Washington Square Park.

I just picked an awesome $3 breakfast, a coffee, ice cold bottled water and bagel from a street vendor. It’s 7:35am. With no particular direction in mind, I found myself walking through a quiet SoHo, still deep in slumber. I soon wandered into the beautiful Washington Square Park.

The sun is out, the bench is empty. I can pull out my pocket notebook and take a breath.

I am surrounded by a three hundred and sixty degree ring of greenery and I have every intention of enjoying the warm rays on my skin before the sun takes full effect.

The young woman to my left appears to be my carbon copy: bottled water, a black pair of TOMS shoes with bare feet resting on the ground and notebook in hand.

As I focus my attention away from my bench counterpart, I notice that the flowing water from the fountain that sits within the centre of the park is serving as the soundtrack for every person in the park but me.

The Civil Wars have now been removed from my ears, I bid farewell to their sweet Alabama harmonies.

Removing the audio barrier between myself and the park creates a different kind of awareness.

I have opened my ears to the song of water, a light breeze and yoga classes on the grass just a few meters away. This makes me appreciate that this beautiful morning is not my unique experience.

Observing the people that that have chosen to spend their morning here is a beautiful privilege. It is another moment driven by serendipity and sweet luck.

Today the comfort of my iPhone is turned off. It’s so easy to hesitate and plan, but where is the fun in that? How else would I have ended up here?

I would not have spent a day simply drifting through Williamsburg, surveying the incredible street art. I would not have met Rob, the freelance Android developer who acted as my walking spirit guide through the Brooklyn startup spaces.

After feeling completely present in this moment and armed with just a pen, notebook, cash, credit and ID, I feel ready to explore again.

A stream of consciousness from @bluebottlenyc

My favourite thing to do is pull out my Macbook Air in a cafe and let words flow through. As powerful as caffeine, the experience feels natural and cathartic.

I”m a little over halfway through my US adventure which thus far has led me to Seattle, WA where I spent time with the US Deloitte Digital crew and inhaled my body weight in caffeine, Seaside Heights, New Jersey and New York City.

After what feels like a fleeting five days in New York, I now find myself sitting at a table at Bluebottle Coffee in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

It could be the Fleetwood Mac playing softly in the background, the comfort of awesome coffee or the dry humour of the barista standing behind the bright red La Marzocco espresso machine, but this is the first time that I have written since arriving in the country nine days ago.

It”s quiet here. There is a tinge of sunlight making it”s way through the open shop front, just enough to provision the large space with a subtle radiance. People walk in and out but no real crowd forms. Bluebottle is situated on Berry Street, a stone”s throw away from the main strip and crowded wifi cafes of Bedford Avenue. The word I use to describe this place is “chiller”.

After hustling through Chinatown, knocking back scotches in TriBeCa and shopping on Broadway, this is a rare moment of perfection.

A communal table, a fedora, a $3.75 coffee and the sense that nobody gives a fuck.

I now realise that I have just under two more weeks to explore the city, to become a little more familiar with it”s anatomy and to understand the allure of the constantly beating heart of New York.

It had to be the fedora.

Finding flow in an analogue moment.

It’s cold, wet and grey in Melbourne. When you drive just an hour out of the city and journey through the winding roads, there is a small coastal town with a bakery, a general store and a recently renovated hotel with a uniquely Australian bill of fare.

As soon as I step foot out of the car I reach my flow state – this is either life’s greatest moment or its most common experience.

My week in the city interfaces with a weekend of back roads, highways, beaches and wineries that serve as a backdrop to this town.

Temporarily free from the internet and concrete with just a mobile command centre, I find myself present in a prolonged moment of ease. I wander the town, breathe in the fresh air, inhale the coffee and amongst the quiet.

This is the benefit of a customised life of technology enabled connectedness. Being connected to the grid is how I choose to live most of the time, but having the freedom to rest hard means returning to the city restored and alive, ready explore the edge.

It”s all connected. These analogue moments are crucial to maintaining a truly present mind in my networked life.

You don’t care, you just scribble stuff.

Jon Chambers is the Creative Director at Deloitte Digital, Seattle, WA.

He showed me his sketchbook at dinner last night. I asked him to tell me about this drawing.

“Really early on when I was in school I learned that if you draw with a ballpoint pen you don’t think about “Can I erase this?” You just draw. You don’t care, you just scribble stuff. I started that drawing just scribbling stuff and then it turned into that. I think that’s important, just getting outside your mind and “Oh my God, can I erase that?”…just draw it. Perfection, it’s overrated”

Opportunity to disrupt.

We are not just kids staring at computer screens, we are participants in a digital world.

This digital world serves as a meeting point between the space of flows and space of place. It is a communication interface between these two entities and constantly recombinant.

As digital natives we have bypassed the mainstream to become the first hand content creators, sharers and curators in a space that is anything but scarce.

Look no further than the global reach of the viral #Kony video which has amassed over 100 million views and made the Ugandan rebel leader a household name.

We have the opportunity to share ideas, become thought leaders and cause a disruption.

