Blogpost

The Viral Life Expectancy Has Gone Viral

It was the latest thing! The internet was on fire with different videos. Everyone from celebrities to little kids were taking part in this craze. For about two weeks, I saw it go through the entire life cycle. The birth, life and death all happened in such a short period of time that it was impossible to miss it. It didn’t last long enough for anyone to care that it was gone. Of course I’m talking about the “Harlem Shake”. If you had something else in mind, that’s not a problem because I could have gone with other examples. Flappy bird, dabbing, fidget spinners, bottle flipping, etc. Each had their own amount of time in the spotlight but none lasted too long. Fads are not new and by no means am I suggesting that they should go away. My fear is that everything has become a fad.

As a child in the 80’s, I saw the rise and fall of so many fads I could “gag myself with a spoon!” I had Bugle Boy Jeans a year after they were cool. My mullet was never quite right and convincing my mother to buy jeans that already had rips in them was unthinkable. Even though I didn’t fully partake in any of these fads, I was influenced by the culture around me enough to notice what was “in”. As I said previously, it’s not that fads are new. Each of the fads that came and went through my childhood stuck around long enough to be remembered. None were life altering but they usually hung around long enough to get associated with a year or part of life. The life expectancy of a fad was long enough to make it memorable and possibly meaningful.

In the age of the internet, the viral nature of media has caused fads to appear out of nowhere. They disappear almost as quickly. Very few cultural phenomena have the “staying power” to hang on for a year. Often the life of a fad is measured in weeks. While this isn’t a problem on its own, let’s face it, the Harlem Shake didn’t deserve much more of our time. The issue is the cultural impact on our perception of life expectancy. People have become accustomed to the idea of things disappearing quickly. So things that matter or require time to develop and flourish get swept aside because they don’t peak early enough or burn slower than people’s comfort level.

In a world filled with fads that seem like mental candy, have we lost our ability to recognize the things of substance? Are we so accustomed to anticipating the new that we are unable to determine if the thing in front of us deserves the time to develop? Our minds are like muscles in so many ways. I fear that these short spurts of attention are training us for the wrong game. Most of the things that really matter in life are the result of long term thinking. If that long term muscle never gets exercised, it will atrophy. Eventually we will only be equipped to deal with the short term, prepackaged, watered down version of life. While it might be easier, I don’t think it will be more fulfilling. So be aware! Some things, people and situations in your life deserve more than just a passing glance. You need to develop the awareness to recognize them and have the patience muscle to see them through. There will always be another shiny thing laying in the road. Most of it is just trash that you’ll discard. Most of the things of value require some mining!

Play the long game!

Pete

Blogpost

A Father’s Day Tradition

IMG_4513Just about every year on Father’s Day, I take a short hike with my children and wife to a little waterfall at a local park.  Although my wife and kids are aware that it is one of my favorite places in the world, I’d never really given an explanation as to why we return to the same spot.  The tradition is based on a quote from Heraclitus.  “A man can never step into the same river twice because the river has changed and so has he.”  Although I usually don’t set foot into the stream near the waterfall, I recognize the change in us both.

This tradition is meant as a time of reflection for me to realize the changes in my life, my children and the world that surrounds me.  Personally I find this to be very helpful because I don’t take for granted the many things that have changed.  My son growing taller is an obvious change but juxtaposing our past visits against yesterdays I more clearly see the man that he is becoming.  I cannot freeze these moments to keep them from flowing by like the water.  The only thing that I can do is notice them.  It is my job to remember that each time we return to this place to be grateful for the time that we have had.  Unlike the stream that is sourced from a large lake, there is no telling when this time will run out.

So as you go out into your day, take a moment to appreciate the people in your life that really matter.  The time of your life will keep flowing by no mater what you do.  However you can take this moment to appreciate all that you have.  There is not a lack of beauty in this world.  There is just a greater amount of distraction.  So it is up to us to look for the beauty before it passes us by.

Have a great day!  And Happy Father’s Day to the Dads out there!

Pete

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Blogpost

Borrowed Time

PokerOur concept of time is messed up to a certain extent.  Not the measurement of time.  Seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc. are effective units to use for measuring time.  It is our relationship with it that may be in need of a revamp.  Perhaps I am only speaking for myself but I generally don’t think that I’m so unique to have a completely new thought.  Time is something that in our younger years we waste so often it is as if we believe that there is an infinite supply for us.  Then as we get older, we lament its passing, wishing that we had some of that wasted time back.  It seems that the only people who truly grasp the limited resource which they have are the people who have a brush with their own mortality.  There are a multitude of stories including George Lucas, Franck Ribery and so many others who gained clarity from a near death experience.

