Friday, June 07, 2013

Nature Has An Agenda

"If you can’t have religion, there are big absences that you have to find somewhere else." The word religion means "to link back." Forget about gods or churches or temples or prayers. Religion is the organizing principle, the iron rod at the center of our lives, that everything else links back to. We don't need to believe in god, we need to have a system for refilling our reservoir of meaning. Otherwise life starts to feel real emtpy real fast. On my computer desktop, I keep a visible list of my religious repertoire, as it were. Activities, pursuits, practices and passions that are guaranteed to provide me with the experience of meaning. That way, any time waves of anxiety, unhappiness or disappointment come crashing in, I know exactly what to do. Inspired by Salman Rushdie's famous interview.

"From a very early age, I wanted to be scared." Fascinating conversation with Stephen King on Fresh Air. His life could be a case study on the formative power of our earliest longings. Isn't it amazing how the experiences we gravitate to as a child manifest in our adult lives? I've always said that the older I get, the more I remind myself of the younger version of me. Inasmuch as people change, I think there's always a component of our original identity that never leaves us.

"Make peace with your pile." As an entrepreneur, you're working against an infinite pile. There's always a million things to do because you're the only person around. So you work and work and work until the day is done, even if it feels like the pile hasn't moved an inch. But as an employee, you're working against a finite pile. There's only so many things to do because your role is more specific. So you learn to ease into the work, to pace to yourself and to take more care with  your limited amount of tasks. Inspired by a conversation with my old publishing buddy Bob Baker.

"Nature has an agenda." I sweat more than any human being alive. By the time yoga class ends, there's a sweat lake encroaching in on my mat. It's annoying and embarrassing. But it's also healthy. It's how my body functions. And the idea of getting Botox injections for excessive perspiration is ridiculous. Why disrupt nature's course? It's bigger, smarter and better than me. And if I've learned anything from watching action movies, it's that the guy who stand in nature's way almost always gets crushed by a falling redwood. Inspired by Carolla's take on bee stings.

"If the movie is really good, it doesn't matter how well it does." Big launches are highly overrated. It's not about killing on opening weekend, its about making something meaningful that you're proud of. It's about doing something awesome that kicks open the door of opportunity so you can do more of that thing in the future. I've written books that nobody cared about initially, but later went on to inspire new audiences I never would have anticipated. You just have to give the work time. If the quality is there, people will find it.