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Never Retire - 7 Takeaways No. 151
Humility, Technology, Hope, Retirement, Self-care, Thinking, Extraordinary
1. “What’s life for?”
To Know Ecstasy You Have to Know Despair – John P. Weiss – (Blog)
I found the first part of this essay moving. A musician — Nick Cave — was asked by a 20-year-old about the futility of life when so much of it goes against their values. One statement in particular resonated:
You may also find that some of the values that you perceive now as incontestable truths will be looked at with suspicion, even contempt, by the generations that come after you—a humbling realisation if ever there was one.
Difficult to conceive of, right? And yet, humbling if we admit it’s true. Another bit of advice that struck me are the two qualities he believes will improve your life immeasurably: humility and curiosity. When you think about it, accepting the eventual questioning and or change of the truths we hold so dear today involves a very healthy dose of humility.
Do this: Have humility. Be curious.
2. “Technology doesn’t make our lives easier”
Issue 262 – Kai Brach – (Dense Discovery)
I’m going to both agree and disagree with this one. The premise is that technology has not fulfilled the promise of more leisure time, but has encouraged us to fill what time we have with even more than before. I agree. The culprit, apparently, is capitalism. Not sure I agree.
We increasingly live a ‘just in time’ life because, at a systemic level, there’s pressure to pack in as much stuff as possible at both a consumption and production level. We’re just as dissatisfied, only busier.
I think I agree with this, however. Where I disagree is in the absolute nature of the statements, and its absolute impact on the individual. I know I’m biased, but while, yes, technology allows me to do more — much more — than I ever could without it, I still get to choose what to do and how and when to do it. The essay’s position sidesteps the choices we all can make, making things seem more onerous and personally inevitable than they might be.
Do this: Choose wisely.
3. “Rationalism combined with hope”
If You Want to Build, You Have to Believe – Simone Stolzoff – (every.to)
The premise here is that faith is necessary. And while this is not a religious article, the author explicitly defines all faith to be valuable. Ya gotta believe in something.
Believe the world is irrevocably broken and it will keep you from working to improve it. Believe that everything is just fine and there’s no reason to be part of the change.
That faith may be in a deity, in humanity, or just in progress itself, but it’s required to move forward.
He includes a quote from Maria Popova, that I love.
Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté.
Do this: Have hope. Have faith. Keep thinking critically.
4. “Never retire.”
Byron Wien’s 20 Life Lessons – Byron Wien – (Blackstone)
Another list of wisdom from someone further down the path than I am (he’s 90+, I’m … not). He shares many items that resonate. Some I acknowledge I’ll never do, even though they’re valuable, others spark interest and consideration.
The takeaway? Well, to be honest, it confirms my existing opinion, so it must be right, right?
If you work forever, you can live forever. I know there is an abundance of biological evidence against this theory, but I’m going with it anyway.”
It’s an interesting list overall.
Do this: Choose a vocation or avocation you can love until you die.
5. “Anything counts as self-care if it makes you feel good”
What’s On Your Happy List? – Sarah Knight – (No F*cks Given newsletter)
It’s almost-but-not-quite common sense: self care makes you feel better, so things that make you feel better can count as self care. I know that’s not 100% accurate, but it opens us up to ideas we might not otherwise consider.
That’s exactly what happened to the author. She made her “Happy List”, and then made one of those items happen in a way that a) worked for her, and b) make me chuckle. I won’t spoil it here, as it benefits from the story.
Do this: Consider what makes you happy.
6. “People dislike thinking more than they have to”
40% of people willfully choose to be ignorant. Here’s why – Kevin Dickinson – (Big Think)
It’s a small study, but an interesting one. The author’s takeaway is that people want to have an excuse for their actions, ignorance being a common one.
It may stem from laziness, not paying attention, or not wanting to take the time to learn more. Whatever the case, they favor the quick-and-easy decision
I would actually add another cause: overwhelm. We’re all overwhelmed with information and news and pressure to conform to one expectation or the other. Sometimes staying intentionally ignorant is as much a coping mechanism as anything else.
Do this: I know this sounds odd, but I believe it to be valid: choose wisely what to remain ignorant about.
7. “Good, bad, awful, and occasionally illegal”
Wild Minds – Morgan Housel – (Collab Fund blog)
The guy who literally wrote the book on aerial combat was, apparently, an unmanageable jerk. Isaac Newton spent an inordinate amount of time studying literal magic and alchemy. Steve Jobs was not someone you wanted to work for directly. Elon Musk … is Elon Musk.
people who are capable of achieving incredible things often take risks that can backfire just as powerfully
Years ago there was an individual who was absolutely brilliant, and responsible for several of the technical innovations in early versions of Windows. He was also unmanageable. I often referred to him as “a loose cannon with exceptionally good aim”. He was worth the trouble.
The ability to be extraordinary in one area often correlates with severe deficiencies in others. But it all comes as a package.
Do this: Be careful who you admire.
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More random links & thoughts
Now add a walrus: Prompt engineering in DALL-E 3 – I’ve been playing with DALL-E 3, as you’ve probably noticed. Learned a few interesting tips, and confirmed its gaslighting abilities.
The Great Social Media–News Collapse Big Tech’s relationship with journalism is much more complicated than it appears.
Full list on the sources page.
What I’m Reading
It Can’t Happen Here – Sinclair Lewis
The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman