16 Search Results for brainpickings

Brainpickings

On my computer i have most of the time three open applications: Mail, Spotify and Firefox. In Firefox i usually have two main windows open.

The left

  • ellenpronk.com
  • wordpress backend of ellenpronk.com
  • google analytics of ellenpronk.com
  • soundcloud stats
  • youtube stats
  • tumblr dashboard
  • songs, an unlinked page on lfs.nl with lyrics of the songs i sing

The right

These windows say so many things about my daily occupations. About this website, about its statistics, about the songs i sing, about the social networks i follow, about a blog i really like, about my relaxation, the games i play.

I have written about Brainpickings before. I don’t read every post, no. But once or twice a week i go through the first page to see if there are any new posts. Usually Sunday and Wednesday.

Brain Pickings — which remains ad-free and supported by readers — is a cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more; pieces that enrich our mental pool of resources and empower combinatorial ideas that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful. Above all, it’s about how these different disciplines illuminate one another to glean some insight, directly or indirectly, into that grand question of how to live, and how to live well.

A post from 2013 writes about the start, unbeknownst of it future growth and expansion in Happy Birthday, Brain Pickings: 7 Things I Learned in 7 Years of Reading, Writing, and Living.

Please read the article. For the very hasty among you the following list:

  1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.
  2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.
  3. Be generous.
  4. Build pockets of stillness into your life.
  5. When people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them.
  6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.
  7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.”

This weeks post is a gem. The Psychology of Time and the Paradox of How Impulsivity and Self-Control Mediate Our Capacity for Presence. I am thinking about myself and the changes in my thoughts, well, for my whole life basically. But things are developing with sound speed, these past 18 months. Before that i felt my life was getting to a slowdown, i felt depressed. Not severely, more like a bucket was over my head. I still remember thinking then, those 18 months ago, that finally the wind started to blow quietly with me, not against me. This does change my perception of the time around me. Sometimes i escape out of time, when i play a game, watch some television, read a book. And sometimes i’m inside time, like this afternoon, listening to all the sounds from the street, the cars, the birds, the neighbors, people walking by. I don’t think you should be in that experience the whole time. Earlier this evening, while watching Masterchef, i was thinking about tomorrow, what i will be doing then. In the morning i’ll be going to the Peace Garden. I’ll take my vegetables cuttings and other stuff for the compost heap with me. And a thermos with hot water, and coffee and sugar and cream. And tomorrow i will be doing my VAT for the first three months of this year.

Reading this article made me think of my own learning to wait, to postpone getting a reward. My own self-restraint. It makes me think about losing my virginity when i was 28 years old. It is not that i didn’t try before. It just didn’t work out. I felt i should have been able to go for it much younger, but it just never felt right.

I did use to drink a lot more when i was younger. But for a few years i’ve been diagnosed with diabetes 2. Since then i did loose around 7 kilos. I should loose more, i know. But i do drink a lot less alcohol. One, sometimes two bottles of wine a week. It takes me two, mostly three days to finish a bottle. Ten years ago i drank one bottle a day. Sometimes even two bottles in one evening. I am very happy that i managed to minimize to my current amount.

Time that is felt and lived, that is, a life rich in positive experiences, is made up of moments of fulfillment, often in the company of good friends or a beloved partner. Therefore, whether one lives out the moment or pursues gain over the long term is a matter of emotionally intelligent conduct and weighing decisions. Someone who is free and full of life does not always choose to delay gratification; rather, she or he is smart about when to seek enjoyment and when to wait.

There is also a collection of favorite reads.

On Being
Maria Popova — Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital World

Reading this content can be hard. I admit, i don’t always have the patience for it. My life at this moment is still a life of growth. The past year and a half i felt a difference almost every day. And yet sometimes when i read back an old post, of let’s say a year ago, it feels like i am the same person with the same questions, the same wants and the same needs. Even a post from nineteen years ago still feels like being from me. But yes, i do feel i am changing. Blossoming might be the right word.

Published on April 29, 2016 at 6:00 by

An empty life

I started this post with looking through all the images i uploaded to see if i could find a good one. I ended up with a text drawing i made while i was at work, my old work.

Hey I’m Ellen
Sometimes i’m on Top of the World
Other times i’m Down the Dumps
This Time i’m gonna Save The World!!!
JIPPIE

A completely different tone than i had in mind when i started to think about writing this post, earlier today. A good one.

The title of this post, An empty life, feels a bit more resigned. It is the reality of my life. Over the past thirty years, since i’m living on my own, emptiness is what i experienced. Not in a terribly unhappy way. I wasn’t crying all the time, no. But i was looking for friends. Looking for someone special. Many times i thought i had found this person. But no. Still not. Friends came and went. Sometimes i left, other times my friends left. Now i’m alone.

My silent period, 2006 – 2014, is the time i had given up. I stopped trying to make it all work. I left everybody. Or everybody left me. There was no argument, no fight. There was hurt. But i don’t think anybody noticed that. There was one moment with a friend. She got angry. I left it at that. I talked about it before. Such a small thing, looking back at it.

I played World of Warcraft. I do need some form of human contact. Some of them are still on my friends list in facebook. One is even the only subscriber to my newsletter. Yay!

The past two and a half years i did feel happier than ever before. Working again! Yay! And yes, i did get back in contact with my old friends once again. But it was different. Eight years of silence works inside of you. I don’t think i can call them friends. I like them, sure. When we meet we talk. It is pleasant. Nice. Sometimes even more. But that is it.

Some kindred spirits become friends in the fullest sense — people with whom we are willing to share, not without embarrassment but without fear of judgment, our gravest imperfections and the most anguishing instances of falling short of our own ideals and values. The concentrating and consecrating force that transmutes a kinship of spirit into a friendship is emotional and psychological intimacy. A friend is a person before whom we can strip our ideal self in order to reveal the real self, vulnerable and imperfect, and yet trust that it wouldn’t diminish the friend’s admiration and sincere affection for the whole self, comprising both the ideal and the real.

Source: Reclaiming Friendship: A Visual Taxonomy of Platonic Relationships to Counter the Commodification of the Word “Friend”

A talk in the garden, two or three months ago. I said it there. I have no friends. A surprised look. Of course. But i insisted. Not anyone to reveal my real self to, vulnerable and imperfect.

Well, apart from this place.

I know, there are not that many visitors. I sometimes feel like i’m talking into a deep darkness. Nothing comes back. But i keep going on. Because i do feel there is still a need inside me. There are still stories to be told. There are still stories to be discovered. In me. Out there.

I have many wishes. Like my wants list i published last week. That list is not even complete. But i do want to achieve most of those wants. My life is nowhere near complete. Nowhere near done.

And yes, money. Sigh. Next week my bank account will be frozen because i’m in the red for too long. I’m still not sure what i will do then. I still don’t know where my life will be at that time.

My biggest wish. To continue working here. Making five posts a week. Some of them long prepared. Some thought of that day. In a glimpse of inspiration. I’d love to keep on working here. That is my biggest wish. Or want.

My life is empty. I have some things i do. Going to the garden. Talk with the people there. Smile. Make jokes. Make photos. Learn new things.

But yes, on the whole, empty. Not barren, no. Not infertile.

An empty life, ready to be filled up. Some things will stay, other things will fade away. Hopefully i will meet people i can call friends. Another wish. Want.

But in my empty life i am.

Whispering. Talking. Smiling. Looking.

At you.

Published on May 18, 2017 at 6:00 by

Chronological

Published on April 26, 2017 at 6:00 by

A quiet in between day

Yesterday, Sunday, i did work hard in the garden. This whole Monday i felt my arms, my shoulders and my legs. And no, i hardly slept last night. So i got back in bed this afternoon.

