Surfing

War. Since the dawn of time. For centuries the forces of nature have collided in an epic battle. For ages the armies of the North and South have clashed in the Pacific Ocean. A shoving match in perfect balance. Sword and shield in hand. Battleground ripples reaching distant lands. Some as far as the most remote archipelago on earth. Hawaii.

Millions of years ago these lands broke through the crust of the earth miles beneath the sea. Conceived in the bowels of earth and birthed by Mother Nature herself, growing from infancy to grandeur. Eventually rising to the heavens to stand as giant underwater mountains. Legend tells that through persistent pressure Pele pushed these peaks higher than any on earth. Never resting to surpass Everest. High enough to breach the ocean surface. Growing over millennia, welcoming a new colonizer every few thousand years. Patiently awaiting the arrival of man. Then, at the very end of this massive struggle, at these mountain tops reside a people in perfect harmony, little concerned with the ages of effort beneath their feet.

No Kahiki mai ka wahine `o Pele,

Mai ka `aina mai o Polapola,

Mai ka punohu a Kane,

Mai ke ao lapa i ka lani.

Translated:

The woman Pele comes from Kahiki,

From the land of Polapola,

From the rising mist of Kane,

From the clouds that move in the sky.

A people in harmony with their world, content in time see the passing storms as mood swings of the gods. Storms so great as to baffle the mind. To the Universe simply strings in vibration. Mother Nature and Father Time’s offspring at play. The oceanic ripples resemble a rope spanning between the far North and South gently being tugged up and down. The waves reaching the Hawaiian islands inspire awe. A moment in time lends a glimpse of these forces at play. Enough to inspire a desire to enter the game.

A million year old battle. Time and again teeth of the tides try to tear away at the fresh infantile land emerging from its earthen womb. Waves of the big blue pacific crash on the reef night and day. In the midst of this timeless torment floats a searching soul. Sullenly swaying in the soothing swells. Just a few thousand years ago there was a one brave enough to conquer his forefathers’ fear. The first to try and ride these forces of nature.

A fight against fear.

The dapper will surf at dawn which is the best time of day. The best way to enter the water on a cold morning is to simply run at it. The best way to catch a big wave is to paddle all out for it. Success at surfing follows persistent effort, crashing time and again, near drowning, swallowing sea water and sore muscles. Effort, rinse and repeat.

While sitting on the water facing away from the safety of shore, the surfer watches the open prairie of the pacific for a chance. A chance to catch a wave. Constantly gazing, analyzing, waiting to strike at his prey. The anticipation of the hunt and the reward of the catch triggers a primal instinct. It engages the senses completely, senses evolved for survival. In tune with the forces of nature, waiting to strike for a kill.

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Suddenly distracted, the sun glistens up the face of a curling wave, the lip becomes see-through with swirling colors of dancing light. The wave starts to break. It curls over extending in a protruding tongue. The contrast of a glistening colored tongue against the dark belly of the wave inspires awe. Magnificent art displayed against a back drop of endless open blue sky. Clouds of white paint scattered across the canvas. The sensory overload weaved through the thrill of the catch keeps the surfer hanging between the forces of nature until pure exhaustion. At that point, an internal negotiation, an eternal struggle… return home, or try… to catch… one more…

Never enough.

To strive, to seek, to find the freedom of flight. Icarus felt the sensation of flying. His father taught hubris but his desire to get higher was cut short by a heavenly fire. For centuries man has envied the elegant gift bestowed upon the bird.

The brave die young. The cautious hardly live. Those who find the line and push the boundary will push the human race.

The feeling of flight has stirred many an imagination, the attempt has filled many a grave. For some a platform to fight. Hard earned success propelled men and women into the ages.

Despite man’s ingenuity to reach for the stars he still failed to see the light. Despite all the trials and tribulations there was always a shortcut to the sensation. One which may have allowed Icarus to live. A way that delivers the pure joy of flight with nothing more than a piece of drift wood. Flight without the need of a Twin Turbo Rolls Royce engine but instead a simple piece of foam. Discovered off the shores of these ancient islands.

As a bird takes to the sky with its porous bones filled with air, the surfer takes to the seas with a body, mostly of water. Floating in the air the bird sways back and forth. On the water the surfer sways in wait for the perfect wave. When duck diving under a wave, the force of the water in the belly of the wave shears past the surfer’s face, the sensation resembles that of an Eagle in free fall off the edge of a cliff. Come up behind a wave like this and feel the rush explode. The bird hears a hissing sound when cutting through the air. The same produced by a board slicing through the water. When the sea bird soars past the surfer in search of a kill, their eyes meet for a brief moment in mutual respect.

It is a strange feeling being so far out at sea but here lies the surfer in wait. Hopefully just far enough to catch the perfect wave. Sitting, waiting, staring into the curvature of the earth. Wishing. Trying his best to predict the next wave. In the distance, he looks for that small sign of a wave. A little bump of hope on the horizon. A white dove. A sine wave signaling a sign from above. Every wave he allows to pass grows his anxiety. A thrilling game, weighing the odds in order to react. Don’t want to hesitate and paddle too late, then risk wasting energy on lost fate. Never paddle too soon, then get chased by the fury of a crashing monsoon. Better to dive under such a colossal stampede.

The best approach? A Stoic philosophy hails heroic harmony.

Patience.

The distance from shore makes a betting man excited. Sit in the right spot and catch twice as many or more. Misjudge your distance and watch every wave go by. The anticipation becomes overwhelming. Often ends in despair. Often raises one’s hairs.

It’s a game. The decision to go for the wave or let it go. It rests in a mental battle with the Big Blue Sea. A consistent sine wave with unpredictable frequency and amplitude. One fact stands in the heart of the surfer. A wave will always come. A double stacked amplitude will make the adrenaline run.

