The most basic of human instincts is to avoid pain.
When we feel cold, we put on a jacket. When we feel hungry, we eat. When we’re abused, we run, or fight back to stop it. We’re built to avoid falling down, wired to not step out in front of a moving vehicle, and taught to pursue survival, comfort, and safety.
I just spent two weeks in Paris. I saw – on a near-daily basis – things of extraordinary beauty: the surprising sight of the Eiffel Tower, backlit in pink and orange at sundown or bristling in sparkle late at night; humans memorialized in stone and gold and marble, expressionless and majestic at the center of squares and parks; miles of grey and cream apartment buildings from another century, with delicate molding and tiny wrought-iron balconies.
In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself, in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost. It is a hard thing to speak of, how wild, harsh and impenetrable that wood was, so that thinking of it recreates the fear. It is scarcely less bitter than death: but, in order to tell of the good that I found there, I must tell of the other things I saw there.
I first read this quote as a freshman in college, in Dante’s classic Inferno. Chronologically, I was not in the “middle of the journey” of my own life. However, this one phrase deeply resonated with me at that particular point in my life:
I recently came across a single phrase* that got me thinking about my attitude towards much of what I would like more of in my life: material resources (yes, I’m talking about money), relationships (yes, I’m talking about getting married and having children), and even spiritual fulfillment (yes, I’m talking about God).
Here’s to being vulnerable: for most of my life I’ve struggled with perfectionism. I’ve felt I had to make the rightchoice in every single situation, however seemingly inconsequential. Did I study the right subject in school? Did I say the right thing in that conversation? Am I wearing the right outfit? Did I eat the right thing for lunch? I used to obsess over decision I had made, agonizing over whether I had made the “wrong” one and whether that would taint a (ridiculous) aspiration to live perfectly. Continue reading “How to fail forward”→
One of my favorite French phrases borrowed from the English language is le week-end. In French, “week” is semaine and “end” is dernier. I guess the French allowed week-end to slip through the typically impenetrable fortress of the French language to make it just a little easier to reference those glorious two days at the end of every work week.
In theory, we rest and recuperate on Saturday and Sunday. Le probleme is that the French- and many other cultures- do le week-end so much better than most Americans do. When we do have “time off”- which is often rare- we have the tendency to fill those extra hours with more scheduled time. Grocery store runs, hours at the gym, and quick coffee dates with friends end up dominating days off, or hours after work. Continue reading “Why you should schedule rest”→