

I recently joined a writer’s workshop, which is kind of like a club of aspiring writers with similar skills and complimentary backgrounds to get together in groups of five or so and write and support each other and critique one another for the sake of the craft. It’s a safe space to write. The group leader…or mentor? or organizer?…., Merrill, is a published poet and author, and full time therapist. She’s great. Anyway, she recommended I read the book “Writing Down the Bones”, so I am starting that one soon.

Prior to these books I was reading a ton of psychotherapy books, which I found enlightening and fascinating.

I’ve never read the Wind in the Willows… I assume you recommend?

What are you reading at the moment? What was your last read, or two? What are you looking forward to reading?

On Tattoos

I have seven discreet tattoos, all very symbolic, all very thoughtful and meaningful, all a reminder of periods of my life and the insights I garnered. I’m not a fan of tattoos (ironic, I know). And none of my tattoos are for anyone but me. All reminders to myself.

My first tattoo is a heart on my right wrist, which represents that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m a very open person, and I believe in the power of vulnerability, and I believe this is one of the qualities that allows others to see my humanity in an approachable way. Being authentic with myself has always been very important to me. It’s something I constantly strive for, to be a person of convictions, to walk the walk, to maintain integrity and possess a transparency of character.

My second is a cross on my left wrist. It symbolizes faith, although a very different kind of faith nowadays.

Third was a triquetra, which represents the trinity, and the eternal strength the interconnectedness of the mind and body and spirit provides when they are in balance.

Fourth was the tattoo on my right inner bicep, which I mentioned before: “ne te quaesiveris” or “do not seek your self outside your self” or “seek yourself within”.

Fifth was a rearing lion on my right ribcage, pierced by two arrows, representing struggle, with a banner across his eyes which reads “Be not afraid” which is an excerpt from Shakespeare’s play the Twelfth Night, in which Malvolio says “If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars I am above thee, but be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. Thy Fates open their hands.” The Lion represents a lot of things, but for me it primarily represents Nietzsche’s blonde beast, or the lion mentioned The Three Metamorphoses illustrated in his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The lion is the second metamorphosis.

Sixth is the viking rune Inguz, on my right inner forearm, which translates literally as “seed” or “the god”, or more specifically refers to the potential energy within things before growth occurs, which consequently represents the concept of “where there is a will, there is a way”, and translates to ideas like male fertility and creation and generation.

The seventh and final is a line in latin, on my lower left hip, which says “OMNIA MVNDA MVNDIS” and translates to “everything is pure to the pure heart”, which was taken from Titus 1:15. The whole passage reads “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” I chose this quote because it captures an idea I cherish very closely, namely: the quality of our thoughts determine the quality of our life, or as Solomon said in Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he”. Despite my atheism, I do believe religious text can provide spiritual wisdom and insights.

Do you have any tattoos?

On living in Tennessee 

I’ve lived in Nashville for seven years now. I came here to attend Vanderbilt, and intended to move out to San Francisco/ NorCal area, but the job opportunity I wanted was filled last minute, and they just so “happened” to have an opening in Nashville. Very clever. And they guaranteed me a transfer after an initial period, but after awhile I decided to stay put. I had moved and moved my whole life, and I decided to make a mature decision and gain some stability for a bit. And Nashville just so happened to be going through tremendous growth and development, so the opportunities for growth were endless….

I actually moved there from Vermont, where I attended college for two years. I needed warmer weather, and I wanted to be in a city at a larger university, and closer to Florida.

You have any desire to be closer to your family one day?

On Family

Relationships are very important to me. I’m very selective with my friends…. I look for particular qualities, and I never settle (I’ve done that… life’s too short). I surround myself with people who inspire me in one capacity or another. I like to think that the three qualities I’m attracted to most in others is passion, curiosity, and a work ethic. I love my friends, and I love my family. I mentioned my father and I don’t have a good relationship, or much of a relationship at all. That’s a story for another time. But it’s not because I don’t want one. I just want healthy relationships. Love and support and acceptance and encouragement and kindness and inspiration, etc. I’m very loyal to my relationships. Despite moving fifteen times, and accumulating friends all over the country, I manage to remain very close with the close/ best friends I picked up along the way, making an effort to visit them all as often as possible. Relationships are like garden flowers. You need to give them attention if you want them to grow, and stick around.

Relationships are what give life meaning. I believe this. This is one reason I place such an importance on them, and why I cherish family, and why I desire to have a family of my own one day.

You mentioned your family, and that you’re very close. You make it sound like you have a great relationship with everyone, which is terrific. Do you see everyone often? Or talk to them? What are the dynamics? Are you close with your extended family?

On wearing different hats

I think I am the same with everyone, for the most part. I’m very adaptable, which I attribute to all the transitions growing up. I’m typically a unifier, and bring different people together on common ground. My parents said I was a chameleon growing up, and I kinda resented that description in a way, cause I felt like it had a negative connotation, but I really had to be. Didn’t matter who a person was, I never judged, and I found common ground, and we got along. Typically out of necessity.

I like to think I’m very self aware of the impression I leave on others, and so I cater to the sensitivities of others. I prefer harmony. I like when everyone gets along, and is comfortable, and there are no egos. I try to bring down walls, not put them up.

And so, I really don’t pretend to be anyone I’m not. My goal is to live unapologetically. If there’s any shame, don’t do it. And if I’m misunderstood, so be it. As Emerson said “To be great is to be misunderstood.” And while I may not be great, that’s my aim, to be principled and convicted, and comfortable with myself, without the need to apologize for my convictions, which I believe to be tried and tested and true.

I imagine you’re the same… I feel this is an ENFJ trait.

Something that always stuck with me, and as a result I’ve made myself even more aware of the importance of adaptability, is a quote from a Professor Megginson who commented on Darwin’s ideas, which read “It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

And so you could say that yes, I value the ability to adapt.

What I value more is my ability to adapt to the vicissitudes of life while getting along with and fiercely loving my significant other 🙂

If their ability to wear many hats and adapt is necessary to do this, then yes!

******

Aye… once I start typing I just lose myself. I hope you don’t mind reading so much.

So anyway. If I recall correctly, you’ll be going to Copenhagen in two days to visit your brother. That’s exciting. Copenhagen is one of my favorite cities. Do you have anything planned?

What’s your favorite food?

What’s your favorite spot to vacation? Or where would your dream vacation be, or what would it look like?

***

The room is dark. Cars hum and rattle by on the street below, just outside my window. The occasional conversation drifts in and out of earshot. A lone lamp casts a gentle yellow hue on the walls and objects occupying the room. It’s a soft light. I can hear the central air hissing through the vents above. The city is quiet tonight. No music, no concerts. No conferences or events. It’s almost 1am. The night managed to get away from me once again. I have no regrets 🙂

I enjoy pausing and reflecting and sharing myself with you. It gives me a nice opportunity to reflect from another perspective.

I enjoy even more reading about you. I’m eager to learn more. I want to experience you. Hear your voice.

Here’s a picture of my little reading nook, complete with an oversized beanbag for ultimate maxing and relaxing.

My eyelids are heavy. I’m off to bed.

Talk soon,

Michael

Linnea 7:59am

I’m going to respond at length, but just so there’s no confusion about anything… I would so love to see you when I get back to the states.  Doesn’t really matter where.  And we can talk about that when I return, but I just wanted to make sure you knew that.

I hope you got some rest.  Have a great day today.

L

Michael 11:28pm

I’m so glad. There’s no one else in the world I want to see more.

Anytime, anywhere. We’ll make it happen… I’m looking forward to it.

Michael

Linnea 11:00pm

It occurred to me while I was writing that we are on opposite schedules for the same reason.  I’m an early bird; I like watching the sun come up because it usually feels like I’m the only one awake to see it.  The world feels like it belongs to me (even if it only lasts a few minutes).

I wanted to leave you with something before you tuck in.  It’s something that reminds me of my childhood.  I learned to love books at a young age (The Wind In The Willows was one of many childhood favourites), but my parents had a number of friends who were writers and artists so I was exposed to a lot of obscure films too.  This particular stop animation was shot long before I was born, but I think that’s part of the reason I loved it as a kid.  It wasn’t cutesy or stupid…. It was mysterious and beautiful (okay…. the white horse didn’t hurt, either) 😉  I don’t know what you’ll think of it but I thought it might be nice to fall asleep to:  https://youtu.be/oW0jvJC2rvM

I thought about you a lot today.  I liked the way that felt.

Sweet dreams,

L

Michael 11:44pm

Re:

Ha! That’s too funny.

The video was nice… it has a nostalgic feel to it. Sometimes people get too caught up in the particulars of art, like the what is means, rather than the how it made you feel.

Thank you for sharing 🙂

And I’ve been thinking of you a lot. And I enjoy it a lot. Makes me smile and feel really good.

Off to bed…

Enjoy the day!

Michael   

October 14th 2016

Linnea 11:43am

Hej då 🙂

I’m sitting at a café in Copehagen called the “Living Room.”  It’s full of funky midcentury recliners and smells a little like old books and Kanelbullar.  I arrived yesterday and spent most of today spoiling my niece and nephew (I can’t believe how big they’re getting!).  Anders and Lillabet (my brother and sister-in-law) recently renovated an old warehouse in the Østerbro district that my brother has spent the last 2 years re-designing.  Tonight is their open house party, so I thought I might pop in here before I head over.

I have these moments when I read your letters where I find myself wondering if I’ve met you before.  It’s not what you write so much as how you write it.  You have good writerly control.  Instead of stating the obvious, you focus on an aspect of your story and reinforce your narrative with observation.  The funny thing about that is that I also see it in the way you “nest” 😉  It’s in the objects you surround yourself with and the things that bring you comfort.  I find it very hard to believe that you do much of anything that isn’t meaningful (in some way).  I think that’s also why I’ve felt so comfortable sharing with you.

I’ve asked about religion and how you’ve handled it in large part because I’ve found myself (at various times) confronted by well-intentioned people wishing to ease my pain by reinforcing the validity of their own faith. It also played a significant factor in my last relationship (albeit for very different reasons).  I view religion in an anthropological context; a great story intended to create social/cultural cohesion.  Without it, there was no common moral fabric/code – no realistic way of preventing a community from plummeting into chaos and (ultimately) into extinction.  In that respect it had great merit.  As a philosophy, however, it’s proven (for me) unmalleable.  It instills great passion but very little growth.  And I don’t know how you grow as a person if the things you believe in never change.  I think this plays into your Darwin reference (and the ability to adapt).  How can one expect to thrive in an environment where everyone believes in the same thing and lives the same way?  There would be no diversity of thought.  No innovation.

All that aside for a moment, the part of you that I’ve wanted to know (and have been so intrigued by) is your devotion to other people (and the origins behind that).  It would be quite easy to walk away from someone who you don’t identify with.  But your compulsion to find things in common with other people is what I find so inspiring.  It may feel effortless to you, but it’s one of many things that makes you so exceptional (and one of the many things that makes me feel so lucky to have crossed paths with you).

