Dear Mr. Paxman,
Thank you for using the worlds finest taxi service.
I’m ever so sorry, I can’t recall if I gave you your change on your journey home last night.
Self induced, temporary shock and sometimes even sudden pain.
This is true for the things we know are most beneficial in our lives; gym, a diet, a good budget plan. Temporary deprivation for much longer lasting and beneficial gains. I found this to be the case with my experience of an ice cold plunge pool.
When I exit the metal freeze bucket to my new found freedom, I gaze over the hot jacuzzi. Approximately 20 people occupying every corner and prolonging their inevitable exit.
Synonymous with most pleasures of contemporary society; an overindulgent meal, mindless drinking, excessive spending. All intensely pleasure-able at the time, near enough instant regret once over, and no long term benefit.
Plunge pool your way to long lasting pleasure.
Daytime drink your way to a better and longer life?
Most of us know that drinking caffeine late into the day/evening is a bad idea.
Caffeine keeps our brain active, disrupts the quality of our sleep, whilst you may believe it is the tiredness that is the biggest drawback from late caffeine consumption, it is actually the disruption to the brain’s precious REM cycles during sleep that is most endangering to health.
Where caffeine is a stimulant, alcohol is a sedative, completely numbing out the area of the brain that regulates the REM cycling of sleep, essential for restoration and well running of the brain, a bit like defragmentation for your computer.
Consuming caffeine in the Am gives our body/brain an amount of time break the caffeine down and restore to regular brain function for efficient sleep, shouldn’t we be doing the same for alcohol?
With this in mind I shall certainly be abstaining from late night alcohol sessions.
This small insight is one of the many I have learnt from Matthew Walker’s book; “Why We Sleep” I am highly fascinated on the power of sleep on the brain, and how it the most abused and un-utilised essential tools we have in contemporary society.
I urge you all to read it and live a better life.
All you can eat buffets, Venti lattes, and 55” TV’s they all promote more.
It’s a status symbol, a challenge, getting the most of something we supposedly need.
“Yea I need to eat, lets not set a cap”
“Yea I need coffee, lets get as much of it in one serving as possible”
“Yea I need to watch some TV, lets cram the biggest in the space I have possible”
The badge of honour, my cup is bigger than your cup, oh your TV is only so big?
The point I’m trying to raise here is; when is enough too much?
I did a 3 month stint at Starbucks. Throughout my time I begrudged making a Venti Latte, it was not the process of doing so, it was understanding the buyers motivation that perplexed me, even more so when they ask for a Venti Skinny Latte (That’s 3 Shots of espresso, a whole lot of skimmed milk).
If you really want your coffee to be skinny, just buy a small?
But western society has educated us (who knows from where), that bigger is better.
As a Samsung sales rep I would have people demand 55”+ sized TV’s, when questioned on the size of their living room they either didn’t know or had inadequate space to accommodate the LED panel (not physically but aesthetically for viewing pleasure).
This is where the problem lies, there is nothing inherently wrong with going bigger, but it is when we lose the intention of the initial need that we have a problem.
My tip, don’t be afraid to downsize, accept the better fitting alternative. Would you buy all of your clothing 2 sizes bigger for the sake of getting more material? of course you wouldn’t, you buy what fits and suits your need best. Something that evidently some have lost with regards to buffets, coffee and TV’s.
By the way, my preference. Yes to all you can eat buffets but plate accordingly to how you feel, enjoy the food and allow ample time to process before getting more.
With coffee the maximum amount of milk is a flat white arguably the perfect milk/espresso ratio.
If I’m on the go it’s all about the turbo espresso; double espresso with bit of caramel syrup to take the edge off, perfect when I’m in the cab as it’s the smallest quantity of liquid you can get for a coffee.
TV’s, I don’t believe in investing so much in an object that doesn’t provide equal returns/pleasure. Not to mention the amount of space it takes up in your living room.
“Do you take £50 notes? I know some cabbies get a bit funny about them?”
“Yes not a problem Sir, where would you like to go?”
