Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

With new kids, a new album, and a new look, Jeff Goldblum says he’s just a late bloomer.

“Joe Brevac, my seventh grade teacher, used to write on the blackboard a quote from Abraham Lincoln: ‘I shall study and prepare myself so that when my chance comes, I will be ready.’ Seventh grade, and that’s still –”

“You still remember it?”

“I remember it. And I’m trying to apply it.”

“And you feel ready?”

“What I’m saying is that this late-blooming business, in all aspects of my personage, I’m flowering.

~  Anthony Mason, Jeff Goldblum, 66, Living life like a jazz piece (November 4, 2018)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Who says Allie Kieffer isn’t thin enough?

Allie Kieffer, one of the best Americans running the New York City Marathon next Sunday, spent a lot of her life feeling as if she didn’t really fit in among the competition. She was good enough to land an athletic scholarship to college and hoped to continue running after graduating. But she wasn’t as thin as the women she raced against. Her coaches suggested she diet. She eventually gave in, and her body broke down…

After a few years, she missed running and started again — but this time was different. There were no goals, no opponents to compare herself with and no times to record. Everything was on her own terms…She began running more miles than ever, she was healthier than ever, and she was happier, too. And then something unexpected happened: She got faster. Much faster.

Last year, Kieffer ran the New York City Marathon and finished, astonishingly, in fifth place. She was the second American woman, and she logged her best time by nearly 15 minutes in one of the world’s most competitive footraces. Barely anyone knew who the unsponsored 30-year-old American with the topknot sprinting past Olympians in the final miles of Central Park was.

Suddenly, Kieffer wasn’t just trying to be one of the hundreds of elite runners in the country. She had become one of the best runners in the world…

In doing so, Kieffer has given us a powerful example of what can happen when we stop trying to force ourselves to meet preconceived notions of how to achieve success — especially unhealthy, untrue ideas — and go after our goals on our own terms. When we focus less on fixing what we consider to be inadequacies and more on reinforcing our strengths, we can realize potential we didn’t even know we had.

“Sometimes, the act of trying takes so much energy that it can prevent you from actually doing the thing you want to do,” Brad Stulberg, the author of Peak Performance, told me. “If it starts to feel like performance shackles, you’re going to want say screw it, to break out of rigid patterns and rip those shackles off. And only then are you able to really achieve what you were trying for the whole time.”

Kieffer’s story also proves that we can achieve far more when we value all women’s bodies less for how they look, and more for what they can do.

Not that being underestimated can’t serve as motivation.

“I’ve always gotten a lot of satisfaction by being the big girl everyone thought they were going to beat,” says Kieffer…

There is a growing movement telling us to embrace the bodies we’ve got — thank you — but it’s hard to drown out the other messages. Whether it’s for a race or a wedding, women are told that they are at their most valuable when their bodies are their most diminished. Resisting the impulse to feed yourself is an accomplishment we praise. You don’t have to buy into these values, but you’ll probably still be judged by them…

By conventional standards, she is doing nearly everything wrong. But she’s beating a lot of the people who are still training the “right” way, so perhaps her path shows there’s room for a more flexible definition of what the right way can be. This is probably true for more than just distance running.

~ Lindsay Crouse, excerpts from Who Says Allie Kieffer Isn’t Thin Enough to Run Marathons? Success that shows we might be able to achieve even more when we break all the rules. (The New York Times, October 27, 2018)


Inspired by:

  • Nobody is smarter than you are. And what if they are? What good is their understanding doing you?” -Terence McKenna, Nobody is Smarter Than You Are
  • I don’t think that you have to get all your inner stuff together and totally integrated before you can actually be what you’ve realized. You’re going to wait forever if you wait for that. Just start being what you know now.” ~ Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

What would it look like for him, he wondered, when he wrapped things up?

Why?

It was a question that crossed Robin’s mind more often these days, now that he had put in roughly 35 years as a professional entertainer and more than 60 as a human being.

What did he still get out of doing what he was doing, and why did he feel the compulsion to keep doing it? He had already enjoyed nearly all of the accomplishments that one could hope for in his field, tasted the richest successes, won most of the major awards. Every stage of his career had been an adventure into the unknown, an improvisation in its own right, but there was truly no road map for where he was now. Everything came to an end at some point; it was a reality he accepted and confronted so often in his work, even as he tried to out-race it. What would it look like for him, he wondered, when he wrapped things up and told the crowd good night for the last time? How could it be anything other than devastating?

~ Dave Itzkoff, from Inside the Final Days of Robin Williams (Vanity Fair, May 8, 2018)


Notes: Dave Itzkoff traces the last few months of Williams’s life in this Vanity Fair excerpt from his Biography on Robin Williams titled “Robin” published on May 15, 2018.  In the months that preceded his death, Williams faced daunting challenges, both professionally and personally.

T.G.I.F.: “I’m done.”

Onward to the night, which is to say insomnia, cell phone on the bedside table, the mind drilling away with yet more frantic interior list-making. Don’t forget! Remember to … Have you … Did you …? Whole decades can go this way—and have—not just in domestic detail, but awash in the brackish flotsam of endeavor, failure and success, responsibility and reward. My work, as I say with foolish vanity. Deadlines piled upon deadlines. That devilishly apt word deadline, the heart seizing as if shot, hands wringing for a reprieve—a week, a day? But delivering. Always delivering. You can count on me. That, in fact, is the problem…

What a surprise—to discover it’s all about leisure, apparently, this fugitive Real Life, abandoned all those years to the “limitless capacity for toil.” What a hard worker you are: always taken as a compliment. You can count on me. Smiling. Deadline met. Always. You should try meditating or maybe yoga, yoga’s good, someone suggested when I mentioned the fevered to-do lists, the sometimes alarming blood pressure readings, the dark-night-of-the-soul insomnia. But meditating is just another thing. Yoga? Another task, yet another item for the to-do list. I find I cannot add another item. I’m done.

~ Patricia Hampl, The Art of the Wasted Day (Published April 17, 2018)


Portrait: upne.com

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

%d bloggers like this: