Showing posts with the label Life

Nothing is more important than...

I came across that sentence when I was reading a book about a week ago. It's stuck in my head. "Nothing is more important than..." It's an odd way to phrase a superlative, something that is at the extreme.

I've gone through a number of iterations. I'm still uncertain about these answers, and I think that's a major life problem. If you aren't certain about your superlative values then your action will be erratic because your intentions are, which is what you see in my life. But, I have been working on some answers that make sense.

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Nothing is more important than...

...confronting loss by adjusting expectations to match reality.
- ...helping people to confront loss by adjusting expectations to match reality.
(These are of four kinds: 1) False expectations of the future. Which is a feeling of loss. 2) False expectations of the past. Which is a feeling of guilt and/or regret. 3) False expectations of the past-future. Which is a feeling of los…

Writing is a Life Skill

I was recently contacted about being in a history book about Toastmasters District 62. I was the first person to complete an entire path in the Pathways educational program. I was asked for a quote. If asked, could you produce a good and original quote on request?

I asked how long the quote should be and was told a paragraph would be perfect. So, what did I do? Here it is.

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When I was 19 I climbed Mt. Rainier. At that particular moment in my life I had made no plans beyond getting to the summit. When I accomplished that I had this weird feeling. A slight disorientation. That disorientation was because I lacked a next step, I lacked a future. The purpose of a path is to provide you with that next step. I was the first person to complete a Pathway in Toastmasters District 62. I completed that path the same way I climbed the mountain, one step at a time. Follow the path and it will lead you to your destination. And when you're near completion, begin planning for your nex…

Skimming Across the Top of the Soul in Search of Things Hidden There

Yesterday was the Fourth of July and I did a number of normal things, like walking in a parade and going to the playground with some of the family. It was also a good day for some important insights.

One, I can't do a non-strict diet. Even though my digestive, immune, and nervous systems have healed quite a bit over the last few years, I can tell when I'm doing things my system can't handle and it definitely effects me. Over the last few weeks I went with the idea of, "Just a little bit will be fine." And, to a large extent, I can handle some "normal" foods. But, I do better on a strict diet of meat and kefir. And, I can't seem to handle cheating on that. I thought something like Ice Cream Sundays would work, where I would have one serving of ice cream on Sunday. As soon as I started thinking about doing that I started slipping on a regular basis, for both physiological and psychological reasons I believe. It's strict or nothing, and I have a lo…


I am completely burnt out. It's my fault, obviously. I have a mental issue, failure to consistently choose priorities.

I have known about this issue for most of my life now, but I haven't been able to resolve it. And, realistically, I'm ambivalent about it. One of the reasons that I've been able to do so many cool things is because I'm all over the place. But, it definitely holds me back. Let's go over a few of things I'm working on and how I'm trying to manage them, and then we'll dive into some theory on how I might be able to resolve some of this.

I've been driving so hard over the last few weeks on the political battle with Dalton Township that the stress wore me out. A couple of days ago I fell asleep while reading, woke up, stumbled into the kitchen and opened the fridge, and there, right in my face, was some pizza. I ate two pieces. I just wasn't mentally prepared at that moment for it to be there, to resist the temptation. Well, my d…

Notes on Horsemanship

I've always liked horses, I just haven't interacted with them much. A handful of years ago I took some private lessons and worked up to jumping over little gates. It was fun. Then, I ended having health issues after almost dying in Africa, and then I had complications with my spine, and now it's been years since I've been on a horse. Over the last few weeks I've tried motorcycle riding for the first time in years, and I've been fine. Soon I'm going to give horseback riding a try. I have some hesitancy about it, because it could go very bad for my health. But, as a step on that path I went to a 2-day horsemanship seminar at Chance Stables put on by Phil Oakes.

