This is difficult. I already freeze up when people ask “what have you been up to?” but here I am, trying to write a introduction of myself.
One angle I used to approach this was the idea that there are two ways to describe yourself. Externally and internally. Externally is easier, but it’s a tradeoff because it’s much more satisfying to define yourself internally. Here’s what I mean. If you came from my home page, you could see that I defined myself externally. I’m currently a university student, I’m involved in this club or that club, and I’m interested in writing. Quick and easy.
But the more rewarding way is to define yourself internally. Finding answers to questions like:
- What are my values?
- What does success mean?
- What does a life well lived look like?
- How should I live knowing that I will die?
To see them from above: the thousands of animal herds, the rituals, the voyages on calm or stormy seas, the different ways we come into the world, share it with one another, and leave it.
Consider the lives led once by others, long ago, the lives to be led by others after you, the lives led even now, in foreign lands. How many people don’t even know your name. How many will soon have forgotten it. How many offer you praise now-and tomorrow, perhaps, contempt.
That to be remembered is worthless. Like fame. Like everything.
— Marcus Aurelius
And I feel that I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing — maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed — because “Thou mayest.”
— John Steinbeck in East of Eden
My friends, we are not the sum of our possessions. They are not the measure of our lives. In our hearts we know what matters. We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood and town better than he found it.
— George H.W. Bush
Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
“Even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night.”
You will be right.
— Gwendolyn Brooks
All benefits in life come from compound interest, whether in money, relationships, love, health, activities, or habits.
— Naval Ravikant
Steinbeck was “productive” in any practical sense of the word: he wrote 33 books and won a Nobel Prize for his efforts. But he wasn’t busy. In our current moment, by contrast, ambition is intertwined with overload — as if aspirations can only be alchemized in the heat generated by frenetic, hyper-connected digital motion.
— Cal Newport (source)
Millions of people live and die without ever suspecting that joy can be had in the simple act of crossing a parking lot.
— David Cain (source)