You learn a lot of things in life the hard way, this simple exchange last week was one of them.
I picked up a young man from China Town, requesting to go to his hotel in Mayfair as he had believed to left his lost bank card there.
We exchanged quite natural and organic conversation, about the stresses of such situation and how in modern life it really isn’t that bad to lose something.
Once at his hotel, he requested to leave the meter running and left his bag behind as a symbol that he wouldn’t do a runner, why would he? He is staying in a Mayfair hotel after all?
The young man returned from the hotel lapsing no more than 20 seconds. “Nope, no bank card there, can you take me back to China Town please?”
He then proceeded to phone his bank in a cool and calm manner, overhearing this conversation he provided various proof’s of identity to cancel said card without his account number present. All good so far.
We arrive back at our starting destination, he produces the £50 note, even asks if I needed to check it or exchange for another; “No not a problem sir, here is your £35 change”
“Thanks, have a great new year”.
As soon as the passenger door slammed, the penny dropped. I’d been done over.
My first fare of the afternoon and I’m down £35! He had just hustled a snide £50 note into my possession via a cab journey.
I evaluated the facts and made my assumptions;
I was cheated, I felt awful. I trusted this man and did my utmost to help in this situation, only to be deceived. It’s not the theft that upsetting, it was the level of deceit involved.
It completely threw me off track for the rest of the night, it also meant I had barely any change for my later customers of the evening, then having to explain this moody £50 note to them and apologising for the large handful of shrapnel they had to accept as change. I had been hustled and I learnt the hard way.
But… this was all an assumption, only my assumption. What if the note was real? For the rest of my night it replayed in my head, I further convinced myself of the fake, but still had a small probability it could be real (I’ve worked in retail since leaving school so handled cash for many years, I honestly couldn’t tell if this was fake).
There was only one moral way to conclude this conundrum. I went to the bank. I handed over the solitary note. It cashed. It was real.
Lesson learnt. Always assume positive intentions in people, unless you have damning evidence.
Also invest in a note checker.
Buying a house, my definition of success at that time, was seemingly impossible with my personal income.
Having a roof over your head is arguably the biggest and most intentional purchase you can opt for in life, but even after the most consolidated efforts, my income was still too weak to get on the property ladder.
What did that say about my life? I was frustrated, I hated the limitation, I was stuck.
I wanted to do something radical, but not rash (I have made plenty of those decisions since leaving university). My friend’s father was a cabbie and briefly introduced me to this thing called “The Knowledge”. The main message I got was, work the hours I want, get the income required for a mortgage, bob’s your uncle.
In a society riddled with overnight results; quick finance, crash diet plans, Insta-famous. I sought a different path, the longer less glamorous route, with a drop out rate of 80% and an average 4 years of studying, I had begun the Knowledge.
I’d work Monday – Saturday, 9-6 at my full time retail job, I’d head straight to London straight from work, grabbing a petrol station sandwich for dinner, I’d get back at 1am most mornings, returning to work 8 hours later and repeat the process again.
The Knowledge was a marathon, it had no value until I was over the finish line. Once you’re in it, your time and space is condensed to studying, important dates in your calendar are replaced by the countdown to your next appearance (exam). A multitude of sacrifices have been essential in getting me to where I am today, some I’m proud of, others an arguably unhealthy sacrifice (relationships, health), that I can’t wait to get back on top of.
Aside from London, what did studying The Knowledge teach me about myself?
Life is filled with too many instant gratification pleasures; Facebook, TV, even food. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with these things (the latter of course being essential for living). It’s when we discard intentionality that we have a problem. I’ve learnt to be mindful, if something is too rich or pleasurable without much input, then I can be very certain that it is a detractor to my long term goals, I always question; “Does this short term action align with my long term goal?”
Don’t be afraid to go against the norm. I really mean this, I’d have friends and colleagues outright call me nuts for waking up at 2am/3am to drive round London. Break your goals down, is there a better way of achieving them? Change your recipe, what is stopping you from achieving your 5/10 year goal today?
