“If you mount two clock pendulums side by side on the wall, they will gradually begin to swing together. They synchronize each other by picking up tiny vibrations they each transmit through the wall.
Any two things that oscillate at about the same interval, if they’re physically near each other, will gradually tend to lock in and pulse at exactly the same interval. Things are lazy. It takes less energy to pulse cooperatively than to pulse in opposition. Physicists call this beautiful, economical laziness mutual phase locking, or entrainment.
All living beings are oscillators. We vibrate. Amoeba or human, we pulse, move rhythmically, change rhythmically; we keep time. You can see it in the amoeba under the microscope, vibrating in frequencies on the atomic, the molecular, the sub-cellular, and the cellular levels. That constant, delicate, complex throbbing is the process of life itself made visible.
We huge many-celled creatures have to coordinate millions of different oscillation frequencies, and interactions among frequencies, in our bodies and our environment. Most of the coordination is effected by synchronizing the pulses, by getting the beats into a master rhythm, by entrainment.
Like the two pendulums, though through more complex processes, two people together can mutually phase-lock. Successful human relationship involves entrainment — getting in sync. If it doesn’t, the relationship is either uncomfortable or disastrous.”
A real, effective apology has three parts:
(1) Acknowledge how your action affected the person;
(2) say you’re sorry;
(3) describe what you’re going to do to make it right or make sure it doesn’t happen again. Don’t excuse or explain.
“We aren’t in relationships to suffer in silence or fury; we may have come from unhappy muzzled childhoods, but it is the prerogative of adulthood to be able to complain; we simply need to give ourselves the space and compassion to learn to do so successfully, which means, with an absence of sarcasm or rage.”
“This seems to be an era of gratuitous inventions and negative improvements. Consider the beer can. It was beautiful – as beautiful as the clothespin, as inevitable as the wine bottle, as dignified and reassuring as the fire hydrant. A tranquil cylinder of delightfully resonant metal, it could be opened in an instant, requiring only the application of a handy gadget freely dispensed by every grocer. Who can forget the small, symmetrical thrill of those two triangular punctures, the dainty pfff, the little crest of suds that foamed eagerly in the exultation of release? Now we are given, instead, a top beetling with an ugly, shmoo-shaped tab, which, after fiercely resisting the tugging, bleeding fingers of the thirsty man, threatens his lips with a dangerous and hideous hole. However, we have discovered a way to thwart Progress, usually so unthwartable. Turn the beer can upside down and open the bottom. The bottom is still the way the top used to be. True, this operation gives the beer an unsettling jolt, and the sight of a consistently inverted beer can might make people edgy, not to say queasy. But the latter difficulty could be eliminated if manufacturers would design cans that looked the same whichever end was up, like playing cards. What we need is Progress with an escape hatch.”
– Jon Updike
Originally appeared in The New Yorker (Jan. 18, 1964).
“There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-improtance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you – of kindness and consideration and respect – not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.”
– John Steinbeck
“If you want a meeting, ask for a meeting. Provide some time options and ask for a specified length. If you want an introduction, ask for an introduction. If you’re looking for funding, tell him you’re currently fundraising and ask to meet to show him your pitch. Don’t be sly. Don’t hint. Make the process ridiculously easy by just asking for what you want.”
“The future of content, in my opinion, is all about creating context. We are bombarded with so much information from so many channels every single day, that people crave editorial that can actually help them make sense of everything. We get so much of our “content” in these little bursts now — be it an email, a tweet, a blog post. But it’s always this little bite-sized, isolated bit of information. We rarely understand how it actually fits into our lives.
Given this, I think what’s needed are curators, editors, writers, filmmakers, etc who can really zoom out from that narrow perspective and take the long view. Who can do some of that sense-making for people so that they understand how this political development fits into the long arc of history, or how developing this particular habit will give their life more meaning in the long run. The future of content is about creating a rich, well-thought-out context that makes it possible for people to really process and synthesize ideas in depth — not in this surface-y way we’re all accustomed to now.”
