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What would you like to see?

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Dear Reader,

By the time you read this I should be somewhere in Colorado, taking photos and helping Mr. Money Mustache build things.

I had just gotten back from a bucket-list-related trip to Minneapolis, and hit the road again three days later. When I get back from Colorado I’ll begin stockpiling tea and used books, settling in to brace for the harsh Canadian winter, given that my next trip is a whole six months away. So for the first time in my life I’ll have ample time to write, which allows me to tackle topics that I had never had the space to address thoroughly.

There are a lot of directions to take, and so to reduce option-paralysis it would help if you’d tell me what topics you’re most interested in reading about. It could be something I’ve written about before, or something new. Different readers can be interested in totally different things, from Buddhism to capitalism to antidisestablishmentarianism, and I want to know what -isms, -alities and -nesses I’m neglecting in the eyes of the general audience. If I wrote, say, a 3000-word piece on floccinaucinihilipilification, and most of you have been dying for me to comment on the process involved in overcoming asseocarnisanguineoviscericartilaginonervomedullarial issues, then that is a missed opportunity for all of us. Or perhaps many of you suffer from hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia and I’ve been inadvertently terrorizing you with my choices. Such perfidiousness on my part! So the more responses, the better for everyone.

So far there have been a lot of requests for more on procrastination, Douglas Harding, non-religious spirituality, lifestyle design and overcoming shyness, but I want to lengthen the list. That way I can queue up topics and keep going with another article as soon as I’m finished one.

Please tell me in the comments what you would like to see more of here. Even if you never comment, I would love to know what I’ve written about that you’ve especially liked, or what I haven’t written about that you wish I would. A one-liner is fine.

Thank you for your contributions, you make this place what it is.

***

Photo by David Cain
Cam November 13, 2013 at 10:17 am

Zen Buddhism — or your experiences with meditation

Kat November 14, 2013 at 12:46 am

I’d like to read your views on how best to build positive, healthy relationships. How to choose what people you do and don’t want in your life.

Kobe Bryant November 14, 2013 at 4:41 am

Write about anxiety and the how much is expected of us from the modern world. and how much we expect from ourselves.

zulieka November 14, 2013 at 10:14 pm

This is my first visit to your blog, so I’ve only read a few entries (but that’s all it took to get hooked!). I’d personally enjoy something gutsy and confessional, with a little more skin showing.

Jessica November 15, 2013 at 11:07 am

I think your blog is brilliant! An advice column perhaps, answering a readers’ questions? Or more on travel?

Keep up the good work! =)

It Calls Me Onanon November 15, 2013 at 10:39 pm

I’ve been constructing my own plan for freedom through freelance and am genuinely glad the author has chanced on a pace in life that he can hit his stride from. I think every human deserves their opportunity to test their self at something; to succeed or fail. I’m doing well in just two short months, so far.

Unfortunately, what I would like to see is some truth from this blog — I’ll explain:

I was guilty of being one of the searching people on the internet who randomly stumbled on and frequented the blog because, as an individual without a real definition of the kinds of thinking that people possess outside of my own thoughts and perspective, it represented a place that offered a conversation founded in truth and perspective through an easy-to-digest form of everyday “street-level” consumption. I respected the notion of talking about life without the usual pretentiousness one might find from people who color the world and its complexities with convenient write-offs and self-made truths.

So, I engaged in topics as they interested/affected me. Most times they were directly about the author. His hang-ups and ruminations about how he acted — always boiling down to a usual comforting “street-level” prescription.

From the virtual beginning, however, my perspective was unwanted and demonstrably unwelcomed. The more I approached the conversation from provocative angles that intentionally didn’t validate the author’s or readers’ appeals for self-indulgency and over-simplifications, the more the feedback revealed to be intolerant of other kinds of “thinking” altogether. My comments did nothing more than express simple truths about life through an intellectual engagement. I’m reminded of the expression of “what goes up must come down” except explained with actual process to detail why one should understand what they’re seeing as being true. I introduced the opportunity to confront misguided thoughts, and confrontation necessarily introduces the opportunity to address a problem and change.

