Friday Five – June 19, 2020

Some things that moved me this week:

What I’m watching:

Spelling the Dream on Netflix.

So uh, not to boast or anything, but I was a champion speller in elementary school. That’s right. So needless to say I loved every minute of this documentary! It follows four kids on their journey to the Scripps National Spelling Bee and also explores the long-running dominance of the competition by Indian-Americans. Fascinating! Though it left me feeling like I need to work on expanding my vocab big time.

What I’m listening to:

  • Gustav Mahler’s 5th and 9th Symphonies.

Context: Our nextdoor neighbor’s teenage daughter is a talented pianist and she plays super late at night, usually while I’m reading in bed. It’s a lovely soundtrack. Because of that, I’ve been listening to more classical music in general lately. Then there happened to be a bit about Mahler and his 9th symphony in one of the books I’m reading, so I looked him up. Then randomly the very next day, a friend posted on instagram that she was listening to Mahler’s 5th symphony, one that she loved, to take her mind off the news. Crazy timing.

I can always count on Sam Harris to help me contemplate a subject from a perspective I hadn’t considered before, and that alone is an important practice that I’m trying to do more of. He definitely succeeded on that front in this latest podcast concerning the Black Lives Matter movement, protests, and police violence in America. I particularly appreciated his data-based commentary on police violence. Admittedly, I haven’t paid much attention to some of the the nitty-gritty details of this part of the problem, and I made assumptions about the statistics based on the dominant narratives in mainstream media, so this was enlightening.

Sam is receiving some harsh criticisms for the podcast, which I’ve also found interesting to peruse in and of themselves, but I think it’s important to remember that Sam is a philosopher. He is approaching this, I would argue, from a wider ideological lens than most of us employ. Or maybe just’s me. But it’s one of the reasons I like him. He poses thought provoking questions that make me think more critically.

I shared the podcast on my social media channels this week saying that it felt grounding and like a much needed dose of rationale in a loud and chaotic media landscape lately. I realized later that the “grounding” I felt could likely be partially due to the fact that I use Sam’s Waking Up mediation app so his voice generally has a calming effect on me 🙂

Fun fact: Sarah was my therapist in Hawaii nine years ago so I take every chance to listen to her on any podcast, because she’s simply the best. I loved this conversation about cognitive overload, which I’m pretty sure we can all relate to right now, along with overwhelm, motivation, and some of the mind traps we find ourselves in during Covid times.

I heard about Nicole Cardoza’s racist experience with Yoga Journal last year and this week she called out the magazine for failing to deliver on some of the promises they made a year ago after they royally screwed up. She discusses that and has a broader conversation about whiteness in the wellness world.

“The work of anti-racism is becoming a better human to other humans.”

“Have you built the capacity to care more about others than you care about your own ego?”

Some of Austin Channing Brown’s words that I want to remember. I took a lot away from this conversation.

What I’m reading:

This is another book that I’ve had for years that I haven’t cracked. I heard Seth Godin on a podcast last year and he said he listens to the audiobook version of this at least once a year, so when I eyed it on my shelf the other day, I was intrigued. The authors Ben and Roz (!) are partners and Ben is a conductor for the Boston Philharmonic, hence the Mahler reference above. Through personal anecdotes and stories, they offer up twelve practices for inviting possibility into our lives in order to be better leaders and communicators. An enjoyable read with some good reminders. I wouldn’t say it’s anything that blew my mind but I loved the way they framed it up within their personal stories.

Sam Harris mentioned Coleman in his podcast a couple of times so I looked him up. His article presents the same data Sam used but I was interested in a black person’s perspective.

Book Exerpt of the Week:

From page 79 in The Art of Possibility:

Rule number 6:

Two prime ministers were sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly an aide burst in, shouting and banging his fist on the desk. The host prime minister quietly said, “Peter, kindly remember Rule Number Six.” Peter was instantly restored to complete calm, apologized for the interruption, and left the room. The prime ministers resumed their discussion. Several minutes later, another aide rushed in, shouting and stamping. Again the host prime minister quietly said, “Marie, please remember Rule Number Six.” Marie calmed down immediately, apologized, and left the room.

The visiting prime minister said “I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Tell me, what is this Rule Number Six?” The host prime minister said, “It’s really very simple. Rule Number Six is ‘Don’t take yourself so damned seriously.’” After a moment of pondering, the visiting prime minister inquired, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?”

The host replied, “There aren’t any.”

Photo of the Week:

A pretty visitor this week:


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