We live in a modern world but humans are prehistoric creatures. Obviously we have acquired skills and knowledge that our ancestors did not have. So I am not suggesting that we are on their level in that respect but I do want to point out that we are using the same hardware. The same brain structure that caused us to run from saber-toothed tigers is now tasked with managing a world that moves faster than we were intended to go. We’re overwhelmed and stressed because we created an environment that stresses and overwhelms our prehistoric brains. This is not a blog to suggest that we go back to living in caves. Rather it is intended to point out the fact that there are limits on our bandwidth, therefore we must manage ourselves so the prehistoric brain does not go into overload.
The odd irony to our situation is actually that in a modern world, very few things are trying to kill you. This is an important thing to realize. Our prehistoric brain’s major functions were centered around keeping the self and the species alive. So things like fear and sex were major priorities, while general happiness was farther down the list. The world that we live in requires very little self/species preservation. Despite this fact, the “wiring” for the old world is still intact. So a modern “threat” feels very much like a situation of life or death without any of the true peril. The signals will continue to be sent in this fashion, until we are willing to “re-wire” ourselves.
This process is not like the re-wiring of house. It doesn’t require a professional or a lot of money but it does require time. Humans generally don’t change without time and/or major incentives. A methodical approach to managing your mind can go a long way to creating a better life for you. Regular practice at calming your prehistoric brain will go a long way. Taking the time to recognize that your response to situations is not based on what will help but rather things that are pre-programmed will help you to re-program those responses. Remember that you don’t have to act like a caveman even if you have the same operating system as one.
Go make history by reprogramming your prehistoric systems!
George Costanza would not accept it! Upon being dumped by a significant other, she tried to employ the most common of breakup cushioning. “It’s not you! It’s me!” This is an age old ploy to deflect a super direct hit to the ego of the person being dumped. Rather than telling the person the real reasons that they no longer want to be with you, the softener is used. While it may cushion the short term blow, it does nothing for the long term development of the person as a viable mate. Costanza, as usual, is an outlier in his stance on “It’s not you! It’s me!” He doesn’t want to hear it. He wants to know that it is his fault that the relationship is falling apart. While a little aggressive in his approach, maybe it’s time to learn from George.
The finger of blame is wielded around like an oscillating sprinkler head. It blankets the surrounding area effectively enough but the source never becomes a target. It creates a two-fold problem that compounds over time. People, who are unable to hear the truth of their shortcomings, never get beyond them. Despite being adept at avoiding the mirror’s reflection, they usually become better at noticing the faults of others. From a perch of perfection, the mere mortals that surround you seem almost foolish in their daily mistakes. So the cycle of delusion and dispersion continues. Until there is that extremely uncomfortable face to face meeting with the reality of imperfection.
The way to combat this is to cut it off at the beginning. Assume that it’s you! At least partially, if not wholly. You’re to blame. You didn’t do enough or did too much. Put it onto yourself first because at least then you’re in control of it. You can change something: an action, a habit, a relationship or even just your outlook. When you take total responsibility for yourself and the things you can control, you’ll find yourself on much more stable ground to influence the people around you to do the same. You’re not a victim! You’re a contributor! If all you have to contribute is blame and excuses, then you’re going to end up alone on your perch of perfection. Waiting for it to fall!
“You don’t want to get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m loner Dottie, A REBEL!” -Pee Wee Herman (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure)
This line is from the quite ridiculous but still entertaining Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. And it was co-opted by the band The Get Up Kids as a song title in the 90’s. The song outlines one perspective of a short term love affair where the singer refuses to give the relationship a chance. In his own words, “because I’m afraid to try.” It’s an old story that probably precedes Danny Zuko in Grease. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girls. Boy wants to leave while things are still fun and casual because a relationship is just too much work.
It’s applicable to so many things but relationships are possibly the easiest target. In a world where Tinder and OkCupid are facilitators of the present dating scene, this mindset will probably get more widespread. The fast and easy wins out over the slow build (which is perceived as a grind). Of course this is only perception. Reality holds millions of possibilities. For many, a life with one person is a much more joyous existence than the shallowness of singles life. Regardless of which way you lean, it’s not really the point. The point is the actual words. “I’m afraid to try!” It’s not, “I’m afraid to commit!” or “I’m afraid that I’ll get hurt!” It’s “I’m afraid to try!”
