What is Primary Scenes?

Primary Scenes creates art, content, and lifestyle products, to help us think more deeply, and do more of what matters, with our brief human experience.


The Story Behind Primary Scenes

“...you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” - Steve Jobs

(from his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech)

Getting Stuck

You never know what boulder will block your path, and stop you in your tracks. The storms of life have many guises. I had my share of ups and downs over the years, maybe even a little more than most. That said, I had always found a way to make the best of the situation I was in, and move on to the next venture, relatively unscathed. This time however, something was different. I had hit a wall, where there were so many problems at once, from health, to career, to family issues etc, that it became impossible to move forward at all.

I was stuck like never before. 

Learning and Growth

Over the course of about 10 years, I went through a tremendous period of learning and growth. 

I learned how to track what I was eating, and to really observe and analyze my behavior. This enabled me to make better choices about how to eat in a healthy way, and how to shape my environment to promote a better lifestyle. As a result, I lost about 100 pounds, and have kept 80% off, to this day. 

I learned how to become a daily meditator, and to settle down for a few moments each day, to practice being present. This gave me the base of stability to be able to deal with chronic pain and other issues, without substances, and with little to no professional support. 

I learned how to practice yoga on a daily basis. This allowed me to stop the cycle of injuries and physical therapy, that I’d been dealing with for so long. 

I learned about Stoicism and Buddhism. This provided me with tremendous perspective and insight, on how some of the wisest humans from Eastern and Western traditions, thought about life, death, and the universe as a whole.

I learned about systems, and how many things in life from health, to biology, to economics, to social networks, can be viewed through the lens of complex adaptive systems. This prompted me to re-contextualize what I observed, in my own life and in the world at large. I began to see events through a lens of stocks and flows from system dynamics, and to notice the difference between reinforcing feedback loops, and those that balance. I started to pay attention to randomness, and how some systems are ruined by it, while other systems survive, and some even thrive, in chaos. I developed an appreciation for the difference between linear and nonlinear effects, and just how much they impact everything we see and experience.

I learned how to implement new habits and structures in my day. This enabled me to create a dependable rhythm, of focusing on what was important. It was a catalyst for consistently deliverIng results, on large initiatives, a little bit each day. 

I also learned, how to learn better. I was always a person who read a lot, but being stuck in this situation encouraged me to also re-read many of the notes and highlights, I had accumulated from so many books and articles over the years. At the same time, I began to write much more extensively and deeply, about my own thoughts and insights, than I had in the past.

So much of this learning and growth had been about diverging, in new and disparate directions, but I eventually began to see a hint of convergence on the horizon. This became particularly important in an unexpected way, because it lead me to the creation Primary Scenes. 

Creating Primary Scenes

For the first time in a long time, I started to see the dots connecting. What had started as a messy collection of my notes and highlights, from favorite books and articles, slowly evolved into a manuscript that I was authoring myself.

Somewhere along the way, in the early stages of structuring the book, I had the idea to create symbols that represented the core concepts. At first the symbols were strictly used to make it easier for me to organize the tremendous amount of content I was dealing with. I wanted a way to quickly represent the topics I had learned about, so I could explain them more easily. At a glance, I was able to see that a particular group of pages, had a certain symbol attached to it, and I knew where it was supposed to be without reading through all the text.  

Over time, something interesting and unexpected developed. Having spent my whole childhood drawing, and my college years immersed in film and media production, something about the symbols kept bringing me back to my innate visual instincts. This would not merely be a matter of connecting the dots, between the many lessons I learned, while changing my life over the past 10 years. It would also mean connecting the dots from my analytical adult mind, to my 7 year old self, who drew all day, read comic books, and was always imagining something fantastic. 

I continued to refine and hone the symbols, their colors, and their spatial arrangement, over the course of months and years. Then one day, I looked at what I had, and realized that everything I was planning to convey in a 400 page book, was right there in purely visual terms, with no words at all. 

So I decided to move forward with symbols and elegant visuals as the front end, and create art, content and lifestyle products around the core concepts. Here would be a true bridge between the practical, and the poetic. One that could be traversed back and forth, from the simple and suggestive, to the complex and technical.

If there was anything worth spending my life on, surely there was nothing more compelling that I could see. 

I decided to connect this body of work, to extend this bridge, to people like myself, who want to think deeper, be more balanced, and do more of what matters with our brief human experience. 

If any of this resonates with you, or someone you know, please take a moment to sign-up for the newsletter, and stay in touch.


Thank you for taking a few moments, to read the story behind Primary Scenes. 


Tone Fonseca

Creator of Primary Scenes