Everything’s amazing, and yet everything’s mundane

Progress is how the miraculous becomes mundane. Many of our ancestors would have given limbs for the privilege of seeing what’s on the other side of our window shades in the sky. Glad all we need is to give up our cynicism about flying.

from a blog post by the inimitable Doc Searls. 

Very often, I forget that if only I stop staring at some screen or book I’m engrossed in & look up, something fascinating is happening all around me. Whether it is people’s conversations, or Nature’s thandava, something always is happening. The mere fact that I can type this on some plastic-y object, & things magically appear on a screen that’s glowing, & with the push of a button, all 12 of my blog readers can see my thoughts – isn’t that miraculous?  

What other miracles have I missed today because I’m so busy pretending to be the center of the universe? What have you missed?

Bonus link: Everything’s amazing, but nobody’s happy

Neuroscientists and the Dalai Lama Swap Insights on Meditation [Article]

Christof Koch accompanied a team of physicists, psychologists, brain scientists and clinicians to the Drepung Monastery in the quiet town of Mundgod, Karwar, in southern India, at the invitation of the Dalai Lama. He compares the Western mode of education & life with what the Buddhist monks learn:

We prefer to be distracted by external stimuli, conversations, radio, television or newspapers. Desperate not to be left alone within our mind, to avoid having to think, we turn to our constant electronic companions to check for incoming messages.

Yet here we had His Holiness, a 77-year-old man, who sat during six days, ramrod straight for hours on end, his legs tucked under his body, attentively following our arcane scholarly arguments. I have never experienced a single man, and an entire community, who appeared so open, so content, so happy, constantly smiling, yet so humble, as these monks who, by First World standards, live a life of poverty, deprived of most of the things we believe are necessary to live a fully realized life. Their secret appears to be mind control.

How much of your life are you selling off? [Article]

David changes the frame of reference for working. In a long(ish) essay, he articulates the reason why more people are preferring to ‘retire’ early from employment:

…the great majority (of people) prefer the work phase’s evenings and weekends. We like to be able to decide what to do with our lives. Those of us with jobs have arranged to sell off large parts of our lives (8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for decades) to employers, in exchange for money that we can use to build a life that makes us happy.

He also finds a common theme in people who have done such a change:

They observe the relationship between their happiness and their spending, and they stop wasting their income on things that don’t return much happiness. The main difference between the ER (early retirement) crowd and regular working people is that they strive to be rational with their money, in terms of what it actually does for their quality of life.

There’s quite a few links with more material at the end of that article, if this topic interests you.

The Unhappiness Motivator [Article]

Scott Adams wonders if having a manual job in one’s youth is a good motivator for success. In The Unhappiness Motivator, he asks how much of a role unhappiness plays in peoples’ ability to plan for success. His concern is the level of homework that kids have these days that he feels develops disgust in kids to avoid any sort of mental work.

How to avoid work [Article]

Advice from the 1950’s from a career counselor, William J Reilly rings true to this day. As he says in his book, How to Avoid Work, “life really begins when you have discovered that you can do anything you want.” This echoes what Thomas Edison said when asked about his secret to success. ” You do something all day long, don’t you? Everyone does. If you get up at seven o’clock and go to bed at eleven, you have put sixteen good hours, and it is certain that you have been doing something all that time. The only difference is that you do a great many things and I do one. If you took the time in question and applied it in one direction, you would succeed. Success is sure to follows such application. The trouble lies in the fact that people do not have one thing to stick to, letting all else go.”


One of the many joys of having a small child at home is the gift of laughter. Any time of the night or day. Comes without invitation. Or expectation. Or warning.

The little angel comes up to me today to remind me that I have to read her a story.

How many, ask I.

Silly question.Deserves a ruthless answer.

She holds up three fingers of her hand.

Five, she says.

Too much confusion for my accounting brain. Three or five, I ask her, pointing out the apparent variances in the two numbers.

Short pause.

She prefers the spoken number – Five. A dazzling smile. I get a hug & a kiss to help make up my mind.

Laughter. Both of us. Then her mother joins in too.

No negotiations possible when laughing!

Fast asleep now.

My latest goal: At least one hearty laugh a day.

Happiness, I think, is an inside job.