It was awesome lying beside Anne there in the sand, listening to the waves singing their song as they splashed unto the shore. I held her hand as we looked up to the endless stars smiling down on us. “Bernardo, do you think when we die we’ll be one of those stars?” I turned to her and said: “I hope so, and that you’ll come over and kiss me theen, so we’ll shine even brighter together.” She smiled. “So maybe the ones that are shining brighter are the ones that are kissing and hugging?”
American author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in her “cutesy” memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia,
Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.
The memoir chronicles Gilbert’s voyage of discovery around the world after her divorce. The book remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for 187 weeks and was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem in 2010
“Where you’re from?” Her eyes were staring at me while she was trying to figure me out. “I’m from a place called ‘Freeland.'” I could feel that she was almost excpecting some sort of trippy answer like that. “I’ve heard about it. But does it really exist?” Apparently she’d never been there, so I was trying to answer carefully. “It does exist, but for those who haven’t been there yet, it can exist at least in your mind.” She shook her head affirmatively. “Yes, it’s all about how free you are in your mind.”
Once, about a dozen years ago, when Chris was seven years old and Laura was nine, I picked them up in my brand-new Volkswagen Cabrio convertible. “Be careful in Uncle Randy’s new car,” my sister told them. “Wipe your feet before you get in it. Don’t mess anything up. Don’t get it dirty.” I listened to her, and thought, as only a bachelor uncle can: “That’s just the sort of admonition that sets kids up for failure. Of course they’d eventually get my car dirty. Kids can’t help it.” So I made things easy. While my sister was outlining the rules, I slowly and deliberately opened a can of soda, turned it over, and poured it on the cloth seats in the back of the convertible. My message: People are more important than things. A car, even a pristine gem like my new convertible, was just a thing.
Tibetan Buddhist nun Khandro Rinpoche writes in Buddha’s Daughters: Teachings from Women Who are Shaping Buddhism in the West (2014):
When we look back, at the time of death, the experience of this life will seem like a dream. And – just as with our nighttime dreams – it will seem useless to have put so much effort into it. The fear we experience in a dream is gone when we wake up; feeling afraid was just an unnecessary exertion of effort causing us to lose sleep! When we look back on our lives at death, the amount of time we spend in hesitation, aggression, ignorance, selfishness, jealousy, hatred, self-preservation, and arrogance will seem like an equally useless exertion of energy. So be able to regard all of these illusory thoughts and concepts as dreams. Within this illusory existence, what, if anything, is the logic behind any stubbornness, distraction, hesitation, or habitual emotions of aggression, desire, selfishness, and jealousy? What is the use of holding on to these useless emotions within impermanence? Impermanence is the nature of everything.
If you can’t say no to many things then you’ll find it impossible to say yes to focus. In most areas of your life what you choose not to do will determine what you are able to do. If you’re trying to do too much you fall victim to what is known as task saturation. If you fall into that trap you end up accomplishing far less than the person focused on one thing at a time.
In Flex: The Art and Science of Leadership in a Changing World (2019,) leadership consultant Jeffrey Hull on being a “beta leader”:
Beta is a shift in mind-set from a goal-oriented, top-down figuration to a growth-oriented, process-based one. When we live in beta, we are in flux, always improving, and always aware of the need to disrupt the status quo. Beta means being comfortable in a state of constant growth, not aspiring so much to ascend the hierarchy and dominate from above, but to lead from anywhere, anytime.
Start where you are. This is very important. Tonglen practice (and all meditation practice) is not about later, when you get it all together and you’re this person you really respect. You may be the most violent person in the world – that’s a fine place to start. That’s a very rich place to start – juicy, smelly. You might be the most depressed person in the world, the most addicted person in the world, the most jealous person in the world. You might think that there are no others on the planet who hate themselves as much as you do. All that is a good place to start.
What you do for yourself, any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself, will affect how you experience the world. In fact, it will transform how you experience the world. What you do for yourself, you’re doing for others, and what you do for others, you’re doing for yourself. When you exchange yourself for others in the practice of tonglen, it becomes increasingly uncertain what is out there and what is in here.
With the climate conversation becoming ever more heated, the Economist looks at the impact of flying in business class and the use of private jets:
First, private jets are horribly polluting. Second, they are often—and outrageously—subsidised. … new booking services and shared-ownership schemes are cutting the cost of going private and luring busy executives away from first- and business-class seats on scheduled flights.
In some countries the use of a private jet is a tax-free perk for executives. But a growing volume of research suggests that flying the boss privately is often a waste of money for shareholders.
The jets are often used to fly to places where corporate titans are more likely to have holiday homes than business meetings, such as fancy ski resorts. … Users of such planes are also more likely to commit fraud: a careless attitude to other people’s money sometimes shades into outright criminality, it seems.
The environmental effects of corporate jets are dire. A flight from London to Paris on a half-full jet produces ten times as much in carbon emissions per passenger as a scheduled flight.
Business class is worse than economy class, because it burns more jet fuel per passenger. Private jets are more damaging by an order of magnitude.