THE UNDEFINED AND UNKNOWN - Christopher Calvin Govender

When you choose to care. When you say I’m all in.

Relationships are a beautiful thing. They make you happy at 2 in the morning when no one’s around, but just your thoughts of a special someone – a friend, a sibling, or a partner. You think about them and you get happy, and then you struggle to go back to sleep. You’re so grateful you found this person and that you have them in your life.
 
On the other end sometimes relationships, or rather trying to build one is difficult. I want to address one of those difficulties here.
 
When they don’t care or not as much as you want them to, you feel pain in your chest. It builds up. It becomes overwhelming. You don’t know what to do. You try to emphasize that you care and that you care deeply. Maybe that might be a good reason for them to care too, or maybe I’m just crazy and I take this way too seriously. I have realized something about that pain.
 
Nobody is making you feel like you’re hard to love. It’s in your head. I’m not saying that you should be free of emotional pain, because then you wouldn’t care for anything and it’s important to care. I’m just saying some things are not worth caring about.

You care about someone. They don’t care about you. You feel the pain and torment of indifference. Should you then continue to care, or should you move on? Should you choose suffering and torment, or should you choose indifference as well?

When I start to care for someone it’s deep, deeper than it should be, but it is what it is. I have a system for people that matter to me. It’s intense, but for me it cuts through the grey stuff. Are you a 0 or a 1? Are you a hell yeah or no? It’s an all or nothing system, because I’m an all or nothing guy. To the people that matter I give my everything. Nothing less. To the people that don’t matter I say goodbye.

There are many attributes a person should have to matter to me, but they are simple things like: being kind and considerate, showing that you care about me, being honest. I usually care first. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. I’m willing to put my heart out on the line, but only in the beginning, and only for so long.

0 or 1 is a question I constantly ask because sometimes people stop caring. So I should stop caring too. They stop mattering. Sometimes I remind them, I give them an opportunity to keep the 1 status, but usually they have made up their mind.

I used to get angry and upset when this happens. I don’t anymore. I don’t have the time for such pain and torment -and yes it is torment. When I give my best and it’s not good enough, then it hurts like hell. It’s not a place you want to spend a long time in.

Here’s how I get out of that torment. I start with journaling (this post started in my journal). I need to know what exactly I am feeling. I take the mess that is my pain and write it down. Unedited and unconstrained.

I re-frame why I cared in the beginning. I didn’t choose to care because I was doing the world a favor. Nor did I choose to care this deeply just to make the other person feel special. I did it for me. I did it because I wanted to. And if it stops being for me, then it must stop all together.

You may have to do this more than once, but eventually the pain will go away. You will move on and accept this fate with no anger or sadness. Not at the world or life, and not at the person. Remember this: desire cannot be deleted just overwritten.

I know that I want genuine relationships. You know, the deep stuff. The stuff that makes your existence here important to someone, and that persons existence important to you. It is a hard thing to find but we should not give up our earnest endeavors, though the bridge is unstable and the waters below vicious.

One day this life won’t matter. It will all be gone and forgotten. So enjoy it. I will. Spend it with people that matter, and go find more people that matter. Don’t hold back on how much you care. Don’t be afraid to care. Learn how to deal with the pain. Learn how to let it go. In the end, there’s nothing more wonderful than when you say,
 
“I’m all in. Are you?” and they say “Yes”.
 
Here’s to the people that matter to us, and to the people we are yet to find. May we care for them with everything and nothing less.
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The Game

There’s a man who wants nothing. Nothing at all. He lives day to day, come what may.

There’s a man who wants something simple, something easily found. Something he has to reach for, but on the ground.
 
There’s also a man who wants something hard and rare. Hard to get, and far from here.
 
And then, there’s a man who wants everything. A little more here, a little more there, a little more everywhere.
 
Do you want something?
 
Really?
 
What is it?
 
Is it simple, or hard and rare, or everything, yet fair?
 
Tell me, are you playing the game or being played by the game, without a care?
 
By the way, have you decided what you want?
***
 
There’s a man who has nothing to lose. Nothing at all, maybe just some booze.
 
And a man who has simple things to lose, things that are easily found. Easy to reach, not beyond the ground.
 
Then there’s a man who has something hard and rare to lose. Something once in lifetime, and to keep, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do.
 
And lastly, a man who has everything to lose. A life of gamble, with no preamble.
 
What do you have?
 
What do you really have?
 
Is it really yours?
 
Is it yours to keep, or yours to lose?
 
Is it simple, or hard and rare, or everything, yet fair?
 
I wonder, are you playing the game or being played by the game, without a care?
 
As they say, if you don’t know who’s the patsy, then it’s…
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Slack System

I have often wondered what I should be great at. It’s a question that I ask myself about most. My version of why am I here. Why am I here? What should I be doing? How can I best use my talents? 

If you are in a similar situation, I’d like to introduce you to something I call a slack system (I got the idea from Kevin Kelly). I call it that to make it sound proficient, but it’s really just messing around and trying things- anything. It’s about looking for adventure and new experiences. It’s about breaking stuff, fixing stuff, and stuffing up. It’s about giving myself more opportunities for failure. It’s about giving myself the permission to explore. 

