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May 2009

coffee and newspaper

I feel very blessed.  I seem to be drawing a small but growing group of some of the most thoughtful, intelligent readers around.

I appreciate you all very much, you’ve done more for me than you know.

I had a lengthy article all ready to go for today, but I’ll post it another day.  I won’t fill your head with my opinions this morning, there will be plenty of those later.

Instead, I’ll just take this chance to wish you a good day.  And I mean you, as a person.  Have a great Friday, really.

Whatever you have on your plate on this particular day, I hope it’s not too troublesome for you.  But if it is, know that it matters to me too, because I like you.

If there’s anything I can do for you from my computer chair that won’t get me fired, send me an email.

Thank you all for coming, I’m honored.

Photo by jRa7

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One tree

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

~Albert Camus

This year is my 29th year on earth, and I’ve decided to make it the most memorable and remarkable year I’ve ever had.  My entire adult life I have felt the unsettling feeling that I am not living up to my potential, and finally — just this year — that feeling is gone.  I’m cruising, not treading water like before.

The choice to build a blog emerged as part of a personal renaissance of sorts, a shift in priorities that has changed my life dramatically over the last year or so.  I’ve finally reached a point where I’m organized and clear-headed enough to be continuously moving towards what I really want in life.  I’m learning a language, getting in shape, getting fantastically organized, and honing skills I’ve long neglected. Read More

creepy cpr faces

The first thing I heard was the crash.  I spun around on my stool, and she was already crumpled on the floor, head bent against the radiator.

Her eyes were open and blank, and she appeared to speak, but it was just part of the seizure.  She wasn’t there at all.  Her movements were so stiff and unnatural that I thought I was watching somebody die.

When she fell, there was nobody in the classroom closer to her than me.  Four or five feet away.   But I couldn’t move.  I didn’t know what to do.  I just stared, heart racing, and hoped somebody would just do something. Read More

Post image for Does Your Story Have This Common Weakness?

I always wanted to be Indiana Jones.  I was the only nine-year-old on the block with a fedora and a genuine bullwhip.  I watched the movies all the time.  I couldn’t get enough ancient tombs and hidden doors and mine-cart chases.  That was the appeal for me, the action.  It wasn’t until I grew up a bit that I started to actually understand the plots of some of the movies I was watching.  It wasn’t just a familiar parade of fascinating scenes, those scenes actually caused each other.  None of them stood alone.

The deeper message in the story always went over my head too.  It was the spectacle I was interested in, the romance and drama, not so much the people.  I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark several times before I even realized that the dorky professor at the beginning was Indiana Jones.

As I grew up, I realized that the real power of story was in the development of the characters, not the exploding jeeps.  Read More

black sheep

The blogosphere has grown to astronomical size already, but somehow, there still appears to be pervasive sameness to it. (Anybody know where I can learn to make money online?)  There are millions of blogs in thousands of niches, and in each, certain authorities rise to the surface.  Most of these “A-listers” are just especially good at something a lot of people are doing: marketing, getting fit, discussing tech stuff.  Nothing wrong with that.   But some people are clearly drumming their own tune, and it’s refreshing to see people who are doing something that is so distinguished, they have no competition.

Here are three fascinating characters working on three extraordinary projects.  Enjoy.  Read More

rainy day

Rich man crying ‘cause his money is time / Poor man smiling ‘cause he knows he ain’t blind
~ Sam Roberts, “Brother Down”

I can remember more than one night I spent wide awake as a child, frightened from a scary movie or some other show I wasn’t supposed to watch.  As scared as I was, I knew from experience that the night would eventually be over, and I would be fine, but that wouldn’t dispel the fear.  No matter what kind of reasoning I could summon, the fear wouldn’t budge, and I’d be trapped in that awful situation until the sun came up.

Waking my parents to tell them I was scared would do no good.  They could only comfort me for a few moments, then turn out the light and leave me again, vulnerable to any and all zombies or giant reptiles that happened to invade my room.

