What You Can Do

What is Important to You?

After watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, I was reminded of one of the most memorable lines in The Lord of the Rings:

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

Each generation in the modern era has faced the specters of busyness, materialism and deciding what is truly important. Arguably, at no other time in history, have societal forces have been so powerful in telling us how to live and what to become. It’s as if we’ve given up in finding out what we are truly meant to be. We’ve abandoned our intellectual ability to make our own decisions. Then one day, we wake up, wonder where it has gone, and wish we’d set out and found our own story, not someone else’s.

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When Fiction Warns Us

A human darkness with a vast appetite for chaos and violence.

That is what simmers in the background, waiting to be released, which is exactly what unfolds in Steven Konkoly‘s The Perseid Collapse and William R. Forstchen‘s One Second After.

Unfortunately, what they write about in fiction is all too real a threat.

A Dangerous Situation

An aged power grid is becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks or natural or man-made EMPs. This really isn’t a secret to the powers that be. In fact, if they truly cared about people, they would have taken measures to shore up the grid years ago. They’re too busy figuring out how to buy votes and bail out their buddies. If this is all new to you, check out the latest threats to the grid here. A decade or so ago, the United States finally began deploying a missile defense system to protect us from human causes. Again, politics continues to threaten expansion and upgrades.

National Geographic aired the docudrama American Blackout which showed what could happen with the grid down for a few days. What would happen if this lasted weeks or months? Many people think (or hope) disasters like these won’t or cannot happen. Ask people who have lived through hurricanes and tornadoes or earthquakes. Fiction can remind us what is really important in life. It tells us action is better than hoping for the best.

Should protecting the country from nuclear holocaust or complete collapse really be a political issue? I’m thinking most would rather not be vaporized or watch their cities self-destruct. Sooner or later, disasters will come, whether natural or man-made.

Ignoring this is beneath human intelligence. Let’s do something about it.

EMP Missile Defense

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Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator

Check out Tim Urban’s TED talk here as he delves into his procrastinating mind. Read the blog version and then how to beat procrastinating. After you watch and read you’ll see how procrastination is a subtle, subversive disease that attacks us all and keeps you from your true Story.

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Healthy Reading

If you haven’t checked out the Hero’s Journey interval training program yet, why not? Training or working out doesn’t have to be boring or something you have to do, it should be something you want to do. Add these two to the mix: the Legolas Workout or the Shieldmaiden Workout or any of the other dozens of themed workouts at Darbee.com. Training, however, is only half of the equation.

The other half is nutrition. Sure, working out out will reduce the weight, just as only “dieting” will, but focusing on only one makes long-term maintenance difficult and gains often temporary. If you have decided on a commitment to better health, you also have to commit to some studying. Knowledge has many benefits for your lifestyle change, such as: Continue reading

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Every Generation’s Legacy

Think not forever of yourselves, O chiefs, nor of your own generation. Think of continuing generations of our families, think of our grandchildren and of those yet unborn, whose faces are coming from beneath the ground. – Peacemaker, Founder of the Iroquois Confederacy

In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast into oblivion…Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground – the unborn of the future Nation. – The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations: The Great Binding Law

There are a variety of quotes like these, often rewritten as some variation of, “In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation…” These quotes are often used in discussion of environmental issues, but they are a fundamental concept of foresight that should be applied to much of our thinking. This is something our politicians rarely do — they’re only concerned in what they can say or do (or appear to do) to get them through the next election cycle.

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Prepare for Your Quest

Much has been said about fantasy books here, but can we somehow manage to combine this with fitness?

“How on Earth can we do that?” you wonder (or say to the computer screen if you’re apt to talking to yourself).

Neila Rey and friends at Darebee have created the fantasy themed Hero’s Journey workout. This is a real deal workout that will test your readiness for any quest in your life.

I may continue this as a series of posts, Fitness Fridays if you will, an idea borrowed from Amy’s Curiouser and Curiouser blog. And if you need some fantasy mood music, load up some Lindsey Stirling here and here.

hjnr

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Opening Our Eyes in 2016

I’ve written on how 19th Century author George MacDonald fathered the fantasy genre that has become such a staple of literature. Beyond that, MacDonald was also a controversial figure in his day, and even now. Why? Because he wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Biographer Michael R. Phillips writes:

In his later writings MacDonald strongly attacks the mentality that cares more for providing its own position than for discerning the truth. He would prefer to find himself in the wrong, and thereby learn a new facet of truth, than win an argument…he would not even formulate an opinion until he sees the question more clearly…[he wouldn’t]…put forward an opinion prematurely until the light of truth had been shed upon it.

Here, on the first day of the new year, perhaps this is what we should keep in our minds and on lists of resolutions. A commitment to test what we read, what we are told and what the powers that be claim is so. In an election year this is even more important, because the professional politicians and their dutiful followers have already spent months weaving their deceptions. We need to be like MacDonald who had

…a mind not afraid to doubt and ask questions. It was a mind not hiding behind doors, but knocking on them. His eyes were wide open, alert to any entrance of truth.

