More Muc Than You Can Handle

Two Weeks Living Off the Clock

For the last two weeks I’ve been house sitting for a friend in the beautiful area of Kitsalano in Vancouver. The goal for the two weeks was to figure out the rest of my travel plans and to meet up with a lot of my friends and acquaintances that I haven’t seen for a while.

According to Plan?

The two weeks went by quickly. I mainly organized myself around other people’s clocks. This meant meeting people for lunch or after work the majority of the time. Since I had gaps in time between meet ups, I spent a lot of time walking everywhere (and sometimes biking). Experiencing many modes of transportation ends up being an influence on me later on. It was refreshing to not be the dictator of my time, albeit my intentions did dictate who to meet. So by a transitive relationship, I was still directing my time?

Natural Time Management

As an experiment I decided to not turn my morning alarm clock on. I’ve always thought of myself as a morning person and wanted to see if that held true. What ended up happening was that I rolled out of bed around 8:30pm every morning regardless of when I went to bed (range: 11:00pm – 1:00am). I’m curious about whether or not work pressure (or pressure in general) has been the cause of my normal much earlier natural wake up time.

Another normal time structure that I thought my body adhered to strictly was when to eat. I started to eat when I was hungry and found that some days I only ate 1 meal, or my lunch ended up happening at 4pm. There wasn’t any natural rhythm to my eating times.

It’s interesting to start following nature’s conventions rather than socially, and I guess structurally imposed ones.

Career Ideas

It’s nice when part of my “mission” with this career break moves forward in some dimension. During my many walks along the seawall I’ve listened to many episodes of EconTalk. One in particular got me a little bit inspired. The episode was about Strong Towns, and revealed that I have a lot of interest in urban development. Shortly after that, I had dinner with a colleague, and conversation with his girlfriend got me inspired too. It turns out she works for TransLink and she mentioned there’s work available for someone with my skills. What fascinated me was my initial feeling of joy to chat with someone regarding this topic.

Did I mention that I’m slowing getting addicted to Democracy 3?

Speaking of Transport

Being mobile via foot, bike, bus, train, and car share has reinforced my thoughts on urban planning. Another part of my “mission” is to figure out where to live. Being mobile, while having a low impact, is an opinion that has been further strengthened while being here. The bicycle is such a wonderful piece of engineering that has changed, relatively, little over the years. It’s an efficient form of transport and it’s fun. I can’t imagine living anywhere where I wouldn’t feel comfortable riding a bike much of the time.

Discovering the Source of My Anxiety

In my previous post I alluded to a sense of anxiousness that I was feeling. It dawned on me that I was spending a lot of time coordinating what was going to be a hurried and expensive road trip across the continent. Eventually I realized that I didn’t have to do that trip. I’m already going to be doing plenty of travel in the coming months. It also occurred to me that I spent a good amount of my “relaxing” time trying to make this trip work. So I’ve canceled the road trip and am going to spend an extra two weeks in Vancouver!

Here’s the list of reasons that convinced that this was the right decision:

  • Not providing ample time to truly enjoy the trip
  • Not being able to spend a proper amount of time visiting each and every person
  • Going to be more expensive than the cargo ship cruise!
  • Goes against the principles of this career break which is to take things slowly and this road trip would be a dash to Wilmington, NC
  • Lessons learned from the SF road trip (I should have slowed it down)
  • I’m not doing any of the tech related practice I’ve wanted to do

Not sure if the software analogy fits, but it felt like removing scope from an unfinished project.


Responding to feedback is important. On my road trip to San Francisco I learned that I’m not going slow enough during my time off. During the last two weeks in Vancouver I learned that it’s nice to stand still and I wasn’t doing too much of that. The speed of the journey and the complexity in coordinating amongst many people and locations was resulting in an energy level overhead that was creating anxiety (and how can someone who’s not working possibly feel anxious about anything). Responding to this feedback by canceling the road trip made me feel like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders.

Along with the negative feedback, I’m going to explore the positive feedback my mind felt when pondering ideas around urban planning and public transport.

Unfortunately I won’t get to see a lot of people that I wanted to, but I realized the quality of the interactions is more important than the quantity of the interactions. This touches on my principle of doing things slowly during this break. No better way to go slow than to stand still. Queue the Rush!