The Weirdness Radius

It’s good to do weird stuff. Take strange jobs or assignments, visit unusual places or events, interact with oddball people. It’s good to do this because it expands your Weirdness Radius.

What’s your “Weirdness Radius?” It’s the distance from your normal baseline life out to the weirdest thing you’ve ever done. That radius defines a circle, whose area is defined as “things you’re pretty confident you can handle.”

Note that the trick here is that it doesn’t matter which direction the weirdness was in – the circle expands equally in all directions and therefore encompasses new things that might have nothing to do with the experience that led to the expansion in the first place.

When I was a teenager, I once took a nine-hour road trip to see this absolute lunatic named Gene Ray speak at MIT about his crackpot theory “Time Cube” (warning: if you go down that rabbit hole prepare to lose several hours of your life). It was a wild experience. If you asked if I learned anything directly from the lecture, the answer was obviously “no.” But indirectly? I learned a ton. I learned how mainstream thinkers treat outsiders. I learned about how obscure things can go “viral” before such a term existed. But more than all that, I just learned how to interact with and not be intimidated by a weird experience. At time, The Great Time Cube Road Trip defined my “Weirdness Radius,” and anything less weird than that, regardless of whether or not it had anything to do with crackpot mathematical theories or road trips, wouldn’t phase me at all.

The more weird stuff you do, the more resilient you become to life’s unexpected twists and turns. If you’ve eaten hormigas culonas in Colombia, you’re probably not freaked out by a spider in your kitchen.

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