Journal · · 6 min read

Do you even walk, bro?

I enjoy walking as much as writing and this journal entry is all about the thoughts I had during my latest walk in the local marina.

Do you even walk, bro?

I take walks listening to movie soundtracks. I find them uplifting as if I am going to conquer the world. Well, they do make me walk faster, more confidently. They also make me work more by the time I get back home.

I used to listen to classical music, but I’ve found it less energetic. Usually, it made me sadder than I already was. Of course, it depends on the track, but I’m a sucker for depressing themes.

Lately, I also listen to soundtracks while taking photos or videos in the city, among the crowd. It helps me isolate myself and not care about other people. That’s a powerful skill that I sadly still lack.

And finally, I listen to them while I’m writing. So, here’s the track that plays on my headphones while I’m writing these very words. I suggest you listen to it as you’re reading. It’s what I’m listening to nowadays whenever I find myself alone outside.

Do what makes you happy, but first what makes you money

Time for another entry to my journal. I enjoy writing these posts, despite knowing that they won’t rank to Google; that people won’t find by mistake; that only my blog’s loyal visitors get to read.

And that’s ok. Not everything we do in life has to have a profound goal, as long as it makes us happy.

Now, if you can make money from that, you found the Holy Grail.

But usually, mundane, repetitive things will be the wheels of your money-making machine. For me, that’s managing websites that I’ve built and run as a web publisher. They make me money to provide for my family, and I can enjoy writing and using my cameras with less stress. But I certainly don’t enjoy emailing or hiring people; two essential aspects of running any business.

Writing my latest letter (are you a subscriber?)

In contrast, I always enjoyed writing, especially in English.

Back as a teenager, I attended English classes to learn the language. Writing essays was what excited me the most. But not all kinds of essays.

The teacher would give us a sentence instead of a topic. We had two options for this exercise: either start or finish our essay with that sentence.

For me, the choice was easy; I always finished my essays with the given sentence.

It made me write essays that had the reader wondering how I would turn the story around and finish appropriately. I still remember the day that our teacher, who had studied in the USA, started the lesson by saying:

Today, I have to read to you the essay Jim wrote. You HAVE to listen to it. This is fantastic writing.

It wasn’t because my grammar had been excellent or of my impeccable syntax. There were red strikethroughs and marks on the essay, proof that I had made mistakes. But it was the story that made my teacher read it aloud in the class.

I had already won that day. No matter the marks, no matter my mistakes, no matter if my classmates would hate listening to my essay. Never before our teacher had read us an essay. And never would he again.

“Winter of 96.”, he said as he started reading my essay. “Now, THAT’s a GREAT way to start an essay.” he continued. I remember I talked of snowflakes hitting the window in the first paragraph, but I’m afraid I no longer have those essays. And it’s a pity as he allowed us to write and deliver them in Word format (such a breakthrough idea back in 1991!). I’ve looked at all of my 40MB, 120MB, and 500MB Marvell hard drives, nowhere to be found. Those marvelous stories of mine, gone, forever.

It’s all about the contrast

This week it was the first time I went for a walk since we returned from Skyros Island. Once again, I found myself in the local marina, walking by sailing boats and small yachts, being lost in my thoughts.

Still, I noticed an old lady pushing her wheelchair all alone, wearing a mask at all times. Meanwhile, ten or more people about my age were sitting down altogether, having a laugh on the grass. Imagine the contrast. Different priorities.

Then three little girls passed me by with their bicycles. Seconds later, their dad appeared out of the bushes, running towards them as they were quickly approaching the sea dangerously. Right next to the sea, another man had just got off his brand new, white motorcycle and was about to take photos of it as the sun was setting.

Both proud of their accomplishments, but so much different how these men achieved them. Such a different life and one that can’t understand unless you experience it. Another contrast.

I recall watching a YouTube video, where the creator argued that one should look for contrast in photography and filmmaking. It can be anything. From the contrast in colors to contrast between the shot’s bright and dark parts or the contrast in feelings—the contrast of how you make the audience feel when moving from one scene to another. Every good image, every good story has contrast.

If you are writing, taking pictures, or making videos, look for contrast.

People are running away from their problems; I’m walking

Notice how many people are running outside? Twenty years ago, running wasn’t a trend. Can it be that everyone around me became more health-aware? I was still curious how running became so popular until a friend of mine explained it to me.

His midweek schedule requires him to be away from his home. He spends three days in hotels before returning to his family for the weekend. He signs off work at 7 PM every day and returns to his hotel room. But his supervisor doesn’t.

His supervisor, a 50-year-old dad, goes for a 2-hour run after a 10-hour shift. He didn’t use to run at all ten years ago and now takes part in marathon runs! And he’s not the only one! I have heard of other friends and even relatives doing the same.

“How come isn’t he tired?” I asked my friend. How does he find the strength to run?

“Are you kidding?” he tells me. If he doesn’t run, he’ll be in trouble. Much trouble. If he doesn’t run, he’s taking pills. Pills to fight depression.

Suddenly, everything made sense. It’s now clear to me why so many people were anxiously awaiting the lockdowns to be lifted worldwide and go for a much-needed run.

It wasn’t because suddenly everyone cared about keeping fit. So I thought. It was because they were feeling even more depressed, constrained at home. People are sad. The solution? Running away from their problems. Or hitting the gym and forget.

Spending two hours running and an hour for preparation and a bath sounds way better than three hours, thinking of the mistakes you made in life. Or three hours spending with a nagging, complaining family. Running is better than feeling a ton of regrets. Regrets that will be waiting at the death bed, nonetheless.

Until then, going for a run is liberating, not to mention beneficial to health. Win-win!

I’m sticking with walking. And listening to soundtracks.

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