Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

It also reminded me of how much I tend to retreat to work when things are uncomfortable.

Why sit with pain when you can keep yourself busy with work?

—  Katie Hawkins-Gaar, from “The Distraction of Work” (My Sweet Dumb Brain, August 23, 2022) (A newsletter about facing life’s ups and downs, all while being kind to yourself. Katie Hawkins-Gaar was 31 when her husband, Jamie, collapsed while running a half-marathon and died in 2017. A year-and-a-half after Jamie’s death, Katie launched her newsletter, My Sweet Dumb Brain, all about the ups and downs of grief.)

 

I have a room all to myself; it is nature.

Photo: A woman swims in Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., on what would have been the 200th birthday of Henry David Thoreau, author of the book ‘Walden.’ He was born on July 12, 1817. (Brian Snyder, Reuters, wsj.com July 12, 2017)


Post Title: Henry David Thoreau

 

Guilty

helene-boutanos-art-illustration

I distrust the perpetually busy; always have.
The frenetic ones spinning in tight little circles like poisoned rats.
The slower ones, grinding away their fourscore and ten in righteousness and pain.
They are the soul-eaters.

~ Mark Slouka, excerpt from Quitting the Paint Factory


Art: Hélène Boutanos, illustrator from Paris, France.

 

Ma

train-sit-rest-pause

I told Miyazaki I love the “gratuitous motion” in his films; instead of every movement being dictated by the story, sometimes people will just sit for a moment, or they will sigh, or look in a running stream, or do something extra, not to advance the story but only to give the sense of time and place and who they are.

“We have a word for that in Japanese,” he said. “It’s called ma. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally.”

Is that like the “pillow words” that separate phrases in Japanese poetry?

“I don’t think it’s like the pillow word.” He clapped his hands three or four times. “The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness, But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.”

~ Roger Ebert, from “Hayao Miyazaki Interview,” RogerEbert.com (September 12, 2002)


Credits: Quote – Improve is Easy. Photo by Bruno via Mennyfox55.

Want something to happen at all costs—something, anything

gorilla

A zoologist who observed gorillas in their native habitat was amazed by the uniformity of their life and their vast idleness. Hours and hours without doing anything. Was boredom unknown to them? This is indeed a question raised by a human, a busy ape. Far from fleeing monotony, animals crave it, and what they most dread is to see it end. For it ends, only to be replaced by fear, the cause of all activity. Inaction is divine; yet it is against inaction that man has rebelled. Man alone, in nature, is incapable of enduring monotony, man alone wants something to happen at all costs—something, anything…. Thereby he shows himself unworthy of his ancestor: the need for novelty is the characteristic of an alienated gorilla.

~ Emil Cioran, The Trouble With Being Born


Source: Quote – Schonwieder. Photograph – Tim McCoy


New Year’s Resolutions worth keeping

black and white

15 Phrases That Will Change Your Life In 2015, The Huffington Post, Lindsay Holmes:

“How we speak — to others and to ourselves — has a huge impact on our overall outlook. So isn’t it about time we started paying more attention to what we’re communicating? Below are 15 phrases that will transform the way you think, feel and act in the coming year. Using your words to change your life? Now that’s a resolution worth keeping.”

  1. “Because”
  2. “Can you help me?”
  3. “I”m too busy”
  4. “I don’t”
  5. “No”
  6. “I’m grateful for _______”
  7. “Oh well”
  8. “Let’s Go”
  9. “Just breathe

The entire list and the background explanation on each word/phrase: 15 Phrases That Will Change Your Life In 2015.


Photograph by Bruce Weber of River Phoenix from Live Journal

The Disease of Being Busy

omid-safi

The Disease of Being Busy by Omid Safi, recipient of the 2009 Teaching Award for Professor of the Year at Duke University:

I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.” Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.” The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

…How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

…In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal? What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know…

Don’t miss his entire post @ The Disease of Being Busy

or his follow-on post titled: The Thief of Intimacy, Busyness


Image Source: Duke University

 

Flat Tire on 47th

manhattan-new york-busy

Late afternoon meeting.  Location: Cross town.

83°F. Mid August. Sticky. Cotton dress shirt is clinging to my chest.

Take a Cab? Rachel suggests it’s 15 minutes point to point on foot. Cab? A crap shoot in cross town traffic.

