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May 2023

Post image for How Does the Room Sound Right Now?

Thousands of books have been written attempting to point people to the difference between mindfulness and “paying attention” as we normally do. I’ve read a lot of these books, and even written a few.

There are simpler ways to get at the concept though.

If you want to grasp what is usually meant by the word mindfulness*, all you need to do is to find the answer to a simple question: how does the room sound right now?

By “the room” I really just mean wherever you are. You could be in a room, or outside, or in a stadium, in a cave, scuba diving among coral reefs, whatever. The point is there’s always something to hear, wherever you are.

If you wanted to know how the room sounds, how would you get the answer to that question?

Well, you’d listen to it.

Try it now. Find out how the room sounds. Take a good twenty seconds to inquire, by listening.

. . .

So how does it sound?

You might say, “Well I hear the laptop fan whirring, I hear a large vehicle rumbling around out there, maybe a garbage truck. There are some distant voices, and also some pigeons warbling out on the eavestrough. I can even hear my breath escaping my nose at times.”

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Post image for How to Think About Politics Without Going Insane

The first thing every human learns about politics is that there are things you can say that will make people hate you, and things you can say that will make people approve of you.

What those things are depend on the beliefs of the people around you, which depend mostly on where and when you grow up. Say aloud that you think thieves should go to jail forever, and in some places your peers will agree with you and make you feel good and normal, and in other places they will call you a horrible person and whisper about you at the other lunch table.

The same thing happens with every politically-tinged belief you utter, even before you even know politics is a thing. If you suggest that hunting for sport is wrong, visible tattoos are a reckless life choice, conscientious people don’t drive SUVs, or church teaches people to live moral lives, you’ll get either approval or pushback, depending on who’s around.

You learn quickly what the others want to hear and what they don’t, ingraining within you a sense that some of your thoughts make you worthy of acceptance, and some make you contemptible.

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Post image for 10 Things I Want to Communicate to the Human Species Before I Die

We all have our causes. Henry Heimlich was determined to teach the world that you can save a choking victim with abdominal thrusts. I want to convince the world to eat unseasoned vegetables, help irksome strangers, and do eccentric thought exercises.

. . . and many other things. Here are ten insights I feel a need to impress on the world somehow.

Take my pleadings as seriously as you like. I’ve written in greater detail about some of these points already, and will elaborate on the others eventually.

1. Your shopping cart doesn’t need to go wherever you go.

This is a minor point, but most people don’t seem to know this. You do not have to wheel your cart right up to every item you want to buy at the grocery store. The cart is a bin with wheels, not a car. If there’s any appreciable cart traffic, you can park it in an out of the way place, then fetch any nearby items much quicker on foot. It’s seldom necessary to navigate a two hundred pound cargo bin down an aisle choked with other carts, just because a few items on your list are in that aisle. Gather on foot, move around the store with the cart. This method ensures you never need to block anyone from accessing anything or passing by, and will almost never have to wait behind someone else who is doing that. Treat the cart like a mothership rather than a truck.

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