Humanity is a Puzzle, and We are the Pieces

In my humble opinion, a good analogy to describe humanity is a puzzle. When put together, a puzzle becomes one; it forms an image that cannot be gathered from any individual piece of the puzzle. The end goal of course is to have one complete puzzle, but what makes it a puzzle? If it were a photograph or a painting, it would be one cohesive entity. The unique thing about a puzzle is that it is made up of individual pieces that must fit together in order to form the larger image.

And that makes us, each individual, a puzzle piece. As pieces, we are not whole when the puzzle lies apart, deconstructed. We desire to fit in seamlessly with the pieces around us. But we need not host the entire image, we are only each a small piece that makes up the entire image. Do not confuse being an individual piece, however, with being expendable.

You see, every puzzle piece is unique. No other piece can take its place and still form the proper larger image. A puzzle is incomplete if even one of the pieces is lost or destroyed. This makes the individual pieces as important as the larger image. The larger image cannot exist without the individuals that make it up.

The reason I am explaining this is that some seem to view individuals as unimportant and worthless. I wholeheartedly disagree. Without individuals, there is no humanity, so how can you say that the pieces which make up the whole are unimportant? What many mean is that any one piece is not important for the larger structure to come together.

Again, I disagree. Something will be missing in the larger picture if we do not treat each individual as the important, unique puzzle piece they are. We are all connected, or at least the potential for us to all be connected exists. As individual puzzle pieces, our ultimate desire is to become one.

This is akin to what many religions believe happens after death. The reason we cannot imagine paradise, heaven, or perpetual bliss is because we are coming from the perspective of a puzzle piece, and the ultimate reward is to exist as a puzzle, all put together with no missing pieces.

I see this as the source of hate, jealousy, fear, regret, doubt, and insecurity. We are uncomfortable existing as puzzle pieces when we know our ultimate and complete state is as one puzzle. But we are comforted when we connect to other puzzle pieces around us. It feels right to love. It feels right to be connected to those people around you with whom you fit.

We desire to be part of a group, but the group needs the right pieces in order to exist. The parts must not be random, there are specific pieces that fit into other pieces. This is what our lives are about, understanding our own shape as a puzzle piece so that we may find the pieces with which we seemlessly fit, doing our part to complete the puzzle, and become whole.

And when you are a part of a group, a loving family, a tight knit cluster of friends, you feel a glimpse of that joy that comes from being whole. Of course the entire puzzle may not be constructed, but we relax and feel in control when our own section starts to form. And darkness overcomes us when we try to force two pieces to fit together, when they are not meant to.

So remember, do not destroy or damage other pieces, as the whole picture will then be unable to come together. Each puzzle piece is important, including yourself. Connect with those that you fit with, but do not force a connection when it is wrong. In time you will all be one, but the puzzle must be naturally constructed.

And when all the pieces fall tightly into place and we exist as a puzzle, as one, we will all forget what it felt like to be a piece of a puzzle, and live on endlessly as one, unfathomably content because we are complete.

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You’ve Never Seen Your Face in the Flesh

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Unless there is a condition I am not aware of, in which some humans have snail-like eyes, none of us have ever really seen our faces. Yeah, Yeah we have looked in mirrors, seen pictures of ourselves, seen videos of ourselves. But you were looking at your reflection, your likeness on paper, or your likeness reproduced on celluloid or digitally.

This doesn’t really have any consequences as far as I can tell. I highly doubt that mirrors, water, and many types of recording devices are lying in terms of representing the way your face looks. I just thought that was an interesting thought. Never will I gaze upon my own face without a medium. Never can I stare into my own eyes directly. 😛

What if We Only Age Because We Expect to Age?

For our intents and purposes, space-time exists: that is, the same space may appear different depending on the time, and the same time may be different depending on the space. But does time by itself exist?

What if we have a lot more control over ourselves than we think? The power of thought has seemed to heal people on many occasions. The placebo effect has people feeling better all the time. Meditation, prayer, positive thinking: these all lead to individual improvement, that seems to come from within (or at least not an earthly force). So what if believing the biggest lie ever told, that we have to age, has actually cased the self fulfilling prophecy?

Suppose we only age because we expect to age. We count the years, we count the days, we dread the affect aging will have on our skin, our brains, our energy levels. Have we accepted aging as an inevitability, and therefore adjust our own self image day by day, which adjusts our outward image, and indeed, our fate? What if we put a little less emphasis on age, seeing as we don’t really even understand time? What if we are doing this to ourselves, and everyone joins in because it has been proven time and time again that people do age?

