A lifetime in the making (with soundtrack)

Burn old logs. Drink old wine. Read old books. Keep old friends.*
(El Sabio)

We have the technology of an advanced civilisation balancing precariously on an emotional base that has not developed much since we dwelt in caves.**
(Alain de Botton)

It’s not what you do, it’s if you should do it.

Seth Godin began my thinking today, asking of the sentences I’m writing (it could be whatever we’re doing):

This sentence, then, what’s it for? If it doesn’t move us closer to where we seek to go, delete it.^

I have Fun Boy Three‘s It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way that You Do It) playing in my head as I am reading this.

I can write my sentences but should I? Nassim Taleb adds to Godin’s thinking for me when he considers the real test of his writing would be its longevity:

So, my real judge being time, it is the stability and robustness of the readership (that is, future readers) that counts.^^

I then read a post from Maria Popova on existential and emotional intelligence – not something that grows passively over time but is a skill we learn:

[Emotional maturity] is, as Toni Morrison well knew, ‘a difficult beauty, an intensely hard won glory’ – the product of intentional character-sculpting, the slow and systemic chiseling away of our childish impulses for tantrums, for sulking, for instant self-gratification without regard for others, for weaponising our feelings of shame, frustration, and loneliness.*^

We can get all the stuff, all the technology, but where’s the help about how to use it? To do the right thing at the right time takes a lifetime of learning and practising and is found in the aged and tested expressions of our lives and loves.

Now I have Queen’s track I Want It All and I Want It Now playing in my head.

I finished off with some thoughts from James Carse about how finite players, if the prize they seek is life, are not properly alive:

They are competing for life. Life, then, is not play but the outcome of play. Finite players play to live, they do not live their playing.^*

Not so for infinite players who live to play rather than play to live:

Infinite players die. Since the boundaries of death are always part of the play, the infinite player does not die at the end of play, but in the course of play.^*

Carse is here echoing the chiseling process Popova has described in the skill-learning of emotional intelligence. The ego dies and something much larger lives in is place.

(*El Sabio, or, King Alfonso X, quoted in Nassim Taleb’s Skin in the Game.)
(**Alain de Botton, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Alain de Botton on Existential Maturity and What Emotional Intelligence Really Means.)
(^From Seth Godin’s blog: “What is this sentence supposed to do?”)
(^^From Nassim Taleb’s Skin in the Game.)
(*^From Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Alain de Botton on Existential Maturity and What Emotional Intelligence Really Means.)
(^*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)

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