Part III of my abandoned book project on learning languages... Parts I and II here. Part I has context on why it was abandoned.
Part II of the abandoned book project on language learning. Part I here...
Another throwback, this time from 2017. This was the first chapter of an abandoned book project on learning languages, before I realized I didn't really have much new to say about the actual mechanics of learning languages. Though I do still quite like the "theory" I talk about, and do plan to explore these ideas more in future writing. It will not be a "how-to" guide like this was, though.
This abandoned book is quite long, however, so it'll be coming in multiple parts...
I've always been a mediocre swimmer. I could never swim more than a lap or two before I was exhausted and needed a break. Even more embarrassingly, I could never submerge my head. I always had a primal fear of getting water up the wrong way somehow, and mastering the mechanics of breathing in time to my stroking seemed beyond me.
In short, I always wanted to learn how to swim properly, but didn't know how to improve. Swimming more laps didn't seem to help, and I just wore myself out faster. I also didn't have the money to hire an instructor and wasn't thrilled by the idea of taking classes anyway. It was obvious I needed some major tutelage but I wasn't sure a class was the way to go.
I read about Total Immersion on Tim Ferriss' blog and always wanted to give it a try. It seemed to be exactly what I needed: a relatively inexpensive multi-media program that promised to decrease my swimming drag, allowing me to go farther with less effort and far more gracefully than before. The fact that it was recommended by Ferriss made me trust it and want to try it more than I would had I stumbled across it on my own, as Ferriss' whole schtick is accelerated learning. The only issue would be finding a swimming pool, as I didn't have access to one.
A college friend and I, both interested in product design, recently challenged each other to begin keeping a "bug list". This is an idea we'd read about in a book by some of the founders of Ideo, the famous product design firm. A bug list is where you keep a list of all the problems you encounter or run into on a daily basis. The problems that seem the most promising become fodder for later product ideas. All good products start with a problem they're trying to solve. The bigger the problem (I've heard it described as solving shark bites versus mosquito bites) and the more people who have that problem, the more impactful the product will be.
More fundamentally, the bug list is a tool to get ourselves in the habit of looking for problems to solve. Everytime we complain, get frustrated, lose something, etc. during the day we make a note of what the problem was. Or I would sit down at the beginning of the day and think of ten or more problems I had as I mentally ran through my routine or through the previous day's activities.
The nature of our challenge was to each come up with ten new problems a day for two weeks. Then we would have a call to compare and figure out the best problems we would like to solve. That's close to 300 problems we came up with between the two of us over those two weeks. Most of the ideas were shit, of course- things that couldn't really be solved with products or even software, or that were more personal problems or societal problems. Or problems that would require a multi-million dollar research team to solve, rather than two young engineers working in their spare time. Many of the problems were small problems, too- problems few other people likely saw as an issue, or that were mosquito bites that wouldn't be worth the hassle of using a product to solve. Still, we developed a short list of things we'd like to try and solve at some point.
Even if none of these ideas go anywhere, coming up with them has been a powerful process for me. I see three distinct advantages.
On Wednesday some friends and I were talking about the role anger plays in being a balanced man, but how hard it is to express it nowadays. It is taboo to get angry. We take it personally, even when the anger is used only to express and not to attack. The angry person is considered to be unreasonable, aggressive. Anger has associations of violence and brute force.
The book Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton changed my mind about anger. We all experience anger when our boundaries are crossed or our expectations are not met. It is a normal human emotion that, like any other, can be expressed positively or negatively. It can be used to destroy or to create. The problem arises when we don't express the anger we feel in the moment. It builds up inside of us and poisons us. If we are angry at a friend or loved one and we don't express it, it can ruin the relationship. If we don't express our anger, it makes it impossible to move on and continue enjoying the moment. We're yanked out of our bodies and into our heads, disconnected from the flow of what is constantly unfolding.
Nobody likes feeling anxious. Me least of all. Yet here I was, sitting in a bar, nervously sipping a diet coke (I wanted to be sober) as my trembling hand automatically brought the glass to my lips every three seconds. The source of my anxiety? That I had made it my mission to go up to a beautiful girl and tell her she was pretty. It was something I'd never done before and it scared the bejeebus out of me. And it was symptomatic of a deeper problem: I felt, and still feel, fear and anxiety at the idea of flirting with a pretty girl, period.
