Basic Fucking Rights Be Better Musings Society

Free Speech

The fundamental issue underlying the necessity of free speech is the inherent and unwavering value of Truth.

Truth is not always self-evident. There are many interpretations of a collection of facts that can steer a person or group farther from or closer to base Truth. Statistics and data analysis reveal this to scientists every day. Members of all political ideologies bend data to their biases at every turn.

What brings people closer to Truth is discourse. The exchange of ideas between open-minded but passionate individuals is the best way to whittle down perception to uncover base Truth.

There is no substitute for it.

Open-mindedness is key to this. Discourse cannot succeed in its mission without this critical factor. Those involved in discourse must be willing to be contradicted so that their misconceptions can be remedied.

Passion is equally important. If one is not dedicated to their point-of-view, perhaps one marred by a slight variance from Truth, they may succumb to a more-incorrect, but more attractive, theory, replacing one misinterpretation with another, and thereby carrying them farther from their goal.

One (or a group) who is passionately dedicated to their perception, but also willing to concede when another interpretation holds merit, is destined to find, if not the full base Truth, then something closer to it than was known before them.

This search, the quest for Truth, is at the core of humanity. It is a driving factor in all that we, as humans, do. It is, in my estimation, one of the reasons we exist. When we find Truth, as a Race, something will happen. And it will be Earth shattering.

But we can’t get there if we limit the free exchange of ideas. Even, and especially, ideas that we find repugnant and/or vile. Truly evil ideas should be given their space. Debate them vehemently and expose them for what they are. If we do anything less, they will fester and grow, drawing people secretly in and taking root.

Bad ideas cannot grow in the light. They may not die completely, but they will not prosper. The light put upon them by debate and prudence will show all who will listen in earnest that they are not worth credence. There will always be those who would prefer to join with poorly-conceived hateful doctrine. There is nothing to be done for them. There is no debate or oppression that will stop them, and they are certainly not worth giving up something so precious as the pursuit of Truth in futile attempts to keep them at bay.

We can only fight these by ensuring they are outnumbered by well-informed individuals who base their lives in Truth.

The only way to do this is to not only fight against the curtailing of Free Speech, but by actively engaging in the exercise thereof.

Stay ready. Stay safe. Stay free.


Be Better Musings Society

Finding the Happy

I am an unreasonably lucky man. I’ve never won the lottery, I didn’t buy Bitcoin when it was <$100 a coin (though I know a number of people who did), and it seems like every time I play cards or dice I lose my ass, but I deeply feel that where it really counted, I was as lucky as they come.

I was born in the United States of America. I was born to a pair of people who didn’t have much to their name, but who loved one another and their children fiercely, and believed that hard work and grit could build a better future. Through nothing more than universal good fortune, I grew up in the one place on Earth where I could be and do anything in the scope of human ability, with parents who put blood, sweat, and tears into making sure I had the opportunity to thrive.

Talk about luck.

There are millions of us, something like 330 million at the time of this writing, and if nearly all of us are among the top 5 or 10% of the wealthiest people on the globe, then why the hell are we so angry all the time?

I did some research for this post and found hundreds of articles and posts about anger from COVID lockdowns, being dissatisfied with race relations, or livid with politicians who ignore their constituents’ needs, but that isn’t really what I’m talking about. I believe that those things are symptoms, and the real problem lies deeper.

I think that modern Americans are fundamentally unhappy because contemporary cultural influencers have redefined what happiness means in order to improve their bottom lines. Many entities thrive on discontent, including commercial interests, social media personalities, and politicians. It’s to their benefit to keep people discontent.

“Okay, wise guy, what do you suggest?”

Well, I’m glad you asked.

Stop Comparing Joy

The number one ruiner of happiness is comparing yours to theirs. If everyone looked more at what they had and less at what their neighbor seemed to have, we would all love our lives a whole lot more. Top of the list of most prolific serial killers of joy is social media.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. all take snapshots of peoples’ lives and put them on display. Very few people put up random candid pics and posts from their day. They curate what they show, and that gives a biased view of their lives and their satisfaction therein. Instagram models have even started renting planes, cars, and friends in order to make their followers believe they enjoy a certain lifestyle. Your friends on Facebook you haven’t talked to since high school probably aren’t out there ‘living their best life’ nearly as well as they want you to believe.

