November 1st – November 15th, 2018
How you spend your days is how you spend your life. I gotta start cutting back the work hours, find it creeping into evenings and weekends too often. I tell myself that it’s temporary, just until I get over the hump, but what if there is no hump to get over? Maybe success isn’t a place to get to, but how you spend each day.
Last night in Las Palmas, got a bunch of people together at a restaurant for dinner. Nine of us in total. This is one of the things we love about living here. The community. And of course it always helps to have other Irish and Brits at the table. There’s a banter between us that feels like home.
Row 22, seat F. Lights of Morocco out the window and a few thousand feet below. Been a long day. Travel days always are, even when they’re short. But I’m the kind of tired that feels like a nice blanket. Helps that we’ve got empty seats around us, and music from 1975 in my ears. “Time is a jet plane, it moves too fast. Oh, but what a shame if all we’ve shared can’t last.”
Sometimes you say or do something and you can recall the exact influence of that word, or that gesture. You remember exactly who or what it came from. And you’re reminded how you’re largely a big hodgepodge of everyone you’ve ever met, everything you’ve ever seen, every joke you’ve ever laughed at, every song you’ve ever heard, every place you’ve ever been.
Malaga. Originally named Malaka, called Malaca by the Romans, and Malaqah by the Moors. There’s an Islamic fortress overlooking a Roman amphitheater, close to a Catholic Church, a few blocks from the birthplace of Picasso, all built atop Phoenician ruins. We sit in a cafe for a while and look at our phones and talk about stuff we read on the internet.
You know you’re privileged when you’re in this fancy town and you want to make a fancy video about how you read so many fancy books but they’re doing construction at the fancy hotel across the street from your fancy Airbnb and so you start sulking and watching YouTube for a few hours instead of getting all kinds of other important shit done.
Flying to Thailand early tomorrow morning, so that significantly shortens my workweek, giving me less time than usual to make my weekly YouTube video. But Parkinson’s Law kicked in this afternoon and I shot and edited the whole thing in a few hours. Wouldn’t be surprised either if this one does better than videos I spent 20+ hours creating.
Testing an app called Timeshifter to stave off the jet lag. You punch in a few details and it tells you when to go to sleep, when to wake up, when to drink coffee, when to stop. Not sure yet if it works, but it has taken some of the stress out of travel. There’s a tempting comfort in being told what to do and when to do it. Kinda like working an old-fashioned 9-to-5 job.
Been in Chiang Mai a few hours and already saw a white dude walking the streets with no shoes on. Not sure what that’s about, or why it bothers me so much. Is it some kind of spiritual thing? Do dirty feet or bleeding heels bring you closer to the divine? Does that chap also walk around barefoot back in Denmark or wherever the hell he’s from?
Doing a trial run of a group coaching program for the next few weeks. First call today. I’d never done a proper group coaching thingy before, and it reminded me how everything seems scary and mysterious… until you go and do it. Taking action is a great way to relieve stress and uncertainty.
Twice in a few hours this afternoon I had people walk up and say, “Hey, are you Niall?” One told me he’s a big fan (turned out he’d bought my course), the other said he loves my videos. Very nice to hear. Half expecting to check my email now and see someone telling me my videos suck and I should go kill myself.
After dark. Plenty of food carts up and down this street. I find a Siamese mammy cooking up a heap of pad thai, get me some on banana leaf and paper plate, sit eating with chopsticks on a plastic stool. There’s an elderly white dude sat chatting with the cook, practicing his Thai, doing himself proud. I listen to Seth Godin talk about the best restaurant in the world, finish my meal, pay the lady $0.91, and go looking for more.
My least favorite part of being a digital nomad: trying to get settled in a new town. Well, Chiang Mai isn’t entirely new, but here with my lady this time and looking to stay three months. Gotta figure out accommodation, laundry, where to eat, where to work, SIM cards, etc. All while trying to keep the work plates spinning and dealing with some niggling health issues.
Settling in here has been a pain in the ass so far, but the cost of living definitely makes it easier. Went to a couple of nice cafes today and ate two healthy and filling meals at the mall food court, plus a mango and yogurt smoothie for dessert. Total cost was less than $11. Hardly makes sense to cook your own meals in this town.
About 2,500 years ago Socrates realized that “while so-called wise men thought themselves wise and yet were not, he himself knew he was not wise at all, which, paradoxically, made him the wiser one since he was the only person aware of his own ignorance.” In other words, everyone’s stupid. But not everyone knows it.
In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?
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These are my Momentos, vignettes I write daily and publish twice a month. They're incredibly self-indulgent and I'm surprised anyone reads them.
There's one for every day since February 27, 2013.