On my flight over I spent some time responding to your question about JP.  However, seeing as it’s Friday (and I’m SURE you’d benefit from a little levity) I thought I might send that over a little later 😉

What are you reading at the moment? What was your last read, or two? What are you looking forward to reading?

A Confederacy of Dunces (an American classic that was recommended to me a few months ago).  It’s hilarious and contains a southern dialect that only adds to its charm.  I’ve yet to visit New Orleans (where the book is set) but it’s on my list of American cities.  The last two I read were Good Omens (full of sardonic humour and biblical fun) and All The Light We Cannot See.  I have a few books in my queue, but I’m most anxious to read a book I picked up a few weeks ago called Our Souls At Night (a story about two people who meet in their twilight years, find love, and reflect on the lives they’ve lived and the future they still desire).

 Do you have any tattoos? 

I don’t.  I don’t have an aversion to them… I’ve just never felt compelled to get one.

You make it sound like you have a great relationship with everyone, which is terrific. Do you see everyone often? Or talk to them? What are the dynamics? Are you close with your extended family?  You have any desire to be closer to your family one day?

Despite the distance, we’ve always been close.  Anders and Axel have gone on to have children of their own and as my immediate family expands I find myself feeling quite thankful that we’ve never been distant with respect to our feelings for one another.  I think my parents were a big factor in that.  They’ve always been very affectionate and supportive.  When we were young they had a tradition of “ sundaying.”  It basically entailed all of us climbing into their bed; doing precious little but talking, reading, listening to their records and having brunch in our jim jams.  I suppose that’s why Sundays are still my personal Shangri-la (it’s the only day during the week that I can sleep past 9 without getting antsy).  I’d like to continue that tradition with my own family one day.

As close as I am with my brother Joran, however, we have had our moments 😉  He has the most horrendous taste in women and tends to assume that a girls inner beauty will always be matched by her exterior.  In retrospect, it’s funny.  We’ve had some knock-down, drag-out fights about that….. but when JP died, a lot changed.  They were good friends and I think he saw me differently (and life in general). They all did/do.  In truth, that’s the only real “tension” between us; over the years I’ve had to combat their tendency to treat me like a delicate flower.

As for my relatives, I think we’re close in large part because both of my parents are close to their siblings (i.e., lots of joint ski trips and sailing adventures).  No topic has ever really been off limits with respect to discussion and they’re all fairly progressive in their ideologies.  However, my father’s family has a unique history (I’ll share a bit more about that in my subsequent response).

At some point it would be nice to live in closer proximity to my brothers.  I know Joran has plans to move back to scandinavia at some point and when I have children of my own I’d really like them to know Sweden, speak swedish, and be close to their cousins.  That wouldn’t necessarily require our living there, but making routine trips back would be important to me.  Have you ever given any thought to living abroad?  Or would you have the same concerns about leaving your family?

What’s your favorite food?

I love to cook and to eat, so answering this question is unnecessarily limiting, Michael 😉  Why pick just one!?  However…. if you’re trying to get a feel for my preferences, I typically lean in the direction of southeast Asian.  I like the sophisticated blend of sauces and spices and the fact that many recipes are a fusion of colonial influences (French and Vietnamese, for instance).  I also love the variety of vegetables used and lean meats.

My turn… a few light and a few heavy:

Do you wear cologne?

Are you affectionate by nature?  If so, how are your most likely to show it?

Where do you most like to be touched?

Why did your last relationship end?

What would you say is one overlapping similarity that all of your friends have in common?

Will you tell me a bit about the friends you lost?  What were their names?  What were they like?

If I flew to Nashville, would you meet me?  If so – where would we go first?

I’ll end this here.  Thank you for the sun rise…. I loved it.  You have such a beautiful spot to watch it.  Maybe one day I’ll get to see one with you.

-L

PS: I thought I might give you your first Swedish lesson (attached).  It comes with one caveat, though.  You only get the translation if you meet me in person 🙂

PPS: This is Ebba (Nimma’s sister).

Michael 5:42pm

Hello Linnea! 🙂

I just sat down to my computer and read your email.

I have  a few minutes so I’ll type out a quick response!

I have a fairly busy weekend planned: I’m headed to a professional hockey game this evening with some friends, and I’ll be heading out to cycle with my best friend tomorrow morning for several hours, and then we’re planning on seeing the documentary The Camera Person at a local historic film theater named The Belcourt Theater that shows old or esoteric or independent films. It’s about the creative process of filmmaking from behind the lens. Seems like a moving and all around insightful movie…  something I imagine you’d also enjoy 🙂

On meeting you before

I feel the same way. I’ve already decided that you’re going to be apart of my life, mostly because I feel like you should already be apart of it.

But I have dozens of other reasons as well. 🙂

On writing

I write a lot. Not in the conventional sense, whatever that means. I mean, I don’t like sit down and write because I want to be a writer, because I want to say “hey, I write. Look at me and my thoughts and ideas and all that” and beg to be read or for the identify of being a writer.

No, I write out of compulsion. When I was 13 I began writing in a journal. I was very precocious as a kid, and always had a notebook of drawings wherever I went, and I was obsessed with the library, and I grew fascinated my great minds, specifically investors. One of which is da Vinci. Others were Nikola Tesla and Benjamin Franklin and Newton and others just fascinated me, and there was one feature that struck me most about them all… or any great thinker or mind: they all journaled. They all wrote their ideas out.

I read a quote by EM Forster in my first creative writing class during my first year of college when I was 20, and it captured the heart of exactly why I write: “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”

When I read this, I thought “Ah. THIS is why I write.” Because my internal thoughts and feelings were often a restless tangle of energy. Writing was a compulsion, a therapeutic release. I never followed the rules with writing. It was always my voice, typically a stream of consciousness. And I would write about my problems or current experiences, past memories, poetic verses that suddenly flowed through me, ideas I wanted to get clear on… or explore new topics of thought. It was literally a way to clarify my thoughts.

When I was younger, my writing would often be jumbled, illogical, sporadic, grammatically incorrect. It wasn’t anything to be proud of, per say, but I didn’t care. It was like sketching with my thoughts. It just flowed. My journal was a place where I’d play with phrases. Words. Ideas. Feelings. Voices. Styles. Assumptions. etc. A place where I’d create, and buck convention, say what shouldn’t be said, just to try it on, be someone else, just to see how to feels. They say writers live life twice, and that writers are all actors. I tend to believe this, in a sense.

And there’s always been a way that I’ve striven to write. Anton Chekhov, one of my favorite short story writers, said “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

This struck me profoundly. Don’t tell it how it is. Show it how it is.

Stories and narratives and anecdotes are essential to the human experience, and make us relatable to one another. We learn best when we do, when we relive. If you can communicate in a way that someone else can relate to, with as few as words as possible, so that reading or listening is as effortless as possible, I believe you will be an effective communicator, and touch a nerve.

Anywayyyyyy

Thank you. Thank you for the compliment. That’s really all I should be saying. It means a lot.

On Religion 

I agree with you. (Fills me with joy to hear myself saying that).

On my devotion to others, or “compulsion” to find common ground

 My mother tells a story of me when I was a child.

For the sake of time, I’ll just paste the story rather than rewrite it. This was written on November 22, 2010: 

1989.

Tall like trees. Bodies danced at the margins of my world, filling the jungle with movement and life.

My mother strolled ahead. I was two at the time. We were in Saint Luis Obisbo California. My father was in the middle of a six month naval cruise somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Operation Desert Storm was underway.  Patty, my mothers best childhood friend, was visiting our new family from the east coast. They wandered through the public promenade and admired the Californian city scape while they caught up on life’s new details. My sister Jaclyn was strapped tightly to a toddler rook, hanging like a swollen sack from my mothers back. Her little arms protruded out to the sides and her tiny fingers grasped at the passing air. My mother latched onto my hand like a leash and led the way through the thicket of legs and knees that shuffled along the sidewalk. I stared at my shoes. My laces lashed back and forth as I toddled to keep pace. Gum smeared the cement. I looked up: the world was tall.

Suddenly there was a pause. I watched their lips move in parley as their eyes surveyed the storefronts for a potential lunch spot. I jerked my hand away: I wanted freedom. I stared at my flopping laces and continued walking without thought to where I was going.

“Michael!” My mother called me; her voice was piqued with concern. “Get back here Michael. You need to stand near me. There are strangers here.”

I looked up and found her eyes peering at me. Bodies bustled about. Conversations echoed near and far. On nearby benches sat individuals, some propped and alert, others slumped and sluggish, all with a distant look in their eyes; their minds absorbed in contemplation.

“There are no strangers here. There are only people.” I looked at her curiously, blinking. A smile warmed her face. 

“You’re right Michael. There are no strangers. There are only people.”

Ahh… I gotta run!

There’s more I’ll say about this…. about why I strive to see similarity in people and not differences.

I’ll email more later!!!

Hoping you’re having a great time!!!!

Michael

Michael 2:05pm

Hello!

Just sat down at a cafe to do some reading and writing.

Corrections: “…and I was obsessed with the library, and I grew fascinated by great minds, specifically inventors.”

That cafe sounds perfect, by the way. “The Living Room”. I can only imagine the atmosphere 🙂

I stayed south of Osterbro, in Vesterbro/ Kongens Enghave when I visited Copenhagen. I love that city.

How was your brothers warehouse redesign opening house party?

On my nest 

I’m conscientious of semiotics in my life, the signs and associations and symbolism, of various objects, and how they influence perception, psychology, mood, etc. I surround myself with things that reinforce my values and virtues, or make the impression I wish to communicate in the world. I love architecture and art and I love libraries for this reason. I could go on and on about this all… but I have a feeling you understand where I’m coming from.

On people

So, I guess the story I left off with yesterday was just one illustration of how I never seemed to see differences in people, even from a young age. My mother says I never knew a stranger, and I have no fear. I’d walk up to anyone and strike up a conversation, even as a toddler, up until present day.

The thing is, my mother is very much like this. From my earliest memories, I would watch her just start talking to anyone, like she knew them. I never knew how much I appreciated the influence I had on me until I was older and reflected back. She’d just start talking to someone, as if they were resuming a conversation, and the person would just seem to talk right back. In the grocery store line. In the store. On the street. She’d ask them a question, say about a product she was looking at, or directions, or even a question about something that she just assumed maybe they could help her out with, or compliment them, like their hair or shoes or clothing or makeup, or share something she thought was funny. The amazing part was how people responded. She’s an attractive woman, and she’s very disarming. She smiles, and she possess a genuine interest and curiosity in people. She has a way of making you feel very special.

My mother owns a high end boutique salon, and she does hair, and every single one of her clients tell me how special she is to them. She tells me, “Michael, people don’t come to me to do their hair. They come to me to feel better about themselves. My job is to make people feel better about themselves. When you look better, you feel better. But it is much more than that.”

