Daily Ways to Pick Up the Pieces


We’ve already discussed how the world is changed. For the past eight years, we’ve been reminded of the change in slow, smoldering ways. Seeing the creeping change, much of our society had slipped into a nagging, edgy fear. Now, what was smoldering embers is now a raging fire of change.

Indeed, when I started drafting this post, I had a short diatribe here decrying some of the things that were happening. Then I deleted it because all new things are happening now and it sounded pointless.

Since we’re all feeling like everything in the world is unhinged, I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing to stay alert, informed, and engaged. My mom suggested right after the election that we’d all just have to pick up the pieces. These things are my way of doing that.

First, take care of yourself. This post from last August details the tools that I like to use for fitness, if you need a hand. Even the day after the election, I went for a run. Whatever you do to center yourself and care for your body, you should keep being attentive to it, whether that’s working out or simply meditating.

Next, staying informed. There is a lot going on in the world, even beyond the indescribable situation that we find ourselves in in the United States. To gain a solid sense of what’s happening, with good writing that will help explain the nuances of complex topics, I strongly suggest a newspaper subscription. I woefully underestimated the value of paid journalism before the election, to my great regret. I understand now that seeking the truth and reporting it to others absolutely rely on a free press, and that the best journalists cannot work for free. I’ve very much enjoyed my New York Times subscription since the day after the election. I start every morning when I wake up with the Morning Briefing, in their (excellent) iPhone app, and follow it up on weekdays with the morning’s episode of The Daily. I’ll have more on podcasts that I listen to in a later post.

Try also to read books, as opposed to the news. This is extremely difficult for me, as plugged into the news cycle as I am. Lately, I’ve been reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. However, I’ve been taking so long that I’ve got to return it to the library and check it out again later. My daily regimen should really include more dedicated reading time for just books, and I’m still working on it. Perhaps I’ll drop a Goodreads widget or something here on the site to help track my progress.

One last thing that has really stuck as a ritual for me in the last 8 months or so is writing up a journal entry once daily. I use an iPhone/Mac app called Day One for this. I have the iPhone app set to prompt me automatically at 11 PM each night. When I tap on the notification, the app loads a preloaded template for me to fill out some of the basics of the day, including podcasts listened, TV shows watched, games played, whether I worked out, etc. I fill these in, and add my own commentary on the day. Regularly reviewing these entries is a bit challenging, but my current system is to have OmniFocus remind me to conduct a seasonal review whenever the seasons change. During this review, I’ll read the whole season’s worth of entries, and compile larger themes into a new entry.

The last year has seen me return more regularly to writing on the web as well, instead of just in my journal. I’m hoping this is a habit that I’ll be able to build on and find value in as well.

There you have it: my everyday basics for staying centered, for picking up the pieces.


4 thoughts on “Daily Ways to Pick Up the Pieces

    1. I’ve thought about using Workflow to customize it even further, but as it stands I just have the Day One app itself produce the notification that makes a new entry with a template. Nice feature of the app.

  1. More and more I find myself just hiding from the news because I don’t know who to believe or what is true. Even newspapers seem to have a bias. Do you have any words of wisdom about this? I see or hear people talking about current events/ breaking news and want to learn about it but i don’t know where to go to find factual information.

    1. This is hard, especially as deeply partisan news organizations will still have editorial review boards and other things that give them legitimacy.

      I trust the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal to publish facts, at least as far as they can determine. I also trust them all to publish retractions if they get something wrong. I mainly trust these big players because their reputations are on the line if they get it wrong, and I’ve seen them fess up to errors.

      When I see media that comments mostly on what other media is doing, like Fox News crowing about “liberals going nuts” or the “mainstream media bias against Trump”, that’s where there’s a problem. On the left, MSNBC is similar in that their personalities seem to openly root for a certain outcome instead of just reporting (I find Rachel Maddow smart, but waaaaay too smug).

      To get things from the conservative side, I’ll read pieces that I can find from National Review, or the Economist, and a couple of other places. The New York Times also helpfully links to a bunch of interesting articles from both right and left a few times a week as well, so that helps me find other perspectives.

      One other website I’ll vouch for: Vox. Certainly a liberal leaning site, but their explainers and videos are really informative.

      Most importantly, don’t let anyone convince you that not having any bias at all is possible. Every human has opinions, and it’s not possible to have a perfectly neutral publication.

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