246. No Diversions

The Necessities of Hunger and Thirst, were his greatest Diversions from the Reflection on his lonely Condition. When those Appetites were satisfied, the Desire of Society was as strong a Call upon him, and he appeared to himself least necessitious when he wanted every thing; for the Supports of his Body were easily attained, but the eager Longings for seeing again the Face of Man during the Interval of craving bodily Appetites, were hardly supportable.

So writes the English journalist Richard Steele of Alexander Selkirk in 1713, and so I continue my exploration via The Blog of this man – the ‘real Robinson Crusoe’ – so that I’ll be prepped to give a talk about him come spring.

It’ll be good.

The economic potential of my hobby business of giving live talks about fascinating historical persons has a natural ceiling, I feel, due to the limited audience. I have not earned above 10.000 USD in the 4 years I have done it. But I have earned a lot of beautiful experiences of doing something I am really passionate about – storytelling and live.

Included in that passion is a glint of purpose, since I feel I’ve tried my best to give my audience a ‘take-away’ from the talk, some insight or inspirational conclusion, they might be able to apply to their own lives. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet about Selkirk but the theme is obviously – to me now at least – an exploration of solitude and its effects on man.

Also called loneliness, by some.

And such considerations make an otherwise dull day, with 7 hour work routine for Big Photographer Client, shine a bit. Not because of Client but because of this other business that I have in the back of my mind, that is also part of my life. The first part is the “Necessities”, by and large, doing that kind of work which is least pleasurable, at least for this particular client. But in order to earn money regularly.

The other, less lucrative, but more fulfilling work is the “Diversion”. And that made me think that perhaps I could turn such “Diversions” into a product that will help people and at the same time shift my income more to come from this source.

I’m not thinking of the talks per se because they are difficult to scale. If I was in an English market it might be natural to write books and have a YouTube-channel, but the Danish market is just too little for that – for it being worth the effort. At least I reckon so at this time …

No, I was thinking more about the bridge here – what is interesting about the talks, what I try to do with them: Pass on insights and inspirations about life – history’s lessons if you will. All as part of a bundle of entertainment and storytelling.

But take that insight out and package it another way, maybe it can be used in my regular business – webdesign and consulting for small businesses. Maybe I can do podcasts for example about the mindset you need to feel at peace and therefore make better decisions in the stressful world of an entrepreneur?

I’ve already tried this before, at least writing about it, but this might just be a better platform because now I have a business, I have clients, I have a network, I have experience – I have a language and a set of concrete situations to apply this ‘wisdom’ to … instead of just inventing example on some sort of general coaching site.

And I’d do podcasts because 1) I like doing talks and audio and 2) I feel this is a better medium for those who are serious about mental change. You can listen again and again while commuting, for example, and let lessons really ‘sink in’, instead of just perusing an ebook and then forgetting about it in the flood of written information you get every day anyway.

Sure, some people are more prone to read – and read again. No rule without exceptions.

But I feel it is a valid argument still – for this use of medium. That and my passion about this kind of production.

And it would, I guess, fit well with my platform for webdesign consulting. It would, I’d argue, be that which ties it all together: ‘Want to make better decisions and be more resilient in (web)business? Get your optimal mindset right here on these recordings’.

Then practice it and let that which you can use become part of you.

At least that’s an idea.

So where would I start?

I think … there’s a good point in this differentiation between “Necessities” and “Diversions” that Steel writes about. Because, as with Maslow, once you get the “necessities” in order – usually the body’s needs – you become more attentive to the “necessities” of the mind, of the soul. They are no longer “Diversions”.

That may be relatively simple, but powerful, needs – like those of Selkirk for company. Or it may be the need to do work you are passionate about.

Or something else.

But in general it all goes back to, again rather simply put, that you have this basic need of feeling good – happy – at peace. Your body feels ‘happy’ when it has eaten. Your mind feels ‘happy’ when … ah, that’s more interesting.

But it is worth remembering, even if it sounds blatantly obvious, that those are the true goals: happiness, joy and peace. Or variations thereof.

Those goals underlie all our work and struggle to form our lives.

We are focused on re-creating the outer world with job, house, spouse, career, kids, interesting work etc. in exactly such a way that we derive the optimal happiness and peace and joy from it. The optimal combination of these interrelated feelings … all in one big bundle of ‘feeling good’, even if that is a trite way to put it.

And then we forget it all, because we stress at work, for example, to achieve something or other position or result, and forget that we undermine our goal. Is it worth stressing 5 years to become director of something, and then be happy? Or do we really believe that we will be happy once we reach that goal? Won’t we just have moved the goal posts?

These questions are on one level so banal – so obvious – to ask. Coaches and, of course, philosophers have asked them for a long time.

But in my experience we, the people, forget so often to ask them ourselves: What makes me really happy? What I do now? The way I do what I do now to get something better in the future? Or … ?

We forget. And run in all sorts of directions for peace, happiness and joy, even if we are so often missing them. Chasing wild geese … like that stressful drive up the career ladder or whatever it is that makes no sense to strive for to become happy in the future, if it is done in such a way or if it is for such a goal so as to make us miserable for a long time in the present.

The only such activity that we can allow making us miserable in the present to attain future happiness should be largely constrained to the necessities of the body.

Like going hunting for food on a beach, facing sea elephants and crabs and rats, because that is all there is and that’s what you have to face to satisfy the hunger of the body. And that hunger is so strong that it is worth being both afraid and miserable until you satisfy it. Otherwise you will be even more miserable, as in dead.

But it seems to me there is still a great need to learn to distinguish between what makes our minds and souls happy and is necessary to fight for and what is not. Especially in the business circles I run around in.

And I’ve a lot of experience with that.

Maybe this way I can finally share it, and also get to support myself better than before. So there is no need for “Diversions”.