Yeast makes bread, beer, and men

beer hot tub

(Pin it here to read later)

The boy at the sales counter picked up the can. “What’s this?” he asked his father.
“It’s to grow yeast,” his father said, as he paid for his things.
“Yee-ust?” the boy said.
“Yeast,” his father said.
“What’s that?” the boy asked.
The question hung in the air, as the clerks bagged the beers and said nothing. I waited a few seconds, hesitating, then said, “Yeast are living things, they’re really small, so you can’t see them, but they’re all around. They float in the air, and they can be on this counter top.” I patted the countertop.
The boy looked at me with simple amazement. Then he turned to his father, for some kind of confirmation or reassurance. The father was getting his receipt but stopped and nodded.
I continued: “Do you see when your food goes bad, and it gets black, or brown? That’s yeast and other small living things like it.”
“I’ve seen green stuff,” the boy said excited.
“Yes,” I nodded, “that’s yeast growing on the food, They’re eating the food.”
“Yes,” the father said, “There’s good yeast and bad yeast.” Then he grabbed his bags. “Say thank you.” he said.
The boy wasn’t paying attention. The father prodded him, and looked at me, “say thank you”. I was surprised he was telling the boy to thank me.
“Thank you,” the boy said distracted, still thinking over the idea of these invisible things that surround him.
“Thank you,” the father looked at me earnestly. “You’re welcome,” I told them.
And the two left.
And then I thought, I think I just blew that kid’s mind.
The child’s curiosity. Why did we lose it?

Follow me and I will take you away from the everyday.

How love turns to dependence

book

I’ve been reading the non-fictional works of Steven Pressfield. He writes about Resistance (no typo there. He takes Resistance seriously) preventing you from pulling the trigger on creative endeavors, be it writing, starting a business, or implementing a major self-improvement in your life. In one part, he writes about how we may rely on icons to help us instead of helping ourselves. That’s when I realized something embarrassing:

I’d turned him into the icon that he warned about.

As my thoughts frequently turned to the resistance he’d written about and overcome, I realized I was avoiding the resistance I needed to face myself. I wanted to revisit his encouragement, instead of doing the work. The most ironic thing is, he’s the best guide of all, because he has no system of rules, just one simple direction: Stop distracting yourself and do the work.

If your guide starts presenting rules, he ceases to become your guide. Rules are for those who can’t control themselves, or their power, and they encourage that mentality. A guide who gives rules starts becoming less of a guide, and more of a dictator. I found myself picking up Pressfield’s book like a religious doctrine. I felt good after reading it, sure, but then I realized that his writings had become a crutch. And it became addictive, and restrictive.

The same applies to your friends or partners if they want you to be a certain way and follow some definition of what they want. And the same applies to our political leaders who want to help us, but sometimes pass some laws that restrict us.

These groups should empower us, not take power from us. And it’s easy for us to give our accountability away. To a friend, lover, priest, guru, or lawmaker.

Pressfield’s works are empowering, but I made them my source of power instead of claiming the power he was showing was already in me.

The good feelings I would get when picking up his book and reading a bit, became just that. Good feelings and little else. It’s nice to feel good. But if you want to produce something, feelings don’t do much. Producing something… something good, and beautiful and from you… that requires practice. Showing up everyday and doing the work.

And far from being a selfish act, this internal source of power is more selfless, because it doesn’t require you to take power from others. It gives you the capacity to generate this power at will. When you can do that, you can share it without fear, because you will have it always. And then the world stops becoming a series of partners or jobs or cars or clothes to give you validation. You stop collecting stuff in a world of scarcity where you need to guard those partners or worry about that job. Instead, the world becomes abundant, and at that moment, you not only make yourself happy, but you will unconsciously spread that happiness to everyone you meet.

How to be a superhero

captain-america

I just saw the movie, The Avengers. It was a disappointment to me, but this scene was so different from the rest of the movie. Really, I felt it to be the best part. It delved into defining humanity…a quest that men have faced since men became men. Do we lead, or do we follow?

In the video, Loki tells everyone to kneel and follow, because he believes himself better than the rest. Only one man stands up against Loki.

