Reading “Digital Minimalism”

Walking with Stella

Yesterday, out on the bike path, there was a new slant of light. A spring slant. It was still blowing in the 20s in my face, but there was a definite shift in the angle of the sun. Stella and I both felt it. 

This new light and the cold on my face reminded me of when I used to be a runner. I ran everyday. Rain or shine. I trained up and down the hills. 

 My walks with Stella are taking on this same kind of regularity.

I like it.

Reading Digital Minimalism

Newport On Walking:

I just got finished reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. He too, highly recommends taking long walks alone. He calls walking “a high-quality source of solitude.” (p.119)

He quotes Nietzsche, “Only thoughts reached by walking have value.” 

I, personally, have always liked the Latin phrase, solvitur ambulando which means: All is solved through walking.

Pretty much my experience. If I have a problem, I take it for a walk. The bigger the problem, the longer the walk.

Newport takes his problems on walks sometimes, too, he says, but he also goes on what he calls “gratitude walks” where he just appreciates the environment.

That’s what I try to do when I take Stella. I try to get out of my head and just notice nature and the sky, and do what Thoreau did: spend a lot of time staring at ice.

 One of our walks takes us across a beaver dam. There’s ice on both sides of the path. It’s getting thinner.

Beavers soon.

On a regular basis, go for long walks, preferably somewhere scenic. Take these walks alone, which means not just by yourself, but also, if possible, without your phone. If you’re wearing headphones, or monitoring a text message chain, or, God forbid narrating the stroll on Instagram—you’re not really walking, and therefore you’re not going to experience this practice’s greatest benefits.” P. 121

And what are the benefits? Clearer thinking, time to clarify values, time to connect to nature, and as a high quality source of solitude.

Newport On Leisure:

He makes a lot of distinctions in this book between high quality and low quality things.

 Things like leisure.

He says there are high quality leisure activities and low quality ones. If it’s passive, it’s low-quality: video games, watching sports, web-surfing and long evenings at the bar.

High quality leisure activities involve making things in the world, either that, or being super-social.

High quality leisure activities are often done outside and always without screens, unless it’s using a YouTube tutorial to learn how to fix something.

Ever since I read this I’ve been trying to think of something I do that results in something physical in the world.  I can’t think of a thing.

I have lots of low-quality leisure activities though, but no high-quality ones. Someone I follow on FB just posted pictures of a table she made from a slab of wood she found in the woods. It’s gorgeous. It’s amazing. That’s what Newport would call a high-quality leisure activity.

What do I do that’s comparable to that? Nothing. I need a thing like that to do. I need to make something. What, though?

This is what I’m thinking about on my walks these days, in between staring at ice, and trying not to think at all.

Happy Noticings

I’ve started a “Happy Noticings” section to my daily planner to keep me on the alert for things that please me during this season of drek.

Shoes.

I’ve been especially appreciating my shoes lately. Especially these Gore-tex trail runners from Brooks I got in the fall. They keep my feet warm and dry out on the trails with Stella. I wear them every day unless there’s deep snow. (They’re the pair on the right in the picture above.) I’ve splashed through muck and water and slush in them and my feet stay completely dry.

Love them

https://www.brooksrunning.com/en_us/brooks-running-shoes-ghost-11-gtx-womens/120276.html

I also love the pair on the left, but sadly, I don’t think Adidas makes them anymore. They’re insulated boots that keep my feet super warm in snow. I don’t wear them in deep snow, and they don’t have terrific traction, but even still, I do love them and they look stylin’ to boot.. Bonus.

On dry days, for going out, or to-and-fro from the studio, I love my Allbirds. I have them in charcoal, black, and red. They’re made of wool and I can wear them with or without socks. They are coziest shoes I’ve ever owned. Stella chewed the laces on my new black ones the other day and I was NOT PLEASED. A few months ago a woman in the Verizon store asked me about them and I took them off in the middle of my iPhone transaction and let her try them on. I can get a little too excited about stuff I love.

https://www.allbirds.com/

Blogs

Actually, just one blog. This one:

https://fromthepencup.wordpress.com/

This is pen porn. And paper porn. And planner porn. When I first found it, I lost 2 hours in her archives on a day when I did not have 2 hours to lose.

If you love pens and stationary stores and notebooks and planners and pencils and ink, ohmygod.

I now follow her, but part of me is afraid to go into my Reader each day for fear she will have posted something new and I will be sucked down the rabbit hole again. Nobody should get this excited about pens.

Not a blog, but this article in the NYTimes made me so happy. It was so funny and so true and so wonderfully written I immediately went on Amazon to see if I could pre-order her next book, How to Raise A Reader, and did. Then while I was there, I also ordered her memoir, My Life With Bob. She’s the editor of the New York Times Book Review and this piece about boredom, and her advocacy for it, is terrific.

And it’s going to pair so well with the next book my book group is reading, At my suggestion we’re going with Cal Newport’s latest, Digital Minimalism. I haven’t started it yet, but I was a part of his Digital Declutter experiment last year. I blogged about it and gave a my weekly Recap HERE.


So those are a few things that have been making me happy this month. What has been lighting up your life? Please share! I so appreciate finding wonderful things, especially now, when winter seems like it will never end.