Interestingly I started writing this before I saw an article that talks about the age we feel being related to how much longer we will live. The study asked 6,500 adults averaging 66 years old how old they felt. Then the study tracked those participants over an eight year period. “About 14 percent of the young-feeling adults died during the follow-up, versus 19 percent of those who felt their actual age and 25 percent of those who felt older”.

Now how much does this really suggest about age? I don’t really know. It could be simply that those with certain conditions leading to earlier death could already feel the toll. But the research did account for those who were already sick, and died within a year of the study. So could it suggest that feeling young really does promote health?

In a sense, that sounds obvious. If you feel young, you are probably more likely to go get some exercise. But perhaps you are also more likely to dangerously push your limits? Either way, the study gives a great reason to think and feel young, which could actually have the effect of slowing aging.

We all know people who look and act way younger than their age. They all have different theories on how they did it: lots of exercise, the right kind of food, love, joy, meditation. But what if every one of those was more or less a placebo effect? All these people had to do was feel younger, and think younger, and their aging process was slowed? Would this not account for why there are so many formulas for anti-aging, but no real answer? Perhaps all you have to do if adopt a relatively healthy practice that you believe will make you live longer, happier, and healthier, and it will be so.

I haven’t ruled out this possibility, that our minds have greater effect on our beings than we understand. It seems the power to heal could rest within us. So then what else do we have the power to affect using only our minds?

Did I Accomplish My Vacation Goals?

Before I went to Florida I wrote down a short list of things to accomplish, just to get me into vacation mode. Overall I think I did pretty well. Let’s go through it point by point to be official.

  • Starting conversations with strangers was pretty easy. I knocked this off day 1 in Savannah, and then kept going through the rest of the vacation.
  • Find out someone’s unique philosophy on life. I am going to call this one accomplished, because I did get some good perspective. Think of this: depression is a luxury. I’m not trying to minimize anyone’s suffering, and there are some real reasons to be depressed. But general short lasting depression could be considered a luxury in the sense that you have time to be depressed. Most people starving to death trying to scrape together enough food don’t have time to be depressed. They may think, I’m sad, I’m in pain, but they probably won’t be thinking, “what does it all mean?”
  • Not only did I get to the coast, I got to two coasts, the Gulf and the Atlantic (in Georgia). I also flew over the Gulf of Mexico in a small plane.

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  • So I may take a technicality on the foraging goal. I found a few wild edibles, but I didn’t actually forage any. My cousin has a bunch of bamboo in her yard, and I’ve had bamboo in some Thai dishes. But when I looked up bamboo, turns out there are over 1,000 varieties, and only about 15% are edible. They all may be fine if treated properly, but I didn’t want to take the risk this time. I did however find some edible glasswort on the beach in Georgia on my drive home. I didn’t pick any, but now I know for next time.
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  • Got a picture of the sign that warns you to use the historic steps in Savannah, at your own risk.
  • I’m going to use this as my picture of something Florida. Turns out bamboo burns really well. But I think I was being a little prejudiced when I said I wanted a picture of “something Florida”. I didn’t see anything that bad. But I did go to an auction where the specialty item for the night was frozen food. And a dancing, singing, mechanical 4 foot tall Santa sold for over a hundred dollars.

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  • I don’t think I did anything that redneck. I really failed on this front in fact. I could have at least ridden my cousin’s horse without a saddle, or grabbed an ATV for a ride through the mud. Well I’ll be back there in February, hopefully I will get to go mudding then. (I got a pedicure, which is essentially the 100% exact opposite of doing something redneck…)
  • I accompanied my cousin to a horse supply store that is 3 minutes from her house, which she had never been to. But I figured I would use the roller skating rink for this accomplishment: to go somewhere nearby my cousin had never been. I went with her to her friends’ daughters’ birthday party. Roller blade rentals were $3, and after making sure I would not go down hard in a heap, I thoroughly enjoyed gliding around the rink for an hour. It was probably the first time I rollerbladed in a decade.
  • Eating something unique to the area: I totally blew this one out of the water! I tried raw oysters and alligator from Apalachicola, a coastal town on the pan handle. I also tried home made (and hunted) venison summer sausage, and deep fried turkey. I enjoyed all of it, though the turkey tasted the best. I guess it is hard to make something taste bad when you deep fry it in a vat of oil. I still didn’t try boiled peanuts, but I hear I’m not missing much.
  • As for doing some suggestions from the comments, as I’ve mentioned, I ate gator. But I also went to the Pirate’s House in Savannah.

