The Reis Release #14

While on the subway…

On the Shortness of Life (De Brevitate Vitae) – From Seneca

I found these moral essays from a Naval Ravikant recommendation and to my surprise Amazon let me “borrow” it for free with their Kindle Owners’ Lending Library , which is apparently offered to Prime members, albeit the book costs $0.99! This adaption of the work of the famous stoic, Seneca, is easily digested despite being “written” circa 49AD. I found his points provocative: questioning how one spends time on seemingly meaningless pursuits (for me, surfing the internet or checking my email constantly) rather than “learning how to live”. I was surprised how many of his “lessons” hold today and he frequently suggests that people of his day too had so many distractions despite no social media! Some of my favorite excerpts are below.

“Reasons for anxiety will never be lacking, whether born of prosperity or of unhappiness; life pushes on in a succession of engrossments.”

“There is nothing the busy man is less occupied with than living: there is nothing that is harder to learn. Of the arts there are many teachers everywhere; some of them we have seen that mere boys have studied so thoroughly that they could even play the master. It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, and—what will perhaps make you wonder more—it takes the whole of life to learn how to die.”

“Life is amply long for the person who uses it wisely.”

“No one is willing to distribute their money, yet among how many people do we see the distribution of their life! In guarding their fortune people are often tightfisted, yet, when it comes to the matter of wasting time, which is the one thing they should have the right to be miserly over, they show themselves most uncontrolled.”

While in bed…

What lies 2 miles below the earth’s surface? (60 Minutes segment. Watch it soon before it goes behind their paywall)

This was a fascinating episode for three reasons. One, I’m a former gold bug and the segment details the operations of a gold mine. Apparently mines are diminishing at a rapid rate (e.g. of the 11 longtime goldmines in the area of South Africa, only three are still around) because now they must dig so deep to extract the gold which is too costly. Two, I felt like this was the real life version of Journey to the Center of the Earth. “We plunge 450 stories straight down. It’s the longest elevator ride on Earth. Picture five of New York’s World Trade Centers stacked on top of each other. We dropped two miles in a couple of minutes and emerged in an underground city. The noise from the drills is deafening. Massive air conditioners cool the tunnels but it can still reach 120 degrees down here.” And three, the depth of the cave drew a Princeton Professor of geoscience to research there and he uncovered water that is over a billion years old, ancient salt (he’s been searching for twenty years for this type), and tiny worms living in a pocket of water 5,000 years old! I bet there’s no plastic in that water . Also, the finding of these new creatures led them to think that it’s worth digging for life on Mars!

While on a walk…

How many is enough? 59. I have 59 tabs open right now on my browser.

A few opened today. Several open for days. Many open for a week. Most open for weeks. Some open for a month.

I can’t close them. Why? I tell myself it’s because I have a voracious appetite for learning but I realized that is all wrong.

Our thinking is that everything matters. We have to go onto the next thing, then the next thing, and the next thing. We think each click matters. It turns out very few of them matter. The clicks that do matter such as learning how the wolves came back to Yellowstone  can change your life but these are one in a hundred or maybe even one in a thousand.

Did you ever check your browsing history for a day? It looks like a never-ending list of clicks. Which of these clicks were actually meaningful? If you only had three clicks per day, what would you click?

While drinking tea…

“Chiming in on the issue of day is a trap because it protects us from having to take responsibility for a larger point of view. If Descartes had spent most of his time chiming in on the intrigues of the court we would’ve never benefited from any of his work. We don’t care which duke was hurting which baron of those days. Most of it is not very good entertainment and I don’t want to be part of that cycle.” – Seth Godin on the Good Life Project podcast . This is the best articulation of why I’m off social media and prefer to stay away from nearly all news. Said another way, by Naval, “I don’t care about current events because it’s temporal and I’d rather talk about something permanent”.

Leave a Reply