Books Personal Random

A Month of Intention

Last year during July, I read a classic: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. To be honest, during the first read-through, I didn’t really get it. But then I watched a video from Ryan Holiday (of Daily Stoic fame), who mentioned that the Gregory Hays’ translation is the modern translation for those wanting to get into Marcus Aurelius. I know that I subscribe to stoicism as a philosophy, and wanting to really understand this Stoic stalwart, I decided that this July I would re-read Meditations…but this time using the Hays translation. I’m glad I did. It’s worth the hype, and at less than $8 on Amazon, it’s a worthwhile buy.

But my July plan didn’t stop there. I resolved on July 1 to make July a “month of intention”. Every day, I would read a passage from three books: fiction, non-fiction, and the Scriptures. I’ve been reading Asimov’s Foundation series, and I also decided to start the month with a read through of Ecclesiastes and reading Psalms 134-140 everyday.

By the end of the month, I had read Foundation, Foundation & Empire, Meditations, Ecclesiastes, Nehemiah, Obadiah, and Habakkuk. I’ve also started reading Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power (I’m now on Law 11), and I also added a fourth category of reading: something work related (code or startup).

I also resolved to write everyday: code and prose. To date, I’ve committed some piece of substantial code to Github every day this month as well as working on a creative writing project that I’ve had in my head for years.Tracking was simple: I added todos in Things for Reading and Writing with subtasks for each thing I wanted to read. Those are set up on a daily recurring basis, with a noon reminder. Some days were tough, with some reading sessions occuring at 11:30p before the next day, but overall I got it done.

Overall, this month of intention has been a wild success. I’ve enjoyed the discipline, and while I’m not sure I’ll be as strict about the discipline moving forward, I’ll definitely do it again next year…including another read of Mediations.


The Beauty of Music

Some theological scholars believe that the Adamic language spoken in the Garden of Eden was musical in nature; the words recorded in Genesis between Adam and Eve are essentially poetry. One could also take this thinking a step further and assert that communication in Heaven is via song as well. While many would frame the Book of Revelation as science fiction, as written, it’s much more akin to a giant musical, complete with choir-driven numbers and solo acts.

Music is a near universal art and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who “doesn’t like music”. So what is it about music that so captivates human nature? I think it’s quite clear: music is the intersection of mathematics and the mind. The artful collision of objective truths (in the form of chord progressions, mathematical pattern, and vibrations through a medium) and subjective interpretation (emotional resonance, life circumstance, and personal preference) produces a form of expression that is simultaneously accessible and individual.

One of the great debates in 21st century philosophy (and indeed culture!) has been the dichotomy between absolute and relative truth. In the court of public opinion, music itself is Exhibit A that this dichotomy among modern philosophies may actually be a false one. We don’t have to choose between absolute truths and subjective truths: both can peacefully co-exist. There can be a universal reality that is locally (or personally) interpreted.

Where math meets mind is the truest expression of what it means to be human…dating as far back as human existence.