Rumblings and Ramblings

I haven’t been writing much. At least, not here. It’s hard to pin down exactly why. It could be a lack of time. It could be a lack of interest. It could be that I haven’t paid my WordPress bill. In truth it is none of those things.

There is never a lack of time for that which we love. If you love it, you MAKE time for it. It’s not a lack of interest then either. I’ve also paid my bill. So what could it be? Perhaps it is merely this: it’s become difficult to put together a cohesive thought lately.

So much is going on that I don’t feel lost at all, but rather swept up in my life. The dam has broken and the flood waters are ripping through my figurative town. I’m in the moment, and sometimes it’s really difficult to reflect and come to terms with things here in this blog, as I so often like to do, when I’m struggling to stay afloat and wondering where this path will lead. I don’t even really know why I like to reflect. I have a need for clarity for some reason. The more I search, the less clear some things become. Each door opens to a new door.

I like that. It makes my past easier to understand and invigorates me when it comes to exploring my future.

Not all my discoveries are universal. Some are just for me. And as I try to make sense of things I also try to find my path in life that will keep my family secure and keep my soul intact. I have learned this though as of late: on the journey to one’s purpose there is much you must give up and there is much you can gain. The trick is figuring out what to discard and what to pursue. That answer is different for each one of us.

There is no one right way, and anyone who has the audacity to believe there is should be either ignored or outright shunned. No one speaks for me, but me. It is the same for you. You cannot be bullied into anything in this life. Whether you go or don’t go, do or don’t do, believe or don’t believe is your choice and your’s alone.

Fate makes us choose, choice determines our fate. It’s simple, in a complicated sort of way.

Things That Aren’t Okay.

Things that aren’t okay:

  • It’s not okay to interrupt someone when they are trying to make a point. If everybody shouts, nobody gets heard and nothing gets solved. This is both juvenile and ridiculous. Not to mention ineffective.
  • It’s not okay to pretend to have the facts and then try to sway others to your opinion. This is merely marketing and quickly shows your ignorance to those who have been educated objectively and dispassionately.
  • It’s not okay to be so arrogant as to think that not only are you the only one in the room with an opinion that matters, but your opinion is the one that matters most and therefore must be heard at any cost. This is the destruction of civility and the promotion of anarchy. It too is juvenile. And possibly psychotic.
  • It’s not okay to believe EVERY ONE of your answers is the correct answer for everyone. This is silly and pretentious.
  • It’s not okay to refuse to lend an ear to those that might question your convictions in life. By listening to others you are able to either strengthen your resolve or loosen your grip on ideals which control your life; some of what you hold dear makes more or less sense as your understanding of how the world works grows. Either one is predominantly good for you.
  • It’s not okay to have an expansive vocabulary yet use your big words wrong or in the name of obfuscation. That makes you an idiot or an ass.
  • It’s not okay to embrace entitlement to a degree that represents you as the only one that matters in the room. Nobody else believes such a thing.
  • It’s not okay for adults to throw temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want. The world is not fair. Most children by the age of 3 have realized this. Especially those with siblings.
  • It’s not okay to remain silent on matters that you greatly object to, but picking your forum must be deliberated upon intelligently in order to find a way to best voice your opinions.
  • It’s not okay to be snide, aggressive and personal in your attacks when the situation does not warrant such behavior; i.e. you are not being attacked personally to begin with. This is cowardice and vitriol.
  • It’s not okay to stop this list here. But I’m going to. For now…
  • Follow up: The next day I came across this on my workout website, crossfit.com. Kinda dug what Mark Helprin was riffing on here. Thought it might be timely to this post. But, hey, my answers certainly don’t have to be your answers. Things don’t seem so simple anymore…

Training For “The 10”

I have promised a friend that I will assist him in coaching an all-star team of high school athletes in the sport of lacrosse. I am both excited and terrified at the prospect.

