Selling out or buying in?

The following remarks were scribbled at 3:00AM :

Starting a business is like trading everything you enjoy for life insurance.  Maybe that’s just the sun setting on my twenties.  It’s not even my business.  I’ve been building it for someone else and haven’t yet decided if I want to be a partner.  Usually when someone turns down good money, there’s a good reason.  Something isn’t right.  You try to put your finger on what is wrong, but everything is interrelated.

This feeling of resistance is my reaction to change.  Coffee roasting has been an eye opener and entertaining.  The feeling of caging myself grew stronger during my recent vacation to Antigua. For years, I’ve made fun of Americans who take 2-week vacations and here I am.  It’s actually 4 weeks, but one is in the States, and I have an itinerary, which is just gross.

Marketing has overshadowed my relationship with truth.  Customer loyalty is much more important than friends when your life is based on taking people’s money.  Friends are quickly ranked by spending power and then ranked again by how strong you are financially connected.  Instead of staying up late working on photography or learning blues riffs, I  run numbers to predict next months sales and costs.

Pretty exciting stuff, right?  All of this for about half the $ of being a waiter.  But, like all american dreams, it might pay off one day, so there’s the potential of being happy. Maybe after losing all meaningful relationships, giving up my passions and hobbies, and a permanent resting-bitchface, I’ll have a profitable business that only requires 80% of my free time.

I am stoked! (He said sarcastically.)

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While these notes reflected my true feelings at that moment, feelings change several times throughout the day.  Below is a quote from Mark Manson’s newly released, first book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.  

You know who bases their entire lives on their emotions? Three-year-old kids.  And dogs.  You know what else three-year-olds and dogs do? Shit on the carpet.

An obsession and over-investment in emotion fails us for the simple reason that emotions never last.

I say I’m buying in because I’m trading the reckless habits of my twenties for, hopefully, a more sustainable approach to well being.  I’ve met the dudes and chicks who traveled non-stop into their 60s.  After 7 continents and 89 countries, their eyes say they are as unfulfilled as the next person.  (This article, like all writing, is a rationalization.)  It could be a good life change. It could be me finding clever ways to lie to myself.

Drastic, spontaneous life changes worked great in the past.  Today I’m trying out my grownup shoes.  I’m comparing present Me to those of past Me and extrapolating the wants/desires of future Me.  More than likely I’m becoming a spoiled American again and getting older/weaker.  These days, I like eating well.  While I still believe expensive clothes are pointless, I enjoy clean clothes that fit.  Finding used clothes that fit is difficult because I’m average height and vagabonds are thin.

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I’ve found a new fascination in economics.  It seems fair, like yin-yang or Newton’s 3rd Law, or as my dad put it, that money is just a measure of productivity.  With enough financial momentum you can take a hiatus from reality, which alters your perception. Experience is the best teacher and most people miss this one.  Taking an outside look will heighten your sense of bullshit detection.

Freakonomics is an entertaining book about psychology and money.  It has chapters like “Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live With Their Moms?” and “What do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers have in common?”  At times it’s longwinded because they show you exactly how the numbers and connections are found.

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As far as work goes, the job is fun when I’m not burned out, the people I work with have good hearts, and I make enough to survive.  There’s really nothing to bitch about until I have a dream about backpacking China and wake up craving to sell everything and go.  Another quote from Manson’s book echoes in my head daily:

“Learn to sustain the pain you’ve chosen.  When you choose a new value, you are choosing to introduce a new form of pain into your life.  Relish it.  Savor it.  Welcome it with open arms.  Then act despite it.”

Many of the greats say the same thing and I’m trying to listen.  Reading books like Ben Franklin’s autobiography keep the motivation fresh.  They also lead to a boring life, so I like to throw in some Bukowski in there.  In my experience, we are influenced by our surroundings.  When my thoughts get dark or dangerous, it’s time to switch back to the sunshine books and movies.  Reading the funny pages on Reddit helps.

If I do this coffee thing for another couple of years and end up with nothing but a new wardrobe and some business experience I can still take off to the other side of the planet and start working on a farm with a bunch of hippies.  There are always options.

On the positive side, living the same life everyday gives me a chance to confront my bitchy behavior.  Some people call it being “grounded” or “depth of experience vs. breadth of experience.”


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In the 1st world, it’s important to not get brainwashed by various forms of news media and the plethora of small-talking dumbasses milling through the promised land like bumper cars.

