16 Life-Learnings

The Water-Lily Pond

The Water-Lily Pond

The marginalian has beautiful and poetic writing about philosophy and life.

She wrote about 16 life-learnings from 16 years of writing the newsletter.

  1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind
    • cultivate capacity for negative capability, the ability to embrace uncertainty
    • it's more rewarding to understand than to be right
  2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval
    • "prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. it causes you to work on not what you like, but what you'd like to like" - PG
  3. Be generous
    • with your time, resources, giving credit, and with your words.
    • to understand and be understood are among life's greatest gifts, every interaction is an opportunity to exchange them
  4. Build pockets of stillness into your life
  5. You are the only custodian of your own integrity
    • Maya Angelou: "When people tell you who they are, believe them. But when people try to tell you who you are, don't believe them.
  6. Presence > productivity
    • Annie Dillard: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives"
    • productivity robs us of the capacity for joy and wonder that makes life worth living
  7. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time – Debbie Millman
    • it's something fundamental and impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy
    • overnight success is a myth, our present definition of success needs to be redefined.
  8. Seek out what magnifies your spirit – Patti Smith
    • who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them and hold on to them
  9. Don't be afraid to be an idealist
    • choose to innovate and uplift rather than catering to existing commercial demands (optimizing for virality)
    • create content that lifts and educates society (E.B. White), shift demand from superficial to meaningful, enriching collective cultural experience
  10. Don't just resist cynicism – fight it actively
    • cynicism is uncreative, unconstructive and spiritually corrosive
    • live with sincerity and act from a place of constructive, rational faith in the human spirit
  11. Question your maps and models of the universe
    • continually test them against the raw input of reality, our maps are still maps, just approximations of truth, our incomplete representational models always leave more to map
  12. There are infinitely many kinds of beautiful lives
  13. Forgive, forgive, forgive
    • the richest relationships are lifeboats, but also submarines that descend into the most unfathomed trenches of the soul where our deepest shames and vulnerabilities live
    • "forgiveness is the alchemy by which shame transforms into honor and privilege of being invited into another's darkness and having them witness your own with the undimmed light of love, of sympathy, of nonjudgemental understanding"
  14. Choose Joy
    • if Viktor Frankl can exclaim "yes to life, in spite of everything!", any one of us can
    • Joy is not a function of life free of friction and frustration, but a function of focus
    • Herman Hesse: "the little joys" are the slender threads which we weave the lifeline that saves us in a world full of chaos
  15. Outgrow yourself
    • Joan Didion: “we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not,”
  16. Unself
    • we're living through a pandemic of selfing – rampant self-celebration mistaking applause for connection and likes for love
    • self-concern is the antipode of wonder.