Thursday, April 30, 2020

Thoughts on “I’m bored”, Seth Godin



Thoughts on “I’m bored”, Seth Godin

If you’re under 14: “Good.”

It’s good that you’re feeling bored. Bored is an actual feeling. Bored can prompt forward motion. Bored is the thing that happens before you choose to entertain yourself. Bored is what empty space feels like, and you can use that empty space to go do something important. Bored means that you’re paying attention (no one is bored when they’re asleep.)

If you’re over 14: “That’s on you.”

As soon as you’re tired of being bored at work, at home, on lockdown, wherever, you’ll go find a challenge. You don’t have to quit your day job to be challenged, but you do have to be willing to leap, to take some responsibility, to find something that might not work.

Being challenged at work is a privilege. It means that you have a chance, on someone else’s nickel, to grow. It means you can choose to matter.

I’m glad you’re feeling bored, and now we’re excited to see what you’re going to go do about it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Ryan Holiday's "Daily Dad" Reflection



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It doesn’t matter how old you are or how old your kids are. You have more experience than them. In some cases, that’s a couple decades. In other cases, it’s many decades. But whatever the age difference is between you and your kids, you’ve lived longer and been through more. 

Well, now as the world faces all sorts of troubles, it’s time to draw on that wisdom. It’s time for you to use your authority and your experience to guide them, to help them with what is an unimaginably stressful and unfamiliar experience

That’s what Dads do. That’s why you called yours for help when you were buying your first house. That’s why you went to them crying the first time you got dumped. It’s why, when you were struggling and not even quite sure how or why, your dad was able--with just a few oblique words—to get you back on track. Because they’d been there before. Because they had a better sense of how things tend to work out. 

Whether you’ve got a three year old or a thirteen year old or a thirty year old, that’s what your kids need today. It’s what they’re going to need for as long as you’re around. A nudge. A reassurance. A bit of perspective. Some little story from your past about a mistake you made when you were their age. A recommendation. Or maybe even an admonishment. 

The wisdom you have acquired—often by painful trial and error—was hard-won. It’s valuable. Now's the time to use it.




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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

We were invited



We did not ask for this room or this music; we were invited in. Therefore, because the dark surrounds us, let us turn our faces toward the light. Let us endure hardship to be grateful for plenty...We did not ask for this room or this music. But because we are here, let us dance.
STEPHEN KING

Monday, April 27, 2020

He was raised!




I Corinthians 15:1-11

Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you-unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them-though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.




My grandmother once gave me a tip:
In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don't think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see?
You are advancing step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Praise yourself.
Take another step.
Then another.
You won't notice, but your steps will grow more and more.
And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.
- Elena Mikhalkova

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad




Canticle: A Song of the Wilderness
Isaiah 35:1-7, 10
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, *
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
It shall blossom abundantly, *
and rejoice with joy and singing.
They shall see the glory of the Lord, *
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weary hands, *
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to the anxious, “Be strong, do not fear! *
Here is your God, coming with judgment to save you.”
Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, *
and the ears of the deaf be unstopped.
Then shall the lame leap like a deer, *
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness *
and streams in the desert;
The burning sand shall become a pool *
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.
The ransomed of God shall return with singing, *
with everlasting joy upon their heads.
Joy and gladness shall be theirs, *
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Bulletins vs bulletin boards, by Seth Godin



Bulletins vs bulletin boards,  by Seth Godin

[Here’s a simple communications hack for small teams and organizations:]

When times are changing and you’re adjusting on the fly, it’s tempting to send another alert.

The rules at the farmer’s market, the latest schedule for a changing event, the status of a server…

When I was growing up in Buffalo, they used to announce school closings on the radio. Twice an hour, we’d huddle around and listen to an endless list of schools (mine started with a W), wasting everyone’s time and emotional energy.
The problem with alerts is that they don’t scale. They create noise. Every time you poke everyone with a bulletin, you’ve taken attention away with no hope of giving it back.

The alternative is the bulletin board.

Want to know how you did on the exam? Go look at the bulletin board. The grades will be posted when they’re ready.

