Follow Where the Money Isn’t

There is a lot of money to be made by getting people to purchase more products and add variables into their personal lives. Appliances. Medications. Gizmo’s. Doodads. Toys. Useless Technologies. Fast Fashion. You see this around the holidays especially.

There is no money to be made by subtracting this stuff from your life, there is no money in that.
Follow that.

There are two parts of a transaction, one that people miss all the time.

  1. You receive good or service.
  2. You give your dollars to a person/entity for that good or service.

    When engaging in a transaction you give a vote of trust and confidence to who it is you buy from. After all, you are giving them money.

    A valuable heuristic to filter who it is you want to transact with: Would I give this person this same money if they weren’t offering me any product or service in return?

    In other words, Who would I prefer to donate this money to?

    An example; think about the global online sludge dealer; Amazon. Vs. the collective of local artisan moms, Etsy.

    Global companies print money – or so it seems. They will be fine without your purchase if you can afford the alternative. The local artisan mom who crafts Christmas tree ornaments on the weekends likely doesn’t have the kind of financial standing Amazon does.

    One has money, the other doesn’t have nearly as much. Follow where the money isn’t.

    When I want to spend money, I usually don’t. When I need to spend money I try to give it to people who have less of it than others and have more skin in the game. It’s not always easy.

    We have no choice if we want to transact or not. Things must be bought!

    The wise thing to do is to analyze what you could could do to not put money in the pockets of people you don’t trust and do that, or rather, don’t do that. This may require doing homework about who it is that’s you buy stuff from and then deciding who it is you trust and who you don’t. It’s up to you.

    When you go thru a drive thru and get your food handed to you in a hot paper bag through a window, odds are you don’t know where the patty on that hamburger is coming from. This is analogous to just about everything in modern life. We are ultimately disconnected from that which we consume daily.

    We don’t know where anything comes from. This is the ultimate disconnect.

Sharpening The Axe

There is a way that you can win, and it’s by losing. But not losing alone, it’s also knowing how to handle the loss.

What to do with it. Through which lens to dissect it. There is a certain perspective and a certain point of view someone can train themselves to have.

“A loss ain’t a loss it’s a lesson, appreciate the pain it’s a blessin’.” – Jay-Z.

This is coming from Jay-Z, a man with serious skin in the game, as both a lyrical artist and entrepreneur. But to appreciate loss isn’t a flip you switch, it’s almost a training – a muscle. It needs to be used or it will be lost. Make it a habit to look at losses and see what opportunities come from it, and when too many wins start stacking up you should be a little worried. Focus more on the downside and the upside take care of itself.

Nobody ever went broke limiting their downside.

So in this weird way learning how to lose and how to manage the loss is a pretty solid strategy for how to win, and there are far fewer people using this strategy. There is an edge here. Because those who focus solely on “winning” and trying to optimize for the upside tend to forget about the potential of the downside, and when that downside comes – which it will – it’s as unforgiving as anything ever. The majority wants to go about winning in the same way, which is getting off the starting line first. And yes, everyone wants to win. But when everyone is rushing for the same objective at full steam, that can end up being a deadly collision of the masses, which we want no part of. I don’t know about you but I am not here to fight or race, and I don’t really care to compete at that sort of level.

There is one trick to learning how to lose though – gratitude.

Once you can see gain and misfortune through that lens of gratitude it will open up even more doors for you and make loss not sting as much.

Now, winning by losing is paradoxical and counterintuitive to me. And something it took me some time to get until I saw this book cover.

This dude lost 1 million dollars. And spun it into a popular book, talk about a sweet combination of creativity and gratitude. This process of combining the two is exactly what Jay-Z means when he talks about appreciating the pain, he’s talking about gratitude. And that’s what it takes.

When you get online it seems like there are a lot of winners. What I mean by winners in this case is, a lot of geniuses, a lot who seem to understand every theory, every piece of code & every financial trick. Phd’s. CFA level trillion.

I am not these things, I likely never will be, but for those of us who aren’t on this list, we need our losses. We need to use them. They cannot be wasted. They are the only thing that differentiates us from the pack. These losses are specifically customized to you. Job loss, money lost, time lost, are all assets. In fact you should be worrisome if you didn’t have any losses, because that can only mean they are coming.

These losses can be used by not optimizing for winning and winning only. Optimizing for winning makes you particularly susceptible to anything other than winning, and when you aren’t winning you will be completely helpless. Optimize for loss, so when loss comes you can handle it. Don’t let winning or losing interfere with the gratitude you need to have. There will come a time when those who have adapted for winning only take a loss for what will seem like the first time in their lives, and it will break them to the point beyond repair.

Gratitude gives you the optionality to make lemons out of lemonade. Ingratitude makes this optionality impossible.

Hedge your accomplishments by failing often. 

In our modern world “accomplishment” and “failure” are seen as two opposites, you either accomplish, or you fail. And that you have one, without having any of the other. But the two are more inexorably tied than I’ve been led to believe. They are more like the north and South Pole, yes, opposites, but interconnected in a way that one could not exist without the other. . 

So get this, I’m on academic probation from my local community college (please reach out to shame me) because I’m no good at any of that, and I actually feel pretty good about it. And ironically, being this much of a mismatch in the modern world is overwhelming because you do have so many options, since being a “failure” makes you antifragile. I am grateful for my not-fitting-in. I mean after all, I’ve got nothing to lose! No reputation, no education (really). So for me at least there are all these different directions I could go, the overwhelming part is picking one. And I’m no math wiz, I’m no coder, the most intellectual thing I ever did was skateboard, play basketball, and listen to rap music.

One of my only intellectual accomplishments is having read some books I probably wasn’t supposed to read (because my professors wouldn’t have approved), but those books ended up doing more for me than anything else could have and have helped me figure out a path better than any mentor I have ever had.

In my hopelessness, I find great hope.

With that said, here is some of what I have gotten from the books I should not have read: You win in your own way: by taking off from a different starting point as everyone else, and starting at a different time than everyone else.