For me, I was too young.  Too young to remember and I never got the lesson.  When I was two and a half, I had meningitis.  I almost died.  Despite knowing this story since I was a kid, it never really sunk in that I was working with borrowed time.  At this moment I am forty one years into a lease on a life that easily could have passed by already.  So what does one do with this realization, even if it comes extremely late?  Like so many things in this world, the first thing is most likely to be grateful.  None of us is owed anything in the world.  So gratitude for all that has sprung out of that borrowed time is the most natural course.  Then comes the projection forward.  If you’re playing with house money, do you play it conservative only betting on the best odds?  Or do you look for some long shots that would pay off big because let’s face it you were supposed to be cashed out long ago?  I’m sure that you had a gut feeling about what you would tell me to do.  The question is can you follow your own advice?

We’re all living on borrowed time.  It doesn’t matter whether you’ve beaten a terminal disease or been healthy as a horse since birth.  It’s not completely up to us when we cash out.  So with that little bit of clarity from your gut, you need to decide, what are you doing with the chips that you have today?  There’s no particularly wrong answer, just an answer that’s right for you.

Deal ’em!

Pete

Uncategorized

Your Investment Portfolio

DisneyHanging on the wall in my son’s room is a stock certificate for one share of Disney stock.  It was a gift at his birth from his Uncle Peter and Aunt Paula.  More than anything it is decorative.  At the time of its purchase, Disney stock was worth about $35.  With the acquisition and release of Star Wars, it is now worth about $114.  So in theory my son’s stock portfolio has performed very well.  It is worth over 300% of its original value.  The growth is outstanding but it’s not enough shares to create truly meaningful value.  The stock was a gift, never truly meant to turn my son into an investor.

However the truth is that we are ALL investors!  Stocks are a financial investment.  That is the type of investment that most people think about when they hear the word.  The truth is that we can invest in many types of currency.  Right now you’re investing several of your most precious currencies on this blog post: time, attention and possibly trust.  Many people don’t get involved in monetary investing because the markets are too unpredictable.  There is the risk of major losses at stake.  It is impossible to lose money, if you don’t put any in.  People are usually conscious of how they invest their money.  Often they are not as conscious about how they invest their other resources.

Time, attention, trust, love, respect and many others are all currencies that should be invested with more intelligence than money.  Money is a renewable resource while time is not.  If you lose twenty dollars, you can always make up for that loss.  The lost twenty minutes is gone forever with no hope of replacement.  Since money is tangible we give it extra reverence but these other currencies are as or more important.  So perhaps it is time to look at your investment portfolio and decide if it is balanced.  Have you put yourself into a position to be swimming in the assets that you have accrued through careful planning?  Or will you feel bankrupt in the end because you squandered the resources that you had?  You are an amazing human being who is destined to do great things if you’ll use your resources wisely!

Invest wisely today!

Pete

Uncategorized

Filling the Void

voidIn evolutionary terms, humans have not changed much in a long time.  There is talk that redheads might disappear from the human race eventually.  This is a relatively small change in the dominant (in certain ways) species of the world.  Our historic and prehistoric ancestors generally lived an existence more focused on survival.  Their lives were based on filling the void in their stomachs before anything else.  Some civilizations began to fill the void in understanding the world around them and the heavens above.  Regardless of the time period, man has been trying to fill a void in his life.

Today in the hyper-individualized world of the 21st century, each person seems to have their own personal void which needs filling.  Generally speaking in the US, we have conquered the void of the stomach to an alarming amount of overkill.  The internet has given many the excuse of bypassing the void of the mind.  Since all knowledge is available, it becomes less important to know it.  In a world where the stomach is full and the mind is subject to whims of the shiniest things that shows up in front of us, it’s no wonder that people are struggling.  They are not struggling with staying alive but they are struggling with truly living.  Survival is a 24/7 job.  What do you do when that job is no longer necessary?  How do you fill that time that used to be spent surviving?

It should be spent living the life that you want.  You have ten, twenty, sixty more years of void.  What are you going to do with it?  That is the true question.  I do not stand in judgment of what you want for yourself.  It is after all, your life.  The thing that I ask is for you to truly consider what it is that you want, rather taking what you are given.  Fill your life, fill your time, fill your mind, fill your heart with the things that truly want.  Do more than just stay alive.  Live as if you’ve only got one shot at this.

Thanks guys!

Pete