I hoof it down 47th. Building construction has cut the sidewalk in half. 2 lanes, with a solid lane divider. No passing due to heavy oncoming traffic.

I’m closing the gap with a middle aged man in front of me. His head is down tapping on smartphone. My pace slows to crawl. I cut the gap to a few feet.

I try to pass on his right. Not enough room. I slow and trail behind him.

What’s the rush, right? Breathe a little.

He hasn’t lifted his head. Inconsiderate SOB is still tapping out texts. Oblivious to the growing conga line behind him.

[Read more…]

Hello Rumination. Hello Insomnia.

alone-think-gif

From Kate Murphy, NY Times, No Time to Think:

ONE of the biggest complaints in modern society is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. Ask people at a social gathering how they are and the stock answer is “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy.” Nobody is just “fine” anymore. When people aren’t super busy at work, they are crazy busy exercising, entertaining or taking their kids to Chinese lessons. Or maybe they are insanely busy playing fantasy football, tracing their genealogy or churning their own butter.

And if there is ever a still moment for reflective thought — say, while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic — out comes the mobile device.

Moreover, in one experiment, 64 percent of men and 15 percent of women began self-administering electric shocks when left alone to think. These same people, by the way, had previously said they would pay money to avoid receiving the painful jolt.

It didn’t matter if the subjects engaged in the contemplative exercise at home or in the laboratory, or if they were given suggestions of what to think about, like a coming vacation; they just didn’t like being in their own heads.

It could be because human beings, when left alone, tend to dwell on what’s wrong in their lives. We have evolved to become problem solvers and meaning makers. What preys on our minds, when we aren’t updating our Facebook page or in spinning class, are the things we haven’t figured out — difficult relationships, personal and professional failures, money trouble, health concerns and so on. And until there is resolution, or at least some kind of understanding or acceptance, these thoughts reverberate in our heads. Hello rumination. Hello insomnia.

Read full article by Kate Murphy in NY Times: No Time To Think


Image Source: Sh*t In My Head

Something is off

blood-drop-red
Something is off. Life passes and we do not recognize it. The past streams through us like molecules we can’t perceive…They are not so much remembered as resurrected in us, little stitches of ordinary time that suddenly —a prick in the existential skin, a little dot of Being’s blood— aren’t. Is it merely certain temperaments—inclined to solitude and absence, feasting on distances —that are at once susceptible to these little epiphanies and yet slow to recognize them for what they are? Or is it a symptom of the times— distracted, busy, forward-rushing— that we are in? Or a symptom of time itself as we have come to understand it:

We have constructed an environment in which we live a uniform, univocal secular time, which we try to measure and control in order to get things done. This “time frame” deserves, perhaps more than any other facet of modernity, Weber’s famous description of a “stahlhartes Gehäuse” (iron cage).

—Charles Taylor, A Secular Age

~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013)

 


Notes:

I’m convincing my brain through a constant firehose of content of one thing

firefighter-work-busy-multitasking

Excerpts from a post by Michael Lopp @ Rands in Repose titled “Busy is an Addiction. The Dubious Value of Being Busy:

After decades of following this protocol, I’m certain of what I’m doing – I’m building mental momentum. I’m convincing my brain through a constant firehose of content of one thing: We are going to be super busy today – it’s going to be awesome. How about a hit of the good stuff? Now, I can rationalize this morning preparation as gathering context and mentally preparing for the day but what I’m really doing is overclocking my brain. This is why I’m drinking coffee. I want to make sure by the time I hit the office, I’m working at 112%, I’m walking fast in the hallways of the office with a smile on my face, I am ready to fully crush this day. What I am really describing is a chemical addiction to the endorphins produced by my body that are supposed to reward productivity, but I have figured out how to force their creation via my advanced state of busy…

Admit it, if you’ve been a leader for while, it’s a source of pride that you’re booked all day – you’re important – you’re so… busy.

What I am describing is how I’ve lived years of my life. I’ve replaced the concrete act of building with a vast array of abstract tasks and acts that I believe are strategically important to the team, the product, and the company, but I’ve also learned to constantly question the motivation being the busy: Am I doing this because it’s actually important? Or because I like the rush with being busy?


