You know that feeling you get when an idea or an action manifests itself into something you just can't ignore? Like, say for instance, when you realize what it is you want to do, or what it must feel like when you have a baby. (No, Dayna and I are not pregnant. Relax...) When something like this happens it seems as if you can actually feel yourself evolving. As if the energy of it is humming in your bones.
Please don't misunderstand me, I still don't really know where I'm going in this life, but I am lucky enough to realize where I've been... isn't that a line in a Bon Jovi song or something? And the past has indefatigably led me to the idea of where I want to be.
I feel like I'm leaving a lot of my past behind. I remember it, I've learned from it, I'm moving past it. Former friendships are slowly drifting away in this sea of change. It seems the new path I'm on has diverged and I must go where I feel I need to be. Some people can't or won't follow. Some people I don't want to. It seems like that is just the way of the things. It's nothing to fret over.
The ideas I have may or may not work out. I don't know anything for sure. But I do know this: it would suck not to try, and holding myself back with petty selfishness, laziness or cowardice is no way to live. I found a quote I like inThe Four-Hour Work Week. (Actually I found a number of quotes I like...) It helps me work through some self-doubt and sideways stares:
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose." - Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple Computers
My journey toward my evolution still happens one step at a time, everything that happens along the way elevates my life to a life worth living- whether people agree with me or not- simply because I refuse to stand still.
The air seems fresher when you're moving with a purpose, however ambiguous that purpose may be.
My brain has been on overload since Thursday afternoon. I have been focused, concentrating and basking in every facet of information that holds interest to me for almost 78 hours. No parties, no drinks, no distractions. Just work. I need to chill... I've got my glasses on and my sweet, chill mix "Maxn & Relaxn" playing on my ipod.
Ahhh. That's sooo nice. (It's become very odd to me what constitutes comfortable downtime the older I get. But, oh well...) Now it's time to reflect.
I am not really a tech geek or anything. I think things are cool when I see them, but my brain doesn't work in a mathematical or engineering enough of a function to remember widths, thicknesses, other measurements and weights as matters of classification. I pick up a new wakeboard and think either, "Holy shit, that's really light for something so big" or "Damn, that's heavy for something so small." Rarely do I remember the name of the style of the board either. I don't mean any disrespect with this inability or inattention to labels and construction- far, far from it actually- it's just I suck at remembering those types of details without writing them down or referring to a catalog.
"Man, you're really stupid," you might be saying to yourself. "What else is there to remember?" Well, I'm not going to argue the stupid point but there are other things that I do remember that help me with my writing. Things like:
I remember contexts. Walking by Aaron Chang's retail booth was something that I happened past by accident. When I noticed him behind a counter, working on his computer, before I knew it I had stopped, happily introduced myself as a fan, admitted that I was nobody important and just wanted to tell him how much I appreciated his work. He smiled, was very gracious, looked at me kind of oddly, we shook hands happily and I waved goodbye.
I remember feelings. My heart was racing when I raised my hand to ask the keynote speaker a question after his seminar. I felt like a schoolboy again and was ashamed of my fear.
I remember people's hopes and intentions (spoken and otherwise). Of the people I spoke with, all of them had something they were trying to peddle, but talking to a company's owner (or owners) was vastly more educational, inspirational and lent itself to the company's credibility with considerably more measure than when I spoke with a company's representative. Describing a creation without having done the creating lacks some important, intrinsic validity.
I also came away with a laundry list of ideas and several revelations. The ideas I'll keep to myself for now (for future tax and copyright purposes, you see). But I'll share my revelations:
Revelation #1: I most likely will not be attending next year's Surf Expo. I am not a buyer of goods, my job is to help people sell their goods. Oddly enough, at a trade show, where everyone is trying to sell things, only a handful are curious as to how they might do it better.
Revelation #2: I still have a lot to learn about marketing. And that's good. However, I found avenues to information which were locked to me before. This makes me happy.
Revelation #3: I really suck at approaching people. In all my years as a bartender, people always approached me with what they need, not the other way around. I am happy to meet people's needs, I suck at asking for assistance.
Revelation #4: The things I fear most are the things I should most do. Timothy Ferris in The 4-Hour Work Week wrote that, and it resonates inside me like the final ring of The Liberty Bell.
Revelation #5: For me, the path to re-invention holds no end. At least no end within my line of vision at the moment.
Revelation #6: It was really good to kiss my girlfriend hello again. And I wasn't even gone very long.
Revelation #7: This is all exciting. I feel alive. Change is so much better than acceptance when it comes to things that piss me off or hold me back.
