meaning is found not in success and glamour but in the mundane

From “You’ll Never Be Famous — And That’s O.K.” by Emily Esfahani Smith:

There’s perhaps no better expression of that wisdom than George Eliot’s “Middlemarch”…At 700-some pages, it requires devotion and discipline, which is kind of the point. Much like a meaningful life, the completion of this book is hard won and requires effort. […]

As for Dorothea..she marries her true love…But her larger ambitions go unrealized. At first it seems that she, too, has wasted her potential. Tertius’s tragedy is that he never reconciles himself to his humdrum reality. Dorothea’s triumph is that she does.

By novel’s end, she settles into life as a wife and a mother, and becomes, Eliot writes, the “foundress of nothing.” It may be a letdown for the reader, but not for Dorothea. She pours herself into her roles as mother and wife with “beneficent activity which she had not the doubtful pains of discovering and marking out for herself.”

Looking out her window one day, she sees a family making its way down the road and realizes that she, too, is “a part of that involuntary, palpitating life, and could neither look out on it from her luxurious shelter as a mere spectator, nor hide her eyes in selfish complaining.” In other words, she begins to live in the moment. Rather than succumb to the despair of thwarted dreams, she embraces her life as it is and contributes to those around her as she can.

This is Eliot’s final word on Dorothea: “Her full nature, like that river which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

It’s one of the most beautiful passages in literature, and it encapsulates what a meaningful life is about: connecting and contributing to something beyond the self, in whatever humble form that may take.

Most young adults won’t achieve the idealistic goals they’ve set for themselves. They won’t become the next Mark Zuckerberg. They won’t have obituaries that run in newspapers like this one. But that doesn’t mean their lives will lack significance and worth. We all have a circle of people whose lives we can touch and improve — and we can find our meaning in that. [Read more…]

Costanza: “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

jerry-seinfeld

 

Q: You and Larry David wrote Seinfeld together, without a traditional writers’ room, and burnout was one reason you stopped. Was there a more sustainable way to do it? Could McKinsey or someone have helped you find a better model?

JS: Who’s McKinsey?

Q: It’s a consulting firm.

JS: Are they funny?

Q: No.

JS: Then I don’t need them. If you’re efficient, you’re doing it the wrong way. The right way is the hard way. The show was successful because I micromanaged it—every word, every line, every take, every edit, every casting. That’s my way of life.

~ Daniel McGinn, Life’s Work: An Interview with Jerry Seinfeld (HBR, Jan-Feb 2017)


Blog Post Title Credit: The Independent – Seinfeld at 25: The Show’s Best Quotes

Bonus Quote: Jerry Seinfeld: “You know the message you’re sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.’

Truth

books-reading-read

There’s only one thing, one constant thing that I believe keeps me moving closer to my goals, and keeps me fixed on what I want to do. It’s got nothing to do with being close to the universe or attracting things to me with positive energy.

My secret weapon is that I read.

Running a business, being a writer, living a full life — these things depend on the knowledge that we can gain and use. What we call following our gut, is really us being subconsciously guided by every piece of information we’ve ever consumed, shaping our instincts and ideas and forming us.

I read constantly, throughout every single day. I read obsessively, consuming new books and revisiting old at an alarming rate…I read books on my iPhone when I’m on the treadmill at the gym, every morning…I read books about business, and startups, and entrepreneurship …I read books about dragons and wizards and ancient spells, and I read books where there are worlds full of fantastic creatures and heroes, and I read books where there are sacrifices and victories and where good people mourn their lovers…I read books about musketeers, and lamp posts in the woods, and the dangerous business of going out your front door. I read books about boarding schools and battlefields and a bridge to Terabithia…I read about economic theory…I read new books, to find new characters and ideas, and old books because there’s always a detail I missed or a theme that I’ve forgotten, no matter how many times I’ve gone over them. […]

So here’s my advice. If you want to accomplish anything of value, challenge yourself to read…If you don’t read, you won’t gain the information and the insight and the inspiration that you need to make the right calls, at the right time. You won’t learn to see beyond the shit that you have to deal with, every day.

I think people want to believe that there’s a secret, to what I do. When they ask me for advice, it’s as if they think I’ve hidden away a key, that can unlock writing and business and make everything happen the way I want it. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe that my habit of reading is what’s made the difference in my life, and I think it’s incredibly important.

Make reading a good book a part of what you do. If you’re the busiest person on earth, just give yourself 15 minutes a day.

Jon Westenberg, excerpts from Here’s My Secret Weapon

 


Photo: Your Eyes Blaze Out

but is wary of becoming sated, like one of Aristotle’s dumb grazing animals.

martha-nussbaum

A sixty-nine-year-old professor of law and philosophy at the University of Chicago (with appointments in classics, political science, Southern Asian studies, and the divinity school), Nussbaum has published twenty-four books and five hundred and nine papers and received fifty-seven honorary degrees. In 2014, she became the second woman to give the John Locke Lectures, at Oxford, the most eminent lecture series in philosophy. Last year, she received the Inamori Ethics Prize, an award for ethical leaders who improve the condition of mankind. A few weeks ago, she won five hundred thousand dollars as the recipient of the Kyoto Prize, the most prestigious award offered in fields not eligible for a Nobel, joining a small group of philosophers that includes Karl Popper and Jürgen Habermas. Honors and prizes remind her of potato chips; she enjoys them but is wary of becoming sated, like one of Aristotle’s “dumb grazing animals.” Her conception of a good life requires striving for a difficult goal, and, if she notices herself feeling too satisfied, she begins to feel discontent.

