Spicy Loading

There’s always something so spicy and exciting about packing all my physical belongings into my Camry. Every time I conglomerate all my shit into a pile, I try and whittle a few more pounds and cubit feet off the mass. This time was no exception. My goal for the next move is to have everything easily only fit into my trunk. This will require getting rid of my beloved Trek road bike and the extra acoustic guitar I carry around for dubious reasons.

It’s funny, I always considered myself a minimalist, but only really in the hype of the term and its relativity to others. I’m learning more and more that minimalism has very little to do with your belongings and way more to do with your mind. Sure the lack of belongings correlates with minimalistic living, but it’s an afterthought.

Why did I have twenty t shirts? Why do I have two guitars Why do I keep lugging this bike everywhere and never ride it?

Minimalism dictates that you value everything in your life. When something or someone has negative value in your life, you must shed it/them. No hard feelings. Just keep moving downstream with a lighter load. Physically and emotionally.

Now, off for a crisp fall drive across the plains and through the Rockies, if my engine doesn’t explode.

At least that will force me to lighten my load in the extreme.  

 

Be Weird and Prosper

I heard a term the other day, and I can’t recall who deserves the credit. The term was narrowcasting. As in the opposite of broadcasting. I initially enjoyed the superficial wordplay as anyone who’s brain has atrophied from living in a county with only one stop sign will.

Narrowcasting refers to the process of aiming specific content to a particular type of person. It is a fairly general term that could be applied anywhere from literature and music to sales and marketing.

The more we forge ahead in the internet age, commingling our daily interactions with almost infinite data, the more important narrowcasting will be.

We are no longer family units who huddle around the radio at 8pm to all listen to the Arm & Hammer Family Hour and then all have the same thing to talk about with each other the next day. Now, even within the same household Billy is researching animatronics, while Sally is tinkering with graphic design software, and Dad is reading an e-book on twitter marketing. Other Dad may still be watching the hockey game downstairs, and he’ll probably talk about it the next day with his other coworkers who make up the vestigial population of broadcast viewers. Yeah, my example has two Dads, gotta keep up with the times.

Narrowcasting allows you to be as weird or specific as you desire, and still have appeal to an audience. It allows you and others to create strong bonds through taboo passions. It creates niches to be explored that were never before perceived. It may even allow you to create a small following that will give you money or other value for your specific talents.

So, you have the most amazing Sea Monkey aquarium of anyone you know. Honestly, it would be weird if anyone you knew had one, but still. I would not be surprised if I type that into Google right now and find a strange little community of Sea Monketeers. Oh lord, I just checked. They exist.

This was not an option ten or twenty years ago. Now replace my facetious and childish example with something a little more powerful. Like a popular marketable skill, such as an auto mechanic, counseling, or copywriter. There are literally thousands of people pushing content on those subjects all throughout the internet. Each with their own area of specialty and mode of delivery. Podcasts, Youtube channels, blogs, articles. These narrow content creators are exploring specific angles of subjects they love and are highly focused in.

The broadcast industry, e.g. network television, hollywood, radio, is sinking. Their large net of influence is so torn up and tangled with flotsam that it has begun its final diminuendo to the quiet pages of history. They are dead and don’t know it yet.

Meanwhile the narrowcaster is pulling in a respectable haul and loving every minute of it. They choose what type of rig they use, the bait, what they decide to keep, and when they want to be done for the day. Long gone are the days of burdensome nets, guesswork, and dumb luck.

So, go out, be weird and prosper.

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How Do You Mean?

What should you do when you’re assigned a pointless task?

I’m thinking more of a work scenario, but it could be any number of scenarios. A friend begs you to do something you know is futile. A partner thinks you should clean the bathroom every week. Your boss tells you to organize the files that you know will be torn apart by days end. Whatever it may be you know it to be a waste of time.

What should you do?