And that is that. It was kind of fun checking things off the list. Maybe I will make up a sort of scavenger hunt adventure to do over the holidays in order to try to capture the vacation feeling while at home.

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Which Came First, the Tattoo or the Symbolism?

Ever have someone ask what your tattoos mean? I used to get uncomfortable at this question, because the truth was I hadn’t assigned much meaning to my tattoos when I got them. I thought of them as art, so for a long time I told people to interpret my two tattoos themselves. But like any art, my tattoos eventually revealed their meaning to me as well, years after I got them.

My first tattoo I got on my left arm the day I turned 18. “What did your parents say?” They said “good job” to the tattoo artist; my parents are the ones who paid for it. I got my last name, Jarvis, tattooed on my forearm. It is looking a little faded these days.

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“What is that in case you forget your name?” Ha, good one! At first it was art. But something inspired me to get it. There was something about my last name that I liked. I liked the sound of it, I liked the ancestors, and I love my family. And there it is. Why do I want my last name on my arm? I probably won’t forget my last name. But you can remember your last name, and forget where you came from.

There are Hollywood actors, and popular politicians who have changed their names to play better with the public. I don’t know if it is a coincidence that these people tend to be fake, aloof, and messes (think Carlos Estavez aka Charlie Sheen).

No, I am not going to forget my last name. That is there so that I don’t forget where I came from. It is there as a permanent reminder of who made me what I am today, and who I have to thank for making me the person I am today. If I want to run from any of that, I can start my tearing off the permanent piece of my skin branded with that reminder. That would be painful, as it should be.

About a year and a half later I caught the itch to get another tattoo. Perhaps this was the closest thing to a hippy phase I was going through. It was after freshman year of college, I was transferring schools, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I knew that I was totally in touch with like, nature and, like, spirituality man!

I drew the original picture myself, and had the tattoo artist render an acceptable print for permanent publication on my back. It was a tree growing out of the earth, and it was am image I loved. It looked cool. I liked trees, I liked nature, I liked maps. It was art. The imagery made me feel a certain way, and that was why I wanted that piece of art on me.

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Again, it was years before I assigned any meaning to the tat. But when I realized what it meant to me, it was the perfect tattoo! The tree of life grows from the seed of earth. What you do on earth, will affect what happens in your after life. Earth is the seed, and depending on how you plant it, fertilize, and water it, the tree that grows could be magnificent, or sickly.

And the tree of life, that connects us to the after life, can be as large and far reaching as you make it. Or it can die as a sapling, and one might be left with no avenue in which to follow in order to gain access to the afterlife. Perhaps if you do not grow your tree large enough, you cannot reach the afterlife, and must start over, with a new seed, in a new life.

But as you can see, my tree dwarfs the earth, which is where I hope to get to. Perhaps someday there will be occasion to add leaves and vibrance. But I’m not too worried. My tattoos were created before they meant anything to me. Likewise the structures we create in this life can seemingly mold themselves into place, before we know how to use them.

This relates back to what I was saying in another post. I like to write, run, forage, and exercise. I enjoy nature, health, philosophy, and social interactions. These thing I have been cultivating, and am sure will be of great use to me. When the time is right, my tree of life may grow leaves. And when the time is right, we can all use our talents, skills, and passions to flesh out the life we want to live.

And remember, what happens on Earth might not just affect this lifetime.

Breaking the Cycle: From Ideas to Action

Yesterday I talked about the plethora of options we have in life, and the vast opportunities available for personal gain and fulfillment. But in some sense, it was mostly a theoretical post. Although I gave you my experiences on how I am “breaking the cycle”, there was not much in the way of how others can break the cycle.

Here was a comment from that post:

I think your next post should be “How to break the cycle”. You may have already discussed this in an earlier post with a link to a TED talk, but I think a lot of people end up at a job they hate out of lack of direction or necessity to pay the bills and then wake up one day and they have been there for 5, 10, 20 years and at that point they have invested (or feel that they have invested) too much time to walk away. How do you decide today is the day I am done? Also, how do you harvest your talents for monetary gain? I do not plan to work for my company forever, but I think the scary part can come when you are unable to recognize that you either have talents, or that your talents are valuable to yourself or others. If you do not see value in your own skills or the things you enjoy, then how will you ever market yourself to get a paycheck out of them? Essentially, the scariness factor in leaving your job would directly correlate to your level of self-confidence.

