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Claylike

Colin Wright
Colin Wright
Current location: Milwaukee, WI, USA
Reading: The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier
Listening: Screen Violence: Director's Cut by CHVRCHES
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Claylike
One of the more reliable ways to ensure you have a good time when traveling is to commit to flexibility and improvisation, rather than becoming rigid about your peripatetic plans.
This doesn’t mean giving up on your plans or folding in the face of the challenges you encounter.
It means being willing to reshape things a bit when warranted, especially when doing so will allow you to work with the winds and riptides of circumstance, rather than requiring you struggle against them for the duration.
Some of my most treasured memories are the consequence of on-location rethinking: my plans became less possible or desirable because of variables beyond my control, so I adjusted my thinking, aimed at different outcomes, and enjoyed amazing (at times, life-changing) experiences as a result.
I would argue some goals should be pursued even when that chase leads through trying times and unpleasant terrain, but ideally we’re flexible and open to change when new understandings or information warrant it.
So while it’s generally beneficial to be capable of working toward big, long-term goals, it can be less constructive to walk the same path our entire lives, undeviating, just because some earlier version of ourselves (with different priorities and understandings) decided it was a good path to follow.
That said, plasticity potential can serve us not just while on the road as we meander around unfamiliar terrain and languages and foods and perspectives, but in life more generally.
I like to think of having a capacity for malleability as being claylike, because in most cases we’re not alchemizing ourselves into another substance: we’re reworking what’s already there.
We sit at our potter’s wheel, smoothing, bending, experimenting, and in some cases smashing what a younger, less-experienced version of ourselves crafted, sculpting something novel from its substance.
This new object is made of the same stuff as its previous iteration; it’s still us, we’re just trying out revised versions of who we are and the life we’re living.
Through this lens, a lost job or a breakup is an opportunity to transform (if often a painful and/or uncomfortably liberating one).
A sense of disconnection or malcontentment is a chance to sit at the wheel, perceive and acknowledge what’s not working, and gently smooth those elements away, embracing our work into something more appropriate for where we’d like to go and the version of ourselves we’d like to become.
A global pandemic, an economic crash, the drumbeat toward international conflict are all important and impactful collective happenings. They’re also (for each of us, individually) akin to changes in temperature or humidity in our ceramics studio: we must take these things into account as we shape and reshape—environmental fluctuations will almost always expand or contract our spectrum of serviceable options, but we still retain creative control over this work.
We are, whatever the circumstances and whatever limitations or amplifications of our capabilities we might be operating under at any given moment, the shapers of our clay.
We are enormously transmogrifiable and infinitely capable of adaptation and metamorphosis.
Each version of our ever-mutable selves is valuable for what it is and for what it has the potential to become.
If you found some value in this essay, consider supporting my work by buying me a coffee :)
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Back in October of last year I started revamping my book, Becoming Who We Need To Be, changing some phrasings, fixing some typos, and re-recording the audiobook version using my now-superior gear and understanding of how to do such things. It took ages! This is a long book (264 pages, using my new, more concise formatting for the paperback edition) and when you're the person who wrote something (and you've been through it several times) every new encounter with your own words can be tedious and mind-numbing. That said! It's finally done, and if you've purchased an ebook or audiobook version of it in the past, you should receive the updated 2nd edition free (by re-downloading it wherever you bought it). If you haven't read it before, consider giving it a shot—I wrote it in 2017, and it portends a lot of the work and philosophical frameworks I'm using to organize my life and priorities and projects, today.
Back in October of last year I started revamping my book, Becoming Who We Need To Be, changing some phrasings, fixing some typos, and re-recording the audiobook version using my now-superior gear and understanding of how to do such things. It took ages! This is a long book (264 pages, using my new, more concise formatting for the paperback edition) and when you're the person who wrote something (and you've been through it several times) every new encounter with your own words can be tedious and mind-numbing. That said! It's finally done, and if you've purchased an ebook or audiobook version of it in the past, you should receive the updated 2nd edition free (by re-downloading it wherever you bought it). If you haven't read it before, consider giving it a shot—I wrote it in 2017, and it portends a lot of the work and philosophical frameworks I'm using to organize my life and priorities and projects, today.
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Projects
Select, recent works from across my project portfolio.
Aspiring Generalist: Soft Fascination
Brain Lenses: Horseshoe Theory
I Will Read To You: Change On Change
Let’s Know Things: Kazakhstan
Curiosity Weekly: Jan 25, 2022
One Sentence News: Jan 26, 2022 (podcast version)
Consider supporting all of my work by becoming an Understandary member.
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Interesting & Useful
Some things to click:
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I undertook the same revamping process for another of my books, Some Thoughts About Relationships, earlier in 2021, and the updated 2nd edition of that should likewise be available for folks who bought digital versions. If you're keen to read it, you can pick up your own copy wherever you get your books (including libraries!), and if you've read these or any of my books, a quick review on Amazon or wherever you bought it is very much appreciated and more valuable than you might suspect (especially for indie authors like me) :)
I undertook the same revamping process for another of my books, Some Thoughts About Relationships, earlier in 2021, and the updated 2nd edition of that should likewise be available for folks who bought digital versions. If you're keen to read it, you can pick up your own copy wherever you get your books (including libraries!), and if you've read these or any of my books, a quick review on Amazon or wherever you bought it is very much appreciated and more valuable than you might suspect (especially for indie authors like me) :)
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Outro
I’ve been exploring online-community-enabling digital platforms for the past several weeks, and they’re all super-imperfect and finicky and odd, but the process of learning how they work, how they might evolve, and where we might be going with such things has been interesting.
I’m planning to do a Q&A livestream this Saturday at 4:00pm US Central Time—I’ll be streaming on Instagram Live and Twitch (and soon I’ll be trying out YouTube, as well, but not this time around) and I’d love to see you if you can make it. I’m @colinismyname on Insta and @VirtualColin on Twitch.
Feel free to email questions ahead of time if you’d like me to answer them during the session!
I’ve also been futzing about with more casual streams (on Twitch), logging on for unscheduled hang-out sessions where I play an old-favorite game (like Civilization) which serves as sort of a fireplace around which we can casually gather, and then just chat with whomever shows up, no pressure for anyone to perform or talk about anything in particular.
It’s a very different sort of thing, but nice, and I’m keen to figure out other methods of achieving similar vibes and setups in the coming months.
Also! I’m planning to do regular museum-visits with accompanying Instagram Story tours, which should be fun (it’s been a while!). These have a very different dynamic than livestreams, as they’re somewhat real-time, but also asynchronous so I can enjoy the museum for myself at my own pace, but also share photos and thoughts when it seems appropriate.
So many tools for connection! So many possible pitfalls associated with using them! And so much potential if we can further hone them and discover their ideal use-cases!
All that said, I’d love to hear from you via old-fashioned email if you wouldn’t mind sharing something about yourself, what life looks like for you right now, what you’re up to, and/or what sorts of plans you’re making.
You can reach me by replying directly to this newsletter or at colin@exilelifestyle.com. I respond to every email I receive and appreciate you taking the time to say hello :)
You can also communicate via the typical methods: InstagramTwitterFacebook, or accurately dated antique globe.
If you’re finding some value in what I’m doing here, consider supporting my work via one of these methods: Become an Understandary member / Buy me a coffee (or: Buy me a monthly coffee)
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Colin Wright
Colin Wright @colinismyname

Essays and updates from author and podcaster Colin Wright.

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