Abraham Lincoln knew this; “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” 

So you don’t actually have to be literally chopping at a tree to chop down a tree, there are other things you can do to lighten the load for when you actually get to chopping.

“That roundabout methods lead to greater results than direct methods is one of the most important and fundamental propositions in the whole theory of production.” Böhm-Bawerk

In my estimation a good “roundabout method” that leads to greater results is taking your losses (that you have managed to not let ruin you completely) and spinning them with gratitude and creativity.

In order to spin your losses there comes a time when you need to do some emotional heavy lifting to tap into an attitude of savagery and disregard your failures. Don’t take them so seriously. Not that they are useless, they aren’t. But just don’t dwell. Dwelling and pouting over failures and shortcomings will only unnecessarily multiply the damage. Gratitude reverses the loss.

At the same time there are also failures you won’t know what to do with. For me it’s my whole academic probation thing I mentioned. I have no idea what I am supposed to do with that kind of failure, I am trying to be creative with it. While I occasionally have my moments, I try not to pout about it you have to be your own cheerleader and remind yourself to “snub your failures”.

With everyone seeking to be the biggest, and the first, and willing to do anything to get the finish line quickest, this is where your advantage is – by everyone else’s delusion in chasing the same thing with all the same strategy. So for those of us who are slow adopters and not the quickest off the starting line, what’s there to do?

Wait. Learn to wait. Wait to learn. Sacrifice being first, sacrifice being bigger in order to gain a later advantage no one (including yourself) sees yet. Being first, being the biggest, and winning, are all scarce resources that everyone is vying for. So pivot. Sit back. Study. Learn how to be creative with loss. Sharpen the axe & follow your curiosity.

Cut your losses. Don’t chase the train you already missed. While waiting for the next train, use that time to sharpen your axe for the next move. That’s it. I live in a generation of too many people who are way too hard on themselves. 

I will continue to mumble to myself that patience is key.

We are hardwired for this. It’s all good.

“Come now, be a man! We are used to adversity; let’s not be crushed by a mere disappointment, or else I shall have suffered for nothing. The heart breaks when it has swelled too much in the warm breath of hope, then finds itself enclosed in cold reality.” – The Count of Monte Cristo

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

This is more for me than anyone else, while I don’t know if others have had this experience, it has been mine.

Think of it as a thought experiment. Try to imagine of all the advice that has ever been given to you. Now, picture your life if you had taken and acted on all that advice and followed it to its end. Doesn’t seem like much of a life at all, and living in such a way is not sustainable – always waiting for the next step. If you constantly chase advice and recommendations you’ll end up on a path with a bunch of ideas that aren’t innately familiar to you. So if taking all advice you come across is impractical than what what amount of advice is appropriate?

Fortune cookie readers and barefoot self-help masters (Rick Rubin being an exception) come off as inauthentic and holier-than-thou. They seem more to be marketers and self promoters than anything. More interested in becoming personalities than having an honest discussion about ideas. I worry that we take advice from people who don’t know what it is like to be a real person, with real issues that need sorting out. Most modern advice peddlers are rent-seekers who aren’t interested in their students becoming self-sufficient. If anything the modern advice peddler wants their students to become dependent on their knowledge so they continually be back for more.

When I get desperate and find myself grasping for any kind of advice, that is the precise moment when I need to just go with my gut the most. Desperation for advice is a desperation for the offshoring of responsibility and outcome. This desperation for counsel seems to be the incapability to trust one’s self. That way when the advice doesn’t end up working out I can blame who I got it from, while I get off scot-free. We see this in particular with this advice of going to college. When it doesn’t work out then what? Go searching for more advice? When you keep taking advice and that advice keeps burning you, it may be time for a more customized tactic. There is no better customized tactic than trusting yourself.

“No one can give you better advice than yourself.”


The internet is full advice, that is probably the one thing it is most full of. What could be useful are some kind of mentor filters/advice filters. I.e., before accepting any advice, the givers of such advice should meet some criteria that you set and you approve of. Making it much more customizable. This criteria being very personal process. This is something I need to do a better job at, not taking advice from morons on the internet. 

Online wisdom follows the Pareto Principle – 80% of it is useless. 20% of it can really have a positive effect.

The real trick is not getting catfished.

In order for one’s journey to be their own and for them to get to where they need to be it is vital that they be led by their own intuition. Nothing can be forced, especially life lessons. Forcing ideas doesn’t work. (This is why I learned nothing in high school – at least partially why.)

Reality is the only teacher.

And yes, asking and receiving advice can be by your own intuition, as long as your proper advice criteria has been met and the mentor be a trusted one. One of the many flaws with advice business is the giver of the advice may intend to portray a totally different message than that which is received by the one asking – no matter how sincerely both acts are done. This can throw someone completely off the scents they may be onto individually, after feeling they pressure to switch paths for a more desired outcome. Again, life lessons must come naturally or they won’t come at all. The message will be lost if pressured.

When we take too much advice we clear the way of any accidents or any missteps. What we fail to realize is that missteps can make the pathway clearer and make the correct steps we do take more certain.

By taking missteps you make the correct ones.

Advice wants you to quit failing all together when in reality you should learn how to fail gracefully and with the right attitude. When taking too much advice we skip a vital part of the process; the accidents. And on the journey of life, accidental occurrences are necessary. 

Our times are full of know-it-all self-help Rolls-Royce-driving gurus who can cure all, these people all over the internet, blatant rent seekers who shamelessly self promote ten-steps-to-success-type stories. Those who call “intuition” and other human emotions “irrational”. There are times when it pays to be irrational, like following your intuition for example, is viewed as irrational at times. Be rational by being irrational. Being “irrational” has become a vastly underrated skill being that following only “rational” advice will over-optimize you.

And that’s the other problem with taking too much advice; over-optimization. Being so fine tuned and perfectly in lockstep that even the tiniest of turns will break you. Following intuition opens you up to error, and small errors are vital. Because by making the small error of knowing which way not to go you therefore know which way you should go. Via Negativa.

