Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Decision to Leave Came in an Instant [The Abundance of Less]

Chapter two of The Abundance of Less is centered around Osamu Nakamura. One of my favorite excerpts reads:

"The decision to actually leave," he continues, "happened in an instant. I looked at my life, and I knew that I didn't want to wake up one day and find myself an old man filled with regret that I hadn't seen the things of the world...Of course, there are two kinds of regret I could have faced: I knew it was quite possible that I might end up stranded in some foreign country, miserable, without a

ny money, and knowing that I had given up my job. But when I compared that possible regret against retiring at sixty-five years old, having known nothing except working at my job -- that was when I knew. The decision, as I said, came in an instant."

Couturier, soon after the above passage, notes that "In the world system of increasingly discrete labor...the act of disentangling oneself from the whole might, in hindsight, appear quite radical." So, it really is a heroic act to live a truly individual life as disconnected from the invisible social pressures that are all around us.

I've written a thread on r/MindBodySpirit about this book which you can find here. Please comment if you can.

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

"It was only life that pained." - Jack London

This excerpt really grabbed my attention. 

We are all on death's door given the right perspective. Life does hurt, yes. That's part of the hand we're dealt. Whether it's acute pain such as a disease, physical violence, or some other unfortunate malady; or if it's the dull, weary pain of overwork and other social stressors, the statement still applies.

Therefore, why not think of death more positively? The absence of pain. Is that not pleasure?

Too often we project, often subconsciously (even more sinister), that the pain of life will endure till infinity. London points out that this is inherently false. He implies that the trick to life is being ever aware that it ends, and in that way of thinking, one can truly live. One can truly love life.

Later in the story, he describes the ragged and weak protagonist, basically crawling through the Alaskan wild, starving with a mind full of near-death hallucinations, as a man whose life is outside of his body, clinging to the man by nothing more than a thread. The man had left hunger behind. He had dropped his gold to save weight, dropped his gun, too. All that remained were a tattered blanket and his precious matches -- purveyors of warmth and light, bringers and keepers of life.

Life itself is then what is important, not the material pleasures that we are able to find along the way (if we are so fortunate). So in the end, yes, death is the absence of pain, and it very well may be synonymous with pleasure, but life will soldier on, and that is a fact, a fact so concrete that we owe it to ourselves to suck the marrow out of life, just like London's protagonist sucked the marrow out of caribou bones (another item that he chose to carry over gold). We owe it to ourselves to live and love life!

Read London's books here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Wu Wei Is Not Doing Society's Opposite

In this clip, Alan Watts says that practicing Wu Wei, commonly known as going with the flow, "the art of sailing as opposed to the art of rowing," as Watts describes it, is not doing the opposite of what society orders us to do. That, in effect, is running along the same groove of society's train, just in the other direction (its mirror image, as Watts calls it).

A lot of people in the world are affected by unemployment and discrimination at the moment due to coronavirus and the George Floyd protests (which I and many believe are intrinsically linked). Therefore, many of us are confronting ourselves, our life choices, the roads that we choose to head down on this journey called life. When we find that we are dissatisfied with some of our choices, choices that are part of the identity that we carve out for ourselves on a daily basis (because, let's be honest, identity is slowly molded, not spontaneously called into existence), we should remember Alan's words and choose a novel existence that flows with nature, with universal truths, and not with societal constructs, mere trinkets by the roadside that will one day be unwanted dusty relics, forgotten.

At the very end he asks, "What do you truly, honestly hear? Don't name it. Just as if it were music... classical music." But tap into it! Let it become a part of you, for that is the truth that is being broadcast to you from the void. That is the wave you are meant to ride so freely and joyously.

Find books by Alan Watts here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Running Form to Prevent Injury

I can be a bit running centric in my thinking when I promote the values and virtues of physical health. Whatever your workout of choice may be, it may be beneficial to record yourself in order to reflect, refine, and receive feedback from others. That latter point is why I'm posting these videos. I'd love to hear your tips and observations about my form.

These videos were shot at the crack of dawn at my favorite barefoot running space, a high school baseball practice field in the mountains a kilometer from my front door. It's a quiet place that allows me to focus and avoid the distractions that sometimes come with cars zipping by and observers stealing glimpses of my powerful physique (joking, of course).

Running video links of my form on YouTube (opens in new window):

Below is a video of excellent running form. How do they compare? With any pursuit, I believe it's a good idea to compare your craft to that of an expert, someone who has put in 10,000 hours or more. Of course, many of our pursuits are creative in nature (even running, I would argue), so exact duplication is not the goal. However, emulation with the wiggle room to tweak as the artist sees fit and beneficial for his unique self/style, is the method that most (if not all) creators use.

AJ Snook's Amazon Author Page
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Monday, May 25, 2020

Closer to the Birds

On Tangentially Speaking episode 393, Jeff Shipiro talks about hang gliding and jump suiting, and how they bring him closer to the birds, how he can feel a kinship with them as they fly together.

Chris then goes on to wonder why we dream of flying, what this connection to that experience really means. Some are drawn to the air, others to the desert, others still to water. Which are you drawn to?

Despite being drawn to differing environs, the constant that can be determined is the resetting of the soul. Arriving back at nature, like arriving back at your grandmother's kitchen table after years under the vise of societal life, is a meeting with our ancestors, a form of communication. It can refresh us and remind us what it truly means to be human.

This is what the surfer is chasing, not the endless summer nor the perfect wave, for both are impossibilities, unattainable perfections. This is what a runner cruising at high tempo has found: the place where mind, body, and soul merge and are given permission from which to be born again.

Chris's books:

- Sex at Dawn
- Civilized to Death
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