Last year I noticed that there was a horsemanship seminar going on near me. I looked into it just a little and learned that Phil Oakes is known for his gentle methods used to create gentle horses. I like that, it goes well with my spine that needs gentle treatment. But, last year I was not anywhere nea…

Curiosity Saved the Cat: Mind, Body, and Soul

I was recently observing my cousin's five cats interact, and I was also recently at another house where there were a few cats. One cat would come out and want to be petted. Another would hide. One cat would jump at a toy and play with it. Another would run away and hide. There are always differences in the cat personalities, but at base there are really only two main perspectives that a cat can take on life.

Curiosity is the thing that encourages exploration. Exploration and fear are both ancient circuits in the brain. To a large extent motivation is linear, you can move towards something or away from it. You can approach or you can avoid.

When something is new it's natural to be afraid. Not being afraid is what is learned. For instance, if you take a cat to a new environment and drop it off then the first thing that it will do is stand still, tense, ready, and look around. It's trying to get its bearings, it's trying to orient itself in its new environment. The first …

Life: Expansion, Limitation, and Success

Life is about collecting experiences. Or, at least, that's how I've lived a large portion of my life. I think it's a valuable attitude, but I also think it falls short in some ways. Specifically, it doesn't include creative or attitudinal values. But, I've operated under that life philosophy for so long that it's a strong habit now, and maybe I have a natural tendency to be that way too. So, I'm going to dump some of my mind in here and see if I can come up with any new, good, or useful thoughts.

An Amish friend of mine asked me today if I would be interested in taking some of his products to the farmers' market in Holland.

Yesterday, a friend of mine asked me if I would go to car auctions with him because he owns a small car lot.

At a business meeting yesterday someone told me that I should dive into the book and publishing industry in some way because I seem quite knowledgable about it.

I would like to pursue all of these things, but that's the pr…

Ambitions 3

I've been trying to become more focused for the last decade. It hasn't worked. That's one of the good things about being way overwhelmed at the moment, it's made me start to think about the structure of my ambitions more.

The areas that I want to focus on are: art, business, philosophy, health, romance, adventure, politics, and religion. Eight areas of focus isn't focus at all.

All of these areas aren't as important as each other though, especially at any given time. So, I think I might have found an organizational structure that allows me to hold them in my head in a reasonable way, so that I can assess if I'm applying the appropriate amount of attention, energy, and effort to the correct things. A three-tier system.

I tried to arrange these in a strict ordinal system, one to eight, a number of times. I've tried something like that many times over my life, but it's never worked. My priorities and values just move around too much. But, with a three-…

I Rode a Motorcycle Today, and I was Reborn

My cousin April let me take her motorcycle for a couple hour test ride today as an experiment to see if my spinal deformities would allow me such an endeavor. The occasion seems to call for a poem.

I think this might come out as some sort of fairy-tale mixed with "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Tennyson. My point is, it might get crazy. Maybe there will be a little influence from the song "American Pie". Alright, I have no idea what's going to happen.

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Through the woods and across the township line,
toward grandmother's house he rolled,
past a humble abode,
rode the one-hundred less than one-hundred and one.

North by west,
across the flowing waters and above the single person ships,
past the tree unsold,
rode the one-hundred less than one-hundred and one.

By the graves of the dead,
and the graves of the dying,
and the graves of the living,
rode the one-hundred less than one-hundred and one.

To the water's edge,
southward diversion,

Un-Birthday Presents

I've found the normal method of giving gifts on birthdays and holidays to be boring. Oddly enough, I just found out today that Humpty Dumpty thought the same thing.

I'm reading "Through the Looking-Glass" by Lewis Carroll with one of my students, Carrie. It's the sequel to "Alice in Wonderland". Today we read a section where Humpty Dumpty is explaining the concept of un-birthday presents to Alice.

I've thought the same thing for years. Everyone is both expecting and already getting gifts on their birthday and on holidays. What's better is to give them one at some other time, when it's more interesting to receive something you aren't expecting. Here's part of the conversation between Humpty Dumpty and Alice.