The desire for constant advice and for someone to hold your hand every step of the way makes you more susceptible to devastation.

From the time we wake up to the time we go to bed very few thoughts we have during that time are our own. Misguided counsel and the pressure of not following that counsel makes up some of those thoughts, yet there is profound emotional liberation in trusting yourself and your experience and your interests.

There comes immense power from not having an opinion, not having the answer, but trusting your gut anyway, moving forward. This is a tricky process, particularly the last step of living with the results because we think that if we take a piece of advice our outcomes will be the same as those who provided us the advice.

The trick becomes deciphering who is who. A problem as old a time. A heuristic I use is who has no incentive to help me? It sounds counterintuitive but I don’t want my mentors to be dependent on my business, but I also don’t want my mentors to lead me to destruction. Someone who will be stern and fair when appropriate but someone who wishes me nothing but self-sustainability.

The line is fuzzier & thinner than we think and it’s very hard to figure out who is who. When it comes to which wisdom you choose to follow on your life’s journey it’s better at most times to be precautious and skeptical.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing,

but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Matthew 7:15

Avoid most counsel, but when counsel must be sought make sure criteria are met.

And if you find yourself at your rope’s end then abandon all advice. Take personal responsibility and use your instincts.

You Want Options

It’s an unsettling feeling, leaving college, leaving high school or some kind of post high-school service and entering (what they call) the “real world” and realizing that offers of all kinds don’t come sliding through. Job offers, investment opportunities, whatever else. Yet there is this naive belief that is propagated to our youth that everything just sort of sorts itself out after you enter the aforementioned “real world”.

The “real world” was laid out to me by some high school teachers/counselors like this: you graduate high school, you go to college, you graduate college, you get a job, you save, you have a family, you retire. Boom, done. You hardly have to think or worry at all, it’s all done for you. They espoused this plan because that’s the plan that worked for them.

When I look at the generation of my high school teachers and counselors this is how life seemed to be (according to my tiny brain) for them when they were my age. Everything was prepackaged and pre-bundled for you on a little conveyor belt, all you had to do was pluck the package you wanted and off you went, things would then go relatively smoothly. And as long as you didn’t destroy it completely and make an effort to keep the plan together, things were going to work out.

Things are different now, a lot different. This isn’t to say things were better then or worse now, or vice versa, it simply is what it is.

It’s almost like in previous generations the ordinary person didn’t *need* to have a lot of options. Don’t get me wrong, they had most of the same options we do today, they are just … less reliable now. The paths taken then seemed to be more of a success compared to those same paths when taken by my generation. When I refer to “paths” I mostly mean credentialization, but specifically university credentialization. It seems that a few decades ago as long as the proper hoops were jumped through you would be alright. The hoop jumping trick is starting to wear out, and doesn’t have that same appeal to younger people. Not only is the appeal not there, those old paths just don’t work for the masses like they used to.

I am growing more and more certain that these traditional options are running out of steam. They had their time, they worked, and that’s fine. So what about us zoomers/millennials? What options do we have?

Well, for starters, I think my options are going to be closer to fishing in the wild on my 3rd foodless night than they are to selecting meals off a fast food menu. Our food will have to be caught ourselves and our career options are going to have to be crafted in the same way.

Why do you have to make your own? Mostly because credentialization doesn’t represent real knowledge like we thought it did for a long time. It’s mostly a signal, and it turns out when you build a family/business/economy on people who signalled they have knowledge it’s not as sustainable as it otherwise might be when those people have legitimate knowledge and experience. The college degree means diddly compared to what it meant 50 years ago. When my high school counselors got out of college they went right into the jobs they’d have for the rest of their careers (retirement plans included), and essentially coasted until that retirement came. I know I am not the only one who got out of college and expected all kinds of those same kind of opportunities to flow in, because that’s what was sold to me in high school! This promise school teachers and advisors make you that once you get there to the “real world” things will be similar to how they always have been. BIG NOPE. Not anymore. That was probably naive of me to take their word for it but hey, here we are.

Ironically, after being taught dependence on the system for so long, the second I got out of that system and into the “real world” the first thing it taught me was 1) Holy crap, they were all wrong, and 2) no one is going to save me, no employer, no politician, nothing. And even if you are “saved” today with some kind of career opportunity or political handout it’s hardly ever on your terms. And if someone comes to save you it’s probably going to look like this:

Why even go to school anymore : recruitinghell

Giving yourself your own options and crafting options for yourself is the best way to make those be to your liking – there will always be product-market fit when it’s done this way. In my experience with opportunities/jobs that weren’t on my terms they were worth doing only because I realized that it wasn’t sustainable for me and it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing in the long haul. This sort of experience bogs the psyche down.

There is no modern credentialization I can think of that will help you on your way to self sustainability and optionality. The only way to become self-sustainable is to tinker and make decisions based on new information that comes to you. None of this was taught to me while I was in the credential process, I was basically taught dependence on superiors and blind trust to the system, and not much else. There are roles in which credentialing plays an extremely vital part of your path, I am not talking about that. I am referring to the kids who are ostensibly great at nothing and decent at a few things who happen to have no idea what they want to study so they just go to college for a bachelors in business management and end up hating the trajectory that put them on. These kids – much like myself – relate more to Chris Farley or a Johnny Cash. Those who aren’t getting PHD’s anytime soon.

As someone who experienced “Educational Iatrogenics” – by trying to educate me, I was placed on the completely wrong path by nimwit credentializers – and because of that there is damage that needs to be undone, knowledge that needs to be unwound.

But in this case it may be better not to depend on those around you, it may be better for you to take things into your own hands and craft those options yourself, because no one is going to give them to you. This is what our youth should be taught at a younger age – in a less harsh and a more hopeful tone than mine obviously.

I think those who find themselves in a situation much like this are starting to ask themselves this question; Is “thriving” on someone else’s terms as good as surviving (with a non-zero chance of thriving) on your own terms?