Once they’d left I’d have no choice but to hide completely under the covers, the edges tucked under my body, so that if a wandering bedroom carnivore did happen to eat me, it would just bite cleanly through this neatly packaged child without my having to ever see it happening.  I figured that ensuring a sudden and speedy demise was the best I could do in those hopeless situations.

This was not a frequent occurrence but it did happen from time to time, and each time I ached so badly for nighttime to be over.  It always came so slowly.  I yearned for the sun.  It didn’t really matter what the next day would contain, as long as it was light out and there were other people around.  I would take anything: unloading the dishwasher, helping my dad organize the garage, standing in line at the 7-11…  anything but to be here, alone in the dark. Read More

They want you

Difficulty strengthens the mind, as labor the body.


In Experiment No. 1, I set out to condition my mind by introducing it to frequent meditation sessions, and reported the results here on Raptitude.  It was a real eye-opener for me, and I was able to break new ground in terms of my understanding my mind.  In other words, I feel markedly stronger, mentally.  For Raptitude’s second official experiment, I’m going to get physical.

My weapon of choice is actually one Soviet troops used for many years to stay one glorious step ahead of their capitalist foes in the realm of physical prowess.  While western drill sergeants were punishing their men with long jogs and pushups by the dozen, Red Army soldiers were out in the pastures hoisting 53-pound iron balls above their heads a thousand times.  Every morning.  In a blizzard.  Taking breaks only to wrestle bears, for fun. Read More

Today’s post is a guest post by Josh Hanagarne from World’s Strongest Librarian. Enjoy!  ~ David

My high school government teacher Mr. Weeks remains the best instructor I’ve ever had, and that includes my undergraduate and graduate studies. I still quote him about once a week – more often during crises.

One day he asked us all a question that I’ve never forgotten.

“What is Freedom?”

He didn’t seem surprised when someone raised their hand and avowed, “Freedom is being able to do what you want.”  It was what we were all thinking.  Before we could begin nodding, Mr. Weeks laughed and shouted “Wrong!”  He was tickled that he’d led us into another trap.  He straightened his tie, cleared his throat and said:

“That’s exactly what’s wrong with the world.  People think they want freedom, but what they want is anarchy.  Doing whatever you want isn’t freedom: it’s anarchy.  When anarchy is the norm, that’s when society starts sliding into the ocean, and at that point… good riddance.  Anarchy is for losers and punk bands.”

Read More

A good scene

I have great news.

You are the star of the greatest film imaginable. It is an unprecedented epic saga, it is filmed in one continuous shot, from the first-person perspective. The sets are rich with detail, the lighting always underlines the mood perfectly, the cinematography always magnificent yet unpretentious.

The supporting cast is top notch, too. There are no histrionics, no miscast actors, no flubbed lines. They all deliver the dialogue impeccably, each line timed and inflected perfectly for its respective scene. The protagonists’ friends and lovers will make you laugh out loud, swoon with desire, and feel a sense of belonging and respect. The villains make you feel afraid, furious, depressed, and alienated.

Often the people in the story will look right at the camera, and reveal the stunning depth and density of their character to you.  Why are they even in this story, and why in this particular chapter? What role are they here to play: the advisor, the fool, the expert, the disciple, the love interest, the diplomat, the instigator, the enemy, the martyr? Read More

Mama duck

My mom left out a few lessons that a lot of other kids got.  Certain common habits, I just never developed because nobody taught me.

In the last few years I’ve become more and more interested in people, and I pay more attention to passers-by when I’m out and about.  One thing that always enthralls me is seeing children learn from their parents.  A wide-eyed and curious child, watching his mother’s actions and words, is a powerful sight to behold.  It affects me today in ways it never had before.  Now that I’m older and firmly in the habit of examining my habits, I can see how crucial those moments are in shaping a kid’s life.

What the parent does in those moments, in front of her vulnerable, impressionable child, is a far-reaching act of creation.  How she interacts with her own world is probably the greatest factor in determining how that child will deal with his own life when he’s free to make his own decisions. Read More

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