Time Capsule #79
On attention, Japanese jazz, and the Middle East.
Welcome to the Time Capsule — a weekly newsletter that serves as both my public journal and personal scrapbook. I write about the things on my mind and close to my heart in hopes that those who read it find value and enjoyment in it, and perhaps some solace too.
💭 Quote(s) of the Week
Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretence.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
✏️ Attention is Your Daily Currency
With news, social media, and cell phones glued to our hands, we are facing an information overload. The sheer magnitude of information coming at us can be overwhelming, with most of it negative in nature. This is excluding the daily troubles of work, family life and the many relationships we have to maintain.
Therefore, it is crucial to spend your attention on what matters and is of high priority.
No one has the mental bandwidth to concentrate on so many things at the same time. Creating a priority list of the most important things in your life is a good way to start spending your attention wisely. Family and work are integral components of one's life and should be given the necessary time to keep them healthy. The perils of TV and the news is well documented and understood, and I personally believe watching the news is not worth the time or attention. Anything that is of sufficient importance you will hear about anyways — you don't need to hear about it the second it happens.
It seems social media has become an almost non-negotiable component of one's social life. Whilst I have done full social media breaks before, I find a more reasonable and effective strategy is to curate my content diet. On my Twitter here, I only follow people that post about topics that interest me, and not pages or people who simply offer empty calories in the form of booty pictures or hate posts. So when I inevitably turn to browse my phone to kill some time, at least I am being confronted with interesting and hopefully useful information that can inspire a future newsletter or blog post.
Use your attention wisely. It is the oxygen that fuels the fire of your thoughts. If you give attention to negative thoughts, they will grow.
Whatever you focus your attention on will become important to you even if it's unimportant.
📸 Photo of the Week
📖 Book of the Week — A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin
The Middle East has long been a region of rival religions, ideologies, nationalisms, and ambitions. All of these conflicts―including the hostilities between Arabs and Israelis, and the violent challenges posed by Iraq's competing sects―are rooted in the region's political inheritance: the arrangements, unities, and divisions imposed by the Allies after the First World War.
In A Peace to End All Peace, David Fromkin reveals how and why the Allies drew lines on an empty map that remade the geography and politics of the Middle East. Focusing on the formative years of 1914 to 1922, when all seemed possible, he delivers in this sweeping and magisterial book the definitive account of this defining time, showing how the choices narrowed and the Middle East began along a road that led to the conflicts and confusion that continue to this day.
💡 Food for Thought
It’s often easier to drop the past completely than to suffer trying to untangle it.
🔭 Sunday Best
The Insidious Nature of Envy — Thomas Hibbs, a philosopher at Baylor University and a passionate advocate of liberal education, discusses the insidious nature of envy with Hamza Yusuf. They explore how this sin is a type of disordered thinking– and how we might turn away from it
Japanese Jazz — while seeing the vibrant flowers dance
#WealthofTweets — Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, converted into easy-to-understand tweets. A good way to get acquainted with this important work