So this is it for today. A slow second Eastern day, as we have here in the Netherlands. I’m gonna leave it a that.

Salute!

I just watched the last part of La La Land. I tried yesterday, but the movie stopped so many times, i stopped. I did cry during the last bit. I do really like it. About young people, who fall in love, who want to make it work for themselves, who want to make an impression on the world. Who slide away from each other. And end up in an different world. And i do like both actors playing the leading parts, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

Also a piece from brainpickings.org: How to Tell a True Tale: Neil Gaiman on What Makes a Great Personal Story.

The strange thing about Moth stories is that none of the tricks we use to make ourselves loved or respected by others work in the ways you would imagine they ought to. The tales of how clever we were, how wise, how we won, they mostly fail. The practiced jokes and the witty one-liners all crash and burn up on a Moth stage.

Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.

Having a place the story starts and a place it’s going: that’s important.

Telling your story, as honestly as you can, and leaving out the things you don’t need, that’s vital.

The Moth connects us, as humans. Because we all have stories. Or perhaps, because we are, as humans, already an assemblage of stories. And the gulf that exists between us as people is that when we look at each other we might see faces, skin color, gender, race, or attitudes, but we don’t see, we can’t see, the stories. And once we hear each other’s stories we realize that the things we see as dividing us are, all too often, illusions, falsehoods: that the walls between us are in truth no thicker than scenery.

Once more, a deep bow, and salute!

*hugs*

Published on April 18, 2017 at 6:00 by

Live boldly

I was sitting in front of the television this Sunday morning. I thought about this post. On Saturday I came across a link on facebook and was enchanted by the quote on the linked page on Brainpickings. I copied it to a new post. I first gave it another title, but changed it to Live boldly. I don’t even remember the first title. Something with silent.

My thoughts wandered away.

The dream and photo i wrote about in an earlier post, Memories.

My earliest memory came back to me in a dream. Around my twenties i dreamed i was crawling on a short stairs with maybe two steps. It was warm. I felt the warmth in my hands which were resting on the steps. I felt the warm stones beneath my fingers. My mother was sitting in front of me. She pointed to somebody behind me. My father. He was standing there with a camera in front of his face. He clicked. I had the photo. Somehow i lost it. I searched for it quite a few times. I still hope it’s somewhere in a book or a notebook. Somewhere hidden. I do love this memory. I can still feel the warm stones. I was like a year, a year and half old.

This photo was taken in 1965. It is something that really happened. And the dream i had, when i was around twenty years old, happened too. The dream, even with this distance of around thirty years, this dream i can still remember clearly. Pointing to myself, feeling the warm stones beneath my hands and looking behind me. The memory of the event itself, when i was only one year old, has faded away for a long time.

This dream is the counter point of the photo. In this dream i look at my father, with a camera in front of his head. His finger on the button ready to make the photo. I had only turned around a second before that. My mother was pointing at something behind me. My mother with her dark hair in a high knot up above her head, smiling. The sun shining. Warm stones beneath me. I turn around and look at my father. I do not see my father’s face. A mechanical object is in front of it, a camera.

Click

My father is the one not in the photo. He took it. What i see in the photo is me and my mother, still pointing. Me, the one person i do not see in the dream. Me, the one person who is experiencing this event. I feel her, i feel what she feels, but i don’t see her. What i see is my dad.

My dad who has been absent from my life for the past twenty-eight years. My dad who is still alive. Who lives in a older people’s home somewhere in the west, between Rotterdam and the beaches. My dad who is slightly demented. Not sure about the slightly. My dad whose voice i last heard on the phone. You are not my daughter.

As you live your life, you are the only person you can not see entirely. You see your hands. You see your hair, when it is longer. You see your legs, your tummy. You do not see your back. You do not see your eyes. You see your nose only from the side, a bit blurry. You see your mouth only when you make a kissing face and put your mouth way out in front. Still blurry.

