Last year we purchased a Sonos Beam soundbar speaker to completely replace our previously outdated Harmon Kardon sound system and speakers within our living room. Near the end of the year, we also decided to add an IKEA Sonos-compatible SYMFONISK Bookshelf speaker to our kitchen as well. So far we’ve been loving the ease of use and sound of them overall.
Wanting to finally play around with the voice assistant capabilities of the Sono Beam, I activated Google Assistant on it recently and I’m also really enjoying the basic functionality of it for doing things like increasing or decreasing the sound volume, pausing playback, or skipping songs.
One drawback I noticed though is that the voice assistants only support a very limited range of music streaming services. One music streaming service we’ve been loving lately has been Stingray Music, primarily because of it’s human-crafted stations which go well beyond the 50 song playlist limits of other music streaming platforms (i.e. Spotify). Unfortunately Google Assistant doesn’t support Stingray Music even though Sonos does, so I couldn’t play its stations with it.
To get around this problem, I noticed that you could link your Sonos system and Google Assistant using IFTTT.com to create custom voice commands to play music stations on unsupported music platforms like Stingray Music. To do this, all you need to do first is just add the station to your Sonos Favourites and then create an IFTTT.com applet which links to that favourite similar to this one.
Needless to say, this is pretty wild because it allows someone to potentially create Google Assistant voice commands for many other things that aren’t normally supported by Google Assistant as well.
In watching a variety of people share what they love to do online over the years (like Li Ziqi above), I’ve been noticing a pattern emerging. To many of these people, they’re just simply living their life and by doing so, they are make a living out of it.
Of course for this to work, you need to create a system, a process, and an environment that seamlessly and effortlessly can capture the essence of what you’re doing, while you’re doing it. I’ve found this extremely difficult to do in even capturing the essence of my own life’s work, as probably 80% of what I’ve learnt and know I haven’t shared yet. Often times, this is because I don’t capture the essence of what I’m doing in the moment but do it later. But by doing it later, I find a lot of the essence, the feeling of what I was doing in that moment, is lost.
More than just sharing what you know, what is also important is how you share it. In Li Ziqi’s video above, I find it remarkable that she’s effectively just getting out of her own way and letting her work speak for itself. In comparison, most Western shows would have the person talking and gabbing away while they work, similar to how most cooking shows do today (to the point I have to change the channel because I find it too overwhelming and distracting).
She, in comparison, remains silent for the most part, thus creating and holding this otherworldly presence that enfolds you and invites you in, creating a relaxing sense of time and space for your own life. This is comparable to some artists I’ve seen who record their work and share the emergent creative process as it quietly unfolds.
All said and done though, I believe everyone has a hidden talent and potential that they rarely recognize because it’s second nature for them (perhaps even believing that everyone can do it, so it’s not that big of a deal). If given the chance to share this talent and presented so in the right way to compliment what they’re doing, I think most people could make a living by just living and being themselves.
I use the term “work”, because it’s more understood, but really it’s “me time” — doing what I love. Writing, learning, improving, and creating. Whether it’s creating music, websites, books, or companies, it’s all just creating.
The word “workaholic” would apply, except it’s play, not work. It’s completely intrinsic — just following my own interests. I’ve found what I love, and do it as much as possible.
I’ve said before that The Future of Work goes beyond just working and integrates both learning and playing into it as well. And furthermore, that the outcome of this integrative process, the transformative effect of it, is that we are finally able to just be ourselves (tying into my mantra of Be Real Creative).
With this in mind, it’s evident that The Future of Work as a descriptor for this change and transformation is an inadequate one. Calling it The Future of Living would probably be closer to the mark, as it incorporates playing, learning, and working as a collective, cyclic process of life.
Yet even The Future of Living seems inadequate to me, as it implies something not here yet, even though this new way of living is emerging right now and being practiced by many people on the edges of our society as we speak.
For some reason I’m reminded of my previous site subtitle of Life in Design. It was supposed to be a play on words, relating to my graphic and web design work in the past but it seems to have taken on a life of its own, representing now how I’m striving to design my own authentic life. Yet not design in the conventional sense, where you plan it all out ahead of time, but rather design in a natural sense (similar to permaculture) whereby your life’s design unfolds on its own by observing its patterns and seeing where it wants to naturally grow and go.
It’s funny when I think about this all. I’ve continually been shifting the articulation of my identity over the years (ie systems > identity > social innovation > creativity > play) to try to better encapsulate and “package” who I am. Yet I realize now I’ve done this continual shifting because I’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. I’ve been focusing on the how of my work rather than the why of it all.
In effect, the why of my life’s work is striving to help myself and others to just be themselves within a world that wants and even expects them to be someone else. Systems, identity, social innovation, creativity, and play are all just the ongoing methods and means I’m continually learning of how we can create environments that allow us to just be ourselves.
Again I laugh at the absurdity of the statement that my life’s work is just striving to be myself. And yet it seems almost poignant when one questions what “life’s work” means? I initially thought it was something that took you your entire life to achieve but perhaps it goes beyond this. What if your life’s work is the work of living an authentic life in itself?
Again to many, this might sound stupidly simple to achieve…until they realize how much of their life and identity is defined by others rather than themselves. Therefore being “nobody-but-yourself” is actually quite epically challenging, requiring a lot of courageous leadership and creative willpower to “follow yourself” and just be your authentic self.
And so I feel compelled to speak up because in my experience the more I go after that powerful feeling of paying attention, the happier I am. But the more I go after the powerful feeling of getting attention, the unhappier I am.
And meanwhile in acting school, I was really for the first time discovering playwrights and characters and plays that had nothing to do with the military but were somehow describing my military experience in a way that before to me was indescribable.
And I felt myself becoming less aggressive, as I was able to put words to feelings for the first time and realizing what a valuable tool that was.