This is probably the most dangerous thing that I see from not just young people but people in general. There is a fear of trying. Putting yourself out there has the perception of being difficult. And in the younger generation, it is chastised because for some reason “try hard” is now an insult. Much like nerd or geek of the past, this is a completely idiotic strategy as a culture. Demean those who excel in order to make the average feel better about themselves. (But I digress) The thing is that people have become so accustomed to guarantees that effort toward an unknown is just too scary. There’s no point in following a rainbow because a pot of gold is not waiting for us.
It’s time to buck the trend. TRYING (no offense to Yoda!) is often the point. Finding our limits. Pressing up against what is possible. Discovering new territory is exactly the point! Imagine where we would be if through history, we were this risk averse. We’d be dead! Hunters wouldn’t have had any assurances of catching any prey, so why go out to hunt?
Your survival and progress as human being depends on THE TRY! So go out there today with the intention and determination to try. It doesn’t need to be something monumental. It just needs to be outside of your comfort zone. An experiment, an attempt, a risk, a small gamble. That’s the only way to move forward. One little try at a time. And I’ll suggest that you deny the teenage ridicule by TRYING HARD!
It’s so common to us that we are almost blind to it at this point. The release of the latest version of something. Whether it’s a car, an app for the phone or a video game; the old version is eventually replaced by the latest version. Sometimes this comes with huge upgrades that revolutionize the way that we think about the product. Other times it messes up something that was working to our liking. The thing is that even if we don’t see the changes, they’re happening all the time.
It’s so much easier to understand with technology especially. The cellphone does not change shape or size when you add a new app or update it. It simply acquires the new programming and moves on. Often bugs need to be fixed but I’m pretty certain that Bill Gates does not lament the fact that Windows 7.1 was not as good as Windows 10.2. There is an understanding that each new version is intended to build upon the past.
In a very similar way, here you are. Version 2018.193 of yourself. You may look at yourself as the same person that you’ve always been but that’s most definitely not true. You’ve learned new things since version 2015.125 (after the decimal is the number of days past in that year). The question becomes whether or not you want to just maintain what is working or truly upgrade. Unlike Windows, you’re not going to be rereleased. Your bug fixes and big upgrades have to all happen at the same time. AND YOU ARE THE LEAD DEVELOPER! Only you can make changes to the system.
So what is the latest version of you going to look like? Is it just like today’s you but with a few more miles worn off the treads? I hope not. I hope that you believe that you are capable of a big jump. A leap from the version that you are today to the version that you’ve always wanted to be. My hope is that you’re making the plans and putting in the code to launch yourself to a whole new level. So that people who haven’t seen you in a while will take notice to the fact that the latest version of you is a huge upgrade!
Most of the time soccer is a noun but today I’m going to use it as a verb. Of course when you are creating a new word, it’s important to define it. Here is my explanation of the term.
The action of “soccering” is not the act of playing soccer. We already know how to say and do that. And NO! It doesn’t mean acting like you’re injured when no one did anything to you. The action of soccering is the real life application of the virtues that are possessed within the game. In soccer, players must make real time decisions about what to do, based on the stimuli that they take in from both teammates and opponents in order to achieve the outcomes of simultaneously reaching a goal while defending their own. The soccer paradigm puts the impetus of decision onto eleven individuals acting as a collective rather than following the pre-scripted orders of an overseer. Although positioning and style of play may be directed, principles and judgment are the main directors of decisions.
America needs to soccer! It needs to take back the very impetus that this country was founded upon. Regular people doing things as a collective that move us all forward and protect us against failing. We need regular citizens who want to be self-determining within the existing system and help to influence that system. At the moment we seem to be overwhelmingly passive and extremely willing to look for someone else to be accountable rather than looking to be responsible ourselves.
We can soccer by trying to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We can soccer by changing our perspective from a “they” to “we” mentality. We can soccer by doing the right thing even if we know that no one else will notice but us. We can soccer by deciding to take a chance on something that might not work, rather than doing it “the way we’ve always done it.” There are so many ways to soccer but the thing about soccering is that it has to start with you. You can’t tell someone else to soccer. You can only show them how by doing it first and being an example.
Below is a long description of the historical paradigms where this thought came from. If you are inspired to do something right now, then don’t read the bottom, act now, read later.
Why do I believe that America needs to soccer? The historical successes of the United States have in large part been attributed to a football paradigm. Land acquisition and forward progress are the hallmarks of the All-American sport. In the past, both politically and economically, we have pushed forward in the name of progress and it has served us well. Manifest Destiny is the perfect example. Presidents and other decision-makers laid out a playbook for the American people to score a touchdown on the Pacific coast. Americans led the charge across the continent through wars and promised economic success, the way football players might listen to a play called from the sidelines. The Space Race, the Arms Race, the Cold War and Industrial Revolution were all perfectly suited to the football paradigm. So why change?
The reason for change is that the football paradigm is fundamentally flawed in a few different areas. The idea of neverending progress is unrealistic. At some point stock prices level off, profits decline and progress slows and stops. In a paradigm that preaches forward motion as the truest indicator of success, it is not surprising that we have: insider trading, big CEO bonuses for bailed out companies and strategic layoffs to protect profits. Individuals, companies and the government have all pushed toward their given marker of success whether it be money, land, power or prestige. These success markers are not inherently evil or negative but their acquisition without thought to the human equation has created an imbalance in our perspective on success.
There are also the separations in the football paradigm. The coach is the one who calls the plays. The offense scores the points and the defense stops the other team. Although all are members of the same team, it is easy to point the finger at another individual or group when things go wrong. In the Industrial Revolution this system was completely acceptable. Henry Ford brought forth the assembly line. He took men who were making fifty cents per day and paid them five dollars per day because of his efficiency. People were more than willing to be a cog in that machine because it was a better life than what they expected. They were linemen but were happy to be that. Now with modern technology and globalization that deal doesn’t work anymore. That deal is being shipped overseas and no one wants to be a lineman anymore. Everyone thinks they’re a quarterback and expects to be paid like one.
America needs to soccer because you’re part of the problem and part of the solution. You’re on the field. The decisions that you make on a daily basis matter. The President, the senator, the governor, your boss, your wife, your children, your friends, your teachers are part of it all but so are you. So before you point the finger, point the thumb. What can you do today to SOCCER?
There are plenty of commercials from my childhood that stick out. Growing up at the beginning of the Super Bowl Commercial craze gave us plenty of memorable advertisements. “Where’s the beef?” from Wendy’s. Bird vs Jordan shooting contest. This is your brain on drugs. These all caught my attention because they were either clever or memorable for positive reasons.
One commercial that stood out for another reason was for GOYA beans. The catch phrase “GOYA, oh boya!” was so inane that it stuck. Inevitably when I am food shopping for my family, the big letters G O Y A stick out and remind me of the stupid tag line. So I have decided to associate something new to that can and the beans that sit inside. GOYA is now an acronym. It stands for “Get Off Your ASS!”
It is a call to action and action is all that matters after all. The commercials that are running in our minds should be moving us forward. I’m sure that if you’re anything like me, there are commercials running for sleep, junk-food, relaxation, sex and beer… sweet beer. The commercials for these things are not hard to run because they represent our surface level desires. At a much deeper level, we want to have health, wealth and good relationships. These things require a much greater effort than the shallow desires of the moment. So it is up to us to stick deliberately put in those commercials for beans, ACTION BEANS. Those less than sexy items that we need in order to get where we really want to go. You’re running the show and when you stop for a word from the sponsors, make sure they’re the ones taking you in the right direction!
Despite being a 41 year old man, I really like the Harry Potter movies and watch them regularly. My wife would say that it’s because of Emma Watson but that’s not quite the truth. The story itself is what draws me in. It’s a pretty classic story of good vs. evil with enough twists and turns to make it unique. I’m also very interested in young people and how they learn to find their way through the world. Obviously completely fictitious but in parallel to the real world, one major failing of Hogwarts is to maintain a consistent Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. In that world, the imminent danger of Voldemort made that post important. In our much less magical world, the danger does not come from a completely evil dark lord but rather other young people trying to find their way in the world.
Just prior to sitting down to write, I was watching the Today Show and their guests were the parents of the twelve year old girl who killed herself in Rockaway, NJ. With an eleven year old son and many young people in my life, I truly feel for these parents as they’ve gone through the worst pain that a parent can bear. That story is not fiction and no matter the result of the lawsuit, it will not end completely happily.
