It’s kind of funny that once you really start paying attention to yourself, you see all sorts of shit. I was flying high yesterday, feeling so good. Today not so much. I’m low. Annoyed. Good weather… bad weather – it just comes and goes. It’s comical to sit back and realize how insane I am in reacting to any of it. Reacting to my thoughts without realizing they are just thoughts is insane.
For a few years now I’ve been documenting what I call “flashes of insight” in my notes app. Re-reading them just now made me think I should share them. So.. I present you with my a list of insights and quotes from 2020.
Some of these are self-explanatory, while others may confuse you out of context. I’ve notated the source where possible, and the dates reflect the day I recorded the insight.
There is no past and no future; no one has ever entered those two imaginary kingdoms. There is only the present.
The most courageous decision that you can make each day is to be in a good mood.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Voltaire and Rilke, respectively
And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.
― Kurt Vonnegut From A Man Without a Country
Give up the War
Poker face. Accept. Be.
Get rid of shit you don’t need.
Let go. completely.
This egolessness, which is the key to being authentic is a battle.
You can’t teach tenacity
There are two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. And the other is as if everything is a miracle.
Einstein – Neri Oxman’s favorite quote – from Abstract on Netflix
A well-flowing life is when we wish for what is going to happen not what we want to happen
The Straightforward and good person should be like a smelly goat — you know when they are in the room with you
While pain is inevitable, suffering is a choice – everything is fucked.
That being so, so what
Jerry Colonna – Reboot
What makes all of life complicated, and not just hard, is this unwillingness to do the work that’s ours to do her unwillingness to live the examined life.
Jerry Colonna – Reboot
What if being lost is part of the path? Reboot
Jerry Colonna – Reboot
Don’t mistake motion for meaning
Jerry Colonna – Reboot
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
There has been a lot written here, here, and here about the value of having a daily ritual. The benefits of daily rituals range from increased productivity, stress-relief, higher energy, career, family life and more.
According to Loehr, energy is our most precious resource because everything stems from having enough positive energy to get things done. It makes sense. The book talks a lot about how athletes strategically use recovery to gain energy and rituals to stay focused during stressful times of performance. For us non-professional athletes, these principals apply, perhaps even more because unlike sports, corporate drones don’t get months of recovery during an off-season.
After reading the book and dutifully doing all the exercises (what’s do you value, what are your strengths, who do you admire and why), I revisited my own daily rituals which now include a morning and evening component along with a handy Google Doc to help me track my progress.
My Morning Ritual (20 minutes)
Get out of bed and eat a handful of peanuts or a banana
Meditate for 10 minutes (I’m currently addicted to this app)
I’ve read the incredible book “Essentialism” by Greg Mckeown 3 times now, and each time, my (digital) copy gets more and more highlighted. It’s a great read, and one with an incredible amount of wisdom, great ideas, and perspective. Reading it has enriched my life immensely. My biggest and most challenging takeaway is the idea of “Hell yes, or no way.”
If you haven’t read it, I recommend you watch any of the excellent videos that outline the basic concepts including hearing it right from Greg’s mouth in a Google talk:
Essentialism, for me works great for small, simple decisions such as:
should I work out?
should eat that 3rd slice of pizza?
should I read this book or that book
But it breaks down for me when I try to apply it to big decisions such as:
should I invest in becoming a better or published writer?
should I change careers, go back to school or keep doing what I’m doing
am living my best life, and if not, what’s that even mean?
I think a big part of the problem is that I’ve been unwilling to be completely honest with myself. Saying hell yea to something life-changing has ramifications that go far beyond my own personal impact.
As an example, I’ve written two books (one a YA-Sci Fi thing, the other a memoir), and I’m stuck inside my head. Do I try to improve them with the help of an editor and finish that journey, or do I leave writing as a hobby and a fun creative pursuit? I honestly don’t know.
The truth is, part of me is scared.
Shit. Even as I wrote that sentence I sort of figured out something important. Trite as it is, that saying “do what scares you most” may very well apply here.
I went on vacation last week to a Caribbean island. It was glorious. While away, I managed to find time away from the beach to watch the awesome documentary “The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man.” If you haven’t seen it yet, hop to it. What you might learn, as I did, is “It just doesn’t matter” is more than a slogan or a bromide. It’s a bona fide life philosophy.
Like many, I’m a huge fan of Bill Murray’s work. In particular, the films Stripes, Lost in Translation and Groundhog Day have a special place in my heart. To this day, the line “Don’t call me Francis” makes me laugh. And Murray’s chemistry with Scarlett in Lost in Translation is not something you see on film every day. But it’s Groundhog Day that stays with me.
Say it with me… “It just doesn’t matter!”
Groundhog Day reminds me, every time I see it, to try to atone for my inability to stay present and mindful and to keep searching for the best version of me. To let that best version out of the cage and let him roam. To let him play (that’s a sort of reference to a different, non-Bill Murray movie, Bad News Bears.) Any way you cut it, despite my love for his films, I missed connecting the dots between the man, the actor, the roles and this remarkable, wonderful way of being.
Meanwhile, Murry continues to meander in the world, showing up in random places, and inserting himself into regular people’s days and moments. He is the apparent embodiment of being present and understanding how to embrace the “It just doesn’t matter” philosophy. And me? I wonder how in the world anyone can live this way.
After finishing the film, I’ve journaled nearly daily about the idea of “It just doesn’t matter.” Rooted in stoicism, the idea of impermanence has been a constant theme in my own journey. Despite the simplicity of the idea, I can’t quite work out how to do it on a regular basis. Sure, intellectually, I get that we’re all going to be dust one day anyway. And yet emotionally I can’t seem to get over the hump.
Frankly, I am still really struggling with practicing being present. I can do it in flashes, but I seem to fail the real world test, getting caught up in this issue or that, or living somewhere in my head. This despite nearly 3 years of regular meditation and a current 50+ day streak. I refuse to give up though. I’ve found the path, I just can’t seem to stay on it for very long.
Perhaps if like in the video, I simply start chanting “It just doesn’t matter” repeatedly, I can make some of my own movie magic. I don’t’ know, but it may be worth giving it a shot. We’ll see.
One last note. Like Bill Murray himself, this blog seems to show up when it wants to, unannounced, uninvited in my life. I had decided to shut it down a while ago but never got around to it and so it languished. My hosting company alerted me to a WordPress update and some PHP errors which I couldn’t let stand. And so as fate would have it, as I fixed the site I started to re-read some of my old posts. It felt comforting somehow. I guess Bill brought me back.