The Meaning of Life

As a kid, I had a weird habit of skipping school only to end up spending the day in the public library. It was the perfect hiding spot, I knew I wouldn’t get caught by my parents there, I was free to learn about anything I wanted and, of course, no one would suspect a thing. I took this time to explore unconventional topics that interested me more than say, Christopher Columbus’ travel adventures or Pocahontas’ dating life. Instead I would read up on the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, or even visitors from another world. I was very curious and took this as opportunity to try and make connections that, I believed, others could not see. A belief I still possess to this day, even with much evidence to the contrary.

I was fascinated with the library. In my mind, if the book was in the library, I could trust it. Surely it must have passed through some very stringent process which would have filtered out mere opinion or rumor. This was a building of facts. With that belief, I challenged myself to think of questions, and to then find the answers there.

If being a teenager wasn’t enough on its own, being “nerdy” and not as tough or manly as the other boys certainly must have contributed to the expedited arrival of the question, What is the meaning of life? I recall sitting there, alone at a big wooden table. Books sprawled out before me, most of them probably from the New Age section, alongside the usual encyclopedias and a dictionary. I remember the frustration of being unable to find an answer. Sure, there were theories and philosophies and tons of mumbo jumbo, but I wanted a sound bite. Something more like what we now call a tweet. Certainly the meaning of life could be simplified?

I narrowed it down myself, searching out instead the very definition of the word “Life.” I can’t tell you specifically where I found my definition, but I can tell you what it was.

life — The collection of experiences between birth and death.

That was good enough for me. From that moment on, I endeavored to collect experiences. I’ve traveled, I’ve married, I’ve divorced, I’ve seen jet engines explode, I’ve been in car accidents, I’ve wiped out in a motorcycle, I’ve flown a plane, I’ve jumped from a plane, I’ve kayaked down an angry river (most impressive since I can’t swim), I’ve seen the sun rise over islands of the Caribbean, and seen it beautifully set behind the Colorado mountains. For the greater part of forty years, I have tried to live.

Throughout that time, however, I have found myself often sad and longing for more. At first I thought it was because I wasn’t making enough money, but then I noticed that many of the people I knew made less than I did and still seemed happier than I. As research for a book I’d decided to write, I starting asking a few questions to people who seemed happy. I asked some, “What’s your greatest accomplishment?” and to others, “If you died and were given the choice between heaven and living again, what would make you give up heaven?

The answer to both questions, overwhelmingly.. “My family.”
When asked again, with family removed as an option, most could not think of an answer, a few said friends.

This interested and confused me.

For the most part, I am an orphan. My mother and brothers still live, albeit 1,000 miles away, but I have less and less in common with them as the days add up. My brothers use facebook as their conversation medium of choice, and I share the quarterly 5-minute phone call with my mother. I have not seen them in close to fifteen years. The ever-widening chasm between our beliefs and philosophies–religious, educational, cultural, political, etc.–puts me in a position where I’m more likely to have something in common with a complete stranger than with those who were closest to me during my first two decades of life. This saddens me greatly, but I have as much opportunity for remedying this situation as I would in convincing someone in the 1800’s about the positive benefits of owning a fitbit.

Numerous studies, and well as my own informal research, show the many benefits of the tribe. Humans are pack animals, we strongly rely on being around, and close to, others like us. Embarrassment is itself a primitive response. Feeling embarrassed, say for instance when you spill a drink on yourself, is a primal fear that your blunder will make you fall out of favor with your pack, they will then reject you, and you’ll be eaten up by.. I don’t know, a saber-toothed tiger perhaps. We need the pack, there’s safety in numbers.

We’re born into a pack, and for most of us that’s enough to get us through this life. Eventually we marry and reproduce and expand our packs. Some form tribes in college or at work, forming life-long relationships that are intimate and genuine. For some of us, the line between tribe and family is blurred. Your best friend Jimmy is Uncle Jimmy to the kids, perhaps he greets your mother with the hug and kiss of a son. That is the image of happiness, if only to me.

I have neither worked on strengthening my familial ties, nor have I done my diligence when it comes to creating a tribe of my very own. I have made many mistakes and wrongly prioritized money, possessions, and experiences for the sake of experiences. If I could go back in time and reach out to that kid in the library, if I could rewrite the definition of life, explain what it truly means to live, it might go something like..

life — The collection of experiences, both good and bad, shared with family and close friends between birth and death.

