Yesterday I had what I would have considered an absolutely perfect day:
Wake up super early, journal, workout, go to the barn, spend the afternoon at a cafe and work, go for a hike with my puppy, watch TV with my family, read and go to sleep.
I used to obsess so much about being perfect, about doing things right.
The perfect routine. The best habits. Following the schedule, task by task, having my whole day planned out.
I was like a machine – a strong and rigid robot.
And that’s why I was so afraid – before starting the altMBA – of what it would be like to have my schedule turned upside down, of leaving behind my robot armor.
But during the program, there was always this one thing I would have to face everyday – no matter what else was going on, no matter my fears, no matter what other obligations or problems popped up – I just had to ship it.
It was intense.
It was challenging.
It was fun.
It was mind opening.
It was a journey.
Now I’m back “home”, back to my normal life. But I don’t feel like it’s mine anymore.
For this last week, I have been trying to go back to my “perfect routine” – while attempting to implement some of the lessons from the program – but that armor doesn’t seem to fit anymore.
Yes, not having it on brings chaos and uncertainty.
But the chaos sparks creativity.
And uncertainty means freedom.
I’m not so sure I want to put it on anymore, I don’t know if I want to keep being this machine.
I have a new definition to a “perfect day”:
It’s not about filling it with good things in the best order.
It’s not about doing 10 things I’m happy with.
It’s not about all the gods smilling upon me, the stars lining up and everything happening exactly like I want them to.
It’s about asking myself: “what is the one hard thing I can do today that will make me proud?”
And nothing else matters. Just that – not solving all my problems, not getting everything right – one thing. One hard challenge.
Today I’m gonna tell you another story that will probably make you think I’m completely crazy. Alright, here we go.
This happened back in the end of February. And things were starting to look good, I had just made a new friend (Laurinha) and had just found out that I was accepted into the altMBA. But I still felt… bored.
All I was doing (when not exercising or doing chores around the house) was studying for the SAT (fun!), slowly working on my coding skills (this actually is fun, but again SLOWW), and “exploring my interests” which pretty much just means reading about whatever the hell I want, hoping I’ll get a clue of what I want to spend thousands of hours studying in the future.
But these hobbies, even though I know they will help me one day, don’t really give me any instant gratification or that feeling of “hey! I did something today”. And they involved a lot of sitting around. I hate sitting.
So, on a beautiful rest day, when my butt got tired of the chair – partially inspired by the book I was reading about WW2 at the time – I had what seemed to be the greatest idea of all time: I’m going to start a garden!
There’s just one little problem – I live in a pretty modern neighborhood. There’s barely any land left for houses.
My mom was very mad at me at first: “you don’t even water the little plants we have in the balcony!”
Well, of course I don’t, they are little. If I’m gonna have a garden, I want it to be the best frickin garden in town!
To that she rolled her eyes, but then she gave me the solution. She has a friend that lives here in Jurerê and next to her house there’s an abandoned lot. Apparently, the owner of the lot told my mom’s friend that she could use for something if she’d like and she had already thought of planting some stuff there but just hadn’t had the chance.
The gods approve!
Crazy idea… check!
Land to plant on… check!
My mom says that she’ll talk to her friend to pay someone to go clean the lot and get it ready for me to plant.
My first instinct was to say: NO! If I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do all of it! I’m not paying someone to make it pretty and easy, what’s the point in that?
That same day I asked Laurinha a very weird question: “hey, Laurinha, you wouldn’t happen to have a hoe I could use right?” she must have thought I was completely crazy – keep in mind our friendship was just starting and she was just beginning to comprehend what she was getting herself into.
Surprisingly enough, she said yes!
So, later that afternoon, I ran to her house and borrowed the hoe. Then, I began to make my way to the lot.
It’s only like a 5 minute walk away from her house but I was still learning my way around the new neighborhood and I got just a little lost… nothing more normal then a lost teenager walking around with a huge hoe on her shoulder. I got some funny, and maybe even scared, looks. I’m surprised no one called the police. But, eventually found my way to the lot and sized the job ahead of me.
Here’s what it looked like before:
I figured it would take me a little while to clean it all up, but I could probably get it done in like… 40 minutes right?
