Blogpost, self-reliance

The Partially Blind Date

My grandparents met on a blind date. I’m not even sure if that is possible anymore since we are so interconnected. The idea that a person would be willing to walk into a date with no frame of reference in today’s world seems almost laughable. Despite what they may say, people usually don’t like surprises. They like surprises that they want. The true unknown is a completely different story. In our next day delivery, free returns, 5 star customer review culture, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would accept the “fully blind date.” However, it also seems that people like to believe that they know more than they do. No matter how well you know someone. It’s still a partially blind or vision impaired date.

All of our perceptions of people and situations are filtered through our own experience. So no matter how “objective” we think that we are being, we cannot fully let go of our biases and predispositions. Being judgmental and superficial is not new but those muscles have been put on steroids through major media and social media. We are not blinded by a lack of visible content. We are partially blinded by too much of a variety of cues, shortcuts and presuppositions. It’s so much easier than getting to know someone, over time. Assuming that we know a person based on their political beliefs, clothing preferences or social groups is a comfortable shorthand that we employ with new people. Our old friends and loved ones got the benefit of the doubt years ago. Now, we just don’t have time!

Perhaps we’re actually missing out on something. Maybe my grandparents were more fortunate than we realize. If I can avoid it, I’d like to find out who you are without mixing it up too much with who I think you are. By seeing people with “blind eyes”, maybe we would be able to let go of some of the frustration, anxiety and judgment that is so pervasive at the moment. We bring it to the table with us. Perhaps we could leave it behind. We’ve all got blindspots about our relationships with people. Even the person that you know best (you), you don’t know 100%. Recognizing that we’re at least partially blind might be a good step toward seeing the world a little better.

I’d like for you to meet someone!

Pete

Uncategorized

We’re All Roller Skating

My grandmother worked at a roller rink for my entire childhood. Despite that fact, I didn’t get “good” at roller skating until there was a rink in my hometown. For a few months, at most a year, it was the place for every teenager to hang out on a Friday night. I definitely got slapped across the face for skating “too close” to a girl by my then girlfriend but I digress! Putting wheels on our feet is a recipe for disaster in so many ways but it’s similar to the way we travel through the world.

Most of us are off balance and uncomfortable but trying our best to look cool and not fall flat on our faces. Some people really have it all figured out but they often get ridiculed for trying too hard or being odd. There’s probably a portion of each of us that’s jealous of those roller maestros but getting really good would probably require a ton of experimentation and painful falls. In the end, it’s easier to stay safe and average rather than get really good at something that could prove to be a fad or get us ridiculed. Why chance it, right?

The truth is that most of the people that you’re worried about judging you for falling on your face are just as scared and will be gone in a moment. The people who came with you will help you get up if they can. If they’re off balance too maybe it’s best that they focus on themselves. You’re more than capable of getting back in your feet by yourself! All you have is an unpredictable number of songs to get in your number of laps around the floor. The disco ball is spinning and this is your chance to shine. It will surely hurt when you fall but it will probably hurt worse at the end of the night if you just played it safe!

Lace ‘Em Up!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

CPR on Your Dreams

Keeping things alive is often the order of the day. If you’re a parent of a newborn, it’s directive number one. Farmers need to keep their crops alive through nourishment and protection. CEOs and other employees are charged with keeping their company alive. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a last heroic effort to save someone who is dying. It’s not a long term plan. It’s a last ditch effort! Because it’s coming from the outside! However the mechanism that is in place within your chest keeps your heart beating for a lifetime because it is designed to do so. Our dreams can work very similarly. They are easier to keep alive from within rather than from outside.

Despite the simplicity of this statement, most of us still want CPR on our dreams. We want other people, “the world” or circumstances to align in order to keep our dreams alive. The problem is that just like regular CPR, it is only a short term answer. We need to keep our dreams alive through a Continuous Passion Reinvestment. Passion is an emotional state that can breed life into almost any project but it cannot be an occasional thing! The passion for that dream needs to come as Continuously as possible. The last piece is a Reinvestment. Small successes along the way are not particularly times over-celebrate, the energy needs to be reinvested back into the project. It’s not over! Most dreams are lifelong pursuits. So never think that the heart can stop beating. It needs to be healthy and thriving.