The Goal Is Home

There are people I know personally who have been going emotionally berserk from being “trapped” inside their own homes and from not being able to go into work, which they saw before as a positive. These same folks must toss and turn at night with the thought of malls being closed, causing them to stay home. … Imagine such injustice and such horror.

There are people who miss going to work in the office, which is fine. And to be fair there are legit reasons to want to go back the office, which I get, I am not talking about those with legit reasons. I am referring to the folks who want to go back to the office for bad reasons, sick of their kids, spouses, run away from housekeeping, get away from their own problems. They are almost emotionally crippled by the fact they can’t go out, can’t buy this, can’t be here or be there. Part of me finds this worrisome, but a good indicator for where we are socially. This sort of cabin fever has been a talking point in my inner circle for a while now, and the longer this general sentiment goes on the more odd I find it. 

This is what I want to harp on.

My experience has been the complete opposite of whatever emotional short circuiting I described above. I have never been more at peace than I have been while working remotely the past few months. I mean seriously, I haven’t put a pair of socks on in probably 100 days, & it’s beeeeautiful. Oh, and not to mention, I don’t have to deal with office politics here?! No water cooler talk?! I don’t have to deal with random committees and BS hoop jumping!? Supervisors glancing over my shoulder, vulturing my every move?! Thank you Sweet & Almighty God! I am basically Swami Rama at home! That is to say; in just a few months of not having to deal with office politics I have mastered the ways of the yogi, and this is only after 4 months! The longer I am home the more I worry that I may suddenly ascend directly into the atmosphere against my own will, entering some sort of paradisiacal state, by the will of Something more divine than myself.

Jokes aside, I don’t leave my house for days on end and it’s been Heaven. On. Earth. There are no words for my gratitude. This has been an enlightening experience, and remote work has shown me what it is I truly love; home.

In such a modern world with so many options, who knew home could be so appealing? 

Working remotely from home has given me back all the energy I was spending on office politics, or what I also call “careerism”. Careersim will take up a lot of your energy. And that same energy I was using for careerism while in the office is now being used on mostly just being grateful to be at home with my family, chill, make meals, focus on things I find worthwhile. The positive difference in my mentality is staggering. When I first started working remotely I could have never have seen this coming – not that I was closed off to the idea that it could be so great to be at home all the time, but it was just so unexpected, nobody is talking about the joys of home. The home gets villainized for the dumbest reasons.

But the longer I am here the longer I think, “Why would I want to be anywhere else?”.

Why should we want to work in an environment if superiors are pressuring people to come back to work at a time like this? Huh? What is that about? This isn’t work anymore, it’s become something else. Here is a thought, & brace for impact: it’s entirely possible and it’s even *likely* that the superiors at the office we work at don’t have our best interest at heart. In fact, they are incentivized not to. This is common knowledge, but our bosses don’t care about us nearly as much as the people in our own homes care about us. I mean “Care” in the true sense, the familial sense. My superiors “care” about me because they get paid too, which I find morally unsustainable. Someone is bound to burn out. When the going gets tough for a lot of people out there – like it is right now – I don’t want to waste my time around people who get paid to do a crappy job fake being interested in me. Which is my biggest beef with the office place, its people who are paid to care about me, which inherently and literally means they don’t care about me. The people at your modern office workspace are not family, and they shouldn’t be called that. It’s insulting to your legitimate family to call them that.

If working remotely from home has taught me anything it’s this – and this will fly in the face of almost every superior I have ever had – but abandoning careerism and the office place should be in the future for a lot of people like me. And to be completely frank I am not smart enough or obedient enough to have any shot in a corporation anyway.

Working remotely from home – like I am now – is me just being at home in body, but in spirit… I am often somewhere else….. Hell, to be exact.  The difference lies between working from home and working remotely from home. Working remotely from home is just working in the office with a longer leash. Working from home is starting a small sustainable remote internet businesses with a small number of employees (if any at all), these should be a new norm for people having a hard time fitting in, like myself. If this is something you’re trying to do and your business is honorable and you’re not a dirtbag, you have my support and I hope you contact me however you can.

The only place you can be in the company of people who sincerely care about you – you know, the people who have yet to be paid to care about you – is home, whatever and wherever home is for you. As time rolls on, I find that this place called home is increasingly distancing itself from the modern work place. Careerists will call this desire for home lazy, but they don’t want to hear what I have to say about what their opinions on anything.

The point is this, be around people who care truly care for you by cutting out the BS’ers who don’t.

Embrace your surroundings and use your time to focus on what’s meaningful to you.

The next time your supervisor or mentor ask where you want to be in 5-10 years, you should unironically respond with a deadpan face; “Home”.

What This Is About

My day to day life is spent around people – mostly work associates – who are all fairly similar in one respect. Not over-educated at all. Work the same kinds of jobs. Good families. They’re fine people. Yet in talking with them I find this one aspect in which they are similar: the problems which they bear far outweigh the kind of lifestyles they live. The ratio is so far out of whack. These are simple people for the most part, who have exorbitant problems. General depression, physical breakdown, malaise, aimlessness in the workplace, at home and in the world at large. It seems odd, and it seems unfair. But what’s most odd is when they try to address some of these issues it makes their issues worse. Why?

Are we getting our knowledge and wisdom from the completely wrong places?

Are we being misdiagnosed?

We stress critical thinking, but on the opposite end of that same spectrum is critical feeling. Which we don’t know how to do because no one is teaching it. It’s been completely forgotten.

Eric Weinstein has recently said “We are Gods but for the wisdom.”

We are the smartest we have ever been as a people, but we are certainly not the wisest. We are essentially too smart for our own good but we don’t know how to appropriately feel and behave on a proper scale.

I’m not a medical professional. I don’t even think I am a writer. But I’m mostly trying to solve things out for myself because I, too, live in these environments, and have experience as being one of these people – someone trying to survive in a modern world. I been lucky enough to find various lenses through which to see life that I have found helpful that those around me have not been lucky enough to stumble upon.

