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Category Archives: Routine

It is a lovely Sunday afternoon. The sun is shining and the weather is warm. I’m enjoying the season opener to Grimm. I’m gonna start backtracking through Castle next. A classic chill out Sunday.

Despite all of that I find myself living in anticipation of Monday. There’s work to do on Monday. Lots of work. I can’t help thinking about it.

And so I find myself in a strange limbo. I’m waiting through Sunday. In a restless way. Pacing the room. Distracting myself. Drafting blog posts in my head.

My head, though, is in Monday. Working through items in draft. Planning ahead. Writing paragraphs and emails. Living one step ahead compared to where I need to be today.

I want to get to work. I don’t want to spend time on leisure when I can feel the foreboding sense of all that waits to be done.

I feel like I’m wasting my time in leisure when there is a work do to.

Living in the present would require me to do the opposite. To focus on the joy of today and wait till tomorrow to deal with tomorrows issues.

I’m not sure whether that can ever be done. But I know I would like to get better at it. Any tips?

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It still shocks me how little planning I encounter everyday. And how unwilling people are to plan. It’s amazing how people just don’t want to accept that a plan might be necessary. Even when things which are fixed, regular and predictable end up causing chaos.

There is a fiction that a plan has to be a grand thing. It has to be coordinated, canvassed, shared, discussed, launched, focus-grouped, drafted, reviewed, revised, incorporated, updated, seek buy-in, obtain input, circulated in draft, re-revised, perfected, issued, implemented, two-week review, three-week review, one month review, revised, re-revised and so on.

Most frustrating, after going through the months of delay to prepare an exquisite plan, is how rarely the plan is graced with matching action. As if the whole reason to have a plan is to say you have a plan and then do what you intended to do all along anyway. In which case, why waste all that time generating a plan?

And  yes I understand why. Human foibles like wanting approval, wanting public endorsement, wanting to have colleague support, perfectionism, ambition and avarice, loosing sight of the goal, the desire to one-up the other and so on  play a part in causing such behaviour.

But, say that you’re that person who actually wants to achieve what they said they’d do and not just talk impressive sounding horse-shit. How do you go about doing that?

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Hong Kong people work hard. Undoubtedly they do. It is not unknown here for people to start their day by 8am or 9am and for their working day to finish well past 8pm in the evening. That would be a normal day. One that clocks up over 12 hours on the job. And of course you check, and reply, to emails once you’ve gone home in the evening.

There’s nothing wrong with that attitude in this society. Its pretty much an always on 24/7 place. Restaurants don’t close till late. Shops don’t close till later. And fast food is always open. Especially since McDonalds upped the game by switching many of its outlets to operating 24/7.

In recent weeks I find myself moving towards that 24/7 approach to my own work life. I’m not so much worried by that but by the consequential result that I don’t find the rest of my life as interesting. That has me really worried.

I attended a discourse on the difference between Islamic history and world history. World history, said the speaker, is a series of stories, to be heard and forgotten. Islamic history is an altogether greater enterprise. It requires us to learn its stories, transform them into lessons and to see them as reinforcing the truth of the faith.

A second difference between Islamic history and world history is that world history is linear and always new. Endlessly new things are ultimately irrelevant to the big picture. World history is similarly irrelevant. Islamic history on the other hand is circular. All things are repetitions of things that have happened before. This circularity is an essential way by which the story of religion is reinforced.

This pithy dismissal set off my internal radar.

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I’m escaping. The silence has become unbearable.  I have lots of ideas why I’m escaping. I have many plausible theories that might be sufficient for a psychologist or the impartial Observer of all human affairs as to why.

I know what I’m doing. Know it but can’t control it. I know how to analyse escapism while seeming rationale and calm. It’s just (what an innocuous word ‘just’) that this time I don’t care to stay in control so much.

All human flourishing is enabled by restrictions. Similarly, when restrictions are lifted, or when a person is subject to no restrictions, flourishing descends into decay.

Let me give you an example. Algae forms a small percentage of the life in the sea. Normally algae are subject to tough restraints, competing for the limited nutrition (mainly phosphates and nitrates) in the ocean.

Sometimes, due to reasons both natural and manmade, there are patches of ocean exceptionally rich in phosphates and nitrates. Algae reproduce at a phenomenal rate in these patches. When this happens, the algae monopolize all the available nutrients in the patch. Other marine life dies out when it encounters the algae patch, leaving a giant dead patch behind the algae. It may take years before life in that area is restored to normal.

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Unrestricted access to insight is destroying my capacity for original thinking.  Too much insightful, intelligent and appealing content is within my grasp. The more such content I consume, the less I can digest. This can’t continue.

I’ve become very incoherent in the way that I read. In the last few days, I have approximately 5 books on the go flitting from one book to another as I drift from context to context in the search for their message. I don’t get to the end of one book before I start a new one.

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There are two ways to approach any issue, and two mind sets when an issue is identified – problems people and solutions people. These reflect different characters and different approaches to the world. They represent alternatives and we get to choose which alternative we make ours.

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One niche that I find myself occupying often in these quiet economic times is article writer. You would think that’s a good thing, given that I’m addicted to the written word.

The problem is that the kind of article writing I get to do isn’t quite that kind of writing. What kind of writing is it? It’s writing of the ‘law for non-lawyers’ kind.

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