the monday inspiration.

I love a game of Would You Rather. If you had to choose, would you pick smelling terrible for the rest of your life or having both your legs amputated? Would you rather have the main character in every movie replaced by Nicholas Cage or every song sung by Nickelback? Would you rather have 12 kids or zero? Would you rather have the ugliest house in a fancy neighborhood or the most beautiful one in an average one? Would you rather a year of travel or a $100,000 check?

One of the fallback prompts that I’ve found to be a telling insight into a person is the following: Would you rather live an average life, die, and be largely forgotten, or would you rather be Van Gogh’d– ridiculed and impoverished during your earthly days and then remembered as a genius forever forward? I think I’d go with the tame and average life (and look at how dutifully I’m walking that talk, ha), but the idea of having people refer to others who have been influenced by HRCK the Herald and its lasting legacy is pretty tempting.

I was reminded of that would you rather when I came across this post– 11 Early Scathing Reviews of Works Now Considered Masterpieces. Here are a few from the list:

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1813)

Early Reaction: …Charlotte Brontë (of Jane Eyre fame) wasn’t buying the hype: “Anything like warmth or enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant, heartfelt, is utterly out of place in commending these works: all such demonstrations the authoress would have met with a well-bred sneer, would have calmly scorned as outré or extravagant…”

Fred Astaire (1899 – 1987)

Early Reaction: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” –MGM Testing Director’s response to Astaire’s first screen test

Ulysses, by James Joyce (1918)

Early Reaction: “In Ireland they try to make a cat clean by rubbing its nose in its own filth. Mr. Joyce has tried the same treatment on the human subject” –George Bernard Shaw

Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman (first pub. 1855)

Early Reaction: Upon reading the newly published Leaves, Whitman’s boss at the Department of the Interior took offense—and gave his underling the axe.

*Fellow poet John Greenleaf Whittier supposedly hurled his 1855 edition into the fire.
*“A mass of stupid filth” -Rufus Wilmot Griswold, The Criterion, November 10, 1855
*“It is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote Leaves of Grass, only that he did not burn it afterwards.” –Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The Atlantic, “Literature as an Art,” 1867
*“… the book cannot attain to any very wide influence.” –The Atlantic, January 1882

So, to reduce all this to a nice little message,

Go do your thang.

(image)

the “ooom.”

(this post went up for a few minutes on Friday by accident…sorry if you’re seeing it for the second time!)

I am not into yoga. I tried to convince myself that I was this summer, and I dutifully went to class every day (it helped that I was unemployed and the mumbo jumbo of “be here in this moment, you are exactly where you need to be” positively reinforced my lack of direction). I felt cool when I could finally do bakasana and bird of paradise (though it did not give me abs like those. If it had, I would have stuck with yoga),

but I never really bought in. As soon as my schedule got busier, yoga was the first thing to drop, and I didn’t miss the down dogs, warrior ones, chair poses, or extended side angles even a smidge. Funnily enough, the only thing I did miss in my daily life was that philosophical “mumbo jumbo,” because for every eye roll I sent in the direction of the well-meaning instructor, there was a good little lesson that stayed with me for the rest of the day.

Thank goodness I can now get some wisdom without getting on the mat. Zen Habits is a minimalist blog with a correspondingly minimalist message. Leo Babauta posts every few days with a lesson for simplifying your life, and I like his take on things even more than I liked yogalogic because Leo offers concrete steps for reaching goals. His blog has been called one of the 25 Best Blogs by Time Magazine, and while his suggestions are sometimes provocative, he writes his thoughts and ideas eloquently and engagingly. Two posts I’ve particularly liked?  7 Little Things That Make Life Effortless, and The Silliness of Busyness.

So if you’re looking to improve your everyday life without having to go through this first, check out Zen Habits.

(Photos from Ashtanga News and Comfort In Style Mag)