in: Odds & Ends

Odds & Ends: April 28, 2023

David Whyte on finding your element. One of the insights I got from preparing for my interview with the poet David Whyte comes back to me regularly. He talks about how one of our symbols of beauty — the swan — is actually awkward when he walks; it is only when he enters a body of water that he glides with grace. The solution to your life feeling out of joint, Whyte observes, is not trying to work harder or be more productive, but moving toward the elemental waters where you belong. This excerpt from Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea, where he explains the idea further, is really worth a read.

ENVY: A Theory of Social Behavior by Helmut Schoeck.  Envy is an emotion that everyone experiences, but no one likes to talk about; people would rather admit to almost any other vice. Sociologist and anthropologist Helmut Schoeck explores the psychology, sociology, and philosophy of envy in this 1969 book. He argues that envy is usually destructive but in some cases can be constructive. His most interesting insight is that, paradoxically, as things become more equal in a group, envy actually increases due to the narcissism of minor differences. De Tocqueville made a similar argument in Democracy in America. Envy is full of intellectual grit, and I’m still chewing on it despite reading it years ago. 

UREVO 2 in 1 Under Desk Treadmill.  If you’re looking for a treadmill desk, but don’t have the budget or the room to get a full-size apparatus, check out the UREVO 2 in 1 Under Desk Treadmill. It’s compact, moveable, and you can even run on it (up to 7.6 mph), though we exclusively use it to walk while we work. We’ve got one under our standing desk and have really enjoyed it. Kate uses it when she’s editing the podcast; I use it when I’m answering emails and doing admin work. Great way to get your steps in and build that sleep pressure!

“How Men Make Friends: Hammering Pieces of Wood Together, Plus Power Tools.” We’ve had a few podcast guests mention the “men’s shed” movement out of Australia. Basically, someone opens up a workshop where men can come and build stuff. One of the side effects is that men make friends, or at least socialize a bit. This WSJ article highlights the movement in the United States. From the article: “All share the motto ‘Shoulder to Shoulder,’ the premise being that men bond while working side by side, as opposed to women, who form friendships ‘Face to Face,’ by talking to each other.” 

Quote of the Week

It is foolish to try to live on past experience. It is very dangerous, if not a fatal habit, to judge ourselves to be safe because of something that we felt or did twenty years ago.

—Charles H. Spurgeon

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