Sure, I'd gotten better. In fact, I was barely able to have a conversation with a girl until I was 17 or 18 or so. Back in 9th grade I heard that one cute girl liked me. It should have been the easiest thing in the world- "Hey, I like you too. Want to hang out in the cafeteria at lunch?" Or whatever 13 year old kids do on dates. I have no idea, I wasn't going on dates back then, so don't expect me to know. Anyway, what did I do instead? I avoided her for the rest of the year. I was a real charmer back then, let me tell you. I no longer avoid girls that like me, hence my assertion at the beginning of the paragraph that I have, in fact, improved. But I also just seem to stumble into my relationships, without any intentionality on my part. If I see someone I like, I can sometimes talk to them but not in a way that lets them know that I like them. I'm often friend-zoned by girls I liked, or worse, flat-out ignored because I never actually engage or connect with them, and when I do, I'm too nervous and uptight to be myself. Each time I move somewhere new, I struggle to meet new people and make new friends. Which is a huge problem by itself because I love travelling and exploring new places.
Back to me at the bar, though. As I sipped my soda, I knew which girl I wanted to talk to: a bewitching redhead sitting on the couch behind me. I just had to get up and go talk to her. Easy. Just stand up and talk a step towards her and the hardest part is over.
An hour and two diet cokes later, I was still frozen at the bar, unable to move. I might as well have been chiseled out of stone.
Talking to her shouldn't cause so much anxiety, fear, and distress. After all, what harm could possibly occur to me as a result of chatting up a pretty girl? But obviously my body was trying to keep some part of me safe from some danger, even psychologically. Ah yes, the ego.
We have a certain way of seeing ourselves and our relationship to the world. Our ego, our identity. It gives a sense of narrative to our lives. It is how we define ourselves. And in a crazy, unpredictable world, that definition can be a bedrock of stability. But that also means that we don't want to touch that bedrock, even to build something magnificent in its place, to build a palace or a cathedral. We don't want to see that bedrock cracked or damaged in the least. The ambiguity and uncertainty of having our fundamental beliefs about ourselves challenged is often too much. Our mind wants to protect itself. Our ego wants to protect itself- even if it means forsaking what we most desire and dream about. As a result we feel anxiety, one of the ego's chief self defense mechanisms.
Rollo May wrote an entire book about anxiety and our relationship to it (among other things) called Man's Search for Himself. Anxiety as May defines it is a particular and acute form of fear towards something that threatens our very existence "or to some value we hold essential to our existence". Which sounds great, since danger can hurt us. But anxiety makes no distinction between physical danger and psychological danger, where we merely risk a bruised ego and a hit to our status. But where did that ego come from in the first place? Do the values it so dearly protects allow us to fulfill our unique potential? Or, more likely, is it psychological baggage we've inherited and have never questioned? The ego writes the scripts we play out on a daily basis and the narratives we tell ourselves about who we are. These narratives seem useful because they let us connect with others and categorize the world. But we end up falling for our own fiction and believing it. And it is, ultimately, fiction. Can the absurd, happenstance world we live really be so easily understood as we would believe in listening to our own stories? To believe in a God means to accept that full understanding always eludes us and is for the Divinity alone, while an atheist must just as readily admit that the narratives we tell are a man-structure bolted on to a series of cosmic coincidences. Yet still we're attached to our fictions. Anxiety and its various manifestations- despair, loneliness, and the like- threaten to overwhelm us should we ever question our fundamental narrative. We've retold them so many times (even if only to ourselves) that they have ossified, weighing us down like rocks in the sea.
Yet anxiety must be confronted and reconciled if positive change is to occur and we are to grow as men, women, and humans. One of the May's phrases that has stuck with me is that "anxiety, like fever, is a sign that an inner struggle is in progress... anxiety is evidence that a psychological or spiritual battle is going on." Anxiety only occurs when we are physically or psychologically threatened. Since real physical danger is so rare today, anxiety for a Westerner in the 21st century almost certainly signals psychological danger to our existing conception of ourself. That "danger" arises from dissonance between two different choices: one that validates the existing narrative, and another that challenges it. We want to be healthy but also want that cake. We want to meet women and be charming and likeable but don't want to be rejected (and be put in a situation where we clearly weren't liked). We want to be honest and just, but could use the money and no one is looking anyway.
