Upon boarding my Friday afternoon flight, I had the option to continue working, read articles on my iPad, or listen to music while zoning out.
I was tempted to just get work done as quickly as possible. There was an unchecked box on my professional to-do list and I’m a leave-no-box-unchecked, deranged person.
Knowing that I needed the mental break and realizing that there was no urgency to completing the task till Monday, I popped on the AirPods and chilled out for 10 minutes to Fur Elise and Suite No. 1 in G major. I flashed back to a day in grad school when Yo-Yo Ma came to campus to speak about how automation and art had a harmonious future.
I bought none of it that day; I think our President just paid Mr. Ma a lot of money to make a celebrity appearance. He spent 10 minutes talking non-sense about machine learning, artificial intelligence, and nothing about music. Right about the moment I began thinking Yo-yo Ma is a fraud, he lifted his cello and start playing Prelude No. 1. It was as if he knew he was losing the technologist crowd with his attempt at speaking our language1 and then suddenly reversed to say “Alright, I’ll just do what I’m good at and why you’re all listening to me in the first place.”
As I often do about people I admire, I mentally photoshopped my face onto Yo-yo’s stiff but firm body, flowing but controlled arms, and embarked on a 3 minute day dream of playing the cello. Papa and Mama Chao would’ve been proud.
Like Eminem raps in “Lose Yourself” though, Snap back to reality.
My mind was rested enough and I also had a backlog of articles to read within my iPad so I started a Zach Lowe article on the newly minted NBA champions, Toronto’s Raptors. He’s a talented writer, and I enjoy the facetious arrogance, deep knowledge, and social commentary all packed into his weekly 5 minute articles analyzing the NBA.
Then it occurred to me that I wanted to write. Perhaps, reading and good writing inspires more pen to paper,finger to keyboard. I had a lot to think about recently, so this was an opportune moment. This week was an avalanche of to-do’s overwhelming my notebook; I also let my unread inbox pile up to triple digit numbers. This never happens.
I didn’t take moments to catch my breath, let alone read anything of value. WSJ accounts of crude prices or Facebook’s new cryptocurrency don’t count.
Maybe the solution is to force myself to read; make it a nightly task. Or find a moment on a flight in the cramped seat3 of 14C to read and then type with T-rex arms.
Whatever it is, I need to develop a habit, stat.
“He’s known as the globetrotter
Lonely roads, God only knows, he’s grown farther from home, he’s no father
He goes home and barely knows his own daughter
But hold your nose ’cause here goes the cold water
His hoes don’t want him no mo, he’s cold product
They moved on to the next schmo who flows, he nose dove and sold nada
So the soap opera is told and unfolds, I suppose it’s old partna,
But the beat goes on”
1 I don’t proclaim to be a technologist but the crowd clearly was. By transitive property, I was therefore a technologist that day.
2 Pete Wells of NYTimes restaurant reviews is also another personal favorite.
3 I normally wouldn’t complain about being in an economy, aisle-row seat. It’s a privilege to be able to fly at all, but I just wanted peace and quiet today. 14A really wanted to share all eight seasons of Game of Thrones while 14B reciprocated with his love for the Marvel universe. I have never gotten closer to buying noise cancelling head phones.