The Laundry…

Why do I take so many pictures each week, and post them on social media, you may ask…? The answer should be obvious, or even ingrained with the pictures and accompanying words, but allow me to explain…

It’s a practice I began a couple of years ago to (help) offset the negativity, and the forced agenda that goes with social media. By forced agenda, I mean the relentless cramming of hatred, bad ideas, fear, and ignorance down the throats of others, by way of memes, slanted news stories, gossip, outright lies, and inappropriate jokes and pictures.
If my own feed is any indication, this is a battle I’m losing, though I’m still committed to.

To my way of thinking, and I’ll admit I might be wrong, there can only be a few reasons to propagate such negativity on social media:

– To Promote one’s self as intellectually superior to others
– To hurt or shame others
– To change the minds of others
– To win favor with others of similar ilk
– To release the buildup of fears and frustrations growing within

Beyond these, I don’t see any reasons to share negativity on social media. Still, it dominates my feed. I will gladly entertain other reasons if you wish to present them to me, but come prepared…

A friend once said to me…

“What’s the point of having a strong opinion if you can’t cram it down someone’s throat…?”

Sadly, he wasn’t joking.

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Sharing a strong opinion without invitation, is like wiping a dirty diaper across the faces of many others, and all at once. If one’s hope is to clean the smears of crap left by that dirty diaper by wiping another dirty diaper against it, well, that might be a fool’s task.

I’m not suggesting there isn’t any meaning or fulfillment for the people who share and propagate social media negativity. I am suggesting though, that there is little social value in it.

So, I walk daily. I think. I take pictures, and share – all in hopes that helps offset the negativity of social media. Maybe a good thought and good photograph, is just a kind of daily laundry, to help clean up after bad ideas… Jhciacb

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Run River North.  Enjoy….

Don’t Come ’round Here No More…

I should have kicked him out of my studio as soon as he said it, but I didn’t. Maybe I was afraid.

In my mind, I excused his ignorance before the completed thought ever left his mouth. We had been there before; he uttering racists nonsense, and me in the capacity of a fitness trainer, not a priest nor a moral philosopher.

“No invention” he said, “no technology, no great contribution to mankind, ever came from sub-Saharan Africa, and that’s a fact!”

The young man, 26, spoke these words as his father looked on, in presumable agreement, from the treadmill across my studio. That was in 2005, and I have never forgotten it.

The young man’s innuendo was obvious; that people with darker skin – Africans and those people who have descended from sub-Saharan Africans, are of a lesser intelligence, and have contributed little to society through the millennia.

I was gulpsmacked as he spoke, but I kept focused on the task. My job was to guide his exercise form, not his morals. I shrugged it off.

This was not an isolated incident. I live in a community with a deep history of racism. Fallbrook was the home of white supremacist, Tom Metzger, for many years. Metzger’s influence still manifests within this community.

During the Obama administration, I heard the term, nigger in the White House, far too often, yet I never spoke up, always recognizing that my livelihood was at stake.

I have no memory of ever influencing human behavior, asinine or otherwise, through the art of argument. When faced with ignorance, or hatred born of fear, I usually just ignore it, grateful that I am not that which makes me cringe.

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If he were in my presence today, the man who uttered those racist remarks 12 years ago, I still would not have argued with him. I would, though, have asked him to leave my studio – immediately, and I will do so to anyone feeling comfortable enough to test that.

When I reflect on the person I am today, versus the man I was 12 or 20 years ago, if there is a difference between the me of then and the me of now, it is that through each little adversity in my life, the me within has grown slightly more bold – more willing to stand on behalf of his beliefs.

I will never attempt to change the mind of a racist. I am though, much less willing to tolerate one… Jhciacb

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Colfax Speed Queen.   Enjoy…

At Peace With The World…

Troubling Times…

Clearly it’s been a difficult month in America, and around the world.  Just yesterday .000000011% of the world’s population was killed in an act of terrorism in France.  In writing this, I don’t wish to diminish in any way the loss, the suffering, and the feelings of sorrow which resulted from the incidents of terror and violence which have taken place from Istanbul to Dallas in recent weeks.

Like laser beams though, channeled through our LCD windows to the world, we continue to allow streams of violence and destruction into our minds which are highly disproportionate in relation to the world’s population and activity.  The images we invite into our minds forge thoughts and conclusions in our heads that skew reality so severely that most of us fail to see and appreciate the world we actually live in.

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I say this not as an ignorant man tossing a mindless opinion about freely.  Rather, as man who invests a great deal of his spare time attempting to learn and reconcile the human condition and the directionality of society by way of books, journals, and lectures from some the world’s leading critical thinkers.

I also write this as someone whose own daughter passed through the international terminal at the airport in Istanbul, just days prior to a man blowing himself up there.  She had walked within yards of where that incident took place.

