Monday Mail #7

Writer's Block, Morning Brew, Coffee Jazz

Hi friends 👋,

I know it’s Tuesday. Apologies for the lateness on this email.

If I'm being honest, I've been feeling a little burnt out as of late.

With my full-time job ramping up, I've had less time to work on the side-projects I've picked up over the last couple of months. And when I do have the time, I lose motivation quickly from imposter syndrome and writer's block. Thoughts of self-doubt slowly creep into my head until I decide to forgo my plans altogether. Maybe, I'll think of something better later.

In fact, that's exactly what happened to this email.

In the last few days, I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I've felt so "stuck" recently. Reading, Writing, Coding all felt a lot harder than before. And then I came to a realization. I've been thinking about it all wrong.

If you've ever listened to John Cage's a·vant-garde orchestral piece, 4'33'', you'll notice that it's one of the strangest pieces of compositions out there. It's 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. The entire orchestra readies their instruments and when the piece starts, not a single note is played.

Here is an expert by NPR describing what the performance probably sounded like:

"That night one could likely hear the sound of the breeze in the trees, the rain pattering lightly on the rooftop, the chirping of crickets, a dog barking aimlessly somewhere in the distance, the sound of bodies shifting their weight on creaky pine benches, the sound of breath being drawn and being expired."

To John Cage, this was his music. By intentionally creating 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence, he allowed the audience to enjoy the melodies around them. The beauty of 4'33'' is in its simplicity. John Cage proved through his piece music doesn't have to be willfully composed. It's already out there. You just have to listen.

I realized I’ve been feeling "stuck" because I have been trying too hard to willfully compose.

There are so many ideas out there. You just have to listen.

BBC - John Cage Live at the Barbican

📚Reading Highlights:

The Story of 4'33'': For those who are interested in learning more about the story behind 4'33'', I highly recommend checking out this article by NPR. It describes John Cage's story in far more detail than what I've described above.

Improving Idea Flow: Ever feel like you are just parroting ideas from the things you read on social media? I've definitely felt that recently. In this article, Nat Eliason describes ways in which all of us can test if we need to improve our idea flow. One of the best ways he describes to conducting the following test:

The simplest example of this is considering yourself as a Republican or Democrat. If your ideas fully converge with the talking points of either party, then you haven't thought those ideas out that much.

🎙Podcast Highlights:

The North Star- Austin Rief And Alex Lieberman on Morning Brew's Secret Sauce": Morning Brew is one of the hottest daily email newsletters over the past couple of years. It's a business newsletter that recaps the most important business news in a casual and witty way. This podcast takes a deep dive into Morning Brew’s origin story, how they set goals inside the company, the strategies they used to scale Morning Brew, and the role they see themselves playing in the future of media It's definitely worth a listen for those interested in business and building a brand.

🎵Music Highlights:

Best Study Music: Coffee Jazz: I know Lo-fi is all the rage when it comes to solid music to listen to when studying. But have you listened to Coffee Jazz? I've been playing it non-stop this past week and it's really helped me get into the zone when I need to focus. Especially when I need a break from Lo-fi hip hop.

📺Video Highlights:

Holy Post - Race in America: If you're interested in learning more about the history of racial injustice in America, I strongly recommend checking out this video. Phil Vischer -- the creator of Veggie Tales and the voice of Bob the Tomato-- articulately describes Race in America over the last 100 years. I learned a great deal after watching it.

Final Notes:

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed Monday Mail thus far, I’d love it if you could share it with a friend or two by clicking the button below!

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Until next week,


Fun Fact: The King of Heart is the only King without a mustache.

QOTW: "Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect." -Marcus Aurelius