Week 34 of 2023 has arrived. The breeze is cool, the air is dry, and the nervous excitement of new beginnings is in the air.
Time to walk over to your 4K Weeks poster and fill in another square. Done?
I have been thinking a lot lately about problems that have no solutions.
Some of this is due to the Peter Attia/Oliver Burkeman podcast linked below. (It's great, and you can hear Peter wrestling with his Type A instinct in the face of the abyss.)
But a lot of it has also to do with the stage of life I am in. I have lived, but I am not yet out of my "prime". I have accomplished, but there is a lot yet that I still want to do. I balance my time well, but I always could use more. I am finally taking good care of my body, just as it starts to really need the care.
How does a scrappy striver come to terms with the "finitude" of it all?
Much of the "last mile" of introspective philosophical musing seems to be filled with uncomfortable truths that you just have to hold. Things that you need to sit with until you can accept. Things that I think you might not be able to think, but you might be able to know.
Thanks for being here and reading. It is vital to "sharpen the saw" as a regular practice. I think of these emails as a way for me to sharpen my saw and help you sharpen yours.
The 4K Weeks Brightsider- A Multicolor Extravaganza!
The 4K Weeks Fade to Black- Momento Mori, Anyone?
The 4K Weeks Long View- A Different Horizon
Week #34 in the year 2018, Jorge Mario Bergoglio,"Pope Francis" releases a letter to all Catholics condemning sexual abuse atrocities and clerical cover-ups "We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them." He was 4261.57weeks old. (81.72 yrs)
Week #34 in the year 1964 Fannie Lou Hamer bravely speaks during the US Democratic National Convention about the abuse she experienced when registering to vote in Mississippi. The full transcript of her testimony can be found here."You can pray until you faint, but if you don't get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap." She was quite the fighter... Democrat Lyndon Johnson held a simultaneous press conference, so that she wouldn't get any television air time. She was 2446.00 weeks old. (46.90 yrs)
Week #34 in the year 1952, Kitty Wells becomes the first woman to reach #1 on the Billboard Country Chart with her hit "It Wasn't God Who Made Honkey Tonk Angels" . This also made her the first female country singer to top the U.S. country charts and turned her into the first female country superstar. She was 1721.00 weeks old. (33.00 yrs)
Week #34 in the year 2020, Kamala Harris accepts the nomination for vice-president of the United States, becoming the 1st US woman of color on a major-party ticket. She was 2913.29 weeks old (55.87 years)
This Week's Quote
"The only way to tell the truth is to speak with kindness. Only the words of a loving man can be heard." Henry David Thoreau
I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday at coffee, and we were discussing a few different "Influencers" who are outside of the mainstream. These guys talk about things in a very "frank" way... "The Emperor has no clothes" type of stuff. And it seems, due to their outsider status, they regularly raise some really valid points about the absurdity of myriad popular narratives.
It's an "unapologetic" style that seems to be gaining popularity. Like the unfortunate "Sorry, I'm Just an Asshole. Deal With It." bumper stickers.
But, the thing is, we weren't giving them credit about how they "tell it like it is", and we weren't talking about how awesome they are for throwing "truth bombs"...
We were talking about how they are total jerks; insensitive buttheads with little empathy or regard for the feelings of other humans who don't match their avatar.
We are all grown ups, we don't need to be coddled. We can be confronted with opposing views, even strongly-held, intensely-felt beliefs.
But don't be a jerk about it.
Be a light. Don't shy away from hard truths, or testing your beliefs... be firm...and committed..and earnest... AND KIND.
It's just better.
What I am Consuming This Week
Radiolab: Season 23 Episode 24: "The Internet Dilemma". An interesting discussion of Section 230, the rule that gives tech platforms "immunity" from responsibility.
Inner Cosmos with David Eagleman: "Why does your brain care more about some people than others". I like his voice, I like his thoughts, and I like his delivery... sidebar ... I have always thought "I would push the guy." It's just math... but while listening, I think I decided that I won't push the guy.
The Drive: with Peter Attia: "Time Productivity, and purpose: Insights from Four Thousand Weeks- Oliver Burkeman". I love his book, and I love Oliver Burkeman's voice. There is some frank, and often circular, discussion of the difficulty of squaring mortality with an achievement mentality... it is super interesting to hear Peter wrestle with it in real time.
What I am Thinking About This Week
Action/inaction, striving/acceptance, contentment/emptiness.
I don't know if you have gotten the memo, but it is all pointless. Nothing any of us do matters.
Even if you take the most memorable, legacy-leaving human from the modern age... let's take Muhammad Ali (I specifically avoided religious or national icons). If you pull the scale out just a bit, he is totally forgotten. Wiped clean from the memory of the world. Will it be 1,000 years? 2,000 years? Those are a blip on the timeline.
And yet, your life has meaning. You know that to be true, even if occasionally you deny it out of depression or a macabre sense of humor.
And so, why struggle, why strive, when "none of it really matters anyway" ?
I think it is because you have to try, for it to matter.
Maybe it is the historical "fish struggling up onto the land" inside of us, that makes us need struggle or maybe it goes back further than that... Entropy is increasing, everything is falling apart, but life wants to try to pull order from the chaos. Life needs to feel like it is capable of pulling order from the chaos.
And so why would you strive when none of it matters?
It's because striving, struggling, trying, scraping, any synonym for grappling... MAKES IT MATTER.
I don't mean that is has to suck... that isn't the striving that I am talking about. There is no need to beat yourself up, physically or mentally.
But...you have to try, to grow... you have to break through the dirt, fight off all the pests and encroaching leaves so that your flower can bloom in the sun.
If you try it means something. If you don't, it doesn't.
Have a great week!
Thanks for being a part of the journey with us! Please tell me if you liked/disliked the email this week. Ask my wife... those are the only emails I like to get!
Spencer, Owner of 4KWeeks.com
Dad Joke O' The Week
How many apples can you fit in an empty box? One, because then it's not empty!