Gift advice from Hugh Jackman

Since a couple of months I have started (again) listening to podcasts. I used to do this a lot, especially before my boy was born. Before then, I often listened while driving, especially while driving alone. Podcasts also accompanied me on walks, during the more braindead parts of my job (watering plants, weighing biomass, etc. etc.). Somehow I had lost the ability to listen to podcasts. In 2018 and 2019, I probably listened to several long format podcasts per week. In 2020? I probably listened to zero. I could not find a suitable time to do this (and in hindsight I don’t know why, because I have had my fair share of “Please go to sleep kid” walks through the neighborhood that would have been much more pleasurable when accompanied by a good podcast (note to future self: you can keep listening to podcasts when kid 2 is there!).

So, podcasts. It’s not that I have a great repertoire of things to follow. I prefer long-format. I like listening to podcasts about science, entrepeneurship, or just funny stuff. I have listened to Joe Rogan quite a bit, because I think he has an interesting style of interviewing. He doesn’t give a damn what people think of him, and therefore he’s not afraid to ask questions that make him look a bit foolish. This often results in highly informative and clear conversations. As a comedian, he is for sure a great entertainer, and I always found it easy listening. He’s also said a lot of dumb crap, including some ridiculous reflection on the pandemic, which led to me listening to his show a lot less (I may still listen to some comedian guests). It may have something to do with the shift to Spotify. I just don’t think of Spotify when I think podcasts. So that’s that. The second go-to podcast, one that I still listen to regularly, is the Tim Ferris Show. Tim Ferris is an entrepeneur and self-experimenter that likes to optimize everything in his life and about himself. On top of that, he has turned interviewing into a true art form and I really enjoy listening to him while he unravels how great performers have achieved their successes. The guests range from entrepeneurs, to tech people, to artists, you name it.

Now, recently I was spending half a Sunday morning in early February watering plants in our climate chamber experiment. That day, I put on Tim Ferris, and his guest for the day was Hugh Jackman. You know, the actor, Wolverine (X-Men), The Greatest Show, to name a few. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a guy that I mostly knew for being a testosterone-laden beast with kitchen knives poking out of his hands. It turns out, this is the most friendly and respectful guy ever. It was such an interesting interview, revealing a lot of his background and family life, and of course, with the Tim Ferris Show being hosted by Tim Ferriss, a lot of discussion of his daily routines and the secrets to his successes. I recommend that you listen to it, if podcasts are your thing.

As every year in early February, I was struggling hard to find a nice present for Heike, my wife. It’s not that she’s so picky. I just don’t think that my ideas are good enough. Anyway, listening to this podcast, Wolverine gave me a fantastic idea. You wouldn’t expect it of him perhaps, but he loves… PUZZLES. I had to laugh a little bit. It sparked my interest too, because I also really like them. I find it very meditative to look for missing pieces, and it somehow declutters the brain like nothing else. Then he brought up the idea of puzzles being the best gift. I had never even considered it. I think he’s totally right. Here’s why.

That’s us at a 4292m altitude. (I’m not the best with altitude sickness)
I thought those Tibetan flags would be challenging. Think again. That sky… Impossible!

When you puzzle together, you work towards a common goal. Assuming that you at some point will finish it, it is also a guaranteed win (a game, on the other hand, always has a loser – I mostly hate games). Now, with this horrible pandemic, going on nice trips or doing many of the things that we like to do together, are off the table. So then I thought. Why not find a picture from one of our trips that brings back some nice memories? Fitting together the pieces of a shared memory brings back so many tales from that trip (and many others). I chose a picture that was the highest place we have walked on earth to date. It was a pass where our bus took a short break on the road from Shangri-La to Deqen in Yunnan Province in the Chinese Himalayas. The stop was very colorful (Yunnan in October should be on your bucket list!), not just because of nature changing constantly, but also because of the Tibetan flags that were abundant. I of course also chose this picture because I thought it would be a bit of a challenge.

I think she really liked it. We have only just spent one evening on it, and tonight will be the second. But it already brought back good memories (and hopes and plans for future trips).

Thanks for the tip Hugh Jackman!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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