I lean back in my chair and it creaks under my weight. I feel content in my unsure future at the moment. Because I feel that it's a future completely under my control. I smile.
"The height of cultivation runs to simplicity." - Bruce Lee. Also quoted in The 4-Hour Work Week. Take care.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of a man I have never even met.
Evan Tanner was- at least in my eyes and the eyes of about 672 others who, at the time of this post, had commented on his death at www.evantanner.net- a special person. The kind of guy who lives so honestly he never really knows his place.
Of course, how can you when adventure is the place you call home?
Life can be a beautiful and tormenting enterprise for those existential nomads who realize the journey is the only destination we ever really have. It's very difficult for us as people to wrap our brains around that perception. Who are we if we have no life goal other than to fully and truly live?
Evan Tanner was an accomplished MMA fighter in the UFC, going so far as to wear the middleweight belt at one time not too long ago. But it's not a history lesson I'm after here. It's what history may teach us.
Evan Tanner's death is a tragedy. But it is not tragic. He died doing what he loved, sequestering himself in some far off space to be alone with his thoughts, with nature and with truth. How many of us will be so lucky? Who of us will ever know what realizations a man with Tanner's love for true living would come to understand at the time of his end? Perhaps he died happy.
I will not curse him for his actions. I will not speculate as to why. These are unimportant and selfish matters. I will remain an admirer of Tanner's for his courage, his heart, his gentle and articulate and positive philosophy and his passion for The Search.
Evan kept a blog here and here. They always interested me. He was always honest. Always looking. I once wrote a story about him for a local magazine.
I've never met him. Yet I'm going to miss him fiercely. He was not a hero to me, he was merely a real man in a world of fake ones. I admire his life, I understand his end. And I wish, for selfish reasons, he was still around to share and to teach.
Keep it simple, Evan. You almost always seemed to. For more information on his death I recommend paying a visit to www.Sherdog.com.
Yesterday, the storm had passed. Tropical storm Hanna blew through with minimal consequence. In fact, the worry that preceded the storm largely outweighed the storm itself. Things have a way of doing that...
As the sun came out, the calm that usually follows such precipitous fury blanketed my home island of Hilton Head, SC. It felt like, after a long, tense week, the earth had finally relaxed.
The water was smooth. The sky was a crystal blue. The sun was high and white and warm.
The aftermath of Hanna had created ideal conditions to surf in. The waves were rolling through in sets, about hip high and the wind was offshore. Perfect longboarding conditions. Even if I hadn't ridden my 9'4" in nearly a year.
Lugging that monster of a board into the water was oddly comforting. It was after all, the board I learned to surf on. It had seen plenty of action in its day and had long since stopped being the prettiest plank of foam and fiberglass on the block.
It was dinged and chipped. It had duct tape covering up a significant gouge on its nose. Sand had found its way into the wax from lending it out to too many people who didn't feel the need to take care of it properly or watch what they were doing. But it was right and familiar and safe.
It took awhile to get used to riding it again. It was a single fin set-up and lacked that side bites I was used to having which allowed me to corner in the waves with much more abruptness. Riding a longboard is much more subtle. I took some diggers early and had to laugh at the spectacular feeling of giddiness I was feeling at the seemingly foreign affair of it all.
Yet, paddling that big canoe of a board around again seemed effortless in these particular conditions. I never got tired. I sat deep, just waiting and watching. Time and time again I got to familiarize myself with my equipment, grabbing waves with ease and by the end of my session, I had brought the board back under some semblance of control.
It made for a beautiful day. A day of peace. Even when the four foot gray-black shark jumped completely out of the water 25 yards away from me while chasing bait fish for lunch.
Oddly enough I was not frightened in the least. I thought it was beautiful. I knew the sharks were not there for me yesterday. I knew it was simply a day to get back to my roots and surf.
Now, I ask you, does there seem to more to surfing than just surfing? Or is it just me?
"Your world expands only when you expand your world." What is this? What does this statement mean, you may be asking in a huff. Is it some kind of literary trickery or code?
Or maybe you are one of the people nodding your head, contentedly agreeing, because you already know what it says: you know your world doesn't get bigger until you take a step toward the horizon.
You know you are accountable for your personal growth.
For a long time I was stagnant in what I was doing with my life. I was stuck in the rut of tending bar, late nights, too many drinks and some really bad decisions in my personal life. None of these things I regret mind you (I had a lot of laughs along the way), but one day I realized I had been yearning for something to change in my life for a long time. And I was drowning that need in good times, booze and apathy. It was leading me to depression.
