Mind Maps #8 - Dead Ends & Death Threats, Great Work

Mind Maps #8 - Dead Ends & Death Threats, Great Work

Hi all,

It was around midnight when our ferry arrived at Bohol Island in the Philippines.

I had heard the locals warn about plans happening on 'Philippino time' (a.k.a late) but I wasn't prepared for the 7-hour delay to our little voyage. Our vessel had all the metallic ambience of a minimum-security prison. At the end of our glacial migration, my Sister, Bonnie and I stumbled back onto dry land, a little weary and disoriented.

Over the last few months of travel, I've become a fairly committed haggler, much to the annoyance and/or amusement of locals. But at this moment, I lacked the existential energy required for bartering and we slumped into the first private cab offered as we came out of the dockyard. It was the middle of the night and even if we had internet access, there was no Uber to order. I mumbled the name of our hotel and we took off.

When we arrived, our cheerful driver A.J. carefully unloaded our bulky luggage and slipped me his business card before his tail lights disappeared into the darkness.

Left alone in the silence, we knocked on the bamboo gates of the hotel. Nothing.

After a few minutes, I checked the booking and realised this was not the right hotel at all. The correct hotel was, in fact, 17km away.

There we were. Two siblings carrying luggage equivalent to several overweight children. In a rural Philippino village at midnight. With no reception.

We rounded a corner into the village and walked towards some bright lights, where a few local men were sitting in front of a shack. As we got closer we noticed the cigarette smoke billowing from their gathering place and the half-empty bottle of whisky between them. If there was a party happening, I must say it looked a bit depressing.

I conjured my most meek and unthreatening smile and pulled out the business card from my pocket. "Can you help us make a phone call?"

One of the men took the card, swaying unsteadily and squinting at it.

Another man walked over to Bonnie, trying to tell her something. When she couldn't understand, he made a sweeping gesture with his thumb across his neck, as though cutting his throat. You know, the sort of gesture that signifies your imminent decapitation.

You never know how you will respond to a death threat until it happens. Bonnie's survival instinct led her to smile and laugh awkwardly.

The man must have detected our fear because he shook his head apologetically and pointed to the house behind him. On the outside of the shack was a sign featuring the picture of an old Philippino woman. Her name was in sweeping cursive writing next to the dates of her birth and death. The objectively mediocre graphic design could only mean one thing: a homemade funeral sign.

The man was not going to kill us, he was trying to explain that someone had recently died. This was not a party but a gathering of mourning, a family holding vigil.

The men lent us a phone to call our driver and graciously pulled up two plastic chairs for us to sit on while we waited. They smiled at us kindly. One of them gestured towards the bottle, "Drink?"

We were dying for one.

A few recommendations

📝 Essay - I have been thinking lately about my next career move and really enjoyed reading How to do Great Work by Entrepreneur/Investor/Computer Scientist, Paul Graham. If you are considering your career path, it's great food for thought.

The work you choose needs to have three qualities: it has to be something you have a natural aptitude for, that you have a deep interest in, and that offers scope to do great work.

🎙️ Podcast - There is so much hype around artificial intelligence that it's hard to put new developments in context. People are understandably concerned about disruptions to employment and safety issues but it's also exciting to consider how A.I can be used to solve some of humanity's biggest problems. I found the episode of the Ezra Klein show with Google DeepMind Chief Executive, Demis Hassabis really informative (Link to Spotify / Apple).

🎵 Song - If you're into arpeggiated pianos and sweeping songs about life (who isn't!?) check out Swan Song by Victoria Canal. It's a song from last year but new to me and I love it. Her Spotify bio line is also great:

💿 Album - A live album has been released from Joni Mitchell's performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 2022. Mitchell is one of my favourite all-time artists and it's incredible to hear such a living legend perform after her health setbacks, including re-learning to sing and play guitar after an aneurysm in 2015.

One of my many favourite Mitchell songs is Amelia. If you want more of a muso-nerd breakdown of Joni tunes, check out this link to an episode of 'What Makes This Song Great' Ep.91 from Rick Beato.

Some lyrics from Amelia:

The drone of flying engines
Is a song so wild and blue
It scrambles time and seasons if it gets through to you
Then your life becomes a travelogue
Full of picture post card charms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm
People will tell you where they've gone
They'll tell you where to go
But till you get there yourself you never really know
And where some have found their paradise
Others just come to harm
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

Thanks for reading.

Wishing you peace, progress & adventure,