Happy New Year!

My one week away from writing has turned into a month. Again.  Rather than beat myself up about it, which is a common trait of 9s, I’ve decided that it’s okay.  I don’t know that I had anything coherent to write over the past month, anyway.  With Christmas, travelling, etc. it was also a busy time.  I hope anyone who stops by here from time to time will find it in their hearts to forgive me.

Since it is a new year (at least, the vast majority of us seem to agree to that fiction), I can’t help but turn to thoughts about what I’d like to accomplish in the coming year.  Perhaps it’s better, however, to think about what I’m going to BE like in the coming year.  That will involve doing, but it is also about just being the best version of the person I’m meant to be. Or at least becoming that person a little more.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to list all of my “resolutions” here.  I just wanted to share a few thoughtful articles I’ve read in the past week or so that highlight the ways that others are grappling with this issue.  As I grope forward in this year, I may (or may not) share what’s going on in this regard.  For now, here is a little link dump you may enjoy.

  • Go Deeper, Not Wider – David Cain suggests that we should all consider taking a year to go deeper with the pursuits, experiences, and things we already have.  Rather than take on a new hobby, go deeper with one you already have.  In my case, I should renew my attempts to go deeper with learning how to play my banjo.  I shouldn’t succumb to the idea of taking on a new instrument.  Consumerism pushes us to indulge our desire for newness.  I think Cain’s idea could be a useful fiction for breaking out of that cycle, at least for a while.

As long as we live in a consumer culture, it may always be easier to go wider than deeper. Going deeper requires patience, practice, and engagement during stretches where nothing much is happening. It’s during those moments that switching pursuits is most tempting. Newness doesn’t require much at all, except, sometimes, a bit of disposable income.

  • The Snow Leopard and the age of Climate Change – Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard traces his journey late 1973, the year after his wife died of cancer, through parts of Tibet to see the elusive snow leopard in its native habitat.  It’s both a travelogue and a Buddhist reflection on the meaning of life (and death).  This article revisits what the book means as climate change threatens the habitat of the snow leopards.

Much of “The Snow Leopard” is about the difference between the physical act of seeing something and the more profound, spiritual act of perceiving it. The latter, Matthiessen thought, requires escaping one’s ego-bound point of view in order to appreciate the unity of life, which “man must perceive . . . if he is to transcend his fear of meaninglessness, for no amount of ‘progress’ can take its place.”

  • Smarter, Not Harder – I’m not a huge fan of “productivity” literature, which can sometimes seem to veer too much into the territory of treating the reader as though they are defined by what they do for a living.  I don’t really identify that way.  Having said that, this particular article was one of the more approachable and practical ways to enhance effectiveness and highlighted for me, in a visual and compelling way, how focusing on the top 2 or 3 things you need to do is much more effective than trying to do everything at once.
  • What Deep Breathing Does to Your Body – This was interesting short read on the benefits of the most basic thing we can do for our health and peace of mind: Slow down and breathe a little more deeply.

 

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