Issue № 45


I’m prone to thinking I should be helping more.

If you’re prone to thinking you should be helping more, that’s probably a sign that you could afford to direct more energy to your idiosyncratic ambitions and enthusiasms. As the Buddhist teacher Susan Piver observes, it’s radical, at least for some of us, to ask how we’d enjoy spending an hour or day of discretionary time. And the irony is that you don’t actually serve anyone else by suppressing your true passions anyway. More often than not, by doing your thing – as opposed to what you think you ought to be doing – you kindle a fire that helps keep the rest of us warm.

~ Oliver Burkeman from,

I was thinking, “oh look, a fire metaphor…” and then, with growing uncertainty, “…or, is that a fire simile?” At which point I spun off relearning the difference between metaphor and simile for the gajillionth time. *sigh*

I am certain however, that I do not need to direct more of my energy into my idiosyncrasies. No, what I need to do is to learn how to be comfortable letting things remain unexplored. I need to think, “That’s interesting.” And then let it go past.


The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.

~ Warren Bennis

Eyebrow raised. Chuckle stifled.

Once I learned how to be a good sport, I began to appreciate getting my delusions busted as the target of a well played, real life, condescending Wonka. I’m too often condescending, and being the recipient is potent medicine.

It is to my great pleasure that such a fine example of 18th-century punking is related to typography.

~ Martin McClellan from

Typography is a field which I find intriguing. People spent tremendous time and effort understanding readability and utility of little bits of lead type, printing presses, and optimizing everything. I find it sublime that someone so into type (go read the essay) was so oblivious about something they held so dear. Yes, do tell me more about that typography minutiae.

At which point I began doing that sort of squinting, glancing side to side, I’m feeling suspicious thing. I’m not a typography nerd, but there are a couple other fields where I could probably use a good punk’ing.

True progress

We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.

~ Carl Sagan

It’s in the telling, not the story

My time is my only real resource. My time is finite. I’m temporarily able-bodied. I’m temporarily in control of my thoughts—and only mostly in control if I’m honest. We feel deeply touched when someone pays attention to us. This is why many people fight (figuratively and literally) for attention. The power of all the _solitary_experiences (books and music, meditation and personal movement, writing and all other composition, regardless of medium) is that we are free from the constraints of others’ time. With the solitary we remain entirely in control of the use of our own time.

By comparison, the consumption of stories via electronic media can leave us feeling peculiarly undernourished, dissatisfied and unfulfilled, as if we had just gulped down fast food. Despite an insatiable desire for more, we rarely feel uplifted, and it’s not often that we think about the characters for days afterwards. Storytelling is the oldest, purest and most direct form of human communication. Modern technology is no substitute for this unique compact between narrator and listener.

~ Richard Hamilton from,

The trick (in addition to T. E. Lawrence’s “not minding it hurts”) is to be aware of when we need to surrender our control to the others’ time. Sometimes we need to be enthralled. Sometimes we need to feel touched. Sometimes we need to feel ourselves given over to the power of others. For that, the power is more so in the telling.

The real challenge

Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.

~ Muhammad Ali


Having priorities isn’t enough for me to end up sane. I’ve overcome the naive urge to line up everything into a single-file queue; That’s not how life actually works. Leaning into parallel-ism is the way. Social engagements bubble up on their own, and I lean into those whenever I can. Maintenance and administrivia need to be regimented and so I’ve process-ified everything so the important but not-urgent things get attended to. One must have the mental space—the ability to sit with one’s thoughts—to really think about life.

At the individual level, it is not enough to work on good ideas. You must only work on the best ideas. It is not enough to ask “is this good” you must also ask “is there something better?” As painful as ruthless prioritization is, it is not as painful as failing to do it.

~ Andrew Bosworth from,

Unfortunately, prioritization stands upon the idea that “best” or “better” have meaning. I have no interest in being particularly disciplined at anything. (Setting aside various comments people make about how much I get done.) I have no interest in doing what’s “best”. I have a moral compass I’m comfortable with, and I enjoy creating things (like great conversations).

Until next time, thanks for reading.



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