Matt Perryman

Little-known productivity secrets of Christian hermits in late antiquity

By Matt Perryman

When you get deep into reading on a topic, strange coincidences start piling like there’s magic at work.

You’ll stumble on a reference that points you at exactly the right topic. You’ll pick up a book at the library that takes you down a new rabbit hole. If you’re reading a couple of books at once, as I do, you’ll find eerie and unexpected connections showing up.

At this point I’m not convinced it isn’t a kind of magical action. The synchronicities are too powerful and too regular for happy accidents.

Such happened to me last night while flipping through my current stack of books. After reading a chapter of Carl Jung, I hopped into the e-reader and opened a recent addition by luck of the draw.

The book is about a Christian mystic who lived in the early 5th century, just barely predating the fall of Rome (in 475 AD, if you aren’t up on all the falls of Rome).

This in itself may be of no interest to you. However, the book’s subject and theme are how to focus.

As in, how to focus your mind and concentrate when the outside world wants you distracted.

Imagine my shock to learn that Christian mystics living as desert hermits on the fringes of the Roman Empire already knew about the latest and greatest scientific discoveries on matters of concentration.

To paraphrase a mentor of mine:

When the sciences of the mind show us new things, they aren’t interesting. When they show us interesting things, they aren’t new.

There’s a reason I gravitate to books written before the printing press.

We’re so obsessed with new and better that we can’t see that almost none of it is new or better.

Our society spends millions of dollars of grant money and produces best-selling airport books about “new scientific findings” to discover wisdom that some guy alrady wrote down 1500 years ago.

The basics never change, they’re only marketed different.

Matt Perryman

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