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Uselessness, Insane Races, Cool Guides, Compassion, and Meatballs

What if you did more things with no agenda?

Hello friends and welcome back to Life Reimagined, a free weekly elixir designed to make you feel good and live better.

📑 I. Essay Worth Reading

I enjoyed “in praise of uselessness,” a short essay by Ava of Bookbear Express about our resistance to and relationship with doing things with no agenda. It’s a well-written, thoughtful piece that gets to the heart of something that I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last two years.

In some ways, Ava communicates a large part of what I hoped to express in last week’s essay: The Case for Being Less Serious. That said, I think her piece does a better job of getting to the heart of the matter in fewer (and better) words. I especially enjoyed her interesting and surprising conclusion.

🎥 II. A Documentary I Enjoyed

I watched Ethan Newberry’s documentary WHERE DREAMS GO TO DIE - Gary Robbins and The Barkley Marathons this week.

It’s a fascinating tale about a Canadian ultrarunner’s attempts to complete The Barkley, a 100+ mile race held in Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee that has been completed by only 17 humans in its multi-decade history.

I suppose the film could motivate you to push yourself harder physically, but I mostly found it insane that people feel compelled to attempt anything like this. Looks not fun and probably not that good for you. Still interesting though.

💰 III. A Tip for Tax Season

In my old age, I’m starting to see the wisdom in using Reddit to find interesting and practical solutions for various problems. While browsing r/coolguides this week, I stumbled upon this post about how to talk to a human at the IRS.

The post is 3 years old, but if it still works, it’s a neat hack for getting in touch with the IRS if you ever need to do that.

Honestly, I wish there were a website that had simple guides like this for talking to real humans quickly across banking, healthcare, telecom, airlines, and all the other areas where it’s easy to waste a lot of time tinkering around and waiting to solve your problem.

As a side note, the r/coolguides subreddit where this post lives is full of useful picture-based references like this and is worth browsing if you have some time. You can start by sorting for the top posts from the last year.

🍝 IV. A recipe I’m trying this week

Something switched in me recently, and I’ve started to enjoy experimenting in the kitchen 👨‍🍳. This week, I attempted to make my grandma’s eggplant parmesan and decided to add some meatballs on the side. The eggplant parm was decent, but the meatballs were nothing to write home about.

I’m sure there are many ways to make good meatballs, but this week, I’m going to try a recipe from my favorite “learn how to cook person,” Myles Snider.

Outside of specific recipes, Myles is a wonderful follow on Twitter for practical advice about how to improve your cooking with simple tips and changes.

I save a bunch of his tweets, and now that I’m in the kitchen more often, he is my go-to guide for learning how to make simple, healthy meals and have fun doing so.

🧠 V. Something I’m Thinking About

I was talking to a friend this week about how I’ve noticed that many people in my life squirm at any mention of the word God. I used to be one of these people, but certain experiences have shifted my thinking.

I told my friend that I was going to write an essay about this topic soon to see if I could understand the matter better, and he told me to read Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle. My friend — who is one of the squirmers I mentioned — said that the book gave him a more balanced view of what God can mean for the world.

I listened to the book on Audible to see what my friend was talking about. It was a short read with a bunch of joyful and heartbreaking stories from Boyles’s life as a Jesuit priest and founder of Homeboy Industries, a gange-intervention program in the LA area.

The book didn’t do much to further my concept of God, though it was clear how it might do that for someone who comes to the idea of God from a certain angle.

That said, I am walking away from the read with an enhanced view of what it means to live with compassion at the center of how you operate in the world.

“Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.”

Gregory Boyle in Tattoos on the Heart

That's all for now. See you next Sunday.

— Cal

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