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.

Consuming Fear

“You travelled for 9 months with THAT?!”  That’s what I hear sometimes when I show up with a little black backpack and a guitar.

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This fits my DSLR camera (3 years without a case or problems), my MacBook Air, my tablet, and some clothes and books.  I always seem to end up with a guitar.  This one was just sitting on the boat, slowly getting moldy, so Steve suggested I take her to a dryer climate where she can get some lovin’. 

Fingernail clipper and toothbrush ride with my passport and a piece of amethyst given to me by my good friend Melissa.

Besides chargers and headphones, that’s really all I need.  I can buy soap or baking powder if it’s cheaper.  (Your armpits stink because of bacteria that only survives in acidic environments.)  Apple cider vinegar is a great conditioner, fabric softener (no, you won’t smell like vinegar), and good for stomach bacteria.

If you think you need more clothes, you’re terrified of what other people think and stuck in routines that never get questioned.  Get a few shirts you really like, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, and a swim suit.  Wash clothes once a week.  Hand washing is a great meditation. Have a couple pairs of socks and running shoes.  I like to be barefoot as much as possible, but that’s just me.  I like to feel the city and the dirt and do some auto-acupuncture-grounding stuff.  We have electrical currents that need to get out.  The fleece lined jacket is for cold buses & airports.

If you don’t want to have an awkwardly huge backpack and bang into everyone on the bus then don’t.  Don’t be tired from lugging 50 pounds from hostel to hostel.  Don’t dread packing up because you have too much stuff.  Just make a decision and stop looking like such a tourist.  It also keeps me from being a target, in case you like using fear to motivate your lifestyle changes.

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“I cannot conceptualize or put into words what fear is.  I can describe various forms and details and events, but not the base fear from which all of its infinite manifestations flow.” -JK Freedom From the Known

But, I can feel it.  

I can detect it and either make my decision based on fear or not based on fear.

 Death is inseparable from life.  The fear of death, repeating the past, and any unknown outcome is part of how we think.  As long as we have thoughts, we will have fear.  Life uses fear to avoid death.  You can’t have life without fear, so don’t worry about it.

Thanks Cori Carlo and Krishnamurti for helping me get over this.  I was really stuck on trying to figure out how to eliminate something that I can’t live without.

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We are called Homo Sapien Sapiens because we are self aware.  When we look at our reaction to fear, we think we are separate from the fear, that we can get rid of it or overcome it.  But if you realize that you are observing YOU, and that the fear you are observing is also you, than you realize that you are fear.  You really can’t live without it.  Then you can get on with life and spend your time thinking about something more productive. pg 48

I’ve always heard: Enjoy your life.  I don’t remember hearing: Enjoy Life.  There are many forms of life.

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There was a little boy crying in the coffee shop this morning.  I think his sister may have taken a bite of his chocolate frosted donut. He might have been 5 years.  I realized and told the couple sitting nearest the coffee machine, “It just goes to show that life was never easy.”  We want to look back and say it was all gravy when we were kids because we had no responsibilities, but it was just as emotionally exhausting as it is today.  I also said, “Remember the next time you are having a tough day, how silly your problems are.”

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Getting settled meant getting a new phone and then a haircut.  During the haircut the girl and I talked about styling my short hair.  At that time I had no apps installed on my brand new phone.  After the haircut, I pulled out my new phone and went to YouTube.  It was the second time I used the phone and the first time on the internet.  The top ad was a video titled “How To Style Short Hair.”

Fear in the U.S. is amusing, but sad and equally threatening.  It infiltrates every aspect of life in the first world.  Half of the customers at the donut shop are terrified of trying a new donut. They look round-eyed at the bacon maple bourbon donut and laugh that nervous, uncomfortable laugh because they know they don’t deserve to do what they really want in this life.  Out of guilt and paranoia, they choose the safe option of chocolate frosted.  So instead of 375 calories, they order the much healthier 350 calorie option.

As silly as most of us know organized religion is in this day and age, it is still a major part of politics.  Every U.S. president has an affiliation to show their allegiance.  I find it interesting that in 2016 anno Domino (in the year of our lord) there still is no separation of church and state.

“You are always translating the new in terms of the old and therefore you are everlastingly in conflict.” – JK

20160318_120532— we all love a good swindle

You are a product of everything you observe.  Some things you accept as good and others you reject, but they all have influence on you.  You treat them as separate from you, but that’s where you came from, what you’re made from—your observations, judgments, and conclusions.  You influence your environment, but are also a product.

We judge the world as if it never changes and we never change, neither of which is true.

Books and quotes teach us to live in the present, but by the exact nature of the lesson, only have a temporary effect.  Like will power, we have to constantly seek inspiration and motivation.

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I judge people who are wasteful, closed-minded, uneducated about the world, are not thoughtful of others, and who think they are above other humans.  So, I feel like I’m above them, I’m not sensitive to the way they live, where they are on their journey through life, and I scold them for not knowing the implications of their ignorance.  A better option would be to ask questions about the way they see the world and ask them if they ever consider the source of their thoughts or how they live.

I was scared to come back to the U.S. because I knew it would unavoidably turn me into a slightly fearful shithead.  I know this.  Guatemala was turning me into having low standards and making me lazy.  I find it important to soak up the best features a place has to offer and accept that every yang has its yin.

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When the observer realizes that he IS THAT which he observes, there is no like or dislike and conflict ceases.-JK (this only happened to me once in Antigua)

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The moment you try to force something, you are creating violence.  I’m not talking about violence as in a video game or movie or in your neighbor’s house.  Those are forms of violence, too.  I’m talking about the very nature of violence.  Have you ever tried to look past the discussion, past the visual forms, past the churning of your gut feelings, and tried to figure out what is the root of violence?  Where does it come from?  What does it require?  If you are interested in learning how you and other humans operate, take a minute and go into your mind and figure it out.  Don’t assume you can’t.  You can.  I know because I did it and it was surprisingly easy.  Go ahead, I’ll wait (smiley face).

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This is what I came up with: We are violent because we want to control our existence.  But our existence (the instance of existing) is out of our control.  We had no choice in our birth and we cannot decide that we’d rather not die.  Only once we realize that we have no control, do we cease to follow our violent predisposition.

“Principles, beliefs and ideals must inevitably lead to hypocrisy and a dishonest life.”

Rules aren’t meant to be broken.  That’s not why we make them.  We make them because we are pleased with past results and plan to receive a similar pleasure if we follow the rules.  Pleasure is different from joy.  Joy happens in the moment, being pleased is dependent upon expectations.

Your pace

When you feel that flash of violence and are about to rush a task (answering a question, handing something over, walking) especially when it involves someone else, make sure you are acting at YOUR speed.  This may seem selfish, but I think it’s best for everyone’s vibe.  Pause for a moment and then move or speak as if you are focused on the smoothness of the execution.  This allows you to deliver the world an unspoiled movement.  You are at once deliberate and graceful.   You are then moving with confidence, alongside but independent of fear, handling the present circumstance with the gloves of your true character.

We learn the difference between need and want when we are uncomfortable.  To go without air conditioning for months teaches you, after returning to A/C, how much your body really dislikes it.  Once you have no money to spend, wasting it sickens you.  At work I watch people pay 6 dollars for a newspaper and $2.75 for a bottle of Smart Water.  The news is online free of cost.  Water is the single most abundant resource on the surface of our planet.  The United States has potable water everywhere.  You can drink from the sink.  Filter it if you like.

“So we have discovered a fundamental truth, which is that a mind that is seeking, craving, for wider and deeper experience is a very shallow and dull mind because it lives always with its memories.”

Thanks JK for making me question the last 5 years.