A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.
~ E. B. White
Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.
~ Isabel Allende
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?”
Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work.
~ Chuck Close
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”)…
The self-limiting beliefs infect all of us because all of us like being competent, we like being respected, we like being successful. When something shows up that threatens to undo all of those things, well then it’s really easy to avoid it. What goes hand-in-hand with that is the sour mindset. The mindset of, “We are not getting what we deserve.” The mindset of, “The world is not fair.” The mindset of, “Why should I even bother, it’s probably not going to work.”
One thing those of us who are lucky enough to live in the world where we have enough — we have a roof and we have food — is we find ourselves caught in this cycle of keeping track of the wrong things. Keeping track of how many time we’ve been rejected. Keeping track of how many times it didn’t work. Keeping track of all the times someone has broken our heart, or double-crossed us, or let us down. Of course we can keep track of those things, but why, why keep track of them? Are they making us better?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep track of the other suttf? To keep track of all the times it worked? All the times we took a risk? All the times we were able to brighten someone else’s day? That when we start doing that we can redefine ourselves as people who are able to make an impact on the world.
~ Seth Godin
Seth Godin has a lot of unusual (as in, high-fidelity, clear, insightful, meaningful, useful) things to say. This bit of insight made stop in my tracks — literally made me stop walking and fumble for my podcast player controls to capture the time code so I could dig this out.
“We can redefine ourselves as people who are able to make an impact on the world.”
There’s nothing magic about printing on paper and editing with a pen. To me it’s all about changing context, putting my brain in an at least slightly different mode. That’s why I love Lopp’s imperative to “Sit in a different place” — you need to see your own words in a different light.
~ John Gruber
Changing context is so critical. There’s deep magic to be found in having loving crafted spaces where you work, think, read, etc.
The big umbrella for me is this idea of “master the day.” The whole idea is that life doesn’t change — wether it’s weight loss, success, happiness, marriage. It doesn’t change until something today changes. And that by itself is a huge revelation. Because most of us, we may have heard that idea. But if all we did was change something today, then that would already put us on the path we want to be on. And that, again, right there, there’s a philosophical change. Because if we knew that it just took changing small things, and that by changing something small today it would be easeir to change something small tomrorrow, a lot of us would have a much easier time reaching our goals.
So how do you change on a daily level? When you think about it, the average person only reflects about what needs changing, once a year. Right? The New Year we write our resolutions and that’s the only time we reflect on what’s working and what’s not working. One time in 365 days. Imagine if you did that every day. Imagine if you did that 365 times now. Imagine how quickly you could iterate on your behavior and your habits.
~ Alexander Heyne
I sure wish I’d read, (or heard,) this about 10 years ago. Took me an embarrassingly long time to discover this on my own. This is literally the it’s-not-actually-a-secret to all of my success. Small daily changes. Even in the face of catastrophically stupid, self-imposed set-backs. Small daily changes. Every day, one step forward.
Forty years after the Voyager sailed into space, we seem to have lost sight of this beautiful and sobering perspective, drifting further and further into our divides, fragmenting our fragile home pixel into more and more warring factions, and forgetting that we are bound together by the improbable miracle of life on this Pale Blue Dot and a shared cosmic destiny.
~ Maria Popova
Also quoted in this piece is Carl Sagan’s original commentary on the “pale blue dot”. Gets me every time.