Ask Vinni

Longer, well researched posts primarily focused on philosophy, psychology and self improvement. Topics I've mulled over for weeks. Irregularly updated.

 

Essays and other writings

Shorter, weekly articles on principles and thoughts that have been in my mind for a couple of days. Contradictory and rough, evolving as I do.

Facing Death

graveyard

A rich and mighty Persian once walked in his garden with one of his servants. The servant cried that he had just encountered Death, who had threatened him. He begged his master to give him his fastest horse so that he could make haste and flee to Teheran, which he could reach that same evening. The master consented and the servant galloped off on the horse. On returning to his house the master himself met Death, and questioned him, “Why did you terrify and threaten my servant?” “I did not threaten him; I only showed surprise in still finding him here when I planned to meet him tonight in Teheran,” said Death.

Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

As I sit down to write this post, Brussels is under a level 4 terror alert—the highest.

Beside me there’s a packed suitcase and in my bag, train tickets. Destination? A small village close to Brussels.

On Creating

creating

“Nature does not give to those who will not spend; her gifts are loaned to those who will use them.”
—Raymond John Baughan, Undiscovered Country, 1946

I constantly have to create. Not art, I don’t paint, draw or take photos. But I constantly have to create something. Be it new pieces of writing for this website, articles for other websites, intercultural training concepts, or a crocheted glove (yes, I do crochet from time to time). Some might call it an obsession.

I call it “returning favors”.

Work Intentionally

workerOur work is the highest expression of our selves.

When people think of work, they think of what they do on the clock, from 9 to 5.

That’s wrong.

Our work is everything we do. Every strategy we develop, every report we hand in, every conversation we have, every cup of coffee we brew, every weight we lift.

And any and all our work should stand by itself, should paint a picture of who we are. That picture should be accurate, should be true. No matter how seemingly small the work was.

Education Manifesto

empty classroom

I would be a hypocrite if I weren’t open to discussing this manifesto and even changing the entirety of it as well, so I welcome any type of criticism and anyone who holds different ideas to challenge me on whatever is written here.

For centuries we have been stuck in the same system, one in which teachers and professors hold the knowledge and transfer it to classrooms filled with bored students. Students who would rather be anywhere else than there, students who see little to gain from listening to a monotonous middle aged man or woman explain a concept they will find little use for in their future lives. For centuries, universities and schools have hardly changed. They have gotten more modern, sure, now most classrooms come with projectors and other devices aimed at making the “learning experience” a breeze, but despite all of the modernizations, the methods continue the same. We are still sitting, facing professors, asking ourselves why we are not doing other things, asking ourselves why we have to memorize fuzzy concepts by heart, asking ourselves if there is a different, better way.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

On Writing Well William ZinsserWhen I started writing more seriously, I knew I needed to learn how to write better. My quality standards are high, but my skill wasn’t (and isn’t) up to par. Thankfully, books like this exist. Books that see writing not as an art, but as a craft, and I guess if we look at things from that perspective, there are no arts, only crafts.

It’s a solid and practical book, and this is all I can say about it. It’s a book I’ll often go back to and reference, it’s a book I’ll reread more than once over the coming years. Writing well is an important skill and the only way to get better at it is to practice, practice and practice. Eliminate whatever can be eliminated, tighten up sentences, revisit and rewrite. I noticed even when I had just started reading the book that my writing had become tighter (well, my second drafts, first drafts are things we only see here in the books section) and my approach to writing had changed. I’m excited for the coming months and years, I’m sure there’s still a long way to go but it’s a very rewarding road, one that I would recommend to anyone.

It also helps that Zinsser sees language with a fair amount of respect and that’s something I can always get behind. He is conservative in a few ways and forward-thinking in others. It’s always a pleasure to read a book written by an author who treasures the English language this much.

You can find On Writing Well by William Zinsser on Amazon.

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