I think that might have helped me focus on what really turned out to be the important part of life–the love, support, and involvement of actual human beings. Don’t you agree?

Notable Links:

Get it yo damn self, dammit!

A long time ago, in a galaxy.. no wait. In this galaxy, I remember hearing a little tale about God and this, that, and the other thing. I feel like sharing it, I dunno why.. maybe just cuz I’ve had a great day. The sun’s been shining, Rita was treating me well as we hit the mean streets of Omaha, and the rash seems to be clearing up nicely. Anyway, here it is, paraphrased and without attribution, cuz that’s how I roll. Oh, and you don’t have to believe in God for this to apply, but we can hammer that out in Hell.

This guy was out in the middle of huge-ass lake. I think he was fishing, but I don’t encourage that sort of violence, so let’s say he was reading his Kindle. No, I don’t know why he was reading his Kindle in a boat in the middle of a huge-ass lake. Perhaps he was a fishing addict, and he was reading a book on how to overcome his fishing addiction, and maybe one of the steps is to go sit in a boat in a lake. I dunno, let’s move on.

Something happened and his boat started to sink. Again, the facts are sketchy, I think the Kindle overheated and burned a hole in the boat, I dunno. Hey, Do Kindles float? I hope so. So here’s this poor guy, going through fishing withdrawals and now about to drown too. He’s a super-religious guy, so he has faith that the big G-O-D will deliver him from this little situation.

Several minutes pass by and some fishermen paddle by in a little dingy. They see him flapping about and ask him if he needs help. He tells them he’s fine, that God will take care of him, so they go on their merry way. Some more time goes by and now a sweet-lookin yacht zooms up and a sexy little mama yells out to our flappy fool, offering her, em.. services. Again he turns down the help, sure as all get-out that some mighty force from above will come to his aid, so away they go. By now our little monkey is starting to get really tired, ya dig? Then, out of a sudden (ed. I know know it’s ‘All of a sudden’, but this guy at work says it that way, so I do now too.. it’s fun!), a ginormous Coast Guard ship arrives, with helicopters, F-15 fighter jets (I know, I know!), and even a Dolphin with a laserbeam on it’s head!  Our little moron tells them all to take a hike, God has this.. it’s all good. So off they go and eventually our deity-dependent dude drowns to death.

Next thing you know, it’s morning and we find ourselves in Heaven. The super-soaked soul of our fisherman pal arrives at God’s feet, he looks up at his would-be savior and asks “Yo man, where the hell were you?!“. Leaning forward, with eyes ablaze, the good lord’s voice echoed “Are you effin kidding me?!! I sent you help THREE times!!!

After that I think they all had a good laugh about the whole thing. So what’s the whole point? Well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusion, but be sure to use a #2 pencil.

Rich for the stars.

Remember 2008? I sure as hell do. I lost a lot of things back then.. my friends, my opportunities, my hopes, my dreams,  my Love, and maybe even my mind. I’m pretty sure I made more bad decisions in 2008 than I have in my whole life. It was the perfect storm of bad decisions.. each bad decision weighed my soul down and caused me to make yet another, which weighed me down even more, until eventually.. I couldn’t see light.

A year ago, I was Scrooge. When the Holidays showed up, I couldn’t have cared less about spreading cheer.. *I* needed cheer, screw anyone else! So I gathered up my pennies and bought myself suttim reeeal nice for Christmas. Good thing, too.. because that’s all there was. It all but seemed as if everyone in the world had forgotten about me. My choice to buy myself a gift ended up seeming like the right choice after all.. I mean, if I didn’t think of myself on Christmas, then I would have ended up with nothing, right?

Several months into 2009, the gift I gave myself broke. The broken gift, a reminder that you reap what you sow. My life was still a mess, but I’d started to realize that I was mostly to blame for it. Putting myself above others never yields long-lasting results.  I may feel better today, but when tomorrow comes I’ll be alone and bitter yet again, surrounded by the relationships I cultivated.. or failed to.

This year, I’ve learned many lessons..

