Tag Archives: question

If School is Prison, Be Andy Dufresne…

ShawshankThe thought of school being like prison is not a new one.  I’m sure that most students have thought it or said it at one point.  It’s an easy enough correlation to make: brick walls, questionable food, time to be served and other ne’er do wells in the same boat.  Although I’ve visited a prison before, most of my frame of reference comes from books and movies.  The most prevalent being The Shawshank Redemption.  While this book/movie is completely fictitious, conceived in the mind of Stephen King, there is value in the exercise of comparing the fiction to the reality.

Most prisoners in the story are simply waiting out the term of their sentence.  Like the character Brooks in the movie, they wait for many years and then are utterly lost when they are released.  This is not unlike many high school students.  Their years in captivity are spent waiting for their time to be up but not fully conceiving what they might do with their freedom.

Bill_Gates_June_2015The one outlier in Shawshank Prison is Andy Dufresne.  A former banker that does not endure his time in the prison but uses it.  Although his sentence is life, he always has an idea of what he’ll do with his life when he gets out.  Slowly and methodically he uses time as his ally to dig his way out of prison and to his desired future.  While this makes for a good movie, it is just fiction, isn’t it?  A quick read of the story of a young Bill Gates shows a great example of art imitating life imitating art.

Prison is a place where a person is confined.  It is possible to be in physical prison and be free mentally.  The much more common situation seems to be people that are physically free but mentally imprisoned.  They are shackled to self-limiting thoughts and habitual attitudes that keep them from living freely.  If you feel like you’re in prison, take a look around and try to find the warden.  There really isn’t one.  Just systems that can be endured or used to improve your station when you’re done with your time.  Don’t let a situation that you don’t like turn your life into one that you don’t like.  The only one who can give permission for your mind to be a prison is you.

Be free today!

Pete

 

Cheers To The Soccer Name Game!

IMG_2492It’s official!  The paperwork just came in from the state and my son’s name is officially Lionel Messi!  I fully anticipate that his goal total will skyrocket in the coming seasons.  If you’ve not screamed “You’re an idiot!” yet, you’ve at least thought it.  I felt stupid just typing it!  A name is not particularly an indicator of quality, it’s a way to differentiate one person from millions of other similar people.  This truth is so easy to realize when talking about a person’s talent.  Then why do so many people trap themselves into the soccer club name game?  Like soccer, the answer is simple but at the same time complex.  Perception helps us form our reality.

In college, I worked at a beer and wine store.  On the beer side of the store, I got very few questions.  Occasionally someone would ask about a new micro-brew but generally people knew what they were looking for.  The Coors guy would rarely change things up and would walk in grab a case, pay and walk out.  On the wine side of the store, there were much more questions and a posturing of perception.  If a wine was highlighted in the “Wine Spectator” magazine, we were likely to sell out of it especially if it was priced under $30.  Most of the people looking for the popular wine.  Even if they had never tasted it and often it wasn’t even their favorite varietal.  They had been sold on a perception not their own reality.  Being seen as a person who knew about wine was much more important than getting what they wanted in a wine.

At the moment in the soccer world, we’re going through a similar perception economy.  Names are just a part of the equation that includes trainers, sponsors, equipment, etc.  The name is just the asset with no inherent value other than perception.  It’s a longstanding joke with a coach friend of mine that we are going to start a club with all of the standard soccer club cliches of quality.  My most recent version is “Select Elite Academy Soccer International Club Kickers” or S.E.A.S.I.C.K. for short.  I’m sure that the players of SEASICK would be bursting with pride in the fact that they were playing for an “elite academy”, though they might be neither.  Since they tried out, that would make it “select”.  Although they might be confused by the “international” tag but I’m sure we’d find an English or Dutch trainer to squelch that thought.  Finally I’m sure that they would have preferred to be an FC but let’s face it, you can’t fight the draw of a good acronym!  Again I’m being ridiculous but not inaccurate.

