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a blog by Chris Barrow

Stay away from the "Gossip Gone Wild"

"Remind me, " Jubal said to her, "to write a popular article on the compulsive reading of news. The theme will be that most neuroses and some psychoses can be traced to the unnecessary and unhealthy habit of daily wallowing in the troubles and sins of five billion strangers. The title is Gossip Unlimited - no, make that Gossip Gone Wild."

Every now and then, a passage from a book I'm reading leaps out of the page and smacks me in the face.

The above quotation is a case in point.

Remarkable in that it is an extract from Robert A. Heinlein's sci-fi novel "Stranger in a strange land". Even more so because it was first published in 1961.

(For the book geeks, I'm reading the 2020 Folio version, which has restored the original 225,000 word manuscript that Heinlein created but which he was forced by his publisher to cut back to around 150,000 words.)

I realise that it is part of the legacy of the sci-fi author to be regarded as a futurologist but, even so, this forecast of "the unnecessary and unhealthy habit of daily wallowing" is especially prescient when applied to our current lives.

My friend Marcus Spry sent me an article he read in The Observer a few days ago, on the Top 12 causes of our increasing lack of attention to detail. It is a damning indictment of our frenetic lifestyles.

This year, I have returned to an old favourite for my 5-minute morning read - The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. Their 366 meditations on wisdom, perseverance and the art of living guided me through the first year of the pandemic and I'm already enjoying the first few days.

Here's an extract from today's philosophy:

  1. Control your perceptions;

  2. Direct your actions properly;

  3. Willingly accept what's outside of your control.

For me (and for many of you) today is our first back at work.

There will undoubtedly be a lot to deal with, not the least of which will be the knock-on effects of Omicron.

Stay calm and don't allow your attention to get distracted.

Stay away from the "Gossip Gone Wild".

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