I have to give her credit, she’s an excellent cosmetologist, and has really good taste, and an eye for detail, but her ability to give people her full attention is what makes people really feel good, and come and see her way more often than necessary, and pay her way more than she charges.

There was a story that I read once about British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli that illustrated what an impression you can make on someone if you’re interested in others: A young lady was taken to dinner one evening by Gladstone and the following evening by Disraeli. Asked what impressions these two celebrated men had made upon her, she replied, “When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.”

I always thought my mother had a knack for doing just this.

I like to believe that she rubbed off on me, in a small way.

There’s more I could say, but there are other questions I have for you, and need to answer!

On your family

I love that your family had the tradition of “Sundaying”. I would love to do this with my wife and children.

On living abroad

I would absolutely live abroad. I’ve never had the opportunity, but I’ve applied for jobs before in Germany and the Scandinavian area. I’ve always lacked the foreign language fluency, so nothing ever materialized.

As I mentioned, I’ve moved extensively all over the USA, but I really want to experience more of the world. I’ve traveled to 13 countries, but there’s no substitute for living in some and submersing yourself in the culture, and learning the language. Which is another reason I’d want to live abroad: to learn the language. Something I could easily do if I was submersed.

I wouldn’t have any concerns about leaving my family. I would still find time to visit.

On your food

I agree! And I like your attitude! I will cook for you, if you cook for me? 🙂

Your questions: 

 Do you wear cologne?

I do wear cologne. Currently I have three: Hermes Terre and Dior Homme and Dior Homme Sport. What fragrance do you wear?

Are you affectionate by nature?  If so, how are your most likely to show it?  

Yes, I’m very affectionate. I touch and hug my friends, which is most obvious when I’m drinking. I want people to know that they are special, that they have my attention.

With someone I love, I just give them the affection I know they like. Everyone is different. But I like touching. Holding. Embracing. Whether it’s their hand, or putting my hand on their leg, or my around around them. I love giving affectionate kisses. Affection is so crucial for life and love, and I don’t believe our american culture emphasizes it enough, at least not in the right way. It doesn’t have to be sexualized. It’s just human touch. It’s about being vulnerable, about being comfortable, about another human touching, not just your body, but your heart, with their attention. It provides a sense of security on a very deep level, when you can allow someone to give you affection that you enjoy, that fills you with euphoria.

Affection is best when you’re giving to the one you love, and receiving it from the one you love.

Where do you most like to be touched? 

That’s a hard question to answer. Whatever feels most natural. I’m not needy, and I’m not smothering. There is a time for touching and affection. Depends on the person, depends on the chemistry.

I enjoy embracing someone deeply, as if to touch your hearts together. There is a oneness that’s created during a deep and meaningful embrace, like you’re the center of the universe, and the world stands still.

Why did your last relationship end?

 My last relationship ended because it was unhealthy, and it was like this from the beginning. I loved this person, and saw their brokenness, and believed I could love them enough, and provided the patience and understanding and kindness they had never experienced before, that they would transform, and gain a sense of security and life they never had before.

While I believe I touched her life in a way that no one else had, it was at a deep emotional expense to myself. It was very emotionally traumatic, and the destructive patterns continued, and I realized (after much stubbornness) that it wasn’t uplifting me, or leaving me in a better place, despite my efforts to be strong and rise above, and so I had to make the difficult decision to end it.

I am happier, and I wish her the best, despite everything. I believe there is someone who will appreciate me for me, and all I have to offer, in the way I will appreciate them, and all they have to offer. She just wasn’t that person.

I believe that every adversity and struggle introduces an opportunity to grow and learn about ourselves, and this relationship was no different. The greater the pain, the greater the lesson learned. And I learned a lot about myself during the relationship. About my struggles. About relationships. About what’s healthy and unhealthy. About people. About love. About all of that.  

What would you say is one overlapping similarity that all of your friends have in common?

Me.

haha…I really don’t know. I genuinely don’t. I mentioned I admire those three qualities most in people (curiosity, passion, and work ethic) but not all my friends possess all of these, and some posses just one. Actually, if I have childhood friends that I grew up with that possess none, and although the love is there, we aren’t close at all.  

Will you tell me a bit about the friends you lost?  What were their names?  What were they like? 

I will have to elaborate in more detail in a future letter… there is nothing simple about that time in my life, or theirs, or the circumstances of their death.

They both passed away from suicide. They both hung themselves.

Joe XXXXXX passed away May 12, 2001.

Todd XXXXXX passed away December 17th, 2003.

They were both very different people, but what they did have in common is that they were both sensitive, and misunderstood by those around them.

I’ll have to devote more time to explaining who they were, and what was happening in our lives at the time. These things are never clear and simple and easy to understand.  

If I flew to Nashville, would you meet me?  If so – where would we go first?

Linnea my dear, of course I would meet you.

I would greet you from the airport, and I would probably see you from afar and smile and get a surge of feeling, of butterflies, and try to contain my smile as you approached, so that my excitement wasn’t overwhelming. And I would extend my arms and wrap myself around you and hug you very deeply, as if in great relief, and just bask in the moment.

Then we’d hop in the car and talk and catch up and get comfortable with the fact that we just met, yet feel like we know so much already.

We’d go back to my place and probably get your settled and hang out. Maybe have a glass of wine or beer and just talk and talk and talk, like seeing a best friend that’s been lost and found again.

I’ll probably have dinner reservations planned at a restaurant I know you’d enjoy, and represents the best of Nashville.

Then we’d play it by ear.

There would be endless places we’d go and I’d show 🙂

****

Can you answer those same questions for me? They were good….

Do you wear perfume?

Are you affectionate by nature?  If so, how are your most likely to show it?

Where do you most like to be touched?

What would you say is one overlapping similarity that all of your friends have in common?

If I flew to Boston, would you meet me?  If so – where would we go first?

****

If I have anything to do with it, you’ll be watching many sunrises with me 🙂

Thank you for these letters. I think you’re exceptional. You have no idea. Like I mentioned before, I want to experience more of you, your voice, your presence. We should get on the phone one of these days/ evenings, whenever it’s convenient. Perhaps it’ll be best when you’re back in the states next week.

I gotta run.

You’ll be on my mind.

Michael

Michael 2:08pm

P.S.

Thank you for the picture! I love seeing your face.

Also, who is Nimma?

And the recording: you expect me to duplicate that, with my voice? haha. I will try, but you’ll need to break it down into syllables… or into each word. Or something. I tried repeating that… whew. Maybe it’ll just take some time and practice 🙂

By the way, I am very flexible with traveling, so if you’d like to make plans to see each other, let me know what’s convenient 

October 16th 2016

Linnea 3:45pm

<<Linnea my dear, of course I would meet you.>>

Is November 4th too soon?  If you decide I’m better on paper, I can always visit my friends.  But regardless, I think it would be worth it just to sit across from you.  We can talk more about it when I get back, but I know for a fact that that weekend works for me in terms of timing.  I think you said you’d be visiting your friends in SF at the end of the month, so if you don’t think you’ll be back by then there’s zero pressure.

I leave for Boston tomorrow but I’ll occupy myself on the flight with your last email and questions.

Sweets dreams.

x

PS: I’ve been behind on photos, so I’m attaching some random ones.

 

Michael 4:09pm

Nashville

Not soon enough! 🙂

haha… yes, that will work perfect. How long will you be visiting?

Stay as long or as short as you’d like. There is zero inconvenience or pressure whatsoever. Quite the opposite. I know we will enjoy the time we spend together, and there are endless sights and happenings to experience in the city and countryside.

I’ll be in San Francisco from Oct 28-31, so I’ll be home with plenty of time to spare.

I’ve read your letter, and I will be responding later this evening, when I can spend more time reflecting and gathering my thoughts. In the mean time, I want to express how thankful I am that you’ve taken the time and energy and courage to share yourself with me like you have.

More soon,

Michael

 

Linnea 10:57am

When I lived in London I used to attend local CADD group forums.  They’re a support group for people who have lost loved ones to drunk drivers.  I really didn’t like it at first; a bunch of strangers crying in front of each other, sharing intimate stories about the people they loved (and never really reaching any resolution at the end of a session).  Depressing.  But I kept going…. not religiously, but a couple of sessions every few months.  I suppose it added perspective (which is a difficult thing to obtain on your own).

This past Febuary I attended my last.  I told them that I was approaching an anniversary date, and that each anniversary that has passed has been a kind of mile marker in my head.  The first mile – bloody terrible.  The second – empty, hollow, blurry.  The third – about the same, but anxious…. uncomfortable (good opportunity to quit your job, flee the country, and start over altogether, eh?).

This is a lot of information.  But it feels okay to write it.  I can breathe… I don’t have to look at you, or monitor myself, or worry about inflection.  But all that aside – it might help to pour an enormous glass of wine right about now (or to defer altogether until doing so becomes a possibility) 😉

My full name is Linnea Annaliesa Brigitte von Bohlen und Halbach (mouthful, no?).  Most of my British friends just call me “VB.”  My family is predominately from Sweden but my grandfather was born in Austria.  He moved to Stockholm as a young teen with his mother and younger brother at the height of the second world war.  This is only significant because my name is more than just long… it carries a lot of history and some very controversial ties to Western Europe.  Additionally, it’s an aspect of my family’s history that has influenced and shaped subsequent generations.  For my grandfather – it was an unsightly and (often) uncomfortable aspect of his history.  He preferred to bury it… or “rise above” it.  I think every success he ever achieved was an attempt to outshine the ugliness of the past.  For my father – it was an excuse to live an unconventional life, reject all manner of advantages that were not achieved through meritocracy alone (or, at least, to convince himself that he was) and to judge his own father for not wanting to discuss/admit those dark sides of the past.  Up until a few years ago, I think I had always fallen somewhere between the two.

For most of my life this aspect of my family history has always been a curious footnote, but not something I was ever tremendously cognizant of.  That changed quite a bit in 2009 when a popular German mini-series was released about my grandfather’s family.  It was bizarre.  Many of us started getting weird emails from random strangers on Linkedin and social media sites.  Other than being an interesting topic of conversation at family dinners, however, I didn’t feel the significance of where I came from until a few months later when I met this handsome (goofy) French guy at a friend’s birthday party in London.

I was 21 and he was 5 years older than me.  To this day, Jean Paul is the only French national I’ve ever met who actually preferred English culture.  He liked to be called “JP,” was an Arsenal fan, and found my penchant for playing Frances Gall and Francois Hardy records profoundly annoying.  More than anything, however, he made me laugh.  He made everyone laugh.

Despite having been pretty non-religious, JP described being Jewish as an identity that transcends any real belief in the celestial realm.  Both of his grandparents had survived concentration camps and his mum maintained a deep devotion to Jewish traditions (eventually going so far as to relocate to Israel).  Dating me was pretty distasteful in her eyes.  While I hoped that could change, it never did.  No matter how hard I tried.  And as things between us got more serious, it created a rift between them that never healed (and that she still blames me for).  Thankfully, however, I was welcomed by his dad (Arnaud).  His parents divorced when he was a kid and Arnaud is pretty much an older version of JP (sarcastic by nature but deeply sociable and welcoming).

