Never Normal Newsletter

Backwards Thinking, Around the World Without Flying, and My 300 Day Streak


I’m back in Valencia 🍊 after a few weeks of family fun in Turkey.

Having spent years on the road traveling solo, it’s tempting to complain about how much more difficult it is to travel as a family with a toddler.

You can’t be as spontaneous. There’s a lot more to plan and pack. Missing a meal or good night’s sleep used to be a minor inconvenience. Tough it out. But with a baby, those become reasons for a nuclear meltdown. 😭

Given all of that, I could decide it’s easier just to stay put. Why bother going anywhere?

Derek Sivers has an awesome answer:

Travel is best with young children 

Travelling with a baby or young child is the best way to visit somewhere new, exotic, and interesting. It’s even better than travelling alone or as a couple.

Derek shares eight great reasons why in this beautiful post.

Before him, I was often in a hurry, trying to get somewhere else. Babies help you stop and pay attention. When you travel, this is what you need. Less rushing to a destination. More stopping to appreciate everything in-between.

Kids are more adaptable than we assume. My daughter had no trouble relocating her favorite game of collect-the-rocks from our usual park to the ruins of the Temple of Apollo in Side.

BTW, in case you couldn’t tell from the name of this newsletter, I love counter-intuitive ideas like this. Here’s one more…

What if You Have it Backwards?

This thought exercise from one of my favorite thinkers-on-the-internet, Nat Eliason, asks us to consider where we’ve got causality flipped around:

We assume the order of operations is: body gives me energy, I do stuff. But it seems the order really is: I do stuff, my body gives me energy. We don’t eat to fuel ourselves for activity, we eat to refuel. Anyone who has done long distance running knows this is the case. You don’t eat 2,000 calories right before a marathon.

Our intuition is that we should listen to our bodies and vary our activity levels accordingly, but it’s really the opposite. We should do the level of activity we want our bodies to support, and the body will adapt to support it. Our intuition has it completely backwards

Where else might this be the case?

Read the rest. Highly recommended!

Reasonable Creatures

Just a couple of days after Nat posted that, I came across this passage from Ben Franklin’s autobiography. Same energy.

It all makes me wonder:

Am I making smart decisions and then carrying them out?
Or following my impulses, and then rationalizing my actions post-hoc?

My Morning Routine

My friend Michael asked about my morning routine recently.

I’d love to tell you that every morning I wake up, stretch, exercise, 🌞 sun my nether regions, suck the juice out of eleven stalks of organic celery, and visualize a successful day.

In reality, I don’t do any of that stuff (aside from waking up). My morning routine has been a bit all over the place for the past few months, but there are 3 core things that I still manage to do every day:

  1. Pray
  2. Write a couple of sentences starting with “I am grateful for…”
  3. Review 8 highlights from books I’ve read on my Kindle (like the Ben Franklin one above). Readwise keeps track of it all for me. I hit 300 days in a row this past week 🎉

Speaking of books worth highlighting…

Book Recommendation: The Cargo Ship Diaries

My friend Niall published this account of his adventures traveling around the world without flying back in 2014.

I bought the book not long after we met, but I’m embarrassed to admit it took me another 5 years to finally read it. Don’t make the same mistake!

I never wanted to zoom through places. I wanted to stop and live in them. Hence my two months in Budapest, five months in Nepal, seven in Bangkok, two in Hong Kong, and so on. I’d much rather see a lot of a little than a little of a lot. I prefer to stop by the same local eatery five days a week and become a familiar face than run around chowing down at every guide book restaurant in town.

Niall has knack for weaving hilarious anecdotes from his travels around the world together with great life advice. And he manages to write about self improvement in a way that’s impressively vulnerable and with just the right amount of neuroticism.

I only stayed there alone for a few minutes, a little nervous that my finger would somehow slip and simultaneously press the self-destruct and warp-speed buttons, causing us all to be burned alive five minutes later somewhere on the far side of Andromeda.

You can eavesdrop on one of my conversations with Niall here.

That’s all for this week! More soon…

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I write occasional emails to share what I’m thinking, learning, and doing. It’s all related to the idea of breaking free from the “default plan” in life.

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