#010 Good Things Already Exist

Common Discourse Weekly Briefing

Common Discourse is a weekly briefing designed to help others (and myself) think through creativity, focus, and intentional work. I send this newsletter out every Monday at 9:17am. To receive future briefings, sign up below.


At this point, Abraham is one of my longest friends, and over time our relationship has progressed from frivolous camaraderie to place where our time is spent intentionally on things that matter to both of us. We’re both focused, run a business together, and have probably matured in ways that I can’t measure since we first met.

I was running around Los Angeles as a 21 year old kid with a dream but no real aim or direction. He was 23, already knowing that working for somebody else wasn’t for him, and trying to figure out what the next step looked like. Coincidentally (or not) I found myself in the same place at age 23, just two years later.

On our car ride back from Orange County yesterday, we started to talk about some of the books and films we’ve been watching. The Criterion Channel is relatively new to both of us, along with biographies and documentaries on people whose work inspire us like Donald Judd and Steve Jobs.

We also contemplated whether or not we’re getting old or out of touch. Neither of us have a TikTok and are running across Gen-Z talent with millions of following online, completely unaware of who they are or what they actually do.

The old stuff feels new and exciting to us. The new stuff doesn’t quite emotionally connect.

We decided that things that have significance decades later have proven themselves, and there’s so much of it to uncover that we never had exposure to as kids. And while new media can be great in its own right, you might spend a lot of time consuming things that won’t matter in 5 years, or next year, or tomorrow.

I’m trying to be present and aware of what’s going on right now, and lately have been using additional efforts to uncover the good stuff that already exists.

– Alex


Ideas from me:

I. Simple Math

A very simple theory that helps with progress, acquiring new skills, and learning as a whole...

Plus: Find mentors, real (maybe someone from your work) or virtual (from books). Learn from someone with more experience than you. Output can only be as good as input.

Minus: Explain what you are learning while you are learning it. Teach someone with less experience than you. This is how we figure out what we actually know.

Equal: Find people who love what you love and spend as much time talking about this shared area as you can.

II. Modeling the Best

No matter what you want to learn or accomplish, there is somebody else in the world that has already achieved what you want.

In 2020, the answers to how they did it are all available to us in the form of books, biographies, videos, online courses, and so on.

You just have to start digging.


Quote from somebody else:

"The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say... What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing...the thing that might be worth saying."

— Gilles Deleuze


Favorite links this past week:

  1. 📝 How To Embrace Mistakes Without Romanticizing Failure

  2. 👕 I photographed these new shirts for Spiritual Objects that you can go purchase here.

  3. 🎥 I highly recommend subscribing to Criterion for $11 per month. You can probably bite off your friend’s Netflix subscription and use the money here instead.

  4. 😍 Can’t stop thinking about this shot from Fallen Angels.

  5. 📀 We made a Work From Home playlist via MOUTHWASH. Consider this early access while we’re working on making a cover art for it today.


Thanks for reading!

My name is Alex Tan and this is my newsletter. I’m a maker & educator, I created MOUTHWASH with my friends, and I own way too many white sneakers. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

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