Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

I think I should start posting earlier in the day. You know, when the schedule still glows with possibility, and my plans have yet to come to fruition but still could.

Have I finished baking the week’s bread? No, but it is in progress.

Have I aced today’s Wordle? No, but it’s still possible I could pull out a miraculous win. (It’s not, if I’m honest. Really not.)

Will I get to all that yard work on my list, including a date with a massive downed tree branch and a power saw? Soon, definitely!

Finished reading that book on building better habits (and generally being more awesome)? No, but I am halfway through and already feel a fresh cloak of virtue wrapping itself around me like a warm blanket.

Have I worked out a fix for a broken computer, created a brilliant new recipe, drafted a story, sent in that submission, raked and trimmed and seeded and cleaned and refilled and laundered and baked and donated and delivered? (Or realized that this list is unrealistically, impossibly long?)

Now, barring a sudden attack of zombies or a meteor shower, I’ll actually get a lot of these things done. But all of them? 

Probably not. The gap between where I am and where I’d like to be will always be wider than my reach. 

Still. It’s morning and right now all things are possible. Doesn’t the sun shine brighter for it?

Here’s to a productive weekend. Because hope, as they say, springs eternal!

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Photo by Tyssul Patel on Unsplash

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Here’s hoping for a happier New Year!

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This is my (non-day job related) To Do List Action Matrix (sounds very official, amirite?)

Ooh, I feel the actiony energies bubbling up already. Wait, how is it lunchtime already?

Not the complete list, you understand, but a selection of the items I am most likely to tackle in the next few days.

He he. Let’s see how far I get, shall we?

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Photo by Omer Salom on Unsplash

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It Was a Good Plan

I had a plan for the day. It was a good plan. It was shiny and perfect and now it is gone. In its place I have a Post-it that looks like a Rorschach test, a list of things I did not intend to do (but did, so that’s nice:) and a handbasket of good intentions.

Let’s hear it for tomorrow!

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“The belief that tomorrow is a different place from today is certainly a unique hallmark of our species.”

 ― Douglas Coupland

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Today is Earth Day. Happy 4.543 billionth birthday, Earth! Here’s hoping for many more.

Much of my day job is based in current news and events, which means I spend a good part of most days knee-deep in the internet. Yeah, it can be exactly as fun as it sounds. That said, I’m not looking for the bad stuff, or not only the bad stuff.

I’m looking for the uplifting, the hopeful, the rays of light. For a path to something better. So for every article I read telling me that in recent years, there are more Starbucks locations in California than overwintering monarch butterflies, there are pieces on what’s good, like these:

Let These Stunning Photos of a Year of Virtual Youth Climate Activism Inspire You

Halifax-based developer of CO2-injected concrete wins multimillion-dollar prize

It’s hard to miss the evidence of change, but the good news is that we’re not just discussing it, we’re beginning to take concrete action.

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You already know that doing big things is hard. Like ”saving the planet.” Human beings are small, and I suspect that at the root, most of us are plagued by the niggling feeling that we are just bit players on an unimaginably vast stage. That at some fundamental level our actions don’t matter much at all in the bigger picture. Not really.

But we’re wrong. And the world is made up of smaller pictures.

Photo by Martijn Baudoin on Unsplash

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It’s the question every hero is asked: The future is uncertain. The path is unknown. What are you going to do about it?

What you can, wherever you can. As a minor example, I spent time today researching ways to turn our absolutely useless lawn space into a pollinator garden.

Of course, a lot of what needs to happen on climate change isn’t just about individual action. Deciding not to eat meat on Tuesdays matters, but standards and infrastructure for energy, transportation, agriculture and construction, to name a few sectors, will need to modernize too.

It means working together on new ideas, new innovations, and new legislation. More and better targets, the kind that make a positive difference in people’s lives.*

Because humans are a social species. There is never just one, and when it comes to saving our home that’s a challenge but also a benefit. Sea shanties swept the globe in a matter of weeks. Why not this?

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It sounds big, and it is, but we do big things all the time, often by accident.** It’s just time to do this particular big thing on purpose. Here’s the mantra I try to stick with: Pick a goal. Break it down. Start today.

We are never just one. None of us are. We are legion. And we got ourselves into this mess. We can get ourselves out.

Starting today.

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* Like clean air and water. And I really enjoy the fact that one day, for example, I’ll be able to put my seat belt on, drive an electric car down well-maintained roads, sit in a non-smoking section at a restaurant, and eat food that won’t kill me. And that my nephews don’t spend their summers swimming in a creek laced with PCBs (like we did). Crazy, I know!

** I mean, who sets out to upend civilization? They just want to see what happens if they burn that dirty rock or invent the light bulb or the assembly line or freaking Facebook. There is no button a curious monkey will not poke. Wouldn’t it be nice if we can make it work for us for a change?

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“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives… The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand… To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

— Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

NASA via Voyager 1 Spacecraft, Feb. 14, 1990.

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We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
— Preamble to the United States Constitution

I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States will endure, that it will prevail, that the dream of our founders will live on in our time.

— Barack Obama

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via Slate.com:
Using Science Fiction to Create a Better Tomorrow: A Future Tense Event Recap

Oh, this looks fun. A recent event hosted by Slate’s Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology in D.C. focused on ways that imagination in general, and science fiction in particular, can help inspire a better future. Sure, dystopias are all the rage and who doesn’t love a good apocalypse, but people have always enjoyed teasing themselves with frightening things. The key word is “teasing”… that doesn’t mean we actually want to live there.

(Srsly, do you really want a horde of raving zombies standing between you and your pumpkin spice latte every morning? Neither do I. I want to live in a future where disease is manageable, hunger is obsolete, and creativity and innovation rule the day in the best ways. I also want a flying car. Because where are all the flying cars?!)

Check out the October 2nd event, complete with video of speakers like Neal Stephenson, Ted Chiang, Elizabeth Bear, representatives from NASA, DARPA, SyFy and many others, here: Can We Imagine Our Way to a Better Future?

From the tales we tell about robots and drones, to the narratives on the cutting edge of neuroscience, to society’s view of its most intractable problems, we need to begin telling a new set of stories about ourselves and the future.

Related links:
— Neal Stephenson’s article at the World Policy Institute, on the importance of renewing our society’s ability to “get big things done”: Innovation Starvation.
— The anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future.
— For more links to short stories (including pieces from Hieroglyph) and related discussions on this topic, see the final section of the Slate article.

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