  • The worst that can happen, really isn’t that bad and that the chances of it actually happening is pretty damned slim, so why waste the energy worrying about it? Why let opportunities and experiences pass you by just because fears are gripping you? When I actually stopped to think about it, most of the good in my life came from overcoming my fear, but most of my pain came from hiding.
  • I did not get here alone. Yes, I’ve endured and overcome many tragic events over the years, but I’ve not been alone for it all. Over the years I’ve manage to distance myself from those that gave me strength. I instead surrounded myself with a new crowd, one I valued more, but one which it seemed did not value me. I am now on the path to rebuilding the bridges I so easily burned.
  • Let it go, already! In my head, certain people have had a great role in molding the great mess which I am today. For years I’ve held the anger, blaming them for my suffering.. but that’s an act that yields no positive result. I’m well on the way to adopting a new strategy, one that involves me discussing my perceptions of actions and events that I held anger for. Sure, sometimes the other person will refute their involvement, or my perception of the events.. and nothing can really be done about that, but there is a relief of knowing that the discussions are not pointlessly going on in my head anymore.
  • Respect the effort made by someone to engage you.. listen and respond. As a suffering introvert, I’m aware of how hard it is to reach out.. much worse yet when you DO reach out, only to be brushed off like a pesky gnat. You must give respect to get it back, but you must also give respect and NOT expect it back.
  • Stop keeping score. One of the hardest things I’ve had to grasp, is that nobody is keeping score. There’s no list of how many times I’ve helped Jimmy or Mike, I am not owed anything by them. It’s hard for me because I feel such a debt of gratitude whenever someone displays kindness, consideration, or generosity towards me. I assume everyone feels the same, and then I’m completely shocked by the triviality of my gestures in return. The only way to avoid my sadness is to accept the truth.. I am owed nothing by anyone, but I indeed owe everything to all.
  • I am blessed. I am being watched, I am being judged, and there is a bonus or a penalty for every action I take. Be it God, Karma, little elves, or my own self-worth, I need to propagate the blessings that I’m bestowed. I’m no saint, sometimes I’m more convinced I play for the other side.. but I strive to keep the good in my life outnumbering the bad.
  • Life’s not fair. No matter what I do, nothing is promised other than death. I could rescue 100 children and kittens from a burning daycare/kitten factory and I could still end up shot by a mugger ten minutes later. That’s just the nature of the way things work.

2009 has been one heck of a year. I’d say it’s been fun, but then I’d be lying. The truth is I walk around with a heavy heart, constantly wishing I could turn back time. I see the many forks in the road and I can’t help but wonder what things would have been like had I turned the other way. I feel like I’ve been harshly judged for my mistakes, but I can only blame myself for making them. Luckily, I’m a dreamer, I still have hopes for a wonderful life. I endured much, and I didn’t get here by quitting, I got here by fighting.

There is no victory without the battle,  so bring it on 2010!

Happy Holidays to you all.

The kindness of strange R’s.

Hello, My name is Skid Vis, and I’m a giver. If you know of the Five Languages of Love (Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch), and you know me well enough, you’d agree that I fire off on just about all of them. I’ll admit, I’m weakest on Acts of Service, but I do make an effort. Receiving Gifts, or more appropriately, Gifting, as I’m not really a fan of RECEIVING gifts, is one of my strongest languages. Odds are, if I’ve ever cared at all for you.. you’ve received a gift from me. The cost may vary.. it may just have been the bill at a restaurant, or it may have been some costly luxury item, but it had infinite value to me.

On multiple occasions, my gifts have not been well-received. It’s not uncommon for people to dig deep and try to come up with some devious intent for the gift. In a previous post, I mentioned how sad I became when I was told that there’s no such thing as altruism. I’ve since, with the support of Jack Deus, learned to accept that truth. Yes, there is indeed a motive behind my gifts.. to bring joy. It’s true, I gain the most happiness from bringing happiness into a person’s life.. call me selfish.

We live in a world that doesn’t play fair. People we love die, People we love don’t love us back, our pets die, we lose friends, we lose jobs, we lose homes.. we lose feeling. While some of us see these events as challenges or tests that will make us stronger or assure us a better place in the end, others among us will start to see living life as a futile endeavor. We’ll feel like the chips are stacked against us, we’ll feel alone, we’ll feel forgotten. Yes, I’ll be selfish. I will give of myself, be it time or money, in order to know that I may have contributed to not letting someone suffer alone. I know there are many days where I feel that everything is pointless, but I know how easily that feeling goes away by receiving something as simple as a text message.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been giving. If I am your friend, and you have a need, I believe it is my duty to help you however I can. That’s what I learned in the Bible, so fault me as you wish but I’m going to keep giving to those I care about.. cuz I’m a selfish bastard.

Well, Do one thing..

