Why I Love Christmas Lights


Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, my wife and I have a rather odd ritual — we dig boxes out of storage and move our furniture around. We then proceed to construct a fake tree inside of our house, wrap stringy glowing bulbs throughout the “needles,” and adorn it with strange little keepsakes on hooks. We then clear a space for a miniature barnyard scene of figurines, depicting some crazy astrologers who traveled thousands of miles to meet a baby. Then comes my favorite part; we drape white and colored lights around the windows of our little apartment.

I love Christmas lights. The twinkle, the ambiance, the warmth. For some reason these little glowing lamps give me a tremendous amount of joy.

Even here in LA, people put up lights. Not quite as many, it seems, as in the colder-weather locations I travel to, but they do go up. People put them on big-ass construction cranes, they snake them around the skinny trunks of palm trees, and they attach them to their tiny apartment balconies. They change normally-white outdoor bulbs to ones of red and green.

I’m sure I love this because it reminds me of my childhood or something, but I also love it because there is no practical reason for it. It’s not rational. In fact, it’s completely irrational.

It’s a total pain to hang lights on a house. It costs us more money in extra electricity. It’s a huge inconvenience when we have to take all this crap down and put it away.

And yet we do it. Every year.

I’m sure this strange tradition means many things to many people. But for me, it’s a gentle reminder that there’s a whole lot more to being human than simply being “practical.”

For many years in school we’re conditioned to behave obediently and politely and “think through” our decisions, then when we go to college we’re taught to focus on making “adult choices,” and then we get to our work life we spend most of our days obsessing over making “reasonable resolutions” with “calculated logic” for the good of whatever company we work for.

We spend an enormous amount of our lives exercising our logical left brain.

But then we go and do crazy shit like hanging glowing balls from the gutters of our houses and assembling fake evergreens in our living rooms.

It turns out, we human beings aren’t nearly as rational as we think we are. Even here in LA — perhaps especially here — seeing lights reminds me that we’re all more alike than we are different. That we want to be more than just machines who punch the clock for a meaningless job.  And it’s our “irrational,” emotional selves that often give us the best things about being part of this crazy human family.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go jack up my energy bill and turn my twinkling lights on.


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Life And Music By Alan Watts (With Transcript)



In music, one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition.

If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest, and there would be composers who wrote only finales. People would go to concerts just to hear one crashing chord — because that’s the end!

But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our everyday conduct.

We’ve got a system of schooling that gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded and what we do is we put the child into the corridor of this grade system, with a kind of, “Come on kitty kitty kitty!” and now you go to kindergarten, you know, and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you’ll get into first grade. And then — Come on! — first grade leads to second grade, and so on, and then you get out of grade school. You go to high school and it’s revving up — The thing is coming! — then you’re gonna go to college, and by jove, then you get into graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out and join the world.

Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance, and they’ve got that quota to make and you’re gonna make that, and all the time “the thing” is coming — It’s coming, it’s coming! — that great thing: the success you’re working for.

Then when you wake up one day, about 40 years old, you say, “My God, I’ve arrived! I’m there!” And you don’t feel very different from what you always felt. And there’s a slight let down because you feel there was a hoax.

And there was a hoax.

A dreadful hoax.

They made you miss everything.

We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end, and the thing was to get to that end: success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But we missed the point the whole way along.

It was a musical thing — and you were supposed to sing, or dance, while the music was being played.


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33voices & Book Giveaway


I have a couple fun things to share with you today!

I had the great pleasure to meet a new friend named Moe Abdou last week. He has a fantastic program called 33voices that “bring[s] together the most influential thinking and thinkers on the planet to help entrepreneurs and business creators build great businesses and live great lives.” (I just couldn’t say that any better.) It’s very cool.

Moe was kind enough to spend a bit of time chatting with me the other day about the work revolution, among other things. I had a wonderful time talking with him, and you can hear the audio interview here.

Check out the profile view, too. They pulled out some fun quotes! (Did I say that somewhere? I guess so!) One of their associates even put together a cool Slideshare. I was very impressed with the whole 33voices crew, to put it mildly.

a kickass site called CoolPeopleCare.org is doing a fun giveaway this week: a copy of my book! If you don’t have one yet — and would like to get it for free — go here. Don’t dilly-dally; the contest closes this Friday 12/7 at 11pm Central Time!

While you’re there, make sure you peruse all the other cool stuff they’re up to.

We’ll be back with more deep thoughts / brain candy next week…


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