OK first, I’d just like to share a really kewl story with everyone.
As you all know by now if you read Monday’s DONUT, my dear friend Pawan passed away last Thursday.
Friday was his birthday.
On Saturday, a bunch of his friends and family were hanging out at a bar of sorts.
And in walks Bill Simmons. (You might know him from Boston or ESPN or HBO or his podcast. He’s kind of a big deal.)
(There’s a great photo, but it’s not mine to share so I won’t publish it here, but if you ask me about it, I’ll show you.)
And the fact that Bill Simmons decided to show up at that place, at that point in time.
It’s all really meaningful.
But I am kind of a newb storyteller.
And Bill Simmons is a master storyteller.
So I will let Bill Simmons take the reins from here.
Because he tells the story in his latest podcast (I guess he does one every Monday.)
Anyway, it starts at 3:30 and you can listen to it here. (It’s not that long of a story and definitely worth your while.)
Pawan is gone, but really, he isn’t.
Two days after his passing, and one day after his birthday, he’s still making us all feel SO KEWL to be his friend.
What a guy.
Pawan has touched us all.
And you know, that includes all of you, too.
Because remember, I stopped writing for a bit to focus on video.
But then, back in November, I got a text.
It was from Pawan:
“I know you are busy video editing but can we get some donuts or what”
“They gave me so much enjoyment”
“Maybe one a week or every other week”
“You got the time for it”
And then, maybe after a moment of contemplation, hedging his bets, he added:
“Every other week is fine also”
And because it was all no big deal, he finished off the exchange in classic Pawan fashion, super caj:
“What’s going on”
And so I started writing again that very day.
Really, if you think about it, it’s because of Pawan that we are all hanging out together, right now.
Because who knows.
Who knows when I would have gotten back on the writing wagon if not for that text.
I’m a really stubborn guy.
I don’t like listening to people.
And generally, I don’t—for better or worse.
There are less than a handful of people in this world that can get me to do something simply by telling me to do it.
Just ask my parents.
They still haven’t cracked the code.
But Pawan was one of the very few.
Pawan was always special.
And I already miss him so much.
So on Monday, in our WhatsApp workout group chat, Sammy was sharing his breakfast for the day.
And so he’s like:
“I’m having 2 eggs, 2 cups of coffee, brown rice soup (instant kind, really good), an apple, vitamin c pill”
(And yeah, I am a total bro at this point. We have a WhatsApp workout group chat. We also have a 5 week bet going with all the members with 2.5 weeks to go. It’s been super intense!!! Everyone has been giving 100%; we went 0-100mph on a dime. Man, bets just get me going. I love winning bets. I love pwning people. And I hate getting pwned. And I really love the banter. But it’s the collective struggle, and the energy that comes from it, and the eventual celebration that just gets me so, so pumped. Isn’t that what friendship is all about? But mostly, in the group chat, we just talk about food, lol.)
And so I’m like:
“Nice nice u love that vitamin C :D”
“Getting sick is like my worst fear these days”
(It is, after all, a progress killer. What do we have if not our health.)
“So yea lots of vitamin c then”
(I should’ve listened.)
“All of us should be fine technically”
Instantly, I respond:
“Yo don’t jinx it!!!!”
But, of course, the newb that Sammy is, he jinxed it.
But maybe I already had an inkling because it was on my mind.
That was Monday.
Yesterday morning, I woke up with a scratchy throat.
That developed, today, into a full-blown cold.
Gross, I feel so gross.
I can’t remember the last time I was sick.
And it’s all Sammy’s fault.
At least he knows it.
Anyway, that means I’m basically just stuck in my bedroom all day.
My mom is literally delivering food and hot water to my bedroom door.
No one wants me walking around the house spewing toxic materials from my various bodily orifices.
She’s, understandably, paranoid about getting sick herself.
I’m a huge health hazard right now.
And so I’m stuck in my room.
But, you know, that’s where I’m at most of the time, anyway, and I kind of love it.
My room isn’t a prison.
Because this is where all the magic happens.
No, silly, I mean creating stuff. (Lol, I see how that doesn’t necessarily make you wrong.)
I was skimming an article about loneliness from my Pocket digest this morning.
And to be honest, I genuinely don’t feel very lonely.
Even though most of the time, I’m alone.
I do feel FOMO sometimes, way more than I ever feel lonely.
FOMO was a big issue for me in 2017, when I was first starting all of this.
But weening myself off of FOMO was much like weening myself off Pizza Hut Super Supreme pan pizza.
It’s tough at first. At first the cravings are top of mind, constantly.
But after a while, you sort of adjust.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Pizza Hut Super Supreme pan pizza.