They’re showing what they want others to see, so they can keep up.

Even if that weren’t the case, even if there are millions of people out there with more things, more love, and more peace than you, that doesn’t make the things, love, and peace you have worth any less. The only person who can diminish your joy is you. Stop letting some dick nose on Twitter or Insta make you feel like what you have is lesser.

I’m certainly no world traveler. I’ve only been to a couple of foreign countries, and I haven’t even been to all of the lower 48 states. I have, however, seen poverty and the impoverished. I’ve seen those who don’t know for sure where their next meal will come from, and who are thankful for a sliver of shelter floor to share with others. I have seen those people smile from ear-to-ear and heard them laugh deeply. They find happiness in their lives and experiences, despite having next to nothing to call their own.

How can that be?

Perhaps we’ve been sold a bill of goods. Perhaps we’ve allowed advertisers, marketing gurus, and Instagram models to convince us that we need fancy cars, big TVs, and the latest iPhones to be happy, when what we really need is a good hobby, good relationships, and freedom to pursue our passions.

Stop Blaming Other People

Here’s where I will lose people. By and large, especially in the United States and western Europe, it is en vogue to blame The Man or The System for our shortcomings and failures.

Despite what people/media/government/social justice warriors/haters want you to think, your circumstances are your responsibility. The sooner you acknowledge this truth, the sooner you can take this weight on your shoulders, and the sooner you can take control of your situation.

There are tons of self-help books that hammer on this point, all of them written by people who are far more commercially successful than me. I’m not a big self-help book person, but I’ve read a number of books that have helped me grow as a person. A couple that I really liked: Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willing and Leif Babin, and Fortitude by Dan Crenshaw. Both of those books focus heavily on the mindset of taking responsibility for your shortcomings, fighting to overcome them, and finding ways to make the most of bad situations.

Yes, some people get a head start by virtue of being born into affluence. Yes, some people have an easier time getting a leg up because they know someone, have a more winning smile, or a better personality. Yes, some people have it harder due to biases in perception from people in positions of power.

So. Fucking. What.

Put your shit kicking boots on and wade through it. Fight hard and fight smart. Whatever field you are striving for success in, make yourself undeniable and you will achieve your goals.

Seek Out Suffering

I truly believe that constant comfort leads to long-term unhappiness. At any given moment across the first world, there are thousands of people smashing the keys on their phone, tablet, or computer to complain. Most of them do this complaining while sitting in a cushy chair or couch, eating a hot meal with high calorie content, and enjoying reasonably-good health. Maybe their hair is still damp from the long hot shower they just took. From a place of such comfort it is easy to feel every prod, poke, or itch, to dwell on each pang of hunger or aching joint.

Each of those small (or huge) conveniences is easy to take for granted. Why not step outside of them for a weekend (or more) and enjoy some time outside of the house and in the wide world where the only running water is between two banks and the closest thing to air conditioning is a cold front? Out there, where our ancestors lived their entire lives, hunger, thirst, and slight exhaustion are constant companions.

Maybe the outdoors really isn’t your thing. You can choose another type of suffering. Go for a run. Lift weights. Take a cold shower. Talk to Chatty Charles at the water cooler who talks incessantly about his world-view that you completely disagree with. Each of those things have benefits beyond making you uncomfortable: Running helps your heart and lungs; Lifting weights strengthens muscles, bones, and connective tissue; Chatty Charles might teach you something you didn’t know, and at the very least you will have a better understanding of another human being, which has its own inherent value.

Voluntary suffering makes you appreciate the simple comforts you might have forgotten about, comforts that other people don’t have, and that appreciation is requisite for happiness.

Find a Partner

Humans are social creatures. We crave companionship. If you want to improve your happiness, find someone to share happiness with. I call this person a partner, which can carry romantic connotations, but it doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. A partner can be a husband or wife or a close friend or a sibling. This partner is a person who will be present with you, invested in your success, and provide an outlet for your investment to ensure their success as well.

Happiness shared is happiness doubled. Troubles shared are troubles halved.

I know this topic causes intense unhappiness for some people. “Oh sure, just find The One and be happy. Thanks a lot, asshole.” And to an extent, yeah, something like that, but also, no it’s not like that at all. I’m not telling you to find The One, settle down, and live happily ever after. I’m telling you to find like-minded people, cultivate meaningful relationships with them, and revel in the shared joy and reduced pain that comes from a strongly-tied community. From that will come relationships of all kinds, probably even the romantic kind.