No matter the acronym that you want to use, you need keep your dreams alive and thriving. No one else will care enough to do it for you! It needs to be like a heartbeat. Otherwise it’s just a lot of chest-pounding that may or may not do anything. The inside is where it starts!

Staying Alive!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Call Me “Mike”

When I played soccer in college during my freshman year, there was a player on the team from the Gambia named Ousman (pronounced “ooze mahn”). He was relatively quiet but an absolutely amazing player who had a rocket of a shot. Being in a new country for the first time, he did not always socialize with the team outside of practices and games. The one time that I do remember him hanging around someone asked about whether we were getting the pronunciation of his name right. The question “What do you say when people ask what your name is?” His response “I usually say ‘Call me Mike'”. His rationale to us was that it was easier for people to say. Even now, I’m not sure if he was joking or not because he only played that one year. However that incident came back to me this morning.

The strategy that Ousman used, is one that we all use from time to time. Change who you are in order to make others feel more comfortable. I’ll admit fully that I am guilty of it regularly. Now some of this cannot be escaped in the civilized world. We should not be our 100% authentic selves. Many of us would be walking around with wet pants etc. if we just reacted to our every impulse in the moment. More of what I’m talking about here is the tendency to be a “watered down” version of ourselves. Those little things that we do in order to fit in but that undermine who we are. The comfort that is gained usually doesn’t serve either person. Again, there’s a balance to be struck in all things but I am reminded of the passage by Marianne Williamson “Our greatest fear” (below). We do not serve others by playing small.

There is nothing wrong with being “Mike” if that’s who you truly are. However, if you’re Ousman, Fred, Ignacious, Isabel, Fahruz or anyone else, then don’t pretend to be Mike for the sake of others. Your individuality carries with it the power to inspire others and unhinge the doors that separate us. Perhaps the true incarnation of yourself will be too much for some people and that’s ok also. Our job in this life is not to fit in as well as possible. All of the people that you admire are held in that esteem because they do not fit in. They stand out! Embrace who you are because until you do, no one else has the opportunity to do so.

My name is Pete!

Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson

it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

Blogpost, self-reliance

Good Frames Won’t Save Bad Paintings

It’s a line from a largely unintelligible called “New Noise” by Refused. Despite being completely wrong for the time period that was portrayed in the movie, it featured in the film Friday Night Lights. The words are powerful once understood past the screaming. Good frames won’t save bad paintings! A frame is nothing more than an accessory. It’s not the point and never will be. Although this fact may be extremely self evident, people do their own version of it all the time. They spend a majority of time and effort on the things that are not truly the point but justify it to themselves as important. This is not a judgmental thing as usual. My finger is not wagging at anyone. I’ve done it before. Spending minutes, hours, days on the least important component because I’m afraid to focus on the truth. This painting sucks! Since I’m not a painter, that would be true.

This is Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali. It’s not a bad painting in a good frame!

Recognizing that your painting is shit will get you so much farther than putting a great frame around it! By accepting the fact that it is not your masterpiece, you have the chance to improve it. Ignoring the painting in favor of the superfluous is a waste of time and it fools no one. So why then would anyone engage in this foolishness? Because we’re not actually worried about the painting being garbage. It’s us! We’re trying to protect ourselves from the self-scrutiny! We do not want to look into that other framed rectangle that shows back exactly who we are. Whether the mirror is figurative or literal, we find it difficult to stare at because it’s us that’s imperfect and we know it.

Let me fill you in on a secret, you’re never going to be perfect. No one is! Despite that fact, you have the opportunity to be a masterpiece. It probably will take a long time to get it right. Several different iterations and tweaks will be necessary. But that’s the point! Don’t try and shortcut yourself by settling for being a bad painting in an excellent frame. Be the masterpiece that we all know that you can be!

New art for the real people!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

Ticks and Leeches

Spring has definitively sprung and the ticks are everywhere! In the past twenty-four hours alone, I’ve removed six from my body. Despite the fact that they are my jumping off point for this post, it is actually the song by Tool that is the inspiration. Even though the song is about people who are parasites, the line “this is what you wanted” is overwhelmingly powerful at the moment. How many times in life do we think that we want something? Only to end up getting exactly what we asked for and being disappointed, frustrated or angry. It’s obviously happened to enough people that it’s now cliche, “be careful what you wish for.” It’s usually not the full package that we lament but rather the unexpected side-effects or difficulties.

