Routine, Reset, Restore

My brief summer break has helped me establish a new routine: a proper night’s sleep. I am eating early, have reduced my carb intake and am essentially not using any devices after 7:30 p.m. Sure, I don’t answer emails for a whole 12 hours, but I think it is a small price to pay, as it allows me to focus on reading. There is still nothing better than falling asleep with a book.

Recently (before 7:30 p.m., I might add) I read a great piece called “Why we can’t read anymore.” The author argues that being constantly connected on the social web takes away our ability to focus, and I think there is an element of truth to it. I don’t have Twitter and Facebook on my iPhone, and most of the apps I use are actually for either photography or reading. Instagram, however, is still on my phone and isn’t going anytime soon.

My new ability to focus also results from taming email. It helps that summer slows down the amount of email and other sundry distractions. San Francisco has nearly perfect weather these days: 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny with some fog. After baking in hot Paris, let’s just say it is good to stay put at home for a few weeks. The real joy of summer in San Francisco is to conduct all of my meetings sitting outside on a bench in South Park across from the office.

If there is one downside of my break, it is that my camera is not getting much exercise! I have not felt a burning desire to go out and take photos since coming back from my trip. I think the prospect of sitting down and editing nearly 1,000 photos from the trip has scared me out of adding more to my Lightroom library! Fortunately you readers will benefit from that work, since I’m running a series of black-and-white portraits on my Instagram. If you have a minute, take a look. (By the way, I just learned that 70,000 photos are uploaded to Instagram every second.)

Photos aside, the short break has helped me focus and find enthusiasm to blog more often. I also want to increase the cadence of publishing over on Pi.co, and I have three great conversations lined up. Hopefully I can publish one a week through the end of September so I can start afresh this fall.

Till next time,

July 23, 2015, San Francisco

Routines 

The longest day of the year is often the point where summer starts for many of us who live in the Western Hemisphere. As part of my summer routine, I pack my rucksack, and head on over to Stinson Beach, which is an hour and a half away from my San Francisco apartment. It just might be a world away – for it is easy to let the warm sand, the sound of lapping waves, brisk breezes and big sunsets lull you into thinking that you are in a beach resort further south. The fog on the horizon or late at night is always around to remind you that we are still in Northern California.

The annual pilgrimage to this beach community is part of the an offsite for our venture capital partnership. It is a ritual that helps us remember our core values and reset as a team to regroup for what comes next. It is a chance to reconnect and refocus as a group. But mostly it is a chance to share what we have learned. The work we do as a group also includes a chance to explore a fantastic area, full of wonderful photo taking opportunities. 

One of the things I love about the annual visit is that I can see a perceptible drop in my blood pressure and feel the tensions of my daily life melt away. I assume it is from letting go of daily routines and rigor that comes with the routine. While at Stinson Beach this year, I found myself often sitting outside on the porch, late at night reading Skywalking, a wonderful story told by a commercial pilot. Early mornings sitting on a cold beach, I often wondered about time, it’s manifestation and how our understanding of time has changed with increased mechanization and automation of our world. I walked up and down an empty road, wondering about the idea of transportation.

The idle thinking is what eventually leads to something new — a new blog post perhaps? I don’t know — but I do know, I have started to dislike routines. They are a reminder of a rigidity that is imposed by age and expectations. They are a reminder that most of our life is unlived. Routines are good to some extent, but when they cause you to be rigid, they can be bad! I am glad I took this week to center myself and find myself looking into the summer hopeful, and ready for whatever comes next!

Stinson Beach, June 26, 2015