Like a fever, no one wants to feel anxiety. To fight it or avoid it, however, is to ignore the signs our own body is sending us. Anxiety is a warning flag that we wave to ourselves whenever a choice we're about to make is fundamentally a choice about who we are and what we value. It exhorts us to choose carefully and mindfully. Anxiety is the cognitive dissonance between who we are and who we want to be, the clarion that calls us to plant our flag on one side of that dividing line or another. That pretty girl makes me nervous and anxious because feeling rejected by her would challenge my view of myself as a charming, likable guy. Or I'll feel stupid when I don't know what to say and I'll have to reconsider how witty and intelligent I really am. Or on a meta-level, I like the certainty of these beliefs about myself. Putting myself in a situation where they can be challenged means being in ambiguous, uncharted terrain, and that is scary to someone (like myself) who has those beliefs. All this validates my current ego-identity construct. Chatting the pretty redhead up puts a tiny hairline fissure in these beliefs, because I've acted in spite of them.
How do I reconcile my incongruous actions with my old beliefs? The easy thing for the mind to do is to find new beliefs that fit the actions. Not all at once, of course. But sustained action over time means the fissure grows larger and more unstable, until it is impossible for our mind to ignore- it loves a nice, clean narrative too much. So it invents a new one in line with our recent behaviors. Motivation follows action, in spite of early anxiety, not the other way around (and in the absence of anxiety). Aristotle was right when he said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Perhaps we can come to accept a healthy level of anxiety as a badge that we are working on the tasks truly important to our actualized selves.
I'm not saying confronting anxiety is always the right choice to make- only each of us as individuals can make that decision based on our individual circumstances, despite the many voices we have to filter through who would tell us how to live our lives- parents, friends, peers, governments. But we do have to recognize that by bowing to anxiety or working past it we are affirming a certain conception of ourselves and a certain set of values.
To take this idea even further, anxiety can be seen as a primal plea from our depths to live up to our ideal selves and the values we would hold dear. Anxiety isn't something to be avoided at all costs but is rather a reminder to live up to our highest conception of ourselves, and to take the action that affirms our higher self in spite of our attachment to our current identity. It is an opportunity to step into a new identity, to transform ourselves and be reborn; just as the seeds of the Italian Renaissance (literally rebirth) grew out of the anxiety and uncertainty of one of the most rapine epochs of European history (just look up the infamous Cesare Borgia, a man known for his cruelty in an era known for its cruelty, to see what I mean).
Viktor Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning tells us that we're being questioned by life every day, and that each one of us must answer for our own lives, responsibly and freely. Emotions like anxiety and fear may be the most pressing questions of all to answer. These answers must be lived, because the questions are asking us who we are and what we value. Our lives are an answer and an affirmation, one way or another, whether we choose them consciously and courageously or let circumstances select them for us. If change is truly what we desire, then we must be willing to follow Rumi's advice:
Destroy the house to find the treasure chest
Then, when the treasure's found, you may invest
In building there a palace even more
Sumptuous than the one there was before.
I'm thinking of all this (I'm not really sure what I think until I put pen to paper or words to screen) because I am in the process of wrestling with it. I'm not writing about what I think of anxiety and fear but rather what I'd like to think of anxiety and fear, and all the potentialities that perspective permits. That redhead I wanted to talk to? After an hour I finally found the courage to talk to her. I breathed deeply and counted to three, turned around, and took a step towards her couch...
Which was empty. My indecision, like a howling wind, had snuffed out the tiny flame I'd lit, the hope that maybe, maybe this time I would be different.
I wrote recently that, having almost finished my first book, I have already started on a second. My plan is to write articles and publish them here, on this blog, as I research. The idea is to stitch these articles into a book at the end of it all.
This second book is quite different from my first, but I'm very excited about it as it is on a topic dear to my heart: university education. In particular, the question I want to ask over the course of the coming months is:
How can the modern university be made more relevant, more humanizing, and more effective at facilitating the learning of students?
Before I explain what I mean by that, I'll explain why writing this is an important project for me to undertake.
I am incredibly lucky to have gone to a great university, studied a high-paying major I didn't hate, earned more scholarships than was probably fair, and taken advantage of the opportunity for life-changing extracurriculars, friendships, and study abroad programs.
In other words, my four years at the University of Oklahoma were excellent.
Underneath all that, however, there's a rankling remorse of sorts, one that I've often spoken of with my friends, many of whom have had a similar experience. We felt that the classes we had, with a few very notable exceptions, were the worst part of our college experience, and the place where we learned the least, despite the fact that they (and the accompanying homework, studying, and tests) occupied the largest part of each of our days. I do not think my friends and I were alone in thinking and feeling this, and validating (or dis-validating) this hypothesis is one of the aims of my research to come.
