“People who love fitness are happy when they struggle at the gym or to set a new personal record in a marathon. People who love to write struggle with every blank page. If you’re struggling constantly with something you don’t like and don’t want to do, that’s a different story. Figure out what you love first, then challenge yourself in that. That’s a struggle you’ll enjoy.”—Christopher S. Penn
““Have fun” has never shown up on my to-do list. “Laugh until my face hurts” hasn’t made it on my calendar. The Work is important but what are you working towards? What’s the point of your work?”—Nick Wynja
My dear, find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain from you your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you, and let it devour your remains.
For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.
“Just by writing about your work, by doing that dance in your head to find the right words to describe something, you can be thinking through better questions and finding better answers about what you do and how that reflects on who you are.”—Nick Wynja
“Choosing the words to describe your work means you’re doing it on purpose. You’re going on the record as someone who thinks about why they do what they do, and understands how each decision affects the results.”—Sally Kerrigan (hat tip to Nick Wynja)
“This past week, I had some really good conversations. It’s amazing what a little perspective can do for you when you make time to connect with people and really listen. It’s so easy to get trapped in the reverberation of our own thoughts.”—Sean McCabe
Quickly, I’ll relay to you my battle-tested process for making friends with bartenders:
1. Peruse the shelf for Fernet (prnounced fur-nett, not ‘fur-nay’). Order one and ask the bartender if you can buy him/her a shot of fernet as well. (Note: this sequence only works at good cocktail spots. Good ones have Fernet. The bartender’s face when you ask for one is usually a sign about how the rest of this sequence will go. Note: Fernet tastes like peppermint and motor oil.)
2. Order a negroni. This is a classic Italian cocktail, typically not on the menu, but a well respected one… not one made famous by any TV shows or movies. Bartenders, more often than not, respect this decision.
3. Close out right then and there and tip well. You’ll put in your card again later if necessary.
From there it’s normally very good vibes with the bartender. You’re not best friends for life, but you’ve gotten through the walls and into an actual relationship with the person behind the bar… these are good people to know.
“Dare to dream big for the coming year and then actively work to fulfill that vision. It’ll be far more rewarding than reflecting solely upon the immediacy of problems you face today. You won’t remember those in years to come.”—Matt Alexander
Things are starting to suck, but there’s a capacity for change in what we’ve made, who we are, and what we believe. Everything was made, and if we want, we can remake it how we see fit. We only need to want it.
“We used to have a map of a frontier that could be anything. The web isn’t young anymore, though. It’s settled. It’s been prospected and picked through. Increasingly, it feels like we decided to pave the wilderness, turn it into a suburb, and build a mall. And I hate this map of the web, because it only describes a fraction of what it is and what’s possible. We’ve taken an opportunity for connection and distorted it to commodify attention. That’s one of the sleaziest things you can do.”—Frank Chimero
Loose, nonlinear work is what I had always hoped for but never expected to exist, so I trapped myself in linear jobs that were tightly coupled to the paycheck or the benefits or whatever else, making satisfaction impossible.
I had been needlessly self-enslaved, overly eager to justify my own existence.
Create daily. Don’t have any other measure of success other than making something you are happy and proud of, right now, and put it out there for the world to see. Do this for twenty years. Then, even if the world does not come to see, ask yourself if this made your soul grow. Did your art get better? Is it something you can point at and be proud of? I can guarantee the answer will be yes.
Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.
“Nobody does their best thinking sitting at their desk. When you reflect on your biggest “Ah-Ha!” moments, how many of them occurred while you were staring at a screen? If you’re like me, your best thinking happens when you’re not at your desk: taking a walk, going and asking another person for help, drinking a coffee, in the shower. Your desk is for executing; do your thinking elsewhere.”—Justin Jackson
“You can claim to have certain values and you can put them up on a pedestal within your own mind and walk around feeling good about yourself. But don’t ever forget that a person is defined by their actions and your values don’t mean shit if you don’t follow through.”—Gus Mueller (Hat tip to Shawn Blanc)
The art of living is a practice, one that doesn’t end, that doesn’t have a mastery level. It’s a constant letting go, a constant picking up again, and then letting go again. And falling, and getting up without beating myself up.
“The test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald (Hat tip to Merlin Mann)
“There is no such goddamn thing. There is only getting up and doing it all over again, smarter and harder, until something ups and fucking kills you, because that’s the only thing big enough to stop you.”—Warren Ellis (when asked what he does when/if he ever feels like giving up)
“Rejection and envy are parts of the process. There will always be people better than you, more successful than you, and more famous than you. Your work won’t always be liked and you won’t always be the best at what you do, but if you keep at it, people will recognize you.”—Harry C. Marks