Ask yourself some quick questions.  Do you like being afraid?  Would you say it is a guilty pleasure?  If not, why watch or discuss news that will never affect you?  If a bus crashes down the street, that’s worth talking about.  The local library burned down?  That’s awful and you should feel something.  If “several” (3) people were killed in a shooting across the globe, that has got nothing to do with you.  Don’t be influenced so easily by meaningless fear advertising.  It makes someone else a lot of money and gives you nothing but paranoia.

Let’s talk about the Zika virus.  I’ve heard tourists in Key West talk about canceling flights because they would be too close to a reported transmission country.  The U.S. is listed as a transmission country.  Are you going to run to Canada or Iceland?

Steve and I were asked upon returning from Guatemala if Zika was bad down there.  In the 1st and 4th largest tourism destinations, neither one of us had heard a word about it except through visiting Americans.

This article explains the difference between the original suspected number of cases and the actual proven cases.  It turns out it’s much easier to suggest something scary than to find real evidence.

Some “expert” will throw up a random number of suspected cases with no data at all and a journalist can write an article stating the “reported figures”.  That is how these silly scares start.

“Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms.”  -https://www.cdc.gov/zika/symptoms/

Some babies just have small heads.  That’s not a good reason to cancel your trip to Jamaica.

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Every year, people die from “epidemics”.  Some of these epidemics have as few as 10 deaths per year.  One of the biggest killers in the world is still influenza.  Are you going to change the way you view the world because of the flu?

Here are the epidemics numbers by century.

Discussion and preparation are almost useful, but the real thing that saves people is medicine.  Get sick, get checked out, and get better.  We already do this.  It’s not some new revelation that Fox News or Washington Post is helping us to understand.  They help us to buy more Windex and McDonald’s.  That is what the news is good for.  If you want “4 Weird Tips for Belly Fat” that are sure to disappoint, click the link for Dangerous Latin America Travel Info.  If the article you are about to share with your friends is covered with ads for lame products or celebrity breakups, stop and ask yourself how much that story is actually worth.

These trending stories about horrible illnesses abroad are effective at keeping American dollars in America.  One time in grad school, I changed a vacation from Mexico to The Dominican Republic because of H1N1 Swine Flu.  Can you guess which animal has the closest anatomy to humans in the food world?  Pigs.  If we were to BBQ a person shoulder, it would probably look and taste just like a pork shoulder.  Guess what is now a seasonal flu in humans? H1N1.  Here is the full list of terrifying symptoms according to WebMD:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Holy shit!  Honey, get the kids!  We’re going to Maine until this thing blows over!!!

Joking aside, the flu does kill a lot of people each year.  Swine Flu (H1N1) is one of the many subtypes.  More people die in car accidents.  Heart disease is still the leading cause of deaths for humans.  Does this mean we are going to stop driving to get our hamburgers and fries?  No, because it has no shock factor.  Exotic diseases are new and interesting conversation starters.  The real epidemic is word of mouth fear mongering.  That’s why I can’t even be mad at the news outlets.  People are begging to have the shit scared out of them.  I guess that’s what happens when a species has no natural predators and whose fight or flight instinct has no practical use anymore.

But isn’t traveling still dangerous, even beyond the threat of runny nose?

Why would anyone ever want to leave the greatest country in the history of the world? It’s so much better than everywhere else… 

…unless you consider that cities are evolving simultaneously across the globe.  It isn’t realistic to imagine that New York operates on technology much differently than Tokyo or that Atlanta has less violence than Panama City.  It’s a timing thing.  A decade before I lived there, my neighborhood in the Lower East Side of Manhattan was “the projects” with a dwindling crack problem.  

If you are thinking, “well I’m not a city person”, would you consider a small town in Texas to be threatening?  Why would human behavior and psychology suddenly transform because the small town is now located in the mountains of Poland or Vietnam or Nicaragua?  The problem with nationalism is it makes you believe that people morph into a different species when they live across an imaginary border.

Think about the town you grew up in and how it looks today.  Our world view is dated.  In box office movies, foreign or abroad, the scenery and context focuses on the extremes and the stereotypes.  Humans like contrast.

I’m looking forward to the days ahead when we can view the world as it is now, not as it was during the time of the American Wild West.

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Self Revelation Section:

I’m almost 30 and still say dumb, selfish, and immature shit on a daily basis.