Don’t miss the entire post @ “Busy is an Addiction


Image Source: RAF

Swapping motion for stillness. Chatter for calm.

male-solitude-guitar

Frank Bruni, NY Times: A Quiet Cheer For Solitude:

  • …Take more time away. Spend more time alone. Trade the speechifying for solitude, which no longer gets anything close to the veneration it’s due, not just in politics but across many walks of life.
  • It’s in solitude that much of the sharpest thinking is done and many of the best ideas are hatched. We know this intuitively and from experience, yet solitude is often cast as an archaic luxury and indulgent oddity, inferior to a spirited discussion and certainly to a leadership conference…”
  • The calendar of a senior executive or public official is defined by meeting after meeting upon meeting. There’s no comparable premium on solitary pauses, on impregnable periods for contemplation, and a person who insists on them attracts a derogatory vocabulary: loner, loafer, recluse, aloof, eccentric, withdrawn.
  • “We live in the new groupthink — there’s a shared belief that creativity and productivity must be a collaborative experience, and solitude has fallen out of fashion,” Susan Cain, the author of the 2012 best seller “Quiet,” told me. But, she added, “There’s so much research that flies in the face of this.”
  • Cain’s book focuses on introverts, making the case that they have a kind of intellectual advantage. And their edge stems largely from greater amounts of solitude, from the degree to which they’ve swapped motion for stillness, chatter for calm. They’ve carved out space for reflection that’s sustained and deep.
  • This isn’t necessarily a matter of being unplugged, of ditching the hyper-connectedness of our digital lives. It’s a matter of ditching and silencing the crowd…

Read Bruni’s worthy full article here: A Quiet Cheer For Solitude:


  • Photograph: Thank you Brenda @ Space2Live
  • Related Post: I Share @ Tiny Lessons Blog

 

 

What still pulls on your soul?

athena-red-hair-Thomas-Dodd

What in your life is calling you,
when all the noise is silenced,
the meetings adjourned,
the lists laid aside,
and the wild iris blooms by itself
in the dark forest,
what still pulls on your soul?

— Rumi

 


Poem Source: Stalwart Reader; Photograph – Athena by Thomas Dodd. See bio here.

Resting in reason and moving in passion

telemark-norway

So many people glorify and romanticize “busy”.
I do not.
I value purpose.
I believe in resting in reason and moving in passion.
If you’re always busy/moving, you will miss important details.
I like the mountain.
Still, but when it moves lands shift and earth quakes.

~ Joseph Cook


Image Credit Harald Naper of 047 Vråvatn, Telemark, Norway via Hungarian Soul. Poem Credit: Joseph Cook

The space, the gaps, the pauses, the silence – had all but disappeared

photography,black and white,umbrella,street

“In her new book THRIVE, Arianna Huffington takes a long hard look at how we define success and what it costs us: our health, our relationships, our peace of mind. We measure ourselves by action and production, competition and power: the more, the more, the more, the better. Sleep? Overrated. Stress? A fact of life. Besides, that’s what vices are for: addiction, like depression, is on the rise, as we fight constant burnout and struggle to cope.

It’s go, go, go and do, do, do. Every conversation I had seemed to eventually come around to the same dilemmas we are all facing – the stress of overbusyness, overworking, overconnecting on social media, and underconnecting with ourselves and each other. The space, the gaps, the pauses, the silence – those things that allow us to regenerate and recharge – had all but disappeared in my own life and in the lives of so many I knew.

We’re not cut out for this.

We weren’t made for this.

~ Justine Musk, The Art of Redefining Success (+ Why We Need to)


Image Credit: Eduardo Bluz via Elinka

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!

zeke-vizsla-cute-dog

We become religious,
then we turn from it,
then we are in need and maybe we turn back.
We turn to making money,
then we turn to the moral life,
then we think about money again.
We meet wonderful people, but lose them
in our busyness.
We’re, as the saying goes, all over the place.
Steadfastness, it seems,
is more about dogs than about us.
One of the reasons we love them so much.

~ Mary Oliver


Credits:

  • Thank you MJL for sharing the poem.  I must check out Mary Oliver’s book “Dog Songs.”  Amazing reviews on Amazon.
  • Poem Source: “How It Is with Us, and How It Is with Them” by Mary Oliver, from Dog Songs via Writersalmanac
  • Thank you Susan for the picture of our Zeke.

