Path Finding

I sometimes hear, “Follow your fear”. But words are messy. I think it should be: Embark on your adventure. In other words, follow a path that fills you with trepidation at first, yet has the potential for greatness. For instance, I’m afraid of heights, but this doesn’t mean my destiny deals with hot-air balloons — that’s not a win-win payoff for me. So instead think, what’s the best-case scenario down this somewhat scary path — does it sound awesome? No? — then that’s not your path. Would the ideal outcome fill me with delight? Yes? — then that’s your path.

The only way we know we care about something is if it stirs something inside us. When following our path, we should use nervousness as evidence that we’re heading in the right direction. It means we care about the topic. We mustn’t use it as an excuse to retreat, but as confirmation to continue. And again, we’ll know it’s the right path because the optimal result is something we really want. If we can’t imagine an optimal result, then we won’t appreciate that path and should pursue another instead.

How do we know the outcome will work out in the end? To put it plainly, life is a fulfillment generator. It’s a video-game/movie/simulation. We know this because people’s dreams readily do come true — we can simply look around. The world contains global super-stars, the rich and famous, YouTube celebrities, renowned TV chefs, professional-gaming champions, great inventors, heroes of all sorts, titans of industry, and lovers with their love-stories. And just think about how little we’ve done to ensure our own survival or success — there’s obviously something outside ourselves that maintains the narrative.

Is it mere luck we’re still alive? How have we personally avoided countless diseases, random accidents, murderous crimes, global catastrophes, violent weather, deadly drowning, etc, etc? By our training, preparation, and diligence? Ha. We’ve never been solely responsible for our own survival. But what about all those people that die everyday!? That’s their path, not ours. We must concentrate on our own path — if it happens to include the welfare of all humanity, that’s great — but if it doesn’t, that’s great too.

Talent Search

I define one’s talent as: that which you can do a lot of and not be bored. It’s true that we can improve at things over time with practice — yet what will we dedicate our time to, but something that remains eternally interesting. So the thing we can most improve on, and master, is something we can keep doing without irritation.

Additionally, such talents aren’t likely to be highly cerebral activities in the sense that we have to methodically think each step through. Instead, these talents just flow out naturally with a sense of ease and eventual mastery. Plus there’s likely to be a sense of amusement, because we’ll readily do what’s enjoyable.

For example, I enjoy tools (hammers, saws, pliers, etc.) and have an above average amount of them, yet in all these years I can’t say I’ve ever really developed a mastery for using them. So when projects turn out mediocrely, I get a bit frustrated and glad when the job’s done, and I put the tools away to hibernate until next time inspiration strikes and I forget my previous frustrations.

So for me, I think working with tools is a tangential hobby, not a talent. I have to methodically think through each step and I get frustrated by obstacles. When searching for talent, look for what energizes and emanates effortlessly. It’s not necessarily what we’re initially good at, but what entertains and excites despite obstacles.

Evaluation of Effort

The 5-year anniversary of this blog’s inception is rapidly approaching — a blog in which I dedicated countless hours and published over 1,000 posts. With all that investment, this project must be a successful endeavor, right? Well if external metrics are used to judge success, then no, it’s a failure. The subscriber rate is extremely low, audience engagement barely exists, and there is no income. So… I suppose I should just close up shop….

Ha! Luckily, external success was not the original goal of this blog, it was simply a place to publicly publish my thoughts. Why publicly? I’m not sure really, although I think it encourages me to refine my writing when I believe someone else might read it. And perhaps it was a very weak attempt at connecting with others. Weak, because I don’t even try to engage, it doesn’t suit me. But a year ago I purchased this blog’s current domain-name and set out to magically achieve external success. It hasn’t worked so far, not even a little.

