Embracing Unpredictable Change - #95

I'm still trying to find my wings in Brooklyn. Living in a city makes all the wonderful possibilities that much more both possible and impossible as the days pass. Three months down and I have made some great strides in my job while barely keeping any romantic life alive. I've joined and quit a gym and found a new love in practicing yoga. And the most noticeable has been that I broke a decent stride of ninety or so newsletters trying to develop a new audience.

For a long time now, I've been trying to find a niche in the blogging world that's more than my personal thoughts and adventures. Outside of the small circle that know and love me, what does the world know? I'm just another writer. And that's how it ought to be. You need to give something of value to capture eyes and attention now. And if you don't know me at all, you don't know what I have to offer.

And somehow I made the connection to a concept I've always held close - the Butterfly Effect. If you can get past the Ashton Kutcher flick, the Butterfly Effect is a fascinating concept from its origin of a meteorologist making a mathematical assumption to the blinding speed of the modern interconnected world. I know I just said a whole bunch of mumbo-jumbo there, if you're not familiar with the concept, but I'm hoping it can make sense to a new audience in time.

The Butterfly Effect essentially says that changing the initial conditions of an event can unpredictably and radically change the results of that event. The Butterfly Effect sort of explains why Ashton Kutcher lost his arms when he went back in time to change his weird childhood. I've been told it's the same story Ray Bradbury wrote about a hunter going back in time to nab a T-Rex in A Sound of Thunder, and I can't wait to read it. And it's the reason the fantasy of time-traveling to Nazi Germany and flicking Hitler in the nuts is a bad idea. Who knows what the world would become of that little twinge of pain for the world's most notorious dictator and the rest of us? 

It might seem a bit counter-intuitive at first. It is not all about time travel and a great deal of our world is based on the idea that we have some delusions of predictability. We think we know how to live a life - go to school, get this job, marry this person, and squirt out some kids. And some would argue we need the delusions. Imagine how hard it would be to exist keeping the fact that you could die at any time in the front of your mind.

Life is unpredictable. And I'm not sure about you, but I'm thrilled by the chance possibility that just changing one tiny aspect of your life now could radically launch you into the future somewhere else you're not expecting. 

Come to think of it: Could you have predicted five years ago where you are now? Three years ago? One?

The power is in the details and the seconds. This is what I want to write about now. You could experience it as enormous pressure or endless opportunity, the truth remains that it's unpredictable. So why not get out there and shake things up? 

Until next time...
I explode into space.


Explode into Space #57 - Don't Dive Alone

Dear Readers,

I did a bad thing. I went to Starbucks to write nothing specific. And I went too deep. 

Usually there is meditation in writing for me (says the fella who writes you every week). There was finally time to breathe when I sat down with my coffee. Work had been so chaotic the last week I'd been handling customer complaints in my dreams. Counter that with training the majority of the week, earning my keep as a freshly-awarded Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. To sit and breathe and think was a treasure. So, naturally, I took it too far.

Somehow the aroma of coffee beans and banana walnut bread turned my therapeutic writing into a case study in futility. What I wanted to nail down, and always want to nail down, was an overarching theme to the activities of my life. Before this, I'd found Truth in The Butterfly Effect, or the fact that our actions cause ripples around us. You can kill a fruit fly and have an effect on the world, albeit a very small, inconceivable one. Better yet would be to make a difference in the lives of people, build better relationships, encourage progress, and be happy. What could be bad about that? 

It just didn't feel true and complete. It could be my youth. Without responsibility to children or a spouse, it's easy to fall deeply. You wonder what's the point and the point becomes multi-dimensional. You see all the angles and none make sense to choose. 

The next day I visited my therapist, Mr. T. No, not the A-Team, pity the fool Mr. T., but Peter Tuccino, the Mr. T who built Dragon Spirit Martial Arts from the ground up. We talked, as we do, for hours and he returned all of my serves with equal force. More than those my age, Mr. T can put me at ease to say everything is fine thinking the way I do because I'm young. I'm doing this with my whole life in front of me. Take a breathe and slow down because worrying about finding meaning will never lead to discovery.

Slowly but surely, I exhaled and found Truth bleeding from our talk. Bouncing my attempts at meaning-making off him, Mr. T. helped me fly closer to it all with the following ideas:

There is no Life without Death. Considering the Day of Your Funeral can be a great exercise. Morbidity aside, we can't see death coming but we can live knowing it. We like to think that within the grasp of Death, we'd be reckless and live without abandon. I doubt we'd really enjoy that. Sorry to say it, life goes on when you don't. Whatever you do with that life, legacy becomes the stuff of meaning without you. 

Giving starts the receiving process. Jim Rohn said it and Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine, echoes the sentiment. (See his breakdown here.) The wording is important. Giving only starts the receiving process, it is not the only part. I had this thought, examining my current goals the other day. If I want to be a better grappler, my goal should be to help others become better grapplers and in so I'd learn. If I want to be a better writer, I better be a better reader. And find a new word to replace "better". 

If you want the Meaning of Life don't be so shallow to think it is only going to come from within you. It is one of the most biting of Joe Rogan's comedy bits in Shiny Happy Jihad when he says, "If I leave you in the woods with a hatchet, how long before you can send me an email?" We can't figure things out on our own. It is not genius, it is remix. 

And as if Fate was the mailman, Kirby Ferguson was delivered to my life. Following the Rabbit Hole from PBS's digital series Idea Channel to Everything is a Remix, Ferguson made it crystal-clear for me that it is other people that make life worth living, doing whatever you're doing. In the four-part video series, Ferguson presents Everything is a Remix as a way to understand the fertile progress of working together to create and influence works of art and works of invention. We are One and it's sometimes hard to work like that. Ferguson summed it up saying, "We have a strong predisposition towards protecting what we feel is ours; we have no such aversion towards copying what other people have.”

Even better, like Henry Ford said, "I invented nothing new." Explode into Space is full of sources and reference material, the juice that fuels my days, on purpose. I have no qualms admitting this is only an original work for the tweak I put on the words outside the quotation marks. It's even more essential to remember this when the world tells us to drop-kick our goals and be exactly the person we are meant to be that we remember we'd be no one without everyone else. 

Without Death, there is no life. Without giving, there is no receiving. Without others, there is no us. 

Until next time...
I explode into space.