Hahaah silly Luisa.
It took me almost 2 hours of pretty intense work.
But it wasn’t too bad, I even got some prizes!
It was pretty comical actually, I would smash the dirt with the hoe and a random onion or sweet potato would spawn from the ground (Very similar to when you right click grass in MINECRAFT).
When I was finally done, all covered in dirt and sweat (because of course I figured the middle of the afternoon on a sunny summer day was the best time to do this) this is what my future-garden looked like:
Not too bad, not bad at all.
Next step: actually plant something.
I figured it was enough gardening for a day and I still had to take the hoe back (more funny stares from the neighbors), but that same week I rode my bike to a flower shop and bought some seeds and saplings.
Here’s what it looked like when after I had planted my little seeds 😌
And here’s what it’s looking like today:
Needless to say I’m pretty proud of my little garden and it’s a good place to go when I need some time away from the daily stresses of life.
On one of these days, as I watched the seed finally germinate and slowly win their battle against gravity, I stumbled across a curious question: how do seeds know how to grow up? How do the specializing cells of the plant know that the “root” cells have to go “down” and the rest “up”?
If you’re also curious about this, check out this post (coming soon) where I try to answer those very questions.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed and maybe even had a laugh.
And finally, what is something you’d like to do? Not thinking about a huge reward in the future, not thinking about being “productive” or getting anything away from it.
I was on the beach again today and guess what? I saved another fish! I’m calling this one Rupert. I was actually able to get footage this time, it’s not a great video (the paparazzi was too late to the scene).
I had insomnia, which is not uncommon for me – I like to blame my genetics: I remember waking up in the middle of the night and quietly opening my door to peak out and watch the movie my dad was always watching – but honestly, I think, just like my father, I simply had something more exciting to do then sleeping.
So, at 3:00AM I finally gave up trying to go back to sleep and just got up. I made coffee – COFFEE! Like I’m sure you’d end up realizing sooner or later: I’m addicted to coffee – did some stretching to wake ma bodee and sat in front of my computer. When I got tired of banging my head against coding problems it was around 5:40.
Perfect! The rest of the world is awake. I can go outside.
Well… the rest of the world was a little lazy on that beautiful sunday because when I got to the beach there wasn’t anyone there. Not a single soul.
It was the most peace and silence I’ve felt in a long time.
The sun was struggling to make its light shine from behind the mountain and the clouds were bright pink.
I took a deep breath.
And then I started running.
I had not planned to run. I was wearing pajama shorts and my grandpa’s oversized Clemson sweatshirt. But I ran anyway.
After a couple of minutes I started to play some random new music on my phone.
And then this one song begins to play. And wholly shirtballs, it was perfect. It’s like he wrote that song for me, the me at that exact moment. All my thoughts and worries – “am I going to regret waking up so early?”, “did I use this time well?”, “what the hell am I doing with my life?” – it was all answered by that song.
The few souls that saw me at the beach that day probably had a good laugh at the sight of a messy looking teenager, dancing and skipping as she runs like a little kid.
The song is called I’m born to run, and here are the best little snippets:
I’m born to run down rocky cliffs Give me grace, bury my sins Shattered glass and black holes Can’t hold me back from where I need to go
This part really hit close to home, this last year has had some really awesome moments but it also had some dark phases. But it’s okay, that’s in the past, I’m running.
I’m gonna spend my time like tomorrow won’t come Do whatever I want like I’m born to run I wanna see Paris, I wanna see Tokyo I wanna be careless even if I break my bones
I’ve been saying for a long time “I want to do ____. I’ll do it when _____ happens”.
I want to work, I’ll do it when I’m 18.
I want to study, I’ll do it when I get to college.
I want to travel, I’ll do it when covid goes away.
But then what is left to do today? Why am I putting my life on hold?
Yes, I’m gonna do all those things and I can’t wait, but now? I still have to live, and I am: I’m running.
My body moves, it’s speaking loud Don’t have to say what I’m thinking now All these things I’ve seen and done I live my life like I’m born to run
I don’t own anyone an explanation for what I do. I don’t need anyone’s permission. I have a voice. I have stories. I might not be the most qualified, the most experienced, the best at everything, but I’ve seen and done so much already.