You do see other people completely. You see their face. You see their eyes. Their nose, their cheeks, their mouth. Their hands, their feet, their legs, their tummy. You see their backs. The top of their head.

But you can not see what is in their head. You can not see their thoughts. You can not feel what they feel.

They are a mystery.

I made many self portraits. When i was at art school, i started out with drawings. Then photography. My final project was with self portraits.

Making these self portraits was not extremely difficult. I only needed myself, a tripod, a camera and film. I started out with black and white film and ended up with colour. I used 25 ASA film most of the time. Very fine grain. Great colour. I still have all the negatives.

I used a whole film for each set. Looking into the camera with different facial expressions. A smile. A serious look. A look away. Different angles. From above. From the front. From the side.

I postponed seeing the look on myself. I only got to see what i looked like when i developed the film and started printing. Contact sheets gave me an overview, a chance to pick the best photo. The ones i believed to be the best anyway. Very difficult to get to that one.

This situation was very different from my initial photo opportunity, when i was one and a half years old. I was grown up. I was making these photos myself. Picking the right time myself.

For years i didn’t make photos of myself. Or they were hopeless failures. Not good. Not a good look. Not a pretty girl. Not a good photo.

I did make a few in 2010 i liked. And last year i made two great ones. In the sunshine. With the sun shining on the white cd cupboard. With my iPhone camera. I did need to make a cutout. The photo was ok with the entire shot. But a square cutout worked like magic.

I confess, i do like it when i look pretty in a photo. Of course i have so much more ugly photos of myself. But i get to pick the ones i show you. So yes, i show you the pretty ones. Even though i don’t feel i’m that vain, a bit of vanity i don’t mind.

So most of my work has a relationship with my dream of me and my mum and dad when i was around one and a half years old. I didn’t realize this at the time. This dream i still remember. I don’t know why i had this memory dream. I don’t know why exactly i made the work i made. But it did call to me. And yes, it is becoming clearer. I can put it into the story of my life. The story i’m telling you here. Which i forged out of my memories of the fifty two years of my life so far.

The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.

Source: Ted Hughes on the Universal Inner Child, in a Moving Letter to His Son

We all make stories. We grow up, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. All different things happen to us. Happy things. Sad things. Painful things. We meet other people. And things happen. We fall in love. And out of love.

We try to make this story matter. We have so much inspiration. We have all the old stories. Fairy tales. Movies. Television. Books. Myths. Religion. But all the stories in our lives are only pieces of these old stories. Our own lives are a multitude mass of little pieces, each told with a slightly different voice.

But each one of us is also a physical person. A whole being.

Born. Growing up. Walking. Working. Loving. Dead.

There is mystery in each of us. Fractured existence. Different voices. Each telling another side.

Me, here, on ellenpronk.com, i’m talking about my own existence. Fifty two years now. Halfway. Or slightly over.

I’m trying to make my stories work. For me. To understand my life, so far. To see threads. To make new threads. To tell new stories. To notice new things. Sometimes i fail. Many times i fail. But everything i tell here is true. In a way.

From me to you, i do hope you enjoy it here.

You are welcome.

Published on January 16, 2017 at 6:00 by

Presence

A bit tired today. Yesterday evening was nice. A bit cold and wet, misty. But good people in the garden, some singing. A good fire. Champagne and Dutch oliebollen.

I did go home around ten minutes after twelve though. Not sure why. When i got home, i put up some water for my hot water bottle. I did watch a bit of television, but nothing much was on. Listened to some music. Then i went to bed.

This morning i woke up around six. Early. *sigh* I did get out of bed and watched an episode of Westworld. I enjoy that show. I did go back to bed and slept a little more, till eleven. Watched two more episodes. Will most likely finish it today.

I did go to the garden to empty my compost bucket and see if i could gather the pots i brought yesterday for the candles. One was broken. It’s ok, i simply save these pots for any use.

