4.15.20 Rule HJ8945

Citizen 78998238733209497832631265872334793274932

Citizen 56263648733420979312047132907213901279737

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Pre-4.15.20 Rule HJ8945, you would have been afforded understanding and sympathy when the world’s winds blew against you. While it’s true that there are always people worse off, it’s just as true that there are always people better off. In moments of challenge, it’s easier to default to the latter perspective – I’m not as smart as person X, I’m not as healthy as person Y, I’m not as charismatic as person Z, etc. – to make failure palatable. And we, the rest of the world, were okay with this arrangement. Key word there is “were.” Please notice that it is in past tense, for the world’s okayness officially expired with the passage of 4.15.20 Rule HJ8945 and your excuses, however legitimate, will no longer be tolerated.

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I didn’t catch it at first, but I now realize that something important was left unexplained from our last conversation. You, a man of high self-awareness, contended that your risk-aversion holds you back in matters of love. This didn’t strike me as true since an obvious manifestation of risk-aversion is settling for a “good enough” girl who checks many boxes and provides undeniable aid against loneliness – and you don’t do this. You, in fact, are likely to hear pleas from friends to be “less picky” and other such well-intentioned nonsense that risk-averse individuals utter to risk-lovers. I guess xxxxxxxxx simply had a blind spot in his self-model and risk-aversion isn’t plaguing him.

But that’s too easy a conclusion, right? You have thought about yourself and love a lot, and surely you considered that which I noticed in 60 seconds:

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ghosting

you changed my mind re: *ghosting*.

the key insight was you yourself taking control of the situation
and deciding that, no matter what, fuck this other person. (though i still wonder a bit how this attitude can exist with a desire for future friendship.)

if you can get to that place, a place no longer filled with wanting, it truly doesn’t matter what the other person does – his/her actions are now irrelevant.

i do think it can be hard to get to that place, especially in the inevitable messiness of a courting process.

but even if you don’t get there, it’s not like you would gain some great insight w/ the non-ghost, w/ the “sorry, this just isn’t right for me.” this is probably the area where i’m most incorrect: i do want other people’s truths about me because i want to close off blindspots and improve if i deem one’s evaluation of me correct, but ain’t nobody gonna really give me that type of truth. instead, you’ll just get a nondescript text response that carries the same value as ghosting.

if you absolutely require others for closure or peace or validation, you will forever be in a state of unrest.

still, i wouldn’t ghost anyone, but i now have a far more accepting attitude toward those that do.

thx!

Bad Business

“I want to give you money. Please let me do so. Hell, I’ll even mail you an envelope with the proper address and postage on it and all you’ll have to do is slip the gift certificate in and drop it in the mail.”

For however great Dan and his crew may be at crafting pizzas, they are quite terrible at business, because even with my desperate plea, Dan’s Pizza refused to let me purchase a gift certificate.

When Dan’s goes out of business,1 we can safely ignore pandemic-based excuses since we’ll know that horrendous management was the real reason for the Chapter 11.

But that filing remains a future event, so please enjoy the pizza while you still can. And please do so on my dollar. Just shoot me the total and I’ll take it from there.2

If Dan has any good sense left, he’ll try to hire you two the moment you step into his restaurant; anybody who can untotal a totaled car can surely figure out a simple system for collecting money from those who want to give it.

Thanks for the heroic effort getting the Miata safely back on the road.

While I don’t yet know you, I declare with great confidence that you will be someone who rebels. Even in your current state of innocence, your daily cries indicate an unwillingness to accept a world that doesn’t exactly conform to your wants and expectations. This proclivity to fight has a chance to be most productive, especially when your mental powers blossom and your frustrations can be directed at matters beyond lactose.

I warn you now, though, that as rebellion becomes increasingly intertwined with your identity – as it will in adolescence – it can turn downright counterproductive if you adopt the “rebel without a cause” posture. And make no mistake, many peers will turn toward RWC because it’s a seductive way to gain status. RWC is also foolishly simple to adopt: be anti-authority. Parents, school, teachers, priests, the system, the man, experts, and whatever else appears to be trusted is necessarily the opponent of RWC. Perhaps you already see the flaws in the philosophy, because while sure, OK, yea, authority need be challenged, one jams himself into an unnecessarily tight box when fully subscribed to a status quo where authority, by virtue solely of its authority, is always wrong. Still, no amount of illogic erases the aura of coolness awarded to outsiders (especially if that outsider has Jesusesque hair, a leather jacket, and ripped jeans), and thus RWC uptake persists – you wouldn’t be crazy to give it a try.

