Archive for the 'Zen' Category

BEST DESCRIPTION OF PROCRASTINATION EVER

July 25th, 2017

Oliver Burkeman, writing in On being tempted by the call of the perverse for The Guardian, quotes a bit of Edgar Allan Poe on productivity’s hoariest demon: procrastination. Burkeman pulls only a few words from Poe but I was motivated to read the entire work—an essay-cum-short story titled The Imp of the Perverse. There Poe […]

OBSESSION WITH PRODUCTIVITY NOT PRODUCTIVE…

July 19th, 2017

So, over the past three years I’ve been gradually working myself through Oliver Burkeman’s opus: This Column Will Change Your Life—yes, the title is tongue-in-cheek—because, like Burkeman, I have a lifelong obsession with being better. For me, the focus began in high school when I stole the book How To Study Better And Get Higher […]

YOU CAN BE PERFECT, BUT NOT EVERYWHERE…

July 7th, 2017

There are many others like myself who find much to admire or even fetishize about Japanese culture. One aspect that came to be aware of decades ago is that Japanese culture is not innovative, but rather perfectionist. Given any foreign development, Japanese will work tirelessly to improve and improve and improve until perfection is achieved. […]

ALBERT CAMUS ON DEATH, GOD AND FREEDOM…

June 11th, 2017

I went on a bit of a Camus jag a few years ago, reading The Stranger, The Myth of Sisyphus and several other of his essays and then earlier this year, at the recommendation of Charles Johnson in his The Way Of The Writer, I began reading Camus’ notebooks. Doing so led me this morning […]

ACKNOWLEDGING IGNORANCE IS IMPORTANT…

May 22nd, 2017

I tell students that I awaken each morning celebrating my own ignorance because that means I get to learn new information. Yet, back in the ’90s a young man on my staff told me that I was intimidating because I always seemed to have information just waiting between my ears to answer a particular question. […]

READING THIS WILL MAKE THE PROBLEM WORSE…

May 19th, 2017

Making people aware of a bad behavior makes people more likely to engage in that bad behavior. Our mothers were wrong: if everybody is jumping off the bridge, of course you’re going to want to jump off the bridge, even if doing so is blindingly stupid. Yes, yes. I know that that is counter intuitive […]

SLOW TELEVISION RIDE ON A SLOW NARROWBOAT…

April 28th, 2017

I only just discovered Slow TV yesterday thanks to PRI’s The World. The Guardian also did this piece: The ultimate slow TV: a 168-hour show on reindeer migration.

EXERCISING PATIENCE IN THE INTERNET AGE…

April 14th, 2017

This may be the most extreme example of a personal marshmallow test I have ever come across. Nadeem Aslam, writing in I take delight that my initials in Urdu look like a pen by an inkwell for The Guardian relates his experience: There are afternoons when I don’t write, using the internet instead. I see […]

DEEP WORK SAY HELLO TO DEEP READING…

April 5th, 2017

From the viewpoint of evolution, distraction is good. If you’re munching on a piece of fruit you really, really want to be distracted by that snapping twig because there might (probably is?) another animal desirous of munching on you. Sitting in your chair at home (unless you were cast in a George Romero film) footsteps […]

TAKING A WALK TO THE RABBIT HOLE…

March 22nd, 2017

I am a lifelong accumulator, a finder of the trivial and unconnected. In my woke mind I assemble a gestalt of bits and bobs that occasionally reach out to each other in momentarily flashes of synergy to pass for genius. This, perhaps, is why I treasured my first library card and spent whole days in […]

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, LET US SAY GRACE…

February 21st, 2017

Previously…

MANAGER YOUR TIME BY MANAGING YOUR ENERGY…

February 14th, 2017

Occasionally I find a post—rather than a comic—from Scott Adams worth repeating. This post on managing energy to manage time resonates with all the reading I’ve been doing from Cal Newport since I finished his Deep Work last year. The key challenge to the strategy is that most people do are not self-employed and able […]

WHY DO WE WANT MORE THAN ALL WE CAN BE…?

February 11th, 2017

Last year I distributed images to several friends and associates of Superman and Wonder Woman in the power poses described by Amy Cuddy in her TED Talk. Cuddy’s concept is akin to the Fake it until you make it philosophy and has come under attack in the years since she first proposed her idea, but […]

A GOOD DAY IS ONE WHERE YOU WAKE UP…

February 4th, 2017

I’m fond of suggesting that any day you wake up is a good day. The rest is all gravy. John Burnside, writing in Writing is what I steal from the usual flow of things for The Guardian’s My Writing Day series takes a similar line’ In the final analysis, that probably says it all: a […]

I COULD LIVE ON A NARROW BOAT…

February 2nd, 2017

I think I first considered the narrow-boat lifestyle while watching the PBS Inspector Morse series. To my mind, the combination of tiny-house simplicity and the adventure of regularly changing the view from your front porch seems perfect.

WE NEED TO FREE OURSELVES FROM THE NOISE…

January 17th, 2017

Back in September, in COULD I BE AS BRAVE AS ANDREW SULLIVAN…?, I noted Cal Newport’s analysis of Andrew Sullivan’s essay in New York Magazine: I Used to Be a Human Being. Yesterday, while filing a box of papers I came across my high-lighted copy of the article and want to share two passages that […]

LIMITATIONS AND BOUNDARIES ARE LIBERATING…

January 7th, 2017

I think that if my possibilities are limitless then I’m less likely to do what I want to do: if I can do anything, then I’m likely to do nothing. One example I sometimes use with my students is to suggest that when writing poetry, constraints—certain meters or form such as the Sonnet or the […]

SO, WHAT IF WILLPOWER ISN’T REALLY A THING…?

January 7th, 2017

Six years ago I lost 80 pounds, dropping from an obese 265 pounds to my high school weight of 185 pounds in about six months. I accomplished the feat principally by eliminating junk and fast foods from my diet. I kept the weight off for more than four years, but over the past two years […]

TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM GET SOME REST…

December 30th, 2016

I can’t recall the last time I got a restful eight hours of sleep. If I get a solid six hours I’m ecstatic because most nights I hit five, maybe five-and-a-half hours and can then choose to either stare at the ceiling or get up and write. By mid-morning I’m drowsy and need a nap. […]

WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, SUCCESS…

December 16th, 2016

Cal Newport hammers at this concept—what matters is doing the work, lots and lots of the work—again and again. There can be no magic formula or genie in the bottle that can ever substitute for doing the work. Oliver Burkeman—back from maternity leave (congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Burkeman)—writing in Are you too old to find […]

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