Age. Age brings perspective in the fine clarity one gets at midnight, on the tracks, looking into the lights of an oncoming train. It dawns on you rather quickly: There’s only so much time left. Only so many star-filled nights, snowfalls… brisk fall afternoons, rainy midsummer days. So how you conduct yourself and do your work matters. How you treat your friends, your family, your lover. On good days, a blessing falls over you. It wraps its arms around you and you’re free and deeply in and of this world. That’s your reward: Being here.~ Bruce Springsteen
— original post, tagged Bruce Springsteen, Perspective, Quotes
Consider sketching on a page, where various ideas or points are connected by drawing arrows or shapes or groupings. When sketching, you aren’t quite sure how to structure your thoughts before you start. And sketching is, in some way, the act of figuring this out. There is something highly nonlinear about this process where your thoughts backtrack to previous ideas and test the strength of old conclusions.~ Gytis Daujotas from, https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/tZTqwmtE8BGtcszek/iterating-fast-voice-dictation-as-a-form-of-babble
Before I begin, I want to point to these general thoughts about Babble, and to this very interesting series of articles advancing the idea that the antagonistic algorithms Babble and Prune can at least partly model how the mind works.
I’m thinking that one way to have what I’d call a “really good conversation” is when the participants are babbling together. Baby babble is generally incomprehensible, or at least not comprehensible overall. Baby babble has many comprehensible words, but rarely a comprehensible sentence. In conversations which I’d call “good”, the babble has comprehensible sentences, and often comprehensible paragraphs, but may not be comprehensible overall. We’re babbling, and pruning, to see where we end up.
— original post, tagged Alkjash, Babbling, Gytis Daujotas, Thoughts on conversation
Every time people contact me, they say, “look, I know you must be incredibly busy…” and I always think, “no, I’m not.” Because I’m in control of my time. I’m on top of it. “Busy,” to me, seems to imply, “out of control.” Like, “oh my god, I’m so busy. I don’t have any time for this shit!” To me, that sounds like a person who’s got no control over their life.”~ Derek Sivers
— original post, tagged Derek Sivers, Quotes, Time Management
One reason why I journal
When we conjure up what it will be like to start a new practice, form a new habit, knock an item off a bucket list, we see the fun but not the work. We see an image in which all the drudgery has been edited out, and only the montage of rewards left in.~ Brett McKay from, https://www.artofmanliness.com/character/advice/sunday-firesides-do-you-like-the-idea-more-than-the-reality/
Great points from McKay. I often enjoy inverting problems like the one he’s describing. Let’s say I thought a lot about the idea and the reality and decided far in the past to start something—for example, a daily podcast of me reading quotes. Then the inversion of the problem McKay is writing about would be to figure out, in the present, if my current experience of the reality matches what I expected the reality to be, back when I made the decision. Because, if I don’t do that, how do I get better at making the idea/reality choice McKay is discussing?
This is one reason I journal. For every project (and much more) in the last decade I’ve journaled about it. An idea begins to appear repeatedly in my journal entries. Sometimes it grows into my laying out the expected reality—the work this is going to require, the physical and emotional costs, the expected outcome(s), the rewards, etc.. Then I regularly reread my old journal entries and see how much of an idiot I was. ;)
— original post, tagged Brett McKay, Getting Things Done, Journaling, Self-awareness
If there is any person to whom you feel a dislike, that is the person of whom you ought never to speak.~ Richard Cecil
— original post, tagged Quotes, Richard Cecil, Self-awareness
It’s subtle but critically important
It’s broadly agreed these days that consciousness poses a very serious challenge for contemporary science. What I’m trying to work out at the moment is why science has such difficulty with consciousness. We can trace this problem back to its root, at the start of the scientific revolution.~ Philip Goff from, https://www.edge.org/conversation/philip_goff-a-post-galilean-paradigm
I once had a mathematics professor make a comment that it’s fascinating that mathematics is able to explain reality. I double-clutched at the time. And every single time I think about the point he was making, I still pause and my mind reels. If one is looking at—for example—classical mechanics, and one studies the ballistic equations, one can go along nicely using forces and trigonometry, and understand golf balls and baseballs in flight. Soon you realize your mathematics is only an approximation. So you dive into fluid mechanics, which requires serious calculus, and you then understand why golf balls have dimples and why the stitching on baseballs is strictly specified in the rules. All along the way, mathematics models reality perfectly!
But why? So you keep peeling. The math and physics gets more and more complicated—stochastic processes, randomness, quantum mechanics, wave-particle theory, etc.—as each layer answers another “why”… but it’s … is “cyclical” the right word? No matter how far you go, you can always ask “why” again, for the most complex and most accurate system you model and explain.
