[caption id="attachment_99" align="alignright" width="288"] Leonardo DaVinci, one of history's great Generalists created a little painting called "The Mona Lisa"[/caption]
Lebron James is a beloved individual (outside of Cleveland). He parties, he endorses stuff, and he certainly isn’t short on cash and why is this? Because he’s spectacularly good at one thing. The man is debatably one of the best basketball players of all time and it’s clearly paying dividends. Society is riddled with examples like this; individuals who excel above and beyond others at a single thing. We are also taught, frequently, that hard-work and studious effor in one particular endeavor will make us exceptional individuals.
But growing up, one of my favorite concepts was the “Renaissance Man”. While politically incorrect, the concept was that an admirable quality in a person was possession of… well… all admirable qualities. These individuals would study math, science, history, art, language, and politics, never mastering one but acquiring a deep and interested knowledge of all of them. In a society of specialists and specialized economies, this is a concept that, unfortunately, has fallen by the wayside.
But I’m here to carry its standard. A recent article on 99u entitled Picasso, Kepler, and the Benefits of Being an Expert Generalist noted the myriad benefits to scientific and creative professionals that stem from a broad range of knowledge. The understanding of many topics allows one to draw analogies in other topics, spurring creativity and innovation. Even on a personal level, the idea of being a Generalist is a powerful one. When you think of adjectives to describe yourself or a list of your favorite hobbies, do they all follow a streamlined career or interest path? No. You love many things and so do I.
So embrace that. Get curious and learn about everything that interests you. Do it patiently and with conviction and see the world the way it was meant to be seen: as a proud and sophisticated Renaissance person. You’ll be more interesting and more interested, see and learn things you never thought you would, and enrich your life. Wave your standard high brethren and tell the man where to shove it in two different languages, three different mediums, and with a well-written but emotionally subtle haiku.
[caption id="attachment_109" align="alignleft" width="400"] Clear the mind and see what fills it up.[/caption]
One of my favorite subjects to write about here on CFiST is peace and one of the greatest ways to attain that peace is through meditation.
For some, (even me) it can be a weird experience to try something new. My first tip is very simple: be open-minded. The scientific and psychological benefits of meditation are well-documented, so allow yourself to know that your actions are beneficial on many levels and that millions of people meditate every day.
So how does it work? How do those of us without access to Tibetan monks know what to do? It’s very simple:
"You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis."
- Chuck Palahniuk
[vimeo 58045466 w=400 h=300]
[caption id="attachment_126" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Beautiful.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_136" align="alignright" width="315"] This is what 60 hours a week of work looks like... if you're a cat.[/caption]
I am not bragging when I say that I do everything and always have. In high school my schedule was packed from before sunrise to after sundown and then I’d do my homework. Even today, I simply cannot find enough hours in the day for all the things I want to do. This, lads and lassies, is not always a good thing.
We are creatures of limited resources. Diet and exercise can stretch those resources by leaps and bounds but no one possesses infinite physical and mental energy. When that energy runs out day after day after day, we experience the dreaded BO: burn out.
Burn out is as real and significant a phenomenon as laziness , and it is potentially worse. But there are ways to safeguard yourself:
(Note: For those of you who are new to CFiST, I have been pretty active on the Tumblr iteration of the site for a few weeks now.)
For several weeks now I have endeavored to fill each day with ambition; taking steps toward my life goals. But It would be hypocritical of me to advise about burnout and not take my own advice.
In that spirit, I am taking a week long “vacation”. I will still attend work, I will still meditate, I will still endeavor to preserve the basic tentants of my lifestyle, but with all other things (coding, language learning, blogging, productivity, music, searching, and scheming) we will back after this word from our sponsors.
In the mean time, enjoy this rainbow pigeon.
[caption id="attachment_158" align="alignright" width="221"] Just in case you were curious, this is me. Though I'm usually in color.[/caption]
And just like that, I'm back!... Temporarily. The blogging bug is a powerful one indeed. Still on my "vacation" (see previous post for details) and building up steam for the next forever, but couldn't stay away.
As some of you may recall, the original iteration of this site comes from Tumblr, but in an effort to expand the flexibility and design of my site, I'm slowly creeping on over here to Wordpress. All posts that appear on the Tumblr will also appear on here and vice versa, but in the mean time I am going to "dump" all my previous posts on here systematically over the next couple of days.
Feel free to leave comments or tips on any post. Be what you wanna be, starting now.
[caption id="attachment_163" align="aligncenter" width="720"] In the dictionary next to "tranquility"[/caption]
I am an app-aholic. I love getting on my iPhone and discovering what tasty new code candy will improve my life in some way shape or form. Generally, the applications are productivity based; helping me organize my thoughts or daily habits in ways that breed success. The overwhelming majority of the rest are aimed at improving my capacity for life consumption. By this I mean, anything that allows me to somehow make sense of all the books, movies, places, restaurants, recipes, thoughts, articles, and albums that I want to experience.
The habit is a consistent one. I am constantly looking to expand my realm of impression. I’ve always felt that by digging deep into the gold mine of culture that our world offers, I will somehow become a better person. So I create lists of books, rate old movies that I’ve seen, and delve into historical albums that influenced their generation. But certain apps don’t have the books I’m looking for. I’ll try this one. What movies did I watch in 2007? Better just sit down and knock that off in a weekend. This list of influential artists seems a bit biased toward one genre or another, so I’ll just listen to the lists from several different sources. But that’s gonna take time, I’ll have to listen to those while I’m reading NPR articles. You know I’ve always been interested in science, this new science blog seems like a good fit to my Google Reader account. I’ll have to remember to add that to my to do list…
The task of trying to take in, be, and do everything is a daunting one. I equate it to the image of a man carrying a tall stack of books, knees buckling under the weight, struggling to keep the stack from crushing him. The task has lead to persistent and sometimes debilitating anxiety in my life and I know now for certain, after quite a bit of reflection and professional advice, that making the trivial far more important than it really is, is the culprit.
“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
- C.S. Lewis