Philosophizing

Keep On Moving

Sitting there. Staring at your screen and watching another Netflix episode even though there are many more important things on our to-do lists that are piling up every second. Anxiety abates as we click on that next video, but it doesn't disappear. Instead it gnaws at us. The anxious feeling can gnaw at the very soul if you let it. Beating down the spirit and allowing a motivation to slowly drift away.

I feel it. I've felt it. The constant checking of email while waiting on that fateful message about the future. The nonchalant glance at the phone while with friends and the head rush that comes with a text message; and the accompanying deflation when the text is from someone other than who you wanted it to be from. Those moments when the only thing that it seems possible to do is wait and the control of a decision lies utterly beyond control.

That feeling can, and does, beat us down without mercy. A smarter person would cite studies to show how the loss of control can consume an otherwise successful life and turn that life to madness. But anxiety doesn't have to strike, control doesn't have to completely leave even when everything is chaotic and in the air. There is a simple solution:

Keep on moving

Do everything. Do anything you can. Keep getting better. Focus on your process, whatever your process may be. Because in the end the result isn't what is important, the result isn't what shapes and changes and develops a person. The process is. And people don't become who they are without a process, even people who feel helplessly out of control of the direction of their life have a process: one of constantly giving up the control of the direction of their life. So while anxiously checking that email to see if you're good enough to be considered for a life altering opportunity always keep in mind that if you get that opportunity...GREAT! And if you don't... rely on working toward the next one, because this world has no shortage of opportunities for those who commit themselves to the process.

Being Elsewhere

I'm somewhere else. I've been in the mountains for the last few months. My mind has been in the sky, sucking up that arid and lacking southwestern air. Every opportunity I get and my eyes flip to the mountains. I do a sort of channel surfing through the repository of images in my head and stick to one. I imagine running up the mountain, scrambling up fields of scree and clipping in to rocks while only being held up by ropes I tied with my own hands.

It's difficult being in a different place for so long. Being split in two and occupying two spaces at the same time. But rather than the exhilarating roar of a sudden passion and the accompanying crash into the past, this time I feel a slow hum. Even when I am not actively thinking and dreaming I can feel landscapes drift through and flutter out. My legs transport me to another space when I walk and my eyes glaze over into a dream; but the gaze of the dream stays fixed and rooted, passionate and present. Maybe not present in the way that I notice what is going on outside of me, but I fully know every tick that happens inside.

The hum grows every day. It is like moving toward a waterfall. There is no containing the excitement and beauty that I already live with every single moment. I imagine this is how and druggie at the height of ecstasy must feel. Alive and free and ready and calm. I am anxious but know that I will end up where I need to be, regardless of whether or not I make the right decisions.  I know this because I don't have to work at it. I am never struggling to maintain this passion because it seems to maintain me, even the idea of the dirt and rock and sand and stars.

I sit in my dark room and close my eyes and see the Milky Way and the breath of wind still hot from the scorching sun. I drift into a sleep and awake the next day, dreaming about boiling water from a small stove over a tight fire and hand grinding my coffee beans and pouring my coffee into a titanium mug. I live in this other world, the one I will be in soon, and yet I feel fully present in the one I am in, because they are both the same.

 

Simplicity Is Expensive

Pretty sweet video, right? If you watched it please keep reading, if you didn't...watch the video.

 

This video illustrates one of those aspirational lifestyles. Many people don't want to live this lifestyle but like seeing it documented, some people would like to visit, and a few would actually like to drop everything and move into the forest.

For me, I fall into the second camp. I would love to visit a place like this, but would not absolutely love living there. There is too much separation from society as a whole, and I like society. I think we can be pretty nifty folks. But what this video really inspires in me is an idea to live more simply—full of free time and passions. A life wholly and completely unconcerned by material goods. The problem becomes, how do I get there without being homeless on the streets?

In one of the great paradoxes of modern life, some of the simplest things are beginning to cost more money. Just over a year ago I was looking for camping in Colorado. I was with friends and we all wanted a pleasant night under some mountain stars and waking up to the forest around us. The problem was that all of the campsites were closed or cost money. Finally, after a few hours of searching we found our free campsite, but not before passing site after site of $15 and up campgrounds.

It has become illegal to live off of the land in many places because of permits, trespassing, and a bunch of other rules that are breakable if you only have enough money. The message becomes that the richer you are, the more simplicity you can afford. And once you have enough money to afford simplicity, you may have a difficult time getting away from what made you rich in the first place.

I don't want to live like an ascetic in the wilderness, but I would like to live near wilderness and friends and laugh and follow my passions and enjoy my free time just like every other person in the world. The whole process just seems a teeny weeny bit broken. Fortunately, I have a little bit of time I can afford now, so I am going to go and enjoy the outdoors for a while.