Now, part of the problem is that, like I am talking about, there are countless avenues to follow in life, so there is no one answer on how to break away from the rat race and daily grind. But I think we can all take small steps as part of a bigger goal. While it might work for some people to up and quit their jobs on a whim, most people need some kind of security or back-up plan.

Figuring Out An Alternative

The first problem might be that you don’t know of any way to monetize your passions, or don’t know which passions to try to monetize. This is where you need to do some brainstorming. Write a list of all the businesses you would want to start, if money was not an option. Write a list of all the jobs you would want, if you had the skills and training. Make a list of all your skills, from excel worksheets to gardening, from cleaning toilets to running.

Rate the skills from 1-10 on how much you enjoy doing each one, or rate them in order from most to least enjoyable. Rate the jobs and business lists with 1-10 based on which one you would enjoy the most, and which ones would be the easiest to land. Maybe even group some together if one would be a step to another; example: you want to be a nurse, but you need to go to school first, however you could immediately get a job at a nursing home, which you would find more rewarding than your current job.

You may have a skill you want to focus on, but that itself cannot earn you money. Example: you love to paint or knit, but cannot realistically make a living selling the things you paint or knit. But you could teach others how to paint or knit, or perhaps run one of those bar painting classes. You may never be a pro-tennis player, but could you teach others how to play tennis?

Perhaps you cannot realistically quit your job until you find something to replace it with equal income. You might need to work on something at night or on weekends. The time spent training, studying, building, planning is an investment, and like any investment it can pay off or not. Sometimes it is straightforward like taking night classes to earn a specific degree or certification. Sometimes it is more about building a clientele, or  gaining exposure, or putting together a website.

Plan it out. If you earn the degree, what is the next step to getting the job? If you finish the website, what is the next step to gaining traffic? If you acquire clients, can you fulfill their needs in your free time, and can you sustain them or are they limited time customers? Will your business spread by word of mouth, or do you need another method?

The more planning you do the more confident and comfortable you will be in leaving your job. If you fall short on your planning, it might mean you need to spend more time getting prepared before you can move onto the next step. But usually the planning stages are fun and can invigorate you to make the change quicker. If the planning stages are not exciting, it may be a sign that the end result would not be exciting either.

Planning the Move

I think people in the position of hating their job or being stuck in a rut need to assess what they want and need. If you quit your job, run out of money in two weeks, and start sinking into debt, that is not a long term solution and any momentary happiness will quickly wane.

But if you have a dream already, if you are set in the change you want to make, if you know what you want you just can’t pull the trigger: set a plan in motion to nudge you towards action.

Maybe you know that you need a certain amount of money to live, and a certain amount to start your new venture, whatever that may be. You could save up enough for 4 months before quitting, attempt turning your passion into an income full time for at least 3 months, then reassess to see if you can continue at the same rate, or need to make extra money on the side.

Or you could figure out your actual expenses, strictly budget yourself, and take up a lower paying, but more rewarding job (or at least less time consuming). While doing this job, exploring your interests and honing your skills, you can be planning for your next step. Are you working at the type of store you want to open? Are you gaining skills that will help you start a blog on a certain subject? Are you networking with people in your field to find the next opportunity? Or are you building your future in the newly acquired free time?

Not ready to make the decision on a whim? Set a date in the distance, possibly adding some checkpoints along the way. Set savings goals so that you have more freedom from bills. Keep a jar and put money in it every time you decide not to get a coffee or fast food. Decide at what dollar amount you will leave your current job.

What’s the Worst that could happen?

The not so easy part to answer is if you do not believe in yourself. It is easy for me to say, go out and do it, but I don’t know you. But chances are, if you are not confident, you are underestimating yourself.

Bertrand Russel said, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts”. Honestly, it is good to have doubts. It shows you are assessing things properly: weighing the risks and rewards. It is not, however, good to let those doubts rule you. They have their place, but it is a support role, not a central piece.

It may help to write down your doubts, and follow them to their logical conclusion. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen. I decided to start this blog in July. What is the worst that could happen? No one reads it, or people read it and criticize it. The worst outcome is losing time writing (not that bad since it is still good practice), and the $8 per year for the domain name.

But don’t just be negative, write down the best case scenario as well. My blog takes off, millions of people read it, and I become the millionaire voice of a generation. See, things can only get so bad, but the possible benefits are practically limitless. It may be less likely to end that well, but since the possible negative is negligible, there is really no point in not trying.