Down there at the bottom, that’s where Galileo declared there was a distinction between physical reality, and consciousness and the soul. We’ve had hundreds of years of progress via science on what Galileo divided off as “physical reality.” (And that progress is a Very Good Thing.) But as this article explores, is there actually a distinction? What if making that distinction is a mistake?
— original post, tagged Galileo, Math, Philip Goff, Thought and Philosophy
A big ol’ distraction
Quit your yakkin’ and get busy. Quit wasting time obsessing about pimping your ass and checking your stats. Instead, MAKE stuff. Make AMAZING stuff. Make stuff that is so good that people have no choice but to find out about it. Otherwise, you REALLY are just wasting your time. This game is already TOO hard and TOO BIG a time suck to fritter away on what is, for the most part, a big ol’ distraction.~ Hugh MacLeod, from https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2011/08/21/im-sick-to-death-of-hearing-the-phrase-driving-traffic-to-your-site/
— original post, tagged Creativity, Hugh MacLeod, Quotes, Social Networks
But if progress is real and important—how do we judge this? How do we justify that improvements to material living standards are good? That technological and industrial progress represents true progress for humanity?~ Jason Crawford from, https://rootsofprogress.org/progress-humanism-agency
In a few dozen words, this article goes from zero to gloves-off, let’s take about the nature of what is good. Yes, please. Lets discuss this more often. I find, without exception, it’s completely pointless to discuss anything—the climate, energy sources, guns, health, rights… choose your favorite third-rail topic—if myself and the other(s) don’t share the same values.
And I mean the big values of philosophy. When I start thinking about what does human autonomy mean? …what rights and/or responsibilities does consciousness confer? …what is truth? Big yawning questions! …when we don’t agree on that stuff, then no wonder we’re at odds on the other things.
— original post, tagged Jason Crawford, Thought and Philosophy
The mode of locomotion should be slow, the slower the better, and be often interrupted by leisurely halts to sit on vantage points and stop at question marks.~ Carl Sauer
— original post, tagged Carl Sauer, Quotes, Walking
Nothing you create is ultimately your own, yet all of it is you. Your imagination, it seems to me, is mostly an accidental dance between collected memory and influence, and is not intrinsic to you, rather it is a construction that awaits spiritual ignition.~ Nick Cave from, https://www.themarginalian.org/2022/01/20/nick-cave-creativity/
This is a thought which seriously concerns me; What exactly, if anything, am I accomplishing in the totality of my life? In a very micro sense, I’m simply holding back entropy ever so slightly in one minuscule niche of the universe. I like to imagine this is like pushing the cuticles of my finger nails back: Comforting and aesthetically pleasing, but ultimately pointless because my nails continuously grow until they don’t at which point I won’t care any more. I’m not being morbid or pessimistic here. There’s nothing wrong with that micro-scale getting things done. I take comfort in the fact that pushing entropy back a bit is—quiet literally—all that anyone can do.
It’s when I shift to a much larger scale that things look quite rosy. I sleep well at night, (both literally and figuratively,) because I like who I am becoming, and I plan to keep at it. Along the way, a quite large number of people have said the equivalent of “what you did there made my life a little better.” What more could one attempt?
— original post, tagged Maria Popova, Meaning of life, Nick Cave
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.~ Longfellow
— original post, tagged Longfellow, Perspective, Quotes
Geometry of thought
It’s really structure that I keep circling back to (note that word: circle). How do we structure our moving, changing thoughts and how do we structure the world we design and move and act in?~ Barbara Tversky from, https://www.edge.org/conversation/barbara_tversky-the-geometry-of-thought
This article is a delightful deep dive into how movement and thought are interrelated. This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I once had the sublime experience of having a podcast guest say that he used to think to figure out how to move, but now he moves in order to think.
— original post, tagged Barbara Tversky, Brain and Mind, Dylan Johanson, Movement
Experience often deeply embeds the assumptions that need to be questioned in the first place. When you have a lot of experience with something, you don’t notice the things that are new about it. You don’t notice the idiosyncrasies that need to be tweaked. You don’t notice where the gaps are, what’s missing, or what’s not really working.~ Chris Sacca
— original post, tagged Chris Sacca, Mastery, Quotes
Don’t let ease tempt you. Don’t fall for its false promises. What you gain in ease, you lose in meaning. What you gain in ease, you lose in excellence.~ Hugh MacLeod from, https://www.gapingvoid.com/blog/2022/07/08/follow-the-yellowbri-road-to-greatness/
This topic came up today in an outdoor Parkour class. Being outside, training, sweating, and overcoming challenges with friends old and new is always a treat. (“If this isn’t nice…“)
— original post, tagged Hugh MacLeod, My Journey, Parkour