Puppies and Cupcakes and Martian Mountains

Well folks, let’s try to add some content to this thing. I mentioned in my first post that I’d like this blog to be about learning.  Now, you might say, that’s an awfully vague thing to base a blog on. After all, pretty much any topic can fall under the guise of learning if you want it to.

I might say, that’s the point. Why limit myself too much when I’m not even sure what I’m getting into? 🙂

Still, there’s something slightly disingenuous about a blog that purports to be about learning and then talks about nothing but puppies and cupcakes, so let’s see if we can take this vague thing called learning and find something to say.

(By the way, there WILL be posts about puppies and cupcakes. They will be glorious. You just wait.)

So. Learning. There’s some nice formal dictionary definition I’m sure, but really all it means is to acquiring knowledge and skill. That’s cool – you’re doing that right now by reading this, I’m doing it by writing this. Might not be useful yet, but it’s a start.

What’s the point, though? There’s certainly something to the notion of learning for the sake of learning. It’s self-edifying, good for the soul, etc. How far that gets you is going to be personal. The other reason we learn, which I think is easier to talk about, is to accomplish goals. To improve our skills.

For me, I want to take everything I do and I want to do them better.

Not just a little better either; we’re talking major, shoot-for-the-stars-wow-you’re-kind-of-delusional-aren’t-you better. Real gargantuan better-ness.

For instance, I play StarCraft 2 at a reasonably competitive level (High NA Masters, for those of you who know what that means. For those that don’t, worry not – I’ll cover it in more detail than you want to know about later.) I’m not satisfied with that. I look at the best player in the country (heck, the world!) and think, “I want to be that good.”

Are those realistic goals? Maybe, maybe not, though I suppose that depends on how you define ‘realistic. Here’s a better way to look at it. What’s the worst that can happen if I try? “Sorry, mom. I tried to be the best player in the world and I’m not. I hope, someday, you’ll forgive me.” That’s not a failure. The failure, for me, would be if I didn’t try.

I’ve got a number of things I work to improve at. The most important one to me right now is my writing. That’s part of the reason for the blog. I write fantasy novels. Someday, I want to be published. I want people to love my books. I want to sell a bazillion copies. I want to hit the best seller lists. I want to lead seminars teaching other new writers how to do what I did, before retiring to my personal castle complete with secret doors, towers, and guard-dragon.

Kind of a tall mountain to climb, huh?

Now, just to make it clear that I’m not some deluded narcissist. Those are my goals. Those are my dreams. They are not things I’ve earned. They are not things the universe owes to me. It will not be some grand injustice if I do not obtain them.

Here’s my theory.  You need to aim high, way higher than what your friends or parents or pretty much anyone, including your own mind, will tell you is reasonable. Don’t assume things are impossible.  Instead, be the person who says, “A mountain the size of Olympus Mons? Sweet! Let’s try to climb it.”

Will you get to the top? Maybe not. But I bet you’ll get a heck of a lot higher than if you stick with a smaller mountain.

Inspired yet? Ready to fly to Mars and do some mountain climbing?

In the next post, I’ll talk about my approach to these tasks, in particular, the troublesome problem of self-evaluation and discovering your weaknesses. Till then, take care and dream big.

(Or, if you don’t want to do any of that, eat a cupcake while petting a puppy. While this isn’t something I’ve tried, it seems like it pretty much is guaranteed to make you feel great about yourself.)


6 thoughts on “Puppies and Cupcakes and Martian Mountains

  1. ksimler says:

    Glad to have a friend giving this a go as well. Looking forward to hearing what else you have to say Tristan — about puppies, cupcakes, or otherwise.

  2. chrisaross says:

    “If you built castles in the sky; your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now, put the foundations under them.”
    Henry David Thoreau

  3. Kars says:

    I’m reading more and more blogs and I’m falling more and more in love.

    I was wondering tho, you mention that you need to ‘You need to aim high, way higher than what your friends or parents or pretty much anyone, including your own mind, will tell you is reasonable’ but what about people that disagree 100% with you and that they are demotivating you by saying that they think you can’t reach it? How do you react to that kind of stuff?

    I would love to see a blog post about something about people telling you can’t do stuff but you believe that you can do it and what a good way is to react to it. How to react with demotivation in general.

    • Hi Kars

      Thanks for reading! You bring up a great point – I’ll definitely do a blog on negativity at some point, I have a lot to say there. I’ve been very fortunate to have been surrounded by people who generally didn’t tell me there was stuff I couldn’t do. James Owen, who I talk about here (https://tristandbrand.com/2012/07/08/a-significant-experience/), talks about this as well. You might enjoy his book Drawing out the Dragons – he’s gone through far more adversity and negativity than I have (and hopefully ever will), and makes some powerful points on the topic that I found inspirational.

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