Time Capsule #63
On playing the long game, defeat, and the Ph.D. system.
Welcome to the Time Capsule — a weekly newsletter that discusses the practicalities of life and explores the wisdom, ideas, and events of the past to help you build a better future.
💭 Quote of the Week
Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others.
✏️ One Step Back, Two Steps Forward
I have recently been battling with my first significant plateau at the gym. After a couple of years of continual beginner gains, I have hit the wall that most gym-goers hit once the “bro-split” is no longer enough to produce gains. After much research and talking to fellow gym rats, I have come to realize that pushing for PRs every session, 6 times per week isn’t what is going to get me through this. In addition to recovery and diet, which I certainly have room for improvement in, have realized that I need to start playing the long game. Changing my mentality from working hard to working smart, by going easy some days in preparation for the harder days, is the way forward. This philosophy has translated well into my running game as well: by not looking to break a pace record every run and instead focusing on form, variation in training, long runs, and recovery, I find that I am naturally getting faster and more confident on the road.
The idea of working smart, not hard is not a new idea. Of course, hard work and discipline matter, but what’s more important is consistency and longevity. I have many years ahead of me, and shouldn’t be too worried about getting out lifted at the gym by 17-year-olds. By optimizing each rep, each set, and each workout in the context of a year-long program and decade-long process, I will eventually see the returns that I desire.
📸 Photo of the Week
📖 Book of the Week — The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich
Originally published more than fifty years ago, The Courage to Be has become a classic of twentieth-century religious and philosophical thought. The great Christian existentialist thinker Paul Tillich describes the dilemma of modern man and points a way to the conquest of the problem of anxiety.
On the modern man’s battle with a meaningless existence, and how to live a life of value in spite of it.
💡 Food for Thought
Defeat is the mother of reform.
🔭 Sunday Best
Misfortune — a short story by Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)
Remove all the artificial things from your life that are adding no value. Only when you’ve stripped off everything that’s not a core part of you, you get in touch with your true nature. And once you find your tendencies, pursue them, hone them, master them. Put it online, show it to the world. The rewards will come. Instead of building your career based on your degrees, build it on your unique inclinations.
Why I Don’t Like the Ph.D. System — by Freeman Dyson, an English mathematician and physicist known for his work in quantum field theory, astrophysics, random matrices, mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, and engineering. At the age of 19, he developed analytical methods for calculating the ideal density for bomber formations to help the Royal Air Force bomb German targets during World War II.