More To That

The unity of the political animal 🧑‍🚀

Published about 2 months ago • 4 min read

Hey friends,

Before getting into today’s post, I wanted to share an observation.

There’s been a recent uptick in enrollment for my writing course, The Examined Writer. I’m not sure why that is, or how exactly people have found their way to the program (I don’t have analytics set up on any of my course pages). It’s possible that students are simply spreading the word about it, which is the best outcome I could hope for.

Regardless, this kind of thing is great because my work as a whole is largely discovered via word-of-mouth. I have little interest in gaming algorithms, which means that the quality of what I create has to be the resonant force. Knowing this, I can confidently assert that this course has been crafted with that sentiment of quality in mind.

So if you’re looking to write reflections on the human condition (and need some help), The Examined Writer is for you. I believe it’s the only course out there tailored to this aim, with 3 hours of self-paced material that’ll walk you through everything. And if you’d like a teaser, I’ve built a short 3-day email course that’ll get you familiar with the basics. Simply click here (or the image below) and you’ll get the first lesson in your inbox shortly. Hope you enjoy it.

All right. Now onto today’s reflection.

I rarely write about politics, largely because it’s one of those realms where ideas are far too entrenched in people’s identities. My interest is more so in topics that are about reframing your perspective of the world, and let’s just say that political thought doesn’t leave much space for this.

However, the reality is that culture comes downstream from politics, and culture is an inescapable phenomenon. We all contribute to culture in some form, regardless of how free we claim to be from its products or norms. So if culture is embedded into the fabric of our day-to-day lives, so too are the threads of politics and its (dis)contents.

The question here is if there’s any hope of unifying those threads into something beautiful. Can we recognize the political differences we all have, while at the same time understanding that we're all connected in a profound way? Today’s reflection is a brief exploration of this question, drawing upon the wisdom of the privileged few that were able to see Earth for what it truly is.

So when you’re ready, let’s dive right in:

The Unity of the Political Animal

A Book I’ve Been Enjoying

Troubled by Rob Henderson — I had the privilege of reading this memoir well before it came out, and finished it thinking that I couldn’t wait for more people to read it. Well, it’s now available, and I highly recommend you pick it up.

Rob’s story is both daunting and heartening: in his youth, he was shuffled between 10 different foster homes, which made for a difficult and turbulent childhood. But through a blend of determination, serendipity, and self-awareness, he was able to forge his own path and eventually obtain a PhD in psychology at Cambridge.

This is how he introduces his memoir:

“I share early memories that were initially stored in the mind of a child, and I try to communicate them to the best of my ability, though of course they may not mirror reality perfectly. I suspect, considering how stress affects young children, my brain may have dimmed some of the details for my own protection.”

What follows is an astounding journey that reveals an important fact we intuitively know but often overlook: No external achievement can compare to the gift of a stable family upbringing. Rob’s memoir will take you through the troughs and peaks of that realization, with each step adding color to a story that any reader can learn from.

Some Podcast Appearances

I was recently on two podcasts about my creative journey, and I had a great chat on both:

The Knowledge with David Elikwu — I chat with David about balancing practicality with creativity, writing good stories, discovering new ideas, and more.

Still Curious with Danu Poyner — I chat with Danu about calibrating your inner compass, the idea of "enough," navigating the nuances of the human condition, and more.

A Thought I've Been Pondering

Mastery is the quest to improve yourself as an end in itself. Comparisons are not made with other people, but only with prior versions of yourself. You're not trying to become a better writer, musician, podcaster, etc. to improve your standing amongst others. Rather, you're doing it to prove to yourself that you can exercise your potential by contributing everything you can to actualize that untapped resource.

Status is obtained by collecting attention, whereas mastery is achieved by refining intuition. Status is always relational, so external validation is a prerequisite to feeling secure. Mastery, on the other hand, is gauged by your unique sense of progress, which can only be derived from within.

(Share this on Twitter)

A Brief Parting Question

What’s a film you watched recently that really got you thinking?

A few days ago, I re-watched Burning, a 2018 Korean film directed by Lee Chang-Dong. I watched it with my wife, and we stayed up until 2 AM talking about it (as parents of a toddler, this wasn’t the wisest move, but the film was that good).

I’m looking for more films that prompt discussion, especially those that are open to interpretation (please don’t send over a Marvel movie rec). If you have any, send them my way!

As always, hit reply to share any thoughts, to respond to the parting question, or to simply say hello. I love hearing from you.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share this email with anyone who might enjoy it. Have a great rest of your week!

-Lawrence Yeo

P.S. Thanks to Allyson, Beverly Franks, and Jay Chin for adding your support on Patreon! It means so much. If you’d like to support More To That and get access to exclusive AMAs, book recommendations, offline posts, and other reflections, join as a patron today.

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More To That

by Lawrence Yeo

Illustrated stories on the human condition.

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