I don’t give relationship advice because different things work for different people. If you need to hear more than ‘be open, be honest, and demand the same from those around you,’ then I can’t really help. That’s not your failing, it’s mine. I’m just pointing out my limitation.

Corollary: cut shitty people out of your life

Very few things will kill joy like an asshole. If you have a person (or people) in your life that does not give you the same openness, honesty, support, and respect that you give them, then throw them out like a rancid steak. You don’t need that shit hanging around.

Don’t, however, mistake someone’s honest opinions or criticisms as disrespect. A person with different opinions or experiences can be invaluable. Be careful not to cut someone out just because you don’t like what they have to say. It could be an insight that could change your life for the better.

The Wrap Up

I figure I better make a big bold header to show people where they can jump to get a TLDR.

To wrap up, the biggest thing to do for your happiness is to stop comparing your shit to other people’s shit. Social media is a strong offender in this regard. Stop blaming other people for the things that go wrong in your life. Take responsibility and quit being a bitch. Eschew (why yes, that is a great word) comforts from time to time to better appreciate what you have. Seek out opportunities for voluntary suffering. You’ll feel better after feeling worse. Build real relationships. Find a partner. Share the good and the bad. Cut out the blood suckers and assholes and keep close the no-bullshit friends who are willing to tell you hard truths.

That’s all I’ve got for now.

Stay ready. Stay safe. Stay free.


Be Better Things I Read Lately

Things To Read

Before we take this Ramble, I have a confession. This Ramble is also a bit of a book review for a few books I read recently. I’ve linked to them throughout the Ramble, and if you buy those books through those links, I get a little kickback. The site I’m linking to is called Bookshop, and they help support local bookstores that are all in danger of shutting down because of Amazon. So, if you buy from those links, you’ll be helping me and helping keep local bookstores open, which is pretty fucking cool. With that said, Ramble on:

If you haven’t checked out my reading recommendations for dudes, check out my other post: Being a Man. I talk about some cool books I’ve read and some of the lessons they’ve taught me about myself, and what I think masculinity means.

This post won’t be that boring.

This post is going to be a list of good books that I’ve read and that I think you’ll like. If you don’t like them, then you’re wrong, and that’s okay. Don’t feel too bad. I don’t really know what it’s like, but I hear it’s a pretty common problem amongst normal folks.

I read a somewhat wide range of things. I’m a long-time fan of “speculative fiction” aka “Science-Fiction and Fantasy,” but I dig a good thriller or murder mystery or alternate history. Good non-fiction will draw me as well. Some things labeled “self-help” actually do help, history is vital to understand as fully as possible, and some people who really lives are more interesting than their fictional counterparts. As Mark Twain said “truth has to be stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense” or something like that…

Let’s dive into good stuff I’ve read in my time, starting with some books that changed my mindset.

On Combat and On Killing both by Lt Col Dave Grossman. (I know the first link goes to Amazon, but Bookshop didn’t have On Combat on their site)

I put these two together because they very much build on one another. Grossman’s research has had profound impact on our understanding of war, policing, and other forms of mortal conflict, and their effects on the soldiers, first-responders, and victims. The value of the information in these books can’t really be overstated. If you live around humans outside of your trust circle, then you need these books. If you, like me, consider your personal safety to be your personal responsibility, then you should be taking the training and mindset cues from these books to heart. From how to better train to prepare to defend your life, to how to deal with the overwhelming emotional and spiritual fallout after the fact, these studies are absolutely packed with information you shouldn’t pass up.

The Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers by Various

This book is a compilation of the writings of various of the founding fathers of the United States who published articles in newspapers to try and sway the opinions of the populace while debating the future of the New World. Many Americans these days have a very black-and-white view of the Constitution. They don’t really know the history, process, or points of contention that surrounded the creation of the document that would alter the course of modern governance. These writings are an excellent source of information and insight into why certain choices were made int he balance of state and federal powers when the republic was first born.

