“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.— ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ —
Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.
To be great is to be misunderstood.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
While you read this delightful missive❋, I’ll be on a beautiful sandy beach on the tiny island of Culebra, celebrating the end of the school year with my family and many friends. (GROUP TRIPS FTW!)
Behold the glorious power of The Technology! Beach? Yes. Well-timed weekend newsletter? Also yes.
Consistency, not so great after all
Consistency is a helpful characteristic when it comes to actions: be consistent at doing something — taking action in some particular area — and you’ll see results.
Consistency is how you write a book or train for a marathon or do pretty much anything worth doing.
You figure out the action needed, the smallest active component required to build the mammoth thing you want to achieve, and then you execute that action, over and over, as many times as it takes until the thing is built. (At that point, people will gather around you in awe, whispering about Creative Magic and Overnight Success, and you will want to scream.)
Consistency is, however, often an unhelpful characteristic when it comes to mindsets, beliefs, perspectives: the things that establish our traditions, direct our routine behaviors, and very often determine which actions we’ll do consistently and which we’ll avoid.
Consistency is virtuous when it helps you stick to a carefully chosen action that is valuable to you and relevant to your desires and goals.
Consistency is debilitating when it keeps you stuck in a predetermined rut that arbitrarily limits your options.
Sometimes the most courageous thing you can do is change.
Change is courageous because (as you know if you’ve tried it before) people, as a rule, don’t enjoy change. Particularly, they don’t enjoy unexpected change. Even more particularly, they don’t enjoy unexpected change initiated by someone else.
So, when you change — when you release consistency’s hold on your mind — you unleash an unholy triad of discomfort.
People will get cantankerous.
They’re uncomfortable, so they want to make you uncomfortable in the hope that you’ll stop doing the thing that’s making them uncomfortable.
To escape this cantankerous loop, use consistency to establish a new norm of inconsistency: contradict yourself regularly, change frequently, grow and evolve, explore and wonder, examine and question, say what you mean today and then, tomorrow, say the different thing you mean tomorrow.
Be consistent in your self-contradiction and break open all those confining loops and misplaced loyalties.
Those others, the ones who want you to stay the same? They won’t like this, really, but they’ll accept it. They’ll label you with terms like unpredictable and flighty, as if those were negative qualities.
Seriously, what’s so great about being predictable and sedate?
Plug for Puerto Rico tourism
Puerto Rico is a great place for your summer vacation. Get a ticket and it could be you hanging out on Flamenco Beach…
Here’s what you need to know:
You can fly into San Juan or Aguadilla. San Juan is bigger and has loads more connecting flight options. Aguadilla is on the west side of the island (close to me!), has fewer connecting flight options, and most of them come in at some ungodly hour like 3 am. So why choose Aguadilla? Because it’s closer to me, duh. Seriously, though, San Juan is usually the best choice. You can rent a car (or grab a chartered ride or taxi) and get from SJ to anywhere. Plus, SJ itself is a lot of fun. I could spend hours wandering it. I have, as a matter of fact, and I will again. (Probably because I get lost and can’t find my car. Whatever, I’ll enjoy the wandering.)
Shop your tickets. If you’re willing to have a long layover or travel at weird times or do a couple of connecting flights, you can get good deals. Summer is prime time for cheap tickets, too. (See next point.)
The official tourist season ends in… well... now. May-ish. The waves are dying down, so the surfers are headed elsewhere. Summertime is hot and humid. BUT THERE’S AN OCEAN. Airfare is usually cheaper in the summer. You can get summer rates on some AirBnBs and resorts and activities.
W E A R SUNSCREEN. It’s a tropical island. It’s closer to the equator. The sun is hot. It will burn your skin. You’re not prepared for that. You think you are, but no: you are not. We can identify tourists to the amount of days they’ve been here based on their skin’s burn level. (Peak redness = third day.)
You don’t need to speak Spanish. But learn a few phrases and give them a try. It’s courteous to speak the local language (or at least attempt it). You got this. Smile and go for it.
Puerto Rico is a great island for day trips and overnight excursions. You can drive from one end to the other in about three hours. The highways are good. The little in-between roads are an adventure. The GPS can get a little sketchy in the jungly/mountainy parts, but it’s mostly accurate. There are caves, beaches, waterfalls, hiking, jungles, coffee farms, markets, festivals, and all sorts of amazingness. Do a little research and find some points that seem interesting to you, then plan a little route. Stay in one “home base” and return to it every day, or book different locations and wind your way around the Isla del Encanto.
Outschool. A cool / alternative / online learning option that offers small, live online classes. It’s on my “solid maybe” list (this is an imaginary list but I like it) for things the kids might do this summer.
PRIVACY DESIGN FORECAST 2019 from the Shorenstein Center. An amazing, deep, thoughtful collection of “conceptual ideas on privacy by design and meaningful informed consent.”
Typography in ten minutes. It might take me 15.
What a great word.
American Heritage Dictionary defines it thusly:
n. A written message; a letter. synonym: letter.
Sent or proceeding, as from some authoritative or official source.
Thrown or hurled; missile.
Basically, what I’m saying when I call my newsletter a delightful missive, is that I am AN OFFICIALLY AUTHORITATIVE SOURCE AND I JUST HURLED SOME WORDS AT YOU.