As yet another weekend flies right past me, I can’t help but realize that there’s less and less distance between Today and my Birthday. I’m not a big fan of birthdays, you see.. if I were in Logan’s Run, I would have met up with the big ceiling fan in the sky by now. I know, I know.. you’re only as young as you think you are, and I feel like a 25-year old, look like a 28-year old, and act like a 10-year old.. so I should be content.

The thing is, although I may Feel, Look, and Act younger.. I’m not. The world does not cater to my delusions. I’m starting to be seen as “the old guy”, I’m fighting a losing battle against my greys, my metabolism is starting to make me think twice about dessert, and that noise on the radio just doesn’t make any dang-blarned sense to me anymore! Phooey!

I can’t stop the hands of time (dammit!), but I suppose the time is approaching for me to stop being like the Grasshopper and start being more like the Ant. Spurred on by articles such as this one, that remind me of how the sand is falling quicker than I’d like, I’m being forced to think about life over the hill.

One would think that someone such as myself would have no problem picking a “Plan B”. After all, I have many talents! (Giggity! Giggity!) I’ve spent my whole life dabbling in this and that. Unfortunately, THAT is the problem! See, a good friend (Hi! Teleshka!) once said to me “You’ve got to do something 60 times for it to become habit.” (This was when I was having issues learning to ride Horses.. my hip hurts just thinking about it.) Meanwhile, The powers that be state that in order to be an expert at something, you must do that one thing for about 10,000 hours. Well, using those two statements as a reference.. I’d say I have a ton of habits, but as far as expertise.. I’m an expert sleeper? Or am I? My recent sleep study revealed that I don’t sleep well, bouncing in and out of REM erratically which is why I’m always sleepy and take ProVigil to keep me on my toes.

So, knowing that I’m an expert at nothing.. what am I to do? What are my passions? Drawing, Writing, Human Sexuality, Computers. I may not be an expert at anyone one of those things, but surely I’m an expert at all of them combined! The obvious solution would be for me to use Computers to Write books on Human Sexuality which include some awesome Drawings from yours truly. Hmm.. that started off as a joke, but now that I see it in writing, it doesn’t seem so far fetched.

Get to the point already!

Oh, you live.. I was worried about you. Anyway.. The point is this: Plan A is great.. but don’t forget to nurture Plan B. you may need it sooner than you think.

Acts 8:23

When I was a young’n.. you know, last week sometime.. I would frequent church all the time. Not by choice, mind you. My parents were very strict religious people, and going to church was a nearly daily event. An event that I really couldn’t comprehend and certainly didn’t enjoy. Those of you who know me well, know that I have a unique set of beliefs.

As a young teen, I wanted to believe.. not just in God, but in everything.. Bigfoot, The Lochness Monster, The Bermuda Triangle, Aliens.. all of it. I’d spend many days skipping school and digging deep into all kinds of books at the public library. Being forced to attend church services many times a week, made religion a more prominent area of research. I could never understand the point of the service itself.. I mean, people arrive at the church and greet each other, then there’s singing.. ok.. and then someone takes the stand and yells at us for being sinners, then they ask us for money? I found it all very insulting, monotonous, and boring.

Sleeping was forbidden in church, go figure, so I had to find something to occupy my time. What a better thing than to read the Bible? But where to start? Genesis? Sure.. that’s the beginning.. but I pretty much know the story just from the many times I’ve heard it. Revelations? Um.. that’s kinda scary and grim, and probably wouldn’t make much sense without having read what came before it, right? Well.. where do I start?

I’ve always been a “dart-board decider”, When I don’t know what to do, I just jump in and figure it out. My home state of Connecticut has no NFL team, so when it came time for me to pick one to follow, I just turned on the TV, found a game, and adopted the winner (Vikings). That said, when trying to decide on the Bible, I let God tell me why I should even bother. I plopped the big book on it’s back, let the pages fall as the may, and locked my eyes on the first thing I could.

“For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”, Acts 8:23

That’s what I saw. What came before, and what followed after, were of complete insignificance to me. I was bewildered by the fact that I ended up landing on such a direct and plain answer to the question in my head. I was bitter, I hated being dragged to church kicking and screaming almost every day, and.. well, trapped by sin was the way to roll. You had to be either one of Them, or one of Us, and being one of Us yielded a lot more safety.. ironically.

I don’t know if it started there or not, but that moment sticks out as a reassurance of why I don’t believe in chance. Like the movie, “City of Angels”, I believe that there are forces constantly acting For AND Against us. I’ve been very blessed and fortunate. More often than not, my prayers get answered. So much so, that I fear praying sometimes..

When I was a kid, I loved my Godfather. You see, my family was poor. For me, Birthdays sucked, as did Christmas. There was hardly enough money for food, much less for the luxuries that we always crave. My Godfather, however, he always had money.. he was in the game. Whenever I was allowed to see him, I totally enjoyed it.. it always resulted in some money and a shopping spree. As I aged, I started to understand HOW he got his money.. and that made the gifts not as pleasant to receive. One day, my Godfather was a involved in a pretty bad car accident, the docs said he’d never be able to walk again. At that point, he turned his life around and decided to commit to God. It was pleasant to see the change. My parents, who were always hesitant to let me spend time with my Godfather, now had something in common with him again. It brought us all closer, and it was nice. Slowly but surely, my Godfather’s injuries started to heal, until finally.. he walked. As if he were an inmate that had just been released back into the world, my Godfather left the church, and resumed business as usual.

That memory stands in the front row every time I decide to pray. Am I using my faith as some sort of magic genie? Is this request worthy enough? Selfless enough? Sometimes, when my heart starts to act up, and I’m overcome with the fear of dying, my instinct is to beg for mercy, to ask God not to take me.. but then my Godfather pops in.. I feel calm, and accept that if I have to die, there’s no point in begging for him to change his mind, instead.. I just think of those I love.

It’s been decades since I was that kid, yet Acts 8:23 still holds just as precise. I’m still bitter and I’m still locked in sin, but it’s Easter, a day to remember that there is Hope even when the worst of the worst has happened. Life can be painful, difficult, and disappointing.. but next time you’re feeling that way, take one second to realized that you’re being watched, you’re being held, and you’re being loved.

Peace out.

The Price of ‘No’

It only seems right that I should write this as my first post of November, and just weeks before Jim Carrey’s new flick, Yes Man.

So.. wut’s this all about? Paying for sex or something?

No. It’s about the word, that word. You see, I’ve been in several great relationships. Relationships that should have been perfect, but they weren’t. Something was wrong with them, and after much thought and analysis, the problem became so transparent that I can’t help but feel like a moron for not seeing it sooner.

Are we talking about your small penis? I can’t blame you for not seeing it earlier..

No! I’m still talking about ‘No’!

My brain hurts ..but go on.

You see, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I live in a world of fear. I find myself constantly thinking about things that can go wrong. This fear causes me to put off doing certain things in order to avoid feeling the fear. For instance, do I want to go to a family gathering with my significant other? No.

Why not?

Well, they think highly of me, so when I’m around them I have to walk on pins and needles so that my true personality doesn’t surface and I run the chance of offending someone, or saying/doing something so utterly stupid that I end up losing their respect and admiration.

Geez, that’s paranoid.

Yes indeed, and that’s just ONE situation! There’s plenty more.. wanna go skiing? No.. I might get hurt. Wanna learn to ride a horse? No.. I might look like a dork or get hurt.

I get the point.. you’re a chicken-shit! Move on.

Oh, right. Well.. I also noticed, however, that No’s can come back to bite us in the rear. Every time we utter those tiny, seemingly-insignificant letters, our partner is secretly stashing them in their own No-Vault. You decide to make a request and presto, there’s a ‘No’ fired in your face.. how’s that for ya?

When we’re children, one of the first words we learn is ‘No’. It serves a great purpose, we’re young and ignorant of the dangers all around us, so our loved ones use that to keep us from hurting ourselves or otherwise doing something we shouldn’t. That being, it’s no surprise that we don’t like hearing that word. Our feelings get hurt and, if heard enough, we distance ourselves from the source of that word.

No kidding? So should we just ignore Nancy Reagan and “Just say Yes!”?

um.. no. Something needs to happen, but I’m not recommending the drastic measures taken by Jim Carrey in his flick, but rather a careful, conscious evaluation of the reasons why we’re driven to say ‘No’. Before you fire that word off like it’s your name, stop and pretend you’re on the receiving end of it. We must choose our battles carefully in a relationship, and sometimes braving a situation simply to put a smile on your partner’s face will yield a lot more benefit for the two of you, as opposed to giving them fodder by adding another ‘No’ to the No-Vault.

That’s cool. So from now on you’ll think twice before saying ‘No’?

No. I’ll think thrice.

Relationship Roles (RR)

Lately I’ve been fortunate enough to closely observe the Relationship Roles of several individuals, couples, and myself.