But I rarely think about it these days. (Although I am now!!!)
And I certainly don’t crave it much. (Especially because I know how crappy I’ll feel afterwards.)
Mostly, I crave feeling good.
Anyway, I didn’t really read the whole article since the various themes have been talked about before—like how loneliness can cause chronic inflammation, and as any health hipster will tell you these days, chronic inflammation is the ultimate, silent killer (I’m looking at you, Nina!).
But I did dig their definition of loneliness:
Loneliness is distinct from the number of friends a person has or how much time he or she spends alone, but is rather defined by a longing for greater social interaction. In other words, you are lonely when your appetite for social interaction is unsatisfied. So, just as you may be able spend your days alone but never feel lonely, you could be constantly surrounded by friends and family yet still be wanting.
Which I pretty much agree with.
It’s funny, my friend Vahakn, who lives in SF, was always trying to convince me that I’m an extrovert.
(Although, I do find that when I am not feeling great about stuff, I will often chase “greater social interaction” to get short term feelings of personal validation. Maybe no surprise that Vahakn mostly knows the SF version of me 😀 — As it happens, the last longread in my morning Pocket digest was about new findings as to why people get depressed. The TL;DR? “If you find your work meaningless and you feel you have no control over it, you are far more likely to become depressed.” [Disclaimer: I didn’t even open this article until I had to get the link for this post, which also means I definitely didn’t read it.])
But yeah, I’m actually a deeply introverted person.
That’s my natural state. It always has been.
And so most of the time, I like to avoid “greater social interaction.” Most of the time, “greater social interaction” feels like work. And I always get anxiety before big social occasions, like parties or get togethers. It’s something I have to do. It’s important to show up.
That’s not to say I don’t LIKE “greater social interaction.” I love hanging out with my friends. It’s something I look forward to.
So it’s complicated.
I think when I’m not feeling great about myself, I’ll chase those situations because you have this like lingering idea in your head that the potential uncertainty of those future interactions might lead you towards an answer for whatever emptiness you’re feeling.
Like, I’ll show up at a party, and be like, ah, the answer I was looking for all along was right here.
And I’ll be complete, finally.
Of course, this never happens. This only leads to further disappointment and disillusionment.
Because the answer is never out there.
The answer’s always been there, inside of you.
But only if you know where to look.
(The irony here is that the chase itself, looking for the answer in all the wrong places may be instrumental in discovering the true answer for yourself. Sometimes you gotta date the wrong girl to know she’s bad for you. Remember, I told you. I don’t like listening to people, above all, my parents. The unfortunate [and fortunate?] consequence of that is that I’ve learned most of my life lessons the hard way. I’ve got the scars to prove it. That’s not life advice though. Maybe you should just listen to your parents.)
And so that’s why when I’m feeling most secure about myself, I’m totally content just being alone.
Because it’s when you’re by yourself that it’s easiest to find your center.
And so right now, I’ve got a cold.
And I’m totally alone.
But, you know what?
Everything is perfectly OK.
(I mean, to be fair, I’m not that alone. I’ve got a doting, paranoid mom delivering me yummies and warm H20 to my bedroom door. I’m a very lucky little boy. And I’ve got a newb friend on WhatsApp jinxing my health. And I’ve got a crazy sister emailing blog posts about how Tumeric and philosophy and astrology and chronic inflammation. And I’ve got Pawan looking over me, wiggling his way into Bill Simmons’ latest podcast. AND I have all of you. I am indeed a very lucky little boy.)
I will say, DONUTS is one thing that’s like an antidote to actual loneliness.
Not only loneliness, but mostly FOMO.
With DONUTS, I feel so connected to all the people that matter to me at all times.
It’s like a warm blanket on a blistering winter night. (We don’t turn the heat up very much in our house.)
A couple of weeks ago, my friend ZZ shared her Netflix account with me so I could watch David Letterman’s new show.
She even went out of her way to make me my own profile.
So apparently she also shares her account w/her BFF, Inna, who also has her own profile.
And so Inna logs on and sees the new profile, and she messages, ZZ like, OMG new BF?!?!
And ZZ is like “LOL, no just Alec.”
“Just some newb, don’t wry about it.”
Anyway, Letterman’s first guest was a surprise for his audience.
And also for me, cuz I haven’t been following any of this stuff.
But it was our boy, Barack Obama.
The good ol’ boy.
So I’m watching, and like the first thought that pops into my head is like, dang, Barack, you’re just so kewl.
Just so kewl.
Especially in contrast to all the stuff going on these days with the current administration.
It was just like, man, we missed you.
We missed your super kewl vibes.