Since leaving school I’ve taken so many paths to achieve, achieve what? Success? What is success? A degree? A high paying job? or being able to do what you enjoy? Don’t be afraid to let your definitions change over time*, I learnt that there’s no shame working the minimum wage or even for less if you are pursuing your true passion!
On 30th December 2014, I started The Knowledge at Manor House, no clue of my whereabouts or where I would be going. Just under 3 years later, I’ve got a coveted green badge around my neck driving one of the most iconic vehicles in the world.
The biggest benefit of my journey is being able to work on my terms, I am bound only to my allowance of time. Time is the most valuable commodity we possess. I want to question why we work, and why society is geared to a system whereby we work for the sake of, rather than questioning how much we truly need to work.
Follow your passion, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, build your own future or you’ll end up helping someone else build theirs.
This victory isn’t my destination, in fact if anything it has created a bigger catalyst to grow and expand. I can’t wait for the next journey, will keep you all updated on the direction I take.
For anyone embarking on a lengthy journey, I leave you with these two quotes that powered me through my daily drudgery.
“Do not be fearful of a goal because of the time it takes, the time will pass anyway.”
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now.”
*My new found definition of success isn’t a house, in fact quite the opposite. My vision of success is to remove non-essential liabilities from my life. I don’t want to be bound to a payment for 30 years, finance on a car I don’t technically own. I want to allow myself the best platform to grow and I believe removing these kinds of ties will enable me to live the most intentional and “successful” life.
I can sometimes be a bit indecisive; especially when it comes to food. It’s something I consciously try improve upon (but surely to consciously decide better is in itself a juxtapose?). I think this comes down to the fact that I am solely responsible for the enjoyment of the sandwich or item I am to choose. Layered bread with filler ultimately is as is, I am the one that gives it relevance by my interpretation of the appearance, smell, taste and other sensations it gives off.
Now for women… I’m less picky.
Hold your manifesting thoughts, let them fizzle away and hear me out.
I do not pre-judge anyone. We as human beings have such complicated lives, containing intertwining narratives, even read our own story can be so difficult to interpret, understanding what we have done and how we came to be in this present moment. Applied to strangers there is a beautiful word; “Sonder”, and that is to merely observe this phenomenon, unable to fathom the plethora of emotions a passer by may or may not be experiencing.
We should not pre-judge anyone. With potential partners it is an open palette, we can accept that we do not know what to expect, even if we already have expectations and that is what makes dating so exciting. It is a familiar looking and inviting sandwich, yet its contents, its flavour and sensations are completely unknown, no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that we do know.
This is exactly what is wrong with Tinder, and arguably its user base. We are browsing the same bread menu, praying that a brioche bun appears so we can use our special super like button. But Tinder does not limit the number of potential matches, we theoretically have an infinitive amount of swipes. The self inflicted faux pas, greed.
Matches accumulate, as do messages. The layout and nature of Tinder allows for users to collect these, a dating Pokemon Go? Why should an app specifically for dating, an area to meet the “special someone” or “the one”, encourage an ever growing palette of matches? Love at first sight? or love by “eeenie, meanie, miney mo?”
My final and conclusive reason to why app dating is flawed, the salutary swipe. I often ask myself when it comes to meeting a potential partner; “if I want to find someone like me, where would she be? out on the pull? indoors on the swipe?” Neither of those options.
The Tinder swipe is comparable to the Facebook/Twitter scroll; we don’t know the true objective of the scroll, it gives a level of pleasure, it is to some respect infinite, but most importantly of all… it does not promote meaningful life observations, the ultimate premise to dating.
Love at first sight, finding the courage to speak to someone who has that potential spark, that rushing feeling that you may miss this critical moment that can change your life forever. We all have our own fears, excitements and anxieties that naturally take hold when we are confronted by these situations… that is the moment, the moment that matters, the moment that makes you feel alive, the moment that can change everything.
You cannot swipe that moment, stop being greedy, put the phone down, observe life and see the beauty that exists in everybody.