I leave this post with this quote. I do feel this is relevant to my life at the point where it is right now. On the brink of being penniless. Yet i do not feel afraid. (That is not entirely right. I still have an occasional eek feeling.) I need to trust myself. I do that most of the time. The people close to me, my family, are afraid for me. But i can not change my path at this moment to satisfy them. I need to live my life for myself. I need to let my life story find its proper setting.

There is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. But the contradiction lies a little deeper than the mere conflict between the desire for security and the fact of change. If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure. To be secure means to isolate and fortify the “I,” but it is just the feeling of being an isolated “I” which makes me feel lonely and afraid. In other words, the more security I can get, the more I shall want.

To put it still more plainly: the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.

Source: An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence

Published on January 2, 2017 at 6:00 by

Amazement

Talking to people i know, friends or acquaintances, or people i have only just met sometimes gives me opinions i’m utterly amazed by.

I remember having a talk with the girl in the apartment in London i was staying in, for the Scritti Politti gig in February this year. I did talk to her about my plan to give my drawings away. At one point she gave me the suggestion to give the drawings to someone in my family, like the daughter of my sister. I was stunned. I could not see how she would come to this conclusion. How she could suggest this to me. I admit, this suggestion has been on my mind occasionally over this last year. So strange. She hardly knew me, and yet she suggested this to me so easily. Something which i had been thinking about for the past two years, which i had first thought about ten years ago. There wasn’t a moment in my mind in which i took her suggestion seriously. Hell no. But i did wonder how she could think about this so easily, and suggest it to so simply.

Yesterday i talked with a neighbour. We talked about my website for a while, and i mentioned my posts about the man of my dreams last week. There was a short chuckle from him. I was like what? But i could see how i, a fifty two year old woman talking about the man of her dreams, would cause this amusement.

I left the garden early today, this Sunday. I wasn’t sure why. But i felt a distance between myself and the rest. And the thought came up that i would be better of at home writing the post for tomorrow. Which is what i am doing now.

The world don’t need any more songs… As a matter of fact, if nobody wrote any songs from this day on, the world ain’t gonna suffer for it. Nobody cares. There’s enough songs for people to listen to, if they want to listen to songs. For every man, woman and child on earth, they could be sent, probably, each of them, a hundred songs, and never be repeated. There’s enough songs.

Unless someone’s gonna come along with a pure heart and has something to say. That’s a different story.

But as far as songwriting, any idiot could do it… Everybody writes a song just like everybody’s got that one great novel in them.

Source: Bob Dylan on Sacrifice, the Unconscious Mind, and How to Cultivate the Perfect Environment for Creative Work

I read this quote through a link on facebook. It spoke to me, the pure heart bit. I’m not sure i have a pure heart. But i do know it is purer than two years ago. I look into myself, see the way i respond to people and their thoughts and what they say; sometimes it hurts me, but i struggle through it.

To me, living like this is invaluable. It means the world to me. This is my life. This is my chosen life. I can not see another one so promising. Promises of living truthfully, in connection, in the world, endlessly. Until of course it ends.

Withdrawing is not for the time of now. Now i need to move forward. I need to speak of these things. I don’t mind if i speak to anyone listening now or later. I simply have to get it out of my brain. Not that i know what i’m gonna write. I don’t. But one sentence leads to the next. And all together they do make the story. The story of me.

This all is so sharp in contrast with our present world. It is hard to look at it clearly. I try to when i go out and go into the city center and look at the people’s faces and their expressions and their loneliness. The occasional hello. The occasional smile.

I try to make myself still, quiet. To look out into the world and see it, to give myself a good position and move from there.

Or i could simply fool myself. Yeah. Not too sure about that.

I am not sure what posts i will make this week. Well, i know two of them. One is a video with me singing. The other is a post i started in February this year. Life Is Wonderful. This post, Amazement, is a surprise to me. And that makes me happy.

Salute!