The youth soccer world is based heavily on perception but with more real consequences than my wine example.  This is not a mistake of serving chardonnay with steak (which is actually fine if that’s what you like).  It’s a mistake of hanging children’s self-worth on a false status.  It may not be prudent to invest a child’s one non-renewable resource (time) into a pursuit of athletic “excellence” rather than personal development.  Does an “elite” soccer player translate this time and financial commitment into love from his/her parents?  Do they have the tight bonds of friendship on their elite team that they have with kids from their school?  Are the elite coaches also elite role models of how to be a good person?  If these questions were all asked and well considered before the tryout, then stay the course.  However my fear is that many people have blinders on with a very narrow view of the course that they are putting their children on.  By age 25, most people’s playing careers are over but their lives are not yet close to half done.  Will memories of warm-up jackets embroidered with half true adjectives be enough to sustain them through their adult life?  Or are the actions, relationships and mentors of the individual the true creators of great memories?

Eventually the packaging fades away and the true substance of what’s been sold shines through.  Go in with an idea of what you really want and see past the packaging.  The world is filled with people who will sell you something for their own benefit rather than yours.   Not everyone is elite but anyone can receive the gifts that the game has to offer without a price tag.

Go play!

Pete

As usual Rocky has a good take on the subject.

 

 

Quixote’s Box

QuixoteDon Quixote is a fictional character famous for fighting windmills and doing other absurd things.  His basic story is one of taking a fantasy world and trying to imprint it onto the real world.  The results are comedic for the outsider but almost tragic for Quixote himself.  As I was reading his story in college, I always pictured him sitting Indian style in his armor with a child’s toy box trying to hammer the square peg into the round hole.  It is easy to label Don Quixote as a “fool” but personally I identified strongly with the character and his trials.  Around the time that I read the book, I was on my own Quixotic adventure that put my mental image of the world into question.

I am Peter Huryk III, named after both my father and grandfather.  Due to my name, I have always identified very closely with my father.  My parents met when my mother was going through a divorce and leading life as a single parent to my older brother.  My father became the answer to her prayers.  Within a short time, he was a husband to my mother and a father to my brother.  This narrative was inside of my subconscious in college when the world offered me the perfect Quixotic situation.

At the time, I was taking a full course load in college, had a full time job and renting a townhouse with two friends.  It was then that the universe served up a perfectly ridiculous challenge to my self-image.  A young girl with two sons (2 & 1 years old) started working at the sub delivery place where I was employed.  In short order, we ended up in a relationship.  Unfortunately, the script was far more complicated than my father’s.

The custody of her children was being contested because she didn’t have a stable place for them to live.  They had been nomads between different family members’ homes.  So I took it upon myself to pay for an apartment for them.  Every problem that the world and the situation served up, I responded with my knight in shining armor script.  It made no sense but I pressed ahead anyway.  At 21 years old, I was a full time student, full time employee, renting two apartments, caring for two kids and handling it all.  Luckily the ridiculousness of the situation knew no bounds and she broke up with me.  I remember the older boy balling the day that I left.  He’d never done that before.  It was as if he knew I wasn’t coming back.  Getting into this situation was probably the worst decision of my life.  It was foolish on so many levels and could have been long term disastrous.  So it still feels odd to say that it was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

In those few months, I figured out exactly who I was and what I was capable of.  The script of my father was not my own.  I needed to follow my own path for my own sake.  It also let me know that I could handle almost anything.  At 21 I had handled more weight from the world than I thought was possible.  Although it was reckless and stupid to heap it upon myself, it didn’t crush me.

The stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves are extremely important.  They, rather than conscious thought, will often make the decisions about what we will or will not do.  So my suggestion is that you get your story straight.  Who are you really?  Or better yet, who are you ideally?  If you are creating yourself (and you are), why not decide what it is that you want, need, value, love, without the interference of the world.  Then when you see your round peg, you’ll put it in the right spot and leave the square ones for someone else.

Go be you today.

Pete

Youth Soccer’s Jekyll & Hyde Dilemma

JekyllHydeIt’s one of my favorite lines from a song by one of my favorite bands “Your actions speak so loud, I can’t hear a word your saying!”  The song is called “I want to conquer the world” and it juxtaposes the idealism and the reality of people.  It’s a punk rock song and due to soccer’s historical underground following in the US, I usually equate the two on a few levels.  At the moment, the youth soccer world is caught in an almost Jekyll and Hyde scenario.  Many of the positives of the sport that is loved by millions are regularly mangled and deranged in the pursuit of momentary glory.  In each paragraph, I will start with the ideal and follow it with the real.

