#53 The weird post
The one where I ask readers to participate
You may be thinking, wait, aren’t all of my posts a little weird?
You’re not wrong.
But, this one - yes, this one - will be a little more weird because I am inviting you to participate.
A few days ago, I was screen sharing with a friend. I was looking on Twitter for a specific piece of content. As soon as I hit search and the results appeared, my friend said:
Wow. I literally see the exact same tweets when I search with those keywords.
And I thought to myself:
Oh my god. This is actually happening.
Of course, I have always known that I am in an echo chamber, but to have it waived in my face like that, on a screen share, was, well, to say the least … eye-opening.
Then, I had an idea. What if I leverage my newsletter readers to collate some new, interesting, and spicy writing. I know you read good content, and this newsletter is called Sharing is Caring, so let’s share with another.
Here’s what I’m asking you to do:
Share one thing you have read recently that you thought was excellent. It can be an article, a passage from a book, a piece of code - anything. It can make you feel any sort of way - inspired, sad, persuaded, interested, curious, happy, angry, fearful, silly, funny. Literally, anything goes, so don’t hold back.
Feel free to share in the comments or send me an email directly.
I think this will be an amazing experiment.
Here is the passage that I would like to share. It is from the book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, by David Epstein
It is a myth that Vincent van Gogh died in anonymity. An ecstatic review cast him as a revolutionary months before he died, and made him the talk of Paris. Claude Monet, the dean of impressionism-the movement Van Gogh ignored, lamented, and then innovated upon-declared Van Gogh's work the cream of an annual exhibition.
Adjusted for inflation, four of Van Gogh's paintings have sold for more than $100 million, and they weren't even the most famous ones. His work now graces everything from socks to cell phone covers and an eponymous vodka brand. But he reached far beyond commerce.
“What artists do changed because of Vincent Van Gogh," artist and writer Steven Naifeh told me. (Naifeh, with Gregory White Smith, wrote "the definitive biography," according to a curator of the Van Gogh Museum.) Van Gogh's paintings served as a bridge to modern art and inspired a widespread devotion that no artist, perhaps no person, has equaled. Teenagers who have never visited a museum tape his art to their walls; Japanese travelers leave the ashes of their ancestors at his grave. In 2016, the Art Institute of Chicago displayed together all three iconic "Bedrooms"-pictures meant "to rest the brain, or rather the imagination," according to Van Gogh; the record number of visitors.
And yet had Van Gogh died at thirty-four rather than thirty-seven (life expectancy in the Netherlands when he was born was forty), he might not even merit a historical footnote. The same goes for Paul Gauguin, a painter who briefly lived with Van Gogh and innovated a style known as synthetism, in which bold lines separated sections of brilliant color, without the subtle gradations of classical painting. He, too. became one of the few artists to crack the $100 million barrier. He spent the first six years of his professional life with the merchant marine before he found his calling: bourgeois stockbroker. Only after the market crash of 1882 did Gauguin become a full-time artist, at the age of thirty-five. His switch is reminiscent of J. K. Rowling's. She "failed on an epic scale" in her twenties, she once said, personally and professionally. A short marriage "imploded," and she was a single mother and unemployed former teacher on welfare. Like Van Gogh in the coal country and Gauguin after the crash, she was "set free" by failure to try work that better matched her talents and interests.
They all appear to have excelled in spite of their late starts. It would be easy enough to cherry-pick stories of exceptional late developers over coming the odds. But they aren't exceptions by virtue of their late starts, and those late starts did not stack the odds against them. Their late starts were integral to their eventual success.
Take care, and be well! 🧡