To infinity and beyond

‘Unstuck, unfucked and unleashed’ – The obstacle is the way, Ryan Holiday

I’ve decided to take my writing a little more seriously. Almost like a grownup. Although there’s got to be something said for taking the blog of someone who just sprayed himself in the eye with screen cleaner seriously. In my defence it’s was quite difficult to see (now impossible) which way the nozzle was facing. Gently formulated to burn like matches. Who needs coffee when you can self medicate with a shot of Isopropyl* directly into your cornea every morning. Goddamn…

* noun. 1. of or denoting the alkyl radical —CH(CH3)2, derived from propane by removal of a hydrogen atom from the middle carbon atom.

I have no idea how to segue that opening into a coherent follow up paragraph. Until recently segue wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. Embarrassingly I used to think segue was spelled Segway and that it was a proper noun that became a verb. Like when you Xerox something. Do you keep the capital in situations like this? I sense someone rolling his or her eyes at me right now and getting all judgmental. Still… I feel confident that I can recover and salvage a long meandering tirade from all of this… maybe.

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Stegosaurus used for scale.

I’m drinking white pomegranate tea. It’s supposed to be super healthy for you. But mostly it’s a hot drink substitute for coffee. I’m trying to cut down on my stimulant intake. I have this ideal concept of self where I exist in this perfect mindful state, free of extraneous influences. Its good to have goals… even if they are unlikely to be totally achieved or fully realized. Back when I was fighting regularly I’d start my day with two crushed up Ibuprofen chased with a Red Bull and a double espresso. And that was just to get myself out of bed and into the office. Usually by 10am or so I could feel the rotation of the planet and the gentle hum of the universe expanding at sixty nine kilometers per second.

I’ve come a long way since then, but recently I’ve found myself slipping and needing that caffeine crutch again. The problem is I really like coffee. I’m not a connoisseur by ANY stretch of the imagination… for the most part I like my coffee in a disposable cardboard cup with a plastic lid. I know, I’m espousing heresy on such a massive scale I should expect the inquisition banging at my door at any moment. ‘Hello, hello, hello… what’s all this then?’ (in my mind the inquisition is, apparently,  British)

I’m trying to drink one coffee type drink per day. (Trying being the operative word) For a while I made it bulletproof coffee. Instead of butter I’d use coconut oil. It’s supposed to do something cognitively for you. Then again I often imagine my mind like a hamster wheel. Only the hamster is dead. Fortunately the wheel hasn’t stopped turning just yet, so I can still dress and feed myself without missing my mouth. (Some might debate the latter) Coconut oil isn’t going to do anything for him anymore. The hamster I mean. Except maybe make him smell a little more tropical.

In any event if you’re going to continue reading this blog I need to warn you, that, broadly speaking the the quality of the writing here resembles the microbial bacteria that lives in the water, that collects in the little plastic container that holds your toilet brush, co-inhabiting this space with tiny bits of fecal matter. It will likely do nothing for you but nurture your misanthropy and potentially give you gastroenteritis of biblical proportions, the likes of which the sensitive skin around you rectum will never forget or forgive you for.

If you’ve made it this far I can only suggest to you that TODAY might be the day! Grab the emergency crucifix and load up that revolver with the silver bullets. You know just in case. Good luck out there. Take very few prisoners. And don’t touch the hand railing on the escalator. You may get hepatitis.

Housekeeping and accouterments

I cleaned out my shooting bag yesterday. I seesaw between fanatical orderliness (The Prussian trait of Ordnungsinn) and the worst kind of slovenly disregard for my gear.

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Everything is neat and tidy (again) and the empty shell casings have been transferred into… a plastic fishbowl… which now graces a position of prominence on the bookshelf in my office…

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Where I imagine that it makes an interesting feature. You may also be able to deduce from this picture that I am a Ryan Holiday fanboy. I would deny it of course…. but I think I really might be. Although I’ve stopped following him on Instagram, because his donkeys and daily workouts are boring and repetitive*. Also I am back on Instagram. (#resolution fail)

*I can be mean about a stoic. Because if he chooses not to feel slighted, he won’t be 😀

The previous resident of the fish bowl was a Brown house snake I’d caught. It had wrapped itself around the light next to my kitchen door and on leaving to go work I’d suddenly become aware of something brown and snake like in my peripheral vision.

I wearily managed to unfurl it from around the light and coaxed it into the fish bowl using my fencing épée. Being relatively juvenile in mind I had to bring it to work to show everyone my achievement. (you know, show and tell)

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I even went to the pet shop and bought it a pinkie, which it dutiful devoured. But then I felt sorry for it, so it was transferred it into a Tupperware container and gave it to one of my sales guys who released it that evening on his small holding.

In other, sadder news, I finished book three of Kings Dark Tidings on Audible this morning on my way in to work.

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I love this series. I’m generally not a big fan of the fantasy and sci-fiction genres, (because there’s so much rubbish) Nick Podehl, the reader of Kings Dark Tidings series, is phenomenally good. In fact he may be my favorite voice artist. I’m sad that I have to wait another year for the next one. My binge reading/watching mind demands immediate satisfaction!

