Archive for nature

Why “Live Every Day as if it is Your Last” is Bad Advice

Upcoming…

  • A critical review of a popular saying
  • I imagine my chaotic twenty-four hours
  • Lessons learned on how we can apply the saying without causing societal breakdown

“Live every day as if it is your last.” This well-known life advice has been stated, restated, and over-saturated throughout the years from everyone and everything from friends, family, strangers, Hallmark cards, motivational posters, to internet images. We have heard it so many times and on the surface it seems like great advice, a push motivation to help the individual see the fragility in life and seek out full-life optimization in each moment of each day. We do need to appreciate the day, enjoy the moments that present themselves, and go for what we want now, instead of assuming we will have time later on. Still, this phrase is bad advice. You should not live every day as if it is your last, for the good of you and the good of mankind. If each of us were one hundred percent honest with ourselves, fantasized out what we would do with our last twenty-four hours in this life and did that EXACT scenario every single day, chaos would ensue and society would breakdown.

Consider that faced with our own twenty-four hour mortality, the majority of people would forgo obligations in exchange for a last few precious hours with family, make reckless impulsive decisions, play out situations that they would never do in real-life because of the repercussions that would follow the next day, and in general burn out their twenty-four hours in a chaotic, emotional mess of glory.

I imagine nobody reporting to work, offices empty, commerce at a standstill. The impulsive individuals causing chaos by indulging in all forms of sin, debauchery, excess, and violations of social norms and laws, followed by countless relationships (family, friend, partner, colleague) destroyed by the silver forked tongue of people who have nothing to lose and no repercussions by speaking their mind with no filter- the immediate stalling and caving of society, all within twenty-four hours.

What would I do with my last twenty-four hours? First and foremost, I would spend all of my time with my family, my wife, son, brother, mom, dad, etc. I would forgo all obligations such as chores, work, and social obligations. My family and I would get outside, experience nature, do as we pleased, and not be bothered by what others are doing or may think. Honestly, I would probably also take in a few indulgences and risking endeavors.

Now imagine my scenario above, add in your own scenario, and multiply that by the choices and actions of every single person on the planet- pure chaos, hell on earth.

So why does this popular phrase hold so much weight and end up being uttered daily with the best of intentions? First, we want to believe that we can be free, do as we please, and experience life unfettered. Second, while the literal interpretation is flawed, the intention is a valuable message.

The message is simple, live life in the present. Do not wait for life to align perfectly for your dreams and desires, you need to do it now, whatever that “it” is. Many spiritual practices share a central theme of be present in the moment. That is what this phrase is getting at. We can learn a lot from that perspective.

In the end, be aware of what you desire in life, find ways every day to pursue those desires, and be grateful and present in each moment.

Writers Today vs. Writers of Old (Part 1)

Upcoming…

  • Writer of today compared to that of yesteryear
  • Traits of the historical writer
  • Quips on modern society
  • A promise for more to come

 

Being a writer- prior to twenty years ago (give or take), it meant basically the same thing throughout the ages, creative spirit holed away somewhere, isolated, banging out page after page on a typewriter. I imagine Jack Kerouac sitting at an old wooden desk, not old in that classy antique sort of way, but old in that just plain old, beat-up, and forgotten by time sort of way, the luster gone, wood splitting and rough, the legs uneven and wobbly, the surface barely suitable for a family to eat at, years of abuse- but perfect for the true writer, for the artist who cares not for the luxuries or even sometimes the bare necessities in life, but rather is so laser focused on their craft that they will sit in a skid row motel, at an abused desk, eyes blurry from countless hours of straight typing, just being what they are. I pick Kerouac as he is an inspiration for me, a lighthouse that has guided me in my writing; but while the scenario may change from skid row motel, it is the same for the writers of history and legend- simplicity in their craft.

Artist, paper, pencil/pen/quill (you get it), typewriter, and whatever ambience/setting they need, mixed in with a little inspiration (the indulgences), and you have the skeleton of a writer’s life. Sprinkle in some poverty, heartache, struggles, pains, misery, with a sense of adventure, excitement, inspiration, and you have the perfect storm for so many of the writers that have etched their names in history’s library.

What is it all? Simple- it was simple. Life was simple, if not a challenge for the writer. The term starving artist is there for a reason. What made the memorable ones memorable and countless more that time has forgotten is singular focus- Writing. They wrote because that is who they were, and they shut out much of the rest of the world (unless it suited them to engage with the world for their writing).

So what is the writer’s life like today? There is no way to marginalize all the unique personalities and life paths that the pantheon of today’s writers have, yet I will (forgive). Today’s writer still has all the characteristics I described earlier, the simple mad crazy driven desire to do their art, a willingness at times to forgo anything else, and the need for the right setting, but with all of that (which was enough and often too much for writers of yesteryear) they have modern (last twenty years) society. The internet, social networking, self-publishing, celebrity obsession, technology entwined into EVERY component of life, and looking out- a world that would seem like science fiction and make a good many of the writers of yesterday shed a tear for humanity.

How pure and how true it must have been to have been the writers of a long gone era, just to write and experience life. Thoreau never had to worry about how many Twitter followers he had, whether he should self-publish or not; he never overthought about a photo he was taking and what filter to use before it went up on Instagram. Critique today comes from the anonymous, the obscure, the virtual masses so quick to destroy your passions with hateful words spewed out over a laptop’s keyboard.