Source image at the top: Amaranthine – Pencil Illustration

Published on December 19, 2016 at 6:00 by

What you shall do

This is what you shall do:
Love the earth
and sun
and the animals,
despise riches,
give alms to every one that asks,
stand up for the stupid
and crazy,
devote your income
and labor to others,
hate tyrants,
argue not concerning God,
have patience
and indulgence toward the people,
take off your hat to nothing known
or unknown
or to any man
or number of men,
go freely with powerful uneducated persons
and with the young
and with the mothers of families,
read these leaves in the open air
every season
of every year
of your life,
re-examine all you have been told at school
or church
or in any book,
dismiss whatever insults your own soul,
and your very flesh shall be a great poem
and have the richest fluency
not only in its words
but in the silent lines of its lips
and face
and between the lashes of your eyes
and in every motion
and joint of your body.

Source: Walt Whitman’s Advice on Living a Vibrant and Rewarding Life

Published on November 15, 2016 at 6:00 by

Walk

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!

Source: Nietzsche on How to Find Yourself and the True Value of Education

The real value of a real education [has] almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

‘This is water.’

‘This is water.’

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime.

Source: This Is Water: David Foster Wallace on Life

Published on September 1, 2016 at 6:00 by

Alone

I am alone.

It is different now. Different from a few years back. I felt unhappy a few years back. But these days, this past year and a half, i felt happy. Truly happy.

But yes, i am still alone.

Lives of my old friends has moved on. They moved away. They got children. All very understandable.

Looking back at my old life, i see now i always felt a need to adjust myself. To change how i respond. There was always tension. There still is. I still feel it. It is very hard for me to relax and be myself, completely, with other people. To be honest, i will rather be by myself. It is easier for me.

Working in the garden has added some difficulty these past months. All different sorts of people, with whom it is hard to find the right note. Who say things i don’t understand. I need to deal with that, by myself.

They do not know me. I tell myself that that is fine with me. But some of the things they say are hurtful.

And, as it turns out, some of the things i say are hurtful too. I learned this this week. Strange.

Right now, i feel happiest when i’m alone watching at the world. Reading articles, thinking my thoughts all by myself. Trying to find a place from where i can speak, think.

It is still a bit muddled. A bit unclear.

I hope i am growing up steady.

It is hard for me to talk about with a clear mind.

I am trying.

So please, do what ever you want. You may read the articles i posted at the end of this one. Or not. You can read the quote. Or not. You can watch what Simon Vinkenoog is saying, in Dutch. Or not.

Whatever you want.

There is a gentrification that is happening to cities, and there is a gentrification that is happening to the emotions too, with a similarly homogenising, whitening, deadening effect. Amidst the glossiness of late capitalism, we are fed the notion that all difficult feelings — depression, anxiety, loneliness, rage — are simply a consequence of unsettled chemistry, a problem to be fixed, rather than a response to structural injustice or, on the other hand, to the native texture of embodiment, of doing time, as David Wojnarowicz memorably put it, in a rented body, with all the attendant grief and frustration that entails.

I don’t believe the cure for loneliness is meeting someone, not necessarily. I think it’s about two things: learning how to befriend yourself and understanding that many of the things that seem to afflict us as individuals are in fact a result of larger forces of stigma and exclusion, which can and should be resisted.

Loneliness is personal, and it is also political. Loneliness is collective; it is a city. As to how to inhabit it, there are no rules and nor is there any need to feel shame, only to remember that the pursuit of individual happiness does not trump or excuse our obligations to each another. We are in this together, this accumulation of scars, this world of objects, this physical and temporary heaven that so often takes on the countenance of hell. What matters is kindness; what matters is solidarity. What matters is staying alert, staying open, because if we know anything from what has gone before us, it is that the time for feeling will not last. (Source: The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone)

Simon Vinkenoog – Je bent nooit alleen

inbetween

Casual Sex: Everyone Is Doing It

Animals think, therefore…

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

How technology disrupted the truth

Adventures in the Trump Twittersphere

Only the lonely

Published on July 15, 2016 at 6:00 by