Blogpost, self-reliance

Day Three of My New Life

With the season of New Year’s Resolutions descending upon us quickly, I thought it was time to give an alternative. “Day Three of My New Life” is actually the name of one of my favorite albums of all time. The band Knapsack released it while I was in college. Through my weekly radio show, I got introduced to the album and the band. None of this is why you clicked on this post, so I’ll move on but the album is worth a listen.

Knapsack – Day Three of My New Life

Several times I’ve dissected the title of the album for myself and attributed a thought process to it. For the moment at least, I’m going to say that the following is what I believe about change which is what resolutions promise. It’s unfortunate that the word resolution has gotten associated with so many failed enterprises by people over the years. The definition of a “firm decision to do or not do something” is a powerful alternative to the impotent leanings that most people have. So even though New Year’s Resolutions tend to be weak, the word is intended to be strong.

Day Three of My New Life plays perfectly into this thought process as it puts a line of demarkation between the past self and the present. Humans tend to lead with belief and therein lies the power of this thought process. Normal resolutions fail because it is the same old version of you, trying to do a new action. Unfortunately the life that you lead is resistant to change, especially when giving up something that is coveted. At this time of year, change is all the rage. So it is not truly a resolution but a form peer pressure that most fold under. It is crucial to birth a new version of yourself. So rather than the first, maybe it’s better to start on the number day of your birthday. That makes it personal. A part of your identity that you get to carry forward.

In addition to the decision there need to be reminders of the new you built into the day. You need to have arrows to the action that you recognize and utilize. Few of us have the willpower to overcome all of the obstacles in our way, so we need to be set up for success. Running shoes put next to the bed, reminders in the cellphone, post it notes on the refrigerator or the simple favor of having a friend as an accountability partner are all possible ways to point you in the right direction. No answer will be perfect but functionality is the key. Every day of your new life, you’ll need to put on the boxing gloves and fight the old habits off. It’s a balancing act to be sure but the shape of the fear that you feel is always your own shadow. The feeling that you are not enough to fill the new shoes that you’ve fashioned for yourself.

So as we move into the new year and new possibilities, choose the new life that you want to lead. If you want to stay true to form, that’s great! It means that you’re happy with this version of you. If not, then resolve to adopt this new life and go well past day three!

Happy New Year!

Pete

PS – My favorite song by Knapsack is “Arrows to the Action.” Even though Day Three… was the main topic here, This Conversation Is Ending, Starting Right Now is possibly a better album but it’s really close!

Blogpost, self-reliance

Fealty and Fidelity

Language is something that has intrigued me for almost my entire life. I remember distinctly wondering why the change of one letter could get me into trouble. Changing a singular letter in the word “duck” could get my butt beat. Although I didn’t understand the why behind it at the time, I definitely understood the importance of words and getting the words right. Despite the importance of words, we live in a world where there is so much information coming at us that we tend to only take in small chunks of it. Even before this information overload, there were several experiments where letters in the middle of words were jumbled to see if people could still read them. It turned out that as long as the first letter or two and the last letter or two were correct, the text was “readable.”

Whether you share my fascination with language or not, the words that you use to describe yourself and your world matter. Your brain is an extremely complex super computer that can produce astounding results for you, if you program it correctly. The problem is that many of us are consistently shoving poor programming into our minds. Not through any form of malice or contempt, simply due to routine, culture or laziness. Listen the next time that you ask someone “How are you?” You’ll hear a variety of answer that people use automatically. The problem isn’t that the answer is automatic. The issue is the content of what they say is impacting their disposition toward their present situation. “Fine” “Not bad” “Surviving” What the f#@%!?!?!? This exchange is so extremely low stakes as a conversation. The person who is asking may or may not care what the answer is. However YOUR BRAIN IS LISTENING! It heard you just say that you’re “surviving” and it takes that message semi-seriously. Now that super computer can send you all kinds of information to back up that assertion. It can send you pain in body parts or turn your focus to the unfortunate circumstances in your life rather than the great ones. Your brain is your servant and it’s only doing what you tell it to do.

Most of us have not lived life with servants. It’s less common than it was centuries ago. In the past, kings and other members of the ruling class had people who were loyal to them. Or rather they had fealty, a loyalty that was usually associated with living on the king’s land. While fealty is loyalty, it would often come from force rather than choice.

On the other hand there is fidelity. Only a few letters difference but conceptually huge. Fidelity is loyalty by choice. The person serves because they want to rather than are obliged to. Given the choice, which form of loyalty would you rather give to others or have from others? My personal preference would be to give/have fidelity.

Now think of that servant inside of your head. Is it exhausted by the thoughts that you force upon it? Has your routine, culture or laziness condemned your mind to living on the scraps of your poor perspective? Is your poor self-image an inheritance from past events or is it a daily tax that you’ve imposed because you’re afraid to forgive yourself for anything? The quote “The mind is an excellent servant but a terrible master” brings the entire idea into focus. Our mind should be our servant but we should be looking for its fidelity rather than fealty. A servant who chooses to serve will go out of his/her way to improve the life of the master. The one who is forced to serve will only do what is necessary to avoid punishment. Be a good master today and win your own fidelity. Then do the same with others.

Have a great day!

Pete

Blogpost

Room Temperature Butter

There was always a butter dish at my house when I was growing up. It was on the kitchen counter most of the time. A stick of butter on a glass plate intended to hold it with a metal cover. It wasn’t something that you paid much attention to until it was empty. The discovery of the empty butter dish usually happened at the exact moment when there was a piece of toast or a bagel that needed buttering. Refrigerated butter is almost useless at that point. It does more damage than it does to enhance the taste of the chosen item. It spreads unevenly, if at all. Microwaving the stick to soften it was an exercise that always ended in disappointment. That’s why the butter dish being empty was such a crime because room temperature butter is ready for action.

If yo’ve read my blog before, then you know that I’m not talking about butter. I’m talking about you! Not your ability to melt evenly on a waffle but rather you ability to be ready for action. The room temperature butter is exactly that. It exists in that sweet spot where it can be anything for anyone at a moment’s notice. While we’d like to believe that we are room temperature butter, most of us are in the refrigerator or even worse we’ve already melted. In most instances we’ve grown cold to the possibility of anything other than what we had planned for our day. We need to be coerced, convinced and prepared for the things that are coming our way. Otherwise it spikes our anxiety, takes us out of our comfort zone or just plain freaks us out. What would the butter say? Nothing!!! It’s butter! But what do you have to say for yourself?

Each of us has to take responsibility for at least one person in this world. Recognize that the ability to respond to the world around you is important: not the way that you wish it was, not the way that it used to be but the way that it is! Plan, yes! Schedule, yes! Dream, yes! But do not expect that life is going to lob you underhand pitches for you to knock out of the park. It is going to go high and inside on you to put your but in the dirt. So be ready! Be nimble! Be flexible! Be room temperature butter! The events of today are going to happen with or without your consent. Be ready to take whatever it gives you!

Have a great day!

Pete

Just for fun! “I Melt with You” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuN6gs0AJls