This morning my inbox produced the following article from Barbara O’Neal: A Writer’s Sacred Task to Observe I loved reading it. The peak into one person’s introspection about how a changing, uncertain world has changed and solidified themselves was such … Continue reading
Watch this video. I’ll wait.
I love my country.
Not in the lockstep, blind adoration sort of way. Rather, I love that my country allows each individual to make mistakes(within the bounds of the law), learn, grow, and make their own choices about all the things that are within their personal control.
Does it do these things perfectly? Of course not.
Like all countries it’s run by people. People are prone to greed, short-sightedness, and cruelty. Most other countries find their governments full of blatant corruption that only seems to get turned over to a new crop of tyrants with each election cycle.
But unlike many countries ours is governed by sound principles that were laid forth in our country’s founding documents. If you haven’t read the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights in a while, it might be time for a thoughtful reread. The standards those documents raised, regardless of their need for expansion and broader application, laid a foundation of liberty that was never seen in the world before. If we let those standards succumb to corruption, government overreach, and the end of rule of law they may not be seen in our lifetimes again.
Those principles have taken a beating in the last decade or so (also in various forms throughout the USA’s short history). What are supposed to be open platforms of discussion and participation have morphed into private gardens of societal conformity. Thought policing and social pandering are the so called community building of the day.
I want to live in the America I idealistically believed in as a child, a place of liberty, access to markets and ideas, and respect for the law and each other as citizens of the freest nation on the planet.
Which is why I am telling those that stop by to hear my ramblings from time to time that I have committed to the Unity2020 movement. I want courageous, capable, patriotic leadership. And if I could add an adjective to the movement’s aims, it would be HONEST. But I’d rather start with a few positive attributes and build from there, than accept the lesser evil again.
I felt the same way when I voted for Evan McMullin in 2016. I wasn’t about to put my support behind any candidate I knew to be corrupt. I couldn’t guarantee that he wasn’t, but there wasn’t a mountain of evidence that he was. It’s a sad state of affairs.
So this election cycle I want everyone to know where I stand. I want to support a movement that will put forth worthy candidates. Not perfect folks, but decent folks. Not the producers of hilarious or infuriating Twitter, but long-form thinkers who communicate in more than a few hundred characters.
If that appeals to you, and you’re an American, or you just think the fall of the United States would be really bad for the planet, geopolitically or economically speaking, then go read up on Unity2020. www.ArticlesOfUnity.org
I feel like most of the world is either in desperate need of or trying frantically to give some form of unsolicited guidance/opinions/pseudo-scientific hoopla. So I decided to return to it this week for a little inspiration.
Today’s Tidbit: Don’t Trust All Purpose Glue
The obvious sentiment being that different projects require different tools. The more generic the tools, the less specific the application. Wood working requires wood glue, a substance that has a seriously viscous texture to make adherence to a porous surface possible. You want to bind a couple pieces of plastic? Well the bottle better say, specifically, that it can bind plastics. Otherwise, you may as well melt the things and smoosh them together to cool, while you huff toxic fumes. It’d be more effective.
But I suspect there’s a broader applicability.
I am, the older I get, more and more skeptical of anything claiming to be a panacea. Whether you’re looking to fix all the ills of the world, or just completely and perfectly transform your life, there is no shortage of notions, philosophies, and products that claim to do just that.
Transform your body with this one weird trick!
Just purchase my online course to start maximizing your business!
This ideology will bring about a utopia!
The last is the most dangerous, because it’s the most attractive. It’s so easy to believe if we could all just be a certain way, think a certain way we would all be happy and prosperous. The only problem with this is that in all of recorded human history, it has yet to ever happen.
But the truth is nothing fits all people. No size of clothing will cover all bodies. No daily schedule will work for everyone. And as every parent knows, no form of discipline works for all children.
Unless a tool, a product, or even an idea can show you how it will mold to the individual, meet a diversity of needs and applications, then its claims to be the end-all-be-all are bogus. And in the age of disruptive technologies, this is even more the case.
Side bar: If you haven’t read The Future is Faster Than You Think, get on that.
Just as we get used to a dominant tech, it gets over-turned by the next, and leaves us all scratching our heads about the promises it made to liberate mankind.
Here’s the thing, humanity can’t be liberated from itself. The wood can’t stop being wood. The plastic will still be plastic if you melt it. Each needs a specific glue to bind it. Nothing short will do the trick.