 Turn to the greats. No one teaches critical feeling quite like the great thinkers. Modern and Ancient alike. Taleb, Seneca, Dostoyevsky, Proust & countless others. I don’t have the answers, but these types of people might. These are the types of people we need.

We need fewer psychologists and more philosophers.

Fewer therapists and more grandparental figures.

‪I want to hear more about life from non experts. People with real life skin in the game experience‬. Whatever the experience is. I just don’t see this from very many people who resonate with me. There are experts, life experts, business experts, mental health experts. They all seem to be marketers and nothing else. It’s insincere and it’s hacky. I don’t find them relatable or helpful at all.

Emotional well-being needs to be taken back from un-relatable nerds and marketers, and put back into the hands of common old school sort of people. We need businesses that address our emotional needs. This includes a very serious and overdue dialogue about the ideas of wisdom and “mental health”. It’s been pimped and bastardized with shitty self-help books, 10-step fixes and other forms of escapism. It’s too self help-y and it sucks. We have been dead in this area for too long now and it needs a total new rebrand. Emotional “experts” just want to fill you full of pills, instead of coaching you and giving you a latticework of philosophy that is far more sustainable and far more helpful. But this takes work & the “experts” won’t save you.

Just a few years ago I read 1984. (I’m late I know.) Reading George Orwell was one of the most spiritually enhancing and life changing moments I have ever had. An entire new lens. My life up until that point was skateboarding, rap and basketball. (Still is to some degree.) But Orwell opened a world for me. Not only did he open a world for me he totally blew the hinges off whatever nothing I thought I knew before that. And I realized that his ideas – and the ideas of other great thinkers – are somehow underrated, and completely forgotten. I remember thinking “How do more people not know about this guy? Who hid this wisdom from me for two decades?” Again, these were very basic ideas. Nerds will laugh at the simplicity. But it’s sincere, and it’s really helpful.

That’s the only way people are going to be helped, is if real, meaningful ideas are shared at a level that can make a difference. I don’t mean to say Orwell has all the answers or even that I agree with everything he says. He was simply the first step on what will be a long journey.

I believe this sort of thing will help those around me most, especially when it comes to the mental health of my generations – Gen Z and Millennials – as the generations before us continue to not care about this thing to teach us these things we will have to teach ourselves. I don’t care to do anything new or groundbreaking. I don’t even care to be original. I am not smart enough for any of that. I just hope to share ideas that will strengthen us as people. People whose problems they’ve been unjustly handed by the times they live in. Hopefully new lenses can offer new perspectives that can improve a way of being. 

I need to learn some of these obvious things that were never taught to myself or those around me.

Every high civilization decays by forgetting obvious things.”

– G.K. Chesterton

Defund The Megacorps

The best part of the chaos during this pandemic has been watching the reactions of celebrities and huge corporations. And when I say best I mean so pathetic that it’s terribly embarrassing. These have to be the most out of touch and delusional people to have ever drawn a breath. What is even worse is there are “consumers” who are so entranced with these global brands that they defend them. Defending a multinational global faceless organization that doesn’t care anything about you or your well being. Asinine.

They just want your money. That’s it. They’ll be a part of any movement, chant any slogan as long as it means they aren’t cancelled. If you don’t think huge banks and car manufacturers aren’t going to turn these riots and this pandemic into their next marketing campaign you have another thing coming. They float from cause to cause, to movement to movement and ride them like trends and forget about them just as quick as they thought about them. These aren’t people that deserve your support. Maybe they deserve someone else’s support, but not yours.  

While we inch towards a great depression and a virus that is killing people all around the world, Mega-Corporate America is only worried about how to profit.

Subway shop owner tries to explain coronavirus medical-mask ...

You’ve been reduced to your wallet.

It’s not hard to imagine a group of wealthy white haired lizards seated in a boardroom trying to think of how they can sell you something while the world burns. “What can we do to make the people consume? When they aren’t consuming the economy isn’t growing. The people have to be consuming.” “What can we do to cater to our demo?” “Help us help you, today, with a new American Express Equality Card.” (Oh, you better believe it’s coming.) “We here at American Express feel to really fight inequality you should act now and open up our new equity line of credit.”

Megacorps have fickle boundaries, and there isn’t a lot of morality there. Their sole purpose is to make money. But you can’t blame them, it’s the name of the game they play. But they are too distant to have any interest in the locales they take up. Their shopping stores may physically be in your area, but it’s not where they are headquartered. They are out of touch with the communities they thrive off. The advertising these enterprises do is harmful in my opinion. Simply because of how relentless it is. It is relentless stimulation, everywhere. At least in in the States it’s this way. Everything everywhere is an ad for a product. This obsession with coffee as a product sticks out in my mind. T-shirts for moms saying they need coffee before they can do anything. I don’t know. I think we are getting a raw deal. It’s a one way relationship. They get all the pros and we get all the cons + maybe one pro. Mega-advertising just smells fishy and out of touch. The kinds of people who put out lame ads aren’t the kind of people I want to put on a pedestal. The ownership is distant and is likely a huge group of shareholders/board members, which doesn’t seem like a successful recipe.

This is the polar opposite in respect to small, communal businesses. Ownership of these businesses being people who take part of a community and understand the culture of their areas. This is not to say that every local business owner is a sweetheart but at least a local business owner has more of an incentive to be a sweetheart than some corporate shill on the other side of the globe. The level of connectivity one has to their immediate surroundings is what makes the difference. The same idea applies to policing. I think a worthwhile experiment would be to have police officers serve in the cities they live in. If you live in Springfield, you should serve in Springfield and Springfield only. I am not saying this is a cure-all, but what if we did the same for small businesses? Incentivized businesses to stay small, and to stay in their communities. If you live in Springfield, you should be incentivized – through taxes and other ways – to keep your business in Springfield.

There is a connectivity issue here. The scales need to be turned down dramatically in the business world. We can start by defunding megacorporations. Stop giving them your money. They don’t care about you or your circumstances. A personal rule I have is I don’t wear branded t-shirts. Unless it’s that of a local small business I love. Or if it is that of a local team I root for. Try not to be an advertisement. There are lots of ways to defund the megacorporations. Use your technology until it literally doesn’t run anymore. If you own a car, drive that care into the ground. Another rule I follow is I don’t upgrade my technology or car unless I absolutely need to.