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

Did you like 300? Would you like to read the book that made that movie possible? Do you like tales of badassery, fights-to-the-death, and epic last-stands? Pressfield really brings home the warrior ethos in this book. You pick it up and put it down with a feeling in your guts that you, too, could be a ridiculous badass and hold the line against the Persian hordes. This is an absolute must-read for anyone who wants a little more warrior spirit in their lives.

1984 by George Orwell

This one should pretty much stand on its own as a recommendation in the current political climate. Big Brother, governmental overreach, the nanny state. It’s all a little too real. Read about what it means when you lean too far into safety and give away your dangerous freedom.

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

A classic. The first introduction to Jack Ryan. Inspiration for the Connery (RIP) classic. If you like action, you should be all over Clancy, all the time.

Terminal List by Jack Carr

Jack is one of my new favorite authors, and James Reece will be one of your favorite characters. Terminal List is one of those balls-out revenge stories that has you salivating for more. Pick this one up and root for the SEAL in his Cruiser against the political machine that fucked him over good.

Hope you find some of these enjoyable, and you support some local bookshops along the way. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

Stay ready. Stay safe. Stay free.


Be Better Musings Review Things I Read Lately

Being A Man

Before we take this Ramble, I have a confession. This Ramble is also a bit of a book review for a few books I read recently. I’ve linked to them throughout the Ramble, and if you buy those books through those links, I get a little kickback. The site I’m linking to is called Bookshop, and they help support local bookstores that are all in danger of shutting down because of Amazon. So, if you buy from those links, you’ll be helping me, and helping keep local bookstores open, which is pretty fucking cool. I promise I’m not linking you to bullshit books that suck, I’m only recommending things that have helped to change me in some way for the better and that I think we can all learn something from. With that said, Ramble on:

“Toxic” masculinity. You hear it thrown around all the time. Makes me think of some kind of ‘roided up powerlifter glowing green after being exposed to noxious chemicals. You know, kind of like…

The Toxic Avenger (1985, USA) - Wrong Side of the Art

But what does “toxic” masculinity mean? What does is portend for the future of our boys when the adjective used to describe their biology is constantly paired with a word that literally means “deadly”? Is there a way we can raise men who embody the positive traits masculine without this so-called poison?

Fuck yeah there is.

Now, I’m not claiming to be a shining pillar of manliness. I’ve never been the picture of a testosterone-fueled Hollywood dreamboat. I’m not jacked or yoked or cut or chiseled. I spent a large percentage (probably half) of my life training brain more than brawn. I skipped athletics when I was in high school, opting instead to get my phys ed credits from marching band. Thanks to asthma, I always hated to run, and since running was the core of everything athletic that I could see, I chose to carry around a bundle of drums to beat on instead. I never joined the military–a thing many associate with masculinity. Instead, I thought the best way I could support the warfighter was to put my brain to use solving some of the hard technical problems they face way out there at the tip of the spear. I’ve made a modest career helping support the guys out there dangling their asses over the line, but not being one myself.

Doesn’t sound like a picture of masculinity, does it?

Luckily for me, being an athlete and military veteran aren’t the only measures of masculinity. Those men certainly display a number of masculine traits (and veterans have my unwavering respect for the sacrifice they made for my family and me), but those aren’t the only ways to make a man. Not by a long shot. Which brings us to the point of this post: “What does it mean to be a man in the modern world and why the hell should anyone listen to some dude on the internet?”

What does it mean to be a man in the modern world and why the hell should anyone listen to some dude on the internet?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

Let’s start with the second part. Why should anyone listen to me? Well, I’m a modestly successful man who has read a bit about masculinity through the ages, listened to some really smart people talk about manhood, and generally feels pretty good about himself as a representative of the male of the species. Give me a few more paragraphs and you can decide whether I have anything useful to say. If you close this page thinking I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, then okay, but if not, then maybe we can help a generation of lost boys become found men.

In my not-so-humble opinion, any good learning endeavor begins with books. There are 3 in particular that I think any man (or teenage boy approaching manhood) should thumb through.

The first one is King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette. This was one of those that I was skeptical to pick up at first because I wasn’t much of a philosophy or psychology guy, but once I started, I found it hard to put down. It’s a dive into the Jungian archetypes of man that have carried pretty consistently throughout history and across geography. The crazy thing about it is how approachable and fascinating they manage to make something as chewy as Jung.