First, I think you should put it in perspective. This is choosing your battles mode. How much time and effort is simply acquiescing really going to consume? Less than five minutes? Odds are you should just do it. I don’t give that advice so you can build up passive aggressive ammunition for an inevitable meltdown. The thing is, five minutes or ten minutes at a one time task to appease someone you care to help, is nothing in the grand scheme. Get over it and help that person. Don’t make some snarky comment as you help them either.

Though, you should take note if this person’s inane problems regularly become yours. Five minutes can creep into half a day’s worth of cognitive dribble after a while. This happens to people who are helpful. Other people will take advantage willfully or ignorantly.

If you notice the small tasks beginning to mount into a pile of wasted hours, withdraw your help, calmly. The person might feel like you are withholding on purpose, and to be fair, you are, but that’s not your motivation. Your time is yours. You know how to efficiently produce value within your schedule.

Let’s say your boss hands you a huge project to complete with nebulous goals or outcomes. It’s going to take at least five or more days to complete. Clarification is key here, as it is most anywhere else in life. Simply asking, “What do you mean?” or some iteration of this question can solve almost all the world’s problems. It is especially elucidating in the case of work quagmires.

Find out exactly what the desired outcomes of the project are, and if you are in a work environment where you are free to maverick a solution on your own, great! You can complete the five day project in one or two days then.

If your boss, instead, gives you a strict rigid guideline of how to accomplish the task, I don’t know what to say. You are working in an extension of grade school where even if you get the right answers, you must still show your work. That is a bad situation to be in. Have a sincere talk with your boss about how you can save them money with your solution. If they are obstinately egotistical about their way being superior, congratulations! You’ve just found some solid evidence that job might not be for you.
File the failure in your head cabinet and seriously consider employment elsewhere, where you will be treated with mutual respect for your creativity.

Ambition

I’m reading a book by Steven Pressfield entitled “Turning Pro.” His life story is fascinating in its own right, but he can write like a bedeviled warlock. He is a master of captivation, turn of phrase, and dictional allure.

I wish every morning I woke up, Mr. Pressfield would be waiting with a pot of steaming coffee. He would then proceed to pour that coffee all over me and tell me to get over it and create. That’s kind of what reading his books are like. He has several published in the creative help style, “The War of Art” is the best one to start with, I believe.

I love what he has to say about ambition:

“Ambition, I have come to believe. Is the most primal sacred fundament of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and the reason for our existence.”

He would say that and pour scalding coffee on me every morning. Is that too much to ask?

I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m about halfway through. The themes are about ditching your shadow self and all that it encompasses including: shadow dreams, shadow professions, shadow relationships. I know this all doesn’t make much sense out of the context of the book, so go and get it. I especially enjoy his concepts surrounding the idea of addiction being a corrupt form of art. Seriously, go check out his website at least.

Anyways, he describes his process of turning pro involving a year in a house in northern California. Relatively poor, self-isolated, typing all day, everyday. For an entire year. Him and his cat.

He spent the whole year writing and when he finished, he knew the novel wasn’t good enough to get published. But he was different now. He had no fear of trying again. And again. Until he struck the target of where his ambition and the market collided.

He had turned pro.

Which got me thinking. What circumstances would it take for me to turn pro? And you?

More to the point what is my ambition? And yours?

Cheesecake and Rock n’Roll

I’m leaving Minnesota this week. I have served my sentence and will be applying gentle pressure to the accelerator pedal first thing Friday morning.

I’m moving on to the next phase of my life. Praxis.

Praxis is a nine month entrepreneurial start-up minded program that consists of three months of education in value creation followed by a six month paid apprenticeship with a startup.

I applied and was accepted to the program which, for me, will begin October 1st.

It may seem like a large leap for me if you peruse my professional resume. I have had over thirty different paid jobs in my twenty-six years on this planet.

Some may say quite wryly and self-satisfactorily “Ha! Sure, go on, do this next newest thing. You’ve found your purpose, *wink wink*.”

Or maybe that’s just my internal demon, Harry, coming through. I only just named Harry to personify my point here. Don’t worry, I’m more or less mentally stable.