Life offers up a myriad of possibilities but each of them comes with costs, circumstances or even problems attached. Like ticks and leeches, these parasites that we didn’t anticipate can drain us. We forget about that thing that we wanted and only see the difficulties when we notice them hanging on. It’s not easy! Our imaginations don’t usually include all of the issues that are coming along for the ride. Regardless though, this is what you wanted! You don’t get to line item veto out all the unwanted circumstances. They’re along for the ride!

So now the time has come to accept the fact that, this is what you wanted! You wanted all of it! Ticks, leeches, problems, chaos and anything else because it can’t be separated out. Your desire for a perfect life has nothing to do with reality. That’s just not the way that it works. Perhaps you can find a way to get the parasites to work for you or even learn to love them for what they do. It’s a major shift in thought process but it’s far better than being disappointed with a reality that should be expected.

This is what you had in mind! So this is what you’re getting!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

If I’d Only Known

One of the best job interviews that I ever went on was for a position that I didn’t know anything about. Before you judge me too harshly, this was about twenty years ago. At the time, I don’t even think I had a cellphone and the world was very different. I wanted to get out of teaching for a variety of reasons but didn’t have any strong convictions about where my career should go next. My friend Matt’s father was pretty high up at the New Jersey Department of Transit. Matt told me that his dad could get me an interview for something entry level. One day I got a call from the NJDOT that I had an interview scheduled for the next week. I tried many times to call Matt, got the answering machine. On the day of the interview, I walked into a high rise building in Newark, NJ and took the elevator up to the twelfth floor with no idea what job I was interviewing for. As I walked into the conference room faced with a conference table and four professional people staring at me, I debated intently what I should say. In true Pete Huryk form, I told the truth. I had no idea what job I was interviewing for. For the next forty-five minutes, I had a great conversation with the people who were not as upset as I’d have expected them to be. The people part of the process went pretty well. Afterward, I had to take a written examination of traffic code and writing accident reports. It turns out the job was being a field agent who would go to accident sites of NJDOT vehicles to assess the state’s liability. A week later, Matt called me. He and his dad had been on vacation. I didn’t get the job and I’m pretty sure that I’m fine with that.

Recently, I got into another situation where I had no idea what was going on. The problem this time around was that I thought I did. I saw the situation through my own lens and basically said every wrong thing and made every wrong move. My naïveté was not endearing this time around. It just took an opportunity off the table. Perhaps it wasn’t anything worth pursuing or maybe it was. When you’re in the middle of a wooden court with a hoop at each end, showing off your foot skills isn’t getting you anywhere! It’s important to know what type of game you’re in.

The world/people/situations are not always going to give you all of the information. Filling in the blanks with your own agenda isn’t always the best strategy. Opportunities will come and go. Some are completely right for you. Others are completely wrong. The rest are possibilities that need more attention. Believe in yourself enough to know that you can do almost anything but that doesn’t mean that you should try to do everything. Many opportunities are meant to be left behind regardless of how good they may look on paper. As I tell my students often, “you are the product”. So do and be the things that make you the best version of yourself. That job at NJDOT was perfect for someone, just not me.

There’s opportunities everywhere. Find the ones that are for you!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

The Bow and the Archer Must Bend

Archery is largely a lost art form. At one point, it was a staple of combat and a desired practical skill. Now it is largely relegated to a summer camp activity or something hunters do to “challenge” themselves. Although anyone could pick up a bow and arrow, very few people do. The skill is not as useful as it was and it’s not easy! The bow does not do all of the work. It is a force multiplier for sure but the archer needs to put everything in motion first. They must pull back against the tension and aim precisely at a target before allowing the arrow to fly! All of the power comes from the tension of the bow but the archer must bend as well.

Occasional interaction with a child is one of the best ways to see the changes in people. They morph into different versions of themselves over time. If you see them infrequently, the metamorphosis is obvious but they do not notice. We are in a constant state of flux. You are not the person that you were yesterday or even five minutes ago. How much of a difference there is between each version is up to you. No doubt the change that can happen in five minutes is minuscule regardless of the tension. However multiplied over time, any consistent action “bends” us. Like a tree in an area with constant wind, we begin to lean in a particular direction. There are all kinds of leanings that we can take but the person who bends often doesn’t notice the changes.