Pick it up on Bookshop: here

The general premise is that masculinity presents in 4 archetypes. I bet you can guess what they are. Those archetypes are pyramidal, meaning there are an aggressive version at one bottom corner, a passive version at another bottom corner, and one balanced version at the top peak of each archetypal pyramid. From there they discuss the presentation of each one of these variations in both childhood and adulthood, how to recognize when you are too far to one side or the other, and what kind of disservice you are doing to yourself and your community by not growing to your fullness.

In the end, my main takeaway was that one must strive for balance and temperance in order to be your best and most fulfilling self.

The second book was nothing like what I expected it to be. From the title, I expected Iron John by Robert Bly to be some kind of John Henry or Big John fiction about manly men doing manly things. Turns out I was way off. Robert Bly creates a surprisingly enthralling narrative where he walks through the symbolism and metaphor in the Grimm story of Iron John, a fairy tale I had never heard before.

Pick it up on Bookshop: here

I don’t want to get too deep into it because Bly does a much better job than I ever could, but basically the story follows a boy born to power who finds Iron John and is pulled from wealth and civilization into the wild natural world. The balance he must strike between wild and civilized before returning to the world of men in triumph and power, describes the struggle all men must endure to embody a true definition of a righteous and masculine man.

Both of these first two books hit on two critical things that previous generations had that modern men lack: elder mentors and manhood rituals. The authors all posit that lacking a moment to point to where they can say “I am a boy no longer,” and not having another man–an Elder–to point to where they can say “This is how a man lives,” leave a boy wandering through adulthood, lashing out at those around him in search of some evidence that he is truly a man.

Lacking a moment to point to where they can say “I am a boy no longer,” and not having another man–an Elder–to point to where they can say “This is how a man lives,” leave a boy wandering through adulthood, lashing out at those around him in search of some evidence that he is truly a man

After those two books dedicated to defining the transition from boy to man and outlining the qualities of True Masculinity in its Strength, I’m recommending something more focused on awareness of thought and forming better mental habits.

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen is a very quick read. Basically a treatise on how thought sculpts your reality, it’s not long but it’s profound. There’s a reason that Allen’s work has been considered a classic since it was published in the early Twentieth Century. In the end, the primary thing I left with was the uplifting feeling that I was not only responsible for, but ultimately capable of, building the reality I wanted for myself.

Pick it up from Bookshop: here

That, to me, is the heart and soul of masculinity: taking responsibility for your actions, sculpting the world around you to realize your goals, protecting those people and things that are your charge, providing for the same, and leading them as an example of personal responsibility.

In the vast majority of cases, none of those tasks will require violence, anger, or aggression. But that brings me the final piece of masculinity that, in my estimation is the basis of this idea of “toxic” masculinity, and that is Violence. Capital V.

I don’t think you can mention the male of (most) any species and not also mention Violence. Birds, cats, dogs, deer, humans. All of these animals will attack one another under certain circumstances, and all of these animals will attack other creatures at other times. It is the role of the masculine to do the dirty work when necessary to protect or provide for society. Those who speak out about “toxic” masculinity are seeing this violence and aggression used in ways that are destructive and hurtful to society, and conflating it with true masculinity.

From the readings, especially King, Warrior, Magician, Lover, it seems straightforward to me. These men have yet to understand that they are acting from a place of insecurity and weakness. To embody masculinity is not to pick on those physically weaker or try to insert yourself into the world of an attractive woman through cat calls or unwanted confrontational advances. In fact, real masculinity is the opposite of those things. A masculine man will stand up for those weaker, help them along, and understand that by helping those weaker than himself he is making the entire community stronger. A masculine man can approach a woman he finds attractive confidently and respectfully and strike up a conversation in a way that doesn’t make her uncomfortable.

I said earlier that I had spent a large percentage of my life training my brain and not my body. I also spent a lot of my life insecure, depressed, and tired. Then I started going to the gym. I started lifting weights. I began to take pride in my body and recognize it for what it was: my only real physical property. I lost a ton of weight. I’m still kind of a squishy motherfucker, but I eat right, I train BJJ, and I hit the range a few times a month. Simply put, I increased my ability to do Violence and that made me a calmer and more centered man.