Beyond The Information Beams…

Today, roughly 7.1 billion people did not get blown up, shot, held hostage, or engage in violent protests.  Many of those 7.1 billion people had amazing sex.  Some did not.  A lot of those people started new jobs while others got deservedly fired due to a lack in their productivity.  Somewhere in southern Europe a young man tended a flock of sheep thinking very little about anything but the safety of the flock.

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Elsewhere, a woman took a coworker’s lunch from the refrigerator of the breakroom at work, without fist asking permission.  Directly over our heads, a pilot both drank and slept on the job, while most others were careful not to.  A Rabbi married a young couple in Brooklyn, and a new baby was born in a thatch hut somewhere on an island in the pacific.  Since our televisions and laptops weren’t aimed at any of these, the broad actions of others across the world did little to help cultivate our social sensibilities.

Though we think we control our LCD windows to the world, and to some degree we do, our minds are fed primarily by a finite stream of for-profit institutions which make greater profits when we are compelled to stay tuned for more details.  Dog bites man isn’t a story.  Man bites dog is.

MSNBC, CNN, FOX News, and all the others are masters of seeking out and beating to death the man bites dog stories, and we are hungrier than ever to absorb them because shock and awe provide us with an addictive stimulation.  I can no longer tell the difference between NPR and Yahoo news online.

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The Directionality Of Culture…

I am to cultural anthropology as sea cucumber is to semiconductor, so I’m not going to site books, data sources or anything else to support this opinion, but I will argue until my dying breath this clear truth…

Cumulatively, from the day of my birth until my ashes feed the fishes, the span of my life will have taken place during the most peaceful time on earth.  With few exceptions, every age of man could say the same thing – that theirs was the most peaceful time on earth.

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This is not to suggest that during my lifetime or any time there have not been spikes of violence and gross atrocities committed by horrible people.  However, as social media is brimming with far too many of these violent times we live in observations, it just isn’t true – not in the big picture.  The most violent cultures on earth were hunter-gatherer societies, and it’s been getting more peaceful, on average, with every subsequent generation.  Perhaps the best way to comprehend that statement is this:

Imagine a ball is held at arm’s length. That ball, in that place and at that moment, is the most violent time on earth – hunter-gatherer times.  The hand lets go the ball.

The most peaceful time on earth, the one our descendants will inherit, will be when the ball is resting firmly on the ground.

When the hand releases the ball to hit the ground, the ball bounces up, but then it falls again.  It bounces up, but not as high, hits the ground. Bounces up again, and so-on, over hundreds of thousands of years.

Eventually, after a good bit of bouncing, the ball will rest peacefully on the ground.

The direction we are headed is one of a global culture of cooperation – of the ball resting on the ground. It won’t get there without some bounces, but the trajectory is clear, after each bounce we become a little more peaceful.  There is no shortage of good data that demonstrates this in clear terms.

The need to be informed exists within all of us.  It’s incumbent upon us to stay informed.  I’ll make a pitch here though, that we take time to look and live beyond the technologies that feed our minds electronically, since they account for so little of what takes place around the world each day.  Speak to strangers.  Step into new places.  Don’t let fears govern our choices.  Be well…  rc

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there is this from Oka Vanga.  Enjoy!

On Normalcy, Bravery, Divorce, And Contrast…

On Being A Frontiersman

I have often dreamed of being brave – of leaving the comfort of what I trust and what I know, to explore new frontiers.  I have never been so brave though, as to actually leap into a new frontier.  People like me may dream of such, but in this era, we are more comfortable than ever, and less likely to explore in ways which require true bravery – people like me are married to social trends.  I tend to do my exploring by way of technology, and vicariously through the bravery of others.

One area I have contemplated exploring in these modern times is to explore why I am so compelled to fit into the main stream, yet have such a strong desire to swim against that same current.  This is simply the exploration of my beliefs, values, and related choices as I strive to live a unique life within the rapid current of humanity.  A more in-depth exploration of the same, might have an effect on my many business, social, and personal relationships.  I don’t mind the idea of experimenting on myself, but I don’t wish anyone else to be effected by my lust for contrast. 

On Divorce

I know some who have divorced, struggled, and had great regret.  I know others who have divorced, felt relief, and grown wings.  Sometimes divorce is correct – it’s the right thing to do.  Other times, divorce might be an unnecessary step; too far over a ledge which does not need to be crossed.  The necessity of my own divorce remains fuzzy, and the contemplation of it remains my favorite reason to drink.

Some divorces though, are simply exquisite. These are divorces which I have truly admired and longed for.  I am aware of several divorces which have heavily influenced my day-to-day thinking, as well as my overall world-view. 