Want to know the latest situation before you head out? Go look at the bulletin board.

Social media got everyone into the bulletin habit, but we left behind bulletin boards too quickly.

And in our digital world, you don’t need to be a computer programmer to have one. Simply create a shared Google doc. It’s free and it doesn’t crash and it’s low tech. (And yes, there are many alternatives that don’t come from big companies).

Give people the link to view the doc. Include it in your Facebook post or your last email on the topic. “Click here to see the latest updates.” Don’t worry about whether your tweet or post (a bulletin) moves down the screen, because everyone who cares already has the link to your bulletin board and you’ve trained them to check it when they want to know the status of your event or situation. It’s not a great choice for a high-traffic site, but if you’re trying to coordinate a few hundred people, it’s a lot easier than trusting social media.
And you can even share editing privileges with your core team, so there’s no bottleneck for updates. You don’t need to get a programmer out of bed in the middle of the night to update the school closing list. It’s a simple thing to update the bulletin board, to keep making it more up to date and complete as your situation changes.

Information on demand is way more useful than information that demands our attention at moments when we’re not interested.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Ways of righteousness and truth




Canticle 19. The Song of the Redeemed.

O ruler of the universe, Lord God,
great deeds are they that you have done, *
surpassing human understanding.
Your ways are ways of righteousness and truth, *
O King of all the ages.
Who can fail to do you homage, Lord,
and sing the praises of your Name? *
for you only are the Holy One.
All nations will draw near and fall down before you, *
because your just and holy works have been revealed.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: 
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A new birth



1 Peter 1:3-4, 18-21
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, *
by divine mercy we have a new birth into a living hope;
Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, *
we have an inheritance that is imperishable in heaven.
The ransom that was paid to free us *
was not paid in silver or gold,
But in the precious blood of Christ, *
the Lamb without spot or stain.
God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory *
so that we might have faith and hope in God.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Fremen principle, by Seth Godin





The Fremen principle, by Seth Godin

If you want to know how to work with new or limited resources, find a population that’s used to not having many alternatives.

Of course Harvard and the others are terrible at distance learning. They’ve had four hundred years of in-person lectures, tenure, accreditation and a waiting list to lean on. Our tiny team at Akimbo has run circles around them online precisely because we didn’t have the advantages they do.

It’s no surprise that American car companies had trouble shifting to fuel-efficient small cars, because their DNA was about wide roads, cheap gas and growing markets. The Japanese had to make do with none of that.

And a home cook who’s used to the unlimited aisles of the modern supermarket isn’t sure what to do when there’s not much to choose from. An Italian grandmother is a better guide in that moment.

When we have alternatives, we compromise instead of commit.

Find someone who has already optimized for the reality you’re about to enter and learn from them.

[The Fremen are the (possibly) fictional natives of the desert planet of Arrakis, who live with very little water.]

"Morning News" by Gary Margolis





Morning News
The first thing you don’t want to do
this morning is listen to the news.
Instead of the red-winged

blackbird clearing his throat.
The low-moaning morning
dove, her broken record
of love. Not that you don’t like
to open your eyes to reality, too.
Whatever it is and isn’t. Or hear
what it is happening in the I.C.U’s,
the dying and recovering there.
Not that you won’t read who died.
Gave up their lives in the line
of their personal, professional duty.
Cleaning a hospital room.
Cooking, nursing, doctoring
the tubes and monitors.
Everyone mask-talking,
as if they are family.
As if they could hear the birds
through the fixed windows.
To remember the sounds,
the songs they make this spring
morning. The numbers rising
and falling like mist in the fields.
sirens singing in the canyons
between apartment buildings.

by Gary Margolis

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Hope



1 Peter 1:13-25 (NRSV)
Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.
For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” That word is the good news that was announced to you.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

A Song to the Lamb



Canticle 18: A Song to the Lamb
Splendor and honor and kingly power *
     are yours by right, O Lord our God,
For you created everything that is, *
     and by your will they were created and have their being;
And yours by right, O Lamb that was slain, *
     for with your blood you have redeemed for God,
From every family, language, people, and nation, *
     a kingdom of priests to serve our God.
And so, to him who sits upon the throne, *
     and to Christ the Lamb,
Be worship and praise, dominion and splendor, *
     for ever and for evermore.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Go deeper and deeper



