I hope you’re doing well and staying safe. The situation seems to be stabilizing here in the Bay Area (and much of America) on the pandemic front. Vaccinations have been plentiful, and restrictions are being lifted. I’m still playing it relatively safe, but it’s been wonderful to see more friends in person lately. I won’t say that things are going back to normal — the phrase has temporarily lost shared meaning — but I will say that I’m feeling optimistic as I take more and more steps to re-enter the outside world.
A lot has changed in the past year and a half. One of the most dramatic shifts for me has been the growth of online friendships. I’ve been lucky to connect with so many interesting, curious and generous individuals. I’m eager to see more of these connections translate into in-person relationships. As challenging as the extended isolation of this pandemic has been, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to be more intentional with who I spend time with.
This period of forced reflection has gifted me with perspective. It has helped me identify the priorities and people that matter most, whether they be new friends I can’t wait to meet, or old ones I can’t wait to see again. It’s up to me to facilitate the interactions I want to have.
With the force of an earthquake, these extended lockdowns have wiped clean the relationship boards of our lives. We are tasked with rebuilding while tremors keep reverberating. It will not be easy, but in every challenge lies opportunity for growth.
May we find the wisdom to surround ourselves with people who energize us, and the strength to energize them in return.
Today’s edition features a new essay on status police — individuals who police our behavior and stifle our growth — and the liberation to be found in empowering ourselves. I also share some updates on writing my book of fables, along with some fun links and art. Enjoy, and take care!
Here’s a snippet from my latest essay, which you can read in full on my blog.
Do you remember the freedom of childhood play? You tasted every object, crossed every line, pushed every envelope. You did it without hesitation. The world was your playground.
As you grew up, you were taught to respect the rules. You stopped frolicking and started following. You were told that rewards were waiting for you, as long as you stayed in your lane. After all, you’d come so far on the current path. Why would you throw all of that away? You couldn’t think of an answer, so you just kept going.
One day, you hit a bump in the road. Or two. Or three. You wondered if it was time to alter your course, to veer off the path, to try something new. The curious cat in you daydreamed about what lied in the forest beyond the trail. The questions rumbled in your mind, echoing and building into a cacophony that couldn’t be silenced.
But change is scary, so you did nothing. You resisted and rationalized, deluded and delayed.
Finally, after years of internal struggle and endless overthinking, you mustered the courage to make a change. You took a tiny step towards a new beginning.
And that’s when you ran into the status police.
Status police wander our communities, waiting for opportunities to perform an intervention. The minute you try to step out of your assigned box, they show up out of thin air, and not-so-gently nudge you back into it. They serve as a constant reminder of your position and place, and how important it is (to them) that you stay directly in it.
The status police are a force among us that no one hired, let alone desired…
Writing a Book of Fables
As I’ve been writing my book, I’ve been sharing notes, newsletters and videos like this in the spirit of working in public. You can now find all of my book-related learnings on a new landing page for the book:
Visit the book page: salman.io/book
So far, the page includes the announcement video with details on why I’m writing this book, sample stories, alongside newsletters on how I learned to write in scenes and draw iteratively. I’ve also just added a new entry to the page — a video recording of my convo with my good friend Patrick Perini:
Watch the video: First-Time Authors on Writing a Book
We both have a background in tech, and are now diving into the world of writing fiction books. In this convo, we touch on the power of improv, playfulness, trusting your process and much more:
Wayfinder by Matt DesLauriers — A mesmerizing, beautiful and relaxing art-experience-meets-game. The visual style is remnant of Monument Valley (one of the greatest games ever made for the Apple platform), and it’s full of little surprises. Give it a wander. You won’t regret it.
Copy Your Favorite Writers by David Perell — Imitate your favorite writers, and pay attention to the resistance (where you feel compelled to change it). In those moments, you’ll discover your personal style. Reveal your uniqueness by practicing imitation.
david.li — Incredible collection of visual graphics projects. The Choir and Blob Opera are so much fun to play with, but my favorite is the Ocean Wave Simulation. It reminds me of the final project I did back in my University days. I built a 3D game that let you drive a motor boat in water. It was one of the toughest projects I’ve ever worked on. The hardest part was emulating water itself — the waves, the buoyancy, the lighting. I can still remember the moment I finally got it to work. It was 4AM, I was alone in the computer lab, and the boat was just floating on its own, without any input from me. It felt like I had created life.
I’ll leave you with these gorgeous color landscapes from Kevin Gnutzmans:
My favorite is this piece, his first in a series on Ghibli paintings. This one’s inspired by Nausicaa, my favorite Ghibli movie: