On uncompetitive purposefulness

“If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work,” Muriel Spark counseled, “you should acquire a cat.” (via Brain Pickings)

Something short tonight because the third season of Strangers Things is out today (!!!) and I am off to binge-watch. I just sat down today and was just mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, reading my friend’s posts talking about their mid of the year achievements and couldn’t help being so proud of them. Whenever people ask me if turning mid 30s is going to get better, I would tell them yes, definitely is, for the fact that you longer dgaf and despite always looking forward to improve yourself, you are becoming more content. You have also come to a conclusion that other people’s achievements will in no way diminish your own, a concept — believe it or not — so foreign to some people sometimes.

I was reminded of this review Maria Popova of Brain Pickings wrote of the illustrated book The White Cat and the Monk, on resting into ‘their respective gladnesses in quiet camaraderie’ — the monk in his pursuit of knowledge, the cat in its own pursuit of predatory nature, as they sit together side by side — embracing the joy of ‘uncompetitive purposefulness’:

Written as a playful ode in the ninth century, today the poem lives partway between lamentation and celebration — it stands as counterpoint to our culture of competitive striving and ceaseless self-comparisons, but it also reminds us that the accomplishments of others aren’t to the detriment of our own; that we can remain purposeful about our pursuits while rejoicing in those of others; that we can choose to amplify each other’s felicity because there is, after all, enough to go around even in the austerest of circumstances.

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