About 6 months before our wedding, JP flew to Lyon to attend the wedding of a childhood friend.  I opted not to go because his mother would be attending and I didn’t want my presence to cast a cloud over their celebration.  He was upset and disappointed in me, but I convinced him that it would be better in the long run.  The last message I ever received from him was the night of the wedding.  He sent me a photo of the happy couple and the words, “I love you, stupid.”  A few hours later, I woke up to a call from Arnaud.  He said that JP had been in a car accident on his way back to his hotel and that he was gone.

I can’t adequately describe what that feeling is like and I know I don’t have to.  Everything in my life changed.  And I still feel the effects of it from time to time; most recently in the form of responsibility.

About a year ago (while I was still working/living in London) I received a call from Arnaud.  At first it seemed like one of his occasional check-ins until he asked to speak with JP.  I was confused and said something along the lines of, “He isn’t here,” to which he replied, “Has he stepped out?”  It took him a moment to realise what he had just asked, but when he finally did he became extremely apologetic and explained that he had been feeling under the weather.  After a month of my digging and pestering, he finally relented and admitted to me that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the previous year.

Arnaud has no family of his own.  JP was it.  And it didn’t take long for me to realise that he made absolutely no plans with respect to his long term care.  Nor did he really have the means to do so, given the fact that he’s lived on a teacher’s pension.  So, I’ve done what JP would have done.  I spent several months helping Arnaud draft an end-of-life plan and am his primary care advocate and executor.  My flat (which I sold just before moving to California) has allowed him to keep his until he transitions to a full-time assisted living environment.  He’s still healthy and mobile but in the last year alone his mental state has deteriorated quite rapidly (the most difficult aspect being that he often forgets about the accident and still thinks JP and I are engaged).

It’s been a lot to manage but my friends and family have helped.   Elise (my sister-in-law) visits him every couple of weeks and gives me updates since I can’t really talk to him over the phone.  I think without seeing who he’s talking to his cognition tends to get jumbled.  In truth, I’m often torn about how that makes me feel.  Part of me wonders if there isn’t some bittersweet benefit associated with a disease that can make you forget everything/everyone you’ve ever lost.  The decision to leave the UK was at the insistence of my parents.  I think they were/are afraid that I’m so attached to the past that I’m going to give up any chance for a future while I’m still young.  To be honest, there are times when I’ve feared the same… so…. it was an easy sell.

I don’t want to add undue pressure on you or this friendship we’ve developed over the last couple of weeks, so I hope my sharing all of this with you isn’t burdensome.  I’ve wanted you to know me because I’ve wanted to know you.  And while I admit that there are times when I read your letters and wonder what it would be like to hold your face in my hands or feel your hair between my fingers, the best part of all of this has been to feel something I haven’t felt in a long time; excited.  Excited to learn about someone and how they see the world.

I hope you’ve had a great weekend.  You’re in my thoughts.

L

Michael 11:24am

Good morning Linnea,

I’m sitting in a cafe located in east Nashville named The Barista Parlour. It’s an old repurposed four door auto service garage with high cement ceilings that expose a mess of tangled metal braces and wires and ductwork, and there are rows of Edison bulb lamps strung down from the high ceilings which hang over long tables made of reclaimed barn wood which run parallel to the walls. The atmosphere is airy, maybe even breezy, and the doors themselves are open three quarters. The temperature is a cool 79F, and even cooler in the shade. I’m facing outside, with the center cafe station situated in my front and center, and I can see the green tree tops shaking in the breeze, illuminated by the brilliant sun. There are noisy instrumental melodies humming in the background, interrupted by echoing conversations around the room.

I read your message yesterday morning and, regrettably, I didn’t stop for wine. So yesterday evening I poured some wine and read it again several times, and drank more wine, and more. And I was thinking of what the most appropriate response would be, but it never came, and the wine overtook me.

Today I resolved to just being honest with my impressions, regardless of the sentiment I wish to convey.

It’s a tragic story. You tell it like a movie. But I suppose the most dramatic stories often make for the best movies.

I can relate to your pain and the grieving, though I’ll never be able to understand your loss, and what losing that relationship meant to you, especially under those circumstances.

There is no clear direction forward after something like this. Death has a way of interrupting things in ways incomprehensible to those looking in. And we often take for granted how much of our identify, our values, our aspirations, and the memories pieced together about our lives, are integral to the relationships we love most.

But this is precisely why I value my relationships so. I understand all too well the fragility, and the meaning they provide.

I know this happened several years ago, but I still know the pain is there, deep inside, and still healing. And I also know that as someone you’ve only exchanged messages with for a short time, however meaningful the exchange might be, there is little my words can do to console, or do much of anything for that matter. I don’t wish to sound hollow or trite, so I’ll refrain from saying too much, other than my heart aches for you, and wishes you to feel whole, with all the peace and joy that accompanies that wholeness.

*

There is an urge to say something that I keep pushing down, but I feel like if I’m to honor my message of honesty, I really do need to say it.

I don’t know where you’re at in this healing journey, and quite frankly, I don’t need to know. I believe that timing is everything. And there is a reason we have crossed paths. We were searching, and we have both found something in each other that touches us deeply. I know it, because I feel it. But I want to convey, just for my own peace of mind, that I am very much my own person, and I will never be able to substitute or replace the love you shared, the relationship you cultivated. I will always respect your feelings deeply, and I will always revere the meaning it had in your life.

Nonetheless, whatever we have started is, and will continue to be, wholly original, and I want you to cherish the potential and possibility that brings. Because I do, very much. I say that with the utmost respect and affection.

*

You have an interesting family background, to say the least. It’s funny, I visited the wiki link, and there’s a picture of a triquetra as the Krupp trademark, just like the one on my forearm. I found that a bit ironic.

Regarding your family, and its legacy, I’m not sure what to think about it. Or if I should think anything at all.

I only desire to know you the way you wish to be known, the way you show yourself to me.

That’s the substance I wish to know. Everything else is details.

*

I admire your heart.

I admire what you’ve done for Arnaud.

And how you’re honoring JP’s legacy and the relationship you shared in the process.

That moves me.

*

There is no undue pressure. I understand. And there’s no burden at all.

This is life. And life is hard. One of my favorite psychotherapists M. Scott Peck said it best: “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

Your story is yours, and apart of who you are. There is nothing inconvenient about who you are, and the life you’ve lived. It has made you who you are, and that has allowed us to be right where we are. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

*

I also admire your mind.

I admire you.

Thank you for instilling in me the same excitement.

It is more refreshing than you know. Getting to know you in these exchanges has been the most wholesome breathe of fresh air. It is inspiring to know you’re there, in the world. You appeal to me in more ways than I thought was possible.

*

When I see pictures of you, I also imagine holding your face gently in my hands, while looking into your eyes, those windows of the soul, and wondering what joys I will find in their depths.

I look forward to more conversations, more exchanges, more of your thoughts, more of your feelings, listening to more of your memories, and creating more of our own.

And if I allow myself to set my optimism aside for a moment, I will say that regardless of what materializes between us, you have left a lasting impression on me.

For that I am grateful.

*

Thank you again for sharing yourself with me.

You’ll continue to be on my mind.

I hope you arrived home safe and sound.

I’ll look forward to hearing from you soon.

Affectionately,

Michael

P.S. Some random and silly pictures for you 🙂

October 18th 2016

Linnea 2:31pm

Hi

I came back to a flurry of work emails and phone calls and this morning I found myself back on a plane to NYC.  It never ceases to amaze me what some people seem to think qualifies as an “emergency” 😉  I’m exhausted.  The only silver lining is that I’m eating a deli sandwich from one of my favourite delicatessens (it’s so good that I honestly can’t decide whether to eat it or just rub it on my face).

I was a little terrified about clicking send on my last email (in large part because the last time I shared so much about my past I managed to scare someone away).  It’s a lot to digest.  And given what you intimated about your last relationship, I wouldn’t blame you for feeling some sense of trepidation about getting involved with me.  My family history is only significant because of the role it played in my last relationship. And I brought up Arnaud because inevitably… at some point… it’s bound to come up.  Despite his distance, he’s part of my thoughts and I worry for him the same way I’d worry about anyone in my family.

I still want so many things, Michael.  This last trip only reinforced that for me.  I can’t tell you how many times I held my nieces and nephews and was bowled over by the fact that I could see pieces of my brothers in their eyes and mannerisms.  I watched my grandparents dance in the same restaurant they met in decades ago and caught glimpses of my parents’ watching each other as they were surrounded by all of us.  Feeling heartbroken for the things I never got to experience is quite easy, but feeling hope for the things that are still possible takes passion.  I’m sure you of all people can attest to the fact that passion is not an easy endeavour… it takes cultivation.  And courage.

On my flight back to Boston a song came up in my queue that I hadn’t heard in ages…. it made me think of you.  I’d forgotten how much I love it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppzTFgwZxhc

I have some more thoughts on the 4th, but I’ll follow that up later.

x

Linnea

October 18th 2016

Michael 8:31pm

Haha!

You, but with a deli sandwich:

https://youtu.be/P8Lg5FybTv0

Have you ever:

https://youtu.be/G7RgN9ijwE4

I’ve had those dreams.

And nah I’m not worried. As long as you’re cool and easy going and fun then I don’t see a problem getting to know you. Passion will come. Everything’s gonna be great 🙂

Love Modest Mouse. Transports me to my youth. Saw them in concert a few months ago, along with one of my favorite bands in highs school, Brand New.

Hope you get up to speed and extinguish the raging fires you came home to!

Michael

Linnea 9:48pm 

<< As long as you’re cool and easy going and fun then I don’t see a problem getting to know you.>>

Of course.  I didn’t mean to contradict that by sharing what I did.  Sorry 🙂

Bed awaits me.

October 19th 2016

Michael 9:53pm

Linnea,

I’ll be in NYC November 4th, and head to NJ on the morning of the 6th to attend a wedding, and flying back to Nashville on the 7th.

I’ll be in flying to Boston on November 10th and coming home the early afternoon of the 13th.

M

Linnea 7:08pm

Oh!  Okay!  I’ll cancel my flight.  Thank you for letting me know.

Linnea 10:42pm

I was in the middle of sending you the plans I made for the 4th when I got your email.  In truth, I’m not exactly sure what I’ve done wrong.  Maybe it’s my lack of sleep or it relates back to your comment about the importance of not getting too serious or ahead of myself.  Either way, I’m trying to understand how a wedding might have popped up between today and when I asked about your availability.

I didn’t mean to overshare or be too serious.  And I certainly would have understood if my coming there made you uncomfortable.  But since I was the one that checked the dates with you first and mentioned that I would be in touch about the 4th, I’m a little confused.  When you have a moment, can you help me understand?

