In reply to James Clear (and James Kerr, for the matter. Lol).

Jim’s post today. I do miss those kinds of posts! These would be the kinds of posts we’d get from him fairly regularly “back in the day”. Posts with a philosophical slant. 

“All good things come to an end.” 

“Nothing lasts forever.”

“You can have too much of a good thing.”

“The past is a forgien country.”

All that guff.

I miss the philosophical debate. I just miss feeling like I could talk to him…in general…in greater detail. And that he was listening. And mercy me if he replied. 

I STILL MISS IT! I always will. 

Today’s topic had me pondering – and that’s what I like about it most. I went and had a look at the linked article. 

I want to respond to James Clear’s piece here:


  1. “Define yourself by your effort, not your suffering.”

Given the subject matter I had been studying the past week, that seems timely. Van Gogh. To me it seems as though he tried incredibly hard to be measured by the amount of work he put into his art. He did not want to be seen as the “suffering artist” in any way, shape or form. I know that sounds ridiculous, given he painted a self-portrait of himself with a bandaged ear but his reasoning behind that, I think, has been greatly misinterpreted. There is definite evidence to show that he suffered greatly in spite of his art, not because of it. He used it as an outlet to heal, not as a vessel for continued and sustained suffering. 

I really like this statement and it is something that I want to adhere to myself. It is very much a learning curve and it is why I am doing what I’m doing now. 

  1. “Marrying well makes everything easier.” 

Pfffft! Good luck with that! I’d say “never marry”. I never wanted to. It was a necessity. It was a means to an end. I have nothing else to say on that. I think it is an INCREDIBLY simplistic statement on a very complex issue. How does one “marry well”? What an absurd notion. If you feel you’ve “married well”, you’re bloody lucky. Or deluded. 

  1. “Charity can be a lifestyle, not merely a gift. 

Read charitably. Give the author your most favourable interpretation.

Listen charitably. Donate your undivided attention.

Work charitably. Be generous with your expertise. 

In this way, you make charity a daily habit.”

Well, that’s quite profound. When it comes to reading, I need to be charitable whether I like it or not. It’s the nature of my ability to read that defines that. 

I think a LOT of people these days could do with a lesson in listening charitably. This is why when I am out and about, unless I am on my own, you won’t hear from me on social media. When I am in company, I DO NOT take my phone out! It is, in my book, common courtesy to do that. I just don’t do it. And it is one way in which I feel I listen charitably. 

Working charitably? I’m not sure what I can say there. If I felt I had ANY expertise on ANYTHING…well….


  1. Mathematician Paul Halmos on what distinguishes the best from the rest:

“I read once that the true mark of a pro – at anything – is that he understands, loves and is good at even the drudgery of his profession.”

That reminds me of the question I posed to Graeme Thomson in my interview with him. I asked him how he was able to write about subject matter he wasn’t particularly interested in. The crux of his answer was “you just find a way”, and that if you are doing something that you love, the way through it will be easy. 

  1. Writer Doris Lessing on how to choose what to read:

“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag – and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty-and vise versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.”

Doris obviously did not take English Literature at university then! Lol. There are definitely books one has to read during it that one is not interested in. Again, it’s about what you want and what the end result will be. 

I only just read Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol for my study. Reading it in March made it feel out of context…especially before I started reading it, with the preconceived ideas I had about it. I had to wash those away and I had to remove the driving Christmas theme of it and pick up and concentrate on the heart of the story. I came away with views on it I was surprised by. I wish we’d have had the time to have read something else of Dickens, but I guess had we read something else of his, it’s out of time anyway so what would it matter?

“…and never, never read anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement…” 

Isn’t that just making you contrary? Contrary for contrary’s sake? Why do we bother to have “best sellers” lists, and book prizes and the like if that should be the case? 

What is required for study aside, I don’t think I’ve ever chosen to read a book because I felt I ought to. Then again, having said that…would I have read The Master And Margarita? Or, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea? Most likely not. And I certainly derived great pleasure from reading the latter. The former was tougher going, I won’t lie. But I enjoyed certain elements of it. And I believe the elements that didn’t stick with me would make more sense with a second reading. But that second reading I am not ready for right now. 


“Nearly everything in life has a useful zone, a desired dose. Ten minutes in the sun can energize you. Ten hours in the sun can burn you. This concept applies to many things: work, relationships, hobbies, exercise, food.

What is your desired dose? What do you need right now? A little more or a little less?”

Well, James. Firstly that is THREE questions you asked, not one. Lol

To quote Gina G, “oooh-ah just a little bit, oooh-ah a little bit more”. I need more sun – and thankfully that is on the way.

“What is your desired dose?” That is such a broad question! It has to be quantified. I’ll let Iggy Pop answer on my behalf.

Leave a comment