Notes on My Manifesto

In early summer of 2010, I was lost. I had just graduated with my bachelors, had been turned down for the single job I applied for, and was living in a dorm room for one more month. One afternoon that June, sitting in my 10th story dorm room, I wrote the below personal manifesto.

The best way for me to tell if something I write might actually be good, is how well I can stand to read it years later. I can’t stand to read most of what I wrote five to ten years ago.

But every once in a while, I write something that I can stomach years later. This is how I know it might actually be good. I am lucky that this manifesto is one of those pieces. As I write in the first paragraph, very little of this is original. It is copied, cut, and manipulated. But I have made it my own.


The Manifesto

This is a manifesto. It is not a declaration of what I have done. Rather, it is a declaration of what I hope to do and how I hope to live my life. I have gathered all of this for many years, from many sources. Very little of it is original but I hope to make all of it my own.

First and foremost, get the important things done. Find what is important to you and who is important to you and focus all your energy on those people and things, the rest can go to hell.

It is pointless to write about how you feel or what you believe. You have to be the message. There is no other way. Live what you believe, make your life the message.

Allow events to change you. That is the definition of growth. Don’t be afraid of it. 

Forget about good. Good is a known and boring value. Instead, focus on your own criteria, whatever it may be.

Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly, explore tangents, lack judgment, postpone criticism. 

Listen carefully to everybody, everything, and everywhere. This is the most effective way to learn.

Don’t judge. Let things be what they are. Find your own value in them and move on.

Take the time to truly thank people, with real letters and notes. Focus on the select few and make them realize what they have done for you.

Think with your mind. Not your computer.

Live in the present. Focus on what is happening right now with all the energy you have.

Get work done in the morning, enjoy the afternoon.

Don’t rely on software or norms. Make your own tools if nothing else is available. Sometimes the tool may become the end product.

Focus on one thing at a time. Write this thing down and work on it until it’s completely done. Ignore everything else while working.

Take the time to study. This can take many forms. Studying will benefit everything else in your life, so take as much time as needed.

Harvest ideas and take notes. Make libraries of everything you think.

When working, follow your natural rhythms. Work when you feel like it, don’t force yourself. This will only produce work you can’t be proud of.

Take care of your body, it is the most useful tool you have. Eat simple foods and exercise it.

Take the time to think and meditate in silence. Explore your own mind. You will be surprised at what you find.

Notes on Packing

I have traveled a lot. Costa Rica, New York, South Africa, New Zealand, and British Columbia. These are a few of the places I have had the privilege of seeing in my young life. Everything from two days to six weeks, 110°F to -25°F, hotels and hammocks. After this much traveling you develop travel rituals. These are my notes on one such travel ritual: packing.

The most effective packing ritual that I have developed is best illustrated by this photo.

Before every trip, be that two nights or a whole month, I perform this ritual. Laying out every item that will be traveling with me, on my bed. A dead simple and common method that has more advantages than most realize.This ritual has served me well. Here are some of the less obvious benefits.

Laying out every item like this is a great visual checklist, this is obvious. There is no questioning that important item "X" is in a pocket somewhere. It’s all there, right in front of you.

While you could use this same system on the floor, specifically using your bed has a few hidden advantages. First, a bed has edges and edges create boundaries and limits. Boundaries so there is no mistake that whatever is on that bed, is going with you. Limits so that you ensure you aren’t packing more than you should carry. The amount of gear you can arrange in a single layer on your bed, is the maximum amount of gear you need for any length trip. Most trips require less space. If you and your partner are both traveling and share a larger bed, split the bed. The same rules apply. 

Second, by intentionally arranging items on your bed, you are forced to ensure everything is clean enough to be on your bed. Clean gear performs better, lasts longer, and is nicer to use. If it’s not clean enough to be on your bed, clean it before you leave. In this specific photo I am packing for a mountain bike trip to British Columbia. While my bike isn’t on the bed in this photo, you can be damn sure it was clean enough to be put there without concern.

Third, this ritual allows you to quickly snap a photo of everything you are bringing. This is nice if you need to reference the gear necessary for a similar trip in the future, if you are not confident if you remembered to pack important item "X" and are sitting on the plane, or in the unfortunate instance you are robbed  and need an itemized inventory for insurance purposes.

Finally, arranging everything on your bed the day before ensures everything will be accounted for and packed into a bag before you allow yourself to go to sleep that night. Wake up the next morning, grab your bag, and go.

Safe Travels.