I love experience roundups like this. Some interesting insights:
“The pull of distractions and urges to buy things (to solve problems or give us pleasure) is incredibly strong. Consumerism pulls on us every day, every time we watch TV, read online, see friends or strangers using products … and results in us owning too man possessions and getting too deep in debt.”
“I experimented with giving up goals after being very focused on goals for years. It was liberating, and it turns out, you don’t just do nothing if you don’t have a goal. You get up and focus on what you care about.”
“The deeper I dive into mindfulness, the more I find that you can’t really work with anything important without it.”
Merriam Webster just added 1,000 new words to the dictionary. Observations:
• Ghosting someone is now an officially awful thing humans do to each other.
• Macaron wasn’t in there before? Weird.
• Microaggression (a slight, often unintended discriminatory comments or behaviors) is one of the new words that gives me hope for the future. Building a shared vocabulary for the ways racism and sexism pervade our lives shapes the way we think, which makes shit like microaggressions less crazy-making.
One of the ways I really woke up to how bad racism is in the U.S. was reading an article in Ebony magazine about how to talk to your kids about police. It was in amongst articles about skin products and travel, right there in the middle of all the regular lifestyle magazine stuff. Something about the juxtaposition really brought it home for me emotionally. I knew that talking to your kids about the police is a rote conversation in our black communities, similar to a “birds and bees” talk, but I didn’t understand it emotionally until that moment.
After that, I started going deep every time I heard about another black person hurt or killed by police. I followed all the news, educated myself whenever it happened. I was shocked, and eventually devastated, by how mundane it is. It has become necessary to scare the shit out of your very young American kids, scare them to tears, so they don’t accidentally reach for their license in the presence of an officer who then kills them because they believe the kid is reaching for a gun.
Anyway, if you’re not black and you feel confused, or like there’s something you’re missing, consider just tuning in a little more. Watch the video above, maybe subscribe to Ebony (it’s like $18), follow a dozen black people on Twitter. Don’t bug any strangers, don’t argue with anyone on social media, just listen to the conversation and feelings happening in a few of our black communities. Google stuff you don’t understand, and see what you can learn.
How we spend our time, and by extension our lives, is one of my favorite subjects. Tim Urban’s essay, The Tail End, changed how I think about time. He makes visual charts of a 90-year human life in years, months, weeks, and days. Then he walks through how many more ocean swims he’ll likely have, how many more slices of pizza.
Two things got my attention:
You’ll read a finite number of books in your lifetime. For some reason, this had never occurred to me. Reading an average of twelve books a year, I have 688 books left. It sounds like a lot, and also not enough.
If your kids don’t live near you as adults, by the time they move out you’ve spent 90 percent of the time you’ll have with them. Aaaaaaag! Urban concludes that it’s key to build a life near the people you love. Truth.
Anyway, go read this. It will give you that self-helpy kick where you savor things more acutely for a few weeks afterward. And then maybe read it again.
If you’d like to learn another language in your (limited) downtime, the Duolingo app is incredible. It has quick, simple practice sessions that let you accumulate the basics fast. You can set it to how many minutes a day you want to practice, and it tells your percentage of fluency at the end of each practice session. It front loads the commonly used words and phrases, so I’m at 14 percent after only two weeks. So motivational and gamelike, try it!