Week 42

Here are some highlights for leading into Week 42 🙂

  • Solitude by Michael Harris

    We take it up because we think that companionship is an alternative to solitude—that the big black hole at the centre of our selves can eventually be topped up if we just shovel enough sugary society into it. But the alternative to solitude was never companionship. The alternative to solitude is loneliness.

  • Solitude by Michael Harris

    Comedian Louis C.L., riffing on the need to check cellphones during solo car rides, described perfectly our need to dodge the solitary self. He achieved a certain poeticism when he said on Late Night with Conan O’Brien:
    Underneath everything in your life there is that thing, that empty—forever empty. That knowledge that it’s all for nothing and you’re alone. It’s down there. And sometimes when things clear away and you’re not watching and you’re in your car and you start going, ‘Ooh, here it comes, that I’m alone,’ like it starts to visit on you, just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it. … That’s why we text and drive. … People are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.

  • Solitude by Michael Harris

    Each time we write a letter, or reminisce about friends on a solitary walk, we reaffirm those bonds. We prove our faith in others—prove it and thus strengthen it—when we calmly experience separation.

  • Solitude by Michael Harris

    It was precisely Winnicott’s point: only someone who feels at risk of being abandoned would be uneasy with periodic detachment.

  • Solitude by Michael Harris

    As scientific advances extend our lives, they also seem to hack away our interest in (and respect for) the central role that death plays. We sweep it, tuck it, hide it away. I am thirty-six years old and I have never seen a dead person. Modernity itself encourages new, less death-centric approaches to life.

  • Solitude by Michael Harris

    In the picturesque town of Iasi, in northeastern Romania, the tech entrepreneur Marius Ursache—handsome and confident—sits in his glass-walled office and tells me about death. “There are, of course, three deaths we each experience. There is the moment you lose control of yourself, there is the moment the body actually passes away, and there is the last time anyone speaks your name.”

  • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

    In it, Wallace steps up to the mic and starts off with this joke:
    There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming in the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?”
    And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”
    You can hear the audience laugh in the video, and then Wallace explains the immediate point of the fish story is that “the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.”

  • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

    The 5 Second Rule
    The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal you must 5-4-3-2-1 and physically move or your brain will stop you.

  • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

    Forget motivation; it’s a myth. I don’t know when we all bought into the idea that in order to change you must “feel” eager or “feel” motivated to act. It’s complete garbage. The moment it’s time to assert yourself, you will not feel motivated. In fact, you won’t feel like doing anything at all.

  • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

    And that explains why change is hard. Logically, we know what we should do, but our feelings about doing it make our decision for us.

  • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

    The moment you check email, read the news or surf social media, someone else’s priorities jump in front of yours.

  • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

    There’s a principle called Parkinson’s Law—work expands to whatever time you give it. So give your workday a deadline. A deadline is important for stamina and mental health. It forces you to focus and be serious about taking the break from work.

  • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

    Procrastination is “a subconscious desire to feel good right now” so you can feel a little stress relief.

  • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

    I have never gotten over my fears and nerves; I just use them to my advantage. … I call it “excitement” because physiologically anxiety and excitement are the exact same thing. Let me say that again. Fear and excitement are the exact same thing in your body. The only difference between excitement and anxiety is what your mind calls it.

    Now, here’s the catch about telling yourself “I’m excited”—it doesn’t actually lower the feelings surging through your body. It just gives your mind an explanation that empowers you. That way the nervous feelings do not escalate. You stay in control and the agitation in your body will start to calm down as you begin to move.

  • The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

    There will always be someone who can’t see your worth.
    Don’t let it be you.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    Remember how long you have been deferring these things, and how many times you have been granted further grace by the gods, and yet have failed to make use of it. But it is now high time that you realized what kind of a universe this is of which you form a part, and from what governor of that universe you exist as an emanation; and that your time here is strictly limited, and, unless you make use of it to clear the fog from your mind, the moment will be gone, as you are gone, and never be yours again.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    Let your every action, word, and thought be those of one who could depart from life at any moment.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    We must act with all urgency, then, not only because we are drawing closer to death at every moment, but also because our power to understand things and pay close attention to them gives out before the end.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    When you act, let it be neither unwillingly, not selfishly, nor unthinkingly, nor half-heartedly; do not attempt to embellish your thoughts by dressing them up in fine language; avoid excessive talk and superfluous action. … And show a cheerful face to the world, and have no need of help from outside or the peace that others confer. In brief, you must stand upright, not be held upright.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    Do away with the judgement, and the notion ‘I have been harmed’ is done away with; do away with that notion, and the harm itself is gone.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    What ease of mind a person gains if he casts no eye on what his neighbour has said, done, or thought, but looks only to what he himself is doing, to ensure that his own action may be just, and holy, and good in every regard. Do not look back to examine the black character of another, but run straight towards the finishing line, never glancing to right or left.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    How easy it is to repel and wipe away every disturbing or inappropriate thought, and recover at once a perfect calm.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    To what purpose, then, am I presently using my soul? Ask yourself this question at every moment, and examine yourself as follows: what is presently to be found in that part of me which is called the ruling centre? And whose soul do I have at present? That of a child? That of an adolescent? That of a woman, of a tyrant, of a domestic animal, of a wild beast?