Lacrosse is what I played in high school and college, long before I began searching for deeper levels of contest such as rugby, surfing and mma. Lacrosse allowed me to come to terms with the foundation of my character. It tested me long before I understood under what parameters I was being examined. The sport of lacrosse allowed me to take what my parents had taught me and forge it into my own set of values, rules for conduct and spirit. I still carry these virtues with me today. I still credit the game of lacrosse for showing me what my mother and father had spelled out for me since I was born but which I had to chose, on my own, when it was time.

Now I take this responsibility on my shoulders in an effort to bring it to the next generation. It is not so much a matter of “paying it forward” as it is a sense of necessary duty. This is what scares me. Will I do it right?

When it comes to physical contests (and life) I believe in one thing more than anything else: never quitting. I might slow down, I might puke, I might even get injured, but I believe in always pushing forward for as long as I am able. My body will have to break before my mind does. I practice this is the gym constantly. This mindset is my strength on the rugby pitch; the reason why I can outhit and outplay guys twice my size. I’ve never thought of myself as an athlete, I just despised failure. Not a failure on the scoreboard but failure to live up to, or exceed, my capabilities because I had grown mentally fatigued. I don’t mind getting hurt if I have given everything I have to give.

Most of the kids I coach will quit at some point in their life. It doesn’t make them bad people, it will just always make them wonder, “What could have been…” That’s a heavy load to bear in life. I want to teach these kids not just the game of lacrosse, but what the game can teach you about who you are; about the necessity of walking through life with your head up, even when you get beat on, if you have given all you have to give.

If I can teach them to give it all they’ve got all the time, to grow comfortable being uncomfortable, to reach for those Large, Big Things in their life, to treat mistakes as learning tools instead of failures, to keep going when they feel it’s impossible to take another step, to despise quitting so bad that they would rather puke, suffer injury or die; then, no matter what a scoreboard says, at the end of the day I will have accomplished what I have set out to do: made them realize what it means to be a man of character, that such honesty and virtue is a choice and that it lies within us all.

No big deal, right? Some kids will get it, most, I’m afraid, will not. Some will have it naturally but, if I can reach those kids who are on the fence in terms of this sort of character and show them a way to live life in which the word “regret” will never mean a goddamn thing, then I can sleep well.

We shall see soon enough. Thus far I have lived my life without regret. I plan on continuing this way for as long as I am on this earth. Regret is for pussies. If we persevere when things are at their worst, then what do we ever have to regret? We’re all gonna die some day, might as well go down standing up.

Perhaps Heraclitus said it best circa 500 B.C.: “Out of every 100 men, 10 shouldn’t even be there, 80 are just targets, 9 are the real fighters and we are lucky to have them, ah, but the one, one of them is a warrior… and he will bring the others back.”

I don’t see myself as a warrior but 34 years of battle in some way, shape or form (physical, psychological or both) have shown me that I am, with utmost humility, a fighter. I can live with that.

Passion. I Believe I’ve Found Mine. Now What?

I looked at my boss yesterday. I was bartending. He was busying himself picking up trash on the floor. The place was crowded. Everybody wanted something.

“What if you had a job you really liked everyday?” I asked him above the din.

He just smiled. “What a world it would be.”

See, both my boss and I don’t really like what we do for a living. But, times are tough and it’s a living. Not to mention that, even if you actually did have a job you liked going to everyday, some days it would still feel like a job. No matter how much you loved it. I’m not here to blog about that mythical “perfect existence” or whine about my current one. I’m here to delve into what I like to do as a means to a possible end for me as it pertains to my choice of work. You can come along if you wish or click the back button, it makes no difference to me. I’m not writing any of this for you.

Basically, the ideal job in life, in my opinion, boils down to passion. Follow your passion and you find yourself in an agreeable realm of work. Identifying those passions however can be difficult. For instance, somebody might say, “I like to watch baseball” or “I like to read.” Okay. Great. But what is it you like about those things? Is it the distraction they offer you? Is it recording statistics or exploring ideas? Is it the study of performance? Is it the questioning of knowledge, ability and technical understanding and how it pertains to output? What do you like about the things you like?

