Random Thoughts #2: noise, focus, and Hunter S Thompson

June 5, 2019

Here’s my one true sentence of the day…

Barcelona is noisy.

The kids at the elementary school across the way, screaming their way through recess.

The big restaurant on the corner that constantly has guys loading and unloading things from trucks: whole skinned lambs, sacks of potatoes, industrial sized tubs of cooking oil.

In the morning I walk along the beach to get some coffee, and when I sit down at one of the tables outside, I find there are construction workers drilling into the façade behind me, and two girls having one of those “That’s what the Universe is telling me” conversations at the next table.

I drink my coffee quick, and leave.

The light on the water is beautiful, though.

The Mediterranean: that wine-dark sea.

Hunter S Thompson

Despite not being very excited by his writing, I recently picked up the Kindle version of Thompson’s biography, Gonzo.

Short version: some guy from Kentucky with insane levels of narcissism gets drunk and high for several decades, occasionally writes about it.

How drunk? How high?

Well, he’d apparently order 6 bloody marys with breakfast, then continue drinking for a day or three before crashing. He’d ship bricks of cocaine to friends before travelling to their city. Most of the time he was barely coherent, unable to keep appointments, even unable to write at the end.

Seems like the only thing that kept him from being your average wino / junkie is that he was great at networking. Charismatic, by all accounts, and friends with many rich, famous and influential people.

I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to stand 10 minutes with the guy, but hey. That’s me.

Checking out some Roman ruins, recently in Tarragona.

I guess the lesson for me is really about how much narcissism and weirdness people are willing to put up with, sometimes.

Anyway, a lot of his writing is up on Rolling Stone. Here’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.

And finally…


I’m listening to Naval Ravikant talk on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and he mentions the fact that you just can’t be good at everything.

I remember years ago a friend told me something similar: Time is limited. You’re only ever going to be really good at 5 to 7 things. Choose wisely.

Truer words, never said.

I get pretty annoyed about wasting time – or at least wasting time in ways I don’t find fun. Waiting for bureaucrats, standing in line, anything repetitive and meaningless.

And I also use this little bit of philosophy as a reminder to say no to more. No, I don’t want to go rock climbing. No, I’m not going to the club on Friday.

If it’s not one of my five to seven, and I’m not doing it for fun, I’m hopefully going to find a way not to do it at all.

So what am I good at?

I’d like to think one of my 5 to 7 is writing. Maybe, at this point, we could say I’m good at fitness and cooking. Sorta. Spanish, definitely.

That still leaves time and space for me to get good at a few more things. Any ideas? I’m as lost as anyone else, when it comes to figuring out what to do with myself.

More about that in my article on the meaning of life.

Anyway, focus is a big topic: maybe worth saving for another day.

Gotta go: it sounds like someone out in the street has completely lost it and is just going to have a (very loud) mental breakdown until the police are called.

Also, someone’s using a circular saw nearby.

Oh well. That’s summer in Barceloneta.


Mr Chorizo.

P.S. I mention the focus thing because in my casual observation of people, many act as if they want to get really good at videogames, or at vegging out in front of Netflix. They dedicate whole weekends to such pursuits, as if they were some sort of important life goal. Why? I haven’t the slightest idea… But maybe I’m just not fun like them.

P.P.S. The one true sentence thing at the beginning of this article is from A Moveable Feast by Hemingway. And now it’s my go-to “cure” for writer’s block. Got any better ones? Let me know… right here in the comments!

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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