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

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