Numbered precisely

If men could see their future years numbered as precisely as their past, what a flutter there would be among those who saw that their remaining years were few, how sparing of them would they be! With a fixed amount, however small, it is easy to economize; but when you cannot know when what you have will be gone you must husband your store very carefully.

~ Seneca

Crystalizing experiences

It’s important to be aware of our own crystallizing experiences and how they affected us. I’m curious about what crystalizing experiences you’ve had, and I’m thinking beyond just moments, to books, people, videos, discussions, whatever left an impact. What stuck with you and changed the way you thought about things? This could be in any area of your life: work, learning, movement, writing, any hobby. What was the experience, and how did it change your practice?

~ Melissa Way

The Movers Mindset team has an internal project management system. (Basecamp.com in case you’re still mysteriously using something dysfunctional, like Slack, to run your team.) Each week, in a sort of loose rotation, we take turns kicking off some discussion by posting something—anything, whatever interests us when it’s our turn.

I’ve been coming back to this post from Melissa for nearly two weeks, trying to figure out where to start on a reply. Each time I start thinking, my mind wanders down a seemingly endless sequence of formative experiences; I can’t even begin to list them as they’d sound like an intolerable bragging-list. There are some unbelievable experiences ranging from, “been there,” to “done that,” and careening between, “literally cheated death,” and “hfsyesagainplease.”

Instead of trying to pick just one, tell the story, and pull out how the experience changed me, I’m going to ask, and attempt to answer, a meta question: Is life a journey of becoming, or simply a journey?

If it’s the former, then I should be paying attention for—perhaps even actively seeking—crystallizing experiences my entire life. I should be continuously repeating the process of asking myself what I should change or improve next, and then seeking out the experiences or knowledge to achieve that change. But having bashed myself on that cold anvil, incessantly seeking change and improvement, I’m now convinced that it’s the later.

Life is simply a journey.

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How? Patience, honesty, humility

No carelessness in your actions. No confusion in your words. No imprecision in your thoughts. No retreating into your own soul, or trying to escape it. No overactivity. They kill you, cut you with knives, shower you with curses. And that somehow cuts your mind off from clearness, and sanity, and self-control, and justice? A man standing by a spring of clear, sweet water and cursing it. While the fresh water keeps on bubbling up. He can shovel mud into it, or dung, and the stream will carry it away, wash itself clean, remain unstained. To have that. Not a cistern but a perpetual spring. How? By working to win your freedom. hour by hour,. Through patience, honesty, humility.

~ Marcus Aurelius from, Meditations 8,51

Complete tranquility

People try to get away from it all—to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: You can get away from it anytime you like. By going within. Nowhere you can go is more peaceful—more free of interruptions—than your own soul. Especially if you have other things to rely on. An instant’s recollection and there it is: Complete tranquility. And by tranquility I mean a kind of harmony.

~ Marcus Aurelius from, Meditations 4,3

Turn it to advantage

Without an antagonist prowess fades away. its true proportions and capacities come to light only when action proves its endurance. You must know that good men should behave similarly; they must not shrink from hardship and difficulty or complain of fate; they should take whatever befalls in good part and turn it to advantage. The thing that matters is not what you bear but how you bear it.

~ Seneca

Grace

Like the impresario ringing down the curtain on an actor: “But I’ve only gotten through three acts… !” Yes. This will be a drama in three acts, the length fixed by the power that directed your creation, and now directs your dissolution. Neither was yours to determine. So make your exit with grace—the same grace shown to you.

~ Marcus Aurelius

What would it be like?

I have a list of daily reminders that I cycle through. This one came up this morning and, as always, it bears repeating:

Add padding to everything. Do half of what you imagine you can do. We tend to cram as much as possible into our days. And this becomes stressful, because we always underestimate how long things will take, and we forget about maintenance tasks like putting on clothes and brushing teeth and preparing meals. We never feel like we have enough time because we try to do too much. But what would it be like if we did less? What would it be like if we padded how long things took, so that we have the space to actually do them well, with full attention? What would it be like if we took a few minutes’ pause between tasks, to savor the accomplishment of the last task, to savor the space between things, to savor being alive?

~ Leo Babauta from, https://zenhabits.net/simple-living/

Where I am, there’s a winter storm coming later today. It’s the end of the world. People rushing around. Grocery stores picked clean. Flurries of communication about, “have you heard…,” and, “is this thing cancelled?” It’s like this every year; not just the first winter storm, but every storm.

The crazier it gets, in general, in life, on the roads, in the markets, online, the more I feel like, “meh.” Tempest in a teapot. All the world is but a stage, and all that. On any given day, there are things I want to do and I set about doing them.

What do you want to do today? Have you allocated time to do that well?

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The art of starting a fire

During heating season, each morning begins with my ducking outside for the ash pail and then shoveling out the stove. Then with a selection of kindling and a medium-sized piece or two, I build a small work of art and set a match to it. I’ve done this, easily, a thousand times. I’ve read one book entirely about burning wood, and several about thermodynamics and chemistry. I understand the different types of wood and how to season it, the convection of air, and I know intimately how the house and stove interact. I’ve intentionally experimented with variations of the art, including working with more stoves and fireplaces than I can recall. Usually, I have a roaring fire in 30 minutes—sometimes 20—with not the least hint in the house of the smell of a fire. Occasionally it doesn’t work well. Most of those mediocre attempts or outright failures are immediately attributable to my having cut some corner. But every once in a great while, the art eludes me despite my best efforts.

There’s a large lesson in that.

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You can’t fool your body either

I also can’t fool my old friend Hormesis, and rust never sleeps.

Walk distances. Lift heavy things. Move in mysterious ways. (She does!) Ask your body to try something new. Remind your body to try something old.

Jerzy Gregorek said something—which I feel is profound—about, “your first body,” and your second body. I’m definitely understanding what he means these days. The first fifty, this thing was pretty responsive; Handled pretty good in the corners, stopped well in slippery conditions, got terrible mileage, but could haul firewood.

Now? …not so much. But that’s fun too.

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