Frontier Divorces: My Heroes Have Always Been Renegades

These men; Diogenes, Dorian Paskowitz, Christopher McCandless, and Larry Walters have all divorced themselves from something far more complex, and with a much greater gravity than that of a spouse.  These innovative men, bravely and uniquely divorced themselves from the mainstream – from normal

If you are unfamiliar with who these men are, or how they divorced themselves from normal, you can click on the subsequent hyperlinks and read for yourself.  I will, however, give you a tease:

Diogenes: Divorced himself from the shelter of dishonesty, from the ideas of others, from following, and from having

Dorian Paskowitz: Divorced himself from the system, and from having

Christopher McCandless: Divorced himself from expectations, and from having

Larry Walters: Divorced himself from the planet, and from having – if only for a short while

A Few Frontiers Still Remain: My Next Ex

I want a divorce – or at least a trail separation…

I remember being 9 or 10 years old, looking around my family’s middle class home and all that went with it.  Even then I could not help but wonder why people felt the need for so much – such big houses with so many untouched things, when a simple camper or tent could suffice.  Western society’s lust for more has never made sense to me.  Still, I grew up, bought houses, and furnished them with all kinds of things because that’s what we do – at an early age, we get married to the concept of more.

Similarly, I have recently begun to wonder why people need all of this technology which surrounds us; electronics, the internet, information media, social networking, etc.  Still, I use Facebook, text, connect to NPR each morning, and I take dozens of pictures each month which will never see a darkroom.  I have not used a pen and paper to write more than 10 consecutive words in over a decade – I just push a lot of buttons when I wish to say something.  And such is the state of my marriage – my marriage to silicon, fast information, and easy entertainment.

Like the men listed above, I want a divorce from normal, or what is rapidly becoming normal.  I want to explore life without electronic devices and information; that I might live more happily, exploring this inner-frontier – at least for a while.

Trial Separation

From April 20 through May 20, I will not watch television.  I will read books rather than listen to them on my i-Pod.  I will write exclusively with a pen and paper.  I will not blog, Facebook, text or email.  I will invoice my clients by hand.  I will maintain my phone, but only for the sake and the security of my daughter, my business, and my friendships. 

Back Into The Current Of Information, Media, And Entertainment

Dorian Paskowitz has since remarried the mainstream – including a car, TV, and Facebook.  Christopher McCandless was killed during his divorce, but wrote that he had a “happy life” during his final days.  It is highly speculated he was headed back into the mainstream – at least for a while.  Diogenes may have been seduced back into normal, and a good bit of having in his later years, but there are conflicting accounts of this.  Larry Walters would commit suicide – the planet he temporarily divorced himself from was not much different on his return. 

I have no aspiration that this will be a life-long change for me.  If history and patterns are any indication, this divorce of mine might last for a while, but I will ultimately return to silicon and electronic information to fulfill my marital needs, if not my emotional ones.  I do this more as a test of my bravery, and to have a first-hand look at the inner frontier of living in a technical world, without depending on technology to amuse and inform myself.  Be well.  rc

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I will not be blogging, emailing, Facebooking, or the like, between April 20th and May 20th.  Between now and then I will be an internet whore.  After my absence, I might post a column about my experience, and share with you my conclusions and ideas on the future of my marriage to technology. Or perhaps, I will just write a fitness article on the value chicken salads and lunges. 

Oh, and there is this from Paul Westerberg.  One of my favorite songs ever.  Enjoy…

A New Frotnier…

A tease for my upcoming column on my life at the intersection of Divorce, Frontier, and Normal.  I warn you in advance, I have once again been experimenting with intelligence.  No worries, no worries, my intelligence, not yours.

Please check back next week for my column, Leaping With An Anchor.  In the mean time, here is an excerpt:

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A Few Frontiers Still Remain: My Next Ex

I want a divorce – or at least a trail separation…

I remember being 9 or 10 years old, looking around my family’s middle class home and all that went with it.  Even then I could not help but wonder why people felt the need for so much – such big houses with so many untouched things, when a simple camper or tent could suffice.  Society’s lust for more has never made sense to me.  Still, I grew up, bought houses, and furnished them with all kinds of things because that’s what we do – at an early age, we get married to the concept of more.

Similarly, I have recently begun to wonder why people need all of this technology which surrounds us; electronics, the internet, information media, social networking, etc.  Still, I use Facebook, text, connect to NPR each morning to see who’s dead or who’s ahead in the polls, and I take hundreds of pictures each month which will never see a darkroom.  I have not used a pen and paper to write more than 10 consecutive words in over a decade – I just push a lot of buttons when I wish to say something.  And such is the state of my marriage – my marriage to silicon, fast information, and easy entertainment.

I want a divorce from normal, or what is rapidly becoming normal.  I want to explore life without electronic devices and information; that I might live more happily, exploring this inner-frontier – at least for a while.

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Please check back next week for the completed column.  Oh, and there is this from Lloyd Dobler, the patron saint of steering clear of normal.  Enjoy…