How ‘interesting’ is not a non-word and how there’s a geometry to things that feel right, those that don’t, and what you do in your life and work.


It seems to be a permanent condition I’m in, and that a number of friends are in; what do I really want to do, where next, why does this, why doesn’t this, etc. In that process one word that I often think or say is ‘interesting’ (or not). I realized something this morning and thought I’d write two things on that word, in case you also find it… interesting.

First, a few people have said or I’ve read them saying to “stop using ‘interesting,’ it’s a ‘non-word’!” And I don’t get that. I mean, sure, if someone is raving about their new hobby or their new job and all you come up with is “that’s interesting,” then yes, non-word, tell me why, ask questions. If I’m writing the newsletter and I’m saying “this is interesting, the author is saying this, that, wonders where, thinks about how, it made me think of these things,” then yes ‘interesting’ is a word, it means the article’s topic drew my interest, it grabbed my attention, I was intrigued. So I guess I’m saying it is a useful word, but as a hook for saying more?

Anyway, just something that comes to mind regularly when I’m re-reading something I’ve written and used the word. The real reason for the post is for when I use not interesting. It’s usually literally what I mean, “it did not grab my interest,” “I feel no need to do this thing you speak about.” In the back of my mind when I’ve said that, and I wonder if it’s in the back of other people’s minds when they hear it is “is that true, or am I afraid? Is it true, or is it just unknown? Is it just boring but can easily be done?”

This morning, that kind of thing was running around in my mind has I was listening to a podcast and I realised that when I say I’m not interested in something, I often mean that it’s not the right thing or the correct direction. Sure, I could learn more about SEO and grow the newsletter that way but it’s not interesting not the thing I should do, the thing that feels right. Sure I could focus my writing in this direction but it’s not interesting what I want to be spending my time on. There’s a kind of non-ikigai geometric way of imagining your work where you’re triangulating between a few types of things to do and figuring out which combination works best for you. To use my old example yet another one-too-many-times; doing a print magazine and doing Sentiers has a lot in common but print pulls you into more design work and more logistics. Doing a newsletters pulls you into more speed and more grind (one can do a magazine twice a year, but it doesn’t really work for a newsletter, for example). Technically, both might be ikigai for me, but the geometry is different.

In the podcast I mentioned, David Holz, the founder of Midjourney, explains that he didn’t want to start a company, he just wanted a “home where I could do cool stuff for the next ten years.” And that’s it! For me, interesting is also a direction. It’s a direction where I’m pointing my attention when reading or listening to something, and it’s a ‘place,’ an ‘angle’ for how I want to spend my time, including for work. The closer ‘work’ can be to just being paid for something I want to do, the better, and the closer it lines up with things that I find interesting, the better. It’s not only about whether things are doable and useful, but also where they sit within that geometry.

Obviously, nothing’s perfect and you do have to work on things that don’t fit. Of course sometimes you decide to do the thing you don’t like, to get to the thing you want. And also obviously, this is nothing really new. But I liked how thinking of ‘the right thing’ and ‘not the right thing’ came up just before I heard Holz speaking of “home,” so I thought I’d write it down, I’ll need it again.

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