Don’t fall victim to advertisements. I prefer self-taught “non-experts”. Who are experts by experience but maybe not by formal suit and tie education. Try to support those around you as much as you can.

Defund megacorporations by not giving them your money.

The Art of Falling

There is only one way to put this… skateboarders don’t get enough credit for their smarts. Though never articulated, it’s shown. I can’t think of a better example of teeth grinding toughness and balls to the wall commitment. Usually not “formally educated”, it’s not uncommon for them to come from rough backgrounds with complicated upbringings, parental voids, drugs, general loneliness and outcast-ness, the list goes on. These guys are total redemption stories, who made it in a world that is certain they wouldn’t. If it weren’t for skating these guys would be totally written off by society. But in their expertise they are the most talented there are, and the mainstream writes them off as uneducated, unrealistic and immature anyway. You don’t get to be a professional in such an intense field like this without understanding some sort of eternal truth. Professional skateboarders understand life lessons that a majority of us are never taught.

Take professional skateboarder Tommy Sandoval for example. Who has one of the most epic and jaw dropping tattoos I think I have ever seen, which perfectly encapsulates a core principle of skateboarding, and life.

“DIE TRYING” – in huge letters – across his chest. 

Given what Mr. Sandoval does for a living this guy inherently understands a lesson modernity doesn’t teach us. Life is lived trying. Not necessarily succeeding. Most people ask “Try what?”. Well that should be up to you. But whatever it is you try it’s optimal that you die trying it, metaphorically.

Most people – especially our superiors – are only interested in telling you not only what you should try but what you need to succeed at. Being told to try and being told to succeed are two completely different things. It’s hilarious how they think trying can be just skipped. We all know these types of superiors who think you need to quit with all the trying and get on with the succeeding because you’re “wasting your time”. They are impatient, and have no appreciation of the process. The ultimate irony is that if you don’t fit their vision of what they think you should be doing, you get labeled as “wasted potential”. What does that even mean?

It’s hard to not feel beholden to the advice of someone you respect and maybe someone you even love. When you take your own path and carve out your own way of being – following your “intuition” – there is no “wasted potential”. I am struggling to decide whether wasted potential is even an idea that’s worth acknowledging. Maybe it is a real thing. I don’t know.

Tommy Sandoval and others of his profession are certainly familiar with being labeled “wasted potential” and maybe even guiltily believed it for some time after being called it most of their lives. Their teachers, parents, various counselors. The thing is that those who spout the idea of “wasted potential” usually don’t understand what it means to “Die Trying” at something you feel you innately have to follow.

Skateboarding and combat sports (fighting in particular) seem to be the only forms of sport that consist of an unbelievable amount of possible physical pain upon failure. To outsiders it seems the downside of injury far outweighs the upside of landing a trick. This is because most newcomers to skateboarding can’t tell one trick from the other, and don’t know what it is like to “stomp a clean 360 flip”. The sensation of sticking a trick far outweighs the possible pain. It’s a kind of club you can only enter by training your eye to knowing how to distinguish one trick from another trick. There is a certain knowledge level one has to have to fully appreciate just what’s going on. There is a lot to learn, not just all the technical maneuvers and their combinations but you also have to learn that, in order to execute these maneuvers at a high level, there are life lessons that have to honed and learned before any trick landing at a superior level happens.

One of my favorite things about skateboarding is that it doesn’t teach success, it strictly teaches failure. Via Negativa. And how skateboarding does that is it teaches you how to fall … physically. But that lesson you learn physically gets burned into you mentally and translates to other aspects of life. After taking so many hits to the ground on your arms and wrists and knees, you start to realize the technique has to change. When skateboarders fall – particularly good ones who have fallen a lot – they don’t try to catch themselves with their hands or arms. They try not to extend any limbs if possible. What they do is bring their arms and hands in close to their chest and try to almost roll off the ground. Watch professional skateboarder Nakel Smith fall in this video. He has mastered it so totally that it’s become a meme in skateboarding circles. (Don’t worry, nothing brutal or graphic in this clip.)  

This is a trained failure. An untrained failure breaks their neck attempting this same maneuver. These guys learn how to succeed by learning what doesn’t work. You break your arm by extending it while falling? Never again. And when things don’t work, how to fall as gracefully and as minimally as possible. Limiting your downside risk to avoid ruin. Don’t extend your arms, that’s how you break not only your wrist but your arm too. After mastering how to fail it makes success easier to obtain. This isn’t something that’s taught. It can only be learned by trying and failing. 

There is nothing that will teach you this more intensely and more quickly than slamming one’s body on the concrete over and over and over again. No book on riding a skateboard can teach you how to ride a skateboard.  There is some kind of deep and irreplaceable truth that can only be taught from eating shit in front of 10 people. This is exactly what professional skateboarders do for a living. Everyday. They get paid to try and fail. With the knowledge that if you try enough times you might succeed. It’s never a guarantee you’re going to land the next trick.

Skaters know more about risk taking, failure, and trial and error than most politicians and leaders of our institutions do. They have a lot more to offer than we have been led to believe.

Be Interesting, Or Uninteresting?

There is a sort of pattern I am seeing emerging from people who label themselves as rule-breakers and as edgy. Everyone does this in the same way. To quote Margeret Thatcher: “Power is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” A sort of Wittgenstein’s Ruler. Those who call themselves rebellious are missing the point – not because their intention is wrong, but because there is another strategy, like I recently discovered for myself. Our culture paints it one way: if we wish to meaningfully rebel in today’s society there is only one way to do so – with power and force – and if you go against that one way you are actively doing harm to the movement. Obviously, this isn’t true. Everyone’s got their own style that – once discovered – can help them cope with the downside of feeling.