Soccer is fun!  – That’s absolutely right.  The game is or can be fun.  It is played worldwide in streets and fields by kids who truly love to express themselves with a ball.  More than ever though in the United States, we are heaping pressure on younger and younger players to perform.  Not for the joy of the game but for the reward of the result.  The players being indoctrinated into a system where they’re sent a very direct message, “perform well or else!”  The consequences are being benched or being cut.  As young as 8 years old, players are treated like performing fleas.  The actions send a clear message that fun is at best secondary and probably tertiary behind results and development.

Sportsmanship is important! – Of course, treating other people with respect is an important lesson to learn in sports.  Unless it’s the referee that’s missed five hand balls already!  He or she deserves to be told exactly how horrible they are.  It is hilarious to think that kids practice for hours each week but a comment about their actual skills from the sidelines is rare.  A majority of comments are directed at the one person who no one is there to see perform.  Our children are learning a dangerous lesson about their place in society.  Do your best and if anything doesn’t go your way, blame the authority because they are supposed to be perfect.  Those people in charge are not human and deserve to be treated horribly.  Could this be why we have a referee shortage?

We support you! – Youth soccer is a multi million (probably billion) dollar business because parents care enough to give their kids the very best!  The best trainers, the best camps and the best tournaments are all purchased for a premium price.  That financial investment shows exactly how much parents care for their kids.  Or perhaps the lack of their personal time investment says something else as practice becomes a convenient babysitter.  I can hear the justification now, “But the trainer is better than me coaching.”  That might be true but can you line fields, be a club board member or practice with your child.  If a child truly loves to play, then they would probably enjoy playing with their parent from time to time.  Relegating your involvement in your child’s athletics to spectator is a low level of involvement.  Children need their parents.  Outsourcing may be a sign of the times but there are some jobs that are too important to be left to hired hands.

Perhaps it is time to reign in the beast and start walking the talk.  The ideas are all out there in the world.  Generally speaking people know the answers but lack the fortitude to follow through.  Whether it is a “keeping up with the Joneses mentality” or a lack emotional control in the moment.  People need to realize that the macro is made up of the micro.  The small decisions, that we make about how relating to our children through sport, will inform the larger decisions that they make about their lives.  Are we setting our kids up to be the best versions of themselves?  Or are the mixed messages going to create a noticeable disconnect between the sent and received?  “It is what it is” may be a popular statement but it’s not a plan.  Let’s make it what it should be.

Pete

 

 

What You Wanted Is Here

SearsBefore Amazon, there was (at least in my world) the Sears Catalog.  It was a huge “magazine” that had just about every product in the Sears store.  It was a place that my brothers and I would peruse some time before Christmas to find things we wanted.  I remember that I always focused in on the guitars.  They weren’t overly expensive at the time and I fancied myself as a future guitarist.  Despite my desire, I never told my parents nor did I save up money to purchase one.  In hindsight, I really didn’t want the guitar.  I liked the idea of the guitar but if I had truly wanted it, I’d have found a way.

That’s the way that life really works.  Look down and look around.  For the most part, the things that you have are the things that you really want.  They are your musts, non-negotiables, have to haves.  People often think that they have wants but most of the time they have dreams or fantasies.  I have a fantasy of weighing 170 lbs again.  Unfortunately I don’t really want it.  If I did, I’d be there.  My weight is a direct reflection of my true wants: taste, dietary freedom, comfort food and convenience.  When I truly start wanting that ideal weight, I’ll take the actions that will get me there.  Until then, it’s not true.  I don’t want it unless it’s easy.

The things worth having are never easy.  Value is usually associated to scarcity or uniqueness.  This is a tough thing to remember in a life of convenience.  There are so many good things that are easily accessible that we bury ourselves in the good, foregoing the truly valuable because it’s inconvenient.  What you wanted is all around you.  If you truly want for more, you’ll find a way.  In five years will you be surrounded by more mediocre trinkets?  Or will you have something better?  In the end you’re going to find the ultimate thing that you’re looking for is that best version of you.  It won’t come easy and it’s not in a catalog or on Amazon.  So get what you want by being who you want to be.

Have a great day!