As in most movies, only a few are willing to stand up, leave the safety of numbers, and face the fear, the danger of changing things, making a difference, and doing what’s right.

Life is not the movies. But if we want to be in a movie, let’s act like we are the hero in our own movie. Maturing is not only about accepting the way things are, but accepting your responsibility over them. Each of us lives in his own world, and makes his own decisions, but those decisions contribute to the sum of worlds from all the humans around him.

Loki is everywhere: The criticism without encouragement. The norm that keeps you safe and distracted from improving anything. The fear of the unknown. The culture that keeps us investing in irresponsible corporations and choosing leaders who encourage their existence.

There is no select few who can be superheroes.

Superheroes are just people who show up and do the right thing, for themselves and for the world they live in.

And it’s time we all stand up to the Lokis in the world.

What did you learn from this election?

This election season has taught me a lot. It has made me see the ideology that can take over reason. It has shown me the emotion that can drive us to our beliefs, or help drive us apart, and give ourselves meaning.

And my emotions sit inside me, the sadness that realities exist unknown by many. That people suffer, and costs mount, youths remain uneducated, and bets are being made by our bankers (albeit less recklessly than before). But then I see the researchers that continue their work, driven by human curiosity. The development of science and technology that is exploding to a future I can’t even imagine. The businessmen and engineers who rebuild, making things better, more efficient, faster, and cheaper. The resiliency in those who are just working to pay bills. And those overseas who are going through the dirty work of murder in order to be free of dictators. I see all of this. And I smile.

Although hope can be blind, it is also our greatest asset, because whatever happens, we will persevere through the changes that this country and the world is going through. And it’s not anyone’s fault that things happen this way, because this is the way that it should happen.

As much we try to control things, the only thing we have control over, the most valuable thing, is our own work, and our own happiness. If I don’t like where I’m at, that is on me. And if you don’t like where you are, that is on you. And no one can change that… no partner, no friends, no parents, no government program… no matter what they do… because we have a choice, we still have freedoms… especially in the United State of America.

Your strength is needed. Now…more than ever.

Some people think they know better than others. You know the type. They give advice on everything. They believe they have the system of do’s and don’ts that will work. They want what is best for you. And they believe they know what the best thing for you to do is. In fact, they think they know what is best for everyone.

Others believe it’s better for people to make their own choice. They believe people will strive, work, share, and care for others. Not because we’re forced to, but because in a stable system of laws, that is what we will do. They believe people should have the freedom to live how they want, but without hurting others. To choose what passion to follow, where to work, how much to pay, how much to get paid, what to buy, how to explore their own consciousness, and who to congregate with.

There are those who want a system of control because they want to protect people, not just from others, but protect them from making the wrong choices. They want to protect us from ourselves. They are cautious of people. Do they even trust people?

They like giving guidelines, and providing a program. They believe in a high standard of living, and they want everyone to have that standard, not just the opportunity for that standard, because they think everyone deserves it. And they will engineer a system using their formula of mandates that will get you this, regardless of how this effects the financial condition of the country. They will make it too affordable to pass up or they will cook it into the system so you have no choice.

These people truly want to help others.

And they believe they are the expert authority on that. And they believe in a central authority. Like a central bank that controls money, or a central insurance company that controls health care, or a central department of energy and agriculture to provide corporate welfare. Or a police authority that has taken our right to trial, so we can be arrested without charge.

Those who believe in people are different. They are courageous, because living an empowered life is damn scary. But that is why we are here. Not to make a perfect world, but to accept that life is not going to be perfect, and anything that is worth doing in life is risky. And caring about someone else is not about giving them something. It’s about being their friend and helping them face to face, not through a check delivered by a service taken from our paycheck.

We’re here to make choices, not have someone else make them for us.

We’re here to get hurt, mend, learn, and grow. And when we see someone else hurting, we’re here to extend our own hand and help them up. Not pay others to help them for us. Because people need to intimately know they are valued before they can do something of value. And because you cannot make someone care about you by forcing them to share with you.

We’re here to explore our passions and our own consciousness without being restricted on what we can do, unless it hurts another person.