Thank you.

Michael 11:10pm

Linnea!

Yes.

You didn’t do anything wrong, I promise.

It’s my fault, entirely.

Please don’t hold it against me… I apologize.

My childhood friend is having a wedding on November 6th. I’m not very close with him, and we’ve seen each other only a handful of times the past decade, so I wasn’t going to attend. However, he and a few of my childhood buddies have been reaching out to me the past couple weeks and days and have finally talked me into going, because it’ll be a time to catch up with old friends, many of which I see fairly often, and others I don’t see too often at all.

It’s not convenient, and it conflicts with our plans, but I feel an obligation now.

The last wedding I didn’t attend I got a lot of guilt and grief, and I feel it all over again, so I decided to go.

I apologize.

It wasn’t on my radar, and I honestly shouldn’t have been so eager to respond when you asked if I was available, because then I would have had time to think more on what was going on and when your travel coincided. But I really just wanted to see you as soon as possible, for all the right reasons.

I already booked a trip to Boston. I have family that live in the area, and college friends who work in the city. But I really did it proactively in the event I could see you if you were around.

Will you be in Boston November 10-13?

I hope this makes sense, and I apologize for the poor communication. It was just my poor planning and over excitement.

Can we speak on the phone this week?

XXX-XXX-XXXX

Feel free to text, or call, whenever you have a free moment.

Sweet dreams,

Michael

Michael 11:20pm

Would you like to meet me in NYC, spend the weekend with me, and be my date at the wedding in Sunday?

I need a date. You’d make a great date.

October 20th, 2016

Michael 6:32pm

Hi Linnea,

Sending a little message to you.

Please forgive my tired appearance; it’s been a long day!

<Video>

I haven’t heard from you, and I want to make sure we’re on the same page, and if we’re not, I wanna get there. Feel free to give me your number and I’ll call you!

Hope all is well with you 🙂

My best,

Michael

October 21, 2016

Linnea 12:34pm

Michael –

I’m sorry to keep this so brief but I received some bad news last night and I’m still processing it.  Since I’m not in the best frame of mind and my mother is arrived in a few hours, I’d like to get back to you in a few days.  I know that’s not a great response, but I thought leaving you in the dark would be much worse.  Thank you for clarifying (and for the apology).

Michael 1:34pm

Not a problem. Thank you for the heads up.

And you’re welcome.

If you need to talk or share or vent or process with anyone, I’ll be here.

Until then,

Michael

October 29th 2016

Linnea 8:58pm

Don’t ever contact me again.  You’re a sociopath.

Michael 9:54pm

I read this.

And at first I was like, whoa.

And I had this visceral emotional reaction.

But then it dawned on me that you are reaching out to me to tell me this.

If you never reached out to me again, we never would have spoke.

But you not only reached out to me. You told me I was a sociopath.

I shared a lot of information with you. I was being honest. I assumed you were being honest.

No idea how you interpreted my honesty, but apparently you assume I have an ill will, or some ulterior motive.

I’m sorry you think that.

But I can’t help that.

You don’t know me.

I don’t know what world you live in, what your friendships are like, what your relationships are like.

But you spent time and energy to create a negative narrative about what otherwise would be a good (getting to know someone) or even neutral (never spoke again) situation.

And I don’t know why you chose to see it that way, or make it that way.

Either way, it’s not good.

No idea what journey your on, but I wish you the best.

October 30th 2016

Linnea 12:54pm

I don’t know what was sent because it’s been deleted.  As I said before, I have no wish to hear from you.  The only reason I’ve said anything at all is because it became quite clear to me you were never going to.

I regret sharing any part of my life and my heart with someone I clearly don’t know.  I’ve embarrassed myself in front of my friends and I’ve allowed myself to believe that I had found something significant.  I don’t know whether to hate you for that or to feel relieved that I’m still capable of being disappointed after three years of loneliness.  Maybe it’s something in between.

Goodbye.

Michael 1:18am

What?

November 24th, 2016

Linnea 9:56pm

I’m spending my first thanksgiving in Vermont and the truth is I found myself thinking about you.

I don’t know what to say beyond the fact that I said goodbye to a significant part of my past last month at the same time that I met someone who I wanted so badly to know.  I read into a lot… and probably misinterpreted a lot as disinterest.  Regardless, I don’t really want to enter a new year with hate or anger.  My life has never moved in a direction that I could expect and there are times when I have to remember to take a pause and gain perspective.  I’m sorry for saying what I did about you.  I wish you a happy and healthy life.

Best,

Linnea

November 25, 2016

Michael 3:47pm

Linnea,

You did read into a lot, and jumped to conclusions, and made assumptions without giving me the benefit of the doubt.

It was hurtful, and upsetting. Especially because of our exchanges, and everything that was shared. I was genuinely excited about learning more about you, and seeing you, and that totally came out of no where. I don’t believe I did anything wrong to earn that reaction.

That being said, I forgive you.

And I don’t hold it against you.

But in the future, if you have any thoughts or feelings that you don’t like, or you’re scared, you need to talk about them and make sure we’re on the same page. I understand you don’t know me. But all relationships require trust. You need to trust that I have good intentions and want the best, for you and me. Otherwise there’s no point in trying. Trust is the foundation that we build all quality relationships on. And honest communication is one way we establish that trust.

If you’d like to continue speaking, I’d appreciate it if you gave me a call, or send me a text, and then we can arrange a time to speak. These e-mail exchanges have run their course for the moment, and I don’t think they’ll help us get any more comfortable with one another at this point.

If you’re not up to calling, and would not like to continuing talking, that’s up to you. No hard feelings, and I wish you all the best.

My best,

Michael

PS

Vermont is beautiful. I lived in Putney for two years, just north of Brattleboro. Very charming state. I hope you enjoyed your first Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

Linnea 4:39pm

I didn’t say that to imply that what you did (or didn’t do) was wrong.  Only that it wasn’t clear to me.  And given my state of mind, I formed my own conclusions.  It hurt not to hear from you and it hurt to change my plans to see you.  Your justification made sense (in retrospect) but the timing was quite bad – it followed right after sharing things with you that have made others pull away.  Perhaps that didn’t factor into your assessment of things but it played a big factor in mine. And not hearing from you for a week made it worse.  Perhaps you were trying to be respectful of my time, but it’s not what I wanted or needed.  However, it didnt justify my calling you a sociopath.  I am very sorry for that.

Thank you for your offer.  I’ll think about it.  In the interim I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday with your family.  It’s certainly beautiful here.

Cheers.

December 31st 2016

Michael 9:22am

Hello Linnea,

I’m seated at a Gelato Cafe at Siam Center, downtown Bangkok, writing in my journal, pouring over past pages and reflecting on the new year by revisiting the past, when I came across various entries about you and I.  The one below is dated 12:47am October 13, 2016. The other is me in Hong Kong ten days ago.

I can’t help but wonder what happened between us, where the communication broke down and why, and whether it was for the best, or if there was something truly special waiting to be tapped and nourished.

I hope you’re well.

I joined my college roommate in a manufacturing business start up, so I’ll be moving to California sometime in 2017. In the meantime I’ll be splitting time between Nashville and Palo Alto, CA.

I trust life is well. Don’t hesitate to say hello 🙂

Happy New Year 🎆

Michael

Linnea 7:49pm

One of my sixth form instructors told me once that I had good “writterly control.”  I don’t think I adequately appreciated the compliment until years later when I found myself writing a eulogy.  Death and despair have a funny way of forcing one to cut straight to the point 🙂

There are so many things I want to say to you right now.  But…. I have blurry eyes, and leaving it until later is no guarantee that I’ll find the right words (assuming, of course, that such words even exist).  So, I’ll stick to three things I’ve learned this year that relate closely to you;

1) I still want to experience so many things.  Even at my darkest, I try to find some lesson to learn or some wisdom to imbibe;

2) My natural inclination is to take risks, but I still haven’t learned to accept or be comfortable with the consequences.  My cousin Claus will order a gin and tonic every time he flies (no matter how long/short, or, early/late the flight may be).  He does this because he recognises the fact that he has no control over whether it lands or crashes but he’d rather toast the life he’s lived than be crippled by the fear of dying;

3) Love endures.  It really does.  Every time I think I understand it (and the many forms it takes) it shifts and transforms into something I am wholly incapable of preparing myself for.  I assume it’s gone or that it’s abandoned me and then it reappears once more, leaving me speechless and ill-equipped to understand why.

You like quotes.  I thought it fitting to leave you with one of my favourites.  It’s not particularly clever or ethereal, but it’s something that Humphrey Bogart once called Lauren Bacall during an interview.  He said, “[She’s] A real Joe.  You’ll fall in love with her like everybody else.”  It seemed fitting.

Happy New Year, Txxxxxx.  A few from my Holiday in return.

L

PS: Congratulations on your move.  I’m relocating to Seattle at the end of January.  Boston just wasn’t the right fit and I’ve come to believe that the west really is the best where America is concerned.  You’ll love it there.

January 5th 2017

Michael 11:07am

You seriously know exactly what to say. I don’t know if it works on all men, but it definitely works on me. And it’s consistently amazing and scary at the same time. Equal parts, and a lot of both. And I love it.

Txxxxx is my nick name. It’s endearing to hear you call me that. It’s like you know me. And I really want you to know me.

I was reading through our email exchanges on my plane to Singapore, and it occurred to me that, in hindsight, I am definitely at fault for the miscommunication, and mixed signals. Even though it totally wasn’t my intention, looking back its obvious I totally didn’t handle things correctly. And from your position, it seemed very abrupt and confusing. But you have no idea how far from the truth that is.

I do want to speak with you, on the phone. I’d really love it if we connected. It’s something I want: to hear your voice and speak with you.

And I am enthusiastic about you moving to Washington, simply because it puts us in the same hemisphere. And because I would love any excuse to travel to Washington. It’s one of my top destinations in the USA, along with Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

I want to believe that love endures. More than anything in the world. It’s the romantic in me, for better or worse.

I loved your pics… I hope you’re enjoying the holiday!

I’ve added a few random photos from my own 🙂

Yours,

Michael

January 7th 2017

Linnea 2:27am

I love you.  I have for a long while.   I don’t know what to say about that, Michael.

I’m in zermatt with my brother.    You’ve missed so much.

Michael 3:23am

I love you, Linnea.

In a profound and powerful way; a way that penetrates places I didn’t know could be penetrated. You are my muse: no one speaks to my heart and mind the way you have. No one inspires the depth of feeling and thought that you have in me.

It’s incredible, and makes me wonder how this is possible.

I don’t want to refrain from finding my way to you any longer.

Linnea 11:46am

I’ve missed you.  I wish there was some way that I could impart to you how much, but whenever I’ve tried it’s always fallen flat.  I know you’re not going to understand this, but I’ve never been sure that I would/could love someone again.  It always seemed like too much to hope for.

