The Sabbath, excerpts

Here are the passages I marked while reading The Sabbath, which I finally finished today at the library.


“To enhance our power in the world of space is our main objective. Yet to have more does not mean to be more. The power we attain in the world of space terminates abruptly at the borderline of time. But time is the heart of existence.” Pg. 1

“There is happiness in the love of labor, there is misery in the love of gain. Many hearts and pitchers are broken at the fountain of profit.” Pg. 1

“The mythical mind would expect that, after heaven and earth have been established, God would create a holy place – a holy mountain or a holy spring – whereupon a sanctuary is to be established. Yet it seems as if to the bible it is holiness in time, the Sabbath, which comes first.” Pg. 9

“The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time.” Pg. 10

“…the Sabbath is not an occasion for diversion or frivolity; not a day to shoot fireworks or to turn somersaults, but an opportunity to mend out tattered lives; to collect rather than to dissipate time. Labor without dignity is the cause of misery; rest without spirit the source of depravity.” Pg. 18

“[The Sabbath] is a day of the soul as well as of the body; comfort and pleasure are integral parts of the Sabbath observance. Man in his entirety, all his faculties must share its blessing.” Pg. 19

“The seventh day is like a palace in time with a kingdom for all. It is not a date but an atmosphere… The primary awareness is one of our being within the Sabbath rather than of the Sabbath being within us.” Pg. 21

“‘What was created on the seventh day? Tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose.”‘ Pg. 23

“For the Sabbath is a day of harmony and peace, peace between man and man, peace within man, and peace with all things. On the seventh day man has no right to tamper with God’s world, to change the state of physical things.” Pg. 31.

“‘Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work (Exodus 20:8).’ Is it possible for a human being to do all his work in six days? Does not our work always remain incomplete? What the verse means to convey is: Rest on the Sabbath as if all your work were done. Another interpretation: Rest even from the thought of labor.”
A pious man once took a stroll in his vineyard on the Sabbath. He saw a breach in the fence, and then determined to mend it when the Sabbath would be over. At the expiration of the Sabbath he decided: since the thought of repairing the fence occurred to me on the Sabbath I shall never repair it.” Pg. 32

“The [Sabbath] was a living presence, and when it arrived they felt as if a guest had come to see them. And, surely, a guest who comes to pay a call in friendship or respect must be given welcome.” Pg. 53

“What is the Sabbath? Spirit in the form of time.” Pg. 75

“We usually think that the earth is our mother, that time is money and profit our mate. The seventh day is a reminder that God is our father, that time is life and the spirit our mate.” Pg. 76

“‘The Sabbath is all holiness.’ Nothing is essentially required save a soul to receive more soul. For the Sabbath ‘maintains all souls.”‘ Pg. 82

“All our life should be a pilgrimage to the seventh day; the thought and appreciation of what this day may bring to us should be ever present in our minds.” Pg. 89

“Everyone will admit that the Grand Canyon is more awe-inspiring than a trench. Everyone knows the difference between a worm and an eagle. But how many of us have a similar sense of discretion for the diversity of time?” Pg. 96

“Things perish within time; time itself does not change. We should not speak of the flow or passage of time but of the flow or passage of space through time. It is not time that dies; it is the human body which dies in time.” Pg. 97

“Every one of us occupies a portion of space. He takes it up exclusively. The portion of space which my body occupies is taken up by myself in exclusion of anyone else. Yet, no one possesses time. There is no moment which I possess exclusively. This very moment belongs to all living men as it belongs to me. We share time, we own space. Through my ownership of space, I am a rival of all other beings; through my living in time, I am a contemporary of all other beings. We pass through time, we occupy space. We easily succumb to the illusion that the world of space is for our sake, for man’s sake. In regard to time, we are immune to such an illusion.” Pg. 99

Linchpin, excerpts

I just finished Linchpin, written by Seth Godin – my first time consuming one of his books. Here are some of the excerpts that caught my ear while listening.

