Issue #2 - The calling of nature, lessons from a long distance relationship, and solitude in the mountains
|Jay Dike||Apr 9, 2019|| 2|
Howdy folks 👋
As I sit in a cosy cafe in Kathmandu, listening to the calming blanket of rain on the rooftop and thunder rumbling in the distance, I feel an awe-inducing sense of gratitude and shifted perspective. This comes from the euphoric feeling of landing in a new country yet feeling like I’ve landed on a different planet with all the new sights, sounds, smells, and laughter (fear?) from witnessing our taxi driver play games of chicken with oncoming cars and motorbikes. As I walk the alleys of Thamel which is bursting with texture and colour in search of suitable gear to take into the mountains, I reflect upon the past month of erupting sensory explorations, adventure, nature, new cultures, and new friends. To summarise:
🧗♂️—> 🇹🇭 Thailand at my fingertips
I spent the past 2 weeks in Railay and Koh Lanta pushing myself to the limits of my climbing ability in, quite easily, the best limestone wonderland of my life (so far). These experiences were quite happily shared with the vast array of wildlife that calls Railay beach home. Whether sharing a route with a family of monkeys, dodging flying foxes (Yep, they’re real!), or being caught in the midst of a stunning display of swallows during their late afternoon antics. I felt very at home in this nature haven.
🤯 & 🏍 —> 🇻🇳 The curves and smiles of Vietnam
Yet more limestone giants and culture shock, but this time from the road! Thanks to a recommendation from a friend (Hey, Eric 👋), I rented the biggest bike I could find and spent 5 days weaving through the mountains of Ha Giang Province, which shares a border with China. This trip was highlighted by the showering of generosity and joy from the many minority communities and families who take care of this extraordinary part of the world. I then made my way south to Cat Ba and Ha Long Bay to kayak among the karsts. A stark contrast from the gentle north, Ha Long Bay was overflowing with humans all looking to witness one of the new seven wonders of the world.
🧘♂️ & 🏔—> 🇳🇵 Requiem for a Vision Quest
Tomorrow, I’ll be heading into the foothills of the Himalayan giants for 10 days of inner exploration, human connection, and nature overload. The latter 4 days will be spent on a ‘vision quest’ which entails solitary (mountain) confinement and fasting with zero external stimuli but a journal and a fragile, yet renewed mind. I feel a sense of weary excitement going into this. Not fully able to comprehend what I’m in for, but I’m excited for the opportunity it presents. Have you done something similar? I’d love to hear about it.
This also means that I’ll be completely removing myself from the world of technology for 10 days. A milestone on its own, right?
A new favourite word of mine. I think we all know the value and enjoyment of being in wilderness but it can be hard to find a sufficient way to express the feelings and enjoyment of nature. Sometimes nature is indescribable and words cannot do it justice. The Japanese word yugen refers to the awareness that the universe is so profound that the emotions we feel when we try to contemplate it are too deep and mysterious to convey. A word that goes hand in hand with the feeling of awe perhaps?
The Future of Social Networks 💌
I’ve been mulling over the purpose of this newsletter frequently since it’s first issue. What value is it offering to you and to me? Here is where I’m at 👇
Is it possible for us to create a new social network through an email newsletter? Somewhere where you can post and read without being bombarded with notifications. To allow your curiosity and desire for connection to shine without the fear of being chased around the proverbial web by hungry hungry ads.
Now, the email newsletter is not exactly a new phenomenon. But it could be a saviour to those of us who have become disenchanted by social media. Could we manifest a relevant, ad free, and holistic news feed within our inboxes, that lacks the noise that steals our precious attention all too easily? What do you think?
Wouldn’t you prefer to hear from loved ones, share your inner awesome-ness, and find connection on deeper levels without having to fight an algorithm? This is my goal with these newsletter experiments and, judging by the validating and heart warming responses from issue #1, some of you find value in this too. So, for now, I will continue to dump the inner workings of my mind into these emails. And I hope that I hear back from you with your own updates, highlights, and curiosities. It goes without saying that I greatly look forward to signing up to the newsletters of each and every one of you, should you be inspired to create one.
🤔 QUESTION TIME
What have we learned from 100 days of a long distance relationship?
My partner, Kristin, and I have now been oceans apart for (FAR TOO LONG) around 86 days at the time of writing this. It’s not the first time we’ve had to embrace a digital relationship but it’s certainly been the longest, and the one with the most insight and teachings.