Needless to say Sunday was a great day. I got this energy and drive that has been with me ever since.
I’m still running. I started this blog. I let life know that I’m ready and opportunities I’ve been looking for have started to show up.
Maybe they were there all along and I was just too focused on the distant future to see what was right in front of me.
How about you? What are you putting on hold? What are you waiting for? Go run.
This is a story that actually happened a few weeks ago but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, trying to figure out: am I a hero or a murderer?
It was a beautiful late afternoon, I was riding my bike on the beach with my friend Laurinha.
We’re talking and gossiping when I suddenly scream “LOOK! A FISH!”.
Laurinha almost falls off her bike (it wouldn’t be the first time I make her fall), we stop and walk over to a fish about the size of my hand, flapping desperately, trying to get back to the water.
I look at Laurinha. When I see the scared and doubtful look on her face I realize: I’ve been the one elected to save the fish.
Already feeling the weight of the superhero cape on my back, I carefully pick up the poor little guy and prepare myself to throw it carefully in the water.
As soon as it leaves my hand my brain screams “Shit!” and I’m immediately reminded of my old handball teacher who would scream at me “THIS IS NOT VOLLEYBALL! THROW THAT BALL STRAIGHT!”. The poor fish went 6 ft up in the sky before splashing into the water.
When she was finally able to stop laughing at my demise, Laurinha tried to make me feel better by saying that I “at least gave him a better death”. Great. That’s exactly the hero you’d want around right?
So, here’s the big question. Did that fish die? Was the impact enough to kill it?
I wasn’t going to jump in the water and go all “Finding Nemo” so I settled for the next best thing to ease my consciousness: physics!
It’s funny how a silly question can lead to interesting discoveries, here’s what I think might interest you from all the research I did.
So, before talking about fish, why do people die when they hit the water?
You’ve probably heard someone say that falling into the sea from high distances is the same as crashing into plain concrete. But why is this?
The problem itself is not the water, but actually the falling person! It’s not the water that turns solid, but actually the person that turns “liquid”. Crazy right?
There’s a certain amount of energy that is required to “keep things together” or “pull things apart”, this energy is called “binding energy”. In a free-fall, the body’s kinetic energy is higher than its binding energy (if going at a fast enough speed) and the same behaves like a fluid.
Thus, at high-velocities you have a crash between a “liquid” (the person) and a “liquid” (the water), which would be the same as a crash between a solid and a solid.
But how fast does one need to be going?
There is something in the field of Physics called “Terminal Velocity.” By definition, that would be the maximum velocity that something can achieve during a free-fall. When reaching terminal velocity, chances are that the human being – and any other organism – who fell in the water is dead.
It’s estimated that it takes about 10-14 seconds of free-fall for a person to achieve 99% of its terminal velocity, which would be in the range of 117 to 125 mph. That would be equivalent to a fall of about 1800-1900 feet!
Now, let’s talk fish…
There was a research done in 1972, by Bell and DeLacey. They actually found the terminal velocities of different sized fish by throwing them in the water from a helicopter:
Fishes 4-5 inches had a terminal velocity of ~36 mph after a drop of 100 feet.
Fishes in the range of 23 inches had terminal velocities of ~130 mph.
The survival of fish in the range of 6-7 inches was in the 98% range for drops of 100-300 feet.
Considering that the fish (I’m gonna call him Bob because I’m tired of saying fish) I encountered was around 6 inches, it’s terminal velocity was much lower than larger fish (good news for little Bob!). In the Physics language, lower velocity = lower kinetic energy; thus, binding energy of the fish is higher than its kinetic energy and its body behaves like a proper solid. A solid crashing on a liquid = survival. :
And, as indicated in (3), the survival rate for fish in the range of 6-7 inches, which have a slighter bigger terminal velocity, is a whooping 98% for drops of 100-300 feet!
I consider myself a pretty strong girl and I do get confused by the whole feet x meters shenanigan, but I believe it’s safe to say I did not throw Bob 100 feet in the air.
Therefore, I hereby proclaim, by the powers invested in me by the laws of physics and common sense, that I, Luisa, am a fish-hero!