“I strongly believe that the amount of love and care you put into a project is always apparent. Even if people are not conscious of it, they can sense when you have paid attention to every little detail.”
– Jocelyn K. Glei
“As much as we’d like to be nice people, we owe others a lot less of our time than we believe we do. It’s your business, you’re allowed to be a little selfish with it, especially when the net result of saying “yes” to everything to be “nice” is that you have less time to actually spend on your business and serving your customers.”
– Paul Jarvis
“It’s important to own your content in the sense that you take responsibility for it. I’m proud of most of what we produce at Design*Sponge, but I’ve made a lot of publishing mistakes over the years. And owning those mistakes and talking about them publicly (and hopefully helping others avoid those pitfalls or mistakes) is a part of that accountability and trust you have to build with your audience. So I want to make sure that I can go to bed at night knowing I did my best to protect and celebrate the people we’re writing about and that when that goes wrong, I take responsibility and people reading know that we care and are doing our best.”
“Here is the hardest thing for many people about adulthood: Staying awake. That is, resisting the somnambulance that will grow like weeds over any state of habitual life, excepting acute crises. You have to actively invite experiences into your life that will interrupt the smallness of your story and the calcifying generalizations you make about the world based on your own private universe.”
“The people you spend time with literally co-create who you are, down to the near-cellular level. You’re building a life. The ones you build it with will be critical to your professional success, not because they’ll be in your field, but because they’ll be in your corner. The good ones will give you a kind of emotional buoyancy and a head-shrinking perspective that will nourish the person you’re trying to become—and yeah, that’ll enhance your job performance immeasurably.”
“Communities are not built of friends, or of groups with similar styles and tastes, or even of people who like and understand each other. They are built of people who feel they are part of something that is bigger than themselves: a shared goal or enterprise, like righting a wrong, or building a road, or raising children, or living honorably, or worshipping a god. To build community requires only the ability to see value in others, to look at them and see a potential partner in one’s enterprise.”
– Suzanne Goldsmith
“Eventually I realized that success is not about big hits. It’s actually in the opportunity to improve. How could our sales pipeline be better managed? How could our team be coached on client interaction? Who seems frustrated, who could use coffee? How could our meetings be more efficient, and in lesser quantities? Do we need more plants?”
“We start on the path to genuine adulthood when we stop insisting on our emotional competence and acknowledge the extent to which we are – in many areas of our psyche – likely to be sharply trailing our biological age. Realising we aren’t – as yet, in subtle ways – quite adults may be the start of true maturity.”
“Although there are some examples of highly engaged communities being developed via technology (e.g., Peloton riders), when it comes to belonging, real connection will most likely come from in-person interaction in real life. But having physical space is not enough: Brands should create spaces, experiences, products, and services that deliberately foster the conditions for diverse people coming together in respectful environments for shared experiences.”
“As someone who has decades of experience on the web, I hate to compare myself to the tortoise, but hey, if it fits, it fits. Let’s be more like that tortoise: diligent, direct, and purposeful. The web needs pockets of slowness and thoughtfulness as its reach and power continues to increase. What we depend upon must be properly built and intelligently formed. We need to create space for complexity’s important sibling: nuance. Spaces without nuance tend to gravitate towards stupidity. And as an American, I can tell you, there are no limits to the amount of damage that can be inflicted by that dangerous cocktail of fast-moving-stupid.”
“The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age. But it’s so easy to add or remove friends on the internet that people fail to learn the real social skills, which you need when you go to the street, when you go to your workplace, where you find lots of people who you need to enter into sensible interaction with.”
“The opposite of spare time is, I guess, occupied time. In my case I still don’t know what spare time is because all my time is occupied. It always has been and it is now. It’s occupied by living.”
– Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin on “Spare Time,” What It Means to Be a Working Artist, and the Vital Difference Between Being Busy with Doing and Being Occupied with Living