Archive for the ‘Original Sins’ Category

Perspective

August 23, 2017

Yesterday you climbed
To the top of the Empire State Building
(By elevator, mostly, but
There were a few steps here and there.)
You circled the observation deck,
Feet shuffling over old stone,
Hands gripping iron safety bars,
Like those of a prison cell
With a billion dollar view.

You could see so much from there,
Except for you yourself—
So improbably aloft,
Tracing the edge of the precipitous building,
Scraping the cerulean sky.

Today you lie in bed
Writing poetry,
Once again seeking the spectacular,
Once again not knowing it’s you.

The Perils of Expertise – Vol. 2

July 25, 2017

More Perils of Expertise—traits that enhance expertise yet detract from other parts of life—in this case, those of the writer of fiction, screenplays and other stories . . .

How To Be a Great Writer and an Unhappy Human

  1. Dwell on the past.
  2. Edit yourself.
  3. Look for conflict/drama.
  4. Ponder the imponderable. Excessively.
  5. Draw comparisons.
  6. Try to put everything into words.

The Perils of Expertise

July 24, 2017

Most of us strive to be good at something (or two things, or more). Some of us strive to be great. Being very good at something can be fun and rewarding. Yet there are perils.

Regardless of natural ability, achieving any measure of expertise requires training over a long period of time. Some say 10,000 hours, though in my opinion it depends on how you use them. After so much time, you develop certain mental habits, unconscious tendencies, which are a critical part of the foundation of your expertise.

Ironically, though, these same habits can make you unhappy when applied in other aspects of your life, and it can be extremely difficult to turn these habits off when you’re not conducting the activity that requires them. As a result, you end up with a list of traits that can make you both good at your expertise and unhappy in life.

These traits vary, depending on the type of expert (athlete, surgeon, marketer, physicist, musician, etc.) Take, for example, the business lawyer—an expert (one hopes) at negotiating deals and reviewing and drafting legal contracts . . .

How To Be a Great Business Lawyer and an Unhappy Human

  1. Dwell on the unknowable future (“What if this happens? Or this? Or this?”)
  2. Assume the worst, in all its hypothetical permutations (“Are we protected if things go bad in this way? Or in this way?”)
  3. Constantly worry over the details.
  4. Be defensive.
  5. Second-guess yourself and others.
  6. Focus on pitfalls, vulnerabilities and flaws, rather than on what is good.

Body vs. Taste Buds

June 24, 2017

Ingredients in my current smoothie/health shake:

  1. Water
  2. Soy Milk
  3. Ice
  4. Banana
  5. Protein Powder (pea)
  6. Olive oil
  7. Wheat germ
  8. Vanilla extract
  9. Cinnamon
  10. Turmeric
  11. Ginger
  12. Cayenne powder
  13. Moringa powder

Things it doesn’t taste as good as:

  1. Cupcake
  2. Toasted bagel with cream cheese
  3. Bacon

Paint Night

August 13, 2016

What you can do in a one-night paint class when a good instructor demonstrates how to do it step by step. Cheating? Maybe. I’m okay with it. In the spirit of historically prosaic titles for great works of fine art, I call it “Red Fox and Birches”.

Red Fox and Birches

Resistance is Futile

July 13, 2015

Remember what it feels like when you’re snowboarding, and you start to pick up just a little too much speed, on a slope that’s just a little too steep?  First the nervousness, then the fear?  And how your muscles start to tighten up, until you realize you’re in more trouble now, because the stiffer your limbs get the less control you have over them, making it much more likely that you’re going to crash?  And how the only solution is to release, utterly, and to let your muscles relax, and to embrace the speed?

Do you remember that?

Good.  Now, release into your life.

canyons stand

How to Believe in Yesterday

May 10, 2015

The distinction between past, present and
future is only an illusion, however persistent.

~Albert Einstein

Modern physics tells us that time does not “move” forward.  Instead, time, like space, simply is.  To us humans who cannot help but perceive our lives as proceeding from yesterday to today to tomorrow, this is a mind-boggling concept.  So let’s try to wrap some more words around it….

The laws of physics do not, indeed cannot, distinguish between an event in the “past” or an event in the “future.”  In fact, these laws do not even distinguish between change which occurs “forward” in time or “backward” in time.  The arrow of time exists only in our heads.

We humans insist that the past is gone, that only those things that can be perceived right now actually exist.  Physics tells us, quite clearly, that though this is our perception, it is not reality.  The reality is that everything, whether in the past, present or future, simply exists.  Always.  This is not wishful thinking.  This is what hard science tells us is true, even if this truth, like other hard truths from science, seems patently absurd to our perceptions (like the fact that every atom making up all physical objects is mostly empty space, even though we perceive things as solid.)

Why am I harping on this this morning?  Because this seemingly absurd description of reality comforts me.  Because it means that nothing is ever lost, nothing ever dies. It means that we are still sitting at the dinner table in the old house on Wedgemere, even though you are long gone and the house has been sold away.  It means that your infectious laugh is still ringing, even if my ears can no longer hear it.

Life as Koan

March 8, 2015

It’s only confusing
if you try to figure it out.

“The circumference is nowhere”

January 31, 2015

I know that I have regained my center when I forgive myself both for having lost it and for the fact that I will inevitably lose it again.

Hallowed

October 31, 2014

Night Jacks


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