I was just thinking . . .

People younger than you know stuff you don’t know. So do people older than you. So learn to listen better.

You shouldn’t engage with politics unless you are also engaged with reality.

The things you know about people will still be true decades later. The things you know about things will be obsolete in a few years.

For every proverb there is an equal and opposite proverb. Or maybe not.

The hardest lesson in life is that other people have feelings that feel just as real to them as your feelings do to you. One-on-one, that’s manners. At scale, that’s politics.

Writers write for two reasons. One is that something inside them drives them to; they can’t not write. The other is that every once in a while, someone tells them, “I read what you wrote and it changed me.” There are other reasons, but those are the two that matter.

Don’t call people lazy. Everyone is lazy — evolution favors conserving energy. Every invention from the vacuum cleaner to the microwave oven to the Web happened because we are lazy. Each of us has a limited amount of energy and a desire to be stingy with it. The question is, what will you do with what energy you have? And what will you do that recharges it?

That thing you are thinking about doing, but maybe you shouldn’t: Would you be okay if your mother knew you were doing it? Would you be okay if everyone knew you were doing it? Those prominent people who are getting in trouble now for bad choices they made in the past might have been better off if they’d thought that way.

It used to be that coming of age was when you learned how the world worked. Now it is when you first get a device that has access to every bit of knowledge in the world. And that’s pretty young.

I heard a sound bite from the President on the radio yesterday. It was the first thing I’d heard from him in weeks. And I’m fine with that.

If everyone in Clubhouse wants people to listen to them, then everyone is talking and very few are actually listening. I don’t think that’s a sustainable model.

When I say I still feel like I’m mentally in my twenties — is that because it was easier to think then without being constantly bombarded with information?

If your boss, your editor, or somebody like me told you to that you have to cut 25% of what you just wrote, you would. And it would be better. So why do you need somebody to tell you?

Paul Simon wrote, “The thought that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains.” It could be. But that takes work, and people don’t like to work.

What do you do every day without fail? That’s the core of who you are. What do you do when the pressure is unbearable? That’s you, too. Try to be better at both.

Starting something important is hard. Finishing is hard, too, but smart people don’t give up on the last 10%, because it matters.

If you read an article that’s about what another article said, go find the original source and read that. And don’t share the first article.

Everyone falls for bullshit. But it’s easier to check now than it ever has been. What you want to believe isn’t the same as what is true. Next time you read something and gleefully say “I knew it!”, take a minute to check.

Why is there no cologne that smells like old books? It might help some of us find our soulmates.

All those “Who would you like to be stuck on a desert island with?” tropes don’t seem so outlandish now that we’re stuck in a pandemic. I’m just lucky the right answer was “My wife and kids.”

The people and companies who spent the last year gathering resources for the relaunch are going to win. Most of them were powerful and successful already. They’re not the people and companies hanging on by their fingernails. You can give them credit for being smart, but a lot of the smart people were using their wits trying not to starve.

Everyone is a writer — if you count email and social media.

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  1. Random comment on your random comments:

    Great description of why people write!

    RE: we’re all lazy – I remember reading that when Frank Gilbreth, one of the first efficiency experts, first visited a plant or factory that wanted him to help them become more efficient, he would ask to see their laziest employee, because that employee had figured out how to get the most accomplished with the least amount of effort.

    Others’ beliefs – I remember teaching my kids that some people believe the opposite of what you do just as strongly as you defend your stand, but they all get a vote.

    Thank you for acknowledging that lots of smart people had to spend their pandemic time figuring out how to survive, rather than amassing resources for post-pandemic times. There are many smart people in difficult situations through no fault of their own.

    Powell’s Bookstore has been on my bucket list for a long time!