🧠 life's ebb & flow.

hi & welcome to sam’s brain drain, a weekly collection of thumb-stopping things to tap, read, & watch.

estimated reading time: 5m 09s.

👋 happy monday!

i was asked last week why i start these emails with variations of happy monday. mondays represent the chance to have a new beginning 52 times a year. it’s not often we get a tangible opportunity—or excuse—to start afresh.

with that being said, welcome to the sixth (!) week of sam’s brain drain. i’ve spent the past few days getting back up to speed at work after some time away. i also haven’t slept correctly in more than a month, something i really need to work on.

to be frank, i just can’t seem to find enough time in my week to work a 9-6, write this weekly email & also find time to be creative too. that being said, a lot of people do a lot more than i do—and they do it well—so it’s no excuse whatsoever.

in store for you this week: a note from me on creativity, the meaning of life, & a quarter of a million flights in the air at once.

📄 a note on creativity:

h: “do you have an idea for your project yet?”

c: “no, i’m waiting for inspiration.”

h: “you can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. you have to be in the right mood.”

c: “what mood is that?”

h: “last-minute panic.”

- calvin & hobbes

i’ve found myself on somewhat of a creative streak this week. it hit me like a strong coffee, an instant influx of energy pulsing through my veins. it makes my vision vividly clear. i know what i want to:

do,

say,

make.

i’m on a mission to capture the essence of what it is that really drives me to make new things. it definitely seems to spike after any trip, new person or experience. it is almost certainly like trying to reach the end of the rainbow. perhaps this isn’t something tangible that i can actually reach, however, i’m making it a mission to at least get to see more of these rainbows.

as it stands, my sense of inspiration over time looks a bit like this poorly drawn graph:

i’m not alone in this. it’s a delicate balance. you have to have just the right balance of stress & contentedness in order to be in the correct state of flow.

a goldilocks state of creativity.

you might be thinking, “sure - creativity is important but, to be honest, i’m too busy working to care”.

as our burgeoning knowledge economy advances, creativity in all facets of life is becoming increasingly important. richard florida, an american urban studies theorist, hypothesises that people working within the creative industries are the key driving force for future economic development:

creativity and innovation is all we have, in the face of the accumulating crises of our time, in which financial instability, credit crisis, staggering production, and sudden fluctuations in oil prices and in all measures of value compound the larger and longer term global problems of environment, energy and poverty. only new, creative approaches to knowledge, to the organisation of knowledge, and the free exchange of ideas can solve those problems.

- creativity and the global knowledge economy (peters, 2008)

for context, here is some of what i made this week. it’s an attempt to mix two very different media together: analog film photography & the ui of iphone’s imessage chats:


👇 temptingly tappable:

 ✈️ air traffic:

last wednesday was the busiest air travel day ever tracked. an obscene number of flights were recorded in one day - almost a quarter of a million.

flightradar24, a swedish online service that monitors air traffic, tweeted that it registered more than 225,000 flights on wednesday, july 24, between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. it’s the highest number tracked in one day since the company’s inception in 2006.

- mental floss

see more.

📍 pinterest:

on an increasingly polarised and echo-chamber-esque internet, pinterest feels like the good place. the platform is commonly used as a source of inspiration for everything from recipes to interior design. however, the company noticed something peculiar. people were coming to pinterest to find “vegan lasagna” and “hair ideas,” but increasingly they were also searching for pins related to “anxiety” and “stress”. they’ve built a clever product that they hope will help address this:

when you type in an anxiety-related query—something like “work anxiety,” or “dealing with stress”—pinterest will now display a box above the stream of pins. "if you're feeling sad or stressed, here are some resources that may help improve your mood," it says, above a disclaimer that notes pinterest’s exercises are not a replacement for professional care. you can click into the box to see more, or scroll down to just look at the pins.

if you click in the box, you'll find a dozen exercises created in collaboration with brainstorm, a mental health innovation lab at stanford's school of medicine, and two other mental health organizations. a grid shows options for exercises like “refocus your attention” and “recognize your strengths.” some, like “relax,” are guided meditations with audio. (the exercises live inside of the pinterest app, but the page is designed be a separate experience. everything that happens in there is private, the company says, and none of it affects the pin recommendation algorithm.)

read more.


🧠 brain candy:

i’m leaving you with just one piece to read today, as it’s quite long. please, give this the time it deserves, it’s important.

🙇‍♂️ on the meaning of life:

naval ravikant—ceo of angel list & investor in companies such as uber & twitter—on investing, decision-making, happiness & the meaning of life:

the only way you’re going to find something is if you stick to it at an irrational level and try a whole bunch of things. this kind of makes an idea a commodity, but the judgment and execution incredibly rare. how do you evaluate if someone is picking the right idea and if they have the capacity to execute on that idea?

the best founders i’ve found are the ones who are very long-term thinkers. even decisions that maybe they shouldn’t care that much about early on, they fix it because they are not building a house, they’re putting bricks in the foundation of the skyscraper.

life is going to play out the way it’s going to play out. some good, some bad.
most of it is actually just up to your interpretation. you’re born, you have a set
of sensory experiences, and then you die. how you choose to interpret those sensory inputs is up to you, and different people interpret them in different ways.

listen to the podcast or read the pdf transcript.


🤪 mildly humorous:


that’s all for this week. i hope you hold me accountable to keep this interesting 😝.

😌 see you next monday!


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👋 read some more of my posts:

176 days to the year 2020.

🎉 something new.

💡 rising from the ashes, again.

⚡️ the power of aligned incentives.


🎉 get social:

instagram: @sam.travel

twitter: @sammcallister

email me: smcallis[at]gmail.com

website: sammcallister.me