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The Bellman, Whale, Typewriter Artist, and Yayoi Kusama

Plus the best thing that money can buy

Hello friends and welcome back to Life Reimagined, a free weekly elixir designed to make you feel good and live better.

This week, we’ll reflect on how life evolves in random ways, two cool artists, and a film that will remind you to focus on what matters.

🏨 I. The Bellman

I spent 10 days in New York City in October. The Big Apple is the first place I lived after college, and while I had returned a dozen times since moving away in 2016, this trip felt different.

I was now entirely untethered from my former life as a young lad taking on the world of investment banking. In fact, I had drifted so far away from the person I had been that it was hard to imagine that I had ever been that person.

When I got home to San Francisco, I sat at my typewriter and tried to make sense of my fun and reflective return to the city. “The bellman” is what emerged.

“the bellman”

I flew to the city reluctantly

I was already tired

and there is no place

like New York to amplify exhaustion

But then I spent 2 days with a friend

and as we talked late into the night,

I remembered that there is nothing

like friendship to energize a weary soul

The next few days were full of encounters

with old friends and “important people”

Every night, I ate food and had a drink and 

another drink and another until I lost count

I spent my paycheck on fancy clothes in Soho

and visited nice restaurants and elegant bars

I began to enjoy the taste of ambition, money, 

and status that permeated the loud city air

I went to a Russian bathhouse during 

the afternoons to cleanse my mind and body

of the sins of the previous night

I emerged restored and ready for more sin

But no bathhouse could replenish all of 

the energy that my aging body had given

to this wonderful and terrible city and

I knew that my trip was coming to an end

I entered the elevator to my hotel and

wondered what the hell this was all for

Why did I come to this city and plunge into the

hurried existence that I had left behind 7 years ago?

A bellman and a tall man joined me in the elevator

We rode in silence up to the ninth floor

where the tall man was supposed to get out

But he was too busy looking at his phone to notice

The bellman tapped the tall man’s shoulder 

and said that he had arrived at his destination

The tall man left without a thank you and 

the bellman and I shook our heads and smiled

“People need to pay more attention,” I said

“YES, YES,” the bellman roared and we laughed 

and laughed until we arrived at the 10th floor

I exited the elevator and wished him well

And that’s when I began to realize 

what this trip was all about

That laugh with the bellman was

the reason I came to this city

The bellman spends his days tending to hurried and

ungrateful guests who are lost in the frazzled

existence of people who are always trying to 

get somewhere and never quite arriving

I understood these guests because 

I used to be one of them

I had left this city 7 years earlier to learn 

how to exist in the world in a different way

It took me many years to realize that

there is no good reason to hurry, not just

in a hotel, but in the streets, in marriage, in work,

and in encounters with friends and strangers

I walked in my hotel room and sat on the bed

I had to leave this city before I forgot

the lesson that I had fought so hard to learn

It was time to live again without trying to get anywhere

👨‍🎨 II. Meet the Typewriter Artist

I’ve been sharing my love of the typewriter over the last couple of months and recently stumbled upon a guy who’s doing something pretty cool with typewriters.

James Cook, the “Typewriter Artist,” creates pictures of celebrities, nature, cities, and more with his collection of over 60 typewriters. In this video, for example, he creates a skyline in London with a 1970s typewriter.

His Instagram gives you a good flavor of what he’s been creating over the last decade, and his website is a fun rabbit hole to go down to learn more.

I have no idea how much James has earned from his typewritten art, but it seems like he has gained enough traction to make a full-time living from his creations.

James is a good example of how following your interests and mastering a craft can lead you to make a living doing something that falls outside the default path.

🐋 III. Film I Enjoyed

The Whale is a fantastic movie about an overweight writer who attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter during his last few days of life. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that tore me to pieces.

My main takeaway from the film is that at the end of our lives, most of us simply want to feel that we did some good in the world. That good could be the friendships we had, the children we raised, the companies we built, or the strangers we helped.

In the buzz of busyness that permeates daily life, it’s easy to lose sight of these few things that will matter to us as we take our final breath. And in many ways, I think the central task of life is to find a way to see through the noise and find the courage to commit yourself to what really matters to you.

👩🏻‍🎨 IV. Yayoi Kusama

As I shared earlier this year, I discovered Yayoi Kusama’s brilliant art at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. That experience led me to watch this documentary about Yayoi’s life. Steph and I then recorded a podcast about Yayoi’s life, philosophy, and work. I guess you can say I’m a fan!

Then last week, Steph and I had a chance to see the new Yayoi Kusama Infinite Love exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. If you’re in the Bay Area or visiting during the next year, I recommend checking it out. We had to book tickets a month in advance, so plan ahead.

If you’re familiar with Yayoi’s work, you’ll know that she likes pumpkins. I didn’t know why until I saw this quote at the exhibit. I can’t say that pumpkins have ever spoken to me in this way, but it’s always interesting to learn about the things that inspire the artists and people you admire.

Steph and I at the big pumpkin in the SF MOMA

🧠 V. Something I’m Thinking About

In their pursuit of earning, saving, and investing more, many people forget that the highest value of money is not to maximize the number in their net worth spreadsheet.

The best way to use money is to gain control over your time and to use that time on the people, activities, and random things that bring you joy.

“Use money to gain control over your time, because not having control of your time is such a powerful and universal drag on happiness. The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want to, pays the highest dividend that exists in finance.”

Morgan Housel in The Psychology of Money

That's all for now. See you next Sunday.

— Cal

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