Obviously some things will have more negatives, and it is up to you to honestly assess what outcome is most likely. But base your assessment on something, not just “everything goes wrong for me”. Worst case scenario for starting a running shoe store for me would be going into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and possible bankruptcy. But is that likely if I do my homework in the first place?

If I look into the area I want to start a store: how much rent will cost, what the population is like, if it is a rich or poor area, will the bank give me a loan, and can I recapture any capital if things go south? You may find the worst case scenario is unlikely to happen. While even if things do not end up ideal, perhaps vendors will take back their product for a refund, or perhaps the type of loan can be restructured.

It is useful to realize the full repercussions of what could happen. But those possible negatives should not paralyze you. The worst case scenario should be incentive to make sure you pick a good area, do your homework, and run a tight ship.

While there are always unforeseen circumstances and hurdles, you are not helpless; your life is not completely out of your control. You can affect what happens to you, your business, your ideas, and your life.

It may all be a dream right now, but just because your grand plan will take 5 or 10 years to come to fruition doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it. In fact start now, and in 10 years you will be happy you did. Otherwise you might look back ten years from now and say, wow, I could have earned a degree by now, I could have saved up $100,000 by now, or I could be quitting today to start my own business. But I didn’t start making moves because ten years seemed so far away; almost unattainable.

It is daunting to look ahead with no light at the end of the tunnel. But if not now, then when?

Write a letter to your future self, and seal it with the date you want to read it on. Tell yourself your goals. Capture your enthusiasm and chastise your future self if they lose faith; congratulate your future self if they have made progress. Maybe even respond to the letter, setting more goals, probably shifting the game plan, and seal them up again. This might just be a fun activity for self improvement even if it is not career related or life changing.

Putting My Ideas into Action

Let me end by relating this back to me, because I’m not a success story, I am trying to carve out my niche in this world as well.

I want to publish a book. Well really I want to publish multiple books, and have planned out a whole series that takes place in the same universe. Last January, I had an outline and 0 words. Today I have finished the first draft of 63,000 words that my family and friends are now editing.

Worst case scenario is I wasted a lot of time. But even if this book is not published, I have gained so much writing experience. Now I am ready to start writing another book from the same series, and I get pangs of anxiety since even if I start today, it will be at least March before I am finished. Well if I wait until March I will have nothing and be in the same position as I am now. And if I hadn’t started writing the first one in January, I would still be going back and forth, unsure if I want to possibly waste all that time.

But I pulled the trigger back in January to start, and now have a story, and 63,000 words that I have crafted together to form a novel. I remember when I hit 1,000 words, and 10,000 words, and 30,000 words and thinking about how much further I had to go. It would be easy to have a half finished book on my google drive that every time I go to work on I convince myself not to waste my time, since there is so far to go. But I didn’t do that, and I can now say with certainty that I can write a full length book, thus encouraging me that much more for the next one.

Action begets action. You may not be ready to quit your job, but you can take out a notebook and make the first move.

Don’t Be Scared into the Status Quo: Ordering Off the Menu versus Building Your Own Life

So here’s the conundrum. Life has such vast opportunities, but that means it is impossible to calculate where a choice will lead. It is scary to invite the world in, because inevitably some bad might come in with the good. It can be comfortable to stay were you are at, having reached a benchmark. But there are limitless opportunities and adventures out there! There is not 1 formula for how a life must be lived. With infinite paths, this life can be any combination of experiences, people, adventures, and opportunities you desire. Feel free to mix and match.

The “Sure Thing”

Most of us end up falling back on the sure thing… well as sure as anything can get in this life. We get a job, maybe start a family, save for retirement, and raise some kids. I am not criticizing anyone for doing that if it makes/ made you happy. I think that is an awesome choice for some people, one that can truly be a blessing. But that is one option. To make that choice for yourself is great, but it is natural to try to make your own choice look like the best one, and project outwardly how awesome your circumstances are.

So the problem becomes when enough people collectively adopt the same path, and pressure others to take the same path. Some people do this because they honestly think they took the best possible path and want to help others do the same. Some people are just programmed robots who repeat what they feel they should. Some people are pissed off about their life circumstances and misery loves company.

Don’t let other people talk you out of the typical life if that is what you want, but don’t let anyone trick you into thinking the same thing will make any one of us happy. Everyone is free to make their own choices, but it is hard for some people to resist societal and peer pressure. I am pretty confidant and happy in the abnormal direction I am taking with my life. But even I have to remind myself often that it is okay to not do the same thing “all my friends” are doing, in terms of pursuing careers etcetera.

