Sticky Notes - Why are you speaking?

Up to this point in my life,
this feels like one of the more important things I've been a part of.

When I was nine maybe ten years old, I happened upon this short, stubby book with the words "Red Wall" etched along its cover.

It was filled with hundreds of pages with tight text and the thought of actually finishing it felt entirely impossible to me at the time.

But then, I read the first page and then the second and then the third and, before I knew it, the last. 

"Red Wall" by Brian Jacques didn't change my life but it was the book that made me fall in love with reading and, eventually, allowed my love of reading to pick up other books that would inevitably change my life. 

People often ask me for book recommendations and while I have a long laundry list of them tucked away somewhere, my short answer is: Just read the shit you enjoy. 

Life is far too short for books that aren't any fun to read and I think if we just read the books we enjoy, our curiosities will naturally lead us to the books that were written for us...

This past weekend, my friend JP Jackson and I hauled a 900 lbs beast of a vending machine over to the neighborhood I call home here in Nashville: Cleveland Park.

Standing it upright and wrestling it into place felt like trying to keep a drunk, sleepy giant from toppling over.

But, let's rewind for a moment...

A few months ago, I mentioned something to JP about creating a vending machine that housed books free for the taking. In classic JP fashion, it wasn't long before he had written me...

"I've got a vending machine for us."

Being the brilliant designer that he is, JP created an inside-out concept where he took what would normally be on the inside of the vending machine, “canned beverages” and repurposed them as the vending machine’s siding. 

This inside-out design inevitably made room for fifty-some-odd books by authors like Steinbeck, Hemingway, Woolf and Angelou that I had hand-curated at a local used book store.

I know I mentioned it above, but reading has quite literally changed my life.

It’s a friend that always picks up.

It’s an escape hatch on the afternoons when my mind is heavy with worry.

It’s a mirror to look within myself when my awareness is lacking.

It’s a time-machine that lets me read the thoughts of those that lived before me.

It’s a teacher that teaches me how to think deeper and live fuller and love harder and speak kinder and be easier (on both myself and others).

The Vending Project is meant to be a reminder to all of us to make a little time, each day, to read.

And, up until this point in my life, it feels like one of the more important things I've been a part of.


Cole Schafer.

P.S. If you'd like to spread the good word of The Vending Project, retweet this thread. And, if someone forwarded you this newsletter and you'd like to receive it regularly... 

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Bottoms up.
"Are you good at tennis? Then why are you speaking?" 

A few weeks back, an Australian Tennis player by the name of Nicholas Kyrgios found himself involved in two matches: one against the legendary Rafael Nadal, another against a heckler watching the match from the stands.

Having had enough of the spectator’s verbal abuse, Kyrgios lashed out…

“Are you good at Tennis? Then why are you speaking?”

Spying Ben Stiller in attendance, somewhere off to the fan’s right, Kyrgios continued…

“Do I tell him how to act? No.”

While Kyrgios ended up losing the match against Nadal, he won this moment against his assailant.

But, more so, he reminded all of us to pay extraordinarily close attention to not the criticism but whom the criticism is coming from.

If you wouldn’t define someone as “good” (or even “competent”) at the craft you’re pursuing, why are you concerned with their opinions on how you’re pursuing said craft?

Six Love.
Need I remind you of the man in the arena?

Teddy’s coveted speech, The man in the arena is hands down one of the most powerful pieces of prose I’ve ever read. During my adolescent years whilst pursuing dreams of one day becoming a collegiate athlete, I had the S.O.B. taped to my bathroom mirror where I’d see it every morning and every night while taking a brush to my teeth.

I imagine when Teddy first gave the speech in 1910, he didn’t have the slightest clue it’d be inspiring young Americans a century later.

The speech was given shortly after Roosevelt had left office. He had stopped in Paris to speak to a modest two thousand person audience made up of ministers, military officers and hundreds of students.

The speech was titled, Citizenship in a Republic but would become more widely known as The Man in the Arena.

It went something like this…


It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat…



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