See ya on the flip side. 

Against Self-Help

Legal Disclaimer: If there is a business known as Self-Help Industries Inc. I am not referring specifically to that business.

I have an axe to grind with the good people at Self-Help Industries Inc.

I'm sure the people involved in this organization think they are doing a good thing. I bet 99% of them (this is a real percentage supported by science) have received positive emails about their book changing a life for the better. But I'm standing out here as a verified, fully certified hater asking you self-helpers to put down your pens and go for a very long walk. Away from me and from everyone else who has to suffer from your blandness.

I'll admit, I've read my fair share of self-help books. I've even enjoyed reading some of these books. I guarantee I could find a 5 star tome sitting in my Goodreads account and mocking me. But I can also say that if there are a few stars or I enjoyed a book that it was nothing more than that. Just an enjoyable book filled with veiled cliches that made the author too rich and too famous for their own good.

The problem with these books has to do with a problem I'll call The Watering: A fancy way of robbing the reader of their thoughts and putting them inside of a small box unfit for the delicacies of a robust personality. The Watering only gives room for a certain amount of eccentricity. It tells you a better way to shake hands and command attention in a board room. It tells you how long to wait after someone else has spoken and the way to introduce yourself to a client. It tells you how to live in such minute detail that your mind has no room to think for itself and is completely filled up with the ideas and requirements of the rest of the world.

The Watering is evil and even hides in authenticity. While reading this you may be thinking, "Oh come on Funk, don't be unreasonable. I read _________ and it talked all about not caring what anyone thinks and being myself." True. I agree with you. But the best self-help book in the world would read "Be authentic." One page. One line. Two words. The end. Once there are more words than that, I start to question whether a book that purports to help you become authentic has any validity.

One of my favorite and most ridiculous quotes comes from Paula Abdul. You remember her? There was a decent singer on American Idol one night and Paula said, "You are uniquely you." Cheesy? Check. Grammatically incorrect? Check. Better self-help advice than the Power of Now? Check. 

I want to be clear, I am not talking about religion or philosophy. Those are different beasts with a different purpose. I am talking about the books that try and tweak those outer quirks and kinks. The ones that tell you how to be charismatic like George Clooney (or whomever).

I've met a bunch of crazy rad people and a bunch of crazy bland people. The crazy rad people are usually a little monomaniacal, unbalanced, and nontraditional. The bland ones are obsessive about balance and what their boss thinks about them. I'll let you guess who buys more of the self-help books.

Some People Aren't Job People

I would like to make a humble proposition: some people aren’t made for normal jobs. This isn’t a groundbreaking idea. We have all seen an internet spam comment that says, “I quit my 9-5 job and now make $12,000 a month working from home.” But I am talking about something deeper than someone not liking a certain job in a certain office. I am talking about the people who believe that each second they spend working in an office is a second taken away from living their own life on their own terms.

I am talking about the people who dream of buying a big, old, clunky van and driving it down the highway to the mountains while living off of cans of beans and free crackers. The people who see the rain outside their office window and want to go outside and jump in the puddles and get mud on their legs instead of hiding under an umbrella and briskly walking to their car. I’ll call these people the jobless dreamers; these people are my people, and I want to defend our dirtbag tendencies.

Although we may actively search of ways out of our jobs, it has nothing to do with laziness. Lazy people don’t wake up hours before sunrise to climb a mountain. Lazy people don’t invent 50 uses for a single screwdriver. No, it isn’t laziness that keeps us away from jobs. It is the feeling we get when we have them. After the excitement of making easy money fades away, so too do the hours of the day. We watch the clock tick by as the sun reaches its apex and falls into the ground, only to be stuck inside of a too brightly lit building. We jump into action as soon as we clock out, and we practically run to our cars. Our uniforms are stripped off and quickly replaced by gear as we race the sun to our favorite running, climbing, or whatevering spot. And then, the moment our feet touch the ground, the bliss overwhelms us. We feel what we have been missing out on, and we revel in the feeling for as long as we can.

Finally, despite our best efforts to stay out, we begrudgingly enter our cars and drive home. We repeat the whole process the next day. After a while, this process rends our soul into a thousand pieces. We have two choices: we can quit or we can become boring and driven by everything external and everything we couldn’t stand.


We, as a whole, are not looking for a way out of responsibilities. We are looking for the best way to live our lives. And unfortunately for some of us, working a normal job is the worst way for us to live. If you’re a dirtbaggy type of person who dreams of living in the opposite of a mansion and romantically dreams about dirt tracks and uncomfortable sleeping positions, remember that you aren’t alone. You don’t have to listen to that advice from that person who you never aspire to be. And keep doing what you’re doing the best you can.