Life and Living

Time to Transform

Any normal year, I’d be prepping for my annual pilgrimage to this place: Londolozi, South Africa. This year, though I can’t go there, Londolozi is helping me see this pandemic in a different light.

In the 1970s, two South African teenagers named Dave and John Varty were devastated by the sudden death of their father. The boys were advised to sell the family’s barren cattle farm in the bushveld. Instead, they decided to try something they called “restoring Eden.” Not realizing how crazy this idea was, the Vartys spent years repairing the terrain and waterflow, bringing native plants back to [...]

Sometimes You Can Find Happiness Right Behind You

Whenever I hear a flight attendant say, “Remember, your nearest exit may be behind you,” I think, “As above, in air travel, so below in ordinary life.”

Most of the time we focus only on what we already believe. Fixated on these ideas, we don’t notice anything that could spark new ways of thinking. Since we evolved to be highly alert to danger and difficulty, we can get stuck staring at them, seeing only what we believe rather than believing what we actually see. This is a recipe for suffering and disaster. But shifting our focus—looking in [...]

In Order to Move Forward, We Must Learn to Be Still

“I’m sick of people telling me I’m going to save the world,” said my friend Eliza over coffee. “I know they mean it as a compliment, but it feels like one hell of a burden.” A charismatic activist, thought-leader, and author, Eliza (not her real name) gives people hope and confidence when both are in short supply. No matter what horrific mass shooting or eco-crisis comes up on the news, Eliza finds a way to help people believe everything will be okay. Her energy seems boundless. It isn’t.

“I’m just so tired,” she told me. “I’ve been doing so much [...]

May all our scores be very low

Doggie Do-Good Camp was supposed to last two weeks. That’s a long time to be separated from a dog you’ve just adopted, but when we got Claire, our emergency backup Golden Retriever, it seemed necessary. She was anxious, jittery, and unresponsive to even simple commands. After two weeks, a Doggie Do-Good trainer called to report that Claire needed more time. “Claire is one of the cutest dogs we’ve ever worked with,” said the trainer. There followed a charged silence. The trainer took a deep breath and added, “Her scores are, er, very low.”

It was hard to contradict, but still, harsh, [...]

Getting Unstuck

Right now, I’m beginning—all right, planning to begin—several new projects. I’m going to launch a new fitness routine, declutter my closets, and start working with a new editor on my current book. It’s all hugely exciting, and I’m feeling so… stuck.

I don’t mean literally, of course. I’m physically free to start any of these projects at almost any moment. But my mind has been working overtime to convince me otherwise. I keep getting bogged down in what internet guru Zefrank calls “the terrible space between zero and one.” I know I want to do some awesome things—I can almost [...]

Like Violets in Early Spring

So in spite of everything, violets are blooming in the forest around my house. One day there were none, the next day, they’re everywhere.

I’ve been chatting about this with Elizabeth Gilbert. In her book BIG MAGIC, Liz cites a mathematician whose father told him to publish his ideas quickly, because “When the time is right for certain things, they appear at different places, in the manner of violets coming to light in early spring.”

In science this is called “multiple discovery.” It happens a lot: calculus, oxygen, and evolution were discovered at the same time by different scientists.

Well, last week, [...]

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