Arnaud passed away in October and it felt like another chapter closing.  A significant one.  I wanted so badly to talk to you but I had already forced you out of my life.  There are things about you that feel so familiar and then there are things that are so overwhelmingly new to me.  Maybe it’s not supposed to feel real.  It’s hard to believe that it ever could/would… even if you were sitting next to me right now.

I’ll be back in the states at the end of the month.  Joran lives in Presidio Heights, so I’ll be spending a fair amount of time in CA.  I don’t know what your schedule will be like but I know I want you in my life.  Even if it means having to figure out the logistics.  We can talk more about that when I return but I wanted you to know that it’s worth it to me.

How are you?  Where are you?  The weather has been glorious here….

January 8th, 2017

Michael 3:45pm

Linnea,

I’m delirious from flying, so forgive me if any of the following is incoherent, or grammatically nonsensical. I was on a 15 hour flight from Singapore to San Francisco last night, and I arrived 8:45am 🙂

It’s 1:27pm and I’m (at my temporary home) in Palo Alto, CA, sitting on a kitsch striped love seat, feet propped on a wooden coffee table, laptop resting on my lap, with a nice warm fireplace radiating before me. There’s a storm in the Bay Area called the Pineapple Express. I’m not sure why it’s called that, other than it has something to do with its formation over Hawaii. It’s gray and rainy. And windy. The rain is dribbling on the window panes and sky light above me. It is rhythmic and soothing.

*

I’m sorry to hear about Arnaud… and I’m sorry I was’t able to be there for you. How are you doing?

*

I want to see you. We’ll make it happen, whether you come here or I come to you. The logistics and planning will be minor details. My schedule will be a bit erratic in January and February with trade shows and other business related things, but we’ll figure it out. It’ll clear up after that.

Presidio Heights is a beautiful area of San Francisco. Who is Joran?

Your picture is… glorious. Unreal. God. Enjoy it 🙂

Do you have Whatsapp, or some other messenger service? Will you call me? I’d like to speak with you.

*

While I slept plenty on the flight home, my body’s internal clock is still nine hours ahead, so I’m going to try and push through all evening before I fall asleep. It’s hitting me now.

Asia was amazing, but it feels good to be home.

Let me know how you are. I’d love to hear all the thoughts of yours I’ve been missing.

Talk soon,

Michael

January 10th, 2017

Linnea 12:25pm

I’m writing this from Gstaad in a little cafe not far from where my mum went to school.  Saanenland has always been a famously odd place, but whenever I’m here (which is rare) I rather like retracing my parents’ steps and people watching.  My parents have a few friends who still own villas here but Joran (my brother) is the only one of us who actively takes advantage of their hospitality.  I love the skiing but the town itself is starting to feel like St. Moritz (i.e.., gaudy night clubs,diamond dinner galas, and regular celebrity sightings).   When we were kids (I have three older brothers) we’d go on off-piste day trips with our parents and ski with our rucksacks.  If left with the choice, I’d take a slope-side picnic in a dugout over an illustrious hotel luncheon any day.

It feels a bit surreal to see your name.  These last couple of months have been hard.  My brother and sister-in-law helped me pack what little Arnaud had that was worth saving.  I think the hardest part were the photos.  I’ve decided they should go to Tel Aviv with JP’s mum (even though she’s shown zero interest in keeping anything).  I saved one for myself.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe just to remember.  My mum does that.  She keeps a large collection of photos on her piano that go all the way back to her childhood (and my father’s).

I found myself crying when I read your letter.  Not because it made me sad but because it was so beautifully written.  It was a bit like taking a deep breath after realising that I’d been unintentionally holding it all this time.  Thank you for being so kind to me.  I didn’t anticipate sharing so much with you but I don’t regret it, either.

I’m heading to Austria and then Italy after this on what has kind of become a European tour.  It’s no where I haven’t already been, but after my decision to leave Boston I was told there would be several weeks of red tape for my paperwork to get re-processed.  So, rather than kick around in New England on a tourist visa I opted to hang out with my brother and visit with family.  Reaching me will be a bit difficult until I’m in Italy (the next week and a half will be dedicated to skiing) but it would be great to catch up with you when I’m in one place long enough to devote some time.  In the interim, perhaps you can tell me a bit more about your big decision to move to CA?  I’d remembered your visit to CA in November…. is that what prompted it?  What will you be focused on and are you excited?  What does your family think?

Joran moved to SF in August.  I think you’d like him.  If nothing else, you have the same taste for motorbikes 😉  Maybe you’ll get a chance to meet (but not before I do!) 🙂  He’s been shooting me quizzical looks the entire time I’ve been writing this and I’m running out of convenient explanations (apparently I smile too much when I hear from you).

Love,

L

PS: A song came on while I was riding the lift from Schwarzsee that I hadn’t heard in ages.  The sun was just peaking out over the matterhorn.  I hope you like it too:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2o3nQ6gCww

January 11th, 2017

Michael 8:26am

Hello my darling,

It’s 5:47am and I’ll be leaving for the airport to head to Atlanta for a trade show and meetings. I haven’t been able to shake off the jet lag, so I’ve been up for some time now. Mostly laying in my bed, reflecting.

I just googled Gstaad… what a stunning corner of earth. No wonder you’d choose lunch on a hillside dugout over a posh hotel: there is nothing more illustrious than a pristine, wild landscape with awe inspiring views, and Switzerland has some of the best.

I listened to your song. Can I just tell you how special I think you are? It’s surreal. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. Makes me want to reach out and grab you and hold you and kiss you all over.

Here’s a song from one of my favorite classical albums:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-OYOJ-Y1tQ

It’s been one of my favorites the past few months.

*

I desire to be there for you always. Especially during hard times.

Memories are all we have of this life, and pictures are often the only links we have to the people and places that at one time worked to change us forever. I think it’s good to cherish pictures. They act as a genealogy of our life, our identity, and the people who helped create it. In the same way, it’s also helpful to discern what’s best left to forget.

You have a supportive family. They seem very sweet and caring, and understanding.

Which letter are you referring to? The one I wrote on New Years? I was emotional that evening. You became such a wonderful light in my life in such a short time, only to vanish overnight, in an unexpected way that left me feeling helpless, and at a loss for understanding. Sometimes I struggle to communicate how much some things mean to me.

Perhaps you can tell me a bit more about your big decision to move to CA?

I was flying out to assist my buddy/ best friend/ college roommate with his business by developing his sales processes and business development strategy, and the more time I spent with him, the more obvious it became that my insights and contributions could be tremendously valuable in growing his business in a big way. We negotiated some terms and worked out some equity sharing, and I came on board full time the beginning of December.

It was a sudden decision, but one that felt obviously right.

I have a lot of skills and experience and leadership ability that the team was lacking. They are excellent are designing, developing, and creating products, but they lacked strong leadership with a vision, and a confidence for sales. This is what I do best.

What will you be focused on and are you excited?  

The past couple months my primary focus was customizing an in house CRM system, developing sales and marketing processes, and establishing sales targets based some forecasts.

More recently I’ve been developing the company vision/mission/ideology/ core values. I could talk for hours about the philosophy behind what we’re doing, but essentially our vision is to create meaningful stories within a world as a means of selling merchandise and products. I elaborated more at the bottom of the email 🙂

What does your family think?

They are thrilled. They believe I was destined to do this, so they’re fully supportive. Not many of my peers were. It’s a risk, leaving the corporate world with a secure position and guaranteed salary for what is essentially a start up. But I’ve analyzed it every way possible, and discussed it with my buddy/ partner, and his father. We have sound financials with zero debt and steady growth, and additional capital funding if we need it. Most of all, the people I work with (Scott, Scott’s father, and Seth) are high caliber people who work hard, work great together, and have had great success in each of our careers already.

In life, you never get something for nothing. No risk, no reward. Achievement always requires some type of sacrifice. I like to think my risks are always highly calculated, but nevertheless, doing something with little guarantee and limited security is still a risk, no matter how thorough the calculation.

I have faith in my abilities, and the abilities of the team, and the ambition and ethics we all possess to realize our vision for this business.

Whenever I begin a lofty endeavor, I think of this quote by Thoreau:

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. 

Henry David Thoreau

Joran moved to SF in August.  I think you’d like him.  If nothing else, you have the same taste for motorbikes 😉 

What brought him to San Francisco? Work, I assume? I have no doubt I will like him. And, as a matter of fact, I’ll be shipping my Ducati to the bay area at the end of this month. The sooner you and I get together, the sooner Joran and I can plan some scenic motorcycle outings 🙂

*

Alright, time to head to the airport!

I’ll be thinking of you.

Lovingly,

Michael

Further elaboration:

What are the best selling franchises or brands?

Disney, Lego, Pixar, Moose Toys, Harry Potter, LOTR, GI Joe, Barbie, American Girl, DC Comics, Marvel, TMNT, Apple…

What do they all have in common? They all have a compelling story… they are worlds. 

So, there are wants, and then there are needs. We’re suppose to be a “toy” company. Typically toys are wants.

How do we turn wants into needs?

What are toys? Toys and merchandise are culture, and culture is meaning. Culture is an assembly of symbols and signs. Stories give rise to symbols and signs. The christian cross is a symbol of a story with loads of meaning. Meaning is crucial for existence. Meaning is needed to live.

Everything has a story, and the more compelling the story, the more meaningful the thing.

What makes a good story? First, I believe is a dilemma. Life is about overcoming struggle. In addition, the story should be relatable, funny (comedic relief), and magical relief. There are other qualities of course, such as educational, empowering, etc.

A story contains characters within a world of places and things. These components of a story can be turned into products, or commodities to sell as symbols to represent the meaning within the story.

The best selling books/stories? The Bible. The Koran. Hinduism.

The bottom line is: SELL STORIES. Create a world, tell stories about that world. This draws people in, gives them something to believe in, an escape.

Once the world is characters and world is created, creating products for people to engage and participate with that story are easy.

Products and merchandise are the easy parts once the narrative has been established. People feel compelled to take part in the story.

A story is everything.

Lego caught on. They were a mediocre construction toy for decades, creating mundane worlds for kids to create, such as medieval princess or spaceship this, pirate ships or race car that.

When did they really take off? When they began buying licenses for other people’s stories, i.e. Star Wars, etc. Attach stories to their legos so that kids could participate and engage with the story world.

Soon they discovered they could tell their own story. Boom. The Lego Story was created.

Disney sells more toys and merchandise than any other toy company. Why? Because they tell stories. Compelling stories. They possess a world, and people escape to that world. They make about $10 billion in their entertainment and movie business. For their merchandising business? $55 billion.

Many people tell a story and don’t think of the merchandise. And most people that sell merchandise don’t think about the story. Become vertically integrated: tell stories, then sell the toys and merchandise to symbolize that story.

When I visited Olympus in Greece, there were countless little figurines representative of the various gods within the greek pantheon. People would make or purchase these figurines, or personified deities of the gods, and they would place them on the steps of the temples, or adorn the insides of their dwellings with them. What is the difference between these figurines and toys? They are symbolic representations of characters inhabiting worlds.

