Discover more from Margaret the Pug
Off the deep end
What the book and life are really about... for now.
I’m not going to write much about business on Substack anymore. Substack is going to be about the book and about whatever I happen to be thinking about other than business. My business writing will live on in the Fortune’s Path newsletter.
I need to write a conclusion for the book. I’m going to call it, “A Vision for You” which is the title of the last chapter in Alcoholics Anonymous, the textbook for that organization. My editor is encouraging me to think about what I want the reader to get from each chapter. All those take-aways together should add up to a vision for how the reader can be different after reading the book.
Here’s the list of takeaways so far:
You have to understand what you can and cannot control to be happy.
You can control more than you think, but you’re trying to control the wrong things.
If you love everyone, even people you don’t like, you will acquire power and be happy.
You can decide what kind of leader to be, and you can decide not to be a leader at all.
You can change your own character, and a good character leads to a good life.
You need other people to learn what will make you happy.
You can only shape your character and improve it if you embrace all of it, virtues and vices, because vices are just over or underdeveloped virtues. (Thank you, Aristotle.)
More people love you than you know, including people you haven’t met yet, and all of them can help you.
You can get more from someone by listening to them than by talking to them.
Being busy and making progress are very different. “I am happier today than I was before,” is progress. Busyness is distraction.
I don’t have 11 and 12 because I haven’t finished those chapters yet. Both are getting a complete rewrite. I won’t know what they’re about until after I write them.
(Now that I’ve written this list, I need to go back and make sure this is what these chapters are really about. It’s a pretty good list.)
These takeaways come both from the book and from thinking about Lucretius’s On the Nature of Things, which is the best book for teaching you how to think that I’ve ever read. When you read the excerpt below, keep in mind it was written 60 years before Jesus was born.
Unless there is some smallest thing,
The tiniest body will consist of infinite parts,
Since these can be halved, and their halves halved again,
Forever, with no end to the division.
So then what difference will there be between
The sum of all things and the least things?
There will be none at all. For through the sum of things
Will be completely infinite, the smallest bodies
Will equally consist of infinite parts.
But since true reasoning protests against this,
And tells us that the mind cannot believe it,
You must admit defeat, and recognize
That things exist which have no parts at all,
Themselves being smallest. And since these exist
You must admit that the atoms they compose
Themselves are also solid and everlasting.
From Lucretius: On the Nature of the Universe. A verse translation by Ronald Melville, Oxford World’s Classics.
Using poetry to write about science: how cool is that? Or maybe observing things so closely you stumble into science. Lucretius was translating and expanding on Epicurus, who wrote about 200 years before Lucretius was born. Great thinking never goes out of style.
The poem below has nothing to do with business and maybe nothing to do with the book, but it’s as close to an explanation for the nature of things as I’ve ever written. I’m don’t know if it’s worth anything to anyone else, and it doesn’t matter. I hope you enjoy it, and if you don’t, that’s OK, too.
I get decide if I believe in God but not whether God exists.
I believe in a feeling I have felt that I call God
but that feeling cannot be God because it’s not everything, and God is either everything or God is nothing,
yet the god I want is both everything and nothing.
Is there something that exists outside of time?
Is there anything that doesn’t change? Of course.
Gravity does not change so far as I know,
and matter and energy do not change except to change from energy to matter and from matter into energy.
I do not believe in a supernatural god
who exists in some other place and watches me like I watch TV,
rooting for some characters and against others.
I do not believe in a god of miracles and resurrections.
I do not believe in a god of magic tricks like water into wine.
Jesus’s humanity is far more interesting to me than his divinity.
I do not believe in a god who wants to save or destroy me. I believe in a god who is with me, in me, and of me
and I with it, of it, and in it.
I believe in an eternal god of elements and laws and forces that can be understood
but will always have mysteries as yet beyond understanding.
I believe that I am made from elements and forces and laws that have always existed and will always exist
but that my personality, my soul, exists only for the length of my life and will not come back.
I believe that I get to decide if the universe is cruel or indifferent, loving or forgiving, empty or full
or all of the above
and that makes me like a god
except that I cannot write the laws or create the forces or make the elements, I can only understand them
And so I am not god.
I believe there are many forces and elements and laws that are greater than my will,
that my will is temporary, and that the forces and elements and laws that make me
last forever have their own will.
I believe that every life has only a single destiny, and that is death,
and that in-between birth and death we can make our own path using our own will,
but if our will is set against what is good for others we will have a hard time of it.