Be remarkable, be generous, create art, make judgement calls. Connect people and ideas. And then, we have no choice but to reward you. (1:12:20)

What would make you impossible good at your job? If your organization wanted to replace you with someone far better at your job than you, what would they look for? I think it’s unlikely that they would seek out someone who is willing to work more hours, or someone with more industry experience, or someone who could score better on a standardized test. No, the competitive advantage the marketplace demands is someone more human, connected and mature. Someone with passion and energy, capable of seeing things as they are. (1:12:50)

What they should teach in schools. Only two things: 1. Solve interesting problems. And 2. lead… Interesting is the keyword. Answering questions like: when was the war of 1812, is a useless skill in a always-on Wikipedia world. It’s far more useful to be able to answer the kind of question for which google won’t help. Questions like: what should I do next? (1:42:25)

Our economy now rewards artists far more than any other economy in history ever has. People who tell you that they don’t have any good ideas are selling themselves short. They don’t have any ideas that are valued, because they’re not investing in their art. (1:51:30)

Perhaps you can’t name a beloved brand of tofu is that no artist has bothered to market it to you yet. (3:21:00)

Some people are hooked on passion. Deriving their sense of self from the act of being passionate. Perhaps your challenge isn’t finding a better project or a better boss. Perhaps you need to get in touch with what it means to feel passionate. People with passion look for ways to make things happen. The combination of passion and art is what makes someone a linchpin. (3:23:00)

Over time, the gifts accrue, and you have created a reputation. (3:24:00)

The only purpose of starting is to finish. And while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship. Shipping means hitting the publish button on your blog. Showing a presentation to the sales team. Answering the phone. Selling the muffins. Sending out your references. Shipping is the collision between your work and the outside world. (3:44:00)

Our economy has reached a logical conclusion. The race to make average stuff for average people in huge quantities is almost over. We’re hitting an asymptote. A natural ceiling for how cheaply and how fast we can deliver uninspired work. Becoming more average, more quick and more cheap is not as productive as it used to be. Manufacturing a box that can play music went from $10,000 for a beautiful Edison Victrola, to $2,000 for a home stereo, to $300 for a Walkman, to $200 for an iPod, to $9 for an MP3 memory stick. The improvements in price are now so small, they’re hardly worth making. Shipping an idea went from taking a month by boat, to a few days by plane, to overnight by federal express, to a few minutes by fax, to a moment by email, to instantaneous by Twitter. Now what? Will it arrive yesterday? So, what’s left to make, to give, is art. What’s left is the generosity and humanity worth paying for. (4:28:00)

The internet is crack cocaine for the resistance. If you sat at work all day watching Hawaii 5-O reruns, you’d probably lose your job. But it’s apparently fine to tweak and update your Facebook account for an hour. That’s connecting to your social graph. (4:50:30)

A friend of mine says something really smart every day, something earth shattering once a week. And that’s it. At the end of the year, he has some great blog posts and a pile of Twitter tweets to show for it. What if he harnessed even one of those ideas, and fought the resistance hard enough to actually make something of it? At the end of the year, he could show us a multi-million dollar company or a movement that changed the world. (4:52:15)

I’m not a work-a-haulic… By forcing myself to do absolutely no busy work tasks in between bouts with the work, I remove the best excuse the resistance has. I can’t avoid the work, because I am not distracting myself with anything but the work. This is the hallmark of a productive artist. I don’t go to meetings. I don’t write memos. I don’t have a staff. I don’t commute. The goal is to strip away anything that looks productive but doesn’t involve shipping [your work]. It takes crazy discipline to do nothing between projects. It means that you have to face a blank wall and you can’t look busy. It means you are alone with your thoughts. And it a means that a new project, perhaps a great project, will appear pretty soon because your restless energy can’t permit you to only sit and do nothing. (4:54:00)

Anxiety is the exaggeration of the worst possible what-if? (4:57:30)

