Notes started as a short-form newsletter on another platform. This post is a selection of some of favourite ideas from that archive.

Bob Dylan on creativity as affirmation of life

Life isn’t about finding yourself—or about finding anything. Life is about creating yourself. Life is about creating yourself. Life is about creating things. (Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese)

Nick Cave on grief

Grief became both an act of submission and of resistance — a place of acute vulnerability where, over time, we developed a heightened sense of the brittleness of existence. Eventually, this awareness of life’s fragility led us back to the world, transformed… in time, there is a way, not out of grief, but deep within it. (The Red Hand Files)

Haruki Murakami on dealing with criticism

That girl on the train makes me think of a jazz musician whose name was Gene Quill. He was a sax player who was famous in the nineteen-fifties and sixties. And, like any other sax player in those days, he was very influenced by Charlie Parker. One night, he was playing at a jazz club in New York and, as he was leaving the bandstand, a young man came up to him and said, “Hey, all you’re doing is playing just like Charlie Parker.” Gene said, “What?” “All you’re doing is playing like Charlie Parker.” Gene held out his alto sax, his instrument, to the guy, and said, “Here. You play just like Charlie Parker!” I think there are three points to this anecdote: one, criticizing someone is easy; two, creating something original is very hard; three, but somebody’s got to do it. I’ve been doing it for forty years; it’s my job. I think I’m just a guy who’s doing what somebody’s got to do, like cleaning gutters or collecting taxes. So, if someone is hard on me, I will hold out my instrument and say, “Here, you play it!” (The New Yorker)

Resilience is not about how much you can take but how well you recharge

The very lack of a recovery period is dramatically holding back our collective ability to be resilient and successful... The key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again... you can start by strategically stopping. Give yourself the resources to be tough by creating internal and external recovery periods. (Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan, HBR).

Craig Mod on stillness

How do I transmute this stillness into life? My daily catechism. The stillness was a quality of stillness I had never before felt. A rare glint of light and clarity in an otherwise dark and protean period full of unknowns. But a hopeful glint in the mind is a thing to carry, a thing to love. I hope I don’t forget the stillness of these past few months. I want to believe it’s embedded somewhere deep within. But maybe it’s not. Maybe it’ll be quickly forgotten. Maybe quickly forgetting is what allows us to keep going. But I’m not entirely sure. I love it and will carry it forward as far as I can. I feel this is our duty — to bring forward that stillness, that goodness, and draw on it as a source of energy later on when things, once again, fall apart. How else can you better honor that universality of pain felt worldwide? (Roden)

Confidence over capability

Talent matters—especially at elite levels—but people talk themselves out of giving their best effort long before talent becomes the limiting factor. (James Clear)

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no[t] simpler

Spuriously attributed to Einstein.

Creativity is craft. Beauty is math. Innovation is iteration.

(Che Tamahori)

Henry Miller on writing

The best thing about writing is not the actual labor of putting word against word, brick upon brick, but the preliminaries, the spadework, which is done in silence, under any circumstances, in dream as well as in the waking state. In short, the period of gestation.

No man ever puts down what he intended to say: the original creation, which is taking place all the time, whether one writes or doesn’t write, belongs to the primal flux: it has no dimensions, no form, no time element.

In this preliminary state, which is creation and not birth, what disappears suffers no destruction; something which was already there, something imperishable, like memory, or matter, or God, is summoned and in it one flings himself like a twig into a torrent. (Goodreads)

Notes — retrospective 3

Ideas from the archive.