June 2009

I’m finally moved in to my new place, and my writing schedule can return to normal. Finally! Thursday I’ll be able to publish a full-length article, provided I remember how to write.

The move went very smoothly, thank you to everybody who asked. I’ve got a lot of unpacking to do, but I’m no longer waiting on anyone else. I’m relaxing in my new pad, surrounded by boxes of my own stuff, listening to the comfortable tunes of The Tragically Hip. I feel at home already.

Experiment No. 2 has been derailed slightly, in part by my move, but more by a nagging stiff neck. I aborted two workouts because I thought I might be aggravating it and I didn’t want to be out of commission longer. I also had an awkwardly-timed five-day camping trip in there, and a hectic moving week, so I will be extending the experiment by three weeks. Two for the time I missed, and one to get myself up to where I was.

It was originally intended to end this past Friday, but instead it will end Friday July 17, recap and ‘after’ pictures to be posted July 20.

Experiment No. 3 is in the planning stages. I’ve decided to expand its scope, you’ll see what I mean when I announce it.

Thank you all for your patience, and welcome to summertime.



Life is still upside down at the moment.  Everything is packed up and ready to go, my apartment is just a computer surrounded by cardboard boxes.  My inbox is overflowing, as is my brain.  A million things to do.  Raptitude posts will be short and sweet until probably July 6.

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I’m sure some of you haven’t seen this video yet.  It will definitely make you smile, but it did much more than that for me.  If you have seen it, it’s worth another viewing.  I saw it late at night a few weeks ago, forgot it, and then rediscovered it on a blog called Sublime Goodness.  It illustrates one of the dynamics of human society: it’s easy to join a bandwagon, but takes real courage to start one.

(Video removed temporarily because I think it was causing problems for readers using Internet Explorer. You can view it on Sublime Goodness)

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a clearer illustration of the formation of a movement.  It begins with an individual expressing himself without regard for convention or appearances.  People snicker and point.  But he continues, because he’s not afraid to be himself.  Soon others see the truth and honesty in what he is doing, and want to be a part of it.

Courage, however it manifests, is irresistible to human beings.  We all wish we had it, and we revere it in whomever we find it.  It takes much less courage to be the second one in, and half that again to be the third, and no courage at all to throw yourself into a mob.

By the time there are fifty souls in the mix, people are tripping over each other to be a part of it.  No doubt some of them had been laughing at the guy minutes before.

This is social proof at work.  Most of the people who end up dancing were only in there because there were dozens of others showed them that it was okay first.  I don’t want to read too much into an eccentric dancer at a music festival, but I think it’s clear that most of the people in the mob would not have had the courage or the initiative to be the first one dancing.

It’s scary to do something before the people around you say it’s okay.  The truth is most people will always wait for some kind of permission to do what they feel like.  Doing what everyone else is doing is always safe.  You can see this follower syndrome everywhere: in conversation, in business, in music, decor, dress, hobbies, habits, lifestyles and even aspirations.

I’m learning to identify the sensation of feeling socially ‘safe,’ and to mistrust it.  It can only lead a person down beaten paths.  I want to go somewhere else.

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cookies

I do not intend to make recipes a regular topic on Raptitude, but if quality of life is the theme, these are just too good to leave out.

Making chocolate chip cookies is something I do very well.  Because I live alone, I don’t make them often, but I receive many compliments every time I do make a batch and share them.

The chocolate chip cookie is definitely the most frequently encountered cookie in North America.  They are commonly used by grandmothers to spoil children, and by children to bait Santa Claus.  It is the official state cookie of both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

I don’t know how impartial I can be, but honestly I have never encountered a better chocolate chip cookie than the ones I make.  It could just be my own taste.  They are so addictive I have to distribute them to friends and family as quickly as possible, before I’m taken captive by their seductive, brown-sugary fragrance and their irresistible satin glow.  Sometimes I overindulge and start eating them for breakfast and lunch.  If there is a superior cookie out there, then God help us all. Read More



Emerson

If I have a hero, it’s Ralph Waldo Emerson.  He represents to me humanity’s potential: wise, self-reliant, honest, unencumbered by conformity, and able to enjoy every little detail of life as if they were all miracles.

He possessed the hallmark of a human being ahead of his time: he was hailed as a genius and simultaneously reviled as a subvert.  His views were radical for his era, but his wisdom could not be denied, even by his detractors.  Even Herman Melville, author and professed Emerson-hater, later described him as “a great man.”

I am convinced that all of the secrets to personal peace and freedom reside within the ideas recorded in Emerson’s essays and lectures.  His eloquence is well-known from his famous quotations, yet most people today would find a full essay of his to be too verbose to digest in one sitting, if at all.

Perhaps this is why he is so widely quoted and so scarcely read.  His works are full of difficult metaphors and archaic phrases that would require everyday people like you and me to really slow our eyes down from their normal scanning pace, and give ourselves plenty of moments to pause and think.  Perhaps this is a good habit to develop anyway.

It’s worth the effort.  I think the man is one of humanity’s greatest offerings to the world.  Read More



note

Even though I always post an article on Mondays, I’m behind the 8-ball timewise this week and I could not bear to publish a half-assed version of the article I’m working on.

There is too much great content out there for me to feel compelled to deliver another article today at the expense of quality.  I could stay up until 2am and crank it out, but I’ve learned not to force these things.

