Minutia

Sometimes it’s nice to come to a complete stop and notice the details. This photo was taken a bit off the more usual paths in Muir Woods in California.

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Artificial constraints

A lot of my thinking, and sometimes even my problem solving, revolves around juxtaposition. What would the inverse of the current this be? Can I gain useful perspective from the other position? Big/small, loud/quiet, perfuse/sparse, etc.; there are many obvious qualities that create striking changes in perspective. However, I find particularly rewarding juxtapositions in unusual dimensions, and there’s one dimension in particular that pays off more than all others: Time.

Have a problem? …how would I solve it if I had 100 years? …what would have to be the case if I were going to solve it in 5 minutes?

It’s become common to talk about “minimum viable product” in the entrepreneurial space, and that’s a form of time constraint. (But it’s a useful idea because it also includes other constraints such as resources and people.)

The famous Getting Things Done system has many critical components. One in particular is paying attention to the next action for any given project. (And in GTD everything you do in your entire life is a ‘project’.) This too is a form of time constraint; it’s not, “I’ll move this project forward at some point in time,” (the perspective of unlimited time,) rather it’s, “if I was going to move this project forward in the next minute…”

Where in your life might a shift to expectation of greater or lesser time yield a huge benefit?

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You needn’t have happened

It’s the very last thing, isn’t it, that we feel grateful for: having happened. You know, you needn’t have happened. You needn’t have happened. But you did happen.

~ Douglas Harding

This too shall pass

This is a news flash to some: It’s okay to experience unpleasant feelings. It’s okay for things to happen that you don’t want to happen. It is possible to notice these things happening and consciously allow them to be there. And it makes a huge difference to how traumatic or not-so-bad the experience ends up being.

~ David Cain, from http://www.raptitude.com/2014/05/okay-to-be-here/

I believe that in some people circumspection develops with age.

I love to remind myself: If things are not going as I’d wish, relax because they won’t last. Also, if things are going as I’d wish, relax because they won’t last either.

There will be a last time that I awake from sleep. There will be a last time I have dinner with my mom. There will be a last line of software I write. There will be a last parkour jump I do. There will also be a last wasp sting, a last broken bone, a last heart-break, and the hottest and stickiest time I’ve ever experienced.

Why exactly should I be affected by the flat tire on my bicycle, the traffic jam, the cancelled flight or the irate customer?

In the end, it is all the same.

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Look at that

In outer space you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics looks so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that, you son of a bitch.”

~ Edgar Mitchell

The power to break your back

If you can lighten your burden you must do so. There is no straw which lacks the power to break your back.

~ unknown

All comes out even at the end

Weak as I am, I carry on the war to the last moment, I get a hundred pike thrusts, I return two hundred and I laugh. I see near my door Geneva on fire with quarrels over nothing, and I laugh again; And, thank god, I can look upon the world as a farce even when it becomes as tragic as it sometimes does. All comes out even at the end of the day, and all comes out still more even when all the days are over.

~ Voltaire

Sleep

http://www.raptitude.com/2012/03/were-quite-different-but-we-cant-help-but-sleep-together/

There are exceptions, such as when I travel, where I end up unconscious on some other horizontal surface, but it’s as sure a rule as any that no matter what kinds of wild or unpredictable events happen during the day, the conclusion is quite predictable: me, horizontal and comatose.

~ David Cain

Elsewhere, I’ve written specifically about sleeping. Sleep itself is fascinating, and a critical component to—well, everything; Life, quality thereof, the ability to think, and so on.

But until I read David’s piece, I’ve never had the vertiginous perspective of millions of people laying out horizontally and slipping unconscious. A rolling wave of countless people passing into unconsciousness as the world rotates. It’s eery, a third of all people are unconscious right at this moment. Also this moment. And in a relatively few more moments, I will be unconscious again.

I’m not certain, but I think my perspective upon first awakening may have shifted a little towards the, “oh! This is interesting,” end of things.

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Happiness first

https://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2012/08/happiness-first-then-everything-else/

Social conditioning may have convinced you that sacrificing your happiness to maintain a certain bank balance, to send timely payments to corporations to which you’re indebted, or to pay for someone else’s needs and expenses is the proper way to live. Perhaps your parents played a role in this conditioning as well, teaching you the importance of being responsible and holding down stable employment.

~ Steve Pavlina

There’s a lot of value to the idea of, “and now that you are moving, you can steer.” Lots of metaphors here: A ship’s rudder doesn’t work unless the ship is moving; A car cannot turn around unless it is moving; etc. But there’s a vastly bigger picture that, “you can steer,” will never reveal.

It doesn’t matter how fast I’m “moving” or how well I “steer” if I’m on the wrong eff’in continent.

Steve often writes phoofy new-age mumbo jumbo stuff that I can’t even read. Why do I keep reading [you might ask]? Filter bubble. Perspective. Articles like this one which challenge the reader to wipe off the entire board and consider redrawing the plate tectonics.

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Riders on the Earth together

https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/02/14/happy-birthday-pale-blue-dot/

For the first time in all of time, men have seen the Earth. Seen it not as continents or oceans from the little distance of a hundred miles or two or three, but seen it from the depths of space; seen it whole and round and beautiful and small… To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold—brothers who know that they are truly brothers.

~ Archibald MacLeish

The linked article is about Carl Sagan’s, Pale Blue Dot, but the quote is from a less well-known poet, Archibald MacLeish. He wrote an essay titled, Riders on the Earth, which appeared in The New York Times on Christmas Day, 1968.

I am well aware that this blog is a long sequence of my ideas which are inspired by others’. There’s a reason I lead with the link to the seed from which each idea germinated.

I recall exactly when, and where, I was when I had the idea to restart blogging. (Aside: Another reason I love my long-standing habit of journaling is the ability to look up things like this to audit my memory.) I cannot imagine where I would be today—frankly, there’s no chance I would have gotten to where I am today—if I hadn’t started this place to unpack my thoughts.

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