I am not just saying play video games on the couch your whole life. Actually the opposite. Don’t use “I’m an individual” as an excuse to be lazy and go fewer places, literally of figuratively, than a normal 9-5 would take you. But if you have a plan, and it doesn’t include a cubicle, go for it! I have to constantly remind myself that it is okay that I do not work in a cubicle doing something I hate for five days, just to try to squeeze some enjoyment from the other two, overshadowed by the next 5 days spent doing something I hate.

It makes sense that the “sure thing” is what the majority of people go for. They order off the menu. If you honestly don’t know what you want, you might as well provide yourself with the means to buy necessities, and some spending money to pursue fun and adventure on the side. Even if you do know what you want, the “sure thing”might be the best path to get there. Why try to build my own sandwich when I already see a delicious one available? But some people choose the “sure thing” out of fear, and end up surviving when they should be living.

Build Your Own Happiness

So if that typical work life isn’t for you, try something else. Even just talking about jobs (because I understand we all have needs) there are countless, although most likely lower paying, alternatives to doing something you hate. It may be cliche, but they say do what you love and the money will come. So maybe you like hiking… and just walking around the woods might never earn you much money. But have you looked into becoming a park ranger, a canoe/ kayak guide, or even part of a grounds crew for a park? It might not be glamorous, but for some people the quality of life might be better earning less but working outside.

There are so many ingredients in life, why not try your hand at combining just the right ones for you?

Running is one of my hobbies, so on the side I work for a running shoe store. Is working at a running shoe store the same thing as running? No, but it is closer than working on a computer. I get to interact with runners, trade training tips and knowledge, offer advice, learn from anecdotes, address injuries, and use the stick and the foam roller while getting paid to be there. I work with awesome people, the customers are almost always happy and excited, and I’ve gained enough knowledge and expertise that this job could be a stepping stone. I could use it as a jumping off point to become a coach, a nutritionist, a trainer, or maybe even someday open my own running store.

I am that guy that likes hiking, and no I haven’t earned any money from walking around the woods. But I did pick up foraging, and reading into natural medicines. This is a skill that I practice while hiking; it adds to the fun of being in the woods to identify useful plants. I could see becoming an herbal healer some day, perhaps combining my interests in physical activity with diet, and throw in some experience working for a small business. I’ve got the background to start a natural medicine clinic. And the perfect base for customers would be injury prone runners, who may not know that some ginger and pineapple after a run will help reduce inflammation in the joints, and eating a beet regiment can help open up the blood vessels, increasing oxygen flow.

I don’t know if I am going to go into the running or natural medicine business—right now I am trying my hand in the writing industry. But I do know not to get too caught up in padding my bank account, instead focusing on the endless opportunities that life has in store.

I want to move south, at least for a while. I feel the need to change my surroundings after 25 years, live somewhere new, and experience a different atmosphere. That is scary though, and it is sad just thinking about not seeing certain friends and family for prolonged periods of time. But it is something that will keep me from stagnating, move me forward, and afford me with new opportunities and skills. I haven’t had much opportunity to try my hand at mini-farming, which also fits into my interests and possibilities for future income generation.

And I want to see the world. Again, it might be tough to ever make money on some of these things. But seeing the world gives you perspective, the kind that might impress someone in conversation, the type of someone who happens to be able to get you a job as a tour guide at a museum of fine art. I don’t know! That’s the point, there are a thousand opportunities around every corner, and doing what you love can’t hurt. The more you break outside of the status quo, the more likely things will be new, exciting, and rewarding!

Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you love. It may be safer and easier to stay at a job you hate, pay the bills, and try to squeeze some enjoyment out of life. But if that doesn’t make you happy, it might be time to take a chance, and see where it leads you. Seriously why is 95% of the population trapped in the same “this is how it has to be” mentality, when there are countless, endless opportunities for gains, adventure, fun, knowledge, skills, and anything else you might crave, desire, or need for fulfillment.

Don’t let the fear control you. Don’t be so scared to grab at an opportunity, or create your own opportunity, that you let the sand slip between your fingers. What’s that old cliche: on their death bed, most people don’t regret the things they did, they regret the things they didn’t do.

Sleeping and Dreaming: Does it fit with my Soul Playing Video Game theory?

Sleep is weird. I ended up getting out of bed at 2:30am the other day to jot down some thoughts that were running through my head—I couldn’t really sleep which is abnormal for me.

