Archive for the 'Zen' Category

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 […]

BOOKS AS FESTERING WOUNDS TO BE LANCED…

December 11th, 2016

One of the aspects of The Guardian’s My Writing Day series that I appreciate most is that some writers, like Sarah Perry, are honest about being horrible unproductive, of procrastinating, of flat out fucking off instead of writing. Writers need to know that we’re not all writing dynamos like Stephen King or Joyce Carol Oates […]

EMBRACING THE JOY OF MISSING OUT…

December 9th, 2016

So, I’ve had this mantra for a few decades: So many books, so little time. That fits with my fantasy that if there could be such reality as a Faustian deal, I would take the deal in a heart beat with the demand that I live until I no longer found books I wished to […]

THE WISDOM OF TAKING A SYSTEMS APPROACH…

December 2nd, 2016

I read Scott Adam’s How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big when the book came out in 2014 and I thought the central thesis of the book: approach life as a system as opposed to a set of goals—made sense. So too, I now learn, did Oliver Burkeman who, writing in Want […]

ANNDDD… I’M BACK…

November 25th, 2016

As promised, I’m back from a mini-retreat from the news, but over the course of the last 16 days a lot of news was published and guess what? My world didn’t collapse. So I’ve decided to ease my way back in over the balance of 2016 and decide, probably somewhere short of my previous deep […]

TAKING A MUCH NEEDED BREAK FROM THE NEWS…

November 24th, 2016

Between now and the morning of 25 November, I’ll be taking a news break. I’ve removed all of my usual news-source links from my blogroll and I won’t be listening to the radio in my car. The only story I intend to follow will be events surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline and I’ll be doing […]

EVERY TIME I THINK OF GOING BACK ON TWITTER…

November 24th, 2016

So, you know I ditched both Twitter and Facebook more than three years ago, but occasionally I think about returning. Thankfully, on this Thanksgiving, someone writes a post or an article reinforcing my position that all social media (not just Twitter and Facebook) are addictive time sucks designed to be addictive time sucks and, like […]

THIS COLUMN POST WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE…

November 23rd, 2016

So, I’ve been a devotee of Julia Cameron’s morning pages from her 1992 book, The Artist’s Way, since the mid-90s when I began writing my first (yet unpublished) novel Cold Silence. My morning writing routine consisted of: Step 1—complete my morning pages, Step 2—read a Lawrence Block article from his collections of Writing Fiction columns […]

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