I’ve never regretted anything so much

italo-calvino

“I would like this to signal the end of “wasted angst” in my life: I’ve never regretted anything so much as having particular individual worries, in a certain sense anachronistic ones, whereas general worries, worries about our time (or at any rate those that can be reduced to such: like your problem in paying the rent, for instance) are so many and so vast and so much “my own” that I feel they are enough to fill all my “worryability” and even my interest and enjoyment in living. So from now on I want to dedicate myself entirely to these latter (worries) — but I am already aware of the traps in this question and that’s why for some time now my first need has been to “de-journalistize” myself, to get myself out of the stranglehold that has dominated these last few years of my life, reading books to review immediately, commenting on something even before having to time to form an opinion on it. I want to build a new kind of daily program for myself where I can finally get into something, something definitive (within the limits of historical possibility), something not dishonest or insincere (unlike the way today’s journalist always behaves, more or less). For that reason I make several plans for myself: … to maintain my contacts with reality and the world, but being careful, of course, not to get lost in unnecessary activities; and also to set up my own individual work not as a “journalist” any more but as a “scholar,” with systematic readings, notes, comments, notebooks, a load of things I’ve never done; and also, eventually, to write a novel.”

~ Italo Calvino


Italo Calvino (1923 – 1985) was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952–1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979). Lionised in Britain and the United States, he was the most-translated contemporary Italian writer at the time of his death, and a noted contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.


Image: abebooks. Bio: Wiki

I don’t seem to get to that wonderful state by working harder and faster

David-Allen

“Folks, can we hear it for sloth, indolence, and procrastination?!” That’s how I have started many of my seminars over the years. And it always gets thunderous applause and raucous cheers. I think it hits a nerve.

I’ve been working on both (self-forgiveness and sense of humor) for decades now, and still find it quite challenging at times. But you know, when I’m in a loving, whole, and healthy state of mind about myself and about life, everything’s cool. Where I am, doing what I’m doing, is exactly where I need to be and what I need to do. God’s on her throne, the mail is coming, my dog loves me, and tomorrow is just fine right where it is, not showing up until then.

And I don’t seem to get to that wonderful state of mind by working harder and faster. Sometimes it helps, but more often it just perpetuates the angst. [Read more…]

Lean in? No. Lean Back.

lean back

Excerpts From The EconomistIn Praise of Laziness:

“THERE is a never-ending supply of business gurus telling us how we can, and must, do more. Sheryl Sandberg urges women to “Lean In” if they want to get ahead. John Bernard offers breathless advice on conducting “Business at the Speed of Now”. Michael Port tells salesmen how to “Book Yourself Solid”…

Yet the biggest problem in the business world is not too little but too much—too many distractions and interruptions, too many things done for the sake of form, and altogether too much busy-ness. The Dutch seem to believe that an excess of meetings is the biggest devourer of time: they talk of vergaderziekte, “meeting sickness”. However, a study last year…suggests that it is e-mails: it found that highly skilled office workers spend more than a quarter of each working day writing and responding to them.

Which of these banes of modern business life is worse remains open to debate. But what is clear is that office workers are on a treadmill of pointless activity. Managers allow meetings to drag on for hours. Workers generate e-mails because it requires little effort and no thought. An entire management industry exists to spin the treadmill ever faster.

[Read more…]

Steady my harried pace

slow-me-down


Wilferd Arlan Peterson (1900–95) was born in Whitehall, Michigan and lived most of his life in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was an American author who wrote for This Week magazine (a national Sunday supplement in newspapers distributed to 13,000,000 readers). For twenty-five years, he wrote a monthly column for Science of Mind magazine. He published nine books starting in 1949 with The Art of Getting Along: Inspiration for Triumphant Daily Living.” Peterson was regarded as “one of the best loved American writers of the 20th century, renowned for his inspirational wisdom and aphoristic wit” by the Independent Publishers Group. His influences include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Abraham Lincoln, among many others. His contemporaries include Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie, and current writers and philosophers such as Jack Canfield and Brian Tracy have referred to Peterson’s works. He was married to Ruth Irene Rector Peterson (1921-79). He credits his wife Ruth as being the inspiration for his work (saying that while he “wrote about the art of living, she lived it”), and they collaborated often on producing these inspirational books. (Source: Wiki)


Source: Thank you Perpetua at The Seeker

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