Pete

Fair’s NOT Coming to Town

CottonCandyWith summer almost here, it almost time cotton candy, hot dogs, games and fun.  Unfortunately fair’s not coming to town.  The trucks, the rides and treats might all show up for a few days but there will be kids and adults alike expecting fair.  Johnny whose cotton candy is smaller than his sister’s cries about fair.  The father who remembers when the ticket for a ride was a quarter, not a dollar will complain about fair.  The Scrambler operator will hear about the pay that his friends get at their jobs and wish for fair.  Fair is not coming to town because it’s usually a one sided proposition.

When dealing in many of life’s currencies, it is smart and possibly necessary to pay attention to equity.  At times this should be pedestrian and others miserly.  Regardless the perception of fair comes from the perceived value exchange.  Time, money, love, gold, loyalty and a slew of other currencies trade at different values for each individual.  There is no standard exchange rate.  Even in monetary terms, there is constant fluctuation in the value of the dollar vs. the yen vs. the pound.  Fair is not coming, it needs to be created.

The world is operating on a deficit in many currencies.  The problem is that many people are miserly with currencies that are infinite.  The ones that we individually create.  So therefore we cannot run out of them.  Love, empathy, friendship, etc. are worth giving away in the hopes of creating more.  Determining a level of fair exchange is individual but why hoard these currencies?  We (the world) benefit from their free exchange.  Hatred, malice, jealousy, etc. are also infinite but should be wielded with great caution.  They tend to injure and despite our great civilizations, we are still animals.  Wounded animals tend to cower or lash out.  Both perpetuate a black market exchange that corrupts the soul.

Fair is not coming to town.  Your exchanges are bound to be imperfect and unbalanced.  The question is; do you feel proud of your balance sheet?  The sum total of your life cannot be measured in dollars and cents.  It can be estimated whether or not your life made sense.  Philanthropist, miser or tyrant is your choice to make and it will be decided by your actions.  Is that fair?

The Myth of Keyser Söze

usualsuspectsOne of the best movies from a pure story standpoint that I’ve seen is “The Usual Suspects”.  The film takes you on a ride where you’re continuously led down paths for particular reasons.  A main reason for the perplexing nature of the film is the doubt surrounding the myth of Keyser Söze.  For those unfamiliar with the film, Keyser Söze is a purported crime boss who controls the sale of drugs, weapons, etc. from the shadows of anonymity.  At one point he is portrayed as a “spook story” that thieves tell their children, “Rat on your Pop and Keyser Söze will come get you.”  

RedRidingHoodPersonally I never heard that version of spook story when I was a kid but I can see its usefulness to some people.  The fairy tales and legends that we are told as children vary greatly depending on the desired outcome from our upbringing.  Aspirational and cautionary tales alike are used to push the child in particular directions.  Keep on trying courtesy of “The Little Engine that Could”.  Be prepared by “The Three Little Pigs”.  Don’t be sexually promiscuous by “Little Red Riding Hood” (Didn’t know until I talked to a German teacher).  These stories were all fashioned to get a result.

The thing about all of these stories is that they are made up.  Complete fabrications from the imagination of someone long ago.  They’ve been changed, updated, amended, forgotten and remembered.  The reason that they still exist is that they were effective through the years.  “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” got me to stop going to the nurse’s office every day in 3rd grade.  So since stories are effective if they’re told enough and have the desired message, what is the story that you tell yourself about yourself?  The Myth of Keyser Söze was that he was an almost superhuman figure who was powerful and ruthless.  Before that story could be spread, he had to at least partially tell it to himself.

Now it is your turn.  Tell the story of you to yourself.  Adapt it, amend it, change it to fit your needs.  The endpoint that you desire to have should be attained through some form of work mixed with an optimistic attitude to never give up.  The story is out there in the realm of possibility.  Now you just need to write it, tell it and live it.

Tell your story!

Pete

Incomplete!

IncompleteEach week in fourth grade, we had a folder that contained all of our work.  On Friday, if you had everything done, the word ‘Complete’ was written on your folder and you got to do some craft or game.  If you didn’t have everything done, you received a note of ‘Incomplete’ and you needed to finish your work before getting any free time.  In the entire school year, I think that I was ‘Complete’ only twice.  It took me most of the year to finish my macrame owl due to my limited free time.  I’m quite certain that I only passed fourth grade by the skin of my teeth.  Perhaps I should have (or continue) to feel badly about my incomplete track record or tendency.  The fact of the matter is that I don’t.