All kinds of rebellion work when a sentiment is strong enough for you, and it’s up to you to find how you want to go about it. What I have found interesting and relevant for myself is the fact that there is more than one way to rebel.

One of the ways is more interesting – more interesting to witness in particular – it tends to be more of a spectacle. Extroverts prefer this. It’s how they portray rebellion on TV, it’s the way we are more familiar with and the only one I knew existed. The lesser known form we hardly ever hear about is a lot more uninteresting to watch, and frankly it’s boring to most, better suited for introverts. Both work in their own way. Different people in different situations call for different tactics. One is not better than the other. This is new for me. But let’s start with what we are all familiar with.

This is painfully obvious – I know – but, but spectacles are interesting, non-spectacles are not. And for whatever reason western culture is obsessed with making a spectacle of our strongly held beliefs. It seems that no intense point of view can be held privately, calmly, and with dignity – because God forbid that would be … uninteresting. Anything being uninteresting and un-entertaining is a sin in modern times. In our world if we want those strongly held beliefs to be seen and heard we must display them as interestingly as we can. To see interesting in action, all you have to do is look at social media, Youtube, anywhere really. Rule #1 seems to be: I have a message near and dear to my heart but the only way to spread this is to peacock louder than anyone else. What does this bring me to do? Whatever humiliating and outrageous thing it is we need to do in order to be trending topics online. A desire to revolt so strong that we are willing to do it in whatever way, no matter the cost and no matter if it backfires. Looting is a good example of this. Looting certainly is interesting. And this is not to say the intent behind them is invalid but it can conflate your true intent, further complicating the issue. It’s also just not for the introverts. The current George Floyd protests (not the same as looting) are an example of when this form of interesting rebellion works, and it’s beautiful.

What magnifies the degree of spectacle to which we “perform” is the fact that if you wish to be relevant and heard you must also be wholly focused on being irreverent. While there is value in irreverence when appropriate, we should think about pivoting and not being so dependent on irreverence as a strategy.

On the other hand there is a lot more uninteresting way to go about it too. David Foster Wallace puts the it better than I ever could:

“People who rebel meaningfully .. don’t buy a lot of stuff and they don’t get their view of the world from television and are willing to spend 4-5 hours researching an election rather than going by commercials and advertisements. The thing about it is that we see rebellion as this very sexy thing and that it involves action and force and it looks good. My guess is that the forms of rebellion that will end up changing anything meaningfully here will be very quiet and very individual and probably not all that interesting to look at from the outside. I am now hoping that rebellion takes the form of less interesting rather than more interesting. Violence is interesting. Horrible corruption and scandals and threatening war and demonizing billions of different people are all interesting. Sitting alone in a chair and thinking about what this means and why the fact that what I drive or what I eat or what entertains me might have something to do with who I am or how people see me isn’t very interesting to anybody else.” 

Maybe instead of calling a spectacle to ourselves in social settings the best way to misbehave is by going to the small home of some of your closest friends, sitting with them and talking amongst yourselves about your lives. What you think the meaning of your life is, what could explain the mental health crisis in 21st century America, what effects will consumerism have on our psyches in 100 years, anything you find important. As fewer and fewer people do this the more and more rebellious it becomes. It becomes rebellious simply because no one is doing it anymore.

A sort of intellectual askesis. More of us are cut out for it than we believe.

This crossed my mind the other day; most Americans don’t know anything about their surroundings, where did the couch you’re sitting on come from? The hamburger that some kid passed to you in a greasy bag through a window, where did that meat come from? What could be second order effects of this? We are completely and dangerously unaware of almost everything that immediately surrounds us. There is a kind of citizenry that we are not familiar with. We know nothing about our locale’s, nothing about our history and aren’t interested in consequence.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau on citizenship: “The making of citizens is not the work of a single day, and in order to have citizens when they are men it is necessary to educate them when they are children.” 

The truth is this type of rebellion is not all that fun, or entertaining. However, this is more of an appealing option for a growing amount of people. This model is certainly more sustainable than what we currently have going on for us which is entertain ourselves until we are completely moral beings.

We can even see this in where we choose to live. Before modern industrial cities were as populous as they are now, they were rare. The first types of people who were rushing to big cities were people who were raised in rural settings who set out to the bright lights to try and find their true individual selves. This was as an act of a rebellion, an abandoning of tradition. Cities were breeding grounds of nonconformity, creativity and newness. After so many decades of people who self-label themselves as individualists start gathering in one place, they start conforming. The creative spirit of big cities has been watered down. Cities were once a place to get inspired and it’s becoming apparent that it’s becoming just the opposite of what it once was. Hugely over-connected megacities have been filled with full of unoriginal, bland people, interested in short-termism for quite some time now and people are leaving.

A way someone could really uninterestingly rebel could be moving back to a more local and connected environment. Literally moving. Out of the cities to where we once ran. Going to small villages, homesteads, flyover states, this sort of thing. I know for a lot of us this isn’t an option but voting with your feet is a a great way to make your stance known. More and more of us are realizing that this form of living may be where true creativity and independence lie.

I bring this up just because I know a lot of people I work with and close friends who are sick of feeling used and they are sick of the BS around them and they need a way to handle it. I have found this form of rebellion useful for me and my well-being and I think it may work for other people if they only knew it existed. Stop raging online, stop trying to change other people’s minds. Go ride a bike. Go read in a patch of grass like a mystic would.

Misbehavior is more of an art than a science. I wish we wouldn’t waste such a scarce resource by only practicing it in one way. A deeply personal kind of askesis has become underrated and is one of the most meaningful ways to rebel. And sometimes it’s okay to be uninteresting. Personally, I hope the future skews more in this direction but it’s certainly not for everyone.

“I believe in the virtue of small numbers. The world will be saved by the few.’ – Andrè Gide 

Is Art Reflecting Life?

