Ten Pieces of Inspiration #25

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

1. Daniel Tammet on different ways of knowing
We all perceive the world in different ways. The real trick is digging past our own perceptions and trying to see the world for how it actually is, which is the subject of this clever short talk.

I’ve been thinking about this all week, and I think the technique that works best for me is simply trying to see, as best I can, how lots of different people perceive something.

2. Thoreau on the value of a good book
Every book of worth sticks with you long after you’re done reading it. It alters the path you take in life. However, that’s just one side of the equation.

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. – Henry David Thoreau

A great book gives you what you need to actually make changes in your life and in the world around you.

3. Lullaby by W. H. Auden
Whenever I read this poem, I imagine my wife.

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

I imagine her as a child, as she was when I first met her. I imagine her as a very young woman, as she was when we first fell in love. I imagine her now, as a mother and a wife. And I imagine her as she will be, when we’re old and grey together.

4. Dark Trail by Scott Hudson
There are few things I love better than a walk in the woods. While I enjoy walks in familiar places, it is often the unfamiliar ones that give me just a twinge of excitement.

Dark Trail

Where does the path lead? I don’t know, but I yearn to find out.

5. a.placebetween.us
Ever wanted to meet up with someone (or a group of people) in a certain area, but had a hard time coming together with a cohesive plan to make it happen? That’s the exact problem a.placebetween.us solves.

You put in the addresses of everyone who would come, identify what it is you want to do, and it comes up with the most sensible location (usually a list of them) for that activity. I’ve already used it for a few meetups and it seems to always come up with a great solution or two.

6. The Seine near Samois by Paul Signac (1899)
I love this kind of post-impressionist style, where the world is filled with an almost dreamlike quality of bright colors and brushstrokes.

Painting of the Seine by Paul Signac

Sometimes, I feel like the closest I’ll ever come to seeing the world through someone else’s eyes comes from paintings like this one.

7. Churchill’s first speech as Prime Minister to the House of Commons
It’s May 1940. London is being bombed on a daily basis. In a panic, the former Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, has been removed. The new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, speaks to Parliament for the first time as Prime Minister, and he says just what needs to be said.

“I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make allowance, all allowance, for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” – Winston Churchill, May 13, 1940

It is raw, plain human effort that stands above all else. Without it, things won’t get better.

8. Alexander Woolcott on unimportant days
Simply put, there isn’t such a thing.

“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” – Alexander Woolcott

Every day, we each have the chance to do something truly important. It might be something as simple as teaching someone else or making someone else feel loved. Those things are important.

9. Bach’s Double Violin Concerto (excerpt) by Rachel Podger and Andrew Manze
This is such a wonderful piece. As with any great classical piece, I close my eyes when I listen to it.

For some reason, I visualize the end of a life, but it’s a happy and peaceful end.

10. Rupert Brooke on the good things
They’re pretty simple, really.

“I know what things are good: friendship and work and conversation. These I shall have.” – Rupert Brooke

The things that have lasting value in life, the things I can never quite get enough of, tend to be the free things. Friends. Great conversation. Learning. Work. For me at least, teaching and writing fall into this group. So much else in life can just fall away and, as long as these things remain, I’m happy.

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