Friday Sabbatical

Whatever you’re doing this Friday, I invite you to slow down and take a sabbatical. It can be a long one, or it can be just a breath. Downshift to neutral, and notice your breathing. Watch the breath, and remember that you’re alive. In remembering that, consider also that you will die someday. This time, right now, is your life. Not the future, not your past. This right now is your whole life. All of it.

Appreciate this time, and use it wisely.

Here are five things that stuck with me this week:

1. The Universe in Verse, a celebration of science and nature through poetry, is this Saturday. This’ll be my first virtual event, and I’m bubbling inside, primarily because I was introduced to the event by my kindred spirit Maria Popova over at Brainpickings.org. I stumbled upon her work about a month ago, and have quickly grown to anticipate her weekly emails. Her writing is amazing, and she’s a hell of a curator of wonderful things in the world (would’ve busted the hell out of my book budget by now, if I was foolish enough to ever create such a travesty). Anyway, I’ve never been to TUIV, but consider this a recommendation from a friend of a friend.

2. It’s come to this. Frozen, sliced steak is a better voice of reason than our political leaders. And frankly, a better voice of reason than mine and most others. Bravo, SteakUmm. Whoever you are.

3. Naval Ravikant, founder and former CEO of AngelList and one of the most prolific angel investors in SV, is an interesting dude, and I’ve been digging his tweets. He’s a money guy, but a philosopher at heart. A good follow on Twitter for either reason. Example: This tweet storm tells you how to get rich without getting lucky, and then tells you that that still won’t make you happy.

4. Speaking of the financial / startup world realizing en masse that their insistent striving to success may have been misguided (I’m not the only one?), I offer the following from the Godfather of Lean Startup, Steve Blank:

“…the economic disruption caused by the virus and the recession that will follow is one of those rare opportunities to consider a change, one that could make your own life more meaningful, allow you to make an impact, and gain more than just a salary from your work. Perhaps instead of working for the latest social media or ecommerce company or in retail or travel or hospitality, you might want to make people live healthier, longer and more productive lives.”

Prioritizing purpose over success isn’t the only positive coming out of the COVID Pause, but it’s a biggie. Frodo, help us break it down:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

5. And topping off what appears to be a theme, I somehow mostly missed Kurt Vonnegut growing up (blame WMU’s creative writing department), so I missed this gem of a quote until earlier this week:

Kurt Vonnegut tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope.

“Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And see some great looking babies. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And I’ll ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is – we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And it’s like we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.”

It took a lot of winning, and a few big losses, to teach me that life really is, more than anything, about farting around. Could have saved myself significant pain over the years (and cost myself a bunch of money, to be fair) had I only read more Vonnegut.

As always, please let me know what you think in the comments, or if you stumble upon something excellent I should be aware of let me know that as well.

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