Why would someone like me want to shift gears from my most recent venture in conservation to something like sales and marketing? Am I betraying everything that I am?

Betrayal assumes that there is a complete level of understanding in the first place. While I do not consider myself completely self ignorant, I think there are always things to learn. Even about myself. Some call this trait humility, but that word has been overused and worn down to a fuzzy platitude.

For now I’m sticking with the things I do know, have always known. I have always been fairly vivacious. I can make people laugh, usually through somewhat dry humor. I think the Monty Python crew is partially responsible for this trait.

I can only tolerate inefficiency and ineffectiveness for so long before I implode and exit the bad situation. In that vein, I could learn to communicate my displeasure sooner and more effectively.

I love reading and ideas. There is just so much out there. Outside of your head. Look! Look at it all! Birds, particle theories, tennis racket construction. I cannot be bored. There is too much to explore. My love of nature is tied into this.

My pleasure of nature and camping also ties in with being satisfied with myself. Not my clothes, my friends, or my car. I learned a lot about how much stamina for discomfort I had as a young person by going on week long backpacking trips. After a week of blisters, caloric deficit, and shitting in the woods you know more about yourself. The real you. It’s sort of a trial by fire, heroic creation myth ethos which is deep inside of me. It’s also a sort of philosophically stoic fallback. If everything, and I mean everything goes to hell in a handbasket, I know I’ll be more or less ok without toilet paper or a stocked pantry.

My, this post has meandered quite manically. So realistically why get involved in the startup zeitgeist?

I see it as more than following the money and sexy trends. I see entrepreneurship as one of the best means to create the better world I want to see. Which brings me to my core value.

The culmination of my personality and experiences is what I consider my raison d’être. God I hate it when people put French words in an otherwise English narrative. What do they think they’re doing? Anyways. The whole enchilada. Why I’m here. Is to leave you alone.

I will never force anyone to do anything nor ask others to do so in my place. I will help out as much as possible.

That’s it. I want to live in the world where that standard is as expected as the sunrise is tomorrow.

Sure it’s a basic framework that doesn’t encompass all the beautiful nuance and passion of this planet. That kind of stuff develops with time. I have passions and interests but they can change. What’s more important to me is that the activities I pursue all angle towards the foundation of peaceful, mutual interaction.

The rest is all cheesecake and rock n’ roll.

 

The Three Reference Rule

I’ve had a lot of stimulating little thought rabbits today. That will happen when it’s Saturday, you live in a town of 700 people in the very northwest corner of Minnesota, there are miles of country roads, and hundreds of unplayed podcasts.

I just finished the latest edition of Fridays with T.K. edition of The Isaac Morehouse Podcast (episode 102) and episode 95 of the Tim Ferriss Show. At the beginning of the year I was at episode 0 of both of them. I only began listening to Tim’s show about two months ago.

I have a problem, or maybe a gift, where, if I start a podcast series and I like it, I must listen to Every. Single. Episode. Ever made.

I can see pros and cons of this tedious trait. And I do not refer to it as OCD, a term which has been bandied about so much I wonder if anyone ever really watched Jack Nicholson’s genius in “As Good As It Gets.”

The upside of the experience of listening to an informative, explorative interview podcast like Isaac’s or Tim’s, is that in the span of a few months I have listened to hundreds of in depth conversations with experts. And not only do I have a better understanding of how some of the most intelligent people think, they love to throw out references to other geniuses, whom otherwise hardly anyone would know about. Every interview comes with a bibliography of casual and purposeful references to vast amounts of tangential knowledge. It can be rather overwhelming for the neurotic paranoid information consumer such as myself. I must temper my frantic instincts and write down only what truly jumps out.

Which brings me to the downsides of having to consume all of what appeals to me non-stop and manically. I tend to avoid new sources of information, such as other podcasts I might find interesting, because I still have 100 episodes of the T.F. podcast queued up. How can I possibly justify delving into the entire catalog of however many episodes James Altucher has banked away (I think it’s in the 400’s), when I am in my T.F. zone right now?

