Trade Off

Every moment of my life involves a trade-off. My life is a fixed pie (sort of) and whenever I decide to do something with my finite time I am also deciding not to do other things. I often don’t think about it in these terms, but maybe I should.

When I spend ten minutes on Facebook I am choosing not to read one of the dozens of unread books on my shelf.

When I watch The Office for the hundredth time I am choosing not to go for a run or exercise.

When I play Civilization IV I am choosing not to write my book or blog posts.

(Or I’m choosing not to create art, generate income, further my education, meditate, practice martial arts, rake the yard, cook dinner, call my siblings, volunteer around town, donate blood)

Every minute I choose to do something I am also choosing not to do a thousand things. So, are my choices in line with my goals and values? Are they pushing me towards the person and places I want to be, or encouraging me to be static? Are they good for my health (mentally, physically, socially)?

Maybe I should try and evaluate my choices a little more explicitly instead of being on auto-pilot. My life needs constant examination as myself and my circumstances change. I don’t want my time to be wasted, even if I’m the only one affected by the waste.


Fuzzy Wuzzy

Another day with a fuzzy brain. I’m not sure what my deal is right now. Blargh. Anyway, here are random things popping into my head that I keep trying to write about but can’t get past the first sentence:

  • Went to a Socialism vs Capitalism debate recently and Dr. Horwitz handled a question from the audience about welfare perfectly
  • I used to be a really shitty partner when I was in college… I think I encountered heartbreak, economics, libertarianism, and Ayn Rand at a bad time and it hurt my empathy and ability to maintain an adult relationship. I’m glad I outgrew that.
  • Vegans remind me of libertarians a lot, and not necessarily in a good way, maybe it is a natural dynamic of small minorities to spend all their time fighting each other over purity instead of trying to come up with realistic ways to improve the world
  • I’m re-reading “4-Hour Workweek” and implementing the steps, if I made $452 a day I would accomplish everything on my 6-month dream list. That would require me to work 15 hours a day at my current job, which is ridiculous even if that much work was available, so I need to develop better revenue streams. Also, I’m irrationally terrified to dream that big and I keep justifying smaller goals.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to proactively arrange a threesome or a foursome relatively soon
  • Facebook is becoming a drain again and I may try and shift further away from regular use of it
  • I’m really excited for season 3 of Black Mirror, but I am also frustrated about how pessimistic all shows about the future tend to be. I wish we had another Star Trek that had an optimistic view of how technology would impact our lives instead of everything being so damn dystopian. I know we are going to have some very difficult ethical issues to deal with soon, but it isn’t all bad

Dry Heave

I have been staring at this screen for a while and I can’t think of anything of substance to write. My mind isn’t really blank, it is more “fuzzy”. Random shit keeps bouncing around that I can’t really focus on or expand upon. I’ve tried going for a walk, meditating, and exercising, but everything is mushy.

Oh well. Sometimes instead of vomiting out words it is nothing but a dry heave.

I’m gonna go watch Luke Cage and call it a day.

Planning Kills Productivity

Planning is often a form of procrastination for me. Instead of accomplishing my goals I will use all the resources available to me to plan how I will get things done. I’ll pour over maps for future runs instead of getting outside and running. I’ll prep complex budgeting spreadsheets instead of focusing on work. I’ll fill out paperwork to start a business instead of creating value. I’ll make lists of all the things I want to try (yoga, martial arts, rock climbing, surfing, etc) instead of going out and doing them. The planning process will never end because perfection is unattainable. The time for action will never be perfect or, as Tim Ferriss’ says in 4-Hour Workweek:

“Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.

I prep and I prep and I prep because it gives me the illusion of progress. But really, all the preparation is taking me further from my goals. Time and energy are wasted. Moments of my life are gone that I will never get back because I was planning instead of doing. The most amazing experiences of my life happened because I took action, not because I was prepared for it. Even when I did fully prepare for something the plans disintegrated almost instantly. It is like we used to say in the Army, “the enemy gets a vote”. There are outside, unforeseen forces that will throw a wrench into any plan, and the more specific the plan the more likely something will fuck it up and discourage you.

If I want to train for a marathon I am much more likely to hit my goals if I have “Run or bike every day” in my daily plan than if I have “Monday: 0845-0930hrs-Run 4 miles, Tuesday: 0810-0910hrs-Run 4.5 miles, Wednesday:….” because all it takes is one late morning or missed day and the house of cards falls. It is too precise, too fragile. General action is more powerful than specific plans.

I recognize this about me and I am striving to improve, and I think I have a system that is working pretty well for me. Hopefully, it will move me closer to my dream life.


Fun Run

It has been a couple weeks since I finished “Born to Run” but running is still on my mind. In fact, I think a triathlon would be  a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it seems like “fun” isn’t what people have in mind at these events. Our current Couchsurfing guest is in town for an Iron Man race and he told me that everyone takes it really seriously, they don’t allow you to listen to music, and his bike is worth about $5,000.


Where is the fun in that?

I think stuff like this is why I’ve avoided running in the past. It is just so competitive, everyone takes it so seriously and is so focused on their time and the other people. Instead of enjoying the shared moment with hundreds of other amazing people, the focus is on beating a time or beating a person. I somehow doubt I would be accepted into the group if I showed up with my Surly Long Haul Trucker and wore a t-shirt and basketball shorts.

Or maybe I’m being too hard on the athletes. After all, this is just my perception from looking at photos and few conversations. Maybe when you run a triathlon everyone does celebrate together and cheer each other on.

Or maybe not. Maybe it is more like what is discussed in “Born to Run”, that you need to get out into the non-competitive trail running to get that feeling of play and camaraderie. When there is nothing at stake you can sit back and enjoy yourself and be happy for other athletes. So maybe I’ll focus on that.

I don’t really know, I’m just happy that I am enjoying being active. I’ve got a half marathon in February and am looking for a full marathon or triathlon next fall. And hopefully, I can find some running trail and/or hiking areas nearby to explore. Oh, and maybe some rock climbing.

The world is our playground, it would be a shame if we didn’t get out and play.

Luke Cage

My partner and I started watching Luke Cage this week and, like all Netflix/Marvel collaboration, I am really enjoying it. It is well written, the effects are well done, and the acting is phenomenal. But, there is something about it that is lurking in the back of my  mind. I am a white person and the show is clearly focused on black culture, specifically in Harlem, and that makes me a little uncomfortable.

I’m not uncomfortable with exploring other cultures, but there is a history in the US of white people getting rich off of black culture or reducing it to stereotypes. I wonder if that is happening here. I don’t think it is, but that feeling in the back of my head exists because I will never know what it is really like to be black. I can continue to read W.E.B. duBois, Malcolm X, bell hooks, Octavia Butler, and Booker T. Washington to try and understand, but I will always be outside the window peering in.

Actually, no, not even that. I’m sitting in a house three blocks away with a telescope looking in and trying to understand. I will get a clearer picture with time and better equipment, but I’ll never truly understand that culture that I’m observing. I think that is okay, though, I’ll never understand what it is like to be a white male from Appalachia, a women (despite reading Hillbilly Elegy and The Feminine Mystique).  I’ll never fully understand, but I can take the time to learn about other cultures in order to become a better, more loving and accepting person, which naturally makes me view popular renditions of other cultures more skeptically. Is what I’m watching accurate or is it exploitative?

With Luke Cage, I don’t know. The banter in the barber shop, the books being discussed, the language exchanged between strangers and friends, and decorations around the venues are all quite foreign to me, but I don’t know if that is a sign of accuracy or just stereotyping. Is that Harlem, or just what I expect Harlem to be?

The optimist in me sees the nearly all black cast (I don’t think a white person has shown up yet, even in the background, but there have been some Hispanic cast members) and relatively high number of black writers and producers and hopes for the best.

I’m no expert, these are just my random thoughts and concerns while watching it.

Struggling Practice

My meditation practice has really been a struggle lately. I’ve managed to make time daily for 69 consecutive days for meditation, but the practice seems to be getting more difficult. I’m not sure what to make of this or what to do to bust through the wall. Maybe I’m being too impatient and hard on myself. I didn’t expect to see a bunch of positive effects at this point, but I guess I didn’t expect things to get more difficult with time either. I thought the act of sitting and mindfulness would get steadily smoother and come more naturally.

I’m going to keep with it and start going to a meditation class that is offered at Wilmington Yoga Center. I’ve never gone to one and am kind of nervous (as I always am in a new environment) but one of the books I’m reading (Everyday Zen) pretty strongly argues that a group setting is necessary for a strong practice. Hopefully, it will help. I don’t want to give up, this is one of the first daily practices I’ve ever stuck with (even my blogging goes through weeks of nothingness) but I’m a bit disheartened.

Maybe this is all just part of the journey.