What I learned last week (#128): pausing to take stock

Learned last week: thinking, foxes, bonsai, and more!

How to think clearly:

This was really helpful and worth revisiting in the future.

What are you thinking and feeling? What most deserves your attention? There’s a great line in Robert Poynton’s book Do Pause (2019) that speaks to the significance of taking stock in this way:

In a pause you can question existing ways of acting, have new ideas or simply appreciate the life you are living. Without ever stopping to observe yourself, how can you explore what else you might do or who you might become?

Also, there is a very practical example given that illustrates the concept neatly:

Our assumptions, in other words, aren’t just unexamined ideas. They’re also the roots of identity and allegiance; the stuff of our personal and shared histories; of our communities and our morality. They are the sources of much of the greatest good and deepest harm we do to one another. That which we take as ‘given’ is nothing less than the bedrock of what we believe the world to be.

What follow from this? When it comes to clarifying your thinking, it means that you need to be very clear about the difference between what follows from your assumptions and the status of those assumptions. To take things step by step:

Read How to think clearly on psyche.co


The strangeness of foxes:

My daughter just had a fox-themed birthday plus we read and watched Fantastic Mr Fox this year so I had to check this out when I saw it. Foxes are super cool. 🦊

The fox is a “fictional animal,” the folklorist Hans-Jörg Uther once said; there are “more tales of the fox than of other animals, such as the dog or the wolf.” While in the modern Western world the fox seems to have become the incarnation of the cunning trickster – in the figure of Reynard and others – it has a vast and diverse literary history. Tricksters survive and thrive by manipulating others – friends, family, and enemies alike. The trickster is amoral and only works for its own self-interest: depending on perspective and outcome, it can be hero or villain.

Read The Elemental Strangeness of Foxes on plough.com


A mid-year best albums list:

I love new music so these lists are always good fodder for checking out new artists. I might only find one out of all of them that I really vibe with, but this list has a couple gems (along with a few I already had on my radar).

Read The best albums of 2021 so far on theguardian.com


Technology saved us all:

It turns out many of the best jobs really can be performed from anywhere, through screens and the internet. It turns out people really can live in a smaller city or a small town or in rural nowhere and still be just as productive as if they lived in a tiny one-room walk-up in a big city. It turns out companies really are capable of organizing and sustaining remote work even — perhaps especially — in the most sophisticated and complex fields.

This is, I believe, a permanent civilizational shift. It is perhaps the most important thing that’s happened in my lifetime, a consequence of the internet that’s maybe even more important than the internet.

Read Technology Saves the World on future.a16z.com


The tools and process of a master bonsai gardener:

I remember having a bonsai tree years ago in college and not having the faintest idea of what to do with it. This is so cool and relaxing to watch. It gets better as it goes.


Stuff I wrote and drew about this week:


Other things I was reminded of, or thankful for, last week:

  • We went away to a little beachside village last week for my birthday. At the beginning of the week I still couldn’t properly walk after the skateboarding accident the week prior. By the end of the week I had finally regained that ability and wasn’t in constant pain and holding my body in a tense position while walking. This was good. This is progress!
  • I finished reading Dune again and it was like reading it for the first time, as I think i must have read it originally 20 years ago at least. I couldn’t put it down. I’m not sure what I think about the new movie coming out, but the director seems right.

Last but not least, check out what I’m up to now.

1 Comment

Not sure I liked that bonsai video. I think I heard the tree screaming while he was skinning it! But am intrigued by the new Dune film. The original film was awful in a weirdly compelling way!

Comments welcome!