Issue № 55

I should take a break

Taking a break is really difficult. A short break is often easy enough if you’re comfortable simply ignoring everything… for 10 minutes. But if you really want to take a real break, the difficulty escalates rapidly. I recently spent a long weekend camping a short, walkable distance from the beach. Each of the three full beach sitting days I tried to lengthen the stretches of time I literally sat in a beach chair without getting up. By the third day I was feigning agitated exasperation, and making jokes like, “That’s it! Today I’m getting serious about holding my chain down in the sand. No more standing up for me!” But in reality, I was bumping up against bodily functions, sun exposure (even under a magnificent umbrella), and peer pressure from my beach pals warning me of deep vein thrombosis. (I hope you never know what that is.)

I’m only half kidding. Everyone talks about taking a day off from work, and about looking forward to the holidays (for family and experiences, sure— but we all mean for the break we pretend we’ll get, but never do.) We even have a dedicated word, staycation (a word so legit it even passes my spell–checker) for suggesting some days we’re taking but not even going anywhere, just because we need a break. Our phones ring, our apps go bee-BOOP! and it’s ping! notification this, and ding!notification that. And an email arrives, and the dog needs walking, and the children need this, and the housemate that…

The hard work is actually prioritizing, pruning and putting one’s life in order. The impossible work is getting sufficient duration, and premium quality, sleep.

Taking a break isn’t lazy – learning to recharge is a skill that will allow you to enjoy a more creative, sustainable life.

~ Alex Soojung-Kim Pang from,

What’s that? How long did I manage to sit in the chair? On day three I managed a transcendental 5-and-one-half hours of literal sitting, toes in the sand. And I was on a roll, no where near needing to arise, having perfectly judged my fluid consumption, sweating, and kidney function up to then. I was foiled by my beach mates forcing me out of the chair (and at least part way into the ocean.) Which, all things considered, was very nice of them.

Creative work

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

~ Mary Oliver

People first

People who become engaged with movement in the found environment develop a new way of seeing their environment. Well, t e c h n i c a l l y , they recover a way of seeing their environment which they lost. Mountains, hills, water, stairs… and the moats that criss-cross our communities where the big metal and plastic boxes whiz along— these all become “challenging.” Walls (of various heights from knee to enormous), railings, painted lines— these all become “challenging.” And yet, I’ve had the pleasure on countless occasions to stumble into a built space which feels different. Spaces which don’t require me to see differently. Spaces which beckon me to sit, stand, move, climb, and play.

That we immediately switch to building our cities and countries around people, instead of cars.

~ Peter Adeney from,

Cars (small trucks, commercial trucks, planes, trains and ships) are tools. As I’ve said before what really matters about tools is one’s thinking and choices _about_tools. What I rarely hear mentioned is that tool choices also affect us. Our use of tools changes us. That’s what I really care about. How am I enabled (to do other things, to live more fully, etc), or constrained, by my choices with respect to tools? Furthermore, how do my choices enable or constrain those close to me? …in my community? …country? …world?


In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.

~ Eric Hoffer

Could 1 be none?

There’s a mantra meant to remind one about being prepared: 2 is 1, 1 is none. If something is important, one should have a spare (the thinking goes.) Instead, I like to ask myself: Could 1 be none? So rather than doubling up the complexity by having 2 of something… And rather than just having one of something and hoping it doesn’t break (or even having a plan for when it breaks)… Could I just get rid of that one thing?

The larger the scale the more management becomes a stochastic job. It is impossible to know that everyone is doing the right thing all the time. We have to approximate it by randomly sampling the breadth of it. This is why dogfooding is so important. This is why skip-level 1:1s are so important.

~ Andrew Bosworth from,

I’m not a manager of people. But I am a manager of a lot of things, responsibilities, resources and goals. Your life may be similar. I’ve found that problems don’t fix themselves, and so I’ve a habit of immediately fixing problems. Or, at least adding it to the lists of things to get to. Quite often, when I start fixing (whatever that means in the situation) I realize the problem runs deeper. Quite often, when I find I’m ignoring, resisting, loathing, or outright complaining, about a problem… there’s something deeper going on. I start turning 2 into 1… And then could 1 be none?


Reading must occur every day, but it is not just any daily reading that will do. The day’s reading must include at minimum a few lines whose principal intent is to be beautiful—words composed as much for the sake of their composition as for the meaning they convey.

~ Mandy Brown

Your attention, please

I’ve a strong drive to seek attention. I’ve a desire to be seen as clever. Being clever isn’t the problem; The desire is the problem. Being clever is, sometimes, just the right ingredient to help someone solve a problem. But more often than not, being clever is not helpful.

It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that my work is really about attentional design.

Becoming aware of attention. Shaping and directing it. Shifting its quality and inner experience. Leveraging it to produce work of real value.

~ Tiago Forte from,

Magic happens when I’m able to cleave the attention-seeking from the useful clever. When I’m able to remove stressors (stressors which invariably are of my own creation) then I’m free to frolic and create. Exhaustion can be a limit. Day-dreaming can be a limit if in excess. But ruminating is a certain road to ruin, every time. I regularly need to aim my attention inward: What specifically am I ruminating about? …and how, surgically, can I cut that out?

Until next time, thanks for reading.



Leave a Reply