 

Or maybe instead adopt the rebel path I believe is fundamentally superior to RWC. Instead of anti- being the guiding principle, truth is. That is to say you want to get it right, not be right, and that the surest path to fully understanding the complexities and nuances of any given issue is to fearlessly challenge everything, all while knowing that what you are being told may, indeed, be perfectly correct. In practice, the truth-seeker can seem like RWC. Twenty kids in a classroom all nod their heads in agreement, but, no, not you. Never you. You go 1 vs. 20 + the teacher and sniff out any loopholes, contradictions, and weak assumptions. This requires tremendous skill and self-confidence, attributes a careful observer will appreciate distinguishes you from RWC. As your abilities increase, you’ll notice that this rigorous probing reliably gains something, that there is always a question that reveals more, that large swaths of the population are regurgitating lines and truly have no idea what the hell they are talking about, and that, vitally, truth-seeking doesn’t require you to reach an alternate conclusion, but rather bestows a level of complete understanding that leaves you smarter, more empathetic, more creative, and way more interesting. So yea, you’ll gain prestige similar to RWC adherents, AND you’ll obtain a superior grasp of reality.

There was a time when I worked at a gas station. At that time, “energy drinks” (which will hopefully be extinct by the time you read this) were en vogue. My employer, being a pragmatic capitalist, decided to get in on the gold rush and undercut the prevailing price point with a knock-off version of the high-margin brand name product. Better still, the knock-off version was tastier to 7 out of 10 consumers. Better better still, as an employee of this gas station, I received a hefty discount on all merchandise. So, I did what seemed not-all-that-novel and sold the knock-offs to my football teammates at a price that allowed me to capitalize on the spread created by my employee discount (a.k.a. I profited off my friends). As unreliable as our memories may be, I remember having zero qualms about this. Your father, on the other hand, had maximal qualms once he discovered the scheme. Not only did I genuinely think he was wrong, but I also enjoyed arguing for the sake of arguing, which cast me dangerously close to RWC and the never-admit-defeat attitude it engenders. You should want your mind changed, because you should want to inch closer to truth. That’s hard to appreciate – just look at a country being run by people who never admit the other side may have even a sliver of a point – and I doubt that I did in any real sense during high school.

Your father lives by an ideal that one’s role in friendship is to always be there doing all you can to love, help, and support (never profit, obviously). For as busy as he may be, he’ll drop it all if you call him in need. Many people speak a similar noble ethos, but I’ve found few who actually live by it. After first rebelling against your father’s friendship ethic, he helped me appreciate the error in my ways, and I now try to be one of those elite few adhering to a higher standard in relationships.

So when you fight with your parents just try to remember that it is possible they may be right. In fact, given their collective wisdom, they will offer valuable lessons, I’d venture to guess, a large percentage of the time. Combine this inherited “wisdom” edge with a pure aim on truth and I think you’re set up quite nicely for an extraordinary life. Welcome!

Courageous Wants

If proper effort is committed, much of what we “want” will be achieved. Now, energy expenditure of course varies quite a bit based on both the want and the abilities of the wanter, but an input = output sense of order, of fairness exists regardless of want difficultly. And even if the want is never fully satisfied, one necessarily grows closer to the coveted outcome through proper inputs; you may not lose 100lbs, but if you cook every meal, you will lose something.

There exists, however, another category of wants (titled Courageous Wants) where the input = output formula cracks. The #1 CW is love. Almost everyone contests this judgement, because by placing love in CW, one’s agency is apparently swindled, because there are no “right things,” no “proper inputs,” no “blueprints” for CW, because more effort (however defined) does not necessarily get one any closer to the want. Sure, one can seemingly tilt probabilities – going on 100 dates instead of zero – but this is mostly an illusion. In non-CW, nobody “accidentally” loses 100lbs; in CW, people routinely “accidentally” fall in love. Hence the courageousness of wanting love: you are throwing your well-being into a grinder of luck that can’t be conquered by self-will.

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GET JACKED!

Thanks to a tightly edited training montage in the latest action thriller, wherein the good guys GET JACKED! in preparation for conflict, a spark of motivation consumes you. In this moment, when Hollywood magic is gloriously climaxing, hydrogenated-soybean-oil-coated popcorn fingers are blissfully ignored and reality checks remain distant, you will remember how good it feels to be in shape. The mental vows start compiling. No more eating processed foods. Runs 3x weekly. EOD in the gym. Swim 1x weekly. In bed by 22:00 nightly.

By the next morning, dreams of a finely-formed abdomen are overwhelmed by memories of calloused hands, achy legs, and broccoli sandwiches; you have been in shape before and remember the accompanying pain. Suddenly, the motivation that was once so tangible has drifted into the inaccessible ether. And if you are like damn near everyone else, once bereft of that Hollywood juice, the fear of discomfort will now easily triumph over the thrill of possessing a sculpted body.

For all the incessant talk about “echo chambers,” there are, tragically, few words spent grappling with the true cause of free individuals systematically eliminating opposing voices. The oft-cited culprits – social media giants, a polarized electorate, the 24/7 news cycle, etc. – allow us to believe that 2020 is profoundly unique. In some ways this is, indeed, correct, but it’s our base instincts that permit those culprits to register at all. People today, just as all previous iterations of the species, run from pain toward pleasure. This is as true with information as it is with fitness. And it’s true even as the sprint toward instant gratification is done while knowing that a deeper, more sustainable pleasure is to be found on the other side of anguish.

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You will soon begin to notice it: there are things that people say to do, and there are things that people actually do, and the two routinely bear no relationship to one another. It’s especially easy to notice this phenomenon in childhood when advice, guidelines, edicts, and instructions are most forthcoming. Upon observing the disconnect – when people give you suggestions that they themselves don’t follow – it’s natural to be consumed by confusion. I am here to help.

When something becomes cliché there is great danger that mindlessness ensues. People will repeat a phrase like “Don’t lie” over and over without really thinking about why such a phrase is true. It just is. In childhood, though, if you ask Why? you’ll usually receive at least an attempt at explanation. It hurts people. Would you want someone to do it to you? It will make you a bad person. Perhaps these reasons can momentarily placate a child, but they are surely not good enough to honestly motivate behavior of anyone beyond a certain (read: young) age. At that tipping point, a safe conclusion is that adults are saying “Don’t lie” simply because everyone else is saying it. That’s it, that’s the mindlessness I’m referencing.

The conclusion is, of course, borne not solely out of insufficient explanations, but upon seeing a world filled with lies. Little lies. Big lies. Little big lies. It’s a bit like what the great Coach Chip Kelly said re: stretching:

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RTPD’s Lebron James

You are our Lebron James. That is, our surefire, “can’t miss,” once-in-a-generation, absolute lock #1 draft choice in the “Road Trip Partner Draft brought to you by State Farm.

In the current age of analytics, it’s tempting to overcomplicate the obvious. This error, I promise, shall not be made by our organization. In RTPD, there are three metrics that truly matter, and you happen to score perfectly in all three:

one // Driving Skills // Generally accepted as the least important trait in draft prospects, but an area where if the bare minimum standard isn’t met – stick driving competence – an otherwise tantalizing stud becomes undraftable. Supreme driving skills, the let’s-see-how-fast-I-can-go-in-a-neighborhood balls that you flaunt, are often registered as a sort of “tie-breaker” among elite draft choices.

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Stop Giving Advice

This seems like the absolute perfect time to stop making a mistake I keep making. Your nascence is what makes the timing so right (welcome to the world, btw) because it is expected that the youthful need advice. And it’s the entire advice-giving enterprise where I continue to err.

Quite quickly you will begin to explore the world. Exploration will bring you much joy; it will also bring questions. In need of answers, you may well turn to adults, and, perhaps, you may turn to me at some point. I would be honored by an inquiry. Glowing from the request – Me?!? I can’t believe xxxxxxxxx thinks so highly of me – I’ll be tempted to answer with facts, figures, wisdom, and anything else that counts as “advice.” After all, I’m the adult here, the man with all this knowledge, and the least I can do is share with you. This logic feels right. It will even feel right to you. I asked for advice, so give it to me. No longer will I oblige.

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