The merchandise is the part you really create wealth.

Example: Toy Story box office sales: $191 million. Toy Story Merchandise Sales: $2.4 billion. Another example: Transformers box office sales: $300 million. Transformers toy sales: $3 billion. Frozen box office sales: $400 million. Frozen toy sales: $5.3 billion. Cars box office sales: $460 million. Cars toy sales: $10 billion

Moose Toys, an Australian toy company, grew from a $10 million dollar company to a $700 million dollar company in fifteen years, selling non-innovative little figurines from brands like Shopkins. From the outside looking in, you’d think there was some magic to this success, until you realize they created a comprehensive Youtube animation series that has garnered tens of millions of views. No other toy manufacturer has so intentionally sought to leverage the power of stories to move their merchandise. 

I could list countless examples, but it seems obvious. How do you generate sales? Tell stories to sell products.

Or rather: Manufacture culture.

Religion is out, and we live in a secular world, replaced by corporate messaging. Society at large finds meaning in brands, in stories that give life meaning. Corporations such as disney provide these stories. As a toy company, leveraging stories as a means to sell merchandise is the only obvious thing to do if you want to achieve the greatest impact and success. 

January 12th, 2017

Linnea 5:38pm

I’m lying in bed – about to close my eyes. But I found myself thinking about you (and with one thought in particular); running my fingers through your hair.  Touching your face and lips and training my mind to remember them.  It’s such a comfort not to feel alone in my thoughts anymore, Txxxxx.  You don’t even have to be here for me to feel that – but I look forward to the day when I can add those things to the list.

Early train tomorrow – I’ll be in touch (and send more pics).

Sweet dreams, handsome.

January 13th, 2017

Linnea 7:41pm

Hallo mein Liebling!  Ich sende euch Liebe aus Tyrol 😉

My brother is wearing me out.  I don’t think I’ve skiied this much in my life, but admittedly…. I’m having the best time (the schnaps helps, too).  Incidentally, have you had real schnaps?  The American stuff is dreadful.  We’re staying at my uncle Eckbert’s place (not far from Arlberg) with an uncomfortable number of dead animals nailed to the wall (see attached). Don’t get me wrong – it’s not as though I’m morally opposed to the idea of utilizing one or two inherited pieces as objet d’art, but uncle Bertie got a little carried away.  There’s an especially foreboding looking gazelle in his cellar that looks a little too much like a disembowled Krampus 😉

So, not to switch immediately to work but after reading your elaboration I have a few questions/thoughts for you:

1)  Is this your mastercraft?  I like it 😉 ;

2)  Is there an element of humour in this mantra?  Or is it more a combination of humour, logic, cynicism, sarcasm, strategy, and/or excitement?  You have to remember…. I work in a very different industry.  So my question is more out of fascination than anything else;

3) Do you have to believe in what you sell?  Or can you sell anything?  And what does it mean to believe in it?;

4)  I’m excited for you.  Truly.  I’m struggling a bit to find the right wording here because it sounds unabashedly arrogant, but Nashville just seemed like such an odd place for you.  I say that without having spent any significant amount of time there, but I hope my meaning translates.  You have such a creative and thoughtful mind, Michael – I struggle to see you in a place that’s not known for cultivating that kind of thinking.  I think you belong in a place where you can meet people from all walks of life, with different ways of thinking and seeing the world.  It’s one of the things I love about you – your openness.  You talked about your mum once in a similar regard, but I see it in you too.  In a different way.

Also – how are you finding Palo Alto?  With a motorbike, you’ll have a lot of commuting options.  Just be careful!  Lane splitting still seems so dangerous to me and I’m constantly nagging Joran about it.  Work brought him to SF (Venture Capital) but I have a nagging suspicion that a girl did, too.  We’ll see 😉  My brother has a bad habit of dating the wrong girls so I tend to subscribe to Theodore Roosevelt’s ideology when it comes to meeting them (i.e., speak softly but carry a big stick) *laughing*  The last girl was absolute torture…. beautiful, but thick as a brick.  Other than a 5 minute exchange on pilates, I could find absolutely nothing to talk to her about.  Which do you find more frustrating?  Someone who is indifferent about everything, or someone who is passionate about all the things you disagree with in the world?  It’s an interesting juxtaposition, no? 😉

It’s late, so I’ll end this here.  I hope Atlanta was productive!

xo

L

PS: This seemed fitting, given your recent relocation to the promised land….  Austra

January 14th, 2017

Michael 7:10am

I long for you… It’s the strangest thing, to miss someone I’ve never met, but it’s as if I’ve known you, like a piece of myself I didn’t know was missing. There’s a mix of relief and wholeness that fills me when I think of you.

When I see you, I will embrace you so deeply, and hold you in my arms so tightly. I won’t ever want to let you go.

When will you be arriving in Italy?

I’ll respond to your message from last night now…

Michael 12:29pm

 An excerpt from one of my favorite poetry books:

“When love beckons to you follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams

as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.

Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your

tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in

their clinging to the earth……

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness

and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh,

but not all of your laughter, and weep,

but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.

And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

And to bleed willingly and joyfully.”

—Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, On Love

Michael 2:28pm

Hello love,

I’m in Atlanta at this trade show, meeting with customers and industry insiders, researching the market and developing new relationships. My colleagues and I rented a home so we could work together comfortably in the evenings, rather than stay at a hotel. I’ve attached the picture of the study where I’m writing you now.

I woke at 5:00am today and listened to the song you shared with me. It’s so fitting. I love your taste in music. I smile when I think of us listening to music together, and enjoying it. You’ll enlarge my taste for new music, I’m sure of it 🙂

I love your uncle Bertie’s collage of antler mounts haha. I can feel his passion. I have some mounts of my own, but I like to balance them with other decor throughout the flat. It’s very Swiss of him.

I recently purchased a leather bound version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, to brush up on my european folklore and story. I wonder if I’ll find the Krampus in there?

To answer your questions:

  1. I’m not familiar with the word mastercraft. Do you mean: is leadership and sales my expertise? I would say yes. If there’s an area of business or human relations I study most, it is that of influence. Leadership is providing a vision that inspires a collective group toward specific action. Sales is influencing someone to adopt an idea or belief or feeling about something, and act on it. They’re very much the same.
  2. Which mantra are you referring to? Our goal as a company is using the imagination to inspire joy in children. My buddy Scott’s father built a very large book and toy company, but they didn’t emphasize the importance of a cohesive story world. It was implicit in their brand. Our goal will be to leverage story explicitly, specifically through entertainment mediums such as animation, in order to spur the imagination, and attract eyes to our brand. Humor will be central to that strategy. I hope that answered your question.
  3. I must believe in what I sell. Absolutely. We’re most convincing when we believe in what we’re doing with every fiber of our being, no? I think of religious figures who prosthelytize on behalf of their beliefs. The people who believe in something most deeply seem most convincing. I don’t believe anything without evidence, and I make sure that what I’m doing makes sense, and is justified on a very, very deep level. I do my research and possess a comprehensive understanding of what I’m selling, why, to whom, how, etc. This activity is second nature to me. I seek to understand all the questions, and possess an answer for everything.

Belief, for me, is something that resonates with my weltanschauung, my ideals and philosophy of life.

This question could be elaborated on for days… I look forward to having these conversations with you in person 🙂

  1. You know me well. And you are right. Life has its seasons, and it’s important to be patient and learn as much as possible in the one you’re currently in. Nashville was never a long term plan, but I had many lessons to learn before I could move on.  I am excited to develop myself and my network in the bay area. It’s full of intellectual types. I’m living next to Stanford University, in the midst of silicon valley. There are many bright and international minds here, and I look forward to cultivating relationships with them 🙂

Palo Alto has been nice. I’m currently living with my buddy/partner Scott. His family owns a large compound with a half dozen homes and a few studios on one property. But it’s nestled in a quiet neighborhood. They purchased all the adjacent properties throughout the years, and consolidated them into one… compound, for lack of a better word. Our office is located in one of these studios, and I’ve been living in one of the smaller homes with Scott. His family is renovating their main property at the moment, so they moved into another property they own on Amherst St. This was Scott’s residence prior. His parents main residence finishes renovations in September, at which point they’ll move back in, and Scott and I will move into the much larger property on Amherst St.

So, Palo Alto has been nice. Living on the property has been nice. It’s allowed us to devote a lot of time to the business. It’s not ideal, but I’m happy 🙂 September will arrive soon enough, and I’ll have more space, and move all my belongings from Nashville, unless I decide to hold onto the flat, which is a decision I haven’t made quite yet.

I gotta run!

**

Finishing up:

Which do you find more frustrating? Someone who is indifferent about everything, or someone who is passionate about all the things you disagree with in the world?

I find this an endlessly entertaining juxtaposition hah 🙂  Honestly…. such a good question. They are both… irritating?

I suppose would take the passionate type over the indifferent type. I cannot stand indifference. I appreciate passion, and the person who possesses some passionate conviction, despite whether I agree with it or not, will at least contribute to my life in a way that clarifies what I don’t agree with, and why I don’t agree. The indifference doesn’t leave much to work with. Stimulate me. Possess depth and dimension. Even if it’s not the depth and dimension I seek to embody.

If the person of passion I disagree with is thoughtful, I will at least respect his position, so long as he engages with me. I love these people, because they force me to examine the ratiocinations of my own values and assumptions.

Emerson said: “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.”

In this way I would prefer the passionate type over the indifferent type.

But of course my mind continues entertaining this scenario…

and I’m left wondering seeing the indifferent type as a challenge, someone I can eventually work into feeling.

If the passionate type I disagree with is obstinate and stubborn in their erroneous thinking (assuming my positions are ‘correct’ or morally superior), then I’m sure I’ll be left more frustrated by their error, and inability to compromise and entertain another perspective.

The indifferent type may pose a challenge I may enjoy… I may appreciate the challenge to move them to passion, and capture their imagination and inspire them to thought. Perhaps they have latent opinions and positions that I can massage out of them?

What do you think?

So who knows haha… we could discuss this on and on 🙂

*

This is my final evening in Atlanta. I take off early tomorrow morning for Nashville. I’ll then leave for Dallas on Thursday evening for business, then back to San Francisco on Saturday. Vegas on Tuesday, then back to Nashville on Thursday, the 26th.

Very busy month.

When do you arrive back in the states?

I cannot tell you enough how much I’m looking forward to speaking with you, and seeing you.

Please call when you get a moment 🙂

I’ll write to you more tomorrow evening, when I’m home and have some time to unwind and reflect. I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t been home in 8 weeks or so, and it is very unsettling. While I thrive on this type of lifestyle, I need alone time to optimize my internal life, and organize my internal thoughts, and work and travel haven’t afforded me with much of this. Otherwise I am scattered, and not as productive as I like to be. I have goals, and routine is the only way to ensure continual progress towards these goals. The instability makes it difficult to stay disciplined towards their achievement.

