Once more, louder, for those in the back


Society has any number of pressing needs that are crying out to be tackled. But there’s a need that everyone can start addressing immediately — no experience or Kickstarter campaign required: regularly showing more human kindness.

~ Brett McKay

Many years ago, my mother bought me a little metal rectangular paper weight which says, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” The type is laid in lines, and the, “no matter how small” is teeny-tiny so each time I read it, I have to look closely.

It also helps me remember to look a little more closely throughout my day.

Expecting nothing in return


It’s quite easily forgotten that it’s required that you respect yourself before you’re able to respect another. Because it’s always about respecting the other and getting respect from others. But how often is it the case that we are not respecting ourselves? I’ve been taught quit well that you can only give from your abundance. So if I’ve got 3 coins and somebody asks me to give them four coins I know I don’t have it. I only have three! Let’s say I need two for myself, then I’ve only one in abundance that I can actually share. The same goes for respect. If I don’t respect myself, there’s very little to give to others. If I do give — which most people do, they tend to give respect — it comes with expectations. You will expect something in return because you’re giving although you don’t have it. So you expect something in return because it hurts to give it away like that. You don’t give because of the joy of giving, of sharing. You’re kind of filling the bank with credit, and you think “ok, I want something in return.”

~ Paul Brand

I really do need to work on having respect for myself. My incessant internal monolog of, “Work harder! Work faster! Be better!”, turns out to be a brutal, abusive, destructive task-master.

The ideal day


The first element to consider when creating a more realistic “ideal day” is that unlike Franklin, we have many more places to be and many more opportunities to lose focus. We have to account for this, not fight against it.

~ Maneesh Sethi

The ideal day is not one which is completely fixed — neither fixed-the-same every day, nor fixed-the-same week after week. The ideal day is one in which I know my goals at various levels– daily, weekly, yearly. etc.. A day where I feel no worry about making progress, because I know I’m making progress. A day where I am presented with challenges I feel that I have chosen. A day where I get to work on things which are interesting to me, and useful to others. A day where surprises are interesting and add value, (as opposed to causing me to react by feeling stress, panic and existential crises.)



Notice a subtle point here: Seneca isn’t saying that prosperity is not worth pursuing. It is, after all, a preferred indifferent. But it is preferred only insofar it doesn’t get in the way of conducting a virtuous life, as one gets the sense Lucilius was worrying about insofar his own pursuits were concerned. Which is why his friend reminds him that he is under no obligation at all to live in the fast lane.

Just yesterday, for the first time ever, I considered removing the rear-view mirror from the Jeep. (Instead, I twisted it upwards to view the roof.) Since the Jeep is slow and old, as am I, there is ALWAYS someone tail-gating me. I’ve narrowly avoided accidents, where watching the tail-gater behind me distracted me from the road ahead. I’m so much in the “slow lane”, I am literally being run over. Where, really, are you going?

Intersection of three lines


The three lines cross in that intersection, and you’re like, “Okay, I think I know where I am.” In the case of your “why,” one great intersection is saying, “Hey, what would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail? What would be the things that I would just love to be doing in my life if I could not fail? Unfortunately, somewhere along the line between high school, college, and maybe even before high school, kids stopped dreaming up crazy ideas, and they start thinking, “Okay, well, this is what society expects.”

~ Alden Mills

1. What would I do if I couldn’t fail?
2. Whose lifestyle would I like to follow?
3. What am I passionate about, and in what can I find purpose?

The answers to these questions will not tell me what to do, nor how to live my life. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out what to do and how to live, (and I hope I will always be working on that.) But these three questions are an excellent triplet of tools for picking at the bigger picture.

Simplicity in 2018


Paring down one’s possessions and schedule are go-to ways to seek simplicity because they are outward, accessible, concrete actions that produce fairly immediate results. Their weakness, when practiced as their own ends, however, is that they lack a set of overarching criteria for how they should be carried out, as well as intrinsic motivation for following them through.

Practicing outward moves towards simplification, without this set of criteria, is like placing spokes in a wheel, without connecting them to a hub.

Simplicity needs a heart, and its center must be this: having a clear purpose.

~ Brett McKay

Throughout 2017 I’ve been slowly paring down. Fewer physical things sure, but also changing out some things and hobbies and projects and people. Can I eliminate one? Can I replace two of something with a simpler one?

I’m a “systems” person. I get things done via the observe, orient, decide, and act loop. For 2018 I’ve no delusions of rewiring my brain and kicking all my systems and processes to the curb.

I’ve realized, (far too recently,) that I need to take more time to “zoom out” and to take the time to consider how the really big things in my life fit together. Do they fit together? What if some really big component of who I am — even if it’s a great, fine thing — doesn’t fit with the rest of everything? What should I change; everything else, or that one great, fine thing?

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do love to spend the indoor, chilly, winter season thinking about the big picture — and now, perhaps a bit more of the really big picture.

Goodbye 2017! I will look back on you fondly.


The Spiritual Disciplines: Solitude and Silence


The need for silence and solitude obviously seems incredibly relevant to the over-convenienced citizens of the modern world who feel saturated with the ceaseless noise that issues from every corner of their lives. But as mentioned at the start, men have in fact craved these states for thousands of years, long before anything digital, or electronic, or urban ever existed.

What accounts for the timeless, seemingly universal appeal of quiet seclusion?

John Quincy Adams on Efficiency vs. Effectiveness, the Proper Aim of Ambition, and His Daily Routine


I feel the sentiment with which Tycho Brahe died, perhaps as strongly as he did — His “ne frustra vixisse videar” was a noble feeling, and in him had produced its fruits — He had not lived in vain — He was a benefactor to his species — But the desire is not sufficient — The spark from Heaven is given to few — It is not to be obtained by intreaty or by toil — To be profitable to my Children, seems to me within the compass of my powers — To that let me bound my wishes, and my prayers — And may that be granted to them!

Albert Camus on the Three Antidotes to the Absurdity of Life


In a world whose absurdity appears to be so impenetrable, we simply must reach a greater degree of understanding among men, a greater sincerity. We must achieve this or perish. To do so, certain conditions must be fulfilled: men must be frank (falsehood confuses things), free (communication is impossible with slaves). Finally, they must feel a certain justice around them.