Should we work? The answer to this question for most of our human history has been obvious. Survival required it. But slowly, the life of leisure has become possible for a greater number of people. The problem with possibilities is that they always create the dilemma of choice. The Rise of the Life of Leisure Up until 500 years ago, only a rare few (I need to find estimates) among the estimated 107 billion humans that have lived, had the an economic option of not working to survive. Even then, I suspect, most of those people were in a social position that required it. The leader of a people group might have enough wealth to avoid working, but what would happen to the group, or them, if they stopped leading? In the past few hundred years, the concept of a life of leisure has become increasingly feasible for some individuals. Technological innovation has allowed us
Tracking Time I recently wrote about plans I have to tweak a time tracking system I’ve been using for close to a decade. I’ve been breaking down time spent into the things it consists of rather than the physically observable action. Similar to how a nutritionist might break down a meal into its elements; carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, sugars, etc. This is the second post in the series where I look at various elements of how we spend our time. The Beneficiary The second batch of elements I will write about is who the beneficiary of our current actions is. As I’ve observed how I spend my time, all of it consists of; enjoying the now, investing in the future, giving it for the sake of others or wasting it. The beneficiary is either me right now, someone (possibly me) in the future, someone else or no one. Each time block we spend will consist
Tracking Time I’ve been tracking my time for close to a decade and over that time, thanks largely to the logistics of this process, the categories I use to bucket my time have evolved. What started with three simple categories; labor, leisure & human functions, eventually evolved to include ten categories. Even those gave me problems though. For example both driving & biking to work count as commuting, but they are clearly different. How do you account for those differences and the impacts they will have on your life? Because of this, I’ve recently begun thinking of how I spend my time in a more reductionist manner. I’ve been breaking down time spent into the things it consists of rather than the intended result. Similar to how a nutritionist might break down a meal into its elements; carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, sugars, etc. I have a notion that separating the goals of my time from
The Atlantic, published a cover piece in May 2016 titled, The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans. The subject was the unstable financial position that many seemingly successful people are in. The article was well written by an author who declares himself a part of the ashamed population he is writing about. As he ruminates on his situation, there was one thing I couldn’t help but notice – even after researching the topic and writing an article on it, he remains blind to the item he can most easily impact. He writes, “The only thing one can do is work more hours to try to compensate. I long since made that adjustment. I work seven days a week, from morning to night. There is no other way.” The above statement bothers me because it is a fallacy that is unfortunately shared by far too many people. The other option is, of course, that you can spend
“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” -C.S. Lewis In the same way, our goal should not be to own fewer objects simply for the sake of it. Our goal should be to develop a healthy relationship with the objects in our life – our consumption of them and desires for them. Our goal should be to reach a state where we think about them less, thus allowing us to think more about other topics.
A mushroom looms like a single entity. Like a tree. Like an animal. Like a man. But, in fact, what we see is just one fruiting body of a large fungal organism. An organism that can grow to cover miles. The largest organism we know of on earth. The fruit appears suddenly – almost randomly. An overnight success. But the organism has been growing and storing energy. It has been invisible but working hard. The fruit is simply a stage that is more visibly apparent. Like the fruit of the mushroom, our works are only the visible fruit of a hidden underlying network. Our accomplishments are derivatives of what is growing and what has been done. The overnight success is the results of years of movement and work in a focused direction. Our work and the work of those before us. I spend a lot of time and energy thinking a lot about a few
In a few months I will turn 30 and while that number has no particular significance to me, I started to realize while watching the Olympics that, physically speaking, I am hitting my peak. While competing at Rio earlier this month, Michel Phelps described himself as a ‘mature athlete’ and commentators made note of how much effort it took for him to climb out of the pool after one of his races, describing it as ‘gingerly’. He announced his retirement this year. After 16 years of racing at the Olympic level, he is ending his career. He is 31 years old. 30 30 tends to be when people stop being able to compete at their athletic peak. There is some variance per athlete, but the trend is pretty consistent. Here are some data I grabbed from the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (my new favorite association) that shows the fastest
My Bike Commute For the past five years, I’ve commuted to work primarily by bike. I find it to posses the positive attributes of being healthy, flexible, and consistent – while also avoiding the negative attributes of being stressful, costly and polluting. In many ways it is the perfect opposite to the dreaded car commute. Biking was a constant for me the entire time I lived in San Francisco. Many parts of my life changed, but my 20 minutes to unplug as I pedaled through the streets of the city was something I could depend on. It was how ramped up my energy to prepare for the day and it also served as a buffer to help me unwind at the end of the day. That all began to change when I moved north to Seattle last August. The distance between my house and office was over twice as far as it had
I just finished reading some great points in this Salon article about sexism and how it has changed/improved but not disappeared and how that relates to the Clinton campaign. It bothers me that this is the key conversation about Hillary though. Her campaign is doing a great job owning the discussion, knowing that most people don’t want to be sexist & using it as a sort of shame tactic – ‘if I don’t vote for her they say it means I’m sexist, so I guess I’ll vote for her.’ The fact is, millennials don’t support her because they don’t trust her – that is what they keep telling everyone. She is viewed as the least trustworthy of all of the candidates – including Trump. It isn’t surprising. She is involved in (as of my last count) four federal investigations and won’t answer important questions about connections to large institutions that
The standard of living we enjoy on a macro level is always tied to hard work. That is the way we’re able to fight against the forces of nature in order to be able to control our environment, food supply, safety, etc. Historically, as far as I can tell, our standard of livings has always increased based on one of three things happening: Creating economic disparity Borrowing from another time Increasing productivity As I look at the standard of living I see around me, I see signs of all three. We could not afford much of what we use if it weren’t being created thanks to laborers making cents per day. We live in an economic system that enjoys the benefits of credit transactions that do not yet have a defined future end. We through ingenuity and hard work have created tools that let us do more with less effort.