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Posts tagged "advice"

Jul 22, 2014
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It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away.”
Abraham Lincoln, 1859

Jul 19, 2014
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Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people — and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts.

Jul 03, 2014
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Jun 26, 2014
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If you can fall in love again and again, if you can forgive your parents for the crime of bringing you into the world, if you are content to get nowhere, just take each day as it comes, if you can forgive as well as forget, if you can keep from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical, man you’ve got it half licked.
— Henry Miller on aging

Jun 17, 2014
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Seneca, On The Shortness of Life

I really love the Penguin Great Ideas series of nicely designed skinny paperbacks. (I particularly like the Montaigne edition.)

I didn’t finish this one, only read 2 out of the 3 essays. (One of the promises I’ve made myself this year is that I won’t continue on with a book if it’s become a chore reading it.) But I liked the title essay (well, not really an essay, but a letter to Seneca’s friend, Paulinus).

On guarding your time (“Nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing.):


  Men do not let anyone seize their estates, and if there is the slightest dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms; but they allow others to encroach on their lives — why, they themselves even invite in those who will take over their lives. You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life! People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.


This is followed by a passage that haunts me, when Seneca says to “hold an audit of your life”:


  Call to mind when you ever had a fixed purpose; how few days have passed as you had planned; when you were ever at your own disposal; when your face wore its natural expression; when your mind was undisturbed…


On not mistaking age for wisdom or a well-lived life:


  You must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long. For suppose you should think that a man had had a long voyage who had been caught in a raging storm as he left harbor, and carried hither and thither and driven round and round in a circle by the rage of opposing winds? He did not have a long voyage, just a long tossing about.


The case for reading:


  [Those who read] not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs. All the years that have passed before them are added to their own…. We are excluded from no age, but we have access to them all.. why not turn from this brief and transient spell of time and give ourselves wholeheartedly to the past, which is limitless and eternal and can be shared with better men than we?


On climbing your own family tree (realizing now I basically plagiarized Seneca for Steal Like An Artist):


  We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us, that they were given to us by chance. But we can choose whose children we would like to be. There are households of the noblest intellects: choose the one into which you wish to be adopted, and you will inherit not only their name but their property too. Nor will this property need to be guarded meanly or grudgingly: the more it is shared out, the greater it will become.


On worrying about your “legacy”:


  Some men, after they have crawled through a thousand indignities to the supreme dignity, have been assailed by the gloomy thought that all their labors were but for the sake of an epitaph.


And some good one-liners:

Life is long if you know how to use it.
We are not given a short life but we make it short.
You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.
Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die.
The man who… organizes every day as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day.
The present is short, the future is doubtful, the past is certain.
Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.
They lose the day in waiting for the night.
Filed under: my reading year 2014

Seneca, On The Shortness of Life

I really love the Penguin Great Ideas series of nicely designed skinny paperbacks. (I particularly like the Montaigne edition.)

I didn’t finish this one, only read 2 out of the 3 essays. (One of the promises I’ve made myself this year is that I won’t continue on with a book if it’s become a chore reading it.) But I liked the title essay (well, not really an essay, but a letter to Seneca’s friend, Paulinus).

On guarding your time (“Nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing.):

Men do not let anyone seize their estates, and if there is the slightest dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms; but they allow others to encroach on their lives — why, they themselves even invite in those who will take over their lives. You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life! People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.

This is followed by a passage that haunts me, when Seneca says to “hold an audit of your life”:

Call to mind when you ever had a fixed purpose; how few days have passed as you had planned; when you were ever at your own disposal; when your face wore its natural expression; when your mind was undisturbed…

On not mistaking age for wisdom or a well-lived life:

You must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long. For suppose you should think that a man had had a long voyage who had been caught in a raging storm as he left harbor, and carried hither and thither and driven round and round in a circle by the rage of opposing winds? He did not have a long voyage, just a long tossing about.

The case for reading:

[Those who read] not only keep a good watch over their own lifetimes, but they annex every age to theirs. All the years that have passed before them are added to their own…. We are excluded from no age, but we have access to them all.. why not turn from this brief and transient spell of time and give ourselves wholeheartedly to the past, which is limitless and eternal and can be shared with better men than we?

On climbing your own family tree (realizing now I basically plagiarized Seneca for Steal Like An Artist):

We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us, that they were given to us by chance. But we can choose whose children we would like to be. There are households of the noblest intellects: choose the one into which you wish to be adopted, and you will inherit not only their name but their property too. Nor will this property need to be guarded meanly or grudgingly: the more it is shared out, the greater it will become.

On worrying about your “legacy”:

Some men, after they have crawled through a thousand indignities to the supreme dignity, have been assailed by the gloomy thought that all their labors were but for the sake of an epitaph.

And some good one-liners:

  • Life is long if you know how to use it.
  • We are not given a short life but we make it short.
  • You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.
  • Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die.
  • The man who… organizes every day as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day.
  • The present is short, the future is doubtful, the past is certain.
  • Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.
  • They lose the day in waiting for the night.

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Jun 12, 2014
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I have a big piece of advice! Stop “aspiring”!!!!! Your aspirations end now!!!! […] The freaking coolest thing about living in the year 20XX is that you don’t have to have anyone’s permission…. Just start making whatever you want! Don’t save your good ideas for some big-wig executives or networks. Just do them right now! Don’t be precious with your ideas, just put them out there.
— Ian Jone-Quartey’s advice to aspiring animators works for anybody who wants to make things. Recommended.

May 04, 2014
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My Uncle Alex Vonnegut, an insurance salesman who lived at 5033 North Pennsylvania, taught me something very important. He said that when things are going really well we should be sure to notice it. He was talking about very simple occasions, not great victories. Maybe drinking lemonade under a shade tree, or smelling the aroma of a bakery, or fishing, or listening to music coming from a concert hall while standing in the dark outside, or, dar I say, after a kiss. he told me it was important at such times to say out loud, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

Apr 30, 2014
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Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs. Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way the feel…

Mar 17, 2014
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Kurt Vonnegut Once Sent This Amazing Letter To A High School


  What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: 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.
  
  Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.
  
  Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?
  
  Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals [sic]. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

Kurt Vonnegut Once Sent This Amazing Letter To A High School

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: 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.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals [sic]. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

Feb 27, 2014
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Harold Ramis’s advice to young artists

via Mother Jones > @janetpierson:

You have to live your life with a certain blind confidence that if it’s your destiny to succeed at these things, it will happen, if you just continue to follow a straight path, to do you work as conscientiously and as creatively as you can, and to just stay open to all opportunity and experience. There’s a performing motto at Second City…to say yes instead of no. It’s actually an improvisational rule…It’s about supporting the other person. And the corollary to that is if you concentrate on making other people look good, then we all have the potential to look good. If you’re just worried about yourself—How am I doing? How am I doing?—which is kind of a refrain in Hollywood, you know, people are desperately trying to make their careers in isolation, independent of everyone around them.

And I’ve always found that my career happened as a result of a tremendous synergy of all the talented people I’ve worked with, all helping each other, all connecting, and reconnecting in different combinations. So…identify talented people around you and then instead of going into competition with them, or trying to wipe them out, make alliances, make creative friendships that allow you and your friends to grow together, because someday your friend is going to be sitting across a desk from you running a movie studio.

Ramis is quoted in the “Stand Next To The Talent” section of Steal Like An Artist.

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