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Bill Clinton on Work

“Work is about more than making a living, as vital as that is. It’s fundamental to human dignity, to our sense of self-worth as useful, independent, free people.”

Bill Clinton

Every Morning I am Pulled Apart

Every Morning I am Pulled Apart Every morning I need an hour or so to remind myself that the significance and notoriety I seek won’t make me feel what I think they will, won’t give me what I feel I need.

I am already as significant as I can be. There’s other columns in the spreadsheet — notoriety, influence — they have no real weight to me if I survive past my 60s.

I am already as significant, as important, as meaningful as I can be. Every morning that feels lame. Every morning I have to breathe through it, sink into it. Every morning I remind myself, ask myself to live in the way of my already-there-ness, creating from rest instead thrusting outward at more, always more.

I am ripped apart by this every morning. The call for significance, the impulse to matter more, to be more than the average person erupts every morning like survival’s older brother, an animal instinct evolved. Even as I write this: will they see it? Will they see me? All flows from the source. Every morning I search it out, reminding, re-membering.

And every day I forget: I clutch and reach. Leaning, top heavy, I end the day off balance. I bring myself to my son, my wife, this way. I bring myself to movies and shows and books this way and I thrill: here is the thing I want, to make THIS. I lean into them. Do they support me or just my lean? Is this codependence?

Everyday I remind myself: I am enough. And everyday I forget. I am everyday pulled apart and reformed from the scraps. I hear Allan Watts tell me I am not a put together thing, I am the pulling, I am togetherness, I am all of this. I see it for true, yet there’s some dark magnet inside that won’t let me transform, a black hole in the deep, pull-push of… of what? Creativity? Life-death? Insecurity? Life-death seems best but too on the nose. What’s really here is: WILL THIS MAKE ME FEEL IT!? I am an inconsolable child, my parents love me and whisper over me but I rage on incapable.

There is deep debt within me; there is also enormous wealth. This year, my 33rd, is the first I’m able to say: everything is OK.


“There’s a wonderful moment that comes when you realize, ‘I’m not striving for anything. What I’m doing now is not a means to achieving something later.’ Youth has always to think that way. Every decision a young person makes is a commitment to a life course, and if you make a bad decision, that angle, by the time you get [older] you’re far off course. But after a certain age there’s no future, and suddenly the present becomes rich, it becomes that thing in itself which you are now experiencing.” ~ Joseph Campbell

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This post was originally published at Medium.

Meister Eckhart on Excellent Work

“It were a very grave defect in God if, finding thee so empty and so bare, he wrought no excellent work in thee nor primed thee with glorious gifts.”

Meister Eckhart

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”

Jesus via Gospel of Thomas

What If You Made Up Your Own Holiday Traditions?

So, a friend asked this a couple days ago: we don’t have any Christmas traditions and I want to make some up for my son and I. What do you guys do, what do you like about it, what do you wish you did?

I got really excited about it. I have a 6 year old son, a gorgeous and smart wife and we live pretty far from both our families. I would love for Aiden (my son) to have a sense of holiday tradition that feels like us — thoughtful, goofy, inclusive, inebriatory, lots of moments where I cry in parts of kids movies, etc.

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Do you have to hate yourself to make something good?

Of course the writer and creative and “man on hunt to be celebrated posthumously” part of me immediately shouts: Hey fucker — you do that and we’re not going to make any really great stuff anymore! This is where our power comes from, not feeling like you’re enough is the explosion at the heart of the star keeping the lights on.

That guy sounds desperate. Also, sounds like another one for the “stupid shit I find myself believing” category:

“I have to feel unloved to make good things.”

Chase Reeves

“[Benjamin] Franklin wrote his mother to say that he hoped the more likely tribute paid him after his death would be ‘He lived usefully, than, He died rich.’”

The Atlantic

Stephen Colbert on Grief

“I was left alone a lot after Dad and the boys died…. And it was just me and Mom for a long time,” he said. “And by her example am I not bitter. By her example. She was not. Broken, yes. Bitter, no.” Maybe, he said, she had to be that for him. He has said this before—that even in those days of unremitting grief, she drew on her faith that the only way to not be swallowed by sorrow, to in fact recognize that our sorrow is inseparable from our joy, is to always understand our suffering, ourselves, in the light of eternity. What is this in the light of eternity? Imagine being a parent so filled with your own pain, and yet still being able to pass that on to your son.

“It was a very healthy reciprocal acceptance of suffering,” he said. “Which does not mean being defeated by suffering. Acceptance is not defeat. Acceptance is just awareness.” He smiled in anticipation of the callback: “ ‘You gotta learn to love the bomb,’ ” he said. “Boy, did I have a bomb when I was 10. That was quite an explosion. And I learned to love it. So that’s why. Maybe, I don’t know. That might be why you don’t see me as someone angry and working out my demons onstage. It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.”