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‘It’s a cravat, child, and a beautiful one, as you say. It’s a present from the White King and Queen. There now!’

‘Is it really?’ said Alice, quite pleased to find that she had chosen a good subject, after all.


Ambitions 2

I've recently tried to formulate and articulate exactly what my ambitions in life are. When I was young I had a unique view of how life should be lived. I wrote an article on it called "Living in Reverse". That worked in many ways, but now I want to transition from collecting experiences to building something. I'm not sure what that looks like, but I'm working on gaining clarity.

In the first "Ambitions" article I laid out the ideas I have about my three key areas in life: business, art, and philosophy. Here is what those look like, then I will attempt to dive into three other key areas that are important supports for the big three.

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Art ambition - remake the literary hero as non-reactionary, change how and why people value literature (an experimental and playful hyperreality for the development of enhanced behavioral patterns, our lives are narratives), make the implicit explicit for all (write on writing while writing), include essays exp…

My Failures - Part 1 of ?

I have been fretting over starting this article for two days.

The basic idea here is that I have made various errors of judgment, decision, and action in the past. Because I have not adequately examined these errors I have not sufficiently developed the ability to avoid them in the future and do better. To do better in the future we must learn from the past. To develop foresight we must develop hindsight. A number of psychologists and philosophers talk about this. My favorite is Jordan Peterson. Here are two selections from his paper "Self-Deception Explained", and one from "Complexity Management Theory". (Somewhere he expresses the exact idea that I'm using better, but I can't find it at the moment.)

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...not only do those who avoid get worse, but those who voluntarily expose themselves to the anxiety-provoking and depressing – even if extremely traumatic – get better! Pennebaker and colleagues have demonstrated, for example, that normal indivi…


What do I want? It's a huge question.

There are different ways to try to answer the question. You can try to divide life up into certain time periods and decide that way, you can try to divide it up into different areas, you can just go with what feels right, you can try to do the logical thing, you can copy people, you can do what you're told to do or what is expected of you, or you can avoid the question. I have always found the question hard on long time scales, but I've usually been pretty good at deciding on things in a few weeks or even a couple of months away. The major problem with that is that the time isn't long enough to do many of the most significant things. Then your life has no structure and tends to devolve into chaos. You can have some awesome adventures, as I have, but you need a different focus if you're going to do more than that. I'm going to try to make some progress on this here.

Logically I know that I need money, but for some reason I h…

Humans in a Box

The zoologist Desmond Morris wrote a book called "The Human Zoo". It's a great book. In there he talks about how animals in zoos have issues like causing self-harm, having eating disorders, having mood disorders, having depression, having obsessive-compulsive disorders, etc. It works the same way with another animal - humans.

Historically there were literal human zoos. That's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about the boxes that we make for ourselves. We live in a box called a house. We work in a box called an office or a factory. We drive in a box called a car. We shop in a box called a supermarket.

We live in boxes, and we have issues with causing self-harm, having eating disorders, having mood disorders, having depression, having obsessive-compulsive disorders, etc.

The answer seems simple enough - get out of the box! That's why people find certain activities to be so refreshing. Hiking, riding a bike, horseback riding, and motorcycle riding are…

Living in Reverse

There is one philosophy of life that says you should do things in a certain order. Here's how the plan goes: go to school, go to more school, work, do more work, and more work, retire, have fun and adventures.

How many people do you meet in life? I started working at a young age and talked with a lot of people about their careers and jobs before I was in my teens. I realized then that "the plan" had a high failure rate.

Before you ever get to do what you want to do you have to run a gauntlet. The odds are that you'll either die on your way to that fun and adventure, or soon after. Even if you make it you won't have the money needed for the road trip that you always wanted to do. Even if you have the money your health probably won't be good enough to hike to the top of that mountain you always wanted to.

Even if you live until retirement, and you have enough money, and you have some health left over, you've been putting off doing what you wanted to do for …

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