Draw Antonio, draw Antonio, draw and don’t waste time.~ Michelangelo
Yes, I do spend a lot of time chasing white rabbits down rabbit holes.
I cannot tell if that’s because diversity of experience and exploration is central to what it means to flourish as a human being, or if I’m simply the type of person for which that is true. Which case it is doesn’t really matter since I can only deeply relate to my personal experience of being. (Recall, I’m not trying to accomplish ‘change the world’ with this blog; Rather, I’m working on self-reflection here.)
Today, an example of a rabbit hole: I have a way of reading entire web sites, one page at a time—software that keeps track of an entire web site and feeds me “the next thing” to read each day. (Aside: If you want to pay to make this a commercial product, let me know.) Today a post from some author (I’m ommiting names) came up that referenced another author’s book which quotes Michelangelo… and it only took me a few minutes to dig around the internet to figure out the quote is correct (albeit translated from Italian) and the original source is in the British Museum. Note to self: See if I can find it next time I’m there. Along the way I found a few interesting things which I shared with some friends. Along the way I learned several new things.
Along the way.
I’m fond of the old adage, what was once your workout will eventually be your warmup. It captures the inevitability of progress if you simply put in your time. In the beginning, the time spent seems to surface an endless sequence of unknown-unknowns. Bottomless, rabbit holes appear and you have to go far too far down the first few to learn an important lesson about depth versus breadth of knowledge. Soon you begin to realize the beginner’s journey is more or less the same for everyone. You get a few wins under your belt. Someone ahead of you compliments your work. You help one of your peers. Then you help one of those farther ahead of you, and realize the distance you’ve come is farther than the distance between you. You feed increasingly off of the energy of your peer group, bouncing ideas and challenges around like a seasoned practitioner. You look around only to realize there are now a large number of newer people on the journey who are behind you. You’re struck by a deeply pleasant emotional vertigo. You remember running in the halls with your brand new friends full of energy, and you feel recharged and invigorated; You might no longer run in the halls—age appropriateness and all that—but the energy from those who do is absolutely contagious every time. You struggle to refrain from proclaiming, “wait until you see what’s next!” Instead, you redouble your efforts by dashing ahead, behind the scenes, around the next corner, or over the next hill, to help with the preparations. You realize—you apprehend—that you’ve gotten as much out of giving back to help with the process, than you did from going through the process that first time. The cycle repeats. The learning, the friendships, the accomplishments—and quite frankly the advancement of the entire human race—builds with each iteration.
So, when is the last time you started something as a beginner?
When is the last time you showed up a bright eyed and bushy tailed neophyte?
When is the last time you helped the others? Those behind you, those ahead of you, and those around you?
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?”
You don’t know if your idea is any good the moment it’s created. Neither does anyone else. The most you can hope for is a strong gut feeling that it is. And trusting your feelings is not as easy as the optimists say it is. There’s a reason why feelings scare us.
And asking close friends never works quite as well as you hope, either. It’s not that they deliberately want to be unhelpful. It’s just they don’t know your world one millionth as well as you know your world, no matter how hard they try, no matter how hard you try to explain.
~ Jason Korman
There are so many ideas that can be tried. But knowing which ones to try, which ones to stick with, and which ones to stick with beyond the point of sanity is the hard point. It’s important to find a balance between some things which are fulfilling and a sure-thing, and some things which are inspiring and impossible.
Those of us accustomed to making life livable by superimposing over its inherent chaos various control mechanisms — habit, routine, structure, discipline — are always haunted by the disquieting awareness that something essential is lost in the clutch of control, some effervescent liveliness and loveliness elemental to what makes life not merely livable but worth living.
~ Maria Popova
I spend significant time swerving between the two extremes of schedule-and-organize “all the things,” and running around like a dog fascinated by everything. New item #1 on my list of 42 things (all numbered “1”)…