Fragile, Resilient, Antifragile

Last month, the power went out at the gym. Lights went black, the treadmills stopped moving, and huge, medieval-looking doors slammed shut around us—sealing us inside like the plot of an Agatha Christie novel. It made me realize how fragile my workout was: No electricity, no running. In Greek Mythology, the Sword of Damocles is […]

Zone Two

I’ve been training for my first marathon for the last few months. I’ve never been much of a distance runner, so my running workouts were always short and exhausting—a few miles at a quick pace. But that’s not sustainable. To ascend to 9-, 12-, or 15-mile runs, I needed a steady (dare I say turtle’s) […]

Magical Buckets

Sometimes I think about that scene from Fight Club when Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) holds a gas station attendant at gunpoint and asks him what dream he quit. The sobbing attendant confesses he wanted to be a veterinarian, but it was too hard. Durden allows him to live, and with the fear of death in […]

The Slowest Hiker

I love the scenic beauty of Washington State—it’s the main reason I moved here. The problem is that everyone here loves the scenic beauty, so most hiking trails are crowded. When I hike, I constantly pass big groups because they can only move as fast as the slowest hiker. Like the ancient adage, “A chain […]

Secondhand Smoke

I’m always amazed by how quickly a clever framing can sway public opinion. In the US, smoking went from a commonplace activity to a near-villainous crime within a half-century, almost entirely through advertising. Compared to other vices—alcohol, gambling, porn—smoking rarely resulted in violence, financial loss, or broken relationships. But, more than any other vice, smoking […]

Gravitational Pull

Imagine a group of people as a solar system. Be it a family, company, sports team, organization, church community, or a gaggle of friends—someone in the group is the sun, around which activities, decisions, and conversations orbit. A sun has gravity, and a sun-like person has the gravitas to pull others toward them. In bigger […]

Eating the Frog

My cousins and I used to visit a place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula called “Black Rocks”—cliffs beside the icy waters of Lake Superior. The thirty-foot drop was scary, so my cousins and I teetered at the edge for many minutes, summoning the courage to jump. But the longer we took, the harder it became to […]

Underpants Gnomes

On an infamous episode of South Park, the boys do a school presentation about “underpants gnomes”— little elves that sneak into a house and steal underpants each night. The underpants gnomes have a sophisticated plan for their operation: It’s easy to mimic these underpants gnomes. For instance, every version of this newsletter is a fresh 3-pack […]

Gray Time

Imagine time as black and white, where black is work time, and white is playtime. If our days were a chessboard of activity, we’d starkly transform from work to play and play to work and have clear compartmentalization. The reality is that we mix colors: We muddle our time and spend many hours dwelling in […]

Chronos & Kairos

The Ancient Greeks had two concepts for time: Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is quantitative, purpose-driven, and marked by hours and minutes, and Kairos is qualitative, having no measure or agenda. No surprise, but Chronos was portrayed as stodgy and evil, whereas Kairos was romantic, pure, and beautiful. Reducing Chronos and Kairos to simplistic terms like […]