It’s fine though. I know this is a somewhat trivial problem because I am happy with rolling in the lavish excess of information that consistently bathes my ear holes.

I have even begun making silly rules for knowledge intake. One is the three reference rule. If I hear a book. person, or other information source mentioned three times from three different sources, I must learn that information. Arbitrary? Perhaps. But I’m going to roll with it for now as it has already turned me on to several fascinating books.
I don’t have a good way to end this. Leave me alone. Go out and find something you like and devour it.

True Romance

What is true romance?

A terrible, terrible, broad question. Perfect.

True romance is two stick bugs dancing around throwing a few sperm and eggs about complete with decapitation of the male. True romance is living a long life with someone you cannot live without. True romance involves sex, lies, brutal honesty. Groggy pissed off mornings. Exhausting talks that creep past midnight’s territory.

True romance is polyamorous. It is monogamous. It is asexual. It is a bond between two people or perhaps a person and a toaster. Though let’s keep this in the human realm for interest’s sake.

True romance, a healthy loving relationship, soul mates, partners, betrothed. Whatever. Let’s not let semantics get to sticky here. You don’t have to agree with me. This is my writing.

I would like this:

A person in my life that I respect immensely and look up to who feels similarly about me. Someone who can treat me like a King and accept being treated like the ruler of a planet. An understanding that we won’t always see eye to eye on every single thing and be alright with it. Someone who will not try to be a mother to me and not expect me to be a father to them. Though we might eventually be both of those together to new humans that either we create or adopt. These little ones of ours will belong to neither of us and will never come between us. But we will love them immensely, and given the chance, would die to protect.

Not so hard.

I do not currently possess the capacity to find this person, not because they aren’t out there. They are, and it’s not just one person either. I don’t believe I’m far from being able to though. I am in the middle of figuring out some serious things about myself right now. I really don’t need to consider another person’s emotions interacting intimately with my own right now.

I know what you’re thinking. Aha! Excuses! You’re a dirty little monkey! Perhaps. Probably.

The thing is you don’t always get to choose when love comes knocking. You do get to choose if you answer the door though. Just because an opportunity presents itself in life does not mean you have to take it.

You can choose when a partnership happens. But I suppose timing isn’t everything and there are several examples of great couples meeting at supposed terribly inopportune times.

I suppose you can only act on what you think is correct at the moment. Which can change if you haven’t experienced enough of the nuances of living. What constitutes ‘enough’? I’ll get back to you when I know.
In the meantime, I’ll paraphrase Professor Vonnegut, just be kind.

Beefalo

I was driving past a herd of meat cattle as happens most everyday where I live. I have seen these cows from spring through fall. I remember the newborn calves back in April wobbling around and skipping about like little dorks.  

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Now they are a bit bigger, but still dwarfed by their parents. Who are probably destined for the slaughterhouse this winter. Tragic. Maybe.

Look, I don’t like that things have to die for me to live. It’s kind of a funny system that we were placed in by the universe. A relatively normal person with decent levels of empathy doesn’t like killing things at random. Most people don’t go out of their way to stomp on insects and drive over cats and squirrels in the road.

I endeavor to avoid needless slaughter and even help animals across the road, but I do endorse the killing of farmed animals so I can consume their essence. I believe the scientific and personal evidence I have discovered proves that I need animal proteins, fats, and every molecule in between, to live a long and healthy life.

I don’t relish the fact that something must be murdered to provide for me whether broccoli or fowl. I sincerely look forward to the day of food replicators whose source material is inert matter.

I was pondering all of these thoughts the other day and watching this one big cow scratch it’s head on this nice looking rock. Meanwhile a couple of calves happily rolled around in the dust and pranced merrily around, chasing each other. All the cattle I see up here seem to have generally supreme lives for a bovine.

After musing for a bit I didn’t have such a hard time thinking that these cattle would all be dead within a few years and in the stomachs of people.

If the vegetarians had their way, these cows would never have existed. I’m not saying it would be a great moral tragedy if these cows never had at least a few years out in the pasture doing cow things, but from the cow’s perspective it might be.