No longer am I
The man I used to be;
For I have plucked the fruit
Of this precious tree of life.
As the river flows down the hills
And becomes one with the sea,
So has this weaver’s love flowed
To become one with the Lord of Love.
Go deeper and deeper in meditation
To reach the seabed of consciousness.
Through the blessing of my teacher
I have passed beyond the land of death.
Says Kabir: Listen to me, friends,
And cast away all your doubts.
Make your faith unshakable in the Lord,
And pass beyond the land of death.
–Kabir

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Minimalism in a Crisis

Becoming Minimalist Logo

Minimalism in a Crisis

There’s an old boating safeguard of throwing cargo overboard to lighten the load of the vessel during times of distress. The official word for the cargo cast overboard is jetsam.
The throwing off of unneeded cargo or equipment can help to lighten the vessel, to stabilize it during a storm, or remove flammables during a fire.

I can remember first hearing about this practice when I was kid hearing the old story about Jonah and the whale. But this is a practice that is still used today.

I think the analogy is helpful as we consider minimalism in a crisis—the benefit of removing unneeded cargo from our lives. To be fair, this principle applies to any crisis we may be facing such as the loss of a job, an illness, or a natural disaster.

But today, allow me to address minimalism during a societal crisis. Specifically, what we’re all going through right now trying to make the sense of COVID-19.

There is a reaction that some might have during a crisis to gather as much as possible and hoard as much as they can in their homes. We can see that reaction around us as people run to the grocery store or the pharmacy, grabbing as many things as they possibly can in their cart.

But there is an opposite response to this crisis we should consider: throwing off the non-essential cargo from our lives. Rather than hoarding possessions, we would use this crisis to begin removing the ones we do not need to help us find better stability.

Why? Why use this crisis to own less?
Let me offer five important benefits:

1. Freedom.
When we own less, we find more freedom in our spaces and we find more freedom in our life.

When our homes are filled with unnecessary possessions, the environment is constricting and frustrating. But as we declutter our spaces, our homes become calmer and more peaceful.

2. Flexibility.
Another reason we throw off non-essential cargo is the flexibility that it provides us going forward. The world is going to change, no doubt about it. Your life is going to change. Normal will be new.

Who knows what tomorrow holds? Who even knows when this storm is going to end? But when we own fewer possessions, we become more flexible for the future—whether we need to move, find a new job, or make changes in the way we live.

3. Financial stability.
As we own fewer possessions, our life costs less. It costs less to maintain our things. Even more importantly, we begin to buy less going forward. Suddenly, it is easier to find financial stability than before.

4. Benefit others.
Another reason to embrace minimalism in a crisis is because it helps us provide goods to those who need it. I realize, at this point in time, different locations have different guidelines in place for donations. But if your local authorities have deemed it safe, this is an important time to help those who desperately need it.

5. Security.
One last benefit of throwing off unneeded cargo during a crisis is that we begin to look for security in places that can actually deliver. One of the problems in looking for security in material possessions is that possessions never provide the security we desire. That’s why people start hoarding more and more and more. They believe the added items will help them feel safe, but they never do.

Instead, we can turn to friends and family and faith. We can turn to things that we know to be true about ourselves: our talents, our abilities, our work ethic. When we begin to rely on those things for our security going forward, we begin to find more lasting security in a crisis.
Now, don’t mishear me. I’m not saying it is wise to go out tonight and throw away every single thing you own.