Why? There’s this focus on being productive that is not so productive.

How to become like Warren Buffet? The top 10 habits of billionaires. How to focus like a monk? The seven steps to being the next Elon Musk. How to beat procrastination with a spoon? The list is endless. Everyone wants to be like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and Elon Musk and therein lies the problem. 

Copy and paste, not create and invent.

Our irrationality is what makes us as humans so special. We can tell ourselves a story about anything and we’ll believe it. We give that up when we try to be more like computers and robots. There’s no formula for success or good ideas such that they can appear on demand, because there’s no way to factor in irrationality: the ability to do silly and whimsical things because you want to. 

Give yourself the freedom to be. Just be. Try anything. Travel. Don’t get yourself seriously in trouble but other than that, there’s an endless supply of adventures. There are many stories waiting for their main character – you. 

Who cares about being great? Rather look to be original. Rack up the failures and the lessons. Live with the purpose of being alive, and with the knowledge that this will eventually end. Enjoy every second, even the tears and pain. There isn’t any of that after death – well nobody truly knows. If you truly rather be safe than sorry, then you’ll live with fear and trembling as a companion, you’ll love with passion and naked honesty, and you’ll welcome Death as an old friend (Notice how I stole that from Harry Potter. Think about why Ignotus Peverell greeted Death as an old friend? He was the one with the cloak of invisibility).

The clock is ticking. The time is now. The Act is seeking. The answer is not how but why the hell not? 

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If I had a super power

I have this habit of looking for things that have asymmetrical risk reward. They seem kind of mythological since many people believe they don’t exist. We use a heuristic of “too good to be true “, yet they are there, hiding in plain sight, if you would only but look.

Some of the best ones that I have found are:
• Books: they cost about 20 dollars, yet they can change your mind and change your life. Many have for me. The ultimate is Love Yourself like Your Life Depends on It.
The Tim Ferriss Show: cost? Free! Habits, routines and systems of the best in the world; and he’s certainly among them.
Tony Robins live event: if you haven’t watched “Tony Robbins: I am not your guru“, do yourself a favor and watch it now.
Dale Carnegie course: I am doing one as of writing this post. Scott Adams recommended it and Warren Buffet said it changed his life.
• Travel: I went to Thailand in December; and saying it was the greatest experience I could imagine, is an understatement.
• Blogs: like Derek Sivers, Scott Adams, and James Altucher.
Meditation: you add life to your years.
Exercise, A healthy diet, Sleep: you add years to your life.
• Journaling: No matter how hard it is, it can be written down.
Stoicism: The ultimate practical philosophy.

All of the above makes you look like a legendary investor because the quality of your life will be indescribable, but would I want anyone of them to be a super power or even all of them? Maybe not. There’s something I’ve found that is greater.

Let me show you how I got my super power, and how it got me to make many of the items of the above list, a part of my life.

I was looking for a way to make me rich and I stumbled upon “The Four Hour Work Week”, which led me to Tim Ferriss. Then while looking for media with Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel, I was led to Tim’s podcast, which led me to books and reading, which led me to Kamal Ravikant, Tony Robbins, Derek Sivers, Scott Adams, and a host of other amazing people.

So you see if you pull on the right thread, how so much unravels? Keep searching for that thread. Keep looking to live life effectively. That curiosity, that belief that there are many more threads to pull, and so much more to unravel – that’s my super power. I may not be the best in the world at it, but I practice every day.

What’s your super power?

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The 5 people

They say that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I think Jim Rohn originally said this. Most people may interpret it as the 5 people you physically spend time with but I think its application is beyond that and you can average up even if you are not exposed physically to people who are where you would like to be. In saying that here’s my list of the top 5 people I’d like to be like. 

Alive

  1. Tim Ferriss
  2. Derek Sivers
  3. Warren Buffet
  4. Elon Musk
  5. Bill Gates

Fictional

  1. Naruto Uzumaki (from the anime Naruto and Naruto Shippuuden)
  2. Sherlock Holmes
  3. Raymond Reddington (from The Blacklist)
  4. Alice (from Alice in Wonderland)
  5. Aang (from Avatar

All time

  1. Benjamin Franklin
  2. Gandhi
  3. Abraham Lincoln
  4. Marcus Aurelius
  5. Bill Gates

It was interesting to see who I wanted to be like because of what they have versus who I want to be like because of their character. Why not make your own list?

Other people I’d like to be like include:
Reid Hoffman              Alain de Botton          Mark Zuckerburg    
Josh Waitzkin              Charlie Munger          Seth Godin     
Peter Thiel                   Ryan Holiday             Naval Ravikant
Roxanne Govender (My sister)

I am sure I will add to this list and maybe edit it a few times but for now these are the people I aim to be like. 
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Moving from the entitlement mindset to the try really hard and see what happens mindset

What are you or I entitled to? Freedom? Happiness? Money? Love? Fairness? 

