Not A Meal, But A Gathering

"Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life." - Anthony Bourdain

Not A Meal, But A Gathering
good eats
"Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life." - Anthony Bourdain

I've never been one to enjoy large social gatherings. It's not that I don't like people, food, or music - I just tend to shut down when put in those situations. I have referred to this (jokingly) as being a bit of a self-diagnosed 'extroverted introvert.' According to this piece on the ambivert:

Signs You're an 'Extroverted Introvert':
- You find people to be both intriguing and exhausting.
- Certain people and interactions drain you while others recharge you.
- You're selectively social.
- You have no interest in trying to prove yourself in a crowd of strangers.
- You're often confused for an extrovert.

Yup. Nailed it.

I don't know where that personality trait comes from; perhaps it's deeply aligned with my insecurities and self-inflicted impostor syndrome, or simply that I don't think of myself as being that 'interesting.' Although I have tried to live in a way that often focuses on experiences (such as trekking on Mt Everest, Safari in South Africa, or scuba diving in Belize), isn't it all just dull?

Yes, I'm the type of person who will not only check to see if anyone's at the neighborhood mailbox - if I see anyone out there, I'll wait until I can run out to get the mail when it's quiet to avoid unnecessary conversation. Believe me when I say it: it's not you, it's me.

But over the last year or two, I've been actively forcing myself to embrace some of these personality quirks and re-casting them into strengths by leaning into them as a way to try and establish a different way of thinking. Perhaps it's part of my post-second-heart-attack mindset around 'life 2.0', but the concept of gathering has become a new thing that is unique and vital to my well-being.

I've begun to really look forward to getting a small group with different backgrounds and experiences together, sharing a well-crafted meal in a beautiful setting coupled with a carefully prepared spirit - I'll admit: there's nothing quite like that. I need that. The gathering is the experience; and it is magical.

Priya Parker writes about this in the book The Art of Gathering. 'The gatherings in our lives are lackluster and unproductive - which they don't have to be. We rely too much on routine and the conventions of gatherings when we should focus on distinctiveness and the people involved..'

It's a wonderful read. Here's a talk in which she further dives into the topic:

Last, I can't talk about food and gatherings without mentioning the rabbit hole I went into in the life, adventures, and philosophy of Anthony Bourdain. While most famous for his series Parts Unknown, I found the documentary RoadRunner one of those films that had me stop and re-think about the connections I have with people through food and gathering.

"Food may not be the answer to world peace, but it's a start."
"Never take yourself — or food — too seriously."

Essential lessons to live by.

If you enjoy these posts, you can buy me a coffee ☕️, or if you'd rather keep up with my daily ramblings, follow me on Twitter or keep reading my posts on this blog.

Forward Thinking

This week (I think it was via a tweet), I learned that the Oakland Public Library scans and publishes notes, doodles, and scraps of paper if you accidentally left them in a book. I had never heard of a library doing this and just loved looking through some of the gems.

Here's a few gems:

'learning to cook'
'the found note'
'the tales of mr. poopy-loopy stinky butt'

Check out more of their "found treasures" at their website, Found in a Library Book.

Thought of the week

Latest obsession

I've been using iA Writer for a few years now (in fact, I'm using it to write this newsletter). In what they self-describe as 'a focused environment where you can write freely (now with lasers)', I like Fast Company's review.

A minimalist response to the complexity that's crept into other writing tools

If you're looking for a great application that allows you to focus on your content, I'd highly suggest checking it out. And, as a side bonus: there's no in-app subscription model - you buy it — end of payments.

I'm looking forward to their next app, iA Presenter. As an early beta tester, I'll say that it's something exceptional.

Here are a few of the articles and videos that resonated with me over the last week:

  • At first glance, it may seem obvious, but "Giving a Shit as a Service" can be an oversight that many (huge corporations) fail to recognize. More importantly, the author nails an even more powerful concept: 'find yourself work you can give a shit about. And work with people who give a shit.' Amen - More
  • I always find it fascinating to read when those in the spotlight (heck, even leaders at a company) publicly recognize that they are indeed human. "Bruce Springsteen on Surviving Depression and His Strategy for Living Through the Visitations of the Darkness" was a great read about his struggles and how he deals with them - More
  • While I'm not sure I entirely agree with this opinion piece, "How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization" was an interesting look at the sitcom Friends and the character of Ross Geller. He claims the show 'signals a harsh embrace of anti-intellectualism in America, where a gifted and intelligent man is persecuted by his idiot compatriots.' I'm not sure what to say about that, except that we still laugh when we come across a re-run. Pivot! - More
  • "Small, Simple, Every Day" continues to strengthen a concept that the fantastic book Atomic Habits addresses: 'implement small, simple, daily changes and maintain them over time.' is the best way to defeat feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. - More
  • I'm glad I'm not the only one who's been feeling this, but yes, "Instagram is dead." Om Malik correctly calls it out that the service basically "is a constantly mutating product that copies features from 'whoever is popular now' service." It's sad (but not unexpected), and the real question is: where do you go now? - More
  • "So You've Decided to Unfollow Me" nails something that I've been thinking about: people who want to read your writing. He hits the right cord, though: 'Readers who want to read what you want to write are a gift. Nothing is wrong with readers who don't want to read what you want to write. But when a reader wants you to write something you don't want to write? That's a curse.' Sage advice for anyone who writes - More
  • I was reminded this week that you could just patent anything. "A patent for a stick" proves it - More
  • "The Untold Truth Of A Clockwork Orange" is a behind-the-scenes look at the classic film and its influence on popular culture. If you're a fan of the film, there are some great nuggets in here that I never heard of before (such as Mick Jagger was initially thought of to play the main character, Alex DeLarge!) - More
  • Described as "Tools for better thinking," this site has a great look at many different 'frameworks to help you solve problems, make decisions and understand systems' - More
  • As someone now learning to appreciate sitting outside and having a drink or meal with a small group of friends, "On Becoming a Patio Person" struck a particular chord with me. It's fun to read the author's transformation and how "what might otherwise feel like an incomplete trip to the salad bar feels like a long lunch in Ischia when you're on The Patio" - More


This past week, we celebrated the 36th anniversary of the release of the James Cameron film, Aliens.

"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure." - Ripley, Aliens

Yes - sometimes its the only way to be sure. I've been using this in meetings all week.

Be well. ✌🏻