~ Rachel Aviv, The Philosopher of Feelings, Martha Nussbaum’s far-reaching ideas illuminate the often ignored elements of human life—aging, inequality, and emotion. (The New Yorker, July 25, 2016)


Notes:

1) Don’t miss full fascinating profile of Martha Nussbaum in The New Yorker, July 25, 2016

2) If you liked this excerpt, here’s another passage:

Nussbaum left Harvard in 1983, after she was denied tenure, a decision she attributes, in part, to a “venomous dislike of me as a very outspoken woman” and the machinations of a colleague who could “show a good actor how the role of Iago ought to be played.” Glen Bowersock, who was the head of the classics department when Nussbaum was a student, said, “I think she scared people. They couldn’t wrap their minds around this formidably good, extraordinarily articulate woman who was very tall and attractive, openly feminine and stylish, and walked very erect and wore miniskirts—all in one package. They were just frightened.”

3) Martha Nussbaum bio,

4) Photo credit

Lightly child, lightly.

small-bird

I would like to paint the way a bird sings.

~ Claude Monet

 


Notes:

  • Photo: Iva with enjoying the winter sun (via Your Eyes Blaze Out). Quote: Thank you Rob @ Hammock Papers
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

ben-dunlap

And I realized, in this moment of revelation, that what these two men (Dr. Francis Robicsek and Roger Milliken) were revealing was the secret of their extraordinary success, each in his own right. And it lay precisely in that insatiable curiosity, that irrepressible desire to know, no matter what the subject, no matter what the cost, even at a time when the keepers of the Doomsday Clock are willing to bet even money that the human race won’t be around to imagine anything in the year 2100, a scant 93 years from now. “Live each day as if it is your last,” said Mahatma Gandhi. “Learn as if you’ll live forever.” This is what I’m passionate about. It is precisely this. It is this inextinguishable, undaunted appetite for learning and experience, no matter how risible, no matter how esoteric, no matter how seditious it might seem. This defines the imagined futures of our fellow Hungarians — Robicsek, Teszler and Bartok — as it does my own. As it does, I suspect, that of everybody here.

To which I need only add, “Ez a mi munkank; es nem is keves.” This is our task; we know it will be hard.“Ez a mi munkank; es nem is keves. Jó napot, pacák!” 

~ Ben DunlapThe Life-long Learner, TED Talk

Sadly, Truth.

chart-success-more


Source: thisisindexed

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call: A little country in between where I can be the king

Yoann-Lemoine

It’s uncomfortable because you’re never going to be an expert in every field. I’m not the best director and I’m not the best musician – and I don’t think I will ever be – but at least there is a little country in between where I can be the king. It’s probably going to be a small country, but at least I can live there happily…

I think that pressure of wanting to absolutely succeed precisely on the one thing is very toxic. I do want to succeed in general, but I’ve been asking myself, “What is success really to you?” And I’ve been thinking a lot about it and I think that success to me is to manage to be free, but also to do things that I like. It seems very stupid, but at the end of the day if I completely like and am proud of what I do, then to me it’s success.

~ Yoann Lemoine,I’m not there yet” (Director of Woodkid)


Notes:

  • Yoann Lemoine, 33, is a French music video director, graphic designer and singer-songwriter. His most notable works include his music video direction for Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”, Taylor Swift’s single “Back to December”, Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die” and Mystery Jets’ “Dreaming of Another World”.
  • Quote source: Clean Well Lighted Place.
  • Photo: Moving Image

Privileged? Check

Lou-Weiss

Lou Weiss, is a carpet salesman in Pittsburgh. These are excerpts from Privileged? Check Let me count the ways—without embarrassment:

Somewhere along the way, privilege went from something to be grateful for to something to be embarrassed about. As I approach 60, I have been doing the stocktaking prompted by such round-number birthdays and have decided to “give back,” as the saying goes, by performing a public service. I hereby declare myself the World’s Most Privileged Person…

What makes me so privileged? Let’s get the easy ones out of the way, those that are accidents of birth: male, white, straight. I have continued to self-identify as such…

Next come those privileges that reflect the hard work of others: Middle-class-moving-to-upper-middle-class upbringing by two wonderful parents who are still vital. I live in a country where my God-given freedom was articulated by the Founders and is maintained by the selflessness of U.S. soldiers…

Now come my own choices that make me so privileged. I have always been a pretty hard worker, have few vices and am fairly frugal. This allowed me to pay for the schooling of four daughters and make substantial charitable contributions. I don’t know what a single malt scotch is, let alone ever tasted one. Much of my wardrobe is from Costco. And to this day I can’t bring myself to purchase blueberries out of season. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

ship-anchor

I can’t quarrel with the limitations which are part of me—everybody has the severest of limitations. You are ultimately what you collectively wish to be. When someone says they could be so much more, I say, well you better get started right now, who’s stopping you?  Face it, there’s an anchor tied to your ass.

~ Jim Harrison, Conversations with Jim Harrison


Notes:

%d bloggers like this: