What is...

"No, no, no, no.. I'm sorry... I am so, so sorry...." - Dr Strange Supreme, What If...? Episode 4

endless possibilities

This week will start with a big old SPOILER ALERT if you haven't watched What If...? Episode 4, you may want to skip this week's topic. Or - better yet - go watch it, then read on. I was inspired to write about it since it is fresh in my thoughts and in my opinion, the best episode of the series to date. (Heck, I'm even listening to the soundtrack while I write this).

Here we go... last chance to skip over...

If you're still here - you are likely familiar with the concept of the show What If...?; each episode explores a key event in the MCU that plays out differently than what we've seen in the films across the multi-verse by a character making a different choice at a critical moment. Episode 4 takes on Doctor Strange and asks the question: 'What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?'.

In this part of the multi-verse, things play out a bit differently than what we saw in the film; Strange suffers a different kind of wound. Instead of crashing his car and losing the ability to perform surgery with the cursing of his hands, the love of his life, Christine Palmer, is killed in the crash, leaving him heartbroken and emotionally devastated. Seeking for answers by mastering the Mystic Arts, he still becomes Doctor Strange; but one night on the anniversary of her death, the frenzied doctor messes with the time stone and continually goes back in time to try and save Christine. No matter what he does, she keeps on dying.

It turns out that there's a reason she can't be saved - her death is an 'Absolute Point'; an "unchangeable, unmovable" event that will continue happening, even though the circumstances and context may change.

Strange's arrogance and obsession that he can fix anything send him deeper and deeper down a dark path (spoiler warning again) that ultimately destroys the universe. In the end, he is alone, trapped in a tiny crystal — pretty dark stuff.

So, what does this have to do with what I've been spending time thinking about this week?

It's pretty straightforward: life. Shit happens. So it goes.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it." - Marcus Aurelius

We are all faced with both good and bad things that happen to us. You may lose a job, have a painful breakup, win the lottery or suffer unexpected loss or health issues.

The stoic lesson here is how you choose to respond to those things. You can blame, seek vengeance, be better or be bitter. But you still can't control those things from happening. Your thoughts will determine your action, and to land in a better place, you need to figure out ways to stay positive in your thinking.

I doubt many of you will end up destroying reality, but I for one, am working hard to have a different view of things when the shit happens.

It's all about perspective.

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Forward Thinking

Watching the incredible changes to planet earth with hurricanes, wildfires, ice caps melting, etc., I can't help but think about a letter that Kurt Vonnegut wrote to the people living in 2088; warning about climate change.

And here is a crazy idea I would like to try on you: Is it possible that we aimed rockets with hydrogen bomb warheads at each other, all set to go, in order to take our minds off the deeper problem—how cruelly Nature can be expected to treat us, Nature being Nature, in the by-and-by?Now that we can discuss the mess we are in with some precision, I hope you have stopped choosing abysmally ignorant optimists for positions of leadership.

Incredible wisdom and humor in this piece read by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Thought of the week

Many great ideas in this on how to have a conversation with something more thought-provoking than "How Are You?"

Latest obsession

The Grovemade Pen is the only pen that I have on my desk these days. It's wonderfully designed:

Machined facets prevent it from rolling away. The solid steel and premium hardwood stand provides a hefty home where you don’t even need to retract the ink.
grovemade pen

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

  • Choose wisely: 'You can make time for things that matter, or you can make time for more email.' In "The Best Time-Management Advice Is Depressing But Liberating" read about how, as humans, we always 'seek ways to cram ever more into our finite number of days' and proposes a radical shift in thinking. 'That we will die not having done a tremendous number of things we care about; that every commitment we make to a person, place, or line of work rules out countless others that may fulfill us; that our lives are already ticking away.' A wonderful read - More
  • "5 Skills to Help You Develop Emotional Intelligence" permeates every aspect of your life. A great look at self-awareness and how to channel your emotions - More
  • The Virgin Galactic test flight from a few weeks back doesn't appear to have been as flawless as initially thought (shocking!). In "The Red Warning Light on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Space Flight," read about the FAA's investigation of its off-course descent and some of the post-flight weirdness involving the firing of Mark Stucky, Virgin Galactics lead test pilot, and flight-test director. - More
  • Assume. Positive. Intent. are three significant words to help build bridges and establish psychological safety in organizations."The Art of Not Taking Things Personally" is a beautiful article that dives into common patterns that are often misinterpreted - More
  • "Why Your Work Ethic May Be Sabotaging Your Success" look at how 'disciplined runners know how to not to always do the max.' Read about how some know how to scale back and achieve long-term success and others always push too hard and are plagued by injury - More
  • "Great ideas always sound like they're far too soon" is an essential read from Seth Godin this week on how 'if you wait until the market is telling you exactly what it wants, you're almost certainly too late.' - More
  • File under 2021: "' Entire Freaking Cow' Spotted In Car Waiting in Line at a Wisconsin McDonald's Drive-Thru." The cow was one of three calves they recently purchased at auction, and the owner stopped at a drive-thru on the way home - More
  • "Why I hate the phrase 'breaking down silos'" and other cliches used frequently as a substitute for critical thinking. 'The people who use these phrases are almost never the ones who are out there in the muck and grind, struggling to solve real problems' - More
  • I bought this one immediately; check out "Mela — Silvio Rizzi's New Recipe Manager App for iPhone, iPad, and Mac" as a way to store, catalog, scan, and discover recipes. It does a fantastic job of importing recipes from almost every website I've thrown at it; highly recommended - More
  • Playdate was another instant buy for me. Now read "The Story of the Playdate gaming handheld" (or listen to the podcast) - More
  • "Solving for stress" (another read this week from Seth) looks at 'The solution to stress isn't reassurance. It's accurately understanding the world as it is, and making choices about what we do and how we do it' - More


I couldn't resist waiting to send this out when I discovered it to several friends. It's epic and I wanted to close out this week with it. Be well.

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Jamie Larson