Gotta run…

I’ll be thinking of you until then…

Yours,

Michael

January 18th, 2017

Linnea 7:48pm

Hi

I’m just returning from three days of skiing the back country but wanted to drop you a note.  I hope your week has been kind and that you’ve caught up on your sleep.  I’ll follow up soon.

X

L

Michael 8:04pm

Hello Linnea,

I just wrote you a letter, and I lost it. Vanished into digital oblivion. Kinda pains me. Like a prick to the heart. It was filled with thought and feeling. Alas.

Rainer Rilke is one of my favorite writers. His words seem so honest, so raw and unapologetic. They slice to the heart of the subject, like he is lifting a veil to produce a glimpse of clarity.

I’ll send another one of my heartfelt letters in a day or two. I’m packing for Dallas. I’ve just finished some steak, rice and a medley for vegetables.

I hope you’ve been well.

Yours,

Michael

January 19th, 2017

Linnea 8:57pm

I’m afraid this note is going to be a bit of a muddled one, liebling.  And not the least bit related to your other email, so please forgive me in advance.

I fell apart yesterday when I saw your photo.  Quite unexpectedly.  Rilke.  There’s really no way you could have known the significance of that book but to see it from you… is stirring.  My grandfather is a voracious reader and he has a library that is quite unlike any other I’ve ever encountered.  For years my christmas gifts have been books that he’s loved or treasured through the years…. a few first editions, but most special only because they’ve been earmarked by his thoughtful hand.

A few months before I lost JP, my grandfather gave me a copy of that book. It took on an entirely different meaning thereafter, but Rilke…. he was a comfort to me.  He still is.  It’s like reading all of my secret thoughts (put to words I could never find) on paper.

I want so badly for you to understand who I am and where I come from, but I think one could fit a lifetime in that endeavour (and still come up a bit short).

“Love consists of this: two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other. ” 

There are times when I don’t want to do anything else but kiss you.  I just want to learn your scent and what your hand feels like around my waist.  Or know what it’s like to make love to you and feel your toes touching mine.  I’m sure those are not unique wants in the world of romance, but they’re very unique wants for someone who has had those feelings and then had them taken away.  I realise that there’s probably nothing more off-putting than someone talking about some dead person they used to love, but I think the reason I feel compelled to tell you is because meeting you… knowing you exist… is extraordinary.  You are not anything/anyone I saw coming…. and far more than I could have ever imagined.

      “Only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn’t exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will          live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being.” 

I know this is a sappy mess, so I’ll gather myself and send you a proper reply a bit later.  In the interim, be safe and smile for me.  I love your smile.

x

L

January 20th 2017

Michael 9:20am

Are we cut from the same cloth,

leaves from the same tree,

singing different songs

to the same melody?

I wrote this little “poem” years ago, and only now does it seem appropriate, knowing you are there.

I’ve never felt like I’ve connected with someone on a profoundly spiritual level. My therapist and I discuss my relationships, and the need for a “soul mate”, rather than simply a mate. We often discuss what a soul mate would look like, how they would appear to me.

I get along with everyone… and this is a double edge sword in relationships. Getting into a relationship isn’t the challenge. I care for people, and I want the best, and I often pour myself into every person I meet, especially those in need. I have a compassion for the sensitive souls, the delicate hearts, because I myself possess a heart and soul like this.

My therapist and I have talked endlessly about healthy relationships, and how I’m always drawn to those deep and complicated spirits who have encountered trauma and struggle that isn’t easy to understand. I myself am one of these people, and I feel like I understand this pain better than anyone. But not everyone heals the same way, and many people fail to move beyond the trauma, and they allow their lives to be defined by it, rather than defining it in their lives.

I told him I cannot be with just anyone, who doesn’t possess this depth, who doesn’t understand struggle. I’ve tried it, and these people exist on a superficial plane that I find difficult to enjoy. I care for them, but their understanding doesn’t pierce beneath the surface. They’ve never had to do such a thing.

He explained that I inevitably will need to find someone like myself, someone who has gone through trauma, but possesses the capacity for self-awareness and the intellectual aptitude and spiritual fortitude to rise above the trauma, and make sense of it in a way that empowers them, and heals them, and instills a compassion within them that they extend to others.

The idea of finding such a person seemed ridiculous.

But then we began to exchange emails, and ideas, and insights. And I began to understand you, your facets, your dimensions, and I am… I am humbled that the possibility of such an idea exists, even if at the moment you are still a waking dream.

I hope this all made sense.

In Plato’s Symposium, Aristophanes told a story of the original human that had two legs and two arms and a single head with two faces. Man’s pride threatened the gods, but rather than extinguishing them with lightning as they had done with the titans, and risk losing all the attributes the humans had given the gods, they instead devised a plan to separate man from himself, and plague him with misery all of his days as he longed to return to his other half, and become whole again. Aristophanes said of the nature of man:

“…such a nature is prone to love and ready to return love, always embracing that which is akin to him. And when one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and one will not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together, and yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lover’s intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment.”

“And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love.”

I gotta run.

I just wanted to express these things to you. Words do not adequately capture how amazing it is knowing you exist, that there is someone who possesses the values that I seek to embody and exemplify.

I’ll send you more thoughts when its more convenient. I like to meditate and reflect when I write, especially with sharing my heart and mind with you.

Most affectionately,

Michael

Linnea: 5:19pm

I haven’t been alone since I’ve been away and it hasn’t been terribly convenient.  I don’t quite understand what “nagging” means in this context or what I’ve done that has left you uneasy, but I’m sorry if you felt it was being intentionally dodged.  I had no expectation of ever hearing from you again until you messaged me on new years eve.

I honestly thought you would have understood that being 5000 miles away in ski chalets made that a bit difficult.  I’ve had very little down time.  I think that’s been the only benefit of writing.  I leave for Italy on Sunday (which is when I also say goodbye to my brother).

I won’t communicate through here anymore – I’m sorry if that left you with a false impression.

Goodnight, Michael.

Michael 5:36pm

If I’ve understood you correctly, you haven’t made a false impression whatsoever, and I completely understand. You’re enjoying family time, and you’re skiing in Europe.

You’re always welcome to communicate with me however is most convenient.

However, I would love to hear your voice. Our first exchange was on October 1st, and since then we haven’t communicated via text or phone call, even when you were stateside. It would make this whole experience all the more real, because you seem too good to be true. And that should be flattering. So that’s the only part that leaves me feeling uneasy. Because it does feel too good to be true. Hence the understandable mix of excitement and apprehension.

What do you think?

Safest travels. Always feel free to write. We’ll speak soon 🙂

Michael

 

 

Criticizing heros random thoughts 

Do you actively criticize your hero?

I find it necessary to actively challenge and criticize the ideas and people I hold in highest regard

I find that if we fail to criticize the people we most revere, we develop a blindness

I think no one or no idea is off limits

I don’t hold people in high regard, I hold their ideas, and I hold their ideas in high regard directly proportional to the degree they withstand the most honest and unbiased scrutiny I can muster

Attitudes should be consistent. 

You shouldn’t possess different attitudes for different ideas. The critical attitude to vet ideas and the people who act as vessels for them should be the same no matter whether you agree with the ideas/ people or not

I find that polarization is the result of a lack of such consistency in attitude. We criticize those who we disagree with, and fail to criticize those who we wish to identify with. And we do the world a disservice

The reality is always a gray area in between. 

I find that our heroes become our gods, in that we use these figures to project our ideals onto them, and fail to project our shortcomings and frailties. 

The philosopher Feuerbach was correct to say: “Consciousness of God is self-consciousness, knowledge of God is self-knowledge, by his God thou knowest the man, and by the man his God; the two are identical. Whatever is God to a man, that is his heart and soul; and conversely, God is the manifested inward nature, the expressed self of a man– religion the solemn unveiling of a man’s hidden treasures, the revelation of his intimate thoughts, and the open confession of his love-secrets.” 

Random thoughts on automation 

So, a philosophical question Will automation decrease creativity?

Does materialism decrease creativity?

I tend to think emphasis on the external world decreases creativity

Relying on things outside ourselves decreases creativity

He habit of Relying on solutions outside ourselves decreases creativity

Scarcity drives demand

I wonder on a mass social level, if we create a society that fundamentally relies on these systems for survival, and it creates an inescapable -cosm, where you cannot reject it without undermining your ability to flourish …

Continue reading “Random thoughts on automation “

Prisms

The past year has been a spiritual journey. Pain has a way of driving us places, either out, or in. And it seems when it drives us in we find the most beautiful discoveries, pieces of ourselves we’ve never known, or simply forgotten. Peace and joy, and color, and depth.

I live in these binary states, as much as I try to find balance. Out, or in. Licking the earth, as Pascal put it, or probing the prisms of the mind. It’s much more enchanting when you look within.

Honestly, don’t do it. 

I am super complicated and abnormal in the most normalized way possible. You probably shouldn’t date me. I’ll probably try to seduce you, because I try to seduce everyone. The people it works on I end up getting bored with, and the people it doesn’t work on, they usually just don’t feel it anyway, so it never works out. But it’s not malicious or deviant. I just love when people love me, probably because I struggle to love myself, and even though I think I’m passed that, and have a healthy self love, the habits are hard to break. 

I’m weird cause I really don’t want to be like anyone else. I kinda look down on “normal” people, people with unoriginal ideas or lifestyles. I realize I sound like a complete ass. But the truth is, I love everyone, very much. I’m friends with the fringe, people who walk to the beat of their own drum. Weirdos. Intellectuals. Artistic types. Eccentrics. I feel normal with these personalities. I don’t like being apart of the herd, unless I’m leading it. And if I’m apart of a herd, I’d like it to be a pretty damn amazing herd, with compassionate thinking rebellious individuals.

My life is spent overthinking, or not thinking at all. I seem to operate on this binary, forever, no matter how hard I try to find balance. It’s all or nothing. I do find that the overthinking extreme is more productive. When I’m in this mode, I’m usually reading or writing voraciously, and working like a mad man to build “the” business. I’m super outgoing, but I have an aversion to most people. Which is a bummer. So rather than be the life of the party, while feeling completely alone, I opt for nights on my leather couch reading, journaling, overthinking, listening to music. And now. On dating websites.
Of course I go out and see my friends from time to time. I drink. I smoke here and there. I take psychedelics on occasion. But I strive to lead a healthy lifestyle. I eat very healthy, cook most meals, and work out as often as possible. Usually weights, cause I hate cardio, and I like looking good. But who doesn’t, right?

I’m super picky, but sometimes I settle if I really enjoy a personality. Real beauty shines from within. I really believe this. But it’s really hard to look past obesity or looking like trash. Being healthy and slender and fit makes it so much easier. So there’s that.

You probably shouldn’t date me. But if any of this sounded remotely okay with you, and you are a thrive on out of the ordinary experiences, then I’d probably love to meet you.