Of all the problems facing universities today- increasing competition from non-traditional education sources, rising prices, astronomical student to teacher ratios- the fact that universities fail so miserably at what should be their core competency is the most sharply ironic, even poignant, problem of all.
Take Paul Goodman's description of the typical experience of a student in a college classroom, written in his book Compulsory Miseducation. Note that I've edited it down quite a bit for brevity, though it is still quite a long passage. Long, but both engrossing and elucidating, and it summarizes perfectly why I think this is a book that needs to be written. The emphasis in bold is mine.
Here is a young fellow in a college classroom... He is in his junior year. So, omitting kindergarten, he has been in an equivalent classroom for nearly fifteen continuous years, intermitted only by summer vacations or play. Schooling has been the serious part of his life, and it has consisted of listening to some grown-up talking and of doing assigned lessons. The young man has almost never seriously assigned himself a task. He's bright -- he can manipulate formulas and remember sentences, and he has made a well-known college...
It was written in 1964 but could easily have been written in 2016. In fact, it's almost certainly more true now than then.
And yet students continue to swamp university admissions offices in ever-increasing numbers, attesting to the allure of two things: first, what we Americans call the College Experience, my generation's rite of initiation into adulthood. Second, the slip of paper (expensive as it may be) certifying our professional and intellectual capabilities, and without which we would be barred from entering most of the professional world.
We can and should do better in our universities, and it doesn't take much effort to come up with dozens of reasons why. To name a few: the huge cost both for students and the community-at-large, the fact that 6 out of every 10 Americans attend a college or university in their life, the role these institutions have in the lives of its attendees as the path to prosperity and, increasingly, as a rite of passage into adulthood; the role universities have in setting standards for our public schools.
In short, having the best possible educative system at a university at the lowest cost possible should be, at the least, of keen interest to all. This means, as I stated earlier, discovering how to make universities more relevant, humanizing, and effective at facilitating learning of the right kind, by which I chiefly mean self-directed and experiential. And as I will argue later, evolving our universities and our public education system in general to meet these goals is probably, as I will argue later, one of the most important initiatives the American people can undertake in the 21st century.
I promised I would explain why I chose those three categories- relevant, humanizing, and effective at facilitating self-directed learning- as the goals which our higher education system should strive to achieve.
To be honest, they just seemed right. I have a certain idea of what principles and values our schools and universities should engender in their students, and how these institutions can evolve to do exactly that. The above categories work well enough for now, the start of my flight-of-the-mind, and I'm confident that a better way to organize these principles will emerge in due time.
Relevant. Universities are hopelessly out of date, not just since the digital age but since the invention of the printing press. Ironically, our universities have in most regards retrograded, even compared to those of the medieval world. The modern university is desperately in need of an overhaul that takes advantage of modern technology and philosophy to cut both costs and obsolete learning practices; improve collaboration, empathy, and initiative; and prepare students to tackle the pressing issues of our generation.
Humanizing. Perhaps the goal of a university we've most lost touch with, as our modern day higher education institutions seem more concerned with how they can increase the amount of donor dollars they receive. Yet this is also perhaps the most important goal of all, as it deals very directly with the kind of people we want to be and the kind of community we want to live in. For example, how can universities help students find themselves and their vocation, becoming free, independent, and self-driven individuals without losing touch with the responsibility we each have for ourselves and one another? Or, as the democratic education pioneer John Holt put it,
"The fundamental educational problem of our time is to find ways to help children grow into adults who have no wish to do harm. We must recognize that traditional education, far from having ever solved this problem, has never tried to solve it."
Effective at Facilitating the Right Kind of Learning. I know few people who find the lecture and the test, the hammer and the forge of traditional education, to be very inspiring or to spark any kind of real learning. On the other hand, evidence is mounting that the ideal learning situation is precisely the opposite of that found in a typical college classroom.
In particular, the ideal qualities of this ideal include it being self-directed, experiential, and interdisciplinary, and that it be based on solving real world problems in small teams. This loose formula is incredibly effective at not only facilitating learning of the subject matter at hand but also at sparking and fanning the flames of the self-actualizing values described above: independence, initiative, responsibility, and finding one's vocation.
Ironically, we see once again how universities have seemingly forgotten the wisdom of the past. One need look no further for inspiration than the relationships of the Master with his apprentices that was alive until well-meaning mandatory education and anti-child labor laws extinguished this age-old tradition in the early twentieth century.
