Good morning, everyone! I hope you have a wonderful Friday and start to your weekend.
With the year coming to an end I feel a real source of energy and inspiration coming forth. It took me a long time to admit it, but we humans really do thrive with ritual and having a psychological reset button. Logically, I know there is no reason why February 21st or June 3rd or November 1st couldn’t be the date to start a new habit or commit to change, but having a socially recognized date really does help.
Of course, New Years isn’t the only one, many people use birthdays or the Temple burn or some other defined moment in space and time to decide, “Now, now is when it begins.” We do it on a smaller scale as well. We start workout routines on Monday or the 1st of the month, we start a meditation practice tomorrow morning, etc. These universally agreed upon moments of transition help us. We like to be able to separate then from now, and that is more difficult if your moment of change is 2:14pm on Tuesday, July 17.
I haven’t given a lot of thought to any particular goals for 2019. I had a video chat with one of my best friends last night and it made me realize that the coming year feels like one in which I will be more community focused. This feeling is a bit intangible but I just kind of have that vibe. The last year has been exciting and busy and challenging, but it has also been one that has been quite focused on myself and my immediate family. Now that a solid foundation is laid, it is time to be more tribe-focused.
So, there were a few pieces in my daily readings that stood out to me this morning.
It is not what I have in life, but what I feel about what I have that makes the difference.
A little cliche, I know. But I think there is important truth in there that warrants an occasional reminder. Once you get past the first two layers of Maslow’s hierarchy a lot of our satisfaction and happiness comes from our own perspective instead of the objective facts. Perspective can make a billionaire unhappy and a middle class person satisfied.
I should sell my tongue and buy a thousand ears
I’m re-purposing this phrase for my own uses. In the context of the poem it is directed at God, but I think this is something we should all do with just about everyone. Shut up and listen.
“The Accidental Creative”: I don’t have a particular quote for this but I do have an observation from reading many self-help and business books. I really kind of hate the format most of these take. They are pretty predictible and a little inflated for my tastes, but I realize that others may have different preferences. They usually go something like this:
- Preface: Usually someone I don’t know writes a dozen pages about how great the book is. I always skip this.
- Introduction: The author tells me why they wrote the book, usually due to personal experience or from years of research. There are some anecdotes and discussion of family to humanize the author a bit… “Hey! I also have struggled with this, this guy is just like me!” And then several pages are used to tell me what each chapter discusses and provides no more valuable information than I find in the table of contents
- First 1/3-1/2 of the book: Here is why this is a problem that needs to be fixed. I find this to be tedious and often skip it. I picked up a book on creativity because I would like to be more creative, I don’t need 100 pages telling me why creativity is important or what the benefits may be, I kind of already understand that and I think this section (especially if it includes ‘common roadblocks’) should be towards the end.
- The last 1/2-2/3 of the book: This is the meat and what I came for. I like concrete steps and methods for reaching a goal. I know each situation is different and there is no universally correct way to be creative (or whatever) but if you have a four-part system for creating a creative rhythm starting it on page 70 is annoying, that shit should basically start on page 3.
- Final few pages: Other books to buy or things to subscribe to “Want to really implement this?!? Buy my patented spreadsheet and join the online community forums! I promise not to bombard you with emails or other sales pitches” (I immediately start receiving daily emails with titles like “I normally don’t do this!” or “Here are the first of 10 ways to improve things, for my subscribers only!”
This always makes me want to write my own book about what has been (minimally) successful for me. I don’t think anyone would pay actual money for it, but it would be good to articulate my experiences and ideas in a concrete way.
“Existentialism” by David Cooper: This is a new addition to the morning readings and I think it is going to be a slow read. I wrote a bunch in the margins already and I’m only on page 4. So far, my notes say:
- This seems to assumes something completely unique about humans but I’m not sure if that is entirely true. We don’t know enough about the mind of ourselves or animals to automatically classify ourselves as unique.
- Accounting for humans requires referring to other things, but isn’t that true of virtually everything? Every description is a language shortcut that defines a relationship. “Cold” is “the molecules around me are moving more slowly than they previously were (or that I am comfortable with or than the molecules over there)”. An exhaustive description always requires a direct or implied comparison to something else, sometimes what that object will likely become. Humans aren’t unique in that respect
- “exist” = “ex-ist” = “ex = out”, “ist = a person who does something, stands” = “a person who is outside or stands outside”
- “ecstasy” comes from the word “exist” and means “displacement from proper place or of the mind”, literally a person who is outside their mind.
- Sartre thought that someone who said that being homosexual was a fixed property was a man of “bad faith”. Did he feel the same about heterosexuality?
Okay, that’s my morning. Time to go for a run, meditate, go to therapy, and then make that paper. Oh, that actually reminds me. I don’t talk about work much here but I do want to note that things are going really well on that front. I have some fun projects, my primary clients are giving me greater autonomy and responsibility, and I’m feeling really good. I don’t know if my situation has objectively improved or if my mindset is just better, but either way I am in a good place.
Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below!
Email address: email@example.com
Questions: pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”