What about hard work, struggle, and many failures? Are you entitled to that? No, that can’t be? How could an amazing being be entitled to such things? Maybe it’s better if we are not entitled to anything? 

Nobody is or was entitled to slavery or freedom, yet the former slaves, those unrelenting soldiers, fought for it even to death. 

Nobody is entitled to happiness, not even an emperor or a king. Just ask Marcus Aurelius. His journal is filled with the pains and struggles he faced, and that does not have to be a bad thing. When you are born, crying means you are alive. 

Nobody is entitled to money or riches, unless you have an inheritance, but if you save and invest you might be entitled to more money, or maybe your family might be. 

So are we entitled or not? In the end, I’d rather fight, cry, and be patient than be entitled for who is anyway.
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Self inception

I saw a picture of the world’s ugliest woman. I won’t mention her name because I believe that is not something she should be known for, but that got me thinking about: the abnormal, the outcasts, the circus freaks. I watched Victor Frankenstein recently, and the part that I liked the most was that a circus freak got rescued, returned to normal, and got the girl whom he loved. However, what I became curious about is, would she have loved him if he was still a freak? Would she have even given him a chance?

Are freaks and the strange worth loving? The default answer is yes but then I have to ask, why do so few people really believe it? Yes, sometimes I even feel like a freak, out of place and alone so this is my answer and it goes for everybody.

Nobody is expected to love you. Not your wife or your husband. Not your kids or siblings. Not your friends. Not even your mother. That sounds depressing but it’s true. Let that settle in for a minute. 

Now ask yourself this question: what if the pain in your heart right now and the loneliness you feel was not because you needed the love of another? What if all it was saying is that you needed love – and you decided, you convinced yourself as if it already existed, that that love should come from another? You planted the idea, and wiped your prints off. You planted the inception in yourself (yes, like the movie, except you are both Dom and Saito). You did such a great job that you are even struggling to believe this, yet I will not try to convince you. I will only continue to ask questions. The answers are for you to find out. 

What if you didn’t need the love of another? What if you didn’t have to feel alone? What if, just what if, you loved yourself truly and deeply, and then needing someone else to care about you didn’t matter anymore? What if you loved yourself like your life depended on it? What if you only but tried?

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The addict and the artist

Have you met an addict? Well, take a look in the mirror and say hello. Have you met an artist? You’ve guessed it, take another look in the mirror. The artist may seem strange or new to you, but I assure you the artist has always been there, even before the addict existed. Don’t be rude, say hi.

Now, why haven’t you seen the artist before? 

Let me ask you a question: have you seen someone beautiful on Instagram (or any other form of social media) I mean, besides yourself? Well, I have seen plenty hot broads and plenty of sexiness. Some of them may be reading this. I’d like to say this to you, and everyone else. When Instagram is a shadow of your art, Twitter a speck of your book, alcohol used as a smoke screen to cover up your pain, and television is an escape from reality – this is when you know you are not pursuing your calling. You are not creating your art. The pain you go to bed with on a Sunday night and wake up with on a Monday morning, you think it’s because of your job. No. It is in fact, a reminder to create your art. To do your work.

Your Instagram is beautiful. Your twitter quite profound. Your tipsy dance moves are mesmerizing. Imagine if you simply took the time, day by day, week by week, to create your art, what masterpieces you would create! Imagine, if you just took the time to figure out what your art is. The world will admire your bravery, the gods will bless your endeavors, and the muse will strengthen your resolve, and if you don’t care about that – care about your art. Why else are you here? Why else are you alive? Is it to only drink and be merry? There’s plenty of time for that. I’d even join you. Or better yet, is it to chip away at marble and create something unique, or to teach some preschoolers something cool, or to help your employer innovate?

Every day we have an opportunity. In the words of the legendary Master Oogway: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift that is why it is called present”. Which will you choose – to live with labor and love, or to exist in the shadows?

I am rooting for you, and for your art patiently – but don’t take too long! 🙂

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Playing a first person shooter

Benji and Emmerson spot a spellbinding dame across the room. 

Benji: Go up to her and introduce yourself?

Emmerson: But I’m not dressed as…

Benji abruptly interrupts him: Stop! She already thinks you’re ugly, stupid, not worth her time and effort. You know this, don’t you?

Emmerson: Yes.

Benji: How?

Emmerson: I don’t know.

Benji: All I see is a vixen that is worth my time.

Emmerson: But I don’t know what to say. I’m not good with conversations.

Benji: When playing a first person shooter stop looking for yourself. This is a first person shooter game. You look at her, and you look for her. Ambiguous as she seems, ambiguity is her name. So say, “Hello Ambiguity, I’m Emmerson.”

The same could be said of that job opening you are too afraid to apply for, or that screen play that you are afraid no one will like, or that idea you are too afraid to tell your boss about, or that song you are too afraid to write.

All I see is a chance to do something that counts, to do something that matters, to write something that may help someone, to say something that may change someone who needs it. Take your turn and overcome fear, overcome resistance – and if you try, maybe someone else will too.

Sometimes we see things that aren’t there, or feel things that aren’t real. Are our stories real or not? You decide.

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