Conflagration

Our inward power, when it obeys nature, reacts to events by accommodating itself to what it faces—to what is possible. It needs no specific material. It pursues its own aims as circumstances allow; it turns obstacles into fuel. As a fire overwhelms what would have quenched a lamp. What’s thrown on top of the conflagration is absorbed, consumed by it—and makes it burn still higher.

~ Marcus Aurelius

slip:4a697.

More reason to worry

For even peace itself will supply more reason for worry. Not even safe circumstances will bring you confidence once your mind has been shocked—once it gets in the habit of blind panic, it can’t provide for its own safety. For it doesn’t really avoid danger, it just runs away. Yet we are exposed to greater danger with our backs turned.

~ Seneca

slip:4a225.

Yes, relax

This is the training. Relax the narrative, loosen your view, and drop into the openness of the present moment. Breathe deeply, and relax your body. Relax the jaw, relax the muscles in your torso. Feel the openness in this moment.

~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/relaxed/

It took me a long time to understand that the only source of stress in my life is myself.

I’ve been in two car crashes where I’ve instantly gone from automobile operator to roller-coaster rider. I’ve been absolutely wiped out, in countless variations, in martial arts context. I’ve discovered mid-air that I’ve been launched off my mountain bike. I’ve been obliterated while skiing. I’ve had too many—I’m refusing to count—nearly serious automobile accidents where my driving skills, applied consciously with to-the-inch and to-the-split-second accuracy saved the day. I’ve had bones broken. I’ve been fallen upon, by a poor fellow who was saved from an 8-foot, head first, fall onto concrete… by the flex of my rib cage. I’ve been hit in the face with a max-power, line-drive, point-blank soccer ball penalty kick. I’ve been flattened by a skull-to-skull running-speed impact. Sucker-punched in the gut. T-boned into the sticker-bushes at high speed on a bicycle. Beaned by a 2×6 board. I once fell 12 feet from a tree with my head being the first thing to land… on a tree root. I’ve been clipped by a truck, and blown a bicycle tire at high speed, ending up happy to reach the ditch rather than the asphalt. I rear-ended a car at speed (on my bicycle.) I’ve been banged up, flipped over, slammed into, … but also yelled at, and put upon. I had someone angrily invoke the name of my dead father in an attempt to shame my actions. I’ve been laughed at, and picked last in gym class. I’ve run out of money and bummed rides to work. I’ve been chewed out by a boss. I’ve had my credit card declined while in public. I’ve been scammed by street hustlers, lied to by various people, and pre-judged in various dimensions.

…and I can now truthfuly say: The only source of stress in my life is myself.

ɕ

Those who understand

The cucumber is bitter? Then throw it out. There are brambles in the path? Then go around them. That’s all you need to know. Nothing more. Don’t demand to know, “why such things exist.” Anyone who understands the world will laugh at you, just as a carpenter would if you seemed shocked at finding sawdust in his workshop, or a shoemaker at scraps of leather left over from work.

~ Marcus Aurelius

slip:4a506.

Impressions

Nothing but what you get from first impressions. That someone has insulted you for instance. That —but not that it’s done you any harm. The fact that my son is sick —that I can see. But, “that he might die of it,” no. Stick with first impressions. Don’t extrapolate. And nothing can happen to you. Or extrapolate. From a knowledge of all that can happen in the world.

~ Marcus Aurelius

slip:4a491.

Doing premortems

Premortems encourage people to use “prospective hindsight,” or, more accurately, to talk in “future perfect tense.” Instead of thinking, “we will devote the next six months to implementing a new HR software initiative,” for example, we travel to the future and think, “we have devoted six months to implementing a new HR software package.”

~ Bob Sutton from, https://fs.blog/2014/01/kahneman-better-decisions/

Positive thinking is dangerous. Negative thinking is also dangerous. But since, as humans, we are so prone to positive thinking—go read that little article which is just a taster-sized summary of Sutton’s book—that intentionally doing some negative visualization is a wise counter-balance.

Balance.

Don’t hope the wind will change.

Don’t whine that the wind will never blow from the direction you want.

Decide if sailing today is wise based on the conditions and forecast, and then adjust the sails.

ɕ

Once things click

It is amazing how obvious things are once you figure them out. Something I struggle to understand, can instantly be glaringly obvious once some final, little piece clicks into place. Small things, big things, click, click, click.

Question: Which is better, to be at the click part marveling at how clear something is, or to be in the puzzling part doing the work?

ɕ

That’s interesting

In response to the question, “Do you think we can educate ourselves, that any one of us, at any time, can be educated in any subject that strikes our fancy?” Isaac Asimov responded:

The key words here are “that strikes our fancy.” There are some things that simply don’t strike my fancy, and I doubt that I can force myself to be educated in them. On the other hand, when there’s a subject I’m ferociously interested in, then it is easy for me to learn about it. I take it in gladly and cheerfully…

[What’s exciting is] the actual process of broadening yourself, of knowing there’s now a little extra facet of the universe you know about and can think about and can understand. It seems to me that when it’s time to die, there would be a certain pleasure in thinking that you had utilized your life well, learned as much as you could, gathered in as much as possible of the universe, and enjoyed it. There’s only this one universe and only this one lifetime to try to grasp it. And while it is inconceivable that anyone can grasp more than a tiny portion of it, at least you can do that much. What a tragedy just to pass through and get nothing out of it.

~ Isaac Asimov, from “His Hopes for the Future (Part Two),” https://billmoyers.com/content/isaac-asimov-part-two/

To grasp a tiny portion of it.

I’ve never had any delusions of grandeur—ok, sure, fine. I probably did in my youth. But currently, I do not now have delusions of grandeur. I’m not trying to leave a grand legacy or solve something in math or physics that will earn me a place in the pantheon of science.

I want to enjoy a few simple things, I want to appreciate the fruit of a lot of hard work and luck. Lots of smiling would be nice. Playing with my friends would be cool. I want to make that, “huh,” sound more often; Do you know that sound? It’s that little puff of curiosity one emits when some bit of knowledge clicks into place, or you realize there’s a small patch of your thinking which isn’t as illuminated as you had thought. It’s often followed by, “that’s interesting.”

When is the last time you made that noise?

ɕ

Which type of Muppet are you?

Which type of Muppet are you? You’d think your answer would depend a lot on your innate personality. But it turns out that the tightness or looseness of your environment plays a big part in whether you’re more Gonzo or Kermit.

~ Michele Gelfand from, https://www.quietrev.com/mirror-check-are-you-a-t-or-an-l/

If you don’t know who the Muppets are—or, were, oh gawd, old, OLD I tell you…—I cannot help you.

Anyway.

I’ve always wished I was Animal, but I think I’m really just Bert.

ɕ