It is a hallmark of masculinity to train your body to the limits of its capability. That doesn’t mean that you have to be a chiseled Adonis. A man with ALS who can only move one arm who still works that arm to the best of his ability in a struggle to keep his machine functioning as well as possible; that man is masculine as fuck. That dude has as much of my respect as the powerlifter cleaning more than his bodyweight.

It’s a strange balance to have to strike, this melding of Testosterone and refinement, but I think it’s one that most men know in their hearts. I think those who display “toxic” masculinity know they are misbehaving, but don’t understand where they are compensating or how to grow into better men. Maybe someone will sit them down and be their Iron John or their modern-day shaman and put them through that ritual we all need to make the transition to manhood.

Thanks for taking this Ramble with me. Now, get out there and be some Lost Boy’s shaman.

Stay ready. Stay safe. Stay free.


Be Better Musings

No Regrets

I have this theory about life. It’s not terribly groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it is something I think about whenever I’m worried or afraid to do something I think will improve my life. It goes like:

The things you fear are the things you should be doing.

Now, this isn’t fear like “if I do that, I’m going to die,” although, some of those fears should also be faced. These fears come from without. The fear that someone else will see you doing a thing and judge it a waste of time. The fear that someone will take in the product of your labor and deem it unworthy. The fear that you will look silly.

The fear that you will fail.

That last one–that’s the big one, the reason most people don’t do things. That’s the reason why dreams lay by the side of the road, bloated in the ditch, as people drive past in their fuel-efficient vehicles acting like they don’t see them because someone else’s dead dreams might remind them of their own hope corpses. That’s why people die with regrets.

I don’t want that. I have no idea how long I’m going to be here. I can’t tell you whether I will die next week from some rare blood disease or hyper-aggressive cancer or stray bullet or Antifa brick to the head. I’m 37 years old and people younger than me die every single day.

What makes me special enough to be exempt from that? Nothing. Not one single minuscule fucking thing.

So I decided a few years back that I wasn’t going to let any of that petty bullshit hold me back. I was going to do the things that made me and the people I care about happy. I was going to chase contentment. I decided I would keep working my normal job, because it pays the bills and doesn’t stress me out too much, but in my spare time, I was going to write a book, or two, or three.

In the process of all of this writing, I’ve discovered a lot about myself. For three years, I worked on writing this story. I wrote 300,000 words without a single thought to how good or bad it was. I just puked words out onto a page. It was glorious. Then I joined up with the community and started showing other writers my work.

Judgment came down from on high.

For the most part, people were positive, which was awesome. Some people were negative, which was less than awesome, but it helped to make the work better. Then this strange thing happened: I started having difficulty writing.

I would sit down at my keyboard and stare at it. My mind would go totally blank. I knew what I needed to write, but it wouldn’t come out. I would start typing, because that’s what you do when you get blocked, you just write. Write anything. It doesn’t matter. Just get the words flowing again.

Still, it was all crap. I would write and write and write and end up deleting it all the next day because it just sucked. Eventually, I would break through the barrier and something worth a damn would spew giddily from my story hole and my fingertips would hesitantly cram it onto a computer screen. Then a few weeks later, the cycle would repeat.

I noticed something after a while: Rarely did the block come on its own. There was something that incited it. Something that made my mind say “You’re not a writer today. Today you’re a failure.” And somewhere in the corner there was this weak little nerdy kid, with his hair parted on the side wearing a bolo tie sitting at his desk, who just couldn’t tell the voice that it was wrong (I have a picture of me looking exactly like that from like 4th grade, by the way. If you don’t believe me, ask my mother, I’m sure she’d happily show it to you and gush about how adorable I was). That kid would just agree and curl up in a ball and decide it wasn’t worth the effort if he was just going to fail anyway.

Here’s my thoughts on the matter: that kid’s wrong. Even if the voice is totally right and I’m a complete failure and not one single person ever enjoys the words I write down, that kid is still wrong. The value and beauty in life is in the living.

The measure of how well you’ve lived your life is how satisfied you are with it.

I’ll leave you with an exercise I do from time to time. I do this to make sure I’m living this life the way I want to, not the way someone else thinks I should. I do it when I feel like I’ve lost perspective and I need to remember the shit that matters.

Okay, relax. Here it is:

Contemplate for a moment the idea that one day you will die. Don’t think of it as an abstract idea. Really consider what those last moments will be like. Maybe you will die in your sleep, after a long struggle with an illness. You’ll lie in bed and your chest will feel heavy. Breathing is a chore and when you do manage a gasping wheeze, it isn’t enough to satisfy your need for oxygen. You close your eyes, and listen as the world hurdles through space. You can feel that the end is near and your essence will return to be among the forces of the universe.

What will you think in those last few breaths before you close your eyes and the darkness takes you? How satisfied will you be with the decisions you’ve made and the way you’ve spent the all-too-few and precious minutes you were given? Did you look at the things that were just too scary, the things that, while in the moment, seemed too big and daunting to reach for and turned away from them? Or did you, instead, listen to your heart–to your soul–and grab life by the balls and take the things you wanted as it screamed and fell to its knees begging for mercy? What things will you wish you had the chance to go back and do? What things will you regret as you lay there, contemplating the end?

Go do those fucking things.

Live your life as though you’re watching it from your deathbed. Because one day you will be.

Stay ready. Stay safe. Stay free.


Basic Fucking Rights Be Better


Early voting started this week in Texas! Get your ass out there and cast your ballot for whichever train wreck of a human you think will keep us all afloat the longest!

Be Better

No One Is Smart In a Bubble

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply

Stephen R. Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

This dude, Stephen Covey, is a pretty smart motherfucker. He’s written a couple of hugely successful ‘self help’ books about how to become a more successful and ‘effective’ version of yourself. One of the most under-rated skills that smart, skilled, and generally worth-a-shit people focus on is the simple act of really listening. Listening to comprehend. Listening to learn and grow. Listening to expand.

Not listening to refute. Not listening to find loopholes. Not listening to teach.

Listening to understand can help save the world. I don’t think that’s hyperbole. I legitimately believe that the path we’re on right now, with all the unrest, the shouting each other down, the rampant victimhood, and immediate dismissal of others’ problems as somehow lesser than our own, is going to be the downfall of the United States of America, and maybe the world as we know it.

This is something we don’t see in our media much anymore. Watch any CNN/MSNBC/Fox, etc. panel and you will either see lots of people arguing with each other and talking over one another, or two people with exactly the same viewpoint nodding heads and patting each other on the back about how right they are. Very few members of the media invite someone on their show and really talk with them to learn what it is they have to say, to expand their own meager worldview by merging it with someone else’s. A counter-example of this is someone like Joe Rogan. On the Joe Rogan Experience, he invites all kinds of people on, from all walks of life, and has these extremely compelling conversations with them. He counters points here and there, but it’s with intent to press them for legitimacy, to make sure they aren’t bullshitting, and not with the intent to shoot them down and prove how right he is.

When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know; but when you listen, you may learn something new

Dalai Lama

I chose the title of this post because no matter where you look in history, you will find some really bright people, but you won’t find a single solitary asshole among them who got to be brilliant on their own. Archimedes, Socrates, da Vinci, Newton, Tesla, Einstein, Curie, Hawking. Read up on them, and you will find that none of them came by their brilliant discoveries on their own. They existed in a sea of other brilliant minds who contributed to their understanding and knowledge.

Every person sees the world through a filter of their own experiences. This works pretty well if humans don’t have to live around other humans who have lived different lives, but it really falls apart when we try to create policies and practices that will govern the lives of people from different parts of a country as large as the United States.

Consider for a moment the geographical and cultural spread of the United States as compared with other countries. Latitude has a massive impact on lifestyle and culture. Compare the approach to food and leisure of someone from the southern US to someone from the Midwest. Being in Texas, we see this within the borders of our own state. Life in Brownsville near the border with Mexico is completely different from life in Amarillo, near Oklahoma, simply due to weather. Add to these inherent differences that we also encourage people from all over the world who are fleeing oppression to come bask in the glory of Liberty and Freedom, and we get an immense spread of life experiences and expectations.

And all of these people have to live together harmoniously, or the greatest social experiment in the history of Earth falls apart in ruins.

And we’re on the brink of it. It’s up to us to save this thing called America.

It can’t be done without sharing perspectives. We all absolutely must learn to hear one another with openness and compassion, in order to build an inclusive and productive society.

Stop. Look. Listen. You might find we have a lot in common.

Stay ready. Stay safe. Stay free.