The mayfly: patron bug of Carpe Diem

. “Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow— even today I am still arriving.” — Thich Nhat Hanh * Lila has a high-school teacher I’ve been a bit conflicted about. He teaches environmental science. There’s rarely any homework and the curriculum, a lot of times, seems to consist of going for walks in the woods.…

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Do you want to experience your life, or remember it?

[greg rakozy photo] Here’s a conundrum that has emerged for me: Big Days that are fun to do — or useful to do—are not always interesting to write about. Imagine you’ve been working your butt off day and night: a Big Sleep Day to follow? Righteous! But nobody wants to hear about it. Makes me…

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Couldn’t be stupider … that’s why it’s so smart

One Friday not long ago, it occurred to James Altucher that he ought to buy Greenland. To keep it safe. Because “the most northern country on the planet could be the most important for our survival.” James didn’t have the cash on hand, so he decided to crowdsource the purchase. He went to the bank…

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The one night that cracked open a hundred years of solitude

(photo El Colombio; Marquez (c) and Rulfo (r)) In a recent issue of the New York Times Book Review, the writer and literature professor Valeria Luiselli served up a rapturous essay in praise of the great neglected Mexican novel Pedro Páramo, by the great neglected Mexican novelist Juan Rulfo. She opens with a shot of…

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A day in your future life

(Photo: Patricia Prudente / Unsplash) Debbie Millman, a graphic artist and former head of AIGA, has an exercise she assigns her students at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She learned it from her mentor, Milton Glaser. It goes like this: Describe a day in your life 10 years from now. One whole…

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The all-nighter that changed global geopolitics

It’s an exaggeration to say Jeffrey Sachs sparked the end of Communism in Eastern Europe, ushering in the end of the Cold War, in a single day. But maybe not as much as you’d think. Sachs, a developmental economist, was reminiscing recently with an interviewer about how it all went down in summer of 1989.…

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Batkid lives on

(photo: Jeff Chiu, AP) The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a delivery system of epic Big Days to seriously ill kids. One day to live your dream: it’s a bittersweet gift, in the circumstances. But some recipients defy the odds, and live to savour the memory of a great adventure. That’s the case with Miles Scott, from…

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Weirdo for a Day: adventures in non-conformity

(photo: vecteezy) After the scale of the Nazi atrocities of World War II became known, a keen focus of experimental psychology in the West was this question: Are we all just sheep? How could so many people blindly follow orders, when their very souls must have been screaming objections? The psychologist Philip Zimbardo, who would…

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Doing one thing over and over

In their quest for perfection, some film directors put their actors through a cosmic test of patience. David Fincher, best known for his Oscar-winning The Social Network, shot the opening scene of that picture 99 times. It’s not a record — that honour goes to Stanley Kubrick, who logged 148 takes of a scene from…

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A Day in the Wayback Machine

Boop! The email that appears in your in-box activates brain synapses you thought had rusted shut. It’s from an old university friend you haven’t seen in decades. She found you online and, on an impulse, reached out. Turns out she’s coming through your town next month and wondering if you’re free to meet. Are you?…

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