July 2009

Post image for How I Found the Secret to Happiness While Totally Naked

Hidden somewhere in a pile of my own bad prose and abandoned bucket lists, in a tattered grocery bag in my storage room, lies the secret to happiness and peace.

It’s scrawled on a fifty-cent note of Canadian Tire Money, in dark purple Jiffy marker. Just four potent words, but they triggered a flood of insights into my life, and started me on the long and winding road to happiness.

The night I wrote those words down, I was in trouble. I was marching down a career path that made me nauseous to think about, I had no friends nearby, no passions, no ambitions, no confidence. I had lost, by that time, any real belief in a bright future.

The optimism I’d carried so easily through grade school was a distant memory, by then as alien as photos from someone else’s life. Small obstacles completely derailed me, I expected to fail at everything, and human beings generally scared me. It was a particularly bad night in a bad year, and I was in mourning for myself.

I was also totally naked. Read More


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alcohol shot

On July 6, 2009, David began an experiment in which he resolved not to use any sort of drugs for 30 days. View the full experiment log here.

Day 22

Well I’m down to little more than a week left, and it really has not been difficult. There have been a few brief moments where I felt a bit left out, but any angst always went away fast, and I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on any fun that only drugs would have allowed me to have.

I will say though, that part of the ease has been the knowledge that I will be allowed to indulge if I want after the 30 days is up. Not that it’s that appealing, but if my commitment had been six months, it may not have felt so easy on a day-to-day basis.

But such a lengthy abstinence is not necessary. Basically, I have two goals with this experiment:

1) Find out what I feel like physically after not having ingested any drugs for a while, and

2) Discover if my social life and working life have developed a need for caffeine and alcohol.

So far I’ve discovered that (1) I feel physically awesome almost all the time, and (2) I have been able to both work and have fun just the same without drugs.

I can’t say I’m not excited at the thought of having a few beers with my buddies after the experiment is over, or enjoying a traditional after-dinner coffee with my mom. I really do want to do those things, but mainly because I feel like I can bring a new sense of awareness and appreciation to the experience.

Of course, reintroducing drugs into my life means conscious moderation. Staying away from years-old habits for a month isn’t going to obliterate them. Read More


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donuts

If I told you to sit in the corner of the room, and get up whenever you want, how long do you think you’d stay?

Chances are, not long. From my meditation experiments I’ve learned that it takes about ten seconds of sitting still before one feels an impulse to do or change something. Wants begin to appear, and start barking orders. Stand up. Get a glass of water. Stop wasting your time trying to meditate. Go eat some grapes. Get something done, jeez.

It’s amazing how quickly and ferociously these wants arrive on the scene. The brain is constantly generating them, and they become especially apparent when you attempt to sit still and do nothing. It becomes almost unbearable, and relief happens almost instantly when you act. Doing anything at all keeps the mind busy so it has less time to come up with suggestions and demands about what you ‘need.’

This is why it’s easier to watch television than sit and do nothing, even though watching television doesn’t really get us anywhere better.  Merely distracting oneself from the incessant mental shouting of wants is probably the most common strategy of responding to them, and it does work to some degree.

Multi-billion dollar industries are built on exactly this impulse. Television, video games, smartphones, iPods. Distraction is easily one of the most profitable commodities of the 21st century. Read More


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Post image for The Results Are in! — Experiment No. 2: David Before and After Kettlebells To recap for new readers, nine weeks ago I declared I would school myself in the art of the Russian kettlebell.  I resolved to work with the antique freeweight, Soviet commando-style, in accordance with Pavel Tsatsouline’s Enter the Kettlebell.

Being somewhat a novice, I did the first of two programs, humbly named the Program Minimum.  It consists of two exercises you’ve probably never heard of, both of which I described in the original post.  Kettlebells have a steep learning curve, and are about as forgiving as concrete, but I did okay.   Read More
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Big Bird with Pat Nixon

It was not until I was an adult that I realized that behind Sesame Street is a grand conspiracy.

It’s been on the air for forty years now, and we’re all familiar with the format: short, simple skits involving muppets, neighborhood human cast members and the occasional celebrity.  Each skit has an obvious educational point to get across.

Back when I was a kid it seemed to be the same lessons we learned in school: letters and numbers, shapes, colors, playing fair with others, sharing.  Familiar, scholastic topics, taught by ridiculous monsters and ultra-kind grownups.  I thought these nuts-and-bolts lessons were really as far as they went on the educational side.  The rest was just entertainment.