I love the thing that I most wish had not happened.

I asked him if he could help me understand that better, and he described a letter from Tolkien in response to a priest who had questioned whether Tolkien’s mythos was sufficiently doctrinaire, since it treated death not as a punishment for the sin of the fall but as a gift. “Tolkien says, in a letter back: ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” Colbert knocked his knuckles on the table. “ ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ ” he said again. His eyes were filled with tears. “So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”

He was 35, he said, before he could really feel the truth of that. He was walking down the street, and it “stopped me dead. I went, ‘Oh, I’m grateful. Oh, I feel terrible.’ I felt so guilty to be grateful. But I knew it was true.

“It’s not the same thing as wanting it to have happened,” he said. “But you can’t change everything about the world. You certainly can’t change things that have already happened.”


From this excellent interview with Stephen Colbert. Here’s some of my other favorite quotes from this article.

Stephen Colbert on Joy & Agency

“It’s our choice, whether to hate something in our lives or to love every moment of them, even the parts that bring us pain. ‘At every moment, we are volunteers.’”

Article about Stephen Colbert


I mean, c’mon. This whole article is amazing. STEPHEN COLBERT is amazing.


“‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’” he said again. His eyes were filled with tears. “So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”


“But the answer is: my mother.” He lifted his arms as if to take in the office, the people working and laughing outside his door, the city and the sky, all of it. “And the world,” he said. “It’s so…lovely. I’m very grateful to be alive, even though I know a lot of dead people.” The urge to be grateful, he said, is not a function of his faith. It’s not “the Gospel tells us” and therefore we give thanks. It is what he has always felt: grateful to be alive. “And so that act, that impulse to be grateful, wants an object. That object I call God.

Taylor Swift’s Perspective

“I was trying to make the most honest record I could possibly make, and they were kind of asking me to be a little disingenuous about it: ‘Let’s capitalize on both markets.’ No, let’s not. Let’s choose a lane.”

Taylor Swift


A friend of mine loved Taylor Swift so much that I had to look deeper. This article didn’t disappoint.


“But then I remember that Swift is 25 years old, and that her entire ethos is based on experiencing (and interpreting) how her insane life would feel if she were exactly like the type of person who’d buy a ticket to this particular concert.”


“Swift writes about her life so directly that the listener is forced to think about her persona in order to fully appreciate what she’s doing creatively. This is her greatest power: an ability to combine her art and her life so profoundly that both spheres become more interesting to everyone, regardless of their emotional investment in either.”


“It’s impossible for an artist to control how she is perceived. But an artist can anticipate those perceptions, which is almost as good.”


“When other kids were watching normal shows, I’d watch Behind the Music. And I would see these bands that were doing so well, and I’d wonder what went wrong. I thought about this a lot. And what I established in my brain was that a lack of self-awareness was always the downfall. That was always the catalyst for the loss of relevance and the loss of ambition and the loss of great art. So self-awareness has been such a huge part of what I try to achieve on a daily basis. It’s less about reputation management and strategy and vanity than it is about trying to desperately preserve self-awareness, since that seems to be the first thing to go out the door when people find success.”


“I was trying to make the most honest record I could possibly make, and they were kind of asking me to be a little disingenuous about it: ‘Let’s capitalize on both markets.’ No, let’s not. Let’s choose a lane.”

Stephen Colbert on Faith, Feeling & Mind

“Faith ultimately can’t be argued; it has to be felt. Hopefully you can still feel your faith fully and let your mind have a logical life of its own and they do not defy each other, but compliment each other. Because, logic itself, I don’t think, for me, and Aquinas might say differently, will not lead me to god. But my love of the world and my gratitude toward it will. So, hopefully I can use my mind to make my jokes and not deny my love for god at the same time.”

Stephen Colbert

Alan Watts on What You Want

“Generally speaking, the civilized man does not know what he wants. He works for success, fame, fun, to help people, or to be a ‘real person.’ But these are not real wants because they are not actual things. They are the by-products, the flavors and atmospheres of real things—shadows which have no existence apart from some substance.”

Alan Watts

Hunter S. Thompson on “Live Your Passion”

“As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal) he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).

In short, he has not dedicated his life to reaching a pre-defined goal, but he has rather chosen a way of life he KNOWS he will enjoy. The goal is absolutely secondary: it is the functioning toward the goal which is important. And it seems almost ridiculous to say that a man MUST function in a pattern of his own choosing; for to let another man define your own goals is to give up one of the most meaningful aspects of life — the definitive act of will which makes a man an individual.”

Hunter S. Thompson, a letter to a friend


I’m still reading this one through. I think I will be for a while.