What I am saying is this: Whether you are going through a personal crisis or societal crisis, begin to see how owning less can help bring back control of your life. Minimalism will bring intentionality. It can bring freedom and flexibility and financial stability going forward.
As you remove the items from your home and life that you do not need, you will be more stable and more equipped to weather any crisis that you may be going through.
---

Acts of kindness and love




“The best portion of a good man's life: 
his little, nameless 
unremembered 
acts of kindness and love.”  
~ William Wordsworth, poet

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Ryan Holiday: The Important Thing is to Not Be Afraid

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The Important Thing Is to Not Be Afraid

Today's article discusses the importance of courage, particularly in times of stress or crisis. There was no virtue more important to the Stoics than courage and that's why I carry this reminder with me in my right pocket every day.
In scary times, it’s easy to be scared. Events can escalate at any moment. There is uncertainty. You could lose your job. Then your house and your car. Something could even happen with your kids.
Of course we’re going to feel something when things are shaky like that. How could we not?
Even the Stoics, who were supposedly masters of their emotions, admitted that we are going to have natural reactions to the things that are out of our control. You’re going to feel cold if someone dumps a bucket of water on you. Your heart is going to race if something jumps out from behind a corner. These are things the Stoics openly discussed.
They had a word for these immediate, pre-cognitive impressions of things: phantasiai. No amount of training or wisdom, Seneca said, can prevent us from having these reactions.
What mattered to them, and what is urgently needed today in a world of unlimited breaking news about pandemics or collapsing stock markets or military conflicts, was what you did after that reaction. What mattered is what came next.
There is a wonderful quote from Faulkner about this very idea.
“Be scared,” he wrote. “You can't help that. But don't be afraid."
A scare is a temporary rush of a feeling. Being afraid is an ongoing process. Fear is a state of being.
The alertness that comes from being startled might even help you. It wakes you up. It puts your body in motion. It’s what saves prey from the tiger or the tiger from the hunter. But fear and worry and anxiety? Being afraid? That’s not fight or flight. That’s paralysis. That only makes things worse.
Especially right now. Especially in a world that requires solutions to the many problems we face. They’re certainly not going to solve themselves. And inaction (or the wrong action) may make them worse, it might put you in even more danger. An inability to learn, adapt, to embrace change will too.
There is a Hebrew prayer which dates back to the early 1800s: כל העולם כולו גשר צר מאוד והעיקר לא לפחד כלל. “The world is a narrow bridge, and the important thing is not to be afraid.”
The wisdom of that expression has sustained the Jewish people through incredible adversity and terrible tragedies. It was even turned into a popular song that was broadcast to troops and citizens alike during the Yom Kippur War. It’s a reminder: Yes, things are dicey, and it’s easy to be scared if you look down instead of forward. Fear will not help.
What does help?
TrainingCourage. Discipline. Commitment. Calm. But mainly, that courage thing—which the Stoics held up as the most essential virtue.
One of my favorite explanations of this idea comes from the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. “It's not like astronauts are braver than other people,” he says. “We're just, you know, meticulously prepared…” Think about someone like John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, whose heart rate never went above a 100 beats per minute the entire mission. That’s what preparation does for you.
Astronauts face all sorts of difficult, high stakes situations in space—where the margin for error is tiny. In fact, on Chris’ first spacewalk his left eye went blind. Then his other eye teared up and went blind too. In complete darkness, he had to find his way back if he wanted to survive. He would later say that the key in such situations is to remind oneself that “there are six things that I could do right now, all of which will help make things better. And it's worth remembering, too, there's no problem so bad that you can't make it worse also.”
That’s the difference between scared and afraid. One prevents you from making things better, it may make them worse.
After the stock market crash in October 1929, America faced a horrendous economic crisis that lasted ten years. Banks failed. Investors were wiped out. Unemployment was some 20 percent. Herbert Hoover, who’d only been in office barely six months when the market collapsed, tried and failed repeatedly for the next 3.5 years to stem the tide. FDR, who succeeded him, would have never denied that things were dangerous and that this was scary. Of course it was. He was scared. How could he not be? Yet what he counseled the people in his now-legendary first inaugural address in 1933 was that fear was a choice, it was the real enemy to be fought. Because it would only make the situation worse. It would destroy the remaining banks. It would turn people against each other. It would prevent the implementation of cooperative solutions.
And today, whether the biggest problem you face is the coronavirus pandemic or the similarly dire economic implications—or maybe it’s both those things plus a faltering marriage or a cancer diagnosis or a lawsuit—you have to know what the real plague to avoid is.
This life we’re living—this world we inhabit—is a scary place. If you peer over the side of a narrow bridge, you can lose the heart to continue. You freeze up. You sit down. You don’t make good decisions. You don’t see or think clearly.
The important thing is that we are not afraid. That we don’t overthink things. That we don’t get distracted with the worst-case scenario on top of the worst-case scenario on top of the collision of two other worst-case scenarios. Because that doesn’t help us with what’s right in front of us right now. It doesn’t help us put one foot in front of the other, whether it’s on a spacewalk or a tough business call. It doesn’t help us slow our heart rate down whether we’re re-entering the earth’s atmosphere or watching a plummeting stock portfolio. It doesn’t help us remember that we’ve trained for this, that there is a playbook for how to proceed.
Remember, Marcus Aurelius himself faced a deadly, dangerous pandemic. His people were panicked. His doctors were baffled. His staff and his advisors were conflicted. His economy plunged. The plague spanned fifteen years of his reign with a mortality rate of between 2-3%. Marcus would have been scared—how could he not have been? But he didn’t let that rattle him. He didn’t freeze. He didn’t relinquish his ability to lead. He got to work.
“Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole,” he wrote to himself, as it was happening. “Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, ‘Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?’ You’ll be embarrassed to answer.”
The crisis could have crippled him. But instead he stood up. He not only endured it, but he was a hero. He saved lives. He prevented panic from turning the battle into a rout.
Which is what we must do today and always, whatever we’re facing.
We can’t give into fear. We have to repeat to ourselves over and over again: It’s OK to be scared, just don’t be afraid. We repeat: The world is a narrow bridge and I will not be afraid.
We have to focus on the six things, as Chris Hadfield might say, that we can do to make it better. And we can’t forget that there are plenty of things we can do to make things worse. Foremost among them, giving into fear and making mistakes.
Rather, we have to keep going. Like the thousands of generations who have come before us. Because time marches in only one direction—forward.
_______
Now is the time for everyone to show courage. Keep courage close at hand with the Daily Stoic's Four Virtues medallion. In times when order breaks down and the foundations of our lives seem shakier every day, the lion on the medallion represents the fighting spirit and will to succeed that we all need to demonstrate.
 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Jesus comes to Jerusalem