I enjoy writing. But what I really enjoy about writing is teaching somebody something new or sharing with them something they might not have known. Writing is not my passion, the latter is. I enjoy surfing, rugby, the pursuit of fitness and practicing mixed martial arts. While it’s true I enjoy the sport of these things what I’m really passionate about is testing myself; finding out who I am inside, finding out how much adversity I can take, finding out where I will break and pursuing my limitations.

When we realize not what we like to do, but the reasons we like doing them, then we have found our passion. The rest becomes elementary but no less challenging. Where can I work that will allow me to pursue my passion?

I have an idea what is right for me. We shall see if it is a fit when the time comes, because pursuit of purpose takes time… and, honestly, should never find an end. The work in our lives comes in positioning ourselves to take advantage of our passions when situations become available that allow us to pursue them. To be prepared, unafraid, willing and practical: a difficult recipe to get right.

Nevertheless, it shall always remain true, wherever we focus our attention we can find doors that yield to our passion. Walking through them is a completely separate choice. If we keep it simple, however, we can usually figure out what to do quite quickly.

Where’s The Objectivity These Days?

I think 24 hour news channels have ruined this country.

Admittedly I rarely watch them and I read very little in the newspapers these days. How can I have the audacity to make such a comment then? Because by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, the world oftentimes becomes a little clearer.

Look, the world, since its inception 4 billion years ago, has always been on the brink of disaster. Always. We live on a fragile planet and human beings are selfish, ignorant and fearful. We are not nearly as great as we think we are and in 10,000 years we have done more damage to our planet than what has happened in the last 3.5 billion; and I’m not talking about global warming either- the world warms and cools, that’s what it does, with or without human help. From a purely human standpoint economies rise and fall as much as regimes do, diseases spread no matter how technologically advanced we are or what god (or gods) we believe in. We still talk about this shit in the news as if it is something new. With the advent of the 24 hour news channel however, we seem to do it even more ignorantly.

On the rare occasion I watch these programs, all I see is reporting fueled by fear and speculation. Nobody does any reporting anymore. The only investigation-type programs I see happen in hour long specials once a week or in re-runs of the same programs set in blocks to fill time slots. And even they can be questionable as far as “slant”.

When did slant become part of the news? What happened to objectively reporting a story? Giving both sides and staying emotionally uninvolved? Was it erased with 24 hour news channels? I don’t know, but these stations surely exacerbate the problem of overnewsed and underinformed. Since when did opinion matter in a news report? Give me the facts and let me form my own idea on the subject. Don’t tell me your opinion on the matter and then ask me to agree or disagree. That’s unprofessional unless you are writing an editorial.

This stuff has become a joke. Does anybody consider the source anymore when hearing a report? What does it take to become an expert these days? Is anybody out there objective anymore- inside or outside of the media room? All I see the “news” doing these days is promoting fear. If you are afraid you will buy, you will tune in, you will be controlled. Fuhhhck thattt!!!

Disgusting. If these television stations, radio shows, media outlets, all imploded tomorrow the world would not become a better place, but it would move onward without as much innane chatter… maybe it would become a better place. Stop searching for the “breaking” story and just give me an actual story with pertinent facts you aren’t emotionally involved in, preferably something not about a dead pop star, some psycho douchebag walking into an office with a gun because he’s had a couple of bad days in a row or some chick murdering her children because she was tired of not being able to hit the bars with her friends.

How about some in-depth, objective, unslanted reporting on health care reform, autism fueled by vaccinosis, the insanity of sub-prime mortgage companies now offering to “help” their customers by finding them “better” loans than the ones they brokered in the first place for upfront cash fees, why we’re truly at war in the Middle East and what we need to understand about our enemy, his politics and his culture, who’s holding the contracts on the rebuilding of Iraq’s infrastructure, why do we still not have a functional solar powered automobile, why the rich are pissed off at higher taxes while the middle class has consistently footed the bill with increases in taxes for a majority of this country’s existence, why we don’t concentrate more on finding common ground with our enemies and going on from there, why we think the death penalty is worse than spending the rest of ones existence in a tight, dark cage and costs more than the latter… you know the kind of thing that might educate the country instead of serve the vested interests of the corporate giants that pay the bills and keep us stupid and consuming.