Life changes almost never come as fast as we may want. Rarely are we shot like an arrow toward our “targets”. Over time, the tension that we create brings slow results followed by bigger ones. The concentrated effort for an extended time period becomes a force multiplier. We are all bending in every moment. The question becomes whether or not we’re bending toward something with reason or if we are simply bending to the circumstances of our lives. Use the tension between where you are and where you want to be in order to fire yourself forward. Nothing and no one can do it for you. It’s on you to bend!

We are arrows to the action!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

What Are You Waiting For?!?!

“Just Do It” is the slogan from Nike shoes that most people know. The origin of the slogan is less well known. It was the final words of a death row convict before he was executed. Although the phrase has been on billboards and advertisements for decades, it’s not that simple! Is it? Doing anything takes a bit of will. That will can falter depending on what’s at stake. Everyday activities or actions of low consequence are easy! But what about the things that really matter? JUST do it! has two different perspectives depending on where the phrase is coming from. If it comes from outside, it seems to imply simplicity as if doing it is no big deal. Unfortunately when that voice comes inside of our own head, it tends to carry a different tone. One of pressure, possibly even anxiety because we know we’re capable and the only thing that’s stopping us is us!

The actions necessary to garner the prizes that we want in this life are usually not a surprise. We know exactly what we need to do or at least have a good idea. It’s also more than likely that we can estimate our possibility of success. So why do we hedge, delay, or even doubt? Because our present comfort is easier to accept than the consequences of leaping into the void! Unfortunately, humans can get comfortable with all manner of things. Certainty is the drug of choice for many people. It’s why watching the same movie over and over is a thing. The predictable outcome is intoxicating! It’s also less than fulfilling. It leaves us asking the question “what if?” That question is not an easy one to swallow because it conjures images of what might have been. At that point, the comfort of the known become less desirable. It’s an ache that is not easily soothed.

So what is there to do? Just do it! You know all of the reasons and the possibilities. What are you waiting for? At no point are the things that really matter going to show up without a price tag! There will always be something at stake. Possibly a bit of comfort, some effort or yes! Even a bit of your old picture of yourself. You cannot expect to get better things into your life while remaining the same. It just isn’t realistic. So let’s you and I agree right now that tomorrow we’re all in! Just do it! Because I can’t see any of the reasons not to but I can absolutely see why it’s necessary!

I’ve been afraid of changing!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

A House Money Life

Not sure that I’ve ever mentioned this on the blog before but I almost died when I was two and a half. I had meningitis and it was less than certain whether or not I’d make it. The only recollection that I have of the entire ordeal was the action figures that I got in the hospital. However it is not lost on me that I received much more than cheap toys through that ordeal. And quick shout out to Dr. Chi who was my physician. Almost anyone who grew up in the Hackettstown area went to Dr. Chi. Regardless, I got a second chance at life. I’m playing with house money and I know it!

There are several different ways to view playing with house money. It could be a time to be frivolous because it’s “on someone else’s dime.” Bet on long odds and throw caution to the wind! While this could be a way to approach the situation, exhausting house money ASAP doesn’t prove anything. The other extreme is to become extremely conservative and fear chancing anything. “Almost went bust in the past” could be a reason to never risk again. While I can understand the sentiment, the past does not equal the future. So hiding from possibility because of a near miss is just foolish.

My preference is to look at the entire equation differently. We’re all playing with house money and the house gave it to us! Therefore it’s ours! We can go optimistic or pessimistic with our bets but the wins and losses end up on our account. The house is not going to bankroll us forever. Regardless of how much or how little we were given at the beginning, we need to play it for all that it’s worth. We’re lucky just to be here, no doubt! Whether Dr. Chi saved your life or you’ve never had a sniffle, cough or fever; today is about all that you can expect. So do something with it! Build a huge pot if you like, or always play on the edge because that’s where the joy of life is for you. Just play! Ante up in the morning and see what you’re dealt. It’s not about luck! It’s a skill game!

“I’m just going to outplay the guy this hand!”

Pete