So Derek Thompson wants to outsource his research, and, as we saw yesterday, Noah Smith wants to outsource his writing. Is this boredom or frustration with the basic elements of their work universal among journalists these days?

I hope I’m not the only one, but just for the record: I like researching, and I like writing. I like the hard work of making my prose more clear and vivid. I like overcoming my ignorance. I like synthesizing the disparate things I read and then trying to present that synthesis to my readers. I like it all.

Alan Jacobs



One of the most brutal and difficult parts of any Zen retreat is that part right in the middle. You’re too far in to just get up and go home. Yet you’ve still got several hours or days of doing the most boring thing in the world — literally staring at a wall — to get through.

That’s the time when your mind really starts pulling out all the stunts it can come up with to escape. The only real escape you have at that point is fantasy. Your mind can spin out endless places you’d rather be and endless things you’d rather do. What’s worse, your mind can come up with lots of places you could be and things you could do if only you weren’t stuck there watching the paint dry. You experience real psychological pain.

And yet, it’s these moments that are the most instructive and valuable. You come to realize that you really have only two choices. You can get up and leave. Or you can settle into this boring moment completely.

If you can learn to do that on a Zen retreat, you can learn to do that anywhere.

Then you’ll stop missing out on 75% of your life. You’ll stop wishing to get your time on Earth over with quicker. You’ll actually live longer, no matter how long you end up living, because you’re really all there.

Brad Warner