Having been raised catholic, part of the prayer for the confession of sins always hit me hardest was be sorry for the things that “I have left undone”.  That’s a long list, even for the most accomplished person in the world.   There are many things that each of us leaves undone everyday.  Should this be a point guilt or shame?  Probably not.  People are not meant to be machines focused on efficiency.  We have choice and can decide what is worth doing.  That discernment of the value in activity should be exercised regularly.

The things that we choose or choose not to do are the elemental level of who we are as people.  None of us is incomplete.  Our choices may not meet with the standards of others but incomplete; NEVER!  You are what you do and the person who must set the standard is YOU.  The world is out there, waiting to see what you’ll do.  Go show it.

Make it a complete day on your terms!

Pete

 

Small Amoeba Syndrome

The life of the single celled organism, the amoeba, must be tough.  In order to survive, it needs to change its shape in order to “absorb” its food.  It is the ultimate “go-getter” in the microscopic universe.  It’s survival is completely predicated on how much and how often it “puts itself out there”.  A lazy amoeba would be a dead amoeba.

amoebaLiving in the world of higher order organisms, we are not as dependent on stretching ourselves in order to survive.  In fact over the past century we’ve been rewarded for being small amoebas.  Stretching or standing out was discouraged.  Get good grades, get into a good college, do your job and follow the rules.  Being a small amoeba is not as smart as it used to be.  The systems that rewarded the small amoeba are breaking down all over the place and we’re being asked to stretch again.

The opportunities to stretch are all around.  The problem is the same as the amoeba “Am I stretching in a direction that will help me survive?”  The trial an error method is probably a big part of the amoeba’s life and may be required of you.  This is uncomfortable.  The old system was predictable, repeatable and safe.  Even becoming a big amoeba only required adherence to the system that almost told you where to stretch.

The question is not whether the world will require you to stretch or not.  The question is whether you’ll allow yourself to be stretched, pulled apart or reach of your own volition.  Do you believe that you are a small amoeba with very defined limits?  Or are you consistently able to reach out into the void and find what you need and stretch yourself?  You are much less rigid than you think.  Most of your limits are not based on DNA but rather WTT (Willingness To Try).  The old rule book is slowly being torn apart.  You don’t need to go with it.  Reach out into the void and see what you get.  Then do it again!

Keep the Nucleus Strong!

Pete

 

Other People’s Crap

dumbanddumberLiving with a teenage boy can be disgusting.  Having grown up in a house with three brothers, any one of us had the ability to make everyone else leave the house based on a bodily function.  We were delighted by our own disgusting-ness.  Since the offensive odor belonged to us, we were almost immune to it.  Eventually we all turned into civilized human beings but I’m sure there was some real doubt from my mother for a while.  I’m sure that most mothers occasionally envision their sons growing up to be lifelong bachelors.  Not by choice but by necessity.  Her grownup boy would be alone in a one bedroom apartment playing video games, farting and giggling.  He would be completely nose-blind to his effect on others.  Luckily most boys figure out their effect on others and keep their crap to themselves.

The things about other people’s actual crap is that we generally don’t have to deal with it.  It’s a private thing that they must take care of.  However when it comes to their figurative crap, it’s easy for you to see what they should do with it.  Think of it now.  All of the brilliant things that you’ve thought up for other people.  It’s a pretty pervasive thing.  I’ve worked as a garbage man where my coworkers had “great ideas” for the government, the boss, that CEO or the president.  The crap is so much easier when it’s not yours.

So maybe it’s time that you write down the solutions to that other person’s crap.  Write a nice little letter or email to Jane or John Doe.  Sending the message will be easy because their address (physical or email) is the same as yours.  You’ll be intimately aware of all of their issues because they’re the same as yours.  The letter is your chance to be separate from the issues and come from the outside perspective.  What would you tell a friend, colleague or loved one to do with your situation?  You’d know how to help them wouldn’t you?  Sit down, take the time to actually write out one problem and one solution.  DON’T FIX EVERYTHING AT ONCE!  Just one.  Start small.  There will be more crap tomorrow.  It’s not going anywhere until you do something about it.  Because other than your mom, no one’s cleaning up after you.

Get sponge and bucket!

Pete