“The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.”
—Henry Kissinger, Former U.S. Secretary of State
Image from Unsplash by Victoriano Izquierdo
Over the past several years I’ve been fascinated by people who live a sustainable lifestyle. Many live in remote parts of the world, spending the majority of their days focused on providing the essentials of water, shelter, and food.
These hunter-gathers take whatever nature offers, or they go to bed hungry. On many a day they go to bed hungry anyway because nature’s food isles are empty.
Somehow these rugged individuals remain remarkably happy with their lives and limited alternatives. It is also very common that they thank some higher power for providing them sustenance for another day.
Where has a life with far too many alternatives cluttered up your mind and caused you distress?
Consider eating a very simple meal with only a few ingredients for one or more of your meals today to see how this might clear your mind a bit.
How might dramatically reducing your choices in other areas of your life offer you greater peace of mind?
“If they give you lined paper, write the other way.”
—William Carlos Williams, 20th-Century Puerto-Rican American Poet
The “Nine Dot Exercise” is a classic. The objective, if you’ve never seen it before, is to connect all the dots with four straight lines without lifting your pen or pencil. I’ve seen many people grow frustrated or give up in attempting to solve the puzzle.
I will not provide any of the possible solutions. You can Google it if you wish, but I will simply suggest that the solution is in approaching the exercise in a way that is not obvious at first glance.
Where would an alternative or even contrary approach be the way to solve one of your more pressing professional or personal problems?
“Never judge a book by its movie.”
—Don DeLillo, American novelist
image from icezen.com
Reading a book takes effort. Watching a movie, not so much. More often than not, many if not most movies fall short of their books.
Tens or hundreds of millions of dollars are invested in movies based on books because the characters and stories amaze readers. It is in these stories and characters that our visions of these works of art are envisioned and portrayed by producers and directors. Unfortunately, even with brilliant actors and special effects, the images on screen rarely capture what our own creativity and imagination can create from the words of a masterful storyteller.
Books allow us to pace ourselves and literally savor each bit of dialogue or image painted, if we choose to do the work the writer intended. Phrases like “I couldn’t put it down,” or “page turner” are familiar to all of us who have been fortunate to get our hands on great books.
These works also tend to have a lasting impact in that their messages and images penetrate deeply, due to the active role the reader must play.
Perhaps a picture does not always paint 1,000 words, and the words found in books allow us to paint more masterful pictures in our hearts and minds.
Consider reading the book upon which a current film has been made, either before or after attending a screening.
Determine which you enjoyed the most, or felt had the greatest impact.