The invisible weapon

Words are dangerous. Hiding in plain sight, they are so familiar that we have become flippant with our use of them.

When we are little, we knew the power of words. The word “no” could stop us from doing almost anything. And we can use it to stop almost anything to be done to us.

But as we grew, we stop paying close attention.

Last month, I wrote about Junk Dating. Although catchy, it is not entirely accurate. I could named it bulk dating, or dating by numbers, but I didn’t. And it turned out that some of my past dates (who became dear friends) read the article and believe they are junk. Because after all, I didn’t put a ring on their finger.

The whole “sticks and stones” metaphor can be dangerous. When a stone can bruise, you will heal from it. But when a torrent of words undermines your view of what’s possible, you might never recover.

While I carelessly throw away my own words, my dates also carelessly hoard those words.

Words matter. They can hurt, injure and be mean. Or they can open doors, light a path and make a difference. Your choice.

(P.s. None of my past dates are junk. Junk Dating is merely a process of finding out what I want, and what works for me.)

When is common sense common?

Is it when you’re 9 years old, 19 years old, or 69 years old?

Think about that for a minute.

If common sense is really common then everyone should know it. But you don’t actually expect a toddler to do the things you do. Or expect a grandmother to see the world as you see it.

We can get angry at common sense and blame others for not knowing.

Or see it as an opportunity to make a connection, show possibilities and bring up the people around you.

Because what’s the point of getting mad when common sense is never really common in the first place.

The thing about magic

It only works once.

No amount of money can buy back that moment of awe and inspiration. That same book, song, painting [fill in the blank] will never be the same again.

It changes you. For that very first time. It is the dish at that restaurant, tears rolling as you watched that film and arriving at that special city. You can’t un-see, what you’ve seen.

The magic is the connection between the art and the viewer, seeing it for the very first time.

That how the Mona Lisa ended up selling for $100 million.

The alternative is expert craftsmen in the village of Dafen, China painting replicas. Their paintings are priced by size. Day in, day out, doing what’ve done before, no emotional labour involved. You can’t fail.

If you are one of the lucky ones to be peddling in magic, the work is to lean in, do things that might not work, make a statement and connect the dots. And once you found the thing that resonates with the culture, show it to the world, and pen your style.

And perhaps after the glitz and the glamour, it’s time to get back to the work. To try and to fail. To try and try again. Until the next magic comes about. The work of an artist.

In defence of junk dating

Most couples in a happy relationship have a secret. They date a lot, a lot more than their fingers and toes combined. Similarly, people who love their work, tried many jobs.

It’s super rare to find a happy old couple who marry their first love. Yet, they are ones who get on the covers of the magazines, the ones that we use to write movie scripts and also the ones we’re all talking about.

That is the challenges in today’s culture, we are surrounded by Survivorship Bias. The ones who hit the jackpot, the couples in perfect matrimony.

It’s no surprise that we are hurt. We believe and put all our trust in our first love, being the last. And when that is gone, we are left with scars and vow never to love again.

The thing is most dating advice are bad, not because they are inherently so, but because there are no glib answers. There are no answers that apply to everybody.

Perhaps dating is a process. It is a process of self-discovery, testing your boundaries, feeling for your emotions, connecting with another person, being open to be vulnerable, compromising for each other, and above all, knowing that you are capable to love and to be loved.

(As you go about learning this for yourself, it’s important that you need to be upfront and state your intention. There is a human being on the other side. Don’t break their hearts.)

Go ahead and junk date. You owe it to yourself and the ones you love.


(26/12/19 Update: None of my past dates is junk. Junk dating is merely a process of finding how what I want, and what works for me.)

Permission to be in-sync

We dislike being told how bad we are (especially when we didn’t ask for it). Worse, to correct us in the midst of our happy doing and demand that their way is better.

They might have a better way. But by interrupting our attention with non-solicited advice, goodwill is diminished, the relationship is stressed and a learning opportunity is squandered.

(The exception: if there is any life-threatening danger, then yes, step in and take over.)

The simple solution: “Would you like some feedback on that?”

An invitation to suggest a better way, gaining permission to be in sync and enrolment for an opportunity to teach.

The posture of asking permission is how we interact with each other. Extending our hand for a handshake, opening our arm for a hug and leaning in for a kiss. We are asking for permission.

Yes, we might be rejected. But (I argue) it’s perhaps better than losing the precious relationship and permission you’ve worked so hard to earn.

Permission before advice. Because no one wants to hear how right you are and how bad they suck.