At worst, we apply a supernatural explanation to the whole show, because otherwise we’d have to recognize intelligence as a natural extension of the things that happen on a barren, unattended planet. For some reason we often insist nature couldn’t be that interesting or potent on its own. There has to be a super nature, to keep nature in its rightful, humble place. It makes us feel special I guess, maybe that’s why we don’t give nature the credit. We’re special either way, but we don’t need special rules to explain how we’re here. For that matter, we don’t necessarily need to explain ourselves to ourselves at all. Whatever happened, we got intelligent at some point, and that’s great. It’s okay to wonder aloud exactly how it happened, but clearly it did.
~ David Cain
Monism has never made sense to me. It’s interesting and I’ve spent a significant amount of time turning over its various flavors trying to understand others’ points of view. But, “that’s interesting,” is as far as I get.
When I face reality—thinking through mental models, comparing them to my personal experiences, talking to other people and listening to their experiences—I simply don’t see any deep mystery in life. Certainly, I see mind-bogglingly-huge expanses of things which are unknown (by me or anyone,) but that simply makes me more excited and more curious!
What confuses me is that the majority of people think differently, and I spend a lot of time talking to people as I try to understand how they think. I have only one point of view. I’m deeply fascinated by the universe around me and, in particular, by the conversations that come from me saying, “What does that bit of reality over there look like from your point of view?”
I think working with anyone who’s a brilliant creative can at times be a rollercoaster. Working with any other human other than yourself can be a rollercoaster, because they’re not you, so, you know… their reactions to things are going to be different than yours. But I think that’s part of the adventure. You talked to me about One Love, you talked to me about the telethon, and now you’re talking to me about clients. My response is the same: Life is not ever going to be content. Life is never going to be normal. For the rest of your life you’re on a journey that has ups and downs and ups and downs, it is a roller coaster that never ends. Until one day you close your eyes and you’re off the roller coaster. And I think for me, I just want to be on as many different journey’s as possible, so at least if I’m on a roller coaster, there’s a new zigzag and a turn that I didn’t know about before.
~ Scooter Braun
In this interview titled, Bringing Light to Darkness, Cal and Scooter have a wide ranging discussion of the challenges Scooter faced in 2017 and the lessons he learned. I’m a big fan of Cal’s work generally. Although this is one of his earlier podcasts, it’s a gold mine.
It’s time to stop blaming our surroundings and start taking responsibility. While no workplace is perfect, it turns out that our gravest challenges are a lot more primal and personal. Our individual practices ultimately determine what we do and how well we do it. Specifically, it’s our routine (or lack thereof), our capacity to work proactively rather than reactively, and our ability to systematically optimize our work habits over time that determine our ability to make ideas happen.
~ Scott Belsky
Routine is great. Routine guides me to channel my pensive morning moods into reflecting on what I want to accomplish that day. Routine suggests that I create spaces which enable certain types of work. Routine saves me time by streamlining the vast majority of my chores. Routine ensures I make progress on the long-term projects that seem insurmountable at the beginning. Routine forces me to make time to encounter new ideas.
But rigidity won’t do. Sometimes I want to break free.
For the first time in all of time, men have seen the Earth. Seen it not as continents or oceans from the little distance of a hundred miles or two or three, but seen it from the depths of space; seen it whole and round and beautiful and small… To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold—brothers who know that they are truly brothers.
~ Archibald MacLeish
The linked article is about Carl Sagan’s, Pale Blue Dot, but the quote is from a less well-known poet, Archibald MacLeish. He wrote an essay titled, Riders on the Earth, which appeared in The New York Times on Christmas Day, 1968.
I am well aware that this blog is a long sequence of my ideas which are inspired by others’. There’s a reason I lead with the link to the seed from which each idea germinated.
I recall exactly when, and where, I was when I had the idea to restart blogging. (Aside: Another reason I love my long-standing habit of journaling is the ability to look up things like this to audit my memory.) I cannot imagine where I would be today—frankly, there’s no chance I would have gotten to where I am today—if I hadn’t started this place to unpack my thoughts.
Society changes when we change what we’re embarrassed about.
~ Seth Godin
This is an interesting way to look at societal changes. Since there is no “we”—there is no aggregate, thing which is “the society as a whole” which can feel embarrassed—the only “we” which can be embarrassed is me, the individual.
…and since this blog is about me, I should talk about what embarrasses me. But instead, I’m interested in unpacking the source of my embarrassment:
When my actions and thoughts disagree with what I know is right.
A nice example of this lesson, from a site which doesn’t normally go in for the philosophical perspective on things.
What made me link to it is the quote—you’ll simply have to click—about the glass being already broken.
Despite the laudatory efforts of scientists to ferret out patterns in human behavior, I continue to be struck by the impact of single individuals, or of small groups, working against the odds. As scholars, we cannot and should not sweep these instances under the investigative rug. We should bear in mind anthropologist Margaret Mead’s famous injunction: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has.’
~ John Brockman
There so many ways that you can see this in human societies: The crowd of non-helpers all assuming someone else will help, the herds on social media who are only listening to refute, and the oceans of sarcasm to gain temporary attention.
But there are always a few—surely you’ve spotted them in your life?—who are inspiring. Perk up your ears. Who’s efforts call to you? Are you helping them?
Better yet, what calls to you? Are you thoughtful? Are you committed?