Issue № 63

Hey, pay attention

I have a routine with my journaling. Over time, that routine has changed a lot and I’m sure it will evolve farther. Currently, I start a clean A5-sized face of a page for each day. I do not read the previous day’s entry; I’m never trying to continue where I left off in my thinking as I journal. No, the journal is simply a place for me to talk to my future self. Here’s why I did that thing I did. Here’s this really great idea… but I’m letting go of it, and writing it down hoping future-me gets a chuckle at the dumb idea I was wise to drop. Sometimes I record really big wins. Sometimes I record really big losses. A wedding! A birth! A death! But mostly, I’m just capturing how I feel, why I feel, what I think, why I think, … Sometimes I spend hours painstakingly handwriting long texts. Sometimes it’s just 60-seconds and a bulleted list. Vanishingly rare is a sketch. Occasionally a flourish of colored-penciling. There are often inset headings in block letters at the sides as signposts—first instance of this, last instance of that.

It helps me pay attention to my life.

~ Austin Kleon from,

Yes, there’s much paying of attention to my life that happens in the writing.

But the true wizardry is in the years-later rereading.


Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

~ George S. Patton


“All work an no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It’s one of those life-truths that we all know, but which I slowly, increasingly, failed to heed. Doing some things mattered to get to some goals. Other things didn’t seem directly related. Choice by choice is how a life gets made.

Today’s world is a deeply utilitarian one, where everything must have a use or be ‘good for something’. Our lives are dominated by work and, unless we have been extraordinarily lucky, we work not because we particularly enjoy it but to get paid — payment that keeps us and our loved ones alive for a while and, if there is anything left over, allows us to do something more interesting than the work. Our lives are spent, largely, doing one thing for the sake of something else, which is in turn done for something else.

~ Mark Rowlands from,

It’s not that the things I chose to do became less fun—more ‘good for something’… No. It’s that I was choosing. Play happens in that liminal space where the “yes, and…” of improvisation is the only choice.


The squeaky wheel may get the most oil, but it’s also the first to be replaced.

~ Marilyn vos Savant

Apply ass to chair

Literally for writing, but metaphorically in general. Discipline is the only way. Discipline does not mean one has to be austere; It implies clarity and fidelity about one’s goals. Discipline is deeply tied to affecting real change within oneself and to personal integrity.

Discipline, primarily, is our capacity to make a commitment in time.

~ Robert Fripp from,

Motivation will get you out the door, but it fades over time. A good book or podcast might give you the momentary impulse to take your first steps along a path, but when the road gets tough only discipline will keep you moving forward.

~ Dan Edwardes from,

Without discipline I’m the pinball in the pachinko machine: I’m clearly directed (me by my goal, the pinball by gravity) but buffeted randomly (me by everything, the pinball by the pins) ending up in an uncontrolled final position. The critical thing to combine with discipline is ease. Not bashing, not self-loathing and certainly not self-violence. Ease within training.


What a strange world this would be if we all had the same sense of humor.

~ Bern Williams


Each year I choose a word or short phrase as a reminder. I use it as a talisman throughout the year. Some years I’ve chosen something to keep me mindful of a goal, and in other years something to keep me away from a pitfall or mistake I see that I’m too-often making. In the most recent years I’ve been choosing something aspirational; I’ve been choosing something which every day—even after 365 days—reminds me of where I want to be going.

You can also see how it might similarly interfere with your ability to change your beliefs in pursuit of the truth – it’s hard to let go of false beliefs when they feel true because you believe them. It’s hard to imagine things from perspectives that are not your own. It’s hard to accept that you are limited and fallible, prone to error.

This is where humility comes in.

~ Jen Cole Wright from,

For 2024 I’m choosing the word humility. There are lots of reasons why I think humility is a virtue. But I’m picking it because it feels difficult for me to aspire to being more humble. I have clear evidence (journaling for the win) that humility is a powerful antidote to my occasional fits of petulance. And, as an echo of Yoda‘s wisdom, putting a fine point on something I can improve, by making it my touchstone for 2024 is the way forward for me.

As we’re approaching the end of 2023 I’m sure you, Dear Reader, have already begun some self-reflection. I wish you peace and flourishing for the coming year and I look forward to our continued journey together. Cheers!

Until next time, thanks for reading.



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