I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (via malevichsquare) Cf. George Saunders:

If I just stay fully engaged in whatever has presented itself, things will be fine. That is, I try not to think about things like: Next, I begin MY NOVEL!

Life is, to some extent, an extended dialogue w/ your future self about how exactly you are going to let yourself down over the coming years

The Service Patch – NYTimes.com

Many people today find it easy to use the vocabulary of entrepreneurialism, whether they are in business or social entrepreneurs. This is a utilitarian vocabulary. How can I serve the greatest number? How can I most productively apply my talents to the problems of the world? It’s about resource allocation.

People are less good at using the vocabulary of moral evaluation, which is less about what sort of career path you choose than what sort of person you are.

In whatever field you go into, you will face greed, frustration and failure. You may find your life challenged by depression, alcoholism, infidelity, your own stupidity and self-indulgence. So how should you structure your soul to prepare for this? Simply working at Amnesty International instead of McKinsey is not necessarily going to help you with these primal character tests.

[…] It’s worth noting that you can devote your life to community service and be a total schmuck. You can spend your life on Wall Street and be a hero. Understanding heroism and schmuckdom requires fewer Excel spreadsheets, more Dostoyevsky and the Book of Job.

I missed this last month, so many thanks @davidbhayes for the post!

The Service Patch – NYTimes.com

The question arose as to what we would do differently if we were immortal. […] I answered that I would travel more. Later the question was asked, what would you do differently if you found out you had only a short time to live. I answered again that I would travel more. Click, buzz, whirr…does not compute, does not compute. […] Given that I would travel more if I was to live either less or more, the probability that I was at just that level of mortality that I should not be traveling now must be vanishingly small.

Alex Tabarrok. Swap out “travel” for whatever it is that you happen to value a lot. (Got reminded about this post via Ben Casnocha.)

10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You

6. Read obituaries. They are just like biographies, only shorter. They remind us that interesting, successful people rarely lead orderly, linear lives.

7. Your parents don’t want what is best for you. They want what is good for you, which isn’t always the same thing. There is a natural instinct to protect our children from risk and discomfort, and therefore to urge safe choices.

10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Susan Ertz. (via). Cf. Seneca:

You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.

They cannot admire you for intellect. Granted–but there are many other qualities of which you cannot say, “but that is not the way I am made”. So display those virtues which are wholly in your own power–integrity, dignity, hard work, self-denial, contentment, frugality, kindness, independence, simplicity, discretion, magnanimity. Do you not see how many virtues you can already display without any excuse of lack of talent or aptitude? And yet you are still content to lag behind.

Missing the Point | RyanHoliday.net

Getting up and going for a run everyday doesn’t need to be “justified” a few months later by competing to finish an arbitrary number of miles in a certain amount of time against a bunch of other unhappy losers. No, you run because keeping a healthy body and clear mind is part of your job as a human being. Because its a commitment you made to yourself that you’re obligated to keep no matter how tired, how busy or how burn out you feel. In other words, it’s practice—proof of your ability—in always having a little bit extra in you.

Missing the Point | RyanHoliday.net

For if he shall begin to fall into dotage, perspiration and nutrition and imagination and appetite, and whatever else there is of the kind, will not fail; but the power of making use of ourselves, and filling up the measure of our duty, and clearly separating all appearances, and considering whether a man should now depart from life, and whatever else of the kind absolutely requires a disciplined reason, all this is already extinguished. We must make haste then, not only because we are daily nearer to death, but also because the conception of things and the understanding of them cease first.

Marcus Aurelius, reminding you that even if you live a long life, those last years probably won’t be very useful. Have a great day!

Hypomnema – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

…a Greek word with several translations into English including a reminder, a note, a public record, a commentary, a draft, a copy, and other variations on those terms.

The context was Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, but it sounds like a good description of Tumblr, Twitter, and a number of wonderful things on the internet. I first came across hypomnemata (sleep + thread…) in The Present Alone is Our Happiness (recommended in Ryan Holiday’s super awesome reading list email archive).

Reading the Wikipedia entry, it made me realize what I often (mostly?) use this Tumblr for: to make notes to myself, shaping and re-shaping my perspective. Many of my favorite posts (tagged, e.g., work, opinions, empathy, arguments, happiness, death, travel, thinking, philosophy, stoicism, psychology) function as a sort of admonishment that I really do re-read every now and then. It’s an attempt to refresh and re-calibrate, internalize. This journaling/commonplacing thing isn’t new, but there’s something satisfying about knowing that one strand of the tradition goes back to an old Greek word. See also commentarii, commonplace, memoranda.

Hypomnema – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia