Memento Mori: Men die not because they are sick but because they are alive. [Article]

Lapham’s Quarterly always has some exceptionally good reads, like this essay by editor Lewis Lapham in the Fall 2013 edition, called Death.

The question “Why must I die?” and its implied follow-up, “How then do I live my life?”, both admit of an answer by and for and of oneself. Learning how to die, as Montaigne goes on to rightly say, is unlearning how to be a slave. 

Check out more about LQ’ here 

Letting go of crutches: Simplifying life [Article]

Leo Babauta discovered the crutches he used in his life (eg smoking) and gave them up.  Quite easy to do, he says:

I meditate, drink tea mindfully, run and workout, go for walks, give myself more space in the day, let go of the expectations/ideals that are causing the stress in the first place. I find pleasure in all of these things, and in socializing with good friends, and in a good book, and don’t need to smoke to find pleasure anymore.

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 do you map a life? [Article]

Ordering the events of a life over a timeline is how social media & the CV do this. Cathy Haines, writing in the School of Life, wonders 

So what if we tried an experiment and mapped our life as we really experience it to be: a map without measurements? One that gives space to events according to their significance rather than their length in clock-time? 

The futility of comparing yourself to others [Article]

Leo Babauta illustrates why we aren’t content with our lives, & why it is a wasted exercise trying to compare yourself to others:

It’s not a comparison that makes sense. You can’t compare apples to apples when you compare yourself to anyone else. Which means it’s a dumb comparison — why would you compare how tangy an orange is compared to a beach? They’re not similar things.

In the middle of the middle [Article]

Robert Fulghum has another interesting view at life, through the eyes of a rag-tag bunch of 13 year olds

You will always be caught somewhere in the middle between where you’ve been and where you’re going, between what you have and what you want. It’s called Now – and it isn’t a place, it’s a condition.

Work, Life, Parenthood & balance – can these words be all used in one sentence? [Transcript]

David Weinberger live-blogging a talk at the Mesh conference by Ryan Carson of Treehouse

“As a father, I realize I’m going to die, sooner rather than later. If I work four days a week, I can send 50% more of my life with my wife and kids.”

The curious experience of middle age [Article]

Linda Nagata, age 52, had her curiosity about ageing piqued when she heard an interview.

When I was growing up, “middle aged” was a synonym for “boring.” Looking ahead across the gulf of years it appeared to me to be a time of life inhabited by people content with a dull routine, with little interest in the new.

She shares the discovery Profesor Simonton mentions in a separate interview..

“Usually the people who keep going are the ones who are open to new experiences… Do something different. Take a risk. Try to believe in the future tense.”