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The Uncertainty of the Unknown
a quick note on all that goes on
Some brief thoughts on thoughts :0 as a note, this contains less analysis and more thinky things than my usual posts (a bit reflective too), and I want to respect your time, so a brief warning
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The Oscillations of Predictability
I’ve been thinking about this tweet from liquidatorrrrr since they posted it yesterday.
It was around the Ukrainian President and his “ironic” joke about February 16th being the potential Russia-invades-Ukraine date. He had made a funny - because, what else do you do when you’re on the precipice of warfare?
Who can blame Zelensky right? Who hasn’t cracked a joke to mitigate being absolutely petrified? Haha been there
But I’ve been thinking about liquidatorrrrr’s tweet a lot because I resonate with it a LOT. There is so much happening all the time (life, boiled down, is just a series of things that keep happening) and there is almost a sense of absurdity to it all -
“oh you mean that there is potential WW3 about to happen and inflation is 7.5% (don’t even get me started on PPI!!) and NFTs (in the JPM metaverse) and the trucker protests (because of vaccines, because of that global pandemic that’s been going on for two years now) and Chipotle is running out of avocados and people are feeling really bad but they are also buying the dip and the Fed maybe made a policy error and is a soft landing possible?? yield curve inversion maybe bond market panic and MSCI greenwashing :( Goldman is bullish on oil but oil is bullish because there isn’t enough of it and inflation expectations have declined (jeremy rudd sings) but prices are so high right now and company margins have increased by ~200 bps and and and
What’s Going on Here
The reason I am writing this piece (which, maybe I shouldn’t be because ? - but I wanted to say something because ??) is
because I know it’s overwhelming. I know it’s a lot. I know it’s confusing and kind of scary and uncertain - and that’s okay.
I know most people aren’t subscribed to this newsletter to hear an admittedly inexperienced and probably naive and relatively sensitive 24-year old!!!! tell them that things are going to be okay - and i get that, and 1) i apologize and 2) i apologize again.
But as I was prepping my notes for the Russia-Ukraine video that Ben and I have up for tomorrow (notes here), I was like - man, I really wish I could hug someone right now?
In the human way, you know. Like, hey there, I recognize your fear because I have fear too.
So this is my “hey-i-know-there’s-a-lot-going-on-out-there-and-i-hope-youre-okay to you, in newsletter form.
Okay so it’s Weird
I don’t know what life is supposed to be like (lol!!), but I think there is always an element of “oh wow, look at all these crumbling structures around me” across all aspects of time. Things now are magnified by social media - scroll twitter dot com for three minutes and you’ll read about
*The best NFT projects* from at least three different tweet farms (rug pulls)
That the Federal Reserve is a psyop, of course
Of course, the world torpedoing towards it’s inevitable end (which should have happened yesterday, actually).
Things are unbearably uncertain, and compound that by a global pandemic (things have objectively improved, but) - life is just weird. And everyone deals with uncertainty in their own way - anger, frustration, isolation, anything to numb it. But others have the uncanny ability to lean in and embrace the fact that we really don’t know what’s going on, and all we really can do is just try our best to deal with what we do know.
We can advocate and build - and we need to, and so many are, and *that’s* what makes the world so incredible and beautiful
But it is so easy to forget those things - the good things.
We are in constant defense mode. We can square up with every single person that says something we disagree with, or we can simply nod, say “well that’s some perspective you have there” and turn away - not turn the other cheek, but just turn away.
Of course, there are times that you have to stick up for yourself (something I’ve been learning the hard way as an Online Person) but most of the time - letting go of the anger, of the vitriol, of the need to Be Right allows us to truly control the situation.
We can’t control that much but
We can control our reactions.
We can control how we treat others.
We can control if we give a space to a friend to tell us about their day - or maybe a small wave to that car that definitely just cut us off but alas, alas
I know. I know. I know. Its cookie cutter advice in a world that melts those little plastic shapes into puddles - your gingerbread man is now a gingerbread blob.
The funny thing is that I think we are emotion starved because we face an onslaught of emotions every day - from the newscycle, from the s*cial m*dia algorithms, from the crushing what-the-heckism that permeates everyone in this sort of post-pandemic-what-happened-okay-i-think-im-okay maybe ? And we just let all of those emotions sit on our chest - and when things get bad, we need to place blame.
We say either - hey, this is all THAT PERSON’S fault (or worse it’s MY fault).
Emotion has to have a vector of escape - but ? how
So we try our best to navigate the world with these emotions, these things that we can’t see but surely must weigh thousands of pounds.
The first invisible weightlifting workout, us carrying these Emotions around like sandbags (That’s Functional Fitness).
These Emotions are very hard to carry, at times. They fall off, they drag, they make it all so very HEAVY. Especially when you are barreling towards the future!
We often forget that the art is in the process, not the outcome (and life is indeed art). That these Emotions themselves are lessons, things the world has decided to teach us, that the Process is near infinite, that the Outcome is nearly unattainable- the goalposts are always moving.
