One of the most fascinating portions of her treatise, for it applies to nearly every aspect of life in every era at every level of society, deals with the complex ecosystem of talent, ambition, and success — what we do with our talent, what others make of our success, and how to cope with one of the ugliest impulses of the human heart: the small-spirited urge to tear down those who have risen to prominence by their own merit.
~ Maria Popova
Two centuries old (ie, very new). There’s nothing new under the sun (at least, in terms of the crap humans do wrongly ;)
It has been a difficult year — politically, personally. Through it all, I have found solace in taking a more telescopic view — not merely on the short human timescale of my own life, looking back on having lived through a Communist dictatorship and having seen poems composed and scientific advances made under such tyrannical circumstances, but on far vaster scales of space and time.
~ Maria Popova
Not sure what it is about this winter, but I’m finding it notably harder to knuckle-down and dig in to prepare for 2018. Normally, the dreary winter months are generally depressing, but it’s the sort of dreary that “cozy up with a good book by the fire (and maybe some good Scotch)” takes care of. But this winter. meh I’ve got a lot of sorting out to do yet for 2018.
“Freedom is the capacity to pause in the face of stimuli from many directions at once and, in this pause, to throw one’s weight toward this response rather than that one.”
“The pause is especially important for the freedom of being, what I have called essential freedom. For it is in the pause that we experience the context out of which freedom comes. In the pause we wonder, reflect, sense awe, and conceive of eternity. The pause is when we open ourselves for the moment to the concepts of both freedom and destiny.”
~ Rollo May from, “Freedom and Destiny”
Check out Maria Popova’s, “Existential Psychologist Rollo May on Freedom and the Significance of the Pause”
…and my favorite season is here! I love the cool evenings, and how the knowledge that Daylight Savings is about to kick in makes me pay extra attention to my time outdoors in the evening. One thing I love doing is walking while listening to podcasts where I often find inspiring gems.
Here’s an example from The Tim Ferris Show Episode #86
Around 1 hour 20 miutes in, Chris Fussell says:
“I had a great mentor of mine, early on in my carrer, say, you should have a running list of three people — you can but you don’t need to share it with them or the world — that you’re always watching: Someone senior to you that you want to emulate; A peer who you think is better at the job than you, and you respect; And someone subordinate who is doing the job that you did a year or two or three years ago better than you did it. If you just have those three individuals that you’re constantly measuring yourself off of, and who you’re constantly learning from, you’re going to be exponentially better.”
Aside: DST should be abolished. It no longer saves us energy (it’s original purpose), but it does cause a statistically significant rise in traffic accidents:
(that’s the actual New England Journal of Medicine mind you.)
But you will cease to feel isolated when you recognize, for example, that you do not have a sensation of the sky: you are that sensation. For all purposes of feeling, your sensation of the sky is the sky, and there is no “you” apart from what you sense, feel, and know.
And now, somehow, a decade has elapsed.
Because I believe that our becoming, like the synthesis of meaning itself, is an ongoing and dynamic process, I’ve been reluctant to stultify it and flatten its ongoing expansiveness in static opinions and fixed personal tenets of living. But I do find myself continually discovering, then returning to, certain core values. While they may be refined and enriched in the act of living, their elemental substance remains a center of gravity for what I experience as myself.
Maria Popova’s site “Brain Pickings” is one of the true delights of the Internet. Take a few minutes to click over and see.
When you combine the science of recognizing deception with the art of looking, listening, you exempt yourself from collaborating in a lie. You start up that path of being just a little bit more explicit, because you signal to everyone around you, you say, “Hey, my world, our world, it’s going to be an honest one. My world is going to be one where truth is strengthened and falsehood is recognized and marginalized.” And when you do that, the ground around you starts to shift just a little bit.
~ Pamela Meyer
…a genius is simply a person who originates something never known before. Nobody but Melville could have written Moby-Dick, not even Whitman or Shakespeare. Nobody but Whitman could have written Leaves of Grass; Whitman was born to write Leaves of Grass and Melville was born to write Moby-Dick.
~ Jack Kerouac
This distinction holds for adult reading too. The dangerous fantasy is always superficially realistic. The real victim of wishful reverie does not batten on the Odyssey, The Tempest, or The Worm Ouroboros: he (or she) prefers stories about millionaires, irresistible beauties, posh hotels, palm beaches and bedroom scenes—things that really might happen, that ought to happen, that would have happened if the reader had had a fair chance. For, as I say, there are two kinds of longing. The one is an askesis, a spiritual exercise, and the other is a disease.
~ C. S. Lewis, from Maria Papova’s C.S. Lewis on the Three Ways of Writing for Children and the Key to Authenticity in All Writing
And so we get to the so-called “OK Plateau” — the point at which our autopilot of expertise confines us to a sort of comfort zone, where we perform the task in question in efficient enough a way that we cease caring for improvement. We reach this OK Plateau in pursuing just about every goal, from learning to drive to mastering a foreign language to dieting, where after an initial stage of rapid improvement, we find ourselves in that place at once comforting in its good-enoughness and demotivating in its sudden dip in positive reinforcement via palpable betterment.
~ Maria Popova, from The Psychology of Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome the “OK Plateau” of Performance & Personal Growth
We, like all living things, want to live on — we want to project ourselves into the future, we have this will to live. And yet, unlike other living things, we have to live in a knowledge that this will is going to be thwarted, that we’re going to die. And so we might have to live with this sense of personal apocalypse — the worst thing that could possibly happen, will. This is what it means to be mortal.
~ Maria Popova, from The Philosophy of Mortality