What is a Relationship Role?

As individuals, for the most part, we are responsible for our lives. We determine where we work, who our friends are, how we dress, where we eat, etc. We control our own destinies. In a relationship, however, our roles change. We instantly, or gradually, shift into one of three roles. I’ll call these roles: Fire, Earth, and Water.

Wicked! it’s like Captain Planet!

Um.. ok.. sure.

So what role are you?

Well, let me define the roles:

  • Fire
    • You are the head of the relationship. You make the decisions, You plan, and you guide. You control almost everything. Your partner either fights with you constantly, or hangs his/her head in defeat when you speak.
  • Water
    • You are the body of the relationship. You move with fluidity to whatever the head demands. You carry out the tasks and will stop at nothing to please the head. You have a handful of select “battles” that you will fight, but for the most part you are happy to trust the decisions of the head.
  • Earth
    • You are neither leader nor follower.. while at the same time being both leader and follower. You understand that relationship between two individuals require constant work, constant victories, and constant losses. Decisions are not made, they are negotiated and respected.

So you’re Fire, right? Cuz you’re so HOT!

Actually, right now I would probably say that I’m Water-Earth. Yes, it’s possible to be between stages.. we are in a constant state of change, after all. I’ve personally found myself in all three stages while in different relationships.

Fire’s the best, right?

Determining which is “the best” is not an easy task. Some individuals hate making decisions and are extremely content assuming the Water role. It frees them of any responsibilies and worries, they can just fully trust in the Fire in their relationship. That’s all fine and dandy. The problem exists when someone is Water who craves to be Earth but fears upsetting the Fire in their life.

The who and the what now?

I personally know of an individual who has been in a relationship for a really long time. Slowly but surely, this individual migrated from being the Fire to being the Water. Decades later, this person suddenly “woke up” to the realization that the life being lived was not the life desired. The immediate reaction was DIVORCE!

Luckily, after some soul-searching, that decision was retracted.. instead, communication was introduced. As I often advocate, it is essential for people in a relationship to be in constant communication. We should never let ourselves disappear! We may be acting as one while in a relationship, but at the core, we are two individuals. While both partners may not always agree on everything, that’s not the goal. The goal is simply to be aware of the individual needs of yourself as well as your partner, and to work cooperatively to support and manage those needs.

So the perfect relationship is an Earth/Earth?

Sure, In a perfect world. In this world, it’s a huge struggle to achieve that precision of balance. In any relationship, both partners need to give 100% of themselves.. dedication, honesty, consideration, and time. If you want to be single, be single. If you want a partner, BE a partner.

College? We don need no steenkeen college!

From an IM with my buddy Jack Deus:

Skid Vis: awesome.. I wish someone woulda done it (started a college fund) for us
Jack Deus: why? you turned out fine w/o a college degree
Skid Vis: I shoulda turned out finerest

Why do I get the feeling this post is about college?

Cuz you, my friend.. are a genius. Which, of course, makes ME a genius too!

Which, of course, makes US insane!

True dat. Anyway.. College. Ever since I was a widdle boy, I remember hearing the common mantras: “Knowledge is power”, “Success requires a good education”, and even “Knowing is half the battle”. So, I dedicated myself to learning.. I’d steal schoolbooks from older kids to try and get a head-start on higher education and I’d also skip school and go hang out at the public library.. picking out seemingly random books to expose myself to topics outside of the normal school curriculum. Anything I could do so that I could be smart and end up living a better life than that which my family presented as the only option.. Poor, Dumb, and on Welfare, with the highlight of life being the days when we would get a giant block of Government Cheese.

That WAS good cheese.

Anyway, fast forward 4,369 years and here I am. Most people would consider me a success. I drive a new car, I own a house that’s too big for me, I make more than the average Joe, and people often ask me for advice and tips .. all without a College Degree. I’m not a genius by any means, but I’m the smartest moron I know. For the most part, I’m pretty happy of where I am in life.. but occasionally I wish I would have gone to college when I was young.

What’s the point of going to college?

Well, I can tell you what it’s not! ..Knowledge. See I’ve tried my hand at college.. I’ve tried time and again to get myself one of them fancy pieces of paper to show my smarts off and maybe get an extra $10k per year tacked onto my salary.. but every time I try, I end up dropping out because the instructors are complete and utter morons. I’ve actually had to call the Dean on some because they were ruining the minds of young, defenseless noobs. I even had one stop the final exam to ask ME if the questions were right.. which about 10 weren’t. It’s become cemented in my mind that “Those who can, Do. Those who can’t, Teach.”.