Not that is doesn’t always feel this way here, but right now seems to be a particularly striking time socially and culturally to be living in the United States. Riots, public tragedies, pandemics, political strife. These are signs of irritated, misunderstood people who not only feel used and extorted but also feel they have no place to go. Walled off at every turn. They aren’t wrong in feeling this way, it’s likely that they truly have no place to turn. Creatives throughout history who experienced this type of chaos used their frustration and discomfort to create, hoping to shed some angst. Some of the most ground-shaking, and relatable creativity came from this exact sort of social friction we see now. Shakespeare famously wrote some of his best work while under the stresses of being quarantined during the plague. Bob Dylan’s tear throughout the 60’s was a sight to behold. It takes real guts to be that young and that disagreeable towards a group of older people who “have it figured out”. There was N.W.A. N.W.A.’s anger was palpable, you could feel their energy in your nerve endings. There have been many artists like this throughout history, and there still are some today who are doing as good as job as anyone ever has. However it seems like the number of true risk takers in music and art is lower than ever as we are starting to see more and more of these creatives sell out for streams over.

N.W.A. with their attitude, Bob Dylan with his contrarian nature, I mean, this is exactly what these guys were going for. I don’t think they were intentionally trying to piss people off just for the sake of pissing people off, they simply did not care *at all* if some people didn’t like how they felt. It’s just the cost of doing business. Straight to the point, no tricks or ploys, just raw emotion. We certainly get a lot of gimmicks and manufactured emotion in most music today, it’s easy to sniff out once you’ve trained yourself to spot it.

We do need a good song. A good meaningful, sincere song. Not this. And not this. Please. Anything but that.

On April 26, 1986 Guitarist Johnny Marr and singer Steven Morrissey of The Smith’s had their own experience that would end up changing not only how they viewed music but how they would write it too. The two were together listening to BBC Radio 1, when suddenly the music cut and a news report came over the airwaves describing the ongoing nuclear meltdown happening in Chernobyl at that very moment. A jarring listen. An event of such magnitude the consequences of it are still felt today. Immediately after this news had been shared the BBC music DJ shamelessly wasted no time, flipped the tunes right back on. The song that he chose to play after such horrible news was… “I’m Your Man” by pop sensation Wham! A dance song with not much to offer other than that. Given the circumstances this was a weak choice, but an all too predictable one that Marr and Morrissey thought was indicative of something bigger.

Marr recalls the sentiment he shared with Morrissey after they both had realized what it was the DJ just did after such traumatizing and horrific news: “I remember actually saying, ‘What the fuck does this got to do with people’s lives? We hear about Chernobyl, then, seconds later, we’re expected to jump around to ‘I’m Your Man’“.

Can we not properly grieve and ponder the fragility of life for even a moment? Or must we have the constant drumming of pop music? Is there nothing sacred?

Johnny Marr is spot on. Not only can we ask this question about music, but any sort of media we consume regularly. We should be able to depend on our artists and tastemakers to use their platform and talents to portray some kind of emotional light at the end of the tunnel. But nowadays it seems unusual to get this sort of support from them. What we get are tik-tok songs that are irrelevant in the blink of an eye, we get to watch global artists pathetically beg their fans to download VPN’s (!!!) so they can juice their streaming stats for the sole reason of being number one on the charts. In basketball this is referred to as empty stats, or stat padding – which is basically another form of rent-seeking. Admittedly, I can’t get enough of watching superstars do this, it’s pitiful, embarrassing, and so hilarious. Watching them plead with fans seems like an admittance of “I know the song I spent years making is inauthentic garbage but here it is anyway”.

But my personal favorite is this, nothing says “I don’t believe in my artistry” quite like it:

Is music just becoming a consensual prostitution ring? If you want to know if this strategy worked?…. Of course it did.

Let me ask, what I will now be dubbing, Marr’s Dilemma: What the fuck does this got to do with people’s lives? Is this representing what we are going through?

Morrissey, Johnny Marr and The Smith’s used this same frustration and sense of embarrassment to write their song “Panic”. This is a song that perfectly encapsulates what I think our country needs right now; meaningful music. With “Panic”, Morrissey expresses his worry about ever being able to recover from a panic that is sprawling all over the UK, singing: “I wonder to myself, Could life ever be sane again?”. The song then takes a sharp turn and holds nothing back: “Burn down the disco. Hang the blessed DJ. Because the music that they constantly play, it says nothing to me about my life.” It’s edgy, but that can be a good thing.

Most of our music today has nothing to do with people’s lives, but music is certainly not the only thing we constantly consume that has nothing to do with us. Marr’s Dilemma could help us weigh all aspects of our life in their proper way so one can take a true look at them and find out what exactly is worth acting on and what may be worth cutting out. Try not to misvalue (“mis-weigh”) life’s features and try to act appropriately on those aspects of life according to their weight. Weigh Appropriately and Act Accordingly.

Morrissey weighed the value of the music of his life, thought it was garbage, and acted accordingly.

Morrissey answered his version of Marr’s Dilemma with this song. (Truly great song by the way. I’ve been wandering my house all morning chanting “Hang the deeejjjaaayyyyy!”)

We could use this sentiment now. The sentiment of “this is how we feel and this is how serious we are” in our art. It’s felt in the protests, and tweets, but there is a certain spirit of a good song that other mediums just won’t accomplish. We are in desperate need of art that represents who we are and what we are going through. Not constant party anthems and chart toppers, we need songs that represent the lowlights of life that can inspire individual change and that can inspire us to get rid of the waste of our modern times.

If creatives who share a sincere message – NWA, Morrissey, Jimi Hendrix, others – knew one thing, it’s that once the message is delivered and heard, it will wake others up, which can then inspire worthwhile change. Once you inspire someone you can’t unring that bell. And ringing the bell with the knowledge it will never be unrung was their strategy the whole time.

When we find something in our life has nothing to do with our lives, maybe it’s time we metaphorically and hypothetically (*very hypothetically, not literally*) burn the disco’s of our lives. “Hang the DJ”. To me that’s what Morrissey, NWA, Bob Dylan, Hendrix, Kendrick Lamar and others have done and it’s what we need more of.

Get rid of what you feel doesn’t matter. Replace it with something you see more pertinent to your real life.