I was met with a terrible resistance. It came in the form of explanations that intentionally excused or over-simplified the things that I had carefully thought about and tested for confirmation. It was as if it was because these thoughts were so precious and redeeming for those who decided to think them that they had to combat me. There was feedback from the author that belittled my means of deconstructing what I saw, throwing around phrases like “Clearly it is much more complex in your mind than it is in mine. I know what I need to do.” and more from his enabler/validation readers, “You take his clear and simple writing and turn it into diluted intellectual babble!”

The most common response was “I don’t think you understand” and I know why now.

As I said, I would like to see truth, but I don’t think I’ll see it here. David once expressed “I don’t really know why you come here.”
Well, it seems that the grand perspective would suggest that I came here to talk with a world that promised to listen — an internet community supposedly focused around the very idea I was interested in — and be met with a bitter, ugly reality of people and the delusions they use to comfort their alone selves when they don’t know where to go. People so wrought full of insecurity and lack of direction that, while interfacing with others in real life, avoid confrontation by hiding their true selves.

But, the stage has been set and the conversation fixed. It’s a good talking-box for people to listen to. Careful not to think too much though, kids.

Kenoryn November 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Hi Onanon,

I have not read (or can’t recall) your other comments, so this is not a judgment of them – but I notice in this comment that you call other commenters “misguided”, and they are here fuelling their “delusions” as insecure, bitter, lonely people. Have you considered the possibility that their opinions might, in fact, be valid, and their rancour toward you may have been because you approached them with the certainty that you were right and they were wrong (or misguided, or deluded)? You clearly demonstrated above that that’s what you believe. It appears that you are certain that your opinions are superior to those of other commenters and they should be listening to your wisdom while you choose not to listen to them. Perhaps you are missing something, after all? I think it is worth considering.

It Calls Me Onanon December 3, 2013 at 1:17 am

Hello Kenoryn,

Thanks for your thoughts.

People’s perspectives and their opinions are not necessarily entitled to varying degrees of validity. A statement can be valid and it can be invalid based on the given information. It can be guided or misguided. It can be “right” or “wrong.” For example, saying that the Jews caused the downfall of Germany is not a valid statement, not even “a little bit because they made them feel that way…”

Superiority isn’t a factor unless you’re preoccupied with setting the terms that way, but an opinion can come from more or less critical examination and as a result, be more substantive or valuable, depending on what statement you’re making.

I’m not sure why you mentioned that I believe that the people mentioned were deluded without provocation. It was their deliberate attacks, resistance and misappropriation of my character that I found to be insecure and deluded. I won’t consider that behavior or any thoughts that lead to it as wisdom.

I also didn’t mention that people are bitter — I was met with a contrary reality and called that contrariness ugly and bitter because it shattered my hopes of open, clean discourse.

If there’s absolute, evidenced reason for why something, it is certain. Diminishing the delivery of something that happens to be in that manner simply because you feel that being “certain” is a problem isn’t valid reasoning.

This is normally where I would hope to have an open discourse on the matter, but I already explained why it goes nowhere.

Kenoryn December 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Of course there are situations where something is certainly wrong and something else is indisputably right, but this isn’t one of them; there are also situations where someone is certain they are right, and in fact that is not the case. You seem to feel that the approach you have taken to commenting on these posts is perfect, and there is no possible way you could improve. Therefore the fact that your comments anger people is entirely their fault, and not one little bit your fault. From an outsider’s perspective, the probability of that is quite low. Therefore I suspect this is one of those situations where your confidence in your own opinion is not a good indicator of the correctness of your opinion. There is almost certainly a better way for you to bring up the things you want to discuss that would be less likely to ruffle feathers. And superiority is certainly a factor if it results in an attitude of condescension. Bear in mind that no one will ever respect your opinion if you don’t respect theirs. Why would they? Whether or not you are ‘right’ or your arguments are better reasoned or whatnot has nothing at all to do with the equation. They’re just as confident that they’re right and you’re wrong as you are that you’re right and they’re wrong.

Ultimately, there is nothing you can do about others’ behaviour; you can only change your own. And if you’re on this blog pursuing self-improvement, isn’t examining that behaviour and its consequences a good place to start?

It Calls Me Onanon December 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm

“Of course there are situations where something is certainly wrong and something else is indisputably right, but this isn’t one of them;”
• I’m sensing some irony. You dismissed the potency of my thinking by loading the observation proposed with a notion of “obviousness.” There’s no reason to do this other than to suggest condescension of the idea. Furthermore, you don’t approach my disposition from a respectful, equal footing. You are effectively trying to “snuff out” what I’m saying by forcibly asserting that “this *circumstance* isn’t one of them.” If you were trying to connect with me you’d be addressing why the dynamic isn’t working.