Um.. I severely doubt all teachers are morons.. moron.

So true that is, my friend. Certainly I expect the fine staff at MIT, Harvard, Yale, and the other well-established mind-factories of the world to be nothing but brilliant, and I exclude them from the group in question.

So don’t go to college unless it’s one of those places?

No.. GO TO COLLEGE! Regardless of whether or not it’s a fine mind-molder. See, the whole point of college isn’t what you learn.. it’s who you’ll meet. One thing I’ve learned in my 76,238 years of life is yet another mantra.. It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know. Have you ever walked past your boss’s office just to catch him kicked back, picking his nose, and you wonder “how did this loser end up in charge?!”. Well, odds are he knows someone who knows someone and THAT’S HOW! Where’d they meet? COLLEGE!

Seriously.. sometimes I think you have too much time on your hands.

That may very well be, but it doesn’t change the fact that what I’m saying is true. Forced Associations.. Schools, Clubs, User Groups, etc., that’s the key to ultimate success. The more you expose yourself to people (not sexually, even though that works too for some), the more you’ll be networking yourself and putting yourself in the position to pop into someone’s mind when an opening appears that you can fill (again, not sexually).

Oh.. ok.. so this post is about networking.. why didn’t you just say that?

Because, Networking is certainly one of the most important things you can do to get ahead, but college not only provides you with a place to network, it also provides you with an education. You’ll know more stuff, you’ll be able to use big words and confuse the layfolk, and even if you don’t meet anyone that can further your career.. you’ll have a spiffy piece of paper you can brag about, and at least people will assume you’re not a moron right off the bat.

Avoid a void.

People! I hates people! They walk on ya, and step on ya, walk on ya and step on ya.. people!

Well that’s a pleasant way to start a blog post.

Well, there’s a madness to my method.. listen up. I have a problem.. well, yet ANOTHER problem. People scare me. I’m not sure if it’s because life was rough growing up.. walking past chalk outlines to get to the bus stop, or having neighbors either O.D. or have S.W.A.T. bust into their homes, or having to stare everyone down wondering who was going to harass me for not being in a gang, or maybe being slammed face first into the concrete by some over-zealous cop who thought I was gonna rob a bank at 1am just because I was wearing a ski mask in 20 degree weather. I dunno, ok? I just dunno.

Something, somewhere, gave me this great fear of humanity. It’s rough to live life when the first thing you think about when you enter a place is how to get out, or to have the oddest thought of getting shot whenever I stop at a red light, or just to not trust people. It’s really rough when you don’t believe the world is doomed, when you actually have hope that people can still be decent and intelligent.

Sounds like you’ve lost your marbles.

Well, duh! Of course I’ve lost my marbles.. I mean, I’m having a 2-way blog post with myself! hello?!

oh… good point. Go on.

Thanks.. I just wanna take a few minutes to talk about core values. When I ask myself what mine are, I hope that mine are Kindness, Consideration, and Compassion.

That’s it? The Air Force has like 7.

Yup, that’s it.

Ok, break it down for me.

  • Kindness
    • is giving gifts to people not because you have to, but because you want to.
    • is helping people without expecting anything in return.
    • is letting someone know you value them, even if you’re angry at them.
  • Consideration
    • is letting someone go ahead of you because you respect their time as well as your own.
    • is putting the needs of someone else ahead of yours.
    • is giving away something you want because someone else needs it.
  • Compassion
    • is not allowing or enjoying the suffering of any living thing.
    • is not saying the mean things you want to say when you’re angry.
    • is not doing the things that will feel good to you, if they’ll hurt someone else.

Anything else, oh great one?

I believe in honesty.. mainly because it’s harder to remember lies, but in the end it also helps me sleep better.

You’re some kind of saint.

No, I’m just as flawed as the next guy. But I’ve lived through a lot of pain and suffering. I know quite well that my pain and suffering is a tickle when compared to others who have faced greater adversity, but that doesn’t make it go away.. instead it makes me realize that I need to release the past and help the future.

..and now the money shot.

Right.. We can’t choose the life we’ve been handed. We can’t control the joys and pains that will pass through us while we continue to gather experiences, but one thing we can control is how we’ll be remembered.

First, do no evil.. but if you must do evil, do more good.