Excellent Things: 09

Nick Crocker
Jul 8, 2018 · 6 min read

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

— Viktor E. Frankl

Mindfulness suffers from the fact that it is poorly named (what is ‘mindfulness’ even?), and that mindfulness as a brand has been glibly commandeered by proponents of the Instagram-inspo-quote.

Not necessarily mindfulness.

Fortunately, people like Sam Harris are wresting control back over the narrative associated with mindfulness. See, for example, How To Meditate:

“Mindfulness is simply a state of open, nonjudgmental, and non-discursive attention to the contents of consciousness, whether pleasant or unpleasant.”

— Sam Harris

I recently completed an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and it was one of the most transformative things I’ve done.

It took more than a month to wrap my head around the point of mindfulness.

For hours I sat there, eyes closed, trying not to attach to my thoughts as they rushed in. It felt as effective as pointing a hand-held fan at a tidal wave.

Gradually though, you come to learn that one of the first things mindfulness asks you to lose is expectations. Even if you are pointing a hand-held fan at a tidal wave, that’s fine.

Let the water rush over you.

With time, and practice, a tiny space begins to open up between your thoughts and what you feel. The analogy that Headspace app (<< highly recommended btw) uses is to think of the sky and the clouds.

The clouds are your thoughts, and mindfulness is trying to find the perspective not to lose sight of the sky behind them.

Some days that sky is reasonably clear, and others there’s a grey downpour.

“Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realise where you already are.”

― Jon Kabat-Zinn

As you can see, writing about mindfulness without descending into the realms of the glib-inspo-quote is a challenge. All the analogies — clouds in the sky, leaves on a river — don’t help either.

Let me finish by saying this. In the end, we are not our thoughts. Just because we feel something, doesn’t mean it’s there.

Life can feel like an endless pursuit of pleasure that quickly subsides, and the scurrying avoidance of pain. That pursuit can’t last forever.

There is another destination in life that’s not attached to any pain or pleasure. It’s where you already are.

And observing your thoughts, with detachment and regularity, is the only way to arrive there.

On a slightly less profound and more mercantile tangent, this is the best hoodie I’ve ever worn.

And this is the best gift I’ve ever bought my son (note the open-mouthed shark in the bottom left corner).

My favourite cafe got written up in the New York Times.

Babajan.

Blackbird announced its third fund, in which I am a General Partner. On a more personal level, this was an excellent thing in so many ways.

Drone footage is getting really good.

And surfing is the primary beneficiary.

Next time you’re feeling blue, watch two minutes of Jocko.

Good.

On LeBron to LA, I say let’s go.

The King has LAnded

But I think we’ve forgotten too fast about how 🍌🍌🍌 Game 1 of the NBA Finals was.

Also, I’ll just leave this here.

Are we under-appreciating just how excellent LeBron is?

Three longreads:

Three books to read:

“No one who goes to war believes once he is there that it is worth the cost to fight it by half measures. War is far too horrible a thing to drag out unnecessarily.

It was a shameful thing to ask men to suffer and die, to persevere through god-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat, for a cause that the country wouldn’t support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believed could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make us pay.”

— David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest

Three great podcasts:

  • Fremantle Dockers captain Nat Fyfe with a fascinating look inside the machinations of being a young captain (although this will be a little bit inside baseball-y for most).
  • Josh Wolfe from Lux Capital on ‘Invest Like The Best’.
  • Eugene Wei, who wrote the cracking piece ‘Invisible Asymptotes’, talks about the early days of Amazon.

Three excellent albums I discovered in the past three months:

Finally, three things to watch on Netflix:

“Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth
You owe me
Look what happens with a love like that
It lights the whole sky”

— Hafiz.


Nick Crocker

Things I’ve Written

    Nick Crocker

    Written by

    General Partner @BlackbirdVC. Supporting Australian startups @Startmate. Sequencing the journey to build strength along the way.

    Nick Crocker

    Things I’ve Written

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