In a job, where you wonder, a year later, what happened to that year

on-looking-alexandra-horowitz

Maria Popova (Brain Pickings) in a Conversation with Alexandra Horowitz (Cognitive Scientist): The Art of Looking: How to Live With Presence, Break the Tyranny of Productivity, and Learn to See Our Everyday Wonderland

AH: I am not encouraging productivity — and I don’t mind that that’s the case. I value the moments in my life that are productive, certainly, but only the ones that are productive and also present. So it doesn’t have to be either-or. But [I have also] spent time in a job where you then wonder, a year later, what happened to that year. And if I had bothered to sit on the subway, commuting to my office, looking — looking — I think that those moments would have been memorialized, and I would know what happened to that year…I don’t mean to be testifying against productivity per se, but I do see that it’s certainly mindless, the way that we approach there being only one route to living one’s life. And it is within us, this capacity to alter that — at any moment, even within that framework — to change your state.

MP: What’s interesting about the productivity dogma is that we live in a culture where we worship work ethic — by a very narrow definition — as some sort of this grand virtue. And we define it as showing up, day after day after day. But I often think that that’s the surest way to lull ourselves into a kind of trance of passivity, where we show up but we’re absent from our own lives. And I think one of the most beautiful things you do is you show how we can be present in our own lives, through these eleven different people and their perspectives.

AH: Thank you. You know, you are thought of as being, probably, an excessively productive person — again, in that literal sense. You have such a fertile mind — would you say you are not productive? Or, how do you achieve your productivity?

MP: For me, I read, and I hunger to know… I record, around that, my experience of understanding the world and understanding what it means to live a good life, to live a full life. Anything that I write is a byproduct of that — but that’s not the objective. So, even if it may have the appearance of “producing” something on a regular basis, it’s really about taking in, and what I put out is just … the byproduct. It’s kind of like going down the rabbit hole but digging it in the process, too.

See full post here: The Art of Looking: How to Live With Presence, Break the Tyranny of Productivity, and Learn to See Our Everyday Wonderland

See short video on Horowitz’s book On Looking. Find the book on Amazon here: On Looking.

18 Simple Things

Doing. Being.

portrait-man-black and white-Brian Ingram

Most people have the hardest time relaxing. We were taught at an early age to ‘do,’ and now we are so addicted to doing that even if we take a break we think about what to do next. Very few ever realize that the priceless treasure in life is ‘Being.’

D.R. Butler

 


  • Photograph: Thank you Brian Ingram. Note that Brian also kindly permitted the use of his photograph for my blog header.
  • Quote: Thank you Karen @ Karen’s Korner.

We may have a ticket, but it is a valid for a ridiculously brief time

INSPIRATION,

“The world, whatever we might think about it, terrified by its vastness and by our helplessness in the face of it, embittered by its indifference to individual suffering – of people, animals, and perhaps also plants, for how can we be sure that plants are free of suffering; whatever we might think about its spaces pierced by the radiation of stars, stars around which we now have begun to discover planets, already dead? still dead? – we don’t know; whatever we might think about this immense theater, to which we may have a ticket, but it is valid for a ridiculously brief time, limited by two decisive dates; whatever else we might think about this world – it is amazing.”

~ Wisława Szymborska


Wisława Szymborska-Włodek (1923 – 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist and translator.  She was described as a “Mozart of Poetry”. Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”.

The Three Oddest Words: “When I pronounce the word Future, the first syllable already belongs to the past. When I pronounce the word Silence, I destroy it.  When I pronounce the word Nothing, I make something no nonbeing can hold.” 

The Sky: “My distinguishing marks are wonder and despair.”

Quote Source: Whiskey River; Image Source: Gifs Tumblr

Life, too, is like that

walking away in mist

Life, too, is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward.

Abraham VergheseCutting for Stone


Image Credit: unmundoparadivagar. Quote Source: anamorphosis-and-isolate

White T-Shirts

photography

We wait for the phone to ring.
Every Sunday.
For the obligatory college briefing call.
(As long as you feed from the trough, you’ll call home on Sunday. Non-negotiable.)
Rachel jabbering. Eric tight lipped…leaking information on a need-to-know basis.
Not last night.
Big day for me on Tuesday Dad.
I forgot it’s his 20th birthday.
You forgot right?
Of course not.
Of course you did.
You know that I’m leaving for El Salvador on Saturday.
I’ll be taking vitals…blood pressure, temperature…and recording it.
Dad, I’ve been told there will be thousands, all waiting for medical care.
We’ll be readying patients for the doctors and dentists.
And then feeding homeless at night.

I’m dressing for work this morning.
I check the weather app. -5° F with wind chill.
How many children are huddled and shivering in the cold? Hungry. A soda can and not much else in the fridge for breakfast. Not in El Salvador. Here. Right here.
I shudder.
I reach for a t-shirt. Folded. Stacked. Clean. White.
I’m drawn to the label. I squint to read the small print.

XL 100% Pima Cotton. Machine wash warm with like colors. Only non-chlorine bleach if needed. Tumble Dry Low. Warm Iron if needed. Made in Bangladesh.

Made in Bangladesh.


Image Credit

Running. Which way?

a-good-day-Erica-Hopper

It makes me wonder, Do we spend most of our days trying to remember or forget things? Do we spend most of our time running towards or away from our lives? I don’t know.

Markus Zusak


Painting by Erica Hopper via christinasanantonio.  Bio for Markus Zusak

No, it stays right at the front.


I can still remember how she looked. Black gown grey against the sky, clutching the scroll in the hand. So much hard work.

Did it mean anything when all paths led to the same end. You can extend the path you take. Choose the one less travelled. Be all the richer for it. But it is still a path, and all paths lead to the same end.  If you have a Lover and a Dog waiting for you, you are one of the lucky ones.  I don’t think there’s anything afterwards, outside the stories. if there is, how would that work?

She believed.  She wasn’t a zealot or fundamentalist.  But she believed.  Enough to not get scared at the end. Vast thunder storms. Fat on the horizon. But she could still see the sun. All things shining.

Sometimes I do the impossible. Steal a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. Light and full of love. I don’t try to stop her. Tap her on the shoulder. Pull her home.  

They ask me years later.  Does it get easier as time passes or does it stay at the back of your mind.  

No. It stays right at the front.

 ~ Jack Tasker


We want the spring to come

hair,mist,fog

We want the spring to come
and the winter to pass.
We want whoever to call
or not call,
a letter,
a kiss —
we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments,
walking,
when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store,
and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair,
chapped face,
and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living …

~ Marie Howe


Sources/References:

Related Post:


I have led too serious a life

Henry-James

I have led too serious a life; but that perhaps, after all, preserves one’s youth. At all events, I have travelled too far, I have worked too hard, I have lived in brutal climates and associated with tiresome people. When a man has reached his fifty-second year without being, materially, the worse for wear — when he has fair health, a fair fortune, a tidy conscience and a complete exemption from embarrassing relatives — I suppose he is bound, in delicacy, to write himself happy.

~ Henry James (1843-1916) from The Diary of a Man of Fifty


Reference/Credits:

  • Henry James: “The Diary of a Man of Fifty is FREE at Amazon for Kindles/iPads.
  • Henry James was an American-born British writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.
  • Image and Quote Source: Brainpickings
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