We know that we cannot get as far alone as we can by joining others, but not in faceless networks. We’re here to share life in a community, because we must have the opportunity to learn that without guidelines or incentives, a rich life is one of honest collaboration with others.

We know that if we give leaders the authority to do things on behalf of us, we must remain aware of how they are using this power. And that we must stop them when we feel they are doing a disservice to us.

We know that we should treat everyone else how we would want to be treated. And so we act accordingly.

These people trust humanity to do the right thing.

Some might call these libertarian values.

But they are not.

They are called human values.

And I believe it is how we should live.

How to make your vote count

Many feel that money influences our representatives.

Many believe that elections are decided by money rather than votes. I think this is correct, but only in so much as we believe that is true and willingly throw our vote away or not vote. I know this because I was one of those who felt helpless and didn’t bother voting.

I was helping to creating an environment of hopelessness. An environment that promoted the idea that our neighbors are ignorant, dumb, and lazy. Then I realized something important. With this attitude, we will never elect any real change into office. We will think our personal vote doesn’t matter because it will be diluted by the mass of humanity who isn’t paying attention.

But I was wrong. I was more than wrong, in fact. I was part of the problem!

As much as people are focused on themselves and their wants and their opinions, they are also influneced by their environment. In fact, studies have shown if a person is given a test with an obvious answer, they will change their answer to the wrong one when they are put into a group of people who provide that wrong answer!

It is indeed true, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Devalue your vote and your fellow citizen’s capacity to do the right thing, and after a time, you will find that that is precisely the environment you live in.

Value that vote. Ask others how they’re voting. And why.

In Egypt (and Syria, and Tunisia, and Bahrain) people are rioting against military police because they don’t want to be told what to do by a dictator. They are being arrested without trial by secret police and being tortured because they want the right to vote.

Don’t throw your vote away.

The question to ask yourself is: What are the most important issues? And are the Democrats or Republicans addressing these issues, or avoiding them?

Remember, the power is still with us.

You are the leader you’ve been looking for

Leaders don’t check their culture for approval. They have the awareness of what’s going on to determine the right direction and start a movement towards it. It’s lonely, but it begins with a trust in human nature. Not the group’s nature, but individual nature…your nature. The group will not like your idea to change, unless it’s a slamdunk positive gain for them. Otherwise, they may think you’re going in the wrong direction. Or, more likely, they’re afraid of the change or pessimistic that things will improve.

Leadership begin with self-awareness. It begins with having the courage of your convictions. But it is more than pointing out all the wrong things. Or blaming one group over another group. The leader needs to extend his courage to the group. We must have the courage to trust people. To trust their potential, to empower people to do the right thing.

This courage is particularly important today, when people see two political parties and no real difference. And yet we are scared to vote for anyone else, because we don’t have the courage in our fellow citizens that they will do the right thing. And so we continue to vote based on who is more likely to win, and not who is more likely to do the right thing once in office.

And so nothing changes.

“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” -Ralph Nader

I agree with Ralph.

So be a leader.

Start a conversation about where you think things are headed and where you think the right direction lies. Listen, don’t lecture. Exchange ideas. If we don’t, then money will determine who wins elections, just as we feared.

And it will be our fault that it continues.

Let go of what you think you need

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” -Thoreau

Most of my life, I didn’t have a problem with building castles in the air. Instead, I was laying solid, immovable foundation, hard and fast… on a swampy marsh. But I was totally invested in that career path to be a doctor. The familiar path. Without realizing it, I became that path. My identity was becoming that one thing, and all other things were unacceptable. Other options would be failure. Mindless, thoughtless, I was putting down a foundation for the foreman in charge, society at large, the unseen owner, for his approval, for the reputation, for my ego. I might as well been a bank thief, because I was taking something. Rather, I was a Wall street bank executive, because I was violating a trust. But I was violating my own trust. My self’s needs, and freedom. I was so focused on the goal, I lost sight of the why. The most important question of all. Why do you need it?

Let go of what you think you need. And then you won’t be afraid to risk big in order to get what you really need.

What, or who, do you need to let go of? Or what have you already let go and where has it taken you as a result?

Comment and let me know.