#11: Highlights and Shadow

A few weeks ago I came across a video for the book Make Time, by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, on the Productivity Game YouTube channel run by Nathan Lozeron:

In the channel, he animates ~10 minute recaps of non-fiction, predominately self-help and productivity, books in which he breaks down some of the key take aways. I haven’t yet read Make Time, but I was intrigued by some of the things he got out of it.

In the book, the authors propose that the way to have more meaningful experiences is to avoid what they call the ‘Busy Bandwagon’ and ‘Infinity Pools’. The ‘Busy Bandwagon’, while a concept much less prominent in the South of France I’ve found, is the notion that we need to always be busy, and if we aren’t that we should find things to make us seem busy to fit in with the busy crowd. (I’ll admit the irony of personally taking on a series of challenges where I need to do additional tasks everyday while shunning busyness.) Infinity Pools are ‘anything that streams or you can swipe down to refresh.’ Facebook, Instagram, Netflix are all some of the prime Infinity Pools with which we can distract ourselves for what we think will be minutes but effectively turns into hours. The idea is not to forgo being busy or watching TV, but to not be busy for busyness sake and to more intentionally consume material.

The method that they propose is to focus on a highlight, or peak moment, for the day. Imagine that a friend calls you at the end of your day and asks, “What was the best part of your day?” Now the trick is to do this, but before your day has begun. Lozeron suggests writing a list of items that are bigger than a simple task, but smaller than a project, on a list. These can be things to do, but also enjoying time with family, seeing a movie you’ve been wanting to see, or any number of activities. Then each day he choses one thing, writes it on a piece of Post-It tape, and sticks it to his phone. In addition to blocking it out in his calendar, this ensures that whenever he pulls out his phone, he is reminded of the item that he wants to highlight and it is more likely to stick as an intentional memory for the day instead of letting the days blur together.

A few weeks ago I bought some of the tape and thought I would try it. Gwenn and I had been meaning to see the ‘Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet’ exhibit at the Musée Fabre before it leaves in a week, so I made that my ‘pre-highlight’ for today.

The exhibit focuses around the Gustave Courbet painting ‘La rencontre (The Meeting)‘, which is also know as ‘Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet’. It has been a fixture at the museum here since 1868 and depicts when Courbet came to visit Montpellier and met Alfred Bruyas outside the city. I had seen the painting at the museum before, but hadn’t really noted that it was both near Montpellier and that it features the nearby Pic Saint-Loup. After three and a half years here, sometimes I worry that some of the magic of European stone buildings has faded, but I still geek out over seeing paintings from world famous artists that were done in my backyard.

The actual temporary exhibit featured various recreations of the painting by more contemporary artists done in a variety of styles: a black and white series of facial portraits, as abstract figures, and even as a ‘Lite-Brite‘-style display. Between the unusually quiet museum, the local relevance, or serendipitously coming across the history of late 19th and early 20th century art and science when watching the latest episode of Crash Course: European History this evening, it feels like there was a cohesive thread to the day.

I don’t know if the tape helped, but I’m curious to try it out for a bit. I think it would be fun to add it to the following day while journaling or even to have a calendar devoted to keeping the daily highlights afterwards. I imagine it could be fun to look back through several years of calendars where each day has a little piece of tape from that day’s highlight. If anyone gives this a try, let me know what you think.

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