I do not believe that social media is inherently bad or evil. It does create a loosely guarded gateway for evils to be perpetrated. While most of the focus is on stopping cyber-bulling and the perpetrators, I’d suggest that young (and older) people need to learn how to defend themselves against the dark arts of bullying. Let me say here, I am not condoning bullying in any way shape or form. Schools and organizations need to respond to these types of actions. Unfortunately the adults in a child’s life can only protect them so much. At a certain point, a child (or adult) is going to need to know how to protect themselves; not just from bullies but from friends, strangers, rejection, failure and loss. Knowing how to cope with and defeat these “dark arts” is crucial but rarely taught or even discussed. The two best Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers were Remus Lupin and Harry himself. Both were effective because they were practical in their approach. They did not deny that their students might face dark times like Dolores Umbridge. The beauty of the Order of the Phoenix is that students organize in order to protect themselves because they know that danger is out there.
In the real world, young people are increasingly living their lives in a virtual world where the perceived becomes as important or more important than the real. So they are fighting in a world of perception when they are still learning how to perceive themselves. If you know of someone who is struggling to manage the world, here are some starting points:
Keep your phone/iPad/etc. in another room while you sleep.
Do not log onto your device of choice for the first 30 minutes of your day.
During that 30 minutes, take about 15 to do the following:
Write down or think of people, things, experiences that you’re grateful for.
Write down or think of the positive things that you’d like to have happen today (things that depend more on you than other people)
Write down or think of the person you want to be in the future. Don’t get caught up in the space between where you are and where you want to be. Allow yourself to be in the future.
After you’ve made these first 3 a habit, add in some form of body movement. Enough to get your blood pumping above a resting rate.
The point behind all of these items is to focus your mind on the things that matter most to you before it gets distracted by the desires of others. Decide what it is that you want out of your life/day before anyone else gets to add their input. If you need a helping hand, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don 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.
Before 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.
In high school in the 90’s, it was difficult not to be bombarded with the safe sex talk of that era. The positive test of Magic Johnson with HIV gave a famous face to a disease that had not fully hit mainstream awareness. Many actions were taken to help protect young people from their hormones. Not least of all the education system’s attempt to prepare us with lessons about condoms. I remember very plainly Mr. Vellucci, my bio teacher, asking us if we understood how condoms worked. Or did we need him to demonstrate using a banana as he had been instructed to do. It was all very well intentioned and I’m sure that it worked to some degree. Unfortunately with the widespread use of the internet and mass media, our children need to be protected again from a disease that threatens to kill every last one of them: LIFE.
Luckily major efforts have been made around the country and the globe to protect young people from this abomination. Teachers, parents and coaches have been instructed to protect all children from failure, disappointment and reality at all costs. Falls, cuts, scrapes, risks, chances, expectations and a slew of LIFE’s other cohorts must be eradicated with extreme prejudice. Keeping our kids safe is JOB #1. Allowing them to live and learn fall near the bottom of the list behind getting into a good college, winning many trophies, being perfect and so many other things that are put on their schedules. What we need now are some Life Condoms! A protective covering that will keep out all negatives. Just need to find a new substance because someone is bound to be allergic to latex and sheepskin doesn’t protect anyone from anything. At this point, I feel the need to stop because I’m afraid that there is a mother someplace who is reading thinking “This sounds like a GREAT idea!”
Life is a messy business. We come into this world screaming, covered in blood, unable to speak, read, write or walk. Despite this introduction through chaos, there is an expectation that life is supposed to get cleaner, neater and follow specific guidelines. The truth is that the human animal was made for the rugged battles of the natural world. We seem to be more susceptible to the trappings of comfort and fortune rather than hard circumstances. Adopting a Spartan lifestyle is probably not necessary but a healthy dose of reality is probably in order. Letting a young person tie their own shoe laces, make their own dinner, fight their own battles is not particularly a bad thing.
The life condom doesn’t exist but based on the complaints I hear regularly, some wish it did. They want their parents, the government, the president, their teacher or any other official power figure to step up and fix their life for them. Eventually these desires are going to come up empty. No one is going to take care of you indefinitely.
So since it will be on you at some point, why not cut the complaining? Take over the parts of your life that should absolutely belong to you and run with them. Nothing is going to start out perfect and it never will be if you don’t do your part. Complaining problems away seems like a bad strategy and a poor way to live. Life was meant to be messy. Get over it! Dust yourself off, clean up your wounds and move on. Otherwise go looking for a life condom but that truly is like taking a shower with a raincoat on. Most of the joy in life is found in the things that we never expected to happen.
Don’t protect yourself out of the best parts of life.