Infection

Creation is a disease. It is a virus. Once it infects a person it slowly, but surely takes over your entire being.

It is a small, invisible lifeform that moves from cell to cell in your body and takes control. It intoxicates to host and turns all energy towards the act of creating.

Once it takes hold, it is nearly impossible to destroy. Your only hope is to stop it early on. A blog is easy to stop when you’ve only posted a few things. A chapter or two of your novel can be tossed into an unmarked folder on your desktop. The paint and paintbrushes you ordered off of Amazon can sit in the corner “until tomorrow”. The guitar you borrowed from your father can gather dust in the closet after only a night or two of picking. The running shoes that cost $85 can sit by the door every morning if you’ve only run a few miles and you’re “too sore”, “running late”, or it is “too cold”.

But once creation starts to reproduce and get results, there is no stopping it. When you get the habit of writing every day and finish your book, you soon want to start a podcast. When you run daily and realize the rhythm of your feet matches the beat from a song, you want to start playing a musical instrument. When you recognize the patterns in the paintings around the room as mathematical principles you want to write a book about Leonardo DiVinci. Using your mind to make something new makes you wonder what your body is capable of, and vice versa. Creation infects every fiber of your mind, body, and soul and makes you wonder “what if?”. How strong could I be? What can I create with paint or chalk or music or poetry? Exploration of your own potential unlocks creativity that nobody can contain, and success isn’t about outside recognition but the completion of a task, and that motivates you on to the next thing you are curious about.

Creation creates creation.

You better stop now, or else there will be no stopping you.

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Changing Minds is a Waste of Time

If I want to change the world, I need to take world-changing action.

I know how obvious that sounds, but I don’t think it is something that many of us take to heart. We spend our time, often with the best intentions, on actions that will only minimally create change. Namely, we spend a lot of time talking and working through institutions that don’t bring about results.

I can spend all my time trying to change hearts and minds but, at the end of the day, it is just talking and won’t really change the world. After a lot of hard work I might change a few minds, I’m sure that if I dedicated myself to it I could maybe change one mind a month. Or maybe, if I write a persuasive book I can change a thousand or ten thousand minds. That is all overly optimistic, most of our time trying to change people’s minds is a waste of time, energy, breath, and pixels.

Talk may actually make things worse because it wastes time. As Ryan Holliday says in “Ego is the Enemy” (you should read that book), “The only relationship between work and chatter is one kills the other”. The more I talk the more I feel like I’m actually doing something when in reality I’m mostly just spinning my wheels. I get that endorphin rush and a feeling of mental masturbation because I’m “doing something”, but the world remains unchanged.

True revolution comes through innovation and entrepreneurship. Like that old saying goes, “The Amazon Kindle has saved more trees in the last decade than Greenpeace has since their creation”. If you want people to change their behavior then you need to provide them with alternatives and not just preach at them. Pulling at the heartstrings (or logic) may feel pure and good but, in the end, we are all self-interested and will pursue our own desires. As that crazy Scot once said:

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

If I want the market for animal suffering to shrink (and I do) my time and energy would be better spent bringing alternative meats, cheeses, and milk to the market than yelling at people about animal rights or sharing grotesque videos. And same if I’d like to see fewer abortions, my time should be spent providing alternatives to abortions instead of damning people or appealing to emotion.

No matter what my passion… fewer suffering animals, a greener earth, a better education system, or space travel, my time should be spent creating. Creation is a stone, words are dust.

One Little Comment

I’ve been struggling with my writing for the last few months. I’m not sure exactly what it is, I just haven’t felt like I am creating anything of value. Nothing I write really feels original or insightful. I’ve just been down lately. That changed recently.

While rolling with two of our closest friends I was curled up with one of them and she told me that she really liked my writing. To be honest, I was a bit surprised. This is someone that I respect on all levels and love very much. For her to have a positive comment about something I created really touched me deep. I occasionally get positive comments about my writing, and I love when I do, but something about this one really stood out. I truly believed her and it has inspired me to keep writing, and even take on new projects. I am sure the MDMA was a big part of why I believed her and why the positive feelings have stuck with me (it is an amazing medicine).

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a little paranoia that I was the butt of some unknown joke. There was a thought in the back of my head that my friends were really laughing about me behind my back, that partners were with me because they pitied me, or that people would discover that I am just a giant fraud in some way. It isn’t logical, but it has been there in my mind for a long time (though, it has gotten better since I started the bike ride). Maybe it is a self worth issue. It is something that I’d love to discuss with a therapist someday.

Anyway, I think it is important for us to tell creators that we value what they create. Particularly those that don’t sell what they create. I don’t think we should lie to people, but if you love something that someone does please tell them (and constructive feedback is awesome too). It really could be the difference between them continuing to create and giving up.

Inspired

While on the bike ride we get approached by curious people a lot. These people tend to fall into two categories, either they tell us they wish that they had done something like this while they were younger or they are in the process of doing something like us. To be honest, it is sometimes hard to be generous to people in the former category. While it is true that our bodies age and time passes us by, it seems like a weak excuse to say “well, if only I were younger”. I am all for people taking advantage of their youth, but that age doesn’t mean you are forced out of an active life. In fact, being active is key to living a longer and healthier life. Just ask Charles Eugster or check out the Blue Zones research.

The latter group, the people who we talk to who are doing things similar to us, are the ones that inspire me. They are rarely young, wealthy, or particularly fit, but they are pursuing their dreams. Just yesterday we ran into a group of veterans who are doing a cross-country charity ride and many of these veterans have physical handicaps. One of them only had the use of one arm and she was peddling across the country on a hand bike… with one arm. Another was riding a tandem bike with his son who has Down Syndrome.

Inspirational figures are not limited to physical feats. There are people bucking the system and doing life their own way, just look at the participants of Praxis. The greatest limit on accomplishing our dreams is our own mind. We are capable of accomplishing, overcoming, creating, and exploring so much in this world, if only we give ourselves permission to be great. It is easy in today’s world to be comfortable, but comfort doesn’t bring fulfillment. You won’t be on your deathbed looking back at your life and think “Wow, I’m really glad I was comfortable” but you can look back and say “Damn, that mountain was tough to climb but it was totally worth it” or maybe “Ugh, I spent a year writing that book but what a feeling to see it finished”. We have an eternal capacity for love, creation, and exploration, if only we let our selves accomplish it.

Random Thoughts (Creation, Networking, Small Towns, Mind/Body, MDMA, and Evolution)

I couldn’t really get focused this morning for some reason. So, here are some of the things that popped into my head while I was trying to write. I didn’t get any sparks for a complete blog post at this time on any of these subjects but maybe I will in the future.

I sometimes get very frustrated with myself and the missed opportunities in my life. On multiple occasions I’ve had an idea for an invention, company, or whatever, but instead of pursuing it I decided to just play video games or nap. Then, I turn on Shark Tank and somebody is on the show getting a million dollars for the same basic concept.

Networking has made a greater impact on my life than my degree ever has. Every, single job I got post-college was because of my network. My degree may have been a necessary pre-requisite, but that didn’t get me the job.

I don’t quite understand how some of the towns we come across still exist. Many of them are old rail towns, but the trains left decades ago. There are no stores, no businesses, and no educational opportunities. I can’t imagine young people growing up in these towns stay for long. I’m just confused about how there are still 100 or so people in them and how those people support themselves.

There seems to be a mind/body connection for me. On days when I get up, meditate, and write are also the days when I pay more attention to the food I eat and remember to exercise. I guess getting the day started on a healthy, productive path is important.

This last week I found out that the Agora Marketplace is down indefinitely. For those that don’t know, Agora is one of the “darknet” websites where you can order things with Bitcoin on the black market. Most people use it for illegal drugs, I used it to order MDMA which I use medicinally for my mental health, as a relationship tool to build bonds between myself, my partner, and friends, and as a recreational drug. Now that it is offline if I want to receive my medicine I will need to seek out a street dealer. This poses three main drawbacks. First, it makes me more vulnerable to violence. I will need to conduct illegal activity with a stranger who may be violent or intent on robbing me. Second, the product will be of unknown quality and could contain dangerous chemicals. I will test my drugs (like I always do), which means if things turn out bad I will be out money instead of harming my body. Third, I am much, much more likely to face the most dangerous aspect of using drugs… the police. Nothing in the United States ruins more lives than the police getting involved in peaceful drug users and sellers lives. Luckily, I don’t think I will need any MDMA soon, I only buy enough at a time to use during a particular session so that I’m never carrying contraband, but it is unfortunate that a safe and easy way to get my medicine is off the table. I know there are other marketplaces out there besides Agora but now I need to go through the lengthy process of finding them and getting set up. Blargh

I don’t think a lot of people understand evolution or natural selection. I am certainly no expert, but my “education” in it before college was basically two weeks of one science class in high school. At that point in my life my church and parent’s had drilled into me that evolution was wrong (and possibly evil). Of course, what I was taught by my parents was not what evolution or natural selection actually was. They were ignorant straw man arguments. I think one of the most frustrating things nowadays are people that argue for some life choice based on evolution. People will claim that because we evolved to do something we should return to that. That isn’t how evolution works, evolution isn’t a straight line to provide happy and healthy creatures, it is simply a process where certain genetic mutations allow those genes to reproduce more effectively than competing genes. Just because we evolved around certain foods or certain environments does not mean returning to those will provide happy and healthy humans. If tomorrow someone was born with a genetic mutation that made them irresistible to their mates and they always had triplets, but their hearts exploded on their 35th birthday, that genetic code would likely spread quickly and soon take over the entire species. That doesn’t mean it is creating a healthy or happy person, evolution is indifferent to that. Well, I guess a certain level of health is necessary but it isn’t the primary goal.