#065 Give Me What I Can't Have
Common Discourse is a project designed to help others (and ourselves) think through creativity, focus, and intentional work—from Alex Tan & Alice Otieno.
Every Tuesday we share words from a journal, a few ideas, a quote from somebody else, and links worth sharing. On Fridays we invite a guest to share images from their camera roll and a sound that resonates with them.
Our office was closed yesterday, giving me enough time to decide that I needed to play the new FIFA 23.
The PlayStation 5 has been sold out continuously since its release 2 years ago, creating hype around the product. Subreddit threads, Twitter accounts, and Discord servers have been made solely dedicated to alerting people about which stores have the PS5 and where you can get it. On the GPU Drops Discord Server, somebody created a bot that allows you to check the inventory of your local Best Buy before it’s shown as available on their public facing consumer website. I have no clue how this is legal or real.
There were very specific instructions on what to do once you arrive at store, making it feel like you were being let in on a secret that most people do not know about. At this stage, I was more interested in seeing if this was real more than I even cared about having a very expensive and ugly video game console.
My friend and I drove to the store in Pasadena, and on the way I was letting him in on my time working at Best Buy where I’d stand in the computer department at 16 years old trying to tell adults how to spend their money.
We were firing stories back and forth about our time working in retail:
“Sometimes there would be only one of something in stock and my co-workers would go back into the warehouse pretending to look for it while scrolling on their phone then come back out and be like ‘Sorry, we don’t have any more.’”
“I worked at Toys “R” Us for 2 months before getting fired for reeking of cigarettes while restocking shelves in a children’s toy store.”
Teenagers entering the workforce are very dysfunctional.
The employee at Best Buy in Pasadena said they had one PlayStation in their system in stock, but we already know what went down when he went back to the warehouse to check, and we left without a PS5 in hand. The same went for the additional location in Sherman Oaks.
We’d been driving around LA for almost 2 hours, ready to go home, when we got word that the store in Hollywood had one that just got returned. We crawled in traffic from the valley back into the city assuming it’d get purchased before we arrived.
On the way back to the car, a 14 year-old shouted across the parking lot “DAMN YOU GOT A PS5” making me feel much better about the purchase, and two hours later we were back at the house playing FIFA 23—it being almost identical to the series of games I’ve been playing every year for the last 15 years. Fun, but not as life-changing some may think based on our pursuit of tracking it down.
The challenge of getting the thing can be more rewarding than the result of using it, getting into the party feels better than being inside, and posting a photo online can satisfy more than the actual experience.
Scarcity does weird things to us all.
A few ideas
I. SPEED OF TRUST
There are hundreds of ways to optimize efficiency and speed in our work, just ask the Internet:
Use a timer, make a plan, organize your workspace, minimize distractions…
Even with the perfect game plan, there’s still a question of how we approach the work mentally.
Questions like: How quick are you to make decisions? What is your ability to facilitate tasks to others when you feel overwhelmed? To what level do you allow ourselves to consider the input of teammates when you feel stuck?
Environment design always reduces friction, but fundamentally, we only move at the speed of trust.
II. TAKING THE JUMP
The ocean is almost always too cold and uncomfortable to touch, but feels amazing a few moments after jumping in.
The same applies to starting the work day, working out, changing your diet, and having a tough conversation.
Jumping in is the hard part. And most of the time, we’re glad we did it.
At every moment, the potential of the future is infinitely more exciting than grieving on the opportunities behind us that we didn’t choose to take.
A quote from somebody else
“Writing is writing what you cannot know before you have written: it is preknowing and not knowing, blindly, with words. It occurs at the point where blindness and light meet.”
— Hélène Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing
Links worth sharing
〰 Flow State is a Substack that intentionally curates daily music recommendations for the best songs to work to.
👩💼 My Therapist Wants to Know about My Relationship to Work, Tiana Clark via Poetry Unbound.
🫂 People Come and Go explores our relationship to loss and what it looks like to have healthy attachments.
🏡 Inside Voice by Hyejoo Lee, explores how we can take on the idea of “home” as a feeling in a time marked by the housing affordability crisis.
Thanks for consuming!
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