Read. Think. Write. Repeat.

Sunday Selection 2022-02-27

It’s almost two months into the new year, and what an eventful two months it’s been! The winter weather continues here in Massachusetts. There are a couple feet of snow on the ground, and a dusting of snow on the trees. I spent the morning watching the sun come up and make the snowy trees glow. My north-facing windows means I get to see this light show twice a day. Today it’s bright and sunny and the sky is clear with some white clouds in the distance, and that makes the biting cold worth it.

And with the stage set, here’s the first Sunday Selection the year. Enjoy!

Why I (Still) Carry a Notebook Everywhere

I’ve been journaling (on and off) by hand for several years now, and though I also carry a pocket notebook everywhere, I can’t say I really use it very much. But the experiences and stresses of the last few years (and being stuck at home for long periods of time) have given me a new appreciation for the importance of being present and really observing and paying attention to the world around me. And while meditation and regular walks have helped with that, maybe more diligent use of my notebook would be another step in the right direction.

Probable Impossibilities: Physicist Alan Lightman on Beginnings, Endings, and What Makes Life Worth Living

As readers of this site might know, I’ve been reading a lot about Buddhism over the last few years, in addition to practicing meditation. It’s interesting to see similar ideas pop up in all kinds of other places, such as this article. Though Alan Lightman is talking about the origins and evolution of the physical universe, he very eloquently tells us about how everything is transient, changing and in a constant change of evolution. He also makes a fascinating argument, from a scientific standpoint, that the Self is an illusion. But even if you’re not looking for Buddhist insights in non-Buddhist writing, but are simply curious about the universe and our place in it, this is a wonderful read.

As an aside, this is an article from The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings) by Maria Popova, which I feature here on a regular basis. One of the things I like so much about Popova’s style is how she doesn’t shy away from writing beautifully long, meandering, yet very coherent sentences!

How to Want Less

And from the universal to something much closer to home. I’ve been following Arthur Brooks’ series on happiness in The Atlantic over the last few months, and this is perhaps his most comprehensive article on the subject. Again, it’s interesting to see Buddhist themes pop up in other places, and this time it’s the idea of non-attachment to your goals and ambitious. It’s a long read, but stick through it and you’ll be rewarded with ideas and advice that are both philosophical and actionable.

Midnight Mass

At some point in the last few years I got really into watching horror shows. I even worked my way through The Strain in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and then gradually went through American Horror Story. While I’ve enjoyed all of those, Midnight Mass is my new favorite. There are interesting characters, philosophical musings, a careful soundtrack, a slow buildup, ample twists and turns and an absolutely explosive and unexpected ending. I’ve been careful not to binge-watch it because there are only 7 hour-long episodes and I’ve been wanting to stretch out and savor the experience as much as I can.