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La Bohème

We got lost in our dreams
Our impossible dreams
It is the usual story
And when we woke at last
We found our day had passed
Our little time gone by

La Bohème is one of my most favourite songs of all time1, which is rather odd considering it has been released in 1965, the year my father was born.

I usually listen to it while driving with my girlfriend or being at home alone, enjoying the calm and loneliness. It is then that I daydream:

I am not much older than I am now. I have spent the last couple of years reinventing myself over and over again. I had a lot of different jobs, did a lot of different things, experienced a lot of different places. I learned a lot.

I worked as a barista learning how to prepare the perfect espresso and how to roast coffee beans.
I worked for a magazine publisher learning what paper to choose, how to set type and what it feels like to create something physical.
I worked as a cook learning the true meaning of food and how to combine ingredients.
I traveled to different countries learning the languages and discovering different cultures.

I did a lot of different things, but never settled for one place. I never stayed a the same place for more than half a year. There were just too many things to do. And of course I wrote about everything.

After a while I wake up again. The song has ended, so did my dream. I am back in reality. I am still a struggling writer, still trying to make a living, still discovering who I am.

The English version of La Bohème is somehow darker than the French version: In this version we wake up and realize that we wasted our time chasing “impossible dreams”. Time had gone by and our days are passed; a rather depressing thought.

I understand it differently though. We only waste our time by getting lost in our dreams if that is all we do. It is not enough to just dream, we should work hard to make them happen. If we don’t, the dreams will stay impossible. We will miss our chance and regret it later on.

I know that I won’t. I will work hard to reach this vision of mine. I will fight and struggle and start over again and fight and struggle and start over again. Until the dream isn’t impossible anymore.

To end this, I’d like to quote Shonda Rhimes:

Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams — fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them — it’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change. So… ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.

Also:

Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just do.

  1. Charles Aznavour is a genius. He even made Sting and Elton John sing in French. You absolutely need to listen to Duos

The Year of Habits

At the beginning of the year I decided to create one or two new habits each month. There were a couple of things I wanted to start for years but never seemed to form the routines.
I wanted to do all of them at the same time. I wanted to meditate daily, go for a run every second day, write a journal every evening and so on. I tried but ultimately failed. It was just too much.

I knew – and we all probably do – that in order to create a habit you have to do them gradually. So that’s what I’ll do this year.

Last year I bought a Hobonichi Techo, a planner from Japan recommended by different writers especially Patrick Rhone. A lot of people – including me – use the Techo as a daily journal mainly because it is designed as a planner. You don’t want to break the chain and therefore use it daily.

So on January 1st I decided to write down my thoughts, actions and ideas for the day every evening before going to bed. I created the habit on top of another routine – sleeping – and that way I’ve never even once forgot to do it.1 There were some days during which I was too tired but filled in the blank pages the next morning. I even managed to note down my dreams, something I’ve always tried to achieve.

I tried several times before but I couldn’t create a routine. I tried to use different apps, Moleskine notebooks or blank pieces of paper but it just didn’t work, no matter how many reminders I set for myself. As you can guess I’m pretty happy now.

For February I decided to create two new habits at the same time. The first one is a daily meditation either every morning after drinking my coffee or every evening after writing my journal. The second habit I want to create is reading. I want to read a couple of pages per day while I’m either having lunch or during my small breaks. There are a couple of books I started but never finished and that needs to be changed.

There are other things I want to do this year. I want to wake up early, learn Japanese, eat healthy (and mostly vegan) and exercise. I haven’t quite yet decided what my schedule will look like but I’m confident that I’ll be able to do it.

So for me, 2015 is the year of habits.


  1. Is it even possible to forget to sleep? Honest question. 

Good Taste

We all face this problem. We have amazing ideas but we struggle as soon as we work on them. I’m writing online for over six years now and my execution is still lagging. But I know that my ideas are good, even great sometimes. I have good taste and one day I’ll have what it takes to execute them. They will “be as good as my ambitions”.

The Secrets of Sleep

No one in developed nations sleeps this way today, at least not on purpose. We go to bed near a fixed time, sleep alone or with our partner, on soft cushions covered with sheets and blankets. We sleep on average about an hour and a half less a night than we did just a century ago. Some of our epidemic of insomnia or sleeplessness is probably just our refusal to pay attention to our biology. The natural sleep rhythms of teenagers would call for a late morning wake-up—but there they are, starting high school at 8 a.m.

I read this article after having had a 25-minutes nap.

I usually sleep from 1am till 9am before waking up, having coffee, breakfast, reading the paper and doing anything but working.

I found out that I am less productive in the mornings (I can’t get shit done) and my creativity and productivity reaches a peak when everybody else went to sleep. I have to admit though that I never tried if the same is true really early in the mornings when nobody woke up yet. I may try finding out during the coming weeks.

via Analog Senses

Reading and Writing

Years ago, still at high school, I looked forward to university because I was finally allowed to take notes using my MacBook. I hated writing by hand. I was forced to use a pen for no clear reason even though I could take notes using my Mac.

