Unsolicited Advice: Part Glue, er, Two

Look back through the archives for a spell and you’ll be reminded that I pointed everyone to Kevin Kelly’s 68 Pieces of Unsolicited Advice.

I feel like most of the world is either in desperate need of or trying frantically to give some form of unsolicited guidance/opinions/pseudo-scientific hoopla. So I decided to return to it this week for a little inspiration.

Today’s Tidbit: Don’t Trust All Purpose Glue

The obvious sentiment being that different projects require different tools. The more generic the tools, the less specific the application. Wood working requires wood glue, a substance that has a seriously viscous texture to make adherence to a porous surface possible. You want to bind a couple pieces of plastic? Well the bottle better say, specifically, that it can bind plastics. Otherwise, you may as well melt the things and smoosh them together to cool, while you huff toxic fumes. It’d be more effective.

But I suspect there’s a broader applicability.

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If there is a panacea it’s being out in nature, and getting to snap photos like this.

I am, the older I get, more and more skeptical of anything claiming to be a panacea. Whether you’re looking to fix all the ills of the world, or just completely and perfectly transform your life, there is no shortage of notions, philosophies, and products that claim to do just that.

Transform your body with this one weird trick!

Just purchase my online course to start maximizing your business!

This ideology will bring about a utopia!

The last is the most dangerous, because it’s the most attractive. It’s so easy to believe if we could all just be a certain way, think a certain way we would all be happy and prosperous. The only problem with this is that in all of recorded human history, it has yet to ever happen.

But the truth is nothing fits all people. No size of clothing will cover all bodies. No daily schedule will work for everyone. And as every parent knows, no form of discipline works for all children.

Unless a tool, a product, or even an idea can show you how it will mold to the individual, meet a diversity of needs and applications, then its claims to be the end-all-be-all are bogus. And in the age of disruptive technologies, this is even more the case.

Side bar: If you haven’t read The Future is Faster Than You Think, get on that.

Just as we get used to a dominant tech, it gets over-turned by the next, and leaves us all scratching our heads about the promises it made to liberate mankind.

Here’s the thing, humanity can’t be liberated from itself. The wood can’t stop being wood. The plastic will still be plastic if you melt it. Each needs a specific glue to bind it. Nothing short will do the trick.

The history of humanity indicates that we tend toward the lazy, entitled, and greedy- ACROSS THE BOARD. No governing system, no ideology, no weird weight loss trick will change our basic natures.

But humans have some pretty cool built in features, too. We build family and community,  we are attentive to our children when our brains aren’t being hijacked by addiction, and we dream about and adapt toward a better future.

That means human-specific glues will be unity focused, community enhancing (not destroying), and imagination supporting. They will be full of nuance and context. They will understand that people make mistakes, and cannot be held to perfectionist standards without breaking.

I hope we know these fixatives when we find them. We have a lot of projects that need some adhesion.

Oh, and if you happen to know what that one weird trick that will give me abs without exercise is, let me know.

~Anika

A First Bit of Unsolicited Advice

Every now and again a newsletter or a friend will send me over to Kevin Kelly‘s website (hat tip to Tim Ferris’ newsletter for this gem). He has offered 68 bits of unsolicited advice as a token for his own birthday. Go have a gander. They will amuse if nothing else.

But I actually found myself surprised by certain snippets, and decided that they bore a greater discussion. Today’s tidbit: If you are looking for something in your house, and you finally find it, when you’re done with it, don’t put it back where you found it. Put it back where you first looked for it.

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My office. So many things lost and found here.

This one kind of blew my mind.

It is intuitive, yet breathtakingly unexpected. At least, it wasn’t obvious to me. Every time I have stumbled upon a sought for item my response is that I was simply mistaken in where that thing belonged.

BUT IT’S MY FREAKING HOUSE!! How can I possibly be wrong about where something in my own home “belongs?” Either the last person to use it didn’t put it back where it should have been, or I put it in the least logical place for that object. And thus, I must fix this situation so as to save time later.

If I had just taken a few minutes to return the quested for item to it’s most rational locale I would be cutting the hunt for it short the next time it’s in use. I mourn the number of hours this could have saved me, and exalt in the minutes to be gained in the future. I also anticipate a great deal of yelling at people who continue to “put stuff away” in obscure places, e.g. “Stop leaving the measuring cups in the silverware drawer. They are cups! THEY BELONG IN THE CUPBOARD!!”

Beyond the basics of where the duct tape got stashed, I wonder if we don’t also do this to our peace and happiness. A nature walk- ocean preferable but not required, an afternoon of quiet reading, a few golden hours spent building momentum on an important (not necessarily urgent) project, cloud watching, star gazing, cuddling under a blanket with someone I love, dancing in the kitchen to Mongolian folk metal (yeah, it’s a thing, go look up The Hu) are all pursuits that bring me deep satisfaction.

Yet after I’ve found them, often by accident rather than design, they get returned to drawers marked Later and When I Have Time and After the Work is Done. When I stumble upon such pleasures the relief is visceral, and makes me a much more bearable person to interact with. But they always get tucked back into the invisible spaces I discovered them.

Such precious commodities deserve pride of place at the top of To-Do lists. They should be visibly displayed on refrigerator doors with labels like Necessary, Do It Now, and Cannot Wait. These mindful daily loves are what make the rest of our lives worth living.

So the next time you find your bliss, thank Kevin Kelly, and put it in the first place you looked. It’ll be there waiting the next time you need it.

~Anika