Last vestiges

It can be hard to say no. It means refusing someone, and often it means denying yourself instant gratification. The rewards of doing this are uncertain and less tangible. I call decisions like this “first-order negative, second-order positive.” Most people don’t take the time to think through the second-order effects of their choices. If they did, they’d realize that freedom comes from the ability to say no.

~ Shane Parrish from,


I think the “slavery” [to things, to money, to “more”] metaphor is inappropriate, but philosophers from Epictetus and earlier have been using it, so it’s entrenched. “Freedom” is mentioned in the pull-quote, and the metaphor also appears in the article. None the less, it connects a few different ideas together and gives good guidance if you’re new to the ideas. (Or if you could use a wee refresher.)

For me, the last vestiges of the yearning—as Wu Hsin put it—is the yearning for experiences. I am quite often restless. I often joke: “I do not idle well.” In my series on parkour-travel I even mentioned the idea of, when spare time exists, move towards the next scheduled-thing, and kill time there. I believe this yearning springs from my bias to action. As a counter-practice, I like to pause—often seemingly randomly—to remind myself: If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

That phrase can get tossed around lightly, but there’s deep wisdom in it. Once I understand that this is in fact nice, right now, then when I realize that I wasn’t—just then, in the moment—feeling how nice it is… then the second part of the phrase has power: I don’t know what is. Put another way:

If I know what is nice, then this is.