Prior to that, still in elementary school, I looked forward to high school because I was finally allowed to take notes using my pen. I hated writing using a fountain pen. I was forced to use it for no clear reason even though I could take notes using my pen.

And now? I am currently writing these words in my Baron Fig Confidant using a Lamy CP1 fountain pen and Iroshizuku Shin-Kai ink. And I honestly enjoy the heck out of it. (Reviews soon?)

I realized that my “hatred” came from the fact that I was forced to do something in a particular way. I never had the chance to enjoy it because I was constantly told to do it that way. I never had the chance to experiment and find out what stuck and what I liked.

It was not only writing though. Back then I even hated reading books. I just couldn’t enjoy it. I was – again – forced to read. Mainly books somebody chose because they were seen as classic literature. So what? Still in my teens, I couldn’t care less about what somebody wrote hundreds of years ago.

Nowadays I love reading. There is at least one book or magazine lying next to my bed and I am constantly roaming through the bookstores to find something new. Same goes for ink, fountain pens and notebooks. Even though I think I already found my perfect tools, I stop at every fountain pen or new notebook I see.

As it seems I never really had the chance to learn enjoying these things. I was constantly forced to do something in one particular way and only because some authority told me so. And now, that I’m free to do whatever fits my mood, free to experiment, try out, fail, be wrong and learn, I realize that there is hardly anything as beautiful as reading a good book or writing using a good fountain pen.

And who knows, maybe I even like Brussel sprouts? (Nope, I definitely don’t!)

Sit and breathe

You are holding a coffee in your hand, you go to your desk and you sit down. Your workday is about to start but what is the first thing you do? You probably take a sip of your coffee, open your mail app and start working. But here’s one simple advice for you.

Before you dive into your work, right after you’ve sat down, take a moment to fully arrive in the present moment. Just sit there for a minute or two and follow your breath. Don’t force it, don’t try to change or calm it. Feel the rise of your body as you breathe in. If you see thoughts rising don’t force them to go away. Acknowledge them. Be mindful of your surroundings and your inner feelings. Do this for a couple of minutes. It helps you prepare for your busy and often stressful day.

I try to repeat this every time I sit down at my desk. It truly helps.

The morning ritual

The first thing I do every morning after waking up at 7:50 AM is making my bed. I will not leave my room, get dressed or pick up my phone until I’ve made my bed. Some may consider it to be a trivial or mundane thing to do but for me, making my bed is a task as important as the creative work I do every day.

It’s by making my bed that my mind and my brain are set in a mood to do stuff, to achieve. It is the first to do I can check off my inexistent list. It encourages me to do another task, and then another, and then another. And at the end of the day I can say I’ve been productive.

Though one should not make his own bed just for the sake of making it or getting the thing done. It’s about doing it mindfully, about knowing what you’re doing at that moment. It is some sort of meditation after all.

Making my bed helps me remember that even the little things in life matter. How can one achieve big things when one can’t even do the small ones correctly?

Personal balance

I want to reach personal balance in most corners of my life. I want to reach a level at which I can say I own, do and produce enough.

I want to find the right balance between owning too much clutter and having a sterile life. I want to find the right tools, gadgets and products which help me create the best work I can, without them becoming burdens. I do not want to use something just for the sake of using it. I want to find out how this something can help me become a better human. An example: I really want an iPad mini with Touch ID. It’s a convenient thing, I use it multiple times per day on my iPhone 6. The thing is, though, that I don’t even use a passcode on my iPad. Sure, it would make purchases in the App Store faster but at the same time it enables impulse purchases. After all, I don’t have to open 1Password, type in my master password, copy the iTunes one and open the App Store page again.

Even though I want a new iPad mini I don’t need one. Same goes for a better microphone, a better camera, a car or also simple things like a new way to make coffee or even a new mug. These are things I want but not things I really need. I will get some of them as soon as I think they’ll help me produce better work or make me a happier person.

At the same time a minimalistic lifestyle does not mean living with less just for the sake of it. What I may consider minimal can be considered cluttered by some, sterile by others. It’s about finding the right personal balance.

It’s not only about possession though. It’s also about what I eat, how I live, what I think and how I work. I could always write more or edit something one more time. But I will never reach what I consider perfect. I have to learn to be happy with 90%. Most of the time what I call 90% may be close to 100% for most other people. I have high standards for the work I produce.

I want to be as productive as I can be without ignoring the things I love doing or having a social life. I could wake up every morning, make a coffee and start writing and only stop to have lunch or to go to bed. But I wouldn’t be happy this way. And even more important, I wouldn’t write anything meaningful. After all, a writer can only write about his life if he lives a life worth writing about.

So I am trying to reach personal balance. I will start writing about my thoughts, findings, research and ideas on this site. Maybe the documentation of my path can help other people.

Let’s talk about margins

Physical work remains. Physical stuff has edges, can be “completed,” becomes vessels of wood or pulp or iron into which ideas are made immutable. It’s easy to forget this solidity as we live and make things online. Online has no boundaries and online can be fiddled with indefinitely. We trade solidity for instantaneous and boundless distribution. It’s a pretty good trade.

I could quote the whole thing. Read it!

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