Paragons

While this list is not definitive by any means, I think these are good people who have got some great ideas about life. In no particular order they are…

Derek Sivers

IMG_6527.jpgΔ I just wanted to make music… and then all this other stuff kinda happened

Watch Dereks amazing talk then listen to Anything you want

 

Ryan Holiday

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Δ There are many cows, but this one is mine. I feel, given enough time, I can convince her of the merits of stoicism…

Start by reading  The Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the enemy

 

David Heinemeier Hansson

IMG_6532Δ At age 25 I couldn’t drive. Oh, then I won the Le Mans 24hr. I also do some stuff with computers…

Read ReWork

 

Seth Godin

IMG_6533Δ These have literally just come out of the oven, while you’re here you need to try my vodka-coffee. 

Start with his Blog and go from there.

 

James Altucher

IMG_6534.jpgΔ Thank you very much, you’ve been a great audience

Start with his Blog and then go from there.

 

Plus(+), minus(-) and equal(=)

I first read about this concept in Ryan Holidays, Ego is the Enemy. He credited Frank Shamrock with a learning concept he called Plus, minus and equal. It’s a really great concept. There was just one problem, I really disliked Frank Shamrock…

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Well, more Ken than Frank. I was always a Don Frye fan, which sorta precluded me from liking Ken and therefore by association Frank. Frank Shamrock is Mixed Martial Arts champion, that might not be immediately apparent to people who aren’t into that sort of thing. Ken was his brother. (After reading Frank’s autobiography I found out that they were actually foster brothers and in no way related) In the early days of Pride and UFC I really liked a freestyle wrestler with a legendary mustache named Don Frye. Ken and Don had a bit of feud going. In one really horrible, bloody bout Ken repeatedly ankle locked Don damaging him so badly that Don eventually became addicted to pain killers. Don Frye would not tap and eventually won the bout by split decision. That cemented Don in my mind as one the toughest fighters that ever lived. It also made me actively root against anyone whose surname was Shamrock.

shamrock.jpgAfter reading Ego is the Enemy I lamented, why did it have to be Frank? Eventually I took a leaf from Ryan Holidays book and let my rather arbitrary feelings slide.

I bought Uncaged, Frank Shamrock’s autobiography and immediately flipped to the last chapter where Frank talks about what life lessons he’s learnt from martials arts. (I did subsequently read the rest of the book, but only much later)

I had to eat a great big helping of humble pie and (grudgingly) admitted that Frank Shamrock had a damn fine theory. And also since he was in no way related to Ken, I feel like I should apologize to Frank for the slander by association.

In order for you to achieve greatest you need three things. Someone who is better than you are. Ie. THE PLUS. This is the person that knows more than you do, the person you can learn from. A teacher, a mentor or guru.

Then you need someone who is not as good at something as you. Ie. THE MINUS. This is the person that you can teach, instruct and develop. Its only when you have to teach something to someone that you can truly understand and appreciate it.

Finally you need someone who is just like you. Ie. THE EQUAL. This is someone that will challenge you, someone against who you can test yourself against, a rival or competitor or sparring partner.

The greatest challenge in each part of this equation is letting go of your ego.

Realising that there are people who know more than you, from whose wisdom you can benefit from is your first hurdle. Being a boxer and a grappler this concept was never a problem for me, when it came to fighting at any rate. In Jiu-jitsu this is an easy concept to appreciate. When you’re a white belt a blue belt will crush you like an egg shell. When you’re a blue belt a purple belt will make you feel like you’ve just wasted two years of your life. When you’re a purple belt a brown belt will make you question if you actually know anything about grappling at all and so on and so on… ad infinitum. In grappling there is ALWAYS someone better than you.

The same cannot be said for other areas in my life. I was always proud of my trading ability which I thought was so beyond reproach or criticism, no-one could teach me anything. I was scornful and dismissive. Until I met my wife, and who demonstrated quite simply and without effort that I didn’t know anything about anything. I was a lowly toilet bug when it came to finance.

There is always someone who knows more than you do about something. Even when you feel you’ve achieved mastery of a certain field. Stay humble and always remain a student.

Remember however, that you also have a skills that someone else lacks. Even though you may sometimes not think so. Eventually in MMA I progressed far enough that I became an instructor. I became aware that I didn’t really know or appreciate a technique until I had to break it down for someone into its most basic components. Something as simple as an armbar, for someone who has never rolled before, is really challenging. We forget that we started at the bottom. Having someone that you can teach really makes you consider what it is that you are teaching. Just because you understand a concept in your mind, being able to vocalize it and explain it somebody else who doesn’t share your experience is often really difficult.  Often you’ll see something you never noticed before. I am learning this now even more than ever before with my 19 month old daughter. I’m realizing how ignorant I am about the world around me.

The equal. How do you measure yourself unless you challenge yourself against an equal. You need a benchmark to see if you’ve improved or fallen behind. You constantly need to assess and appraise. If you’re not testing and evaluating feedback you might be lulled into a false sense of self. And in that place ego thrives and more than anything Ego is the Enemy.