“there are also situations where someone is certain they are right, and in fact that is not the case.”
• This segue serves no purpose other than to reiterate that “YOU’RE NOT RIGHT.” It says nothing for the intellectual conversation of the matter. It is inherent that I already understand this in my statement that “People’s perspectives and their opinions are not necessarily entitled to varying degrees of validity.”

“You seem to feel that the approach you have taken to commenting on these posts is perfect, and there is no possible way you could improve. ”
• I never made this statement. To address what you’ve said respectfully, I will say that by conducting myself in a manner that approaches people is the only means of connection. The other side of the “see-saw” means that the other person must also engage in the same manner for communication to work. I am constantly seeking improvement, but if the other person behaves with poor conduct I am entitled to address it, which is the case for the examples I gave and the type of comment you’re making your argument against.
• Making a statement like this only serves to prop me up for your argument to attack me. “Making a one-dimensional caricature of someone’s motive makes it easier to attack.”

“Therefore the fact that your comments anger people is entirely their fault, and not one little bit your fault.”
• Some more caricatures and one-dimensional declarations.
From an outsider’s perspective, the probability of that is quite low.
• Meanwhile you term yourself as an “outsider” as though you are a force of utter impartialness to the matter. What set of data does this probability come from?

“Therefore I suspect this is one of those situations where your confidence in your own opinion is not a good indicator of the correctness of your opinion.”
• You never actually addressed why the dynamic wasn’t working. You declared that “how” I was commenting wasn’t right and then proceeded to caricaturize and attack my character/motives. Most intellectuals would call this means of argumentation an “Ad Hominem,” or, “attack the man.” You haven’t proved how confidence can indicate anything about validity/invalidity.

“There is almost certainly a better way for you to bring up the things you want to discuss that would be less likely to ruffle feathers.”
• I know from experience that not “ruffling feathers” means talking to people on their terms, their conditions. By doing this one would be subjecting the conversation to the other person’s “hang-ups”, subjective rationalizations and other means of displacement. It would mean NOT invalidated someone’s line of thinking and NOT confronting systemic problems.
• However, the original comments that I made weren’t there to combat people – they were there to engage in a topic openly and as I stated earlier it’s up to the other person to be competent enough to think about what’s being said instead of reacting out of insecurity or offense. Are you trying to make the argument that I shouldn’t be trying to ruffle feathers? What has that got to do with innocently engaging in conversation and being shit on for no apparent reason? What you’re alluding to requires an entirely different line of reasoning and it suggests a different kind of behavior altogether.
“And superiority is certainly a factor if it results in an attitude of condescension.”
• This is a loaded statement, suggesting that my conduct is condescending without reasonable burden of proof to back that claim.

“Bear in mind that no one will ever respect your opinion if you don’t respect theirs.”
• *You* will not respect opinions if *you* don’t feel yours is respected. These are your terms and they are not agreeable.

“Why would they?”
• Because I’ve engaged with them and actually addressed carefully and pointedly why their opinion doesn’t add up?

“Whether or not you are ‘right’ or your arguments are better reasoned or whatnot has nothing at all to do with the equation.”
• So it’s a fact that you are stating that I shouldn’t be antagonizing people. I agree and address thoughts as equal statements so as not to antagonize or belittle anyone. I don’t callously brush them off as though they were obvious.

“They’re just as confident that they’re right and you’re wrong as you are that you’re right and they’re wrong.”
• …and humans want to be validated regardless of whether what they’re saying stands up to scrutiny or not. The playing field is set – I understand the stakes.

“Ultimately, there is nothing you can do about others’ behaviour; you can only change your own. And if you’re on this blog pursuing self-improvement, isn’t examining that behaviour and its consequences a good place to start?”
• I agree.

nifsindia November 16, 2013 at 7:39 am

really wonderful blog..nice post

Suz November 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Hey David,

Could you do a piece on how to heal and inspire someone who has had rotten luck and a bad life and who doesn’t see the point in going on any further? I am at a loss as to how to help said person, and I thought perhaps you’d have some insight.