They say, do what you love and the money will follow, but I’m not sure if that’s a true statement or I’m just impatient. To be honest though, I don’t want my blog to be a source of income. Oops, I suppose I’ve been counteracting success all along — a classic mistake. And to be honest again, I don’t want a lot of eyeballs judging me, I’d appreciate just a quick glance at the artistry and a quiet exit. So yes, it appears that my blog is everything I wished for, a barely noticed shop down a quiet street that only a few people ever accidentally stumble into.

Hm, perhaps the magic did work after-all. And I should mention that internally, this blog has been a success. I’ve enjoyed the process of writing and publishing succinct essays, it’s provided a feeling of creative accomplishment, and really helped in allowing me to monitor my thoughts and moods. And because many of these thoughts come from a well-of-inspiration beyond myself, I really enjoy reading them as an audience member (although I seem to be the only one — ha!).

See the difference though? This post was written as a stream-of-consciousness by regular uninspired me. But in writing it down, I could clearly see the conflict of interest. I suppose if I’m looking for success, my blog is off-limits as a means of achievement. It must remain pristine like a mountain stream, a place that few travelers ever find. Hm, I like that. Okay, so magic still might be real, success still might come, but this blog is not the vehicle I’ll be driving there — and I will try not to judge this blog by external means ever again. It’s a hidden little gem where the secrets of the universe are succinctly written for the weary wanderer that enters by some serendipitous means.

Well-crafted Elle

elle-office

This is a picture of my darling wife Elle in her new office. It’s a small walk-in closet with a folding-chair and a folding-tray for the desk. I am documenting her meager beginnings as an Internet-influencer and entrepreneur.

In but a brief time for instance, she amassed over 25,000 followers on Instagram by posting beautiful pictures of the local landscape. She really has quite the eye for photography. The lens through which she sees the world can be a rosy one, and she’s able to capture this view in her photos.

Unfortunately though, she stopped caring about that account and moved onto something new. It was either playing Seabeard or watching The Great British Bakeoff, I’m not sure which distraction it was this time. That’s the trouble you see, her talent erupts like a mighty volcano spewing bright magma in all directions, causing heads to turn and stare, only to fizzle-out as the lava quickly cools into motionless mud-like glops stuck to the side of a once shapely mountain.

Sometimes she’ll chastise me for my lack of success. I think she’s just angry at herself and takes it out on me though. I don’t really care about my own success, I’m not very competitive nor do I have much drive to prove myself. But in an attempt to please her, I try to do things that might lead to success — although they usually don’t amount to much.

Even if I was successful, I don’t think she’d be satisfied until she found her own creative outlet. I, on the other hand, can be satisfied just sitting in a small room all day. One day I imagine she’ll find her niche and success will come pouring in. I see myself as part of her support system, keeping things well-balanced.

She’ll often get in moods where she imagines burning bridges to all pre-existing relationships, ours included, but I suppose that’s part of her artist’s temperament (it’s actually PMS, but she hates when I mention that). Her creativity does tend to follow a monthly cycle by the way. Spurts of motivation in the beginning until an eventual crash at the end followed by a month of rest and distraction.

I write all this, dear diary, because sometimes it’s tough to be criticized for days at a time by a loved one. Of course I try to tell her all the tips and tricks of happiness, many I learned from her, but they are of no use to someone in a mischievous mood. So around and around we go, the sun rises and the sun sets. The cycle continues, spring follows winter and sure enough bloom-time will come again.

Ladies and Gentlemen

This particular Patreon experiment is over. The results: no backers after 2 months.

And now a brief word from our sponsor. Take a look at this. It’s a Patreon page. Everything you value, you invest in — whether it’s time or money or both. The ideas written about within this website are no different. And to prove to yourself the importance of these ideas, you may need to pay something for them. Through Patreon, I am providing an opportunity to do so.

There are other benefits involved as well (But wait, there’s more!). For those with the means to do so, what a pleasant thing it is to give, to contribute to the well-being of others. And of course there’s the idea of directly supporting creators and their work without the inefficiencies of advertising or merchandise — are we not due for a change of pace in the digital economy?

