Streamlining

I don’t really do resolutions, but large changes in life over the last six months or so—particularly the results of, and ripples from, ECT—have had me thinking hard about where I spend my time. And two goals have emerged: define my active interests and “hobbies” more tightly, to account better for time, and increase my communication and interactions with both friends and the communities around those interests.

Narrowing the focus of my interests is a necessity. Even in an ideal world where I had the time and income of a man of leisure, I couldn’t possibly do justice to the deep and complex networks that have coalesced around each of my many areas of interest.

Expanding my social engagement, though it is mostly the opposite of streamlining, is equally a necessity, because—despite my terrible track record at doing so—taking part in communities of interests is the most important aspect of having “hobbies” (scare quotes again because I dislike the common connotation of lesser-importance or even triviality it carries). The amassing of stuff is fun in its own way, but having an area only as far as my hands can physically touch means it remains mostly stuff rather than kindling for community engagement and personal fulfillment.

To that end, I am going to return my primary attention to the world of words and wordplay in all its forms. I’ve joined the National Puzzlers’ League (which is blowing my mind), resumed Katexic WORD radio segments (I badly need to update that site!), and really dug into cruciverbalism (mostly solving, but I’m starting to dabble in making crosswords too).

Add in the staggering variety of communities out there—one of the remaining beauties of the web is how groups of enthusiasts can so easily be formed and grown—and that wordy focus should be more than enough to fill my available time (I’m slow and unmethodical)!

I’m also trying to reduce the fiction in my sharing and information flow: streamlining processes for posting links, videos, rebuilding this site to be a place for documenting my own learning, re-engaging with hypothes.is, building my personal webs of notes, information and writing in Obsidian (where I am composing this post), tuning my ReadWise feeds, and that kind of thing.

Of course, other interests won’t remain completely untended. I’ll still be drinking tea and playing with pencils, but I plan to spend more time just being in those communities (and cataloging my obscenely large collections of each) and less time chasing the latest new thing to buy. And I will still be playing correspondence chess and online go, but I’m abandoning intentional study of the games themselves. That last is probably the greatest time saver of all, given that chess and go are each games deep enough to easily swallow a lifetime.

Chris Lott

I like monkeys.

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