This blog is a collaboration between a geek, a mystic and a malcontent, all of whom happen to be me.
The geek: Likes to tweak and experiment with the processes that carry us from sunrise to sunset each day. Making Things Better. Finding new grooves of purpose, well-being and production. Worked for 13 years in Tech as an engineer, manager and founder. The pragmatist.
Usually found: optimising workflows, refining systems of getting things done, collecting and curating notes. Excitable and keen to trade advice.
The mystic: Focused on wisdom practice, navigating the depths and backed by 15+ years of contemplative practice in Insight Meditation, Magia and other traditions. Engaged with awakening, self-realisation and the end of suffering.
Usually found: stroking non-existent beard, sitting on a zafu, contemplating the nature of Samsara, fusing kindness and wisdom, and exploring somatic work. Quiet and content.
The malcontent: The big picture thinker. Engaged with this strange, cresting wave of history we are all surfing, the story of how we arrived here, the grammar of our condition and the new, generative stories that might help us move forward.
Usually found: writing about the meaning- or meta-crisis, elucidating wider means of knowing and opposing the propositional flattening of late modernity. Least fun to be around at a party.
All three agree on one thing: theory is nothing without practice. This is part of why I work with people as a coach. I am passionate about transformative practice, whether in life, work or waking up.
I started this Substack by chronicling the personal meaning crisis that I experienced during the pandemic: starting in divorce, swerving into burnout and ending up in depression. You can read the full story here: parts one, two and three. Since then I’ve talked about what’s helped me to recover.
Not out, but through
The name of this publication—affectionately and appropriately abbreviated to NOBT—comes from a story of one of Jung’s patients:
She saw herself in a dream sinking into a dreadful mire. Overhead appeared the figure of Dr. Jung serenely floating in the aether and sternly addressing the distressed patient with the following words: “Not out, but through!”
— Stephan A. Hoeller: The Gnostic Jung, Kindle Edition (pp. 67). Quest Books
This idea of consciously facing our limitations is found in other places too:
If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
—Dao De Jing, Verse 22 (Mitchell translation)
"The blazing fire makes flames and brightness out of everything thrown into it."
Each tradition speaks to a similar theme: we arrive at authentic transformation through a radical acceptance. Not out, but through.
…who are you?
I have been an entrepreneur, engineer, ultrarunner, musician & ninja. You can learn more about my background on my personal website. I also wrote a piece called Not what I had in mind—a 3 minute tour through the wonderful ways other people have shaped my life and interests.
Ten years ago, I wrote a piece called Answering the Demand which traces my insatiable thirst for a Big Picture. I also have a personal website with articles about 30-day digital declutters, 100km ultramarathons, 6-month sober spells, 10 ways to improve Huel and 5 fixes for anxiety.
If you’re not already subscribed, I’d love to have you onboard. It’s all free to a good home: