The Internet is so saturated with unsolicited life advice; why would I ever share my midlife self-absorption publicly? In case it serves someone else, as Steven Johnson’s birthday reflection from 12 years ago served me then, and served me again today.
Call it historical schadenfreude: I’ve been greatly comforted over the past couple of months by reading historical accounts of just how much worse things used to be a hundred years ago.
How were these writers able to endow their characters with such sentimentality while totally cutting themselves off from the emotional lives of their loved ones in real life? Or is it the inverse? Perhaps the well-adjusted person, who shares his vulnerabilities honestly in the social world, lacks the burning impulse to produce great writing.
Why not experience this elevated attentiveness to the beauty of nature every day instead of the constant hustle to get ahead in the city, to get more money, more followers, more fame, more power?