This website has been in existence for nearly five years now, yet it generates no income. So it serves as an interesting experiment: will such dedication ever translate into financial success? No not everything has to be about money, but even monks are supported through donations. We have an economic system that expects dollars to be traded amongst players.

Whether it’s to support my work, contributing to my livelihood, or for the generic support of alternative income mechanisms, please consider becoming a patron if it is within your power to do so. Now back to our show….

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Achieving Greatness

How does a country become great again?

Because of differing opinion on what constitutes greatness, the prescription necessitates a wide-ranging freedom of expression. A great country therefore, is one that maximizes individual ability to pursue happiness.

From their own words we read that George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson believed slavery to detract from the greatness of their country. In other words, oppression does not instill greatness.

If someone wants to work in a particular field, then such specific work must be available. If someone wants to relocate, he must be able to do so. If someone requests a doctor, one must be provided. If two consenting adults choose to be married, that option must exist.

The only caveat to freedom is when it directly interferes with the lives of others. Murder and theft are such examples. But the hindering of lifestyles deemed “impractical” or “inappropriate” falls within the category of oppression. We cannot impose our mere preferences upon others.

The American Dream is about hope. It is the idea that an individual can begin at the bottom yet still reach the top (according to his own definition). Delays exist, but the path to greatness can be traversed by the persistent.

Those that believe America lacks greatness lack hope. They feel confined, unable to pursue their preferred path. But in actuality, no such physical paths exist nor ever did. America is a land of dreams. Those from entrenched cultures came not because of pre-existing infrastructure but because of its absence.

A dream is not a practical plan, it is a fantasy that is believed despite practicality. The dreamer’s job is to imagine his outcome, not concern himself with the details of how or why. “No’s” are just noise to be ignored.

The American Dream is available to those that resist fear and dismantle self-imposed limitations. The pursuit may last a lifetime but greatness comes from an unyielding hope and the determination to follow one’s dreams till the end.

Up a Hill

I’m in darkness at the base of a mountain. I see a flickering light above me and decide to climb. There are thorns everywhere as well as rocky parts that scrape as I slip. I lose sight of the flickering light and feel lost. I sit still, there’s no where to go. I curse my situation. But then I smell it, the mouth-watering scent of good-cooking. “Hello, anyone there?” I yell.

And I hear it, a reply. I continue up, frantically searching for that pleasant aroma. “Go around,” I hear someone say. But I’m too determined to go the way I’m going. I lost it, the smell, I sit still, I’m not sure where to go. “Go around!” I hear it again. In my stillness I finally wonder what it means. I should go around.

So instead of up, I go around, and there it is, a simple incline that reaches all the way up to a pleasant little dwelling on the mountain. I walk the path and enter into an abode filled with sweet and savory treats. I sit and chat and eat. I’m satisfied. But outside I hear the scrambling of others attempting to reach this place of satisfaction.

I construct beacons of light for others to follow, yet I’m perplexed when my signals fail to guide. Too busy struggling, no one discerns their meaning, in fact they’re probably more confused. But as a fisherman fishes despite the lack of nibbles, I keep at it, fishing for those I hope to assist.

But who am I to presume I can help? I was until recently lost myself. And who’s to say I’m not lost still? Perhaps this shack is simply a distraction from a goal farther up. Am I paving the wrong way with my good intentions? At that moment I notice my companion quietly cooking, subtly smiling, humming a lighthearted tune.

Without even trying she shines her light into the world, carelessly sharing her joy. I don’t have her ease so I turn to engineering, to logic, to brute-forced illumination. Like a mad inventor I attempt to build unambiguous beacons. For years I toil in my lab, driven by an obsession to craft the switch that flips on enlightenment.

There’s an air of futility to it all. We live, we die, doing whatever in-between. But as a cat’s eye is drawn to the twitching tail of a mouse, my attention is turned toward the flickering light. I stare unsure why, while its brilliance permeates through my thoughts. So I continue placing lanterns in the dark, and by this effort I find my duty fulfilled.