So I thought it might be fun to share what this journey of frozen Facetime faces and communication cravings was like. To prevent it being one-sided and only coming from my perspective, the lovely Kristin has been kind enough to share her thoughts.
Now there are, of course, many factors to consider in our perceptions of this time apart; Kristin has been at home in Colorado surrounded by friends and familiarity, whilst I have been travelling through Asia with instability and new environments as my sidekicks. These, along with time zones and new developments in our personal lives, make for very contrasting experiences of the time apart yet result in many of the same learnings.
So, what did we learn?
>> First and foremost, intentional communication is paramount to keeping intimacy, joy, and understanding alive. Surface level conversations can hit default real quickly, and whilst we can have every intention in the world to communicate well and often, it’s far too easy to see this fade. Solution! We got real nerdy and put together a multi-page google doc full of guiding questions and prompts that K and I used to express what we each needed and promised to give during our time apart. It was huge in allowing us to learn more about each other and how to be intentional with conversations and to connect as if in person.
>> Being apart for long periods of time can bring about false senses of insecurity, anxiety, misunderstandings etc. This raises tensions and can cause the pot to boil over (especially if the above points on communications are missed). These emotions and moments of adversity are in fact opportunities for us to work on ourselves and grow as individuals. Only once we are able to exhibit self-care and tend to our own gardens, can we begin to help each other.
>> Patience is hard when shitty wifi exists. But it’s vital to be aware and recognize that external circumstances do not define the relationship. Being able to separate frustrations from technology should not cause frustration toward each other. At the same time, we’ve noticed how lucky we are to live in a world where technology allows us to chat despite the 8000kms in between us. As K says “practicing gratitude helps when the frustrations arise.”
>> We’ve learned new ways in which to hold a space and how each other needs to be supported. It’s no surprise that trying to be there for someone during a difficult time is pretty hard over Facetime. Being apart has taught us new ways in which to do this and has also made us both more emotionally anti-fragile.
And last but not least, we fine tuned our creative camera angle skills 😉
Have you been in a long distance relationship? What did you learn?
"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
I have more questions but decided to leave them for next month on the basis that this newsletter is dragging on. Jeez.
🎧 SHARE THAT FUNKY MUSIC WHITE BOY 🎶
Each morning, I sit down with a cup of coffee and my favourite pen and begin to write. I usually aim for about 3 pages and I mostly reflect on my days, moods, feelings, and intentions. Building a journaling practice has been a game-changer in my journey of growth and development, and in an effort to cement this habit, I use music as my trigger (yes, you probably could use a dog clicker to control me but please don’t. Cool.) There’s something about the caressing sounds of the piano that clear the pathways for reflection and deep thought. So I made this:
For those of you wanting to develop a journalling habit, there’s no shortage of techniques and practices. Here’s a thorough write up on just some of those.
Double bonus share? Whaaaat? 😱 Here’s a world map where every place is a music reference. Set aside some time for this one.
The things you didn’t know you needed to know about. This is where I’ve been indulging when I should be working.
🔑 How MDMA can be the key to releasing the deepest of traumas
🖤 How much does dark matter matter? (Answer: A lot)
⏳ A beautiful journey in into the future
🤗 10 happiness practices from around the 🌍
🔢 Real time counter of every aspect of our lives on earth
🤖 A robot therapist who actually cares?
🙀 A beautifully tragic look at the future of humans and the planet we live on
🌊 Ever wondered how tides actually work? Here’s how!
🦋 The transformation of caterpillar to butterfly
✈️ Intentionally flying into the most powerful of weather phenomenons (Jet Streams!)
Thank you. I hope you enjoyed reading this newsletter. Why not hit that reply button to kickstart a conversation? Or if you’re sitting there thinking “Ah dude, I resonated with so much in this email but can’t be f*cked to type a long email. Can we just chat?” Well, Yes! Schedule a ☎️ with me 👉here👈 I look forward to catching up, my brus.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes:
“A society grows great when old men plant trees, the shade of which they know they will never sit in”
And with that I bid you, and the pixel populated pandemonium of technology, adieu.
With all my enthusiasm and love,
What topic should I experiment with next month? Books recommendations/reviews? Side projects and creative work? Deep dive into a specific curiosity?