Big thoughts

Consider the single thought. A bit of synapse firing in the brain. This could be in response to a need – hunger, thirst, fight or flight. This could be the processing of a sense – smelling a flower, or seeing a rainbow. Maybe it’s working through a complex problem of some kind.

Steven Pressfield, in Do The Work, writes, “I was thirty years old before I had an actual thought. Everything up till them was either what Buddhists call “monkey-mind” chatter or the reflective regurgitation of whatever my parents or teachers said, or whatever I saw on the news or read in a book, or heard somebody rap about, hanging around the street corner.”

Thoughts are precarious, and when big thoughts come, grab them! I don’t know the first actual thought that I had. It’s possible I’m still waiting for it to come along. Sure, I get ideas, but they are just in the semblance of a thought – something half-formed.

So when those ideas pop up, nourish them. Bring them to fruition. And enjoy the freedom of a thinking that is higher-level.

Mise-en-place

Another in a series of thoughts on decluttering and belongings, the French culinary specialists have given the world mise-en-place, or everything in its place. And the principle extends beyond the kitchen. When I lived in my small home, I tried to adhere to this principle to maintain my sanity (with mixed results).

How far you take it is up to you. Maybe the bookshelves keep a clean and orderly appearance.

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Or you meticulously organize your pantry.

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On the other hand, maybe you’re lucky if everything fits on a shelf. 11844881464_95278ba223_b

Whichever side you currently find yourself on, remember that it can be better. Find a home for everything – one that looks pleasing to your eye. Then, make sure every item returns to its home after use.

If you don’t have room for everything, then that’s a discussion for a later time.

Simplicity

When working towards simplifying life, it’s easy to forget to take care of certain things. Relationships, for one. And the quality of your relationships directly affects your well-being.

Remember to be honest with those closest to you, and honest with yourself. What are you trying to achieve? And why? Knowing your reasoning, and being able to communicate it, will go a long way towards easing your transition into a scaled-down lifestyle.

Weekly Rundown

The week that passed was a long one, I’m not going to lie. The fourteen-hour car ride back to Florida was a bit exhausting, and the trip itself wasn’t as restful as I would have liked. Nonetheless, here’s some things that I spent some time with this week.

What I’m reading: Tip of the Iceberg by Mark Adams. Just cozying up to this book as the weather is getting cold. Thinking about my summer in Alaska, and what the future holds.

What I’m listening to: Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9. Also known as the New World Symphony, this makes me feel like it’s Thanksgiving. I enjoy this recording from the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra.

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What I’m spending time on: Dog training.

My 60 lb. boxer is nearly seven years old, partially blind and deaf from an invitro stroke, and ultra-hyper. Breaking him of some bad habits will take a good deal of time, but I’m certain that he and I are up to the challenge.

 

Other things of interest:

  • Knives Out, written and directed by Rian Johnson. Wow, I loved this movie. I thought it was well-written, well-directed, and well-acted. With names like Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, and Christopher Plummer, it was an excellent ensemble movie. The premise – wealthy suspense novelist dead by apparent suicide following birthday party with suspicious family members – may seem trope, but it leaves you guessing until the end.
  • Where to buy books online from a website that isn’t Amazon. From Anya Zhukova, here are seven recommendations that include B&N and BAM. I also like AbeBooks and Easton Press for more obscure or special edition volumes. And I go to eBay as well. As I was linking Tip of the Iceberg, it occurred to me that I didn’t want to recommend Amazon for every book I like. So I went with GoodReads, though it is owned by Amazon. Its positives include that it links to retailers other than Amazon,  and is enhanced by its users and readers.
  • Why can’t every workweek be four days? I mean, seriously?
  • Nat Geo story on the death of the male white rhino, and the species’ coming extinction… An extinction brought about by man’s overhunting of the animal.

“Watching a creature die—one who is the last of its kind—is something I hope never to experience again. It felt like watching our own demise.” – Ami Vitale

Amish County

I had every intention of showing the various Amish amenities that I experienced in PA. however, plans changed abruptly on Saturday and my photographing time was cut short. Even still, here are a couple of images I took as I wandered around:

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The view from a hill in Willow Street, PA. This hill was actually home for a Par 3, but no one was playing golf.

 

 

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This little plot of land was about a mile from the golf course, but on some Sundays, the yard would be full of horse-drawn buggies, the community coming to sit down for a large Sunday dinner.

 

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Custom designs for animal enclosures. 

The weather stopped cooperating on Sunday, and by Monday the winter storm Ezekiel was spreading snow flurries. But up to then, the weather was beautiful. I had seen some horses and carriages as I was driving around, but none while I was out walking. Possibly they were all working somewhere. So wasn’t able to photograph buggies…

I suppose another trip will be required sometime in the future.

We work, then we ship

This blog is shipping. It’s a continuous reminder to me to get the work done. I’m at a point where I can now write every morning. I write here, and I write in my other media (at this time a novel, which I started during NaNoWriMo, but which has been a holdover).

Work completed isn’t much until we get it out. Really, it isn’t completed until you put it out. And it’s scary to put it out. There are times when I’d rather not see the finished product.

I do some work in improvisational acting, and that’s instantaneous shipping. That’s getting up, creating a scene (doing the work) and performing it in front of an audience (shipping), all in one moment. Terrifying!

But doing that, it’s helping me here. It’s helping me everywhere. Because in improv, as in any other work, it’s okay to fail. Maybe one project lands flat. Flatter than flat. Just put it in the dungheap and move on.

Seth Godin has a graph of shipping that looks like this:

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This is specifically for the publication of a book. But it applies to any artistic medium. The Y-axis is the joy you feel for the project, and the X-axis shows time passing with each milestone. I think data point 6 is even lower than what’s shown because fear can take hold. That resistance.

But it’s so important to ship. To accept that fear. That fear is a gift. It’s your body telling you that what you’re doing may very well be important. So don’t stop now. Accept the gift, and get your idea out there.

Adventuring

I think some of the things that make this world so amazing are the people who go out and live life like no other. Take for instance Leon McCarron. Contributing writer to Adventure Magazine, author of such books as The Land Beyond and The Road Headed West, he set out after University on a bike ride halfway around the world. Then decided to keep traveling.

According to McCarron:

“There was a time when explorers traveled to mark the blank spots on the map—but now, in the digital age with fast, inexpensive transportation to once-hidden corners of our world, there’s far less call for flag-planting.

Instead, I see the modern frontier of adventure as storytelling; using immersive, adventurous travel to uncover new ideas. Adventure also applies on a smaller scale, one that’s accessible for all. It can be a daily practice in which we choose to do something different, something that creates a new experience—and that can happen as easily in London as it can in Ladakh. Adventure is everywhere, if we know where to look.”

The challenge is to create those new experiences. Look for the miraculous in your everyday life.