So in 2016, let’s open our eyes, stop hiding and start knocking.

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Stop. Refuel.

Doug Fields writes in his book Refuel:

…a life without margins is a life in or rapidly approaching chaos. A marginless day is crammed with running, driving, chasing, little time to catch your breath, and limited time to think something through or decompress…Why is it, with all these luxuries, technologies and time-saving devices in our lives, that we’re still busy, tired and marginless? I believe it’s because a series of lies has barged in and taken root in our lives.

Those lies are:

  • There’s just not enough time to do everything.
  • I’m just in the busy season right now.
  • But this is really, really important.
  • Success and busyness are synonyms.
  • We create much of our busyness for ourselves and then complain we have no time. This has become such a problem in the modern world that Timothy Ferriss writes, “Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing…Being selective — doing less — is the path of the productive.”

    Much of this is in your control. Don’t wake up someday and wonder where the time has gone. It’s always there with this reminder:

    Don’t waste it.

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    Be an Explorer. Yes You.

    A few posts ago, I mentioned some of the activities you should be engaging in before summer vanishes and you start complaining about the cold. They revolved around activities outside. That’s right, outside, as in not in a buiilding.

    Even in the great outdoors, we can’t seem to leave our electronics home. It wasn’t that long ago where if you said you were going camping for the week, that’s the last anyone heard from you for a couple days. Now you’re expected to blog, text, tweet, call and face time every step of the way. There is hope for us.

    Richard Louv expertly argued in his books Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle the importance of nature in our lives. While technology has often improved our lives, it can be an impediment, especially through the “entertainment” it brings with it. So it’s with certain irony that geocaching has brought tech to the woods and let millions become explorers again.

    In the old days, you would use a compass and map to engage in the sport of orienteering. Find hidden caches or capture the opponent’s flag, it could be quite the weekend adventure. Then came GPS and someone said, “Let’s hide stuff in the woods and others can try to find it with their GPS.” Years – and millions of hides and finds later – geocaching continues to grow. In spite of that, it lives a strange existence of many still not knowing about it, to being almost a secret society to others.

    Paul and Dana Gillin chronicle the sport in their book The Joy of Geocaching. They write how it dovetails with many other outdoor hobbies, is an inexpensive way to spend time with friends and family, brings enthusiasts together from all walks of life, among other points. Perhaps most importantly, geocaching appeals to the “restless and inquisitive” and as one geocacher wrote that he found, “most caches were placed in these out-of-the-way places. It’s not what the tourism office thinks you should see; it’s what people in the community think you should see.”

    Indeed, many parks and communities have embraced geocaching, while some government entities (no surprise here) have seen it has something to ban or regulate. I once had a cache in a very scenic, but oft forgotten, corner of a state park. Over the years, many of the cache finders commented on how they didn’t know about the place so close to home or had forgotten it. But apparently increased business on tax-payer funded lands didn’t sit well with the parks and they made it harder for caches to be put in place. Most were pulled out.

    Regardless of such irrationality, geocaching still a perfect way to ignite the explorer in all of us. You can armchair it all you want in front of the tube, but that will never be the same as putting on your Indy hat, lacing up your boots and heading out the door. Even if it’s just discovering what you have been missing in your own community, it’s like discovering a lost world.

    The Space Age has put the power to explore in your hands. What are you waiting for?

    geo

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    Summer is Here, Grab it and Don’t Let Go

    Last year I wrote how Dandelion Wine is a classic book setting the tone of summer. This year, let me suggest five goals for your summer:

    1. Catch fireflies (or lightning bugs, as we call them). If nature didn’t have enough lifeforms whose complexity defies chance, here’s one that no kid, or adult, should go the summer months without catching.

    2. Look at the stars. Why spend a cool, summer night in front of the television? It doesn’t take an expensive telescope or pair of binoculars to explore the night sky or the Moon. Be connected to our ancestors who studied the heavens for many millennia. Rediscover Earth’s paradox: A speck among the vast cosmos — a cosmos that conspired to allow it to exist against all odds.

    3. Visit an old-fashioned amusement park. One that has been around for decades and in some ways has retained some of the original atmosphere. Sure, we have enough amusement, but the rides, sounds, lights and people from all walks makes for an experience all too rare. Hopefully, they are not a dying breed.

    4. Build a campfire. Forget the stove or the grill. Build it from scratch and cook over hardwoods like mankind has done since the dawn. Maybe it’s the dancing flames or the aromatic smoke that brings us back to simpler times. Or perhaps the bringing of people together is a reminder of what we have lost.

    5. Notice all these activities are outside? Here are some more: Geocaching, Hiking, Exploring (Waymarking).

    Summer is a time to stop the busyness and replace it with life. The good life.

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