In June of 2015, Erik, Tom, and I drove from Madison to Chicago to see Jungle perform at the Concord Music Hall. Only a week or two prior to the concert, Erik introduced me to Jungle, and I immediately loved them (per usual as Erik always knows what looks and sounds good). When we learned that they were playing a show in Chicago, we jumped at the opportunity to make a weekend adventure out of it. Erik had a friend who lived in the West Town/Noble Square part of town, and she said we could crash at her place. Perfect! Tom decided to tag along, too.
It stemmed from our lovely host of the weekend, Erik’s friend (gah, what was her name?!). She was taking a pottery class, and when I asked her why she was taking this class, she said something to the tune of, “Oh, I’m just taking this for fun. I’m not very good at it or any art really, but I want to develop my sense of creativity. By creating art, even if it’s shitty pottery, I am focusing on a certain sphere of my life, my soul.”
My memory of the conversation isn’t very clear, but that captures the gist of how I remember it and how it affected me. This idea of “working on your soul” by creating stuff and feeding your creativity triggered a whole stream of consciousness, connecting with other pre-existing ideas in my semantic network. It immediately linked with an idea from an Art of Manliness article that I had just recently read:
Many great men in history, including philosophers, statesman, and writers… emphasized the importance of developing body, mind, and soul.
The idea of developing categorically different skills also connected with my desire to be a sort of modern Renaissance man. I want to be a jack of all trades, the guy with widely varied skills who knows a little about everything, the one you usually call for help. Being a true Renaissance man is a tall order, and I knew I was far from it. So where do I get started? What do I focus on first? Here’s where the “Mind, Body, Soul” idea came into play. I felt that focusing on each of these three spheres was a good starting point on my path to becoming a polymath.
Fast forward a year and a half: it’s Christmas 2016, and Casey gifts me the Nomatic Planner, a Kickstarter-funded, leather-bound planner with tons of ‘features.’ If you’re a Millennial Facebook user, you might recognize it from their ads. Admittedly, I didn’t think I would use it. In school, I used to lose shit all the time, and I quickly adapted to utilizing technology to organize my life. Without Google Calendar and Simplenote, I’d be a trainwreck. Going back to paper? Unlikely.
My main 2017 resolution is to do one thing each day that focuses on each of the three spheres: Mind, Body, and Soul.
Simple enough, right? Each day, learn something new, exert my body, and nourish my soul in some way or another. By the end of the year, I hope it’ll become a habit so that it doesn’t require active planning, and while the bigger-picture goal is to become a modern Renaissance man, it’s really about comprehensive self-improvement.
My mind works in lists, so here’s a working list of ideas that I have developed over the past three months.
- Learn something. Anything.
- Read for fun. (I’ve got a bunch of Oliver Sacks books lined up. Currently reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat).
- Work on a new skill or hobby.
- Go to the gym.
- Bike around New Orleans.
- Break a sweat somehow.
- Abstain from porn.
- Send a postcard to a friend.
- Post a travel photo to social media (or this blog) with an accompanying story.
- Volunteer. (Recently finished my HIV Testing & Counseling training.)
- Go outdoors.
- Visit a friend.
- Go out of my way to help someone else.
- Make something. Create. DIY.
Here’s where you come in:
- First, as with many habits, I need people to keep me accountable. Please check in with me occasionally, and ask me what I did for MBS that day.
- Second, the above is a working list, and I’m actively seeking out feedback and suggestions for what else I can do. What ideas do you have? Please let me know.
- Send me your mailing address! You may get a postcard. 😉