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Hey there. It’s Paul. Below you’ll find this Sunday’s edition of Hey Penguin.
Happy New Year!
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In this issue…
Thoughts on gifts and guilt
Some music to write to
What I’m reading to prepare for 2021
David Goggins and Starbucks
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The Burden of Bearing Gifts
Life is a gift.
I got a lot of gifts this year. I got socks. Stouts. Stickers. I even got Saad, Gad’s new book, The Parasitic Mind.
Now I need to return the favor.
But isn’t my existence enough?
More to the point, isn’t their existence enough?
Is it not enough that my girlfriend, her parents, my parents, my parent’s girlfriends, all my friends and all my family, are still alive? Heaven and Hell received a lot of new residents this year thanks to Covid-19. Can’t I celebrate the fact that nobody I love moved to the great beyond?
It’s easier to open up a box of surprises than it is to open up about how grateful you are to have friends and family members that return your calls. It’s easier to let Target gift cards take care of the emotionally exhausting work of writing those notes. Those notes filled with sincere confessions of how you wish Mom could live forever and you should hang out with Marcus more and chat about books over coffee.
I know it’s easier because I’m being a hypocrite. I filled no stockings with those notes. Instead, I bought gifts. Instead, I outsourced the emotionally exhausting work of letting my friends and family members know I love them dearly.
And for that, I am a sick, wicked man.
And man am I afraid to write those notes.
I’d rather have my pelvis opened up than open up about how much I love my friends and family. I put stuff on my calendar so that I have an excuse not to write, “Dear Mom.” Confronting my feelings? No thank you.
Am I afraid of vulnerability? I don’t think so. How can writing a platonic love letter make you vulnerable? What, are they going to say, “I see you love me and I hate you for it”? If they say that, then I’ll never have to write another platonic love letter to them again. I can start writing platonic hate letters. Those are more fun, anyways. All the more reason to start opening up about how much you love your friends and family. Again, I’m being a hypocrite. Writing this newsletter is a way for me to procrastinate writing those notes.
Am I afraid they wouldn’t care? “I see you love me as a friend and I don’t care.” Jesus, who says that? If that’s the reply I get, well, now I know to talk to that ‘friend’ once a week instead of everyday.
Am I afraid of discovering that I don’t actually love them? If I wouldn’t want to spend an hour writing about how their life was my life’s best part, then I obviously don’t love them as much as I thought. If I’m qualified to draw statistical anecdotes, I’d say there’s a strong correlation between amount of time spent writing about how much you love somebody and how much you actually love them.
Am I afraid of
Am I afraid of…
I don’t know what I’m afraid of. I don’t know why I haven’t written more notes to friends and family. I don’t know why I chase Christmas deals more than wishes of health and prosperity. At some point, I can’t remember when, I brainwashed myself into believing that affection, love, and genuine appreciation for the gift of the life of friends and family members who care about me is as good of a waste of time as binging those horrible last 3 seasons of The Office.
Confessing to this makes me no less of a sick, wicked, underground man.
My gift to you this weekend is this:
Don’t be afraid.
Write those notes.
 I stole this line from Keaton Henson.
Art music culture life
New music that’s surprisingly good to write to —
Four Tet - Parallel 1
Released on Christmas, this new soundscape from Four Tet works great as background music for writing. A warning for the impatient: There’s some jolting voice samples at the beginning. Give it time. After that, it’s smooth sailing. From Bleep: “Months of confinement can’t help but make Parallel seem like an album of nostalgia for faraway worlds, and Hebden’s deeply felt sentimentality rings through its 10 tracks, each numbered like recollections in a quarantine diary.”
Book I’m reading to prepare for the new year —
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame.
Following my pursuit to be less of a bitch, I’m reading my favorite kind of self-help book. The no bullshit kind. The kind that kicks your ass into high gear. The authors pull lessons from brutal combat scenarios and show how they apply to the less brutal but no less consequential world of civilian life.
Extreme Ownership is one of those books that makes you rethink your excuses for not getting the results you’re after. Highly recommended.
From the podcast
David Goggins is a nice guy and Starbucks has perfect customer service.
Here’s a preview of my conversation with Kyle Bowe. We spent nearly two hours talking public speaking, philosophy, and finding the courage to make big leaps in life. Full episode out on Monday!
I wanna feel Goggins. I wanna put that dude in my head.
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This newsletter is sponsored (and fueled) by Flow State Coffee!
My buddy Greg Frontiero started a company that sells products designed to put you in that groovy sensation called Flow. His first product, Flow State Coffee, is some of the best coffee I’ve tasted (and I’ve had lots). Plus, it doesn’t make you feel like you’re about to have a heart attack after drinking 6 cups of it (I’ve tried).
Readers of this newsletter get a special discount. Use this link to buy a bag and enter Enter code PAUL at checkout for a discount. Cheers.