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I was first attracted by Camus, "prince of the absurd" when I was 16. Camus still fascinates me, now well beyond what would have been his 100th birthday, and more than 60 years after his premature death in a car crash in Burgundy (it's said that he was found with an unused train ticket in his pocket - he'd planned to go by rail to Paris to rejoin his wife and children, but had accepted at the last minute the offer of a lift from his publisher).
In the 1840s Henry David Thoreau swapped his busy schedule in Concord, Massachusetts, for a wooden hut he built himself near Walden Pond. We had the privilege to visit Walden in July 2012; it exceeded expectations in its tranquility and beauty - and the swim in the pond itself was unforgettable.
Writing in the winter of 1843, shortly after Margaret Fuller’s mentorship made him a writer, the twenty-five-year-old Thoreau awakened to a snow-covered wonderland and marvelled at the splendour of a world reborn.
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Imagining not allowing our "projections" to hold us back, as argued in this thoughtful piece? The idea that we are often very wrong in the assumptions we make about what other people are thinking and feeling strikes a chord. Is there a word for "false empathy" - i.e. for trying to put ourself into the other's shoes, but coming to completely wrong conclusions? Maybe we'd benefit from "cognitive reframing".
So often we seem to impute to others far worse feelings and motives than we subsequently learn were really there, and often isn't the truth that the other person was focused on his/her own problems and, far than condemning us, was probably not thinking about us at all? Even if/when they were, what harm does it really do us?
When I think of books whose messages have stayed with me down the years, I often think of Ulverton, which contrives somehow to feel more "authentic" than many a "non-fictional" historical text in bringing the past alive, lifting the edge of the veil and allowing us to see - at times almost voyeuristically - what Dylan Thomas called the "yellowing, dicky-bird watching pictures of the dead".
Imagine a job "big enough for the spirit".
Roman Krznaric gave a talk on his book, How to Find Fulfilling Work, as part of the launch of The School of Life’s practical philosophy book series. Krznaric offered five essential ideas for career change, drawing on career advice from Leonardo da Vinci, Aristotle and a woman who gave herself the unusual 30th birthday present of trying out 30 different jobs in one year.