Stop Reading Books about Heaven


Photo credit: Thomas Hawk (flickr: thomashawk)

A perhaps apocryphal New Yorker cartoon depicts a man looking confused standing before two doors.  One is labeled “Heaven” and the other is labelled “Books about Heaven”.

When I heard about this comic for the first time, it scared me just a bit– because my first reaction was “Ooh!  Books about heaven!”

There’s something wrong with that reaction.  If heaven is the place of ultimate happiness– the best possible experience you can have— what does it mean that some part of me deep down is more intrigued by words on a page describing this place?

 * * *

The Internet is a dangerous place.  It’s especially dangerous for those who want to do things with their life.  You can now pick almost any endeavor or accomplishment and read about it until you die.  Info porn.

You may notice that I’ve encouraged you to stop reading if you’re going to go do something awesome instead.  I stand by that.  The perfect situation: no one reads any of this because they’re too busy accomplishing their pacts with life.

In a way, reading about awesome things is a substitute for experiencing and doing awesome things.  And for me at least, I don’t want it to be that way.  That’s called white-collar failure and it needs to be fought.  That’s why I have to say no.  That’s why I put a Latin inscription in the logo of this blog.  Nulla dies sine linea, it says.  Not a day without a line written.  If you’re going to do something great, you’re going to have to do that thing and stop doing the other things you were doing instead.

It’s so simple.

 * * *

Every once and a while, I think of that comic again.  And as I call it to mind, I pay attention to my internal reaction to it.  Does my heart perk up at the word “books”?  Or do I think “heaven– man, that’s where I want to be!”.  It’s sort of a nerd/fighter barometer.  Nerds read books, fighters are out there getting punched in the face and winning titles.  Nerd vs. fighter, dreamer vs. doer.  Where do I fall?

And sure, sometimes it’s best to be a dreamer.  But not always.  Sometimes it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and actually accomplish a dang thing.  In distractionland, that may be more than we think.

Here’s one other thing I noticed.  I read a lot of books, and I’ve read a lot about things like psychology, motivation, productivity and self-improvement.  But sometimes, I’ll stop my heavy-duty reading schedule and actually do something instead of reading about it.  And you know what?  During those periods, I have no desire to skim “5 Productivity Hacks That Will Change Your Life” or “How to Get Things Done and Influence People”.

They just become immaterial.  The information addiction fades away just like that.

And life is wayyy better than information addiction.  Life: A++++, would live again.


Speaking of doing things, I’m going to go climb the tallest mountain in Africa, camp in the Serengeti, and catch sharks in the Indian Ocean.  I decided not to post any of my pre-written posts while I’m gone, so I’ll be going pretty much radio silence until February.  See you then!

  1. June 23, 2013

    Thank you for this. Love the nerd-fighter reference as well!


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