Like, when I look at Obama and I see the way he handles himself, when I see his beautiful, driven wife, when I see his intelligent, well-adjusted kids—I think to myself, you know, this man has got it all figured out.
Him and his family, it’s something we all aspire to, something beautiful.
But then I’m like 15-20 minutes into the show, and I’m just sort of zoning out.
I’m getting bored.
Barack is almost TOO polished.
Trying to a little too perfect.
And it almost comes off as detached and disconnected.
Like, he’s mostly just saying the stuff that he’s supposed to say in the way that he’s supposed to say it.
Which is fine.
But it also makes it kind of empty.
Last night was Trump’s first State of the Union address.
My dad stayed up late to watch the whole thing.
(I’ll admit, I didn’t watch it. I was finishing up Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri—which BTW, started kind of annoying, but finished on a much better note. I thought the ending was good even if the movie is sometimes problematic.)
So I didn’t watch it but I skimmed the transcript last night and this morning.
Now look, there are lots and lots of negatives that come with the current administration.
Lots and lots.
And we are reminded of those negatives day after day after day.
And honestly, I agree with most of the criticism.
In that way, Trump is a hugely disruptive force, a bull in a china shop that’s screwing around with sacred institutions.
So that’s a huge negative.
But sometimes creative destruction can also be good.
It allows us to start building something new.
And I think, if anything, this is where Trump deserves a little bit of credit.
The guy isn’t a career politician and so his policies and his stances transcend the divisions of our traditional parties, our sacred political institutions.
In isolation, some of his policies veer GOP. Others are classic ambitions of the democrats.
The thing is, in isolation—and to make a point, without certain more nuanced contexts—most of the stuff is stuff I feel like everyone would agree with.
We need to fix healthcare.
We need to fix the tax code.
We need to boost the economy.
We need to fix immigration.
We need to be able to move faster as a country, especially when you look at how China moves (and that is, in part, a regulatory issue).
We need fair and competitive global trade.
We need jobs.
We need to invest in infrastructure.
All of these things in isolation are GOOD things.
(Of course, it gets messier when you start talking about HOW to actually do those things, but again, that’s really not my personal expertise. Although I may have a pointer or two on how those things could be better communicated, lol. Speaking of negatives and all.)
But mostly, the common theme with all of those initiatives is that they are all inherently economic issues.
And that is something I personally believe in.
I think that, first and foremost, you need to be productive and financially secure. Because the social and cultural stuff will naturally follow.
I think, if you have a good job and your kid has a nice school to go to and you get to drive to those places on nice roads, then you are also going to have an easier time treating your neighbors with respect.
Because now we all have more leeway to address some of the systemic social and cultural problems of the country.
Because when the economy is good, you worry less that a certain minority is going to steal your job or overburden your socialized safety net. Because when times are good, that certain minority is more likely to be your customer for your small business.
Of course, it’s very hard to look at these things in isolation.
Frankly, it’s impossible.
And so all of the political craziness will only continue, especially once the midterm elections come around and the GOP lose the House as everyone expects them to.
Because divided we are nothing.
And you know who isn’t divided?
And Russia, too.
And so I really do hope we can fix those things.
I hope we can do it productively.
Because America really needs it.
And I really love this country.
But hey, it’s also important to help ourselves, you know?
One kewl thing from yesterday: Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Jamie Dimon are teaming up to do some health insurance stuff.
Which is just so American, isn’t it?
Like, rather than wait for other people to fix stuff, the real leaders step up and start figuring out their own solution.
It reminds me of when Google started rolling out fiber.
Which, in retrospect, wasn’t the best business decision for them, if you were talking to their CFO, but I don’t think anyone can deny the impact that that very small, mostly symbolic act had.
It had the telcos quaking in their boots!
They instantly responded!
They dropped their prices.
They increased their speeds.
I get so much junk mail these days from Verizon FIOS trying to get me to sign up for Gigabit internet.
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase have a long way to go.
It’s a hard problem to tackle.
But the very fact that they are trying to tackle it together, man.
That symbol of leadership can go a long way. (Health insurance stocks apparently are already nose-diving.)
And maybe that applies to all of us, you know, in a very, very small and humble way.
Maybe that’s the best way we can all contribute to the ails of today’s world.
Maybe it isn’t about all the political noise and drama.
All the screaming and shouting.
All the complaining and whining.
Maybe the best thing we can do is to just, you know, go out there and be a leader.
Do the right thing.
Be a symbol for our community.
Do our jobs and do it well.
Be nice to our neighbors.
Take care of ourselves, our family and our friends and our community.
Maybe that’s how real change happens.
At the very least, one can hope.
Because maybe that’s where it all really starts.
Have a nice Wednesday everyone.
Top photo: Pawan and me.