The history of humanity indicates that we tend toward the lazy, entitled, and greedy- ACROSS THE BOARD. No governing system, no ideology, no weird weight loss trick will change our basic natures.
But humans have some pretty cool built in features, too. We build family and community, we are attentive to our children when our brains aren’t being hijacked by addiction, and we dream about and adapt toward a better future.
That means human-specific glues will be unity focused, community enhancing (not destroying), and imagination supporting. They will be full of nuance and context. They will understand that people make mistakes, and cannot be held to perfectionist standards without breaking.
I hope we know these fixatives when we find them. We have a lot of projects that need some adhesion.
Oh, and if you happen to know what that one weird trick that will give me abs without exercise is, let me know.
I’ve been an advocate for devoting personal, solitary time to the completion of worthy endeavors since I was in high school. It didn’t make me popular then. I don’t really expect it to now, but I take so much hope from seeing an increasing number of people applying the kinds of principles espoused by the author of “Deep Work,” Cal Newport.
He has recently started a podcast called Deep Questions with Cal Newport where he fields questions from his email list subscribers about living a deep, intentional life that is aimed at skill acquisition and work/life balance. He expands on the concepts in books (which if you haven’t read them, why not?!) on a slightly more personal level.
Well, in a moment that surprised the heck out me, I popped onto iTunes to listen to the latest episode, titled “Battling Email, Online Learning, and a Game Plan to Escape the Shallow Life,” and guess what?
He took my question! By accident naturally. It was part of a segment he calls question roulette, where he pulls a random question from the many he gets and answers it on the fly.
And he pronounced my name correctly!! Please take note for anyone pronouncing my name in the future.
If you just want to hear my question and his response you can click the link above and skip to 21:45. But the information is golden across the board. And really you should just subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.
I do think we are experiencing a transition within certain sectors of American society. The frenetic, distracted, stress-glorifying pace we have been told is optimal in the technology age is just not satisfying us. And it’s not producing high quality content that is meaningful and resonant. That can only be accomplished by the slow, practiced, dedicated attention to building skills and conscientiously applying them.
If that intrigues you at all, Cal and his books are a great place to start.
Every now and again a newsletter or a friend will send me over to Kevin Kelly‘s website (hat tip to Tim Ferris’ newsletter for this gem). He has offered 68 bits of unsolicited advice as a token for his own birthday. Go have a gander. They will amuse if nothing else.
But I actually found myself surprised by certain snippets, and decided that they bore a greater discussion. Today’s tidbit: If you are looking for something in your house, and you finally find it, when you’re done with it, don’t put it back where you found it. Put it back where you first looked for it.
This one kind of blew my mind.
It is intuitive, yet breathtakingly unexpected. At least, it wasn’t obvious to me. Every time I have stumbled upon a sought for item my response is that I was simply mistaken in where that thing belonged.
BUT IT’S MY FREAKING HOUSE!! How can I possibly be wrong about where something in my own home “belongs?” Either the last person to use it didn’t put it back where it should have been, or I put it in the least logical place for that object. And thus, I must fix this situation so as to save time later.
If I had just taken a few minutes to return the quested for item to it’s most rational locale I would be cutting the hunt for it short the next time it’s in use. I mourn the number of hours this could have saved me, and exalt in the minutes to be gained in the future. I also anticipate a great deal of yelling at people who continue to “put stuff away” in obscure places, e.g. “Stop leaving the measuring cups in the silverware drawer. They are cups! THEY BELONG IN THE CUPBOARD!!”
Beyond the basics of where the duct tape got stashed, I wonder if we don’t also do this to our peace and happiness. A nature walk- ocean preferable but not required, an afternoon of quiet reading, a few golden hours spent building momentum on an important (not necessarily urgent) project, cloud watching, star gazing, cuddling under a blanket with someone I love, dancing in the kitchen to Mongolian folk metal (yeah, it’s a thing, go look up The Hu) are all pursuits that bring me deep satisfaction.
Yet after I’ve found them, often by accident rather than design, they get returned to drawers marked Later and When I Have Time and After the Work is Done. When I stumble upon such pleasures the relief is visceral, and makes me a much more bearable person to interact with. But they always get tucked back into the invisible spaces I discovered them.
Such precious commodities deserve pride of place at the top of To-Do lists. They should be visibly displayed on refrigerator doors with labels like Necessary, Do It Now, and Cannot Wait. These mindful daily loves are what make the rest of our lives worth living.
So the next time you find your bliss, thank Kevin Kelly, and put it in the first place you looked. It’ll be there waiting the next time you need it.