Weekly Update 7/28/19: Paid content, kitesurfing, & Zendaya

Hi from the Dominican Republic!

I’m going to try something here, in the early stages of What Really Matters: a weekly update. I’ll let subscribers know where I am and what I’m up to, what I’m thinking about, and give some recommendations for reading, listening, and watching.

These updates will be free for now, although that leads me to the first announcement:

Paid Content Launch Date

I’m going to take Substack’s advice and start by publishing only free content for a few weeks. After that, I’ll start introducing paid. And since I work well on deadline (hey, I’m a former daily newspaper reporter), I’m just going to pick one: August 31st.

From now until then I’m going to be experimenting with the form. After that, I’ll start publishing some of the newsletters only for paid subscribers.

Seven Years of Kitesurfing

This is my fourth trip to Cabarete since I first learned how to kitesurf. The first time I came I was 30 years old and newly a single dad. Now I’m 37, and that first trip feels like a lifetime ago.

I basically do two sports: I climb and I kitesurf. Climbing is my first love: all-consuming, all-demanding. It requires physical commitment, mental toughness, overcoming fear, and the technical skills of belaying, placing gear, building anchors, and staying safe on the rock.

Kitesurfing - on the other hand - is my pure joy.

You fly the kite, tapping deep into childhood memories of directing something high up in the air, watching it luff and dive and move to your whimsy, and then you direct it to pull you across the ocean on a wakeboard, or a surf board if it pleases you, wind blowing in your hair, the ocean under your feet, pulling in the bar for more and more speed, leaning back against the harness connecting you to the kite, and then - you bear upwind, create tension in the lines, give a yank to the bar, run the kite overhead, and then UP.

You fly.

The kite pulls you into the air, ten feet, fifteen feet, as if a benevolent hand was lifting you up by the waist, the sounds falling away, the feeling of weightlessness, and you, feathering the kite back and forth before you start to fall. And then you look down, the waves of the ocean approaching, pointing your board downwind as you pull down on the bar, powering up the kite, slowing your descent, until you glide back on to the water, dipping the kite further to pick up speed until you are again whisking over the waves with not a care in the world.

Like I said: pure joy.

I have always loved the wind. I learned how to sail when I was a little kid, windsurf when I was a teenager. But when I discovered kitesurfing, I put all other water sports away. Nothing else even comes close.

If you ever want to learn, Cabarete in the DR is by far the cheapest place to do it within reasonable distance of the U.S. A week of private lessons in Cabarete is likely to be comparable with a day or two of private lessons most other places. I can recommend the Kitelounge if you ever want to book a trip. Its owner, Richard, remains a friend. In fact, he gave me a lift back from a kiting spot this afternoon.

What I’m Reading

Reading: Last week I finished Noah Yuval Harari’s book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. If you happen to have read his previous books (Sapiens and Homo Deus), get ready for Harari to actually be proscriptive, rather than descriptive.

In any case, highly recommended. Harari is a polymath-type thinker capable of writing about big picture, broad-sweep topics with a clarity rarely found elsewhere, or possibly anywhere.

What I’m Watching

Watching: HBO’s Euphoria. It’s very good, but falls into the salacious guilty pleasure category. Zendaya could possibly become a generational-type talent. Ever since she was on Dancing With the Stars oh so long ago, I’ve been a fan:

Now try to picture her completely inhabiting her role as a drug-addict high school kid on a prestige sexed up HBO drama, and you’ll have some sense of her extraordinary potential.

What I’m Listening To

Eric Weinstein has started a Podcast called The Portal. I first came into contact with Weinstein via an epic two-night debate between Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris, which he graciously moderated. Weinstein also coined the term Intellectual Dark Web, as detailed in an epic NY Times profile of him, Harris, Peterson and others.

His first two guests? Peter Thiel… and Werner Herzog.

Ok, that’s it for this week. More posts to come very shortly.

- Russell