Sharon November 18, 2013 at 8:45 pm

The responses/interest in your personal take on love and sex is fascinating to me. Maybe the topic is actually about repression that keeps us from freely discussing sex? Why is physical sexuality such a loaded topic for us?
Maybe connect with Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha (book – Sex at Dawn) and Dan Savage (sex columnist, general dynamo) and see what comes about?

Repression in general (ie not just sexual).

Marketing: why culturally do we condone promotion of frankenfood, habits, behaviors that are detrimental to us?

How physical geography dictates where and how we live.

Shared resources such as car share programs, freecycle, etc.

Thanks for your courage and your insights!!!
Warm regards and best wishes,
Sharon in Seattle

flanfan November 19, 2013 at 11:57 am

How people create all the authorities they accept (on an individual and collective level), and how the explanation for everything ultimately lies within oneself.

Quite honestly, I’m a big fan of your philosophical musings and your ability to express them in such a deft and lucid manner, but what a lot (if not, all) of these responses amount to are people needing to be told how to act by an external authority. No doubt, advice can be helpful, but I believe it’s important for people to understand – fundamentally – that no one is ever really taught by another, that each of us has to teach themselves. Not in an “every man for himself” sort of way, but in a “you create the show” apprehension.

In other words, the external teacher can act as a sort of friction and offer only the suggestion, which arouses the internal teacher, who helps us to understand things. That, to me, seems like the ultimate form of “empowerment.”

Dan November 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I may have missed the boat here, but I think a deeply powerful concept that deserves exploration/attention is Robert Anton Wilson’s “reality tunnel.” It’s such well coined phrase that it basically describes what it is. But, to get a greater understanding of the concept, I recommend checking out his book “Prometheus Rising.” Otherwise, here’s a rundown:

“A reality tunnel is the model of reality that you build in your head. It’s not reality, it’s what you think reality is. Just as Korzybski said, “the map is not the territory”; as Alan Watts said, “the menu is not the meal”; in the same way, your reality tunnel is not reality. It’s a model you personally built over your entire life, based on your experiences, your memories, your senses, your prejudices, your culture, and to a large and surprising degree, language. And that’s fine, that’s normal, we need models. We need models to understand what’s going on around us, to predict what’s going to happen next. But a model is, by definition, a simplified version of something. It may look roughly the same, and it gives you a good idea of things, but there are going to be places where it lacks the detail, or it’s just wrong or it’s different. And when your reality tunnel doesn’t map reality, then you are wrong. And the fact that we use these things means that we will always be wrong.”

(cribbed from: http://www.dailygrail.com/Skepticism/2013/11/The-Wisdom-Robert-Anton-Wilson-Tonic-the-Internet-Age )

And here is Wilson himself touching upon the concept, along with seeing past people’s (and our own) BS (belief systems):

Don’t Believe In Anybody Else’s BS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTLkiJUX05A

Dan November 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Another possible topic, “selfie” – the practice of turning a camera around and snapping a picture of “oneself” – being rewarded the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year. It would tie nicely into Harding’s insight about how we identify ourselves from the egoic, few-meters-away range. The practice itself – the 21st century “self”-portrait – is almost a further cementing/entrenchment of that perspective/identification.

The practice – along with its function in developing a social media “identity” and the mindset it facilitates – serves to indicate that we seem to be falling further into the traps outlined in “The Decapitation of Douglas Harding.” If you decided to do another post on Harding, the “selfie” might serve as a good springboard and/or centerpiece.

kristina November 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I am absolutely never-endingly inspired by what you wrote about getting rid of stuff and making sure everything has a home. I repeatedly go back to this article when I decide to clean a new area of my home. More about simplification of physical material life would be cool!

Swati December 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Can you please write about discovering and molding yourself? I am trying to be self aware and active about two things:

1. Changing the habits I don’t want
2. Figuring out what I want to do in my life

I would love your insights into either or both. Thank you :)

Gary Hardenbrook December 8, 2013 at 9:36 am

Would the world be better off without religion and, if so, what if anything should or would take its place?

Vivi December 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Long term depression. Feeling like you’ve disappointed yourself on so many levels so many times you’ve lost count. Having disappointed your professors. Not knowing where in the hell you’re going in life. Abusive parents. And all that wretchedness.

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