Here are some suggestions, if you are looking for mental stimulation:

ItStartsWith.Us — An excellent new blog championing the role of interpersonal communication in the improvement of society.  Its author, Nate St. Pierre, is nurturing a small but growing network of open and interested people who know that they can change the world by touching other people’s lives in a meaningful way.  This is a very exciting project, I recommend getting in on the ground floor by checking it out and dropping Nate a line.

1000 Awesome Things — If you did not see it in this post, I’ve discovered an awesome blog that describes an inexplicably awesome thing every weekday.  These things aren’t life’s grandiose or expensive rewards, they’re just the tiny little miracles that inject little doses of awesomeness into day-to-day life.  In my humble opinion it is something really special.

My Archives! I know some of you have read every single post I’ve ever written.  Thank you, you people make my world go round.  But most of you have not yet accomplished this glorious feat! Now is your chance, while Raptitude is still young.

I will be away from June 18-21, on a camping trip with no computers or internet access.  I’ll have short posts scheduled normally during this time, and I won’t be able to respond to comments until the 22nd.  But I always love to read them, so don’t be shy.

I hope you are all enjoying your June.  It’s always been one of my favorite months.  Warm, optimistic and abundant.  This particular June has been hectic for me: I’m moving to a new place, taking a badly timed but previously committed 4-day camping trip, planning my big trip and tending to a dozen active projects at work.

You’ve probably seen less of me on Twitter too, and fewer of my comments on other blogs.  This is temporary; once I’m settled in a new place, I’ll be able to resume by regular level of online activity.  This month has been a real squeeze on me time and energy-wise, July should bring a saner schedule.

I can’t wait until things are back to normal, and I can spend more time writing and interacting again.  I’ve got some big plans for the summer.  My work will be featured on some other sites and in several ebook projects, I’ll be sure to let you know as they are released.

I’ve got dozens of topics I’m dying to write about, I just need to claw through this two more weeks of packing, flying, planning and moving furniture.  All in good time.

Experiment No 2, my kettlebell project, is in full swing and I’m very pleased with myself so far.  My stamina has increased substantially, and I’m looking better too.  I’ll be experiencing a scheduling hiccup this week because of my long weekend and my move, but every workout will be accounted for by the end of it.  Check out my Experiment Log, my numbers are climbing.

Experiment No 3 is coming up soon, possibly even concurrently with my current experiment.  It involves my trying on another lifestyle change for a month or so, and addressing a problem that has been going on for a while.  I’m sure some of you can relate.

Have a good Monday, talk to you soon.

Photo by J_O_I_D



The unknown

When I sit down to write an article for Raptitude, I always try to pick a topic that I can resonate with at that particular time.  I’ve got a folder full of great ideas for posts.  At any given time, I’m only in the right headspace to write something decent about maybe ten percent of them.  The topic has to match how I feel or else it’s just talk.

I write about gratitude when I’m feeling grateful, I write about reverence when I’m feeling reverent, and I write about misery when I’m feeling miserable.

I’m in a difficult place at the moment, and so most of my thoughts are about a particular type of difficulty.  My lease is up at the end of this month so I have to be out, and I’m having trouble finding a new place to live.  I can’t sign a new lease because I’ll be gone traveling this fall.  I’m scrambling to find a decent home within my budget in a decent neighborhood.  I don’t know what will happen, where I will go, only that I can’t remain where I am.

Things will work out I’m sure, but there is an ever-present sense of uncertainty, all night and all day. Read More



Post image for And My Destination Is…

Two weeks ago, I mentioned in my post The Year With Two Summers that I would be leaving sometime in October to spend a year in another country.  This country is in the southern hemisphere, which means I’ll be able to enjoy the North American summer and leave just as summer is beginning down there.

I did not reveal the country because I wanted to make sure I would have the appropriate Visa to be able to stay for twelve months.  If it had been denied for some reason then I would have had to choose a different destination.

Not that I’ve kept this a secret, in my offline life.  I think all of my friends know by now, and I’ve announced my resignation to my boss.

Well, this week I got the great news: my Visa has been approved.

Five months from now, I will be living in Read More



Post image for This Will Never Happen Again

Nothing is permanent.  That’s not really news, but it may mean more than you think, on a day-to-day level.

In each moment, everything around you is constantly changing, and it never changes back. It’s always new.

Some changes are subtle, some dramatic, but all of it is changing.

Life is uncertain by its very nature.  Except for this:

No matter what is happening right now,

It will never happen again.

Not quite like this anyway. Read More



smallworld

“Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish opinions.”

~Zen saying

I don’t watch the news anymore, and I don’t get the paper.  It took too much time to read, and often it would put me in a bad mood.  There was too much to disapprove of, too many unsettled and unsettling stories.  So I cut it out.

Television news was no better, mostly celebrity misbehavior and crises of some kind: fires, diseases, bombings and market trouble.  I used to turn on CNN first thing in the morning, and listen while I made breakfast.  One day I quit.

Initially, I feared I would feel out of the loop, that suddenly I would not know what was going on in the world.  My peers would be exchanging crucial details about the state of the universe, and I’d have to ask sheepishly, “What’s swine flu?” or “Who’s the US president right now?”  How embarrassing. Read More




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