Even upon that realization it took several more years for me to break the bonds of old habits. But there were several things that helped me along the way.
One: my age. I was, as they say, "getting too old for this shit." I was tired of being hungover and the hangovers were steadily getting worse as I got older. I was tired of the lack of meaning I felt my life had. I was tired of being a selfish man-child.
Three: I'm going through a bankruptcy. I've found out, on this long and bumpy road, who my friends are, what's important to me and what I want to do in the future. All things I had wrong for a long, long time.
Four: I have an amazing family and an amazing woman to support me. I couldn't list all the benefits of number four here. I just know that I'm very lucky to have them.
Each step toward change in this kind of "personal evolution" has made the next step a little bit easier for me. It seems there's a snowball effect at work here. It's just getting our snowballs to the top of the hill... or waiting for it to snow... which can seem overwhelmingly difficult at times.
We cannot help what Life hands us. We can only choose how we deal with it. It's these choices that tell us who we are and guide us to our future.
No man or woman can be chained to complacency if they make the choice to not be. I firmly believe this. Because the logic behind it is simple.
It's official, my brother's a married man and I couldn't be happier for him. Sarah is a fantastic woman. But, I can tell you this, if I ever get married my missus and I are eloping. We'll throw a party when we get back.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not throwing sour grapes at the newlyweds instead of blowing bubbles, but weddings seem like a ton of work for the bride and groom and only exacerbate an already stressful situation.
Why not just throw a party for family and friends after a trip out to Vegas? An invitation along the lines of, "Hi, the new Mr. & Mrs. So-And-So invite you to celebrate their recent marriage at such-and-such place on such-and-such date. No RSVP required. Dress Casual. Food, Drinks, Entertainment & Speeches to be provided."
No formalities. No bridesmaids or groomsmen. No wondering who's being left out or who's going to show up. No expensive ceremony. No possibilities of cold feet. No wondering if everybody is going to be where they're supposed to be and be there on time. No extensive planning. No worrying. No tension. Just a happy day to celebrate a joyous occasion.
Of course, in this Utopia, monkeys fly out of our enemy's butts casting forth rainbows and magical winning lottery tickets.
Weddings always seem to be surrounded by too much expectation. While really it's just about two people sharing their union with the people they hold dear, nothing more. The concept is simple, it's the formalities that drift toward complication.
I am thrilled for my brother and his wife. And I am glad the blessed day is over. Love seems so much less stressful when it just goes instead of must go according to plan. At least that's my opinion. What's yours?
I read today, in David Meerman Scott's book, The New Rules of PR & Marketing, that there are about 57 million blogs in the world and 100,000 new ones are added every day. The book was published in 2007.
That's a lot of voices talking at the same time. Or is it?
Scott points out that while 57,000,000 blogs out there in a world where a new one is pretty much added "every second" is a lot, it might not be as bad as it sounds. Most blogs, at least the successful ones, are extremely niche oriented. When you break it down in this context, not only is it less depressing, it's valid.
Think about it this way, whoever isn't sleeping or enjoying some quiet time in the world right now is talking. Does that mean we still can't hold our own meaningful conversations with others? ("Meaningful" meaning that people are at least pretending to listen to us and we at least have some belief that we're saying something importantish.) So why is it any different on the web?
Now, my blog, is extremely niche oriented. So niche oriented that very few people give a damn. It's about my thoughts on my life at the moment. Most people don't care about this and who could blame them? They don't know me and even if they did, who's to say that they care what's going inside me noggin'? My blog, quite literally, is an online journal.
Many people do the "journal thing" with their blogs and don't see the comments, trackbacks or links they hope to have credited to their posts. They don't feel like anybody's listening. A quick reference to the number of page hits we normally receive can confirm or deny this.
What I have decided to do is create another blog. This way I'll have one for work and one for personal use. Trying to combine the two is not keeping it simple. It's jumbled, lacks cohesion, unity, a regular constituency of something more than just a smattering of family members... all that good stuff.
Then I plan on applying everything I have recently learned from the aforementioned book to my new blog and compare it with response rates to my old blog. I want to do some old fashioned theory testin'. Should be fun.
I'll let you know the second my business blog hits the web. (Then we can figure out where I'm at in the new/probationary hundred thousand bloggers demographic for the day!) I'm sure it won't be long before the whole world knows about it anyway, but I wanted you to be the first. Or something like that...
