| Since last week's newsletter was concerned with the cosmic perspective, extending an invitation to contemplate on the unfathomable large universe (and how we fit into it), I thought fitting to examine the other end of the spectrum today: the small, the mundane.
| When thinking about the noteworthy elements of our existence, the stuff that has scientists and philosophers dedicate their lives to, our mind usually gravitates toward larger-than-life aspects of nature or being, or mind-bending problems. It's almost an unspoken assumption that those subjects are grandiose. But this line of thinking blinds us to the less lofty matters. We mustn't dismiss the role of observing the (on the surface) ordinary stuff.
| The skill of paying attention to minute or seemingly mundane aspects of one's experience is understated. A lot of times, the grand discoveries in science, the soul-stirring products of literature, or the most vibrant works of art are not the result of any high-minded visions, but get their genius status because the author has managed to explain or express a fundamental aspect of human experience or universal nature, perhaps something that we all took for granted.
| In one of his speeches, R. W. Emerson encourages his audience (of academics) to give equal attention, if not more, to the mundane and common aspects of everyday experience. The intellectual life shouldn't be seen as an environment removed from ordinary life, where high-brow academics discuss lofty topics in a smoke-saturated salon. The mind of the intellectually-curious human is like the sun. It shines on everything without discriminating. All the nooks and crannies of the world are illuminated.
| The cracks on your favorite painting tell a story, the way your cat's fur is colored reveals hidden information about her. These and countless other secrets are illuminated when we pay attention to commonplace details.
| But don't just distantly observe things, become part of them. Embed yourself in their story. Think about your existence through the perspective of an ant or a bee. How would they see you? By trying to grasp that, you may gain a deeper understanding of their viewpoint.
| You don't need to be a scholar to be the world's eye. It's enough to pay attention even to the mundane aspects of your experience or your environment. The world is richer with meaning and substance than it looks. Embrace the ordinary and let it show you that it's not trivial.
| by Tom White | 7 minute read
| This article is a raw and personal exploration of what it means to do enough, especially in our present culture of glorified productivity and endless striving.
Tool for Thought
| Because we are exposed to mountains of media each day, and we consume a good chunk of it too, there emerged the need to make sure all this information doesn't evaporate as soon as we finish interacting with it. Enter the note-taking app. Some people call it a second brain, for others it's a personal knowledge management system.
| If you read, watch and listen to information regularly, and you're not engaging with it in any other way than passive consumption, you may benefit from taking notes and recording your thoughts on what you consume. I think it's an invaluable tool for shutting down distractions and being more intentional with your time and attention.
| Obsidian is not the only option, of course, it's just the one I use.
Picture of the Week
| BrainChain (2001) by Willem den Broeder; Surrealist art
Quote I'm reflecting on
| The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Question for you to ponder
| How can you cultivate an appreciation and curiosity even for the seemingly unremarkable aspects of life or nature? To see the miraculous in the common?
| Thank you for reading. Have a great week!
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