But I was thinking about sleep… what happens while we are sleeping? I get that we are recharged and have dreams, organize our thoughts and fix our bodies. But I got to thinking about why 1/3 of each of our lives is supposed to be spent sleeping. That just seems like a long charge and a quick drain. I’ve always thought about how much I could get done if I only had to sleep say, 2 hours per night. Can you imagine 6 extra hours per day to write, read, work out, or just watch movies?

So browsing in the book store, I came across a book in which one section claimed to have a method of only sleeping 2 hours per day, and being fully rested and healthy. I am a skeptic… certain things I want to believe… but really? 2 hours?

The kicker was that all the sleep wouldn’t be at the same time. The two hours is supposed to be split into 6 parts throughout the day: a 20 minute nap at 10am, 20 minute nap at 2pm, same at 6pm, 10pm, 2am and 4am. But don’t oversleep, the book warns, or you will throw off your system, and possibly turn into a gremlin. I was left wondering how the hell anyone can just immediately go to sleep for 20 minutes, and then immediately get up. And obviously this schedule presents certain problems for anyone with a normal job, kids, or like, a life.

As I said I don’t believe everything I read, it has got to make sense to me. But then I thought about how I’ve heard that certain types of batteries want to be charged long before they are depleted, and that this actually gives the battery a longer life. What if humans are shortening their lives by depleting their batteries every day before we charge them? Could it be that taking the time to charge ourselves when we get down to 50%, or even 70% will make our batteries last longer?

All the talk about charging batteries got me thinking about my post, What if Life is Just our Souls Playing Video GamesAha now this whole weird sleeping thing makes a bit more sense. We need to save the game so that our data isn’t lost! Perhaps dreams are simply our soul’s experiences being uploaded to “heaven” each night, and we see those experiences all jumbled together because it happens so quickly, we only get glimpses of this and that. Maybe in dreams our friends end up in a setting they were never in, or we experience something we only saw on TV, or do something waking us wants to do. It’s just all jumbled together being uploaded, and our video game self is confused at the apparent glitch, while our souls totally get it.

But you only dream during REM sleep… which just so happens to be about 2 hours per night. See where I’m going with this? Is REM sleep the only kind of sleep that revives us, and therefore the only part we need? Are the other 6 hours wasted laying there? Perhaps there is something to the idea that we only need 2 hours of sleep per day, as long as it’s the right type of sleep. And furthermore, this makes us seem more like our phones with batteries, and if we are more like our phones than ourselves, then what is controlling that phone? In this idea, it would be our “souls” controlling the “phone” (our human bodies), the phone connecting us to “heaven”/”the afterlife” whatever you want to call it.

Maybe video game controller would be a better analogy than phone, but same idea. If our video-game-playing soul is connecting to (the game) earth through our bodies, that would mean we are simply the device. And if our souls don’t save the game often enough, things can go awry. People go crazy when they don’t get enough sleep; does our soul forget it is in a video game, or our bodies get too far separated from our souls, without the chance to upload and organize the experiences of “the game”? And in that way, uploading or saving 6 times a day could keep our bodies even more organized, and increase our battery life.

But then again I wouldn’t be so quick to discount those 6 hours “wasted” every night, when we are not dreaming in REM sleep. Maybe that time is a chance for our souls to disconnect from the game of life, and do what they need to do in whatever realm they live in.

Some Adventures Don’t Feel Adventurous

So it has been almost three weeks of this new blog, and I have got to say I am glad I started it.

But I was almost disappointed that I didn’t get into any crazy adventures so far. With my carpe diem attitude I figured I’d have made my way around the world by now having wrestled bears, sailed through a hurricane, and become honorary chief of an obscure tribe. Okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I have been all gung-ho to go out and do things.

I made sure to get to the beach (twice), I played 18 holes of golf (haven’t golfed in 10 years, and even then only a few times), went to cookouts, went to a party, sang along to country music, and tomorrow I’m going jetski-ing for the first time. I’ve had fun cooking and foraging, especially since I have a place to share it now. I really enjoy doing all of that, but maybe I had this naive belief that—well I don’t even know what. That my life would turn into a movie?

But now I am realizing that there have been some great improvements over the last 3 weeks. I’ve barely watched any TV, I haven’t been able to stand sitting still! If a friend comes over, I will search for other things to do instead of just sit, and the interaction increases energy, sparks conversation, and just makes for a better time. So instead of killing my brain with the tube and being a boring friend, we’d go places, play kan jam, foosball, cards, Settlers of Katan, and just had more overall conversation and interaction. Not a crazy adventure, but a positive change none the less. Well to be fair throwback N64 Mario-Kart is always a pretty crazy adventure.

