“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” Annie Dillard wrote in her timeless reflection on presence over productivity— a timely antidote to the central anxiety of our productivity-obsessed age. Indeed, my own New Year’s resolution has been to stop measuring my days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence. But what, exactly, makes that possible?
This concept of presence is rooted in Eastern notions of mindfulness — the ability to go through life with crystalline awareness and fully inhabit our experience — largely popularized in the West by British philosopher and writer Alan Watts (January 6, 1915–November 16, 1973), who also gave us this fantastic meditation on the life of purpose. In the altogether excellent 1951 volume The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety (public library), Watts argues that the root of our human frustration and daily anxiety is our tendency to live for the future, which is an abstraction. He writes:
If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are “crying for the moon.” We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end.
More here – Brainpickings
Now that the dust has settled on January I thought it was time for a little dodgy table and chart looking at the relative performance of a few markets.
As you can see the trouble maker continues to be China, which should not be a surprise to anyone. What is surprising is the relatively good performance of the FTSE – this index has been moribund for sometime. However, this only a decent performance comparative to other indices which are doing worse. It is in no way indicative of some surprising turnaround in the fortunes of the FTSE. January seems to hold a special place in the heart of those with a predictive bent. The logic is that as goes January so too does the rest of the year. Those who are fond of this idea point to the fact that it has been right 87% of the time whereas others dont seem all that keen on the idea.
My view is that I dont really care.
Every couple of months, I see another post in my Facebook feed about a band that was cut off by an 18-wheeler or skidded on a patch of black ice and rolled their van into a ditch. Some members are injured, and they’re launching a Kickstarter campaign to pay for medical bills and to get back on their feet.
My heart (and often, money) goes out to them. But if you need to crowdfund your hospital costs, you were never on your feet to begin with. After many years as a touring artist myself, I’m honestly surprised that the person in that ditch has never been me.
Touring is, of course, the most ancient business model available to artists — and in many ways, it remains a vital part of their livelihood, even while the surrounding industry undergoes major upheaval to accommodate the new paradigm of streaming music. In response to the shift in revenue sources, standard recording contracts now intrude into the numerous nonrecording aspects of an artist’s career. But the advice given to the creative generators of this multibillion dollar industry is still one that would be recognizable to a medieval troubadour: Go on tour.
And yet from a business standpoint, it’s hard to find a model more unsustainable than one that relies on a single human body. This is why we have vice presidents, relief pitchers and sixth men. When applied to music’s seemingly limitless streaming future, the only scarce resource left is the artists themselves. You would think the industry would protect such an important piece of its business model, but in fact, the opposite is true.
More here – The New York Times Magazine
LB and Michael Yardney have just recorded a podcast on time management which you can download by clicking the player below. We all feel as though we don’t have enough time, so download the replay of this Podcast and you’ll discover