(oh so easy to write!! *just ~learn from your emotions~ everyone!! so hard to act out in the play of life)
So yeah. Emotions are lessons, but the kind that sneak up on you ten years later when you’re brushing your teeth and you’re like “ohhh that’s why Ms. L always made us do the math by hand in the third grade instead of using a calculator.”
For the process.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the “passion crisis” (not the passion economy) - how many of our youth have no *idea* what they really care about - the outcome-oriented world that we have. I think this is the result of teaching to tests and lack of exploratory opportunities (or at least exploratory opportunities that are encouraged), things others have discussed at length - not at all a fault of teachers, but perhaps a fault of how we measure success.
The problem with success is that it is quantifiable in school. For students, success is relatively easy to parse- get A’s, take hard classes, do projects.
And then students come out of the other side of school and say “what did i just spend the first 18 years of my life doing?” and it’s a scramble in the early twenties to figure out what A + B actually equals, which is usually more like A + B - C x D^E (and no PEMDAS) but no one tells you that because no one really knows.
Then in the Real World, success is less easy because the road is so windy - take a turn here, a u-turn there ? and then actually you’re barreling 90MPH on I-65 on a path that you’ve never thought you’d be on - but that’s okay, maybe. Maybe.
We need more opportunities to explore, but in a safe ? way. Which is hard, right? Like no, you really *can’t* major in Underwater Basket Weaving because like your skills have to be in demand, and that’s a whole different thing and I don’t know the answer to that1.
Our passion crisis is broadly a function of tapping into the uncomfortable parts of ourselves - in order to find out what you love, you have to be vulnerable.
You have to care - and caring itself is an act of rebellion in a world that seems to constantly want to put you down.
And it’s really beautiful to care - but man, it can be difficult. The act of being engaged in the world outside, of having art that is really your soul on a canvas, or perhaps in a song (or video) or maybe it’s a car that you’ve been fixing up, or maybe it’s that little plant on the windowsill - caring, at any level, is so deep, so raw, it was actually the original money [presumably].
Caring was transactional, but not in the way we think of it now.
You see, when the world began it was a gift economy (maybe), coinciding with elements of barter - we used to have communal structures in which we would share goods. There was social debt (I gifted you sugar, so it’s known that you’ll gift me some bread one day) but society was structured on the idealism of trust. That social obligation was a currency and that was guarantor enough.
We have none of that now (at least on a macro scale). People don’t trust the government (for good reason, perhaps), they don’t trust the institutions (for good reason, perhaps), and they especially don’t trust each other. We live in a world corrupt with meaninglessness.
At least, that’s what it seems like.
The Process Continues
But when you go outside (highly recommend) there is still going to be people, deeply in love, walking their dog, and children laughing and friends hugging after months of being apart, a new family, exhausted but so inexplicably happy, someone riding a bike for the first time, publishing their first book, someone running along the cracked sidewalk that is only cracked because the plants are trying to break through, which is really quite beautiful, if you think about it.
But you’ve got to think about it.
There was a great thread from Teri Kanefield on how people don’t think - they react. She says that “they reject nuance… prefer sameness and uniformity.” And people exist in a world of constant rage, in a world of pure, unadulterated anger - because that is the only thing that makes sense. It’s a lot to process uncertainty - and our toolkit is not adapted to the world of the Online quite yet - so Anger is an easy default setting.
There is a good list of How to Fix - including running for office, engaging with local politics, and getting involved in your local community etc etc - all of which are great points.
The best way to make change is to be the change - we are the mirror of the world, as Gandhi said.
But a lot of our world is a cracked mirror - a result of broken policy, policy that doesn’t match the technology that we have (see: supply chains, crypto regulation, American healthcare, apartment hunting).
And a lot of our systems are kept intentionally opaque - and if you can’t see the branches on the tree, how are you ever going to know where to climb to get to the top? (the tricky trickiness of the capital-S-System).
Solution? Well, well, well. I’ll follow up soon.2
It’s going to be okay.
There is much to be excited about. People building amazing things. People becoming more of themselves, or less of who they don’t want to be. People are peopling, all over! And that’s pretty cool.
As silly as humans can be, part of the reason that we are still here is hope. We hope for a better future, and because we have that hope, we remain fixed on creating that future for ourselves. Hope is the common denominator in all of us - it’s the core root of all of us, every single person.
Life is cyclical. Persistence is life, zoomed out - waking up everyday, doing the Thing everyday, thinging the thing while the things thing - my my, we really are incredible. Things are bad, things are good, but things are mostly neutral, and even if they are good, they might badden, and even if they are good, they might gooden. Uncertainty is continuous, broadly unsolvable, a light fixture that will always flicker in the corner of the ceiling.
That is life, probably.3 It will be okay.
I will be back later this week with some notes on the bond market - which is also weird and uncertain - but until then, I hope that you are doing well. Thanks for reading - once again, I apologize for this, but - we should talk about the humanness-ness of all of this more, I think. Until next time.
Disclaimer: This is not financial advice or recommendation for any investment. The Content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.
Also to revisit
Also also to revisit