The Principles of Proximity

Photo Credit: Joel Herzog

July 16, 2017

Dearest Solomon,

For years now, I’ve thought a lot about proximity. I used to have just one pattern in mind, but as thought on it , I’ve discovered that there are actually many worth sharing. I reserve the right to update this later!

Proximity and Time

When setting meetings, it’s natural to try and make them close by. The interesting thing that happens, though, is that the closer you are to a meeting, the more likely you are to be late.

When we are nearby, we tend to ignore or implore the clock. Since we’re close, it is easy to ignore the clock because we know we can just pop over in no time. When we’re granted the luxury of time, we also then think we have a little more time to get one more done — one more article to read, one video to watch, one more email to send.

Treat everything the same — take the time to prepare, take the time to get there.

Proximity and Friendship

The last few weeks, we’ve seen a lot of our friends move to new places. It is always bittersweet — distance implies uncertainty. But as I was catching up with your Uncle Alex, who was visiting from London, I knew that was at best overblown.

We’ve got hundreds of friends right here in San Francisco. How many would you imagine we actually get to see, especially in a meaningful way? A handful — and that takes a lot of effort and coordination. Being close doesn’t guarantee very much interaction.

When you travel, or someone visits, however, things are very different. There’s something about the limited nature of that trip which makes people go out of their way to find time for each other. I’d venture that most often when we travel, we see dozens or more friends and often for more than one night at a time. That NEVER happens at home.

Time at home is just as precious as time abroad, don’t squander it — but take advantage when you can!

Proximity and Experience

Go outside and look far off into the horizon — as far as you can see. Now guess how long it takes to get there. Most likely, you’re gonna be a little bit wrong. Every once in a while, you’re wrong.

Experience is what helps us know how far/hard something is. Just because we can see where we’re going, it doesn’t mean we know exactly what it takes to get there. There are usually countless challenges and unknowns that will get in the way. Only time and experience make this easier, but never solved.

Experience is a great lens to view the world from. It’s not really about getting somewhere, it’s about doing what you intend to do.

Proximity and Home

Getting there often feels like it takes forever. All of the anticipation, frustration, and unknowns seem to be in the way of you reaching your destination. It’s a hard rule.

Getting home, though, always seems to go so much faster. Perhaps it’s the relief of stress from whatever you were just doing, or excitement for all the things you have to do next. Maybe, just maybe, though it’s the comfort of home that calls you back.

Build a home you want to come back to. Remember, it’s not home without you.

Love always,