Which raises an interesting (to me at least) question.

Would you rather live to twenty years and be dispatched quickly or never have lived at all?

Of course the answer to this question is highly contingent on the quality of life lived. If you were to be an abused slave for the twenty years, maybe the answer would be no.

But I think more often than not the answer would be on the side of life.

 

Who Am I Today?

I started meditating this week. Today was day five of meditation through the app, Headspace.

Meditating through an app sounds like the perfect ironic hipster twist of my generation seeking ancient wisdom instantly, and maybe it is. But it’s cheaper than a teacher, in that it’s free, and we live in the year 2016.

Either way I’m meditating now and these are a few things I’ve noticed.

Every day is radically different for me. Different in that my head is either ready and willing to sit for ten minutes and explore my state of thinking or fidgets like a sugar addled toddler in my seat.

Today was more in the category of the latter. I can’t parse exactly why my mind is such a mess right now. Bodily, I feel calm. My thoughts are not jubilantly bouncing from wall to wall, but instead are more like a deflated carnival balloon. Tromped on by all the leaving festival goers. Flailing in the detritus of manure and cotton candy, lit only by the dying bulbs on the ever-slowing ferris wheel. Ha, a bit much, I know.

I suppose that’s one benefit of this meditating though. Finding out exactly where my head’s at. It’s something I’ve always taken for granted. I think I have been confusing what mood I’m in for what my thinking looks like. I know the two sound easily interchangeable, but I believe there are fundamental differences which I will not lay out here because I will in a future post and you will keep reading to find out.

It’s strange to think, though, that before this week I have never really sat down, quiet, for ten minutes and focused on me. Myself. What am I right now?

An anxious ball? A sedentary log? A fountain brimming with ebullience?

I don’t think I will use meditation to try and whip my mentality into submission, but rather notice where my mind is currently, assess, and learn from it. Perhaps I will try to remedy a depressive outlook or curb an over jubilant hyper instinct. It’s all still a very loose self-experiment as it stands currently, but one I am eager to continue.

 

I’d Love to Meet You

Honestly, I forgot what we we’re talking about. The future of conservation or the bloat of the college system maybe? Though whatever we we’re talking about didn’t matter, as he casually remarked,

“Yeah, but it doesn’t really matter because, you know, climate change.”

That’s what he said to me. Substitute anything for the underlined. Trump, colony collapse disorder, Rosie O’Donnell.

How much of you’re thinking is shaped by conditions far outside your control?

This isn’t a diatribe against pessimists, whom I pity too much to truly despise. This is reality. We are all here on this space geoid, trying to feel good. Even the masochists.

So, why are you lying to me? Or yourself?

“Yeah I could eat better, but you know, time and stress, and that dog I just got, also my car tires need rotating and I’m tired.”

Let’s take away all the fluff you call excuses and get to some real down low reasoning.

You know you need to do that thing because it would maximize your good feelings quotient. And if you act all innocent about what that thing is, stop. You know what that thing is. Or at least you perceive it to the best of your current knowledge.

So, why don’t you go out and do it?

What’s the first excuse that comes to mind? Probably none right now because you and I are in safe idea land of words and good feelings. That’s how abuse works. You get abused. You feel pain. Then get lured back in by the comfortable rationalizations. Enjoy a short honeymoon phase eating ice cream, reading blogs, or pretending you enjoy your job, then WHAM, the shit rains begin to fall again!

You can abuse yourself as much, if not more than another person can.

Jump out of the cycle. Break it. It’s best to jump when the pain is still fresh. It doesn’t always work this way. Life would be too easy if there was a clean punctual pain that elucidated every change necessary. Sometimes you’re slogging through muck in a thick depressing fog until you finally decide to step up onto the boardwalk.

The ability to leave the bad situation was there all along. Donald Trump is not real. The climate has been changing for 4.5 billion years. There are plenty of bees and pollinators.

Now that the excuses are gone, I’d love to meet you.