Daily Rituals

Once upon a time a writer who was procrastinating pondered what other writers did to be so productive. His research lead to a blog which lead to the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. It’s a book made up of three paragraph ish segments on how 161 people who greatly contributed to society structured their days. These “artists” are from the fields of literature, music, science, psychology, and what category would describe Jonathan Edwards.

There were interesting themes:

~Most of these people were on very good terms with coffee

~The writers/ composers considered 4 hours of focused work sufficient for the day

~Some people made themselves work, others, the work made them live… and that was all they wanted to do

~Regardless, each knew exactly what their work was… and did only that when working

~Most of these people enjoyed simple pleasures and lived modestly

~Most had VERY small circles of friends and preferred a dinner in with those to a night on the town

Of course reading condensed day bios of mega “successful” people is inspiring… but I found it challenging as well. What’s the one thing I need to create/do?

Scary Close

Donald Millar (the author of Blue Like Jazz) wrote a book with a title that describes it well. “Scary Close.” It’s the tale of how he grew emotionally in relating with people and especially his now wife. It’s a good story as stories go, and it gives the feeling that it’s reason for existence is to encourage people to be closer with the ones that they are in proximity to. A gift expression, if you will.

One of the steps he took to have more connection was hire a team to help with his business. (That is a hard step for we fiercely independent self employed people.) In the figuring out what it was going to look like phase, he came to the realization that his business “had become a fund-raising front for a make shift family.” Isn’t that the place we all want to work at?

But really, most of the story is how knowing someone with very good relational patterns softly impacted him for the better. It gives me a new framework for dating etc. and an appreciation for the people I know.

For those that say he has a way of presenting himself in only the best light… this book is different. I think because he transferred that treatment to his amazing wife.

Traveling Light

There’s something about traveling that is magical. The freedom of a schedule you completely set yourself, the excitement of seeing different beauty, the perspective you return home with etc. My favorite part is how well I get to know my travel buddies. It’s just fun to hang with people who are all going the same direction and enjoying the route there. I don’t care where there is. That way of living is more fun than day to day 9-5 (or whenever to whenever) life.
Whenever I come back to the life that is described as grounded, I try to use my freedom of scheduling to make it feel the same as a trip… but it doesn’t work. Maybe I’m not going the same direction as my friends… maybe I’m not enjoying the route.
I just had a conversation w/ a friend who sucessfully decluttered to owning only enough to fill one suitcase and one rubbermaid container. She pointed out that it’s easier to connect with people.

Maybe that’s another reason why traveling with people feels more refreshing than regular life. Maybe we have more room to bond when we have less stuff. Mathematically it makes sense.

My friend’s name is Nadine Janzen if you want to look out for her. She’s living a life worth reading about.

Leagues of People

The whole idea of a person being out of another person’s league is one that doesn’t sound logical. It’s all around, but something about it doesn’t feel complete. 

If it’s true that each person is made in God’s image or that we are all the same or that we are all connected (depending on your belief structure) then how can there be strata of humans? What’s the deciding factor? Who is deciding? (Groups of people are fickle.)

As a friend pointed out a few years ago, you can look around a crowd and see who belongs with whom. There are some people that the whole room wants to belong with, but by appearance choices etc. it’s obvious that their personalities would clash.

Maybe it’s deeper. Maybe every human being is amazing. Maybe everyone has God’s fingerprints. Maybe some people see that mark in themselves and see it in other people very easily. Maybe this is why they like to be around them.

Maybe there is a stratification, but it’s not something you earn. Maybe the “leagues” are just depths of knowing how awesome you are and recognizing the awesomeness in other people.

And MAYBE, if you or I are with a guy who doesn’t see how amazing we are, who rolls his eyes, or doesn’t listen when we talk, or isn’t thoughtful, maybe those are the loudest signs that you or I are out of his league.

Because if we are all awesome, it is easy to value that in who we are with and for them to value that in us.

Resting in work

I keep hearing how work is hard and how people want vacations and how retirement sounds fun etc. etc. etc.

Which sounds like the general perception of work in the parable of the workers. (Matthew 20:1-16) people at the beginning of the day agree to work for one unit of money. People at the end of the day get the same offer and take it too. When payment comes, it just doesn’t feel fair. Some people have “worked” [read “toiled”] longer.

But, if work if a form of worship, and we are resting in it… we shouldn’t be more exhausted from working more. Research shows we come alive when we are doing something important, and if we take God’s “advice” about taking one day off to set a tone of rest, we can rest in our work… so someone working longer wouldn’t deserve more payment… they would have already gotten it by working.

This feels related to Dan Pink’s research on motivation. What he and many other economists have found is that when more money is offered for cognitive tasks… employees perform WORSE! Crazy. So we need money to meet our basic needs (obviously, mooching isn’t the best order of things) But, after that, being paid based on performance messes up performance.

What the what.

Fluid Money

There’s a chart here of the amount of money people make based on personality type….

This Is How Much Money You’ll Make Based on Your Personality

Granted, it looks like a wide disparity, but it seems to be about $30,000 difference per year, after taxes, that’s not big.

What I find interesting is that extraverts earn more money. Extraverts by definition need more stimulation in life… etc. so they want to go out on the town more etc. etc. etc. introverts are content staying at home with a good book… so… the people that prefer a more spendy lifestyle by their nature make more money to support it.

This sounds like a zero sum game.

Why does the American dream push for wealth?

Velcroed at the Heart

The art dealer in “Same Kind of Different as me” shared more of his story in the book “What difference do it make?” I’m only 1/5 of the way through, but I need to park these thoughts before I can continue.

Thought one: is the title of this post. Ron was detailing the story of his marriage… and how praying together brought the intimacy that his wife wanted which brought him the intimacy that he wanted. She said she just wanted to know his heart. I like this thought and I like how he worded it in the book. That phrase has tones of Denver’s view on life, and that makes me love it all the more. I want to be velcroed at the heart one day to someone. I’m afraid of that (it doesn’t sound safe), I’m more afraid of that not happening.

Thought two: Denver’s points on evangelism. His perspective on receiving tracks is jarring. The people didn’t even think that he might not be able to read. And, invitations to church… even if he could read them, of course he wouldn’t want to go where every other person was all cleaned up and he couldn’t have his only worldly things. In thinking about the way he words it, a theme of rejection has bubbled up. It seems prideful and quite the pinnacle of rejection to tell a person that they are welcome to adopt your habits without caring about who they are. He also says that most homeless people have heard more sermons than some preachers have preached in their entire life. (So true in Atlanta.)  Denver points out that Jesus sent the disciples OUT. And on that note about the disciples… we don’t need perfect people ministering to us…. people need people.

That makes so much sense [in theory]. I don’t know how to apply it, especially when I’m trying to walk with wise people so I can be wise, and when I’m trying to not spend time with fools and making sure to learn none of their ways. And, when I’m trying to figure out what it means that “he who has too many friends comes to ruin.” And, when I feel quite certain I don’t know the God who is love.