20 Things for 2020

This is a post from an older draft that I originally was going to publish before COVID-19 got serious (I wrote it in February), so it is not connected to the moment per se, but I think it, and the broader goal of blogging, may be helpful during this unique time. Good luck, no matter where you are at, and my thoughts are with you.

The Good Life

opulence
Miniature giraffes and gold-encrusted chairs clearly mean the good life.

What many people consider creativity doesn’t occur in flash of sudden brilliance. A Mona Lisa doesn’t leap from the brush. In Search of Lost Time doesn’t write itself. Maybe sometimes, but not often. Most creative people slog through long hours, laboring without much inspiration, until their little efforts accumulate into a sizable project.

As French writer Albert Camus put it in an essay on French novels, “Works of art are not born in flashes of inspiration, but in a daily fidelity.”

One can never underestimate the sustained effort of a single person. But a person needs a direction first. Simply running and working without direction leads nowhere. Like a dog chasing its own tail or a hamster sprinting on its wheel, undirected effort–no matter how hard it is–remains undirected and fruitless.

One needs something to structure effort, like a goal or even a way of life. In many ways, this was once the role of philosophy.

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