Carol Penner
Coming to a City Near You
Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you.
Jesus comes to the gate, to the synagogue,
to houses prepared for wedding parties,
to the pools where people wait to be healed,
to the temple where lambs are sold,
to gardens, beautiful in the moonlight.
He comes to the governor’s palace.
Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you,
to new subdivisions and trailer parks,
to penthouses and basement apartments,
to the factory, the hospital and the Cineplex,
to the big box outlet centre and to churches,
with the same old same old message,
unchanged from the beginning of time.
Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you
with his Good News and…
Hope erupts! Joy springs forth!
The very stones cry out,
“Hosanna in the highest,
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
The crowds jostle and push,
they can’t get close enough!
People running alongside flinging down their coats before him!
Jesus, the parade marshal, waving, smiling.
The paparazzi elbow for room,
looking for that perfect picture for the headline,
“The Man Who Would Be King”.
Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you
and gets the red carpet treatment.
Children waving real palm branches from the florist,
silk palm branches from Wal-mart,
palms made from green construction paper.
Hosannas ringing in churches, chapels, cathedrals,
in monasteries, basilicas and tent-meetings.
King Jesus, honored in a thousand hymns
in Canada, Cameroon, Calcutta and Canberra.
We LOVE this great big powerful capital K King Jesus
coming in glory and splendor and majesty
and awe and power and might.
Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you.
Kingly, he takes a towel and washes feet.
With majesty, he serves bread and wine.
With honour, he prays all night.
With power, he puts on chains.
Jesus, King of all creation, appears in state
in the eyes of the prisoner, the AIDS orphan, the crack addict,
asking for one cup of cold water,
one coat shared with someone who has none,
one heart, yours,
and a second mile.
Jesus comes to Jerusalem, the city nearest you.
Can you see him?