Sunday, March 27, 2011

'There is no try'

"Do or do not. There is no 'try.'" — Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

This little essay from Seth Godin is for everyone who has ever allowed themselves to say, “Oh, I could never do that ...”
I will never be able to dunk a basketball.

This is beyond discussion.

Imagine, though, a co-worker who says, "I'll never be able to use a knife and fork. No, I have to use my hands."

Or a colleague who says, "I can't possibly learn Chinese. I'm not smart enough."
The plain and simple truth is that pretty much anyone — including you! — can accomplish pretty much anything he/she sets her mind to, assuming you are willing to put in the time needed to do it right.

Says Godin: “I have no intention of apologizing for believing in people, for insisting that we all use this moment and these assets to create some art and improve the world around us.”

This is a message that needs to be shouted, far and wide.

What can you do today to improve the world? Don’t even think about saying, “I can never ...”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spare me The Cloud

I’m not conceiving the advantage of life without a hard drive.

The Cloud seems to be the next stage in the evolution of digital life. Instead of keeping your data in your computer, the cloud hangs onto your software and everything that now is stored on your drive.

I guess the beauty is that if your computer crashes, all your “stuff” survives out there on the cloud. But if I crash and I lose my stuff, shame on me for not backing it all up. What if the cloud crashes? Can’t happen, they say. Yeah, but what if the cloud crashes? Remember a little unsinkable boat called the Titanic?

Yes, I’m a Luddite. I like the feel of a book in my hands, a specific and unique book, not a download onto an electronic pad. I like storing music on vinyl records where it can be mechanically reproduced, not as digital bits that can be scrambled. I like handling cash, and I feel a little cheated when my money all transferred via computer and plastic before I can actually see and feel it. And if I’m going to save my stuff as digital bits, I’d like to have physical possession of those bits, thank you.

Boo, Cloud. I don’t care if you allow me to watch the premiere of "Celebrity Probation" while I’m stuck at the airport. It’s just not the same as holding your stuff in your hands.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Charge ahead and write your own self-help book

Not long ago my old friend Wally Conger made a suggestion to his readers ... or rather he passed along a suggestion from one of his heroes, Scott Alexander: Write a motivational book for yourself based on what life has taught you so far.
“Write down these stories and the lessons you have learned from them. Record your past feelings of desperation and how you picked yourself up. Put together a chapter on where you are heading. Think about all that you have done, the people you have touched, how your faith in God has been tried and tested, the times you cried, the times you laughed and all the love that you have won and lost. You are the sum total of all the experiences that you have had - good, bad and disgusting. It’s all you. It's all good. ...
“I officially declare you a motivational author - WRITE!!! Keep charging and you will keep adding material for future books. Never let an adventure go to waste.”
Wally asked: “Got a motivational book inside of YOU? I bet you do. And maybe someday you’ll be willing to share it with the rest of us.”

That was the day I started writing Scream of Consciousness. Like Refuse to be Afraid, it’s a short collection of essays, so short the audiobook will fit on a single CD. It’s about being alive moment by moment and letting your every expression be a joyful scream of consciousness.

I still have a handful of chapters to complete and some polishing to do, but I’m close enough that I wanted to give a shout-out to Scott and Wally for the inspiration.

And hey - if you haven’t found the inspirational book that really speaks to YOU yet, maybe it’s because you need to write it yourself! What are you waiting for?

(And for more from Wally and Scott, check this out.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Three tenets to a true revolution

The three tenets of a peaceful life:

1. Love your neighbor as yourself.

2. Interact with love, not force, not violence.

3. Give more than you receive.

For three years, on and off, I have been writing a story about freedom and revolution, built around a character who has developed the name Raymond Douglas Kaliber. The three tenets are the essentials of his philosophy.

Based on Sirius IV – and therefore a very loose sequel to my first novel, The Imaginary Bomb – the tale follows a revolt against the tyrants who have attempted to rule from Earth, some 8.6 light years away. But as a wise and ancient songwriter said, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” A government established through violent overthrow of a repressive regime can only be repressive itself, as violence begets violence.

It was an Imaginary Revolution. My story tells how Kaliber created a new kind of commonwealth, based in his tenets of a peaceful life.

I can’t wait to share it. I see so much of Sirius IV every day in the headlines, and I wish I could see Ray Kaliber out there working already.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Who benefits from your fear?

The fear is ratcheting up again. Again I’m reminded of the scene in the movie V for Vendetta when the mad tyrant Adam Sutler demands that the citizenry be reminded “why - they - need - us!!!”

I turn on the news this morning and the U.S. is leading a coalition to make war against Libya. The fallout continues from the Japan earthquake - literally, as crews continue to work to avert catastrophe at a crippled nuclear power plant. In my home state of Wisconsin and elsewhere, a battle is brewing between the private sector and public employees, with either side claiming the other is motivated by greed. Like the bar patron in V for Vendetta, one is tempted to wonder aloud, “Do you believe that shit?”

The other option is to be afraid. Fear kills reason. Fear leads to irrational decisions. When fear wells up in your throat, the only rational thing to do is to force it back down. Refuse to be afraid.

Then consider: Who benefits when you are afraid? In the story, the tyrant Sutler clearly felt he had the upper hand when ordinary citizens were cowed. A fearful citizenry is more easily led. The forces of tyranny can advance their attack on freedom more easily against people who don’t want to be afraid anymore. They have a tougher row to hoe against people who simply refuse to be afraid, people who see through the ruse and preserve their freedom.

As H.L. Mencken famously said, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Don’t let them alarm you. If you are afraid to speak out, speak anyway. Refuse to be afraid.