Let me trade a list for your time

December 03 2014

At the time of this writing, there are 24,389 of us. Assuming (rather optimistically) that every Listservian will spend two minutes reading this, that's 813 hours of collective human time, or about twenty 40-hour work weeks.

What would you devote yourself to if you had almost half a year of working time?

I wish that people - e.g. the creators of silly apps, or people at work who schedule meetings for way more people than necessary - thought more about the opportunity costs of time. With this in mind, thank you for your sacred time.

Without further ado, let me serve you with a list (so sorry, I just had to) that I hope will make this time worth it for you:

One word: "Sonder" - look up its definition on the website "Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows."

One quotation: from Kurt Vonnegut, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

One poem: "The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll. Language is a strange thing.

One book: "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. I finished it while sitting in a high school hallway at a debate tournament, and had to wipe away tears when my opponent and judge arrived.

One speech: David Foster Wallace's "This Is Water" should be required reading / listening at least once a year.

One concept: Fundamental Attribution Error - basically (and I'm oversimplifying) a scientific explanation of the advice to "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

One film: Interstellar. You know a movie has engaged you when you're still listening to the soundtrack and thinking about its ideas weeks later. One thought that it's prompted, in a roundabout way, is that any sort of recorded communication is time travel, albeit in only one direction - you're conveying your current thoughts to someone at a different time. A dramatic example of this would be a book written by a long-dead author, getting a glimpse into a mind that hasn't existed for years. I guess this email would be a less extreme example, since this will be sent a day after I submit it.

One habit: journaling, which I've recently re-started. Look up the article "How Keeping a Diary Can Surprise You" in the New York Times - you'll thank yourself later for journaling.

One painting: “Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bumblebee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening” by Salvador Dali. Capture your dreams in your journal, along with those fringe, semi-conscious thoughts you have as you're drifting in the zone between wakefulness and sleep.

One band: Typhoon. They blow me out of the water with every track (but seriously, this group makes amazing music).

One preachy puzzle (easy to solve with the aid of the Internet, and therein lies the irony): 01001000 01110101 01101101 01100001 01101110 01110011 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01101101 01101111 01110010 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100100 01100001 01110100 01100001

One question: What's an idea you have for improving life - not ambitious or earth-shattering, but trivial or everyday? For example, I've thought that if walls had rounded or diagonal edges instead of corners, there would be so many fewer awkward near-collisions of people in or around buildings.

One shout-out: Happy early birthday, sis!

One post-script: I love you, dearest.

Kyle V.
[email protected]
Bay Area, California

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