And I suppose two weekends only gives you so much opportunity. It’s good to be adventurous, but not stupid… And if I were hellbent on “having fun” without much exciting new opportunity, that could lead more to stupidity than adventure. So I am going to keep doing what I’m doing, since I’m enjoying myself anyway, and whatever comes will come!

I think cumulative small changes are harder to notice, but can easily add up to more positive benefit than one big change or event—even though it was sort of one big event I attended that set in motion tiny little changes. And like I have mentioned before, to me its been more about rediscovering mundane things than finding a trap door into Narnia. And actually this is a good reminder, because as much as I hate to admit it, my “vacation attitude” has mostly left me, but I didn’t completely return to the real world that sucks the life out of you.

And this blog in and of itself is a fun new adventure to see who likes it, who follows, who responds, who comments, and it has kept me thinking about the right things. I enjoy writing, so it gives me another outlet, sparks my imagination, and gives me a standard to go back to. Otherwise my vacation attitude would have gone away, faded without much notice, and everything would have gone back to normal. But since I created this blog in the height of my high-on-life, that has been preserved, and to go back on it would mean not only losing my positive attitude, but abandoning a project I started with such inspiration and vigor. And I’m not going to let that happen.

I feel more resilient to negative things, even though I may not be excited about everything. Its been easier to enjoy moments here and there, without letting other looming stressors take away from squeezing in bits of fun. And I’ve actually been able to avoid stress by not caring about things I shouldn’t care about.

Its not as simple as “not caring what others think”, because I still don’t want to act like a jerk, or burn bridges, or show no work ethic. Its not caring about being judged for stupid things that don’t negatively effect other people. Some people will always try to exert their will over you, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be bad if their will is, say, not drunk driving. But when it is the way your hair is, or how happy you are, or how energetic, or what you write on your blog; who cares, just do you and forget the detractors.

So overall I’m going to go ahead and give myself a B for holding up to my blog’s standards over the first 2-3 weeks. Thank you to everyone who joined in the discussion with me early on, I look forward to keeping this energy going!

Finding Things to be Stressed About

Are humans doomed to be stressed about something? Will we just find something to be stressed about, even when pretty much everything is going fine? First world problems: this kind of gets to the same point, we are just finding problems in our lives. As the bigger problems get solved, we move onto the smaller ones, until finally I get stressed that the BBC forgot to give me mashed potatoes with my cod (that was my lapse last week).

To be fair some people have legitimate reason to be stressed out. But I am talking about people who eat enough, have a stable source of income, shelter, clothing, free time, and recreation. I’m not talking about people who are on the verge of losing their house, or need to find money for food, or are legitimately concerned that a drone is going to bomb them. That is real stress.

But I am wondering if it feels the same to us. Would we feel just as stressed worrying about where our next meal is coming from as studying for a final?

I go back to evolution a lot, because I am really interested in human origins and species growth. It makes sense to me that at some time if you were not stressed, you were as good as dead. 10,000 years ago we should have been stressed about where the next meal was coming from, or we would starve and be unable to pass on our genes. We were stressed about the sounds that go bump in the night, because the people that paid those sounds no heed woke up dead—or rather didn’t wake up.

But then some of us get to this point where we don’t really have much to be stressed out about, and we still are, maybe because we are modern people living inside caveman bodies. I really had no stress in February when I was on a Caribbean cruise… go figure. Part of this was probably not watching the news all week, my world was so peaceful. But sometimes I would still find myself making up scenarios to be stressed about: what if I’m taken while visiting an island and Liam Neeson can’t save me!

It could happen, but the chances are minuscule, and thinking about something like that doesn’t solve the what-ifs anyway. So what’s the answer? I suppose my solution would be to set up a life where there is as little as possible to be realistically stressed about. If you create a community with like-minded people who solve problems in a similar way and share similar values, maybe that would actually reduce stress levels.

But there’s still that other piece of me that thinks no matter what we will be stressed. In my perfect little community, would it be the stress of group acceptance? That one is certainly linked to evolution, where rejection from the group meant certain death. So today, when people (especially teenagers) act like their lives are over because they have been snubbed by a friend, well maybe they just can’t help but let the caveman side of them take over: maybe they actually feel in their brains like survival is hopeless, being inextricably linked to group acceptance.

Don’t let me wonder alone! Tell me your thoughts on this!