Toward the end of Gröning’s stay at the Grande Chartreuse, the monks asked him (in notes, probably) what he had learned from them. The question came as a surprise to Gröning, who had “drifted away from speech by then” that he hadn’t worked out his ideas in words.

Eventually, he said, “I realized that what I had actually learned was that it is possible to live very much without fear, because this is what they do. They live without fear. I wanted the audience to be able to share this.”

Tim Ferriss always seems to ask the best questions: What would this look like if it were easy? How will you know if you don’t experiment? What would less be like? The one that hit me the hardest, when I was maybe 25, was “What do you do with your money?” The answer was “Nothing, really.” Ok, so why try so hard to earn lots more of it?

In the spring of 1822 an employee in one of the world’s first offices – that of the East India Company in London – sat down to write a letter to a friend. If the man was excited to be working in a building that was revolutionary, or thrilled to be part of a novel institution which would transform the world in the centuries that followed, he showed little sign of it. “You don’t know how wearisome it is”, wrote Charles Lamb, “to breathe the air of four pent walls, without relief, day after day, all the golden hours of the day between ten and four.” His letter grew ever-less enthusiastic, as he wished for “a few years between the grave and the desk”. No matter, he concluded, “they are the same.”