Zen & The Art of Making a Better Week
(7 considerations for your Monday)

I have heard it said:  “If you win the morning, you win the day.”  I find the same can be applied to Monday and its relation to the week.   Here are some gems from Robert Pirsig’s classic Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  As I read this book, I find its universally applicable lessons can directly improve my law practice and my approach to the work itself.

On the present:
“When are we going to get going?” Chris says.
“What’s your hurry?”  I ask.
“I just want to get going.”
“There’s nothing up ahead that’s any better than it is right here.”
~ Chapter 4

On one’s focus:
“What’s new?” is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow.  I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question “What is best?,” a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream.  ~Chapter 1

On getting “there”:
Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire.  The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up.  If you become winded, slow down.  You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.  Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself.  This leaf has jagged edges.  Thisrock looks loose.  From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer.  These are things you should notice anyway.  To live only for some future goal is shallow.  It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top.  Here’s where things grow. ~ Chapter 17

On the path:
“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.  And if you project forward from that pattern, then sometimes you can come up with something.”~Chapter 14

On (perceived) screw-ups:
An experiment is never a failure solely because it fails to achieve predicted results.  An experiment is a failure only when it also fails adequately to test the hypothesis in question, when the data it produces don’t prove anything one way or another. ~ Chapter 9

On consistency & its benefits:
On this machine, I’ve done the tuning so may times it’s become a ritual.  I don’t have to think much about how to do it anymore.  Just mainly look for anything unusual. ~ Chapter 8

On giving a damn about one’s work:
But the biggest clue seemed to be their expressions.  They were hard to explain.  Good-natured, friendly, easygoing–and uninvolved.  They were like spectators.  You had the feeling they had just wandered in there themselves and somebody had handed them a wrench.  There was no identification with the job.  No  saying, “I am a mechanic.”  At 5 p.m., or whenever their eight hours were in, you knew they would cut it off and not have another thought about their work.  They were already trying not to have any thoughts about their work on the job . . . Or rather, they had something to do with it, but their own selves were outside of it, detached, removed.  They were involved in it but not in such a way as to care . . . Caring about what you are doing is considered either unimportant or taken for granted. ~ Chapter 2