The overall vision of this book is that it be an honest and motivating picture of the untenable problems facing our education system in general and our universities in particular, a brief history of how these problems came to be, and, as described above, a discussion of the imperative changes universities must make not to survive, but to better serve its students and its communities. Indeed, the second half of the book-to-be will transition into discussing in-depth the changes necessary and how to implement them in order to do its students justice.
To create this vision, I took inspiration and synthesized ideas from a variety of fields, sources, and influences as disparate as Agile and Lean product management philosophy of the past 20 odd years, the ancient Greek idea and practice of Praxis, anarchic theories of architecture and urban planning from the 70's, democratic education pioneers from the 60's, my time working at the University of Oklahoma Economic Development department in 2013-2014, as well as two intensely respected and absolutely formative professors I had the honor of knowing while at the University of Oklahoma.
I have a general idea of what the book will say and what my next few articles will be, but part of the adventure will be seeing how that vision evolves and changes as I dive deeper into the subject and encounter questions, issues, and research I hadn't yet considered. For now, however, I'm going to explore the role modern universities play in the United States, with the first article on that topic published by the end of the week.
Dillon Dakota Carroll
December 2nd 2015
I didn't write a single article for my blog for nearly 6 months this year. As it turned out, I spent 3 months traveling around Europe in a fun but in many ways ill-fated voyage. And after that, I was busy writing a book about that very trip.
I have few illusions about my writing ability- I am a decent writer, probably better than most, but certainly no Shakespeare or even a Stephen King. And the idea of writing a book always seemed so... presumptuous. As in, if you're going to write a book, it had better be a damn good book, about something important.
During the trip in Europe a friend mentioned offhandedly that I should write a book about it because it was such a great story. That was thanks mainly to a sequence of crazy, absurd events that transpired. But her comment must have planted a seed in my mind- I don't remember thinking about turning the trip into a book before that. But by the end of the adventure I was determined to write the book. I didn't really ever make a conscious decision to do so, I more just had a raw, overpowering feeling that I had to write it. For myself more so than for anyone else.
That begs the question, why try and publish it if it is just for myself? And, why did I feel so compelled to write it in the first place?
There are a few interrelated answers. First, if I'd never intended to share it with the wider world, there would have been no reason or desire to edit it, shape it, and improve it. Writing requires clarity of thought, but as I've found with the book I wrote, that clarity of thought sometimes only comes through after the fifth revision, after struggling and cajoling and fighting with a passage or paragraph for hours, knowing that others will be reading it and it can't be sloppy like a private journal entry might. Indeed, the book's been revised and edited a half-dozen times, and at this point I am just waiting on friends and family to read through it and give me feedback on what can be improved, what is good as-is, and most nerve-wrackingly of all, if it is a good book, interesting and nice to read.
Second, being presumptuous or not, I think it is an amusing story that others might enjoy, even if no one other than my friends and family decide to read it (though considering how hard it is to find someone willing to read through the drafts to give me feedback, I wonder even about that!). And I tried to make it the kind of book I'd like to read. What I mean by that is, if I wrote it well enough, it's more than just a travel memoir, but also a bit of an essay on travel, identity, and inspiration.
Third, and importantly for me, is that this is the first big self-initiated and self-directed creative project I've ever set out on and seen through to its end. The realization shocked me when I had it earlier this week, but it is true. Every other major creative endeavor I've undertaken has been at the behest or initiative of others: parents, teachers, professors, employers.
I take pride in having spent a great many years, and much effort, turning myself into as much of a self-starter as possible. Whether by nature or nurture, I was not born that way. So the very act of writing a complete, 300 page-long book, editing it, revising it, and (hopefully) self-publishing it, is a huge milestone for me. I needed to write the book. I decided to write the book, and I did so. It took a month's worth of long days filled with frenzied writing, and many more months of protracted and painful editing, and there are probably more months of editing ahead. But I don't, and didn't, have anyone looking over my shoulder, dangling a carrot or shaking a stick, to make sure I wrote the book. And the more time I spent hammering away at the rapidly blooming pages, the more it seemed like what I was really hammering away on was myself.
In some weird way, writing and finishing my book felt like a rite of initiation into something that I'm not quite sure what to call. For lack of anything better, let's say that I feel initiated as a self-starter and self-driver. It is a pleasant feeling.
