Slow. Reading. Is. Hard. Work.
Plus Three Questions I'm Pondering 🤔
|Jonny Miller 🐬||Sep 30, 2018|
Oh Hey There... 👋
🏊– Greetings from a cosy Brightonian cafe! I'm gradually regaining blood flow in my fingers as I begin typing this missive, following an invigorating morning swim around the pier. Despite the initial discomfort, I feel that there is something profoundly life-affirming about a regular injection of icy water – it almost acts as a salty reset button and electric jolt to the soul. As Wallace J. Nichols, the author of 'Blue Mind' writes, the water 'meditates you' and 'unleashes the uninhibited child in all of us'.
🚀 – I've recently taken on a role to lead the Escape the City Startup Accelerator in London for the next 10 weeks. Thankfully, initial feelings of nerves alchemised into excitement, as felt the eagerness of the forty aspiring founders. It feels like a genuine privilege to be leading this group through what is a major life transition and period of extreme uncertainty for most.
✍️ – I'm turning 30-years-young in t-minus 15 days. Alas, being a 'late-20-something' will no longer be a legitimate excuse for future foolish shenanigans. Kindly reply to this if you have any words of wisdom to share as I dive headfirst into this new decade 😃
Sending good vibes & high fives to wherever you are in the world 🙌
p.s. Curious Humans just hit 301 subscribers. Thank you for helping to forward on these infrequent electronic odes to curiosity. I appreciate you 🙏
Three Questions I'm Pondering 🤔
1 // What cages have you unknowingly crafted? >> there was a parable shared in Elle Luna's recent DO Lecture, that begun by asking: If a prisoner wishes to be free from prison, what's the first thing that he/she must know? To find the key? Where to find the guard? Nope. The first thing they need to know is that they are in prison. Until they know that, no escape it possible. Our collective history – the human project – could perhaps be viewed as successive breaking out of these cages and my sense is that the next revolution will be an inner one. The great awakening and an escape from the false narratives we've convinced ourselves are Truth.
2 // Are you orientating yourself for mastery or mystery? Neither approach is right or wrong, but it's curious to consider, especially in light of how we are in relationship to others. The author Carol Devine speaks of how we must stop looking at each other as problems to be solved: 'The human soul does not wish to be fixed, it wishes to be seen'.
3 // What could you celebrate today? If you absolutely had to? I've noticed how caught up I can get in completing things, ploughing through the hydra of task-lists that only seem to grow the more heads of to-dos that I decapitate. So channeling my inner Alan Watts, I'm keeping in mind that 'the doing of it is more important that the done-ing of it' and looking for the opportunities to celebrate little wins. If your #1 'to-do' for today read 'Celebrate Something' what would it be? 🙌
Stoke Your Curiosity 🔥
1 // Slow. Reading. Is. Hard. Work. 📖 >> I have a confession. I am a type-A skim reader. My monkey brain by default scans for take-aways and highlight-able lines like a hyperactive squirrel foraging for nourishing acorns (oh the irony of writing a long-form newsletter). So, this piece in the Guardian touched a sensitive nerve and served as a reminder of what stands to be lost when we can no longer lean into the 'gradual encounter with the obdurate otherness of another person’s mind'. I actually found myself taking a deep breath and consciously starting the article again from the beginning to let it really soak in and encourage you to do the same: "Slow reading feels to me like a more generous, collegiate form of reading – rather as listening is a more generous act than speaking, and more difficult. Slow reading gives someone else (the writer) the gift of your time, without any guaranteed return, and with the risk that you will be bored or discomforted by the writing’s strangeness or difficulty."
2 // Canticle to the Cosmos 😲 >> I can barely begin to articulate how much I've enjoyed listening to this Audible lecture series by Dr. Brian Swimme recorded in 1995. Imagine Sapiens but on a cosmic scale with intellectual intensity and comic delivery of a highly caffeinated Alan Watts. Brian kicks off by describing why the universe is a 'multivalent treasure' that 'began as an eruption of space, time, matter, and energy out of all-nourishing abyss, the hidden source of all creativity. The universe began as a titanic bestowal, a stupendous quantum of free energy given forth from the bottomless vaults of generosity." Listening to Brian talk left me wide-eyed in wonderment: the way he describes 4.5 billion years of terrestrial evolution as 'resembling one vast embryogenesis' in which we are the 'self-reflexive mind and heart of the whole numinous process'. There is so much richness to be found in these lectures which I practically inhaled in two sittings, particularly interesting to me were his notion of morality from from a cosmic perspective: "That which is good is that which forwards the adventures of the universe" and later "The greatest evil in our history has been caused by those who wish to obliterate evil. We must embrace that which threatens us."
3 // CERN as a Spiritual Cathedral ⛪ >> If you don't already I implore you to subscribe to Mr. Mod's exceptional newsletter Roden Explorers. In this latest edition he describes the lasting sense of wonder from visiting the world's largest particle physics laboratory: "I still hold that the most spiritual, most profound place I’ve ever been is CERN, in Geneva — the physics research laboratory. That Pamplonian (Basque) cathedral I began this letter with was, in my mind, a proto-CERN. A story — a theory — drove the folks who built parts of CERN to build it. A story about a particle (a God particle, naturally) that inspired investment, welding, programming, tunneling over decades. $13.2 billion USD to find that particle. A billion dollars a year to keep running experiments. The largest vacuum in the world."
4 // Fear is Holding You Back 😨>> I've followed the journey and writing of Leo Babauta for years now and this is one of my favourite posts yet. He writes about what I like to call 'Radical Curiosity' or the process of turning towards that which is deeply uncomfortable or uncertain – how we have a greater capacity to feel fear than we give ourselves credit for. This is great and uncommon advice for anyone looking to begin doing meaningful work: "You feel the fear and resistance, stay present with it, but open to the action of the task in front of you. You become fully present with the task, opening your mind and heart to it. You start to fully appreciate the beauty and joy of the task, opening yourself to this incredible experience, which might include discomfort, uncertainty, fear and resistance. All of it."
Et. Cetera 🤔
👊– How to write a great sentence
🐙– What ecstasy does to octopuses
✏️– Why kids write letters backwards
🤔– What personality tests *really* deliver
🐛– Are you and your microbes a single entity?
📆– Why the best things in life cannot be planned
🧓– Five flavours of mentor you could use in your life
😺– Making a compelling business case for curiosity
📝– Knowing where you are (a beautiful post via reboot)
🎙️ – Everything is alive (hands down my favourite new podcast)
💧– Deep dive into the unanswered question of the 'Leidenfrost Effect'
Parting Poem 📝
Just for this moment.
Lean inwards to acknowledge,
The shape of your own reluctance.
Invite the timid voice inside,
To speak it's first awkward word.
Raise your hand from the rudder;
Trust the wind in your sails.
It takes true courage,
And firm faith in your own belonging.
To gently pull those inner strings
Until you strike