There is a lot of greatness, exposure, possibilities and new mediums that come with this modern age (more for another post), I acknowledge that- but for today, for right now, I am on the idea of the writer’s life as it exist in its simplest form- one individual- writing. Modern benefits aside, one cannot deny that the scope of the writer, the need to stay connected, and the overexposure at times, has taken away from much of the simplicity that has always been at the core of being a writer.

Leather bound journal and pencil have been replaced by laptop, tablet, smart phone, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc…and for many, that is pure bliss, exactly what they want, what they need. But there are throwbacks out there. The writers who prefer to stay low-tech, carry paper and pen as they stomp throughout the world in search of their next inspiration- Thoreau at Walden pond, Kerouac at Big Sur. It is for those that I write.

As I said, there is much more to be said for the modern era of writing, and I will, just not right now. For now, I am going to pack up the computer, turn off the music, not obsess over Twitter or Facebook- for now I am going to disconnect and go out into the world. I encourage you to do the same.

 

Looking Back…

  • I generalize and romanticize the writer, but it was different, simpler before
  • The modern day writer must be plugged into social networking, the media, the age of technology
  • While this is a godsend for many modern writers today, there are throwback writers (old-school)

Author’s note…

  • This topic could be written about for hours and days, endless in its length of discussion. This is a snippet, a quick thought burst from one modern day writer.

I will do a companion (part 2) piece that highlights the benefits of the modern era. Stay tuned…

Inspiration and A Hard Day’s Work

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Upcoming…

  • Inspiration and Mood Setting
  • Outdoors
  • Suburban Ideals
  • Good Ol’ Fashioned Hard Day’s Work
  • Going With the Day

Author’s Note…

  • This is a short piece that I am including to display the nature of my day-to-day life as a suburbanite, parent and partner. You will also get a glimpse (very small scale) of my drive to seek adventure and go for the unknown in each day.

Instincts and going for it. It has worked so far this morning and afternoon (also the day of Ryland’s 11th month). After an inspired writing session fueled by Grapefruit Sculpin and ambiance and by incense and psychedelic music, I rushed outdoors just having dodged the rain to start to unbury my backyard from the overly earthy attack of overgrown shrubbery and weeds- in a place like Bartlett Illinois, we must be seen as having the scarlet letter for how we maintain- or in this case do not maintain our yard. Two (now three)out there neo-hippieesque souls swimming an endless sea of cookie cutter, drones of well to-do cogs in the suburban idealism wheel- we need to get out- get back to the land and live in the mountains. We are out of place here and it goes well beyond our unkempt yard, peeling house paint, untrained dogs, lack of interest in playing the “hey how are you doing neighbor”, it is partially these things, but more- deeper- it is our outlook, our beliefs, our passions, our goals, our dreams…and our disgust for all things expected and cookie cutter. Having cleared my yard the best I can in an hour or so time frame I return indoors, shirt sweated, mud streaks cast about shoes and socks drenched with stagnant remnants of the day’s monsoons we have gotten. It is in this moment I feel a sense of pride. First for having accomplished a chore, it was overdue, but there is also something primordial, earthy, basic, savage, and manly about working in the yard, using tools, sweating, lifting stone. I am man in this moment. A quick shower washes away the glory and I am back down to modern era, the alpha brute stomping through the mud washed away swirling down the shower drain. I call my dad to see if he wants to grab lunch. The plans seem initially foiled by the fact that my dad is amidst a chain of to-dos hoping from place to place and is catching lunch nearly a half hour away from me. We end the conversation as we will meet up some time soon, but then I think, hell, why not now? I text my dad that I will be driving out to him to meet for lunch. The long and short of it is a great adventure of time with my dad, including some great finds for Ryland at a local thrift store and some more than decent food. Post lunch I head out looking for my next stop to write, and here we are, beer in hand.

 

Looking Back…

  • The mood and atmosphere is critical to the creative day
  • So is the willingness to break routine and go for it

Ancient Rock

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Upcoming…

  • Micro Detail
  • Man vs. Nature
  • Advancement of Society

Author’s Note…

I was at a local coffee shop, very trendy, very artsy boutique observing their fireplace when I wrote this.

 

A solid brick base, greys and whites, intertwined with dashes of red, not fire engine red, but red like the windblown sands of a lost desert on a Navajo reservation- earthy- ancient- true. The sharp corners imposing and solid, as they turn up to what becomes a rather disappointing commercial fireplace unit. The gaudy black metal, the manufacturers brand stamped on the side, and in the most disheartening piece (to this nature loving simplistic soul) is the obviously fake (ceramic?) firewood bundle…sad. Sad that such a majestic structure of rock and naturalistic elegance can be constructed and raped of its pure elegance by man’s creation. but, by in large, that is what we do. We try to improve upon nature, try to control it, own it and make it suit our needs. It is our perversion. More metal, more houses, bigger cars, put a mall there, build a restaurant over there, drop an office complex here…and all the while we forgo the beauty that is present and has been present since the beginning (no beginning)- we forgo it and instead have trained our eyes to see it as a roadblock, an obstacle, or worse, we do not see it at all. I am reminded of this unfortunate duality by this fireplace. I am reminded that nature is the ultimate truth and everything else is a bastardization we justify in the spirit of progress and improvement.

Stay strong ancient rock.

Stay strong, you will outlast us all…

 

Looking Back…

  • Perfect beauty is in nature
  • Man in the name of advancement has corrupted that