how to be

A project in the unmaking and remaking of a Self.

This project is about how to be, not who to be, or what to be, and is rooted in the belief that we both make the world and are made by it through our daily practices.

As I gather materials from my intellectual past and my creative writing, running, and losing my central vision present, I’m archiving them here. As of right now (spring 2020, the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic), I’m using this page as a place for loosely organizing and working through my ideas. In some future time, I hope to make this more organized and succinct and coherent as a series of stories/theories/ideas about how to be.

a quick update, may 2020: Over 2 months into this pandemic, I am struck by how many of these ways of being are helping me to endure this strange, uncertain time.

another quick update, feb 2021: It has been over a year since I started working on this page and almost a year since the pandemic/isolation hit. Slowly I have been adding quotations, poems, questions, and exercises here. Ideas are coming together and hopefully soon this will turn into something more. In one ambitious vision, this project could be the materials for a degree in undisciplined studies, which I have been undertaking for the past 5 years, both as teacher (with the help of many poets and philosophers) and student.

And there is the thing that one does, the needle one plies, the work, and within that work a chance to take thoughts that are hot and formless and to place them slowly and with meticulous effort into some shapely heat-retaining form, even as the gods, or nature, or the soundless wheels of time have made forms all across the soft, curved universe–that is to say, having chosen to claim my life, I have made for myself, out of work and love, a handsome life.

Upstream/ Mary Oliver

How to Be…

In the first phase of this project, I’m gathering together evidence, examples, quotations, fragments of thought that speak to each of these approaches to how to be.



Undisciplined’s Exercises
Others’ Exercises

Suggestions from Others