In a world run by Hedgehogs, the case for the Fox

Consider the journalist with a narrowly defined “beat.” He covers baseball, or film, or federal politics. He gets to know that little patch of turf very well. He cultivates a pool of sources and develops a set of firm ideas. Eventually he becomes as expert as the people he’s writing about. That expertise is his…

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Have a Storyworthy Day

One day last year, a man from Bangalore, India — a place of both high-tech riches and grinding poverty — was overtaken by a nagging question: How do the beggars in this city of eight million spend their nights? What must it be like? He decided to find out. The next morning he took a bed…

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Alex Honnold’s Moonshot

Six days ago, the American climber Alex Honnold pulled off the unimaginable. Among physical tests a human could rise to in a single day, this must — in terms of the sheer brute jeopardy of it — be considered the Big Day to beat all Big Days. The 31-year-old “free soloed” the granite face of…

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The Marathon Paradox: Is Too Much of a Good Thing a Bad Thing?

A few years ago the writer and podcaster Tim Ferriss did the New York City Marathon. But not in the usual way. His was a “food marathon.” Instead of knocking off 26.2 road miles, Ferriss undertook to knock off 26.2 dishes, made by some of New York’s best cooks. He’d got the idea from a…

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Chasquis! Take This Message!

For The Stress Fractures, a team of highly amateur runners assembled for a single day’s heroic shenanigans, trouble descended around 40 kilometres outside of Jasper, Alberta. It was 1:30 pm. Clear skies, blazing sun. One hundred and sixty two competitors, strung out along the shoulder of Highway 93, were baking like macaroons. The thing about…

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The One-Day Pilgrimage

I sometimes toss this term around, and it very often raises hackles. A pilgrimage is a commitment, people insist. The goal is distant and your progress dogged and incremental. What possible Mecca can you reach a single day? Actually, you’d be surprised. So long as you think of the journey as a figurative one and…

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The Four Quadrants Theory

Since I’ve started this Big Day experiment, I’ve come to realize the whole thing has a side benefit I hadn’t expected. It’s a kind of therapy. It’s a valuable diagnostic tool even if you never actually do a Big Day. Just thinking about what you might do, if you were magically handed a free 24…

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A Broken Elevator and a Lightbulb Moment

I stepped into the elevator on the 25th floor to start my journey home at the end of a downtown workday. The only other passenger got off. The elevator descended, then eased to a stop. A voice said: “This elevator is now out of service.” The Open Door button didn’t work. None of the buttons…

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A Day in the Life — and the unseen energy it took to make it.

“The family are having a leisurely afternoon, but our cyclists are paying for it, big-time.”   Here’s a story of a single day experienced very differently by two groups on either side of it. It’s part of a wacky demonstration cooked up by a British documentary film crew. I dare say that, as we creep…

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No one under 50 unless accompanied by a senior

Lee Haber remembers watching his grandfather bundle himself up against the Winnipeg winter wind and head out to the library to study. He had decided, deep into retirement, to pursue a degree in economics. He graduated at age 74. “Did it serve what we might call any ‘real purpose’?” Lee asks. “Not really. But that’s…

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