Finished on 2024-06-17

I liked it. Was nice to read about people on a similar path, though further down the path of figured-out money.

Didn’t agree with everything, but I like that he creates a positive picture for a life outside of full-time work as is default in our society. He focuses on white collar work, but I think it is applicable outside of it.

Some quotes I liked:

Some people inherit values and practices as a house they inhabit; some of us have to burn down that house, find our own ground, build from scratch, even as a psychological metamorphosis. - Rebecca Solnit

Pieper argued that for the most of history, leisure was one of the most important parts of life for people in many cultures. He noted that the ancient Greek translation for “work” was literally “not-at-leisure”. In Aristotle’s own words, “we are not-at-leisure in order to be-at-leisure”. Now, this is flipped. We work to earn time off and see leisure as a break from work. Peipper pointed out that people “mistake leisure for ideleness, and work for creativity.” To Pieper, leisure was above work. It was “a condition of the soul,” and the “disposition of receptive understanding, of contemplative beholding and immersion - in the real.” pg 60

  1. Are you a worker?
  2. If you are not a worker, then who are you?
  3. Given who you are, what life is sufficient? … According to Taggart, livin in a world dominate by total work undermines the “playful contemplation concerned with our asking, pondering and answering the most basic questions of existence.” pg 61

Uncertain Discomfort < Certain Discomfort + Coping Mechanism p. 67

In addition, once you are on the pathless path, defining your own constraints and fixed points is not a choice, it’s essential to thriving on your journey.

The secret to doing good research is to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours. - Amost Tversky

People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! Any world is a valid world if it’s alive. The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself. - Joseph Campbell

The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability. - Seth Godin

We are always falling in love or quarrelling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come. - CS Lewis

On the pathless path, the goal is not to find a job, make money, build a business, or achieve any other metric. It’s to actively and consciously search for the work that you want to keep doing. This is one of the most important secrets of the pathless path.

believe in your own identity and your own opinions. Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it. Use its energy to keep yourself going.

This was the way out of cynicism. I became more optimistic not because I started to write better or was right, but because I stopped hiding. I led with my curiosity, vulnerability, and passion and it immediately attracted the kind of people I wanted to meet.

When I quit the New York Times to be a full-time mother, the voices of the world said that I was nuts. When I quit it again to be a full-time novelist, they said I was nuts again. But I am not nuts. I am happy. I am successful on my own terms. Because if your success is not your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all. - Anna Quindlen

The problem with conformity, Fromm argued, is that it leads to an existence that is too rigid, routine, and predictable. This undermines the space for spontaneity and active engagement that might help one discover what matters at a deeper level. David Foster Wallace once argued that this is the whole point of a liberal arts educataion in perhaps the best defense of this tradition: I submit that this is what the real, no-bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. Wallace’s point is that doing what almost everyone else is doing is the natural thing in life. If we are serious about other approaches, it will take work.

I disagree with this one a bit. I think that this is still a valid way to live life, and that it almost goes against the default path? The default path feels like isolated, lonely, unfamiliar, large, unlocal. Maybe he means a world view, and not how we choose to live.

The sooner this happens the better because the era of living your entire life in a small, local, and familiar community is over.

Thompson noted that “time is now currency, it is not passed but spent.”

People aim for “financial independence” only to realize when they achieve it that they’re only independent in the narrow sense of being able to pay for everything.

On the gift economy:

Partly because in today’s world most people donate to formal charities, giving directly feels weird. Many charitable organizations are set up like businesses and use the same marketing tactics.

Listened to the Monkey Tooth Podcast with Heiko Greb , he talks about how only doing one thing, usually because of money, leads to boring repetition.

Godin claims that this works is bout more than getting paid: “You cannot create a piece of art merely for money. Doing it as a part of commerce so denudes art of wonder that it cease to be art.”

coming alive over getting ahead

leaving space for a little more life.

To create your own culture on the pathless path you must identify the assumptions you make in your approach to life. Here are my assumptions, many of which have been sprinkled throughout this book:

  • Many people are capable of more than they believe.
  • Creativity is a real path to optimism, meaning, and connection.
  • We don’t need permission to engage with the world and the people around us.
  • We are all creative, and it takes some people longer to figure that out.
  • Leisure, or active contemplation, is one of the most important things in life
  • There are many ways to make money and when an obvious path emerges, there is often a more interesting path not showing itself
  • finding the work that matters to us is the real work of our lives.

“experiments in living” as John Stuart Mill called them, are vital to pushing culture forward.

Summary of many lessons

pg 147 - Has more info, just putting the first word.

  1. Question the default.
  2. Reflect.
  3. Figure out what you have to offer.
  4. Pause and disconnect.
  5. Go make a friend. Venture out of your existing bubble and reach out to someone who has taken an interesting path.
  6. Go make something. Remember, you are creative!
  7. Give generously.
  8. Experiment
  9. Commit
  10. Be patient.