(You-Tube channel: How to Live)
Before I transferred, one of the compelling reasons I chose UPenn over other schools was the loophole I spotted in the “math” requirement. It seems I could take “logic” in its place. Rumor had it “logic” was actually more difficult (I heard that!), but Cut-to the fact that I transferred before I needed to find out. So although I got out of the math requirement, dear NYU required me to take a writing class. Say whaaaa? It’s not that I fancied myself the next freaking John Grisham or something, but I did know how to dress me a sentence.
Somehow I ended up in an amazing class a la The Breakfast Club except with transfer students. The only downside of our vigilante group was its number: we were only 5, so if anyone was missing, the pressure was ON. There was no hiding in the back of the class or inside of the janitor’s closer (who would DO such a thing…?) But I digress…(just a joke–I’m still going…although not for nuthin’ but you could always ignore this drivel and go straight to the link…just covering my bases here, dear reader).
I was in this class where we were not only allowed but encouraged to write outside of the lines. This was a massive relief coming off of my stint in Ivy League 3-paragraph hell. For some reason (probably the cover…it’s a colorful cover), I picked up Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Save Your Life and, well, felt like it changed my life because it changed my view of myself–and showed me the tomfoolery I felt compelled to follow with my creative pursuits–writing or otherwise–were valid and valuable. I’ve liked its author (but not Proust…sorry, P-wordy, I tried–but there are just too many words). I’ve read most of what he’s written and followed his brainchild, The School of Life as it has expanded throughout the globe. I even hot hopelessly lost following the blue dot of my off-line Stupid-phone through the streets of London just to “have a look”. You may call you a thought-stalker if you wish…especially since you’ll thank me for the introduction.
From where I sit (At press time I’m actually sitting in a plastic rocking chair at the best coffee shop I’ve EVER been to #fightingwords in Bali), the work achieved by Brain Pickings founder and sole “picker-er” (you already see how I couldn’t do her job) Maria Popova is astounding. She not only finds amazing authors, thinkers, and philosophers (just to cite a few categories) to feature on the website– essentially a blog on steroids–she also interjects her own poetic-tellectual musings into the mix. The truth is, you should stop perusing my website right now and open up a new window for BP. I’m willing to shoot myself in the proverbial pixellated foot because I feel this strongly about the subject.
Seth Godin is a “hero of the succinct” to me, a quality I theoretically aspire to but really just like to admire from afar. I’ve tried Twitter, and the only thing it’s good for in my world is links back to my other stuff. 140 characters, are you out of your mind? The freaking alphabet is 26 so (carry the one) if my trusty TI- got the math right, I can only use each glorious letter 5.38461538 times…and that’s less than 6, which just doesn’t work for me. What was I saying? Subscribe to Seth’s blog. It’s a good read, and it’s short. Reading this blurb is like athletic reading training in comparison.
Kevin Simler is a fellow I heard of from someone else (I can’t remember who) who also tries to read things once in a while that make him or her (can’t even remember the gender) feel learned (re: learn-ED) whilst (*note the attempt) also watching most of the concepts fly right over the top of his or her I (may have been a ‘he’) head. He is way smarter than any of us, which is sort of the point. The kid holds degrees in Philosophy and Computer Science from Berkeley, so we should all potentially want to punch him in the face…but EVEN THOUGH he is a self-described “restless millennial” (gross!), I read his stuff because he’s able to break things down in a way that is subtle enough to make his reader believe they were always interested in, say, “The Aesthetics of Personal Identity“. Think of it as CrossFit for the noggin. And yes, you are allowed a bacon-wrapped scallop after your session.
There is simply no substitute for the “real deal”, and if you ask The Google where to find Ashtanga Yoga, he (The Googs is a ‘he’, decidedly), will take you down a potentially misleading Rabbit Holeasana. This is the original and best place to find information on my first and favorite yoga practice, which I still engage in almost daily to one degree of personal interpretation or other. Since his death in May of 2009, his grandson Sharath has taken over the lead role at the shala, although his equally amazing mother (Pattabhi’s daughter), Saraswati, also teaches. I had the honor of studying with all 3 at different points in New York City in both 2001 and 2006. The stuff is no joke, and was the most transformative physical practice of my life thus far. If you are still reading, you are a yoga nerd and, perhaps, a bit of a snob like me. It’s ok. It’s good to be particular about the things we believe in. Read on, yogis and yoginis! The practice kicks your asana–even the most coordinated Lululemon outfit cowers in its wake. This ain’t your sorority sister’s hot yoga!
If you want to know what our year-long journey from diagnosis to his untimely death at the age of 30 looks like, well…here it is. When Dan wasn’t able to write towards the end, I took over, but it’s mostly his words.
Nearly ten years later, I can say that what he decided to include and what he decided to leave out speaks to the kind of person Dan was.
People have told me to turn his blog into a book or memoir–and believe-you-me, for years, I’ve tried. But sometimes the original format is more powerful, and when I (occasionally) click the link and time-travel back to that most surreal/real of years, I feel deeply connected to a living Dan.
So for now, I’ll leave his blog as-is. Back when blogs weren’t a dime-a-dozen. His, for me, is pure gold.