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    If you had a stepmother and a mother at the same time, you would fulfil your obligations to your stepmother, but for all that you would be constantly returning to your mother; and that is your present situation with regard to the court and philosophy. So return to philosophy as often as you can, and take your rest in her; for it is through her that life at court seems bearable to you, and you bearable to your court.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    If anyone can give me good reason to think that I am going astray in my thoughts or my actions, I will gladly change my ways. For I seek the truth, which has never caused harm to anyone; no, the person who is harmed is one who persists in his self-deception and ignorance.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    How shameful it is that, in this life, when your body does not give up the struggle, your soul should do so first.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    Whenever somebody wrongs you, ask yourself at once, ‘What conception of good and evil led him to commit such a wrong?’ And when you have seen that, you will pity him, and feel neither surprise nor anger.

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    If you suffer distress because of some external cause, it is not the thing itself that troubles you but your judgement about it, and it is within your power to cancel that judgement at any moment. But if what distresses you is something that lies in your own disposition, who is to prevent you from correcting your way of thinking? And likewise, if you are distressed because you are failing to accomplish some particular action which strikes you as sound, why do you not persist in the action rather than yield to the distress?

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    No more of all this talk about what a good man should be, but simply be one!

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    I have often marvelled at how everyone loves himself above all others, yet places less value on his own opinion of himself than that of everyone else.

6 Replies to “Week 42”

  1. We take it up because we think that companionship is an alternative to solitude—that the big black hole at the centre of our selves can eventually be topped up if we just shovel enough sugary society into it. But the alternative to solitude was never companionship. The alternative to solitude is loneliness.

    – So do you agree that people who are alone are lonely? I have met a few people before who are perfectly fine being alone and are not lonely about it. I guess it’s a matter of choosing not to settle for companionship just for the sake of companionship, and enjoying solitude. I realized long before that in solitude, one gets a good opportunity to know one’s self, to reflect and to figure out a way to somehow fill up that black hole inside without necessarily getting help from other people.

    As scientific advances extend our lives, they also seem to hack away our interest in (and respect for) the central role that death plays. We sweep it, tuck it, hide it away. I am thirty-six years old and I have never seen a dead person. Modernity itself encourages new, less death-centric approaches to life.

    – We will all die eventually, and I basically we only get one shot at all this. I guess having the constant reminder of death at the back of our heads is enough motivation to constantly strive to make the most of everything.

    “There are, of course, three deaths we each experience. There is the moment you lose control of yourself, there is the moment the body actually passes away, and there is the last time anyone speaks your name.”

    – The third one probably explains the reason why some people (the filthy rich ones in particular) feel the need to plaster their names at buildings, parks or other structures. I get that they’re trying to preserve their legacy, but I do believe that as time goes by, people remember you by your actions and and how you made them feel.

    And that explains why change is hard. Logically, we know what we should do, but our feelings about doing it make our decision for us.

    – This one hit me right on the head. LOL. Change is always hard, and in my case, there is always a certain sense of fear in doing something unfamiliar.

    There will always be someone who can’t see your worth.
    Don’t let it be you.

    – Easier said than done. lol

    Let your every action, word, and thought be those of one who could depart from life at any moment.

    – This echoes the excerpt from above, death can be a good motivator as long as it doesn’t get to a point where one’s life is run by the overwhelming paranoia of dying.

    1. I don’t think being alone and being lonely are tied together. The book discusses that too. It’s possible to be alone without feeling lonely, and it’s also possible to feel lonely when you’re not alone.

      I agree with you about solitude. It’s a great opportunity, although sometimes uncomfortable for some of us, to get better acquainted with ourselves.

      Exactly. Momento mori. As far as I’ve been exposed, it’s a common theme in a lot of Greek philosophy: the idea that we should make the most of the time we have because it may be taken away from us unexpectedly at any time.

      Right, that’s the other common way people try to preserve their legacy. “I want my kids to know that I loved them when I’m gone.” “I hope at my funeral people remember me as a kind, generous person.” There’s different ways of leaving a legacy; I think some people hope that money can help persist one. I wonder if it’s because people have hope that there’s still something after death?

      If fear holds you back, maybe consider the fear/excitement quote by Mel Robbins above 🙂

      “Easier said than done.” Amen.

      I don’t think the point is to be scared of dying. I think it’s simply one other data point to inform your decision making process.

  2. Tyler, I think it’s the opposite (re: “I wonder if it’s because people
    have hope that there’s still something after death”)

    I think the people who believe that there is no life after death are the ones who want to immortalize their life through buildings, roads, and other physical and material representations of “life”.

    Those who are devoutly religious do not need that kind of immortality because they have their soul — immortal and living with their God.

    Leo, being alone does not equate being lonely (well, at least that’s what I keep telling myself lols 😭).

    Loneliness is not contingent on company.

    Quiet by Susan Cain would be a good book to make a trifecta of books on being alone (albeit, this is more heavy on the research and science behind introversion).

    Good night, or is it already morning?

  3. PS.

    Death is not just an abstract entity that society grapples with philosophically and conceptually.

    Death is part of our history and anthropology. The fear of death is part of our psychological evolution.

    I need to sleep.

  4. I think we mean similar things. There are those who believe in life after death, yes. But there’s also those who don’t believe in life after death, yet they have hope that they will be remembered after death (this is the “something after death” I meant) so they try to craft a legacy for themselves. ie. The third death about which Harris quotes Marius Ursache above.

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