As the inevitability of my bankruptcy draws closer I find myself worrying about it less and less. In fact, as time as gone on I have begun to appreciate it, as weird as that sounds. Bankruptcy has helped me refocus my life and has enabled me to realize what is truly important.
I find myself, for the first time in a long time, oddly at peace with my place in the world right now. It used to be anger that drove me to want to succeed, now... well, something else drives me I just can't quite put a finger on right now.
I still work just as hard as I ever have to achieve my aspirations but something else is pushing me; something much, much lighter than rage. Much healthier. I just have no idea what to call it at the moment.
I have moved in with my girlfriend, my brother is getting married in less than a week, writing work is steady (for the moment) and I keep feeling the pull of new opportunity with every bend in the road. I've begun taking more risks. Not major ones, mind you. But little challenges that continue to break the bleak monotony I have felt for so long. At times where I would have said no before, I find myself saying, okay. Tiny little things everyday that break me out of my box have given me the confidence, the courage and the desire to go bigger.
In an effort to bolster my credibility and my knowledge with a current book idea I have looked into becoming an ISSA certified personal trainer. (Plus, with all the people I seem to be helping in the gym these days I find myself continually wanting to make sure that I'm not hurting them more than helping them.) Once a few writing checks clear, I'll re-invest in myself and get my PT license.
I keep looking for a way to learn Spanish without dropping some heavy coin (which I don't have) on Rosetta Stone. My guitar keeps begging me to restring it with the strings I bought a month ago and finally learn at least one song. (I'm thinking The Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want...) Business ideas slosh through my head like water in a washing machine and the path is quietly revealing itself as time wears on (and smells really clean).
For a long time I felt resignation. Like things were ending. Now I feel like things are just beginning. I hope it lasts. I feel like this time, finally, this pleasant wave I'm on has legs. Things just feel different.
All the lessons so far have put me on this ride of a lifetime. We shall see...
I believe that great Alabama bus stop philosopher, Forrest Gump, had it right when he spoke of the long pondered intricacies of destiny. Do we control our fate or does fate control us? "Both," said Gump. "I think maybe both is happening at the same time."
Sometimes, when we finally stop, truly pay attention, actually listen and really breathe, things get really, really simple.
By Bob Bly: The Copywriter's Handbook Essential to grasping the concept of copywriting for a living. (****)
Seth Godin: Permission Marketing You still have to "interrupt" people to get permission, but solid info on maintaining and growing a customer base. (***)
Nick Usborne: net words I cannot stand writing in jargon laced "corporate speak". Nick tells people why it's bad and what you need to write for the web EFFECTIVELY. (***)
Patrick Hanlon: Primal Branding Insightful and thought provoking notes concerning a consistently misused, mishandled and misunderstood concept. (***)
Chip Heath and Dan Heath: Made To Stick Smart brothers, classic case studies and sound reasoning. The book just makes sense. (***)
Clotaire Rapaille: The Culture Code Culture certainly plays a role in what we want and how it should be sold to be successful. And Fortune 500 companies pay Rapaille very well to tell them how. Great insight on the perspective one needs to carry in today's global society. (***)
Seth Godin: The Big Moo Fun book. Short, poignant stories of success. Reminder that being remarkable and being perfect are vastly separate entities. (***)
Required Reading (As I See It)
Bruce Lee: Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom For Daily Living Simple. Profound. Striking. All from a man who died at 32. (****)
Ernest Hemingway: To Have And Have Not The guy's a master. This is my current favorite selection. (****)
Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird Two words: Atticus. Finch. (****)
Marcus Aurelius: Meditations How many times do you get to crawl inside the head of a Roman emperor? (***)
Stephen F. Kaufman: The Book of Five Rings Miyamoto Musashi was the baddest philosopher/samurai that ever lived. He served no master but himself. The Book of Five Rings is his definitive strategy on proper living. (****)
Jon Krakauer: Into The Wild I read this book before it was "cool". Great investigative reporting regarding one of life's most epic searches for "the truth". (****)
Neil Strauss: Motley Crue: the dirt Rampant destruction in the name of greed, lust and arrogance. You will feel dirty after reading this book. (***)
Don Miguel Ruiz: The Four Agreements Live life better. We all need to be reminded how. Some of us need to be shown. (***)
Dante: The Inferno The classic treatise on the damned. I could think of people who need to re-read this in today's world. (****)
David Rensin: All For A Few Perfect Waves A series of interviews, from the men and women who paved the first roads of modern surfing, concerning the enigmatic life and times of surfing's legendary genius and consummate asshole Miki Dora. I'm still not sure what to make of Da Cat. (***)