Unbeknownst to me, the Sesame Street writing team was secretly preparing us kids for things a lot tougher than kindergarten-level math.  Read More


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Deer tracks

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

~Cesare Pavese

By six o’clock on a Sunday night, the streets of Invermere were deserted.  It was early fall, the middle of dead season for a skier’s town, and I was trotting down to the highway to hitchhike back up the mountain, to the resort where I lived and worked.  It had rained earlier, and the damp streets were glowing with one final hour of of sun before it ducked behind the mountains.

I’d spent the day in town, alone, on what was as much a photo-taking excursion as a grocery run.  Walking along a silent residential street, I passed an overgrown picket fence, peered nosily into the adjacent yard, and saw something that made me stop. Read More


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Post image for 100 Years Hence

I’m fascinated with how our world changes over a relatively short time.  Technology, infrastructure, culture and fashion just can’t stay put for long.  Humans are so amazing because they have a habit of completely reinventing their habitat every generation or so.

Undoubtedly this is also a big reason why we are so troubled.  Every generation is faced with an environment for which their parents could not prepare them because it never existed before.  Old-fashioned values don’t always work so well when the world is continually being fashioned by the new.  “Always eat everything on your plate” may not be such great advice when today’s average portion size is triple what it was in 1950.

I guess what is most interesting to me is that the human being — the animal itself — stays more or less the same, but its tools and toys and general way of life change so completely.  I wasn’t around before 1980, but even in that short time, technology has completely revolutionized our lifestyles, with some interesting complications.  For example, who in 1991 could have predicted that by age 28 I would be spending twelve hours a week and writing on a “blog”? Read More


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Human art

It seems to me that person by person, humanity is just beginning to wake up to something great.  Every day I see evidence of more and more people taking a step back from the well-worn grooves of tradition, and finding a way to live that makes sense for themselves.

More people are quitting the corporate race to work for on their own.  Fewer parents are deciding what their children’s careers will be.  More people are living unconventional lifestyles, choosing jobs, diets, parenting styles, clothes, music and creative pursuits that speak to them more deeply than the traditional prescriptions.  The old-fashioned vice of conformity appears to be losing out to the human spirit.

What this means is that fewer people are being funneled into lifestyles that don’t fulfill them, religions that don’t make sense to them, and careers they dread.  This leaves many more individuals who are free to listen to a deeper voice within them, the inner advisor that tells them what’s right for them if they remain still enough to hear it. Read More


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Alcohol

This experiment commenced on schedule on July 6, 2009.  See my progress log here.

As much as I don’t like so say it this explicitly, drugs have been a significant part of my life for some time now.

I know I’m far from alone.  Drugs use is very common.  Drugs are a part of human culture everywhere in different capacities: as medicine, as recreation, as escape, as tradition, as sacraments.

I try to avoid the common distinction between drugs that are legal or illegal, socially acceptable or not socially acceptable. A drug is a drug, regardless of the government’s opinion of it.

That unfair distinction creates a lot of undue prejudice and ignorance, it alienates people and ruins lives, but I’ll save that debate for later.  I know most coffee drinkers would not identify themselves as drug users, but they are.  It’s unfortunate that the term ‘drug user’ has come to be a condescending slur rather than just the objective descriptor it should be.

Partly because of the culture I live in, both the broader culture of North America, and my own local combination of friends and influences, I have become habituated to using certain drugs regularly.  People all around me use them to different degrees. Read More


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Post image for 88 Important Truths I’ve Learned About Life

Everyone gets drilled with certain lessons in life. Sometimes it takes repeated demonstrations of a given law of life to really get it into your skull, and other times one powerful experience drives the point home once forever. Here are 88 things I’ve discovered about life, the world, and its inhabitants by this point in my short time on earth.

1. You can’t change other people, and it’s rude to try.

2. It is a hundred times more difficult to burn calories than to refrain from consuming them in the first place.

3. If you’re talking to someone you don’t know well, you may be talking to someone who knows way more about whatever you’re talking about than you do.

4. The cheapest and most expensive models are usually both bad deals.

5. Everyone likes somebody who gets to the point quickly.

6. Bad moods will come and go your whole life, and trying to force them away makes them run deeper and last longer.

7. Children are remarkably honest creatures until we teach them not to be.

8. If everyone in the TV show you’re watching is good-looking, it’s not worth watching. Read More


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