Fourth, and finally, writing this book has helped me not only feel comfortable with writing, and with my writing, but also realize that writing is one of the few things I truly and deeply enjoy. While I always knew I wanted to write, a deep-seated writer's block prevented me from ever taking that idea seriously or even getting around to writing something beyond personal journal entries, let alone something others might read one day. Writing this book has opened the floodgates, as it were: I have several more ideas for what I think would make interesting books, and have already started on a second project. In fact, the research I was doing for the second book was precisely what sparked the idea for this piece, the realization that the first book was my first self-directed and self-initiated creative project.
So that is why I am writing a book. It has been a humbling, exciting, anxiety-inducing experience, and one I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
Dillon Dakota Carroll
I want to share a small tip I've been having some success with to help establish a daily routine- something I know is important, but have never been able to do until recently!
I would always set out with the best of intentions, plotting out to a tee how my morning and night would go and exactly what I would be doing. The sequence would spiral out of control like a cancer until I had my first three or four hours of the day plotted. Sometimes I'd even go so far as to plan out the entire day. And these wonderfully intentioned plans and planned routines never worked.
The problem I'd always have was that I'd mess up once and misspend the day. Guilt-wracked, by the end of the evening I'd have realized how unproductive I'd been and "binge-work", staying up till the wee hours of the morning to try and get as much of my backlogged work done as possible. But I never worked well after 2am anyway, and the next morning I'd sleep in and wreck my fledgling attempts at creating my own routine.
Thinking about what is different with my efforts now, I can see that I've had, or am having, a mindset shift away from this self-destructive work-bulemia. And one thing that helped get me there (or maybe a consequence of getting there, who knows?) was to start thinking of my day as a series of "checkpoints", like the save-points in a video-game.
Basically, I've chosen only three hard and fast times for my routine during the day. The idea is simple, and not new at all, but I think it is effective for reasons I explain below.
My three checkpoints are:
Here's why this works for me.
This reduces or completely eliminates the anxiety of having an entire day planned out to the tee. Three simple times to keep track of instead is totally manageable. Once those times arrive, I know I need to drop everything and move on. I suppose I could ignore the deadline, but only having three hard-and-fast times throughout the day makes that seem like a cop-out and like I'm cheating myself. It totally destresses the process for me.
It forces me to focus on what's truly essential for me to feel like I had a good day. I want to write, and really make a serious thing of my writing, but could never make a habit of it. The same with working out. Yet the difference between the days when I do those two things- write and exercise- and when I don't is frighteningly stark. In short, if I got to those two things during the day, it wasn't necessarily a good day but it certainly wasn't a bad day.
Finally, a big reason for my binge-working and my inability to create new habits or routines was really just because I couldn't ever go to bed on time. Voilà my third checkpoint.
I still have a checklist of routine things I want to get done each day that is more than three items- it's at 15 items, actually- but I try not to sweat it if I miss some of them in a day and instead focus on meeting the checkpoints. Because I know that even if I've totally wasted the day up to that point, if I can make a checkpoint, I'm more likely than not going to continue on track and start ticking off the rest of the items on my list.
Like a video-game checkpoint, these allow me to start anew and try again at having a good, productive day. In essence, I have three opportunities each day to turn a bad day into a good one, or at least a productive one. It's like building mini-periods of reflection into the day, mini-sprints of work/recovery that give me the psychological opportunity to renew myself a little bit with each checkpoint.
And even if I don't feel like doing the checkpoint, the bar is set so low that I know the easiest thing to do is just force myself to do it rather than deal with all the nasty regret and guilt. After all, I only have the three real commitments during the day, and they're pretty easy. Sit in front of my computer with Evernote open until 11. Put on workout clothes and walk outside at noon. Go brush my teeth at ten pm. Since motivation usually only comes after taking action, meeting those three checkpoints is like knocking over the first in a line of dominos. I'm back on track for the day and feeling great. Or at least better.
Zan Perrion provides some inspiration here in his book The Alabaster Girl. In it, he recommends a small ritual he calls Vespers, as in vespertine (occurring in the evening). The idea is that at some point before going to bed, we find a few quiet moments to ourselves to reflect and prepare for the next day.
One could imagine that daily Vespers is like a checkpoint in a video game. We are playing the game of Life on the ‘Hard’ difficulty setting, but because we saved the game at that point yesterday evening, because we reconnected with what is truly important, we can always fall back on that point again any time in the future.
Hope you found this tip to be useful!
Dillon Dakota Carroll
...sees much and knows much