Let’s not pass it up.

 

We are the product designers for a digital world.

I spent today conducting product testing.

I just watched this video by Wilson Miner, he was responsible the now famous re-design of the Apple website in 2006 and is currently heading up the design team at Rdio.

Miner talks about the twentieth century and how the cars themselves didn’t change that much, instead, we built our environments around them. Furthermore, he describes how objects are simply empty vessels that we fill with our own lives.

As designers we have the opportunity to design more than an interface – we are a new generation of product designers for a digital world.

Wilson Miner – When We Build from Build on Vimeo.

The archetype.

I spent eighteen hours with one of my close friends over the weekend. We talked lot, watched a video about how we shape environment through design and spent Monday morning at a Melbourne cafe writing.

In the afternoon I met up with another close friend. We watched Clueless, drank tea and talked about the Alannah Hill Autumn/Winter 2012 Collection.

One is a dentist and the other works at a start-up. One will affectionately call me a nerd for when I tell her about this post, the other will push me to achieve peak performance by spending the entire morning writing with me, disconnected from the web.

Both women are strong, accomplished and light hearted with distinct personalities. Both have unknowingly shaped me in some way.

What I”ve just noticed is the awesome feeling of owning up to these different sides and not pretending to be one colour.

We do not fit into a single archetype. Instead, we thrive in contrasting environments.

We are agile, complex and multifaceted.

Scars.

Last night I had the privilege of spending an uninterrupted evening with a close friend. We effortlessly wove together a complex web, talking at length about family, relationships, edge living, interface design and women as leaders in the workplace. We also ate pizza and watched Mean Girls.

Somewhere between Lindsay Lohan and a chi machine session, the subject turned to scars. Physical and unseen, we all seem to have them. Some can be lasered off, others are chronic with scar tissue that will never fade.

My scar has been both visible and concealed. It bled profusely for four years and is now mostly healed.

It still opens up occasionally but I have learned how to to manage it:

  • I surround myself with a support system
  • I develop daily standards and try to live up to them
  • I build structure and adapt to chaos in parallel

The mark it left behind is an unreasonable mindset married with an acute self awareness.

Imagine for a moment wanting to dive out of the plane right now, you just need a designated mark to land on. You’re also aware that when you dive out the plane that the mark could always move.

Eventually I won’t need the mark. That boldness will come with time.

This is how I treat my scar. I don’t put a band aid on a bullet wound and expect it to heal. I remove the debris, dress it and let it mend.

I’m sitting at a table at Monk Bodhi Dharma with Cole. I am highly caffeinated.

From Boulder to Birmingham with my dad.

Emmylou Harris – Boulder to Birmingham

When I was eleven years old my dad introduced me to Emmylou Harris. He taught me that Harlan Howard famously described country music as “three cords and the truth” and that this album broke that cardinal rule.

‘Pieces of the Sky’ on vinyl is still our jam.

When I was thirteen he took me to Boulder because of this song. We spent the day walking around the town, talking about music and life.

When I was twenty-one I wrote a thesis about country music. I talked about this song.

This morning my parents were getting ready to head down to the beach for the weekend and this song shuffled onto the speakers. It triggered a heated debate about the ethereal vocal in country music. He says Emmylou, I say Vince Gill.

Thirteen years have passed and we are still talking about Emmylou Harris. My dad is awesome.

The calm walk.

Last year Pete Williams taught me how to keep calm and carry on.

Step outside. Take a deep breath. Start walking. Slowly. Don’t rush. Feel your feet touching the ground. Another deep breath. Continue.

Every morning, conscious and aware of the present moment, I walk for fifteen minutes.

Where do you feel most connected?

Just press publish.

On Thursday I wrote a post about letting go. I started writing in my notebook on the tram and finished in the office. Before I press publish I lost the draft.

Forty minutes of capture and refinement was lost. The saved draft was a skeleton of the finished product. It was a bummer.

Reece tweeted:

@juleshughan Worst thing ever. That wall of carefully crafted text will never come back in the same way.

— Reece (@reece_wagner) March 2, 2012

Needless to say, posting daily in March is not about refinement, it is about making an appearance, whether it is an rhapsody or a simple observation.

This approach is working. I feel compelled to capture my insights and press publish.

In six months time the scrawl in this notebook will be indecipherable, and I will be a better writer.

Why stick to the grid when the world is wide open?

I’m sitting at the communal table in a quiet St Kilda cafe. A German couple are sitting at the other end of with a Lonely Planet Melbourne & Victoria travel Guide. The man is methodically mapping out the St Kilda area and making plans for the day.

His eggs arrive and he closes the book. He exchanges brief pleasantries with the waiter and asks him what they should do for the day.

The waiter suggests that they visit the penguins at St Kilda Pier and then explore the area on foot. The German man appears surprised by the advice, “Why?” he asks.

The St Kilda local’s response is simple, “You can visit the beach or you can experience Melbourne.”

Drop everything now, grab the essentials (keys, cash, cards and phone) and see where the day takes you.

Why stick to the grid when the world is wide open?