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of using a spreadsheet or a time clock to measure your progress, when in fact, it’s the investment you make in your interactions that will pay off. (7:31:45)

What do you do when your art doesn’t work? What happens when the conversation doesn’t happen? The product doesn’t sell? The consumer is not delighted? Your boss is not happy? And the people aren’t moved? Make more art… Learn from what you did, and then do more. (8:00:00)

Maybe you can’t make money doing what you love – at least what you love right now. But I bet you can figure out how to love what you do, to make money. If you choose wisely. Do your art, but don’t wreck your art if it doesn’t lend itself to paying the bills. That would be a tragedy. (8:06:45)

.

A Curious Mind, excerpts

I recently listened to Brian Grazer’s A Curious Mind, diving into his life and career as a film producer for such movies as A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13, and what he claims as the source of his success: curiosity. Here are the excperts that stuck out to me as I listened.

More than intelligence or persistence or connections, curiosity has allowed me to live the life I wanted. Curiosity is what gives energy and insight to everything else I do. (2:15)

Curiosity has been the most valuable quality, the most important resource, the central motivation of my life. I think curiosity should be as much a part of our culture, our education, our workplaces, as concepts like creativity and innovation. (3:20)

Life isn’t about finding the answers, it’s about asking the question. (7:55)

We are all trapped in our own way of thinking. Trapped in our own way of relating to people. We get so used to seeing the world our way, that we come think the world is the way that we see it. (1:13:45)

Nothing is as common as innovation I come up with that I think is brilliant and you think is dumb. (1:40:15)

Unlike creativity and innovation though, curiosity is by its nature more accessible, more democratic. Easier to see, and also easier to do. (1:40:25)

Here’s the secret that we don’t seem to understand, the wonderful connection we’re not making. Curiosity is the tool that sparks creativity. Curiosity is the technique that gets to innovation. Questions create a mindset of innovation and creativity. Curiosity presumes that there might be something new out there. Curiosity presumes that there might be something outside our own experience out there. Curiosity allows the possibility that the way we’re doing it now isn’t the only way, or even the best way. (1:41:00)

One of the concepts that really animates me is what I think of as mastery. I want to know what it takes to really master something. Not just to be a police officer, but to be the chief. Not just to be an intelligence agent, but to be the head of the CIA. (1:55:40)

We’re now firmly in the era of the billion dollar film franchise, and the billion dollar acting career. (2:01:25)

Curiosity leads to storytelling, and storytelling inspires curiosity. The exact same dynamic works with curiosity and persistence. Curiosity rewards persistence. If you get discouraged when you can’t find the answer to a question immediately, if you give up at the first no, then your curiosity isn’t serving you very well. (2:48:10)

As inevitable as Dr. Seuss’ appeal seems now, Mulberry St. was rejected by 27 publishers before being accepted by vanguard press. What if Geisel had decided that 20 rejections were enough for him? Or 25? Imagine childhood and reading without Dr. Seuss. (2:55:40)

I ask questions. What’s the talk supposed to be about? What’s the best possible version of the talk? What do the people coming to this event expect to hear? What do they want to hear in general? What do they want to hear from me specifically? And who is the audience? (2:57:40)

Curiosity isn’t necessarily about achieving something, about driving towards some goal. Sometimes it’s just about connecting with people. Which is to say curiosity can be about sustaining intimacy. It’s not about a goal, it’s about happiness. (4:05:45)

For me, the most valuable kind of curiosity is the kind where there isn’t a specific question I’m trying to get the answer to. The most valuable kind of curiosity is the truly open hearted question. Whether to a Nobel Laureate, or the person sitting next to you ta a wedding. (4:55:20)

I don’t have any idea where good ideas come from. But I do know this: the more I know about the world, the more I understand about how the world works, the more people I know, the more perspectives I have, the more likely it is that I’ll have a good idea. The more likely it is that I’ll understand the good idea when I hear it. The less likely I’ll agree that something is good enough. (4:57:10)