books

To Hear, One Must be Silent

Ogion, when asked about the ‘use’ of a plant call the fourfoil:

“When you know the fourfoil in all its seasons root and leaf and flower, by sight and scent and seed, then you may learn its true name, knowing it’s being: which is more useful than its use. What, after all, is the use of you? Or myself?... to hear, one must be silent.” The Books of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin

Our perspective is almost always from the point of view of utility. “What can I use this for?”

And that question defines things for us.

It makes sense for a human to be interested in what things in the world might be useful for. And it makes sense for things to be defined that way.

But this perspective doesn't always lead to the true being of things and, if misapplied, can lead us to miss the point entirely.

Pay attention. Look. Listen. Notice the world around you for what it is.

To hear, one must be silent.

Find Out What Your Teacher is Teaching

This year, I read 27 books in total. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, a large proportion of those ended up being important.

But you don’t always have to be reading an “important” book to find something profound.

A friend gave me a hint a few years ago. When reading, rather than just writing down or noting things that seem profound; try paying attention to interesting turns of phrase or descriptions you like. Perhaps this seems obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me.


It was in this way that I cam across something interesting in the first of the Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.

The protagonist of the novel starts his apprenticeship with a great mage, but is impatient to learn something. He complains to his new master:

“But I haven’t learned anything yet!”

To which the master replies:

“Because you haven’t found out what I am teaching” replied the mage, going on his steady, long legged pace along their road...


How often are you impatient to learn? What do you expect from your teachers? How will you know when you are learning?

Have you found out what your teacher is teaching?

Important Books I Read in 2018

You read some books at the right time. Something in them shifts the way you think.

It could be that you've been leading up to that shift for some time. Perhaps the book has a completely new idea to you.

I read a lot of books that changed things for me this year. Here's a list:

Braving the Wilderness - Brene Brown Rising Strong - Brene Brown The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck - Mark Manson Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari The Story of the Human Body - Daniel Lieberman How to Change your Mind - Michael Pollan Why We Sleep - Matthew Walker How Emotions are Made - Lisa Feldman Barret Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers - Robert Sopolsky Non-violent communication - Marshall Rosenberg Atomic Habits - James Clear This is Marketing - Seth Godin

New habits

Habits have been a focus in my life since 2015. Sure, my habits have shaped my life since the beginning, but I didn't really notice until 2015.

Since then, I've used increasingly sophisticated ways of changing habits to make big changes in my life. My experience of body, mind, and relationships have significantly changed since then. I've even started a nutrition coaching business that helps people eat, live, and move better by harnessing habit change.

I just finished reading James Clear's new book Atomic Habits. I've read nearly everything James has written on his blog over the years, but, even so, this book lit a fire for me. It pointed out some ways I can use 'Atomic Habits' to do the things I've been saying I want to do, but failing to execute.

There are two things I've been trying to do for years - start a podcast and write regularly on this blog.

So, today I make that commitment - I will be creating a short daily thoughts podcast and posting a daily blog here. In the interest of making these habits easy, they will be short and publishable from my iPhone. The podcast will start its life on Anchor, though I expect that will change over time.

I don't quite know what shape this will take, right now it's a study in the power of habits. Wish me luck!