The kind of thing that might be professional. Simple. Uncomplicated. That might be some news.

Francesca Rose, Meet Planet Earth!

Frankie RoseOn Monday, June 29, 2009, at 7pm exactly, my daughter was born. And my life will never be the same again. Ever.

Francesca Rose was 8 pounds, 3 0unces and 21 inches long. We have been in the hospital the last few days as her amazing mother starts her recovery from a c-section. I have had 9 hours of sleep in the last three days and am, somehow, not tired. The birth of my child is, beyond all comparison to anything else that has thus far happened in my life, the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. The ups and downs that happen from here on out will all be worth it, no matter how high or low they go. A bold statement to be sure, but an unbreakable truism nonetheless.

Anybody who has perpetuated the species knows what I am talking about here. For those of you reading this who have not I can only explain the birth of my daughter like this: picture a time in your life (or times in your life if you’ve been doing it right) where you felt the most happiness, the most contentment, that you’ve ever felt before. A great date. A fantastic meal. A job well done. A past time thoroughly enjoyed. Now, multiply that by 100 and you’ll come close to feeling what I felt when I first saw my child.

Yes, it IS that amazing. At least, it was for me.

Billions of people, all going through their mundane little lives, have felt this same thing. Billions. Over thousands and thousands of years. I am not special. But I am. Because it’s MY daughter. It’s MY family. It’s MY mundane little life and it feels anything but. That is the power and the comedy of this whole thing. Life is funny. My daughter is beautiful. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, or will ever see.

I have many more thoughts on this but, for right now, I’ve got to get back to the hospital. My family is waiting for me. And I miss them dearly.

Keep it simple.

Questions And Answers

For me and, I suspect, for most people, the answers to all our questions are everywhere. No matter where we go, there we are and no matter where we are, there we will find our answers. Life guides us, even serves us, if we are paying attention.

But you’ve got to pay attention. If you aren’t asking questions, if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss those little nuggets of existential gold and guideposts that so often lie right under your nose. When I can quiet myself, when I can listen, when I am aware: I see.

I was reading a book the other day called Many Lives, Many Masters. It was a fascinating true story about reincarnation from a renowned psychologist who never really gave such a thing a thought until he met a certain patient. Eventually, as he was able to regress his patient back through her previous lifetimes to confront certain paralyzing fears, he came across some guides, or Masters, on a completely other plane of consciousness. These Masters spoke to the doctor through his patient, doling out wisdom, expertise and direction when they saw fit. (Far out, I know, but captivating-at least for me-nonetheless.)

So here I am reading this book and going through a bit of a conundrum in my personal life. Should I become a teacher or shouldn’t I? I wanted to, but the path was seeming rather time-consuming and roundabout, not to mention that in the recent economic collapse, teaching jobs were being cut left and right. I thought about going back to copywriting and applying for work at a nearby marketing firm. The ideals behind teaching excited me while, at the same time, the ideals (as I saw them) behind copywriting I loathed. But there was more money in copywriting if I played my cards right and, perhaps, an immediate job opening.

I agonized over this. I made up a list of pros and cons while reading this book, Many Lives, Many Masters. I went back and forth, back and forth over what to do. I felt a little lost and more than a little confused. Then I read this in my book: “Our task is to learn, to become god-like through knowledge. We know so little. You are here to be my teacher. I have so much to learn. By knowledge we approach God, and then we can rest. Then we come back to teach and help others.” A Master had relayed this message to the doctor, the doctor had relayed this message to me. And then, suddenly, clarity was upon me.

I would pursue teaching. I would become a teacher. This quote resonated with something deep inside and I no longer had issues with my path. All my life I had been trying to teach, never understanding that that, indeed, was what I was trying to do.

Now, I ask you, if I wasn’t paying attention, how much longer would I have hemmed and hawed about my path? If I was paying attention earlier, how much sooner could I have invested myself in this path? We all learn at our own pace and all our answers are out there. 

But, keeping it simple and paying attention never hurts the process either.