It’s one thing to get up on a wave and ride, it’s another to harness the tide, take control and glide, seek flow as a guide. Flow, a state of perfect focus, it occurs when skill matches difficulty. Here lies the birth place of creativity. It’s during the time in which your mind is perfectly engaged in an activity. At the height of focus all brain power devoted to a single activity, nothing spared for extraneous concerns. Nothing else matters. According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi it is required that from moment to moment the brain is analyzing via feedback of the activity is done correctly. A musician can instantly identify a false note, a surgeon can instantly see blood leaking, a rock climber is aware at all times if they are safe. The surfer riding a wave is perfectly in tune with the shape of the wave.

Mind over water. If only your mind was ready, ready to believe. At the very moment of being tested. The moment of truth. A Truth known only to you. The potential to result in dire consequences. When you spot a big one, the wave of the day, no, the wave of the week, a question, it safe, wise? Time ticks away. Still trying to decide, what may be your crowning chance may soon fade. The pain from previous opportunity passed, pushes the will. At the last tick of a clock, give in to temptation, fight off fear to commit. Enormous, momentum building. You paddle with all your might. What might be a legendary wave. The water’s energy starts to take over. Heart racing. Then, the moment of despair. Destiny turns to doubt. Suddenly you realize you may have misjudged. Belief crumbles fast as the wave picks you upward, no longer sliding down the face. Instead, it is retracting away. Suspended on the soon-to-break lip of the wave. Looking down as the wave picks you higher, fear starts to sink in deeper. Usually the impulse that follows the energy of the wave taking over is to jump up on your board. A good idea if the wave starts pushing your board forward. Bad idea when being picked up skyward. The choice to try and bail or to drop in over the lip to a void of thin air hangs in a split second. The scale of experience tips away from safety, away from the comfort of the known, of stability guaranteed. Toward the unknown. The drop, the raging water inaudible, a body suspended in time above victory versus defeat. Everything quiet. Faith cracks, give in, regret. Silence. Mind over water falters in disaster. Storms from the North Atlantic collide with the tides of the South Pacific. This eternal war now at the center of the heart. Leading the onslaught, a surfer in doubt. His reward? Getting crushed by the forces of nature unrealized till this very moment. Raging remorse. Rolling like a rag doll.

A gasp of air, may be the last. Held under, loose oxygen fast. Down under up over, this way and that. Consciousness slips, now turning black. Save a breath. To the very last. Confusion crash. Roll like a dice. A virtuous vice. A gamble for life. Last breath of air a floating device. Proximity to death keeps the anxiety alive, fuels an addictive drive.

If only the mind was ready, ready to believe at the very moment of being tested. Ready to commit whole heartedly.

The other side. Cross over to the unknown. Breach the gap of resistance. Allow the road blocking boulder to become a stepping stone, a corner stone. The key, forget regret. Let the past sleep where it lies. Allow fear to propel to potential. A leap of faith is what advances the human race.

Taking a risk. Making the big drop. Terrifying. Rewarding. Classical conditioning casts doubt. Too late, convinced in a split second to continue. The lack of experience beaten by bravery. The drop down looks fierce, but surviving this slide down a 10 foot face and shooting out in front of the wave is what sets off fireworks in the pleasure center of the brain. The unexpected result is what drives the addiction. Better than any vice. The reward for conquering doubt. The reward for belief in the moment of being tested. The reward for taking a leap.

Is it luck? When two sine waves travel in the same plain and meet, two things may happen. If their amplitude differ by a negative they will cancel. If their amplitude differ by a positive they will increase in strength. When one takes note of the frequency of ripples through the ocean and by chance the length of time between each peak decreases there should come a point when two ripples overlap and cause a much bigger wave. An outlier occurs. A randomized event in favor of excitement. The likes of hitting a triple 7 at the slots. A once in a life time event. When these wave peaks collide and add to massive glory, the surfer finds the reason he goes through so much trouble.

The friends you make, the seals you see, the sunrise and clouds, remind us we are free.

The surf spot I visit has a substitute teacher with a streak of 1 month. Always the first one in the water, right as darkness starts to shrink. Known as Mark in the Dark. His daily visits to this spot has taught him the ways of this break. Teaching his trade, he taught me about a light colored bush on shore. Perpendicular to the shore line marked by this bush is where the reef splits the wave. Sit right there and catch waves each way. This doubles the number of waves you get. It’s an insiders secret.

Dawn of man, the spread of knowledge. A collection of advice. A military contractor, a botanical gardener, a substitute teacher, an eye doctor and a construction worker, all share a love of surfing. We talk story at the break of dawn. Breakfast club on a calm day. Thrill seekers otherwise.

The gardener grew an idea in my mind. The construction worker built on the idea. The ophthalmologist gave me a new perspective. “An optimist sees opportunity in failure. A pessimist sees only failure.”

The contractor told me to inch up on the board ever so slightly. Find the center of balance. The nose of the board suddenly sunk just barely below the surface and the board came to a level halt under my chest. This is known as the sweet spot. With the board at a level angle you can gain much more ground with less energy. The board gets taken by the force of the wave and with a few strokes you are in sync with the speed of the wave.

Advise is a gift but knowledge has to be sought.

Knowing when to go for it? It comes down to that moment when you have to pull the trigger. That split second to decide. To exert maximum effort or to quit and let the wave pass. With the correct guess you can successfully catch the wave and enjoy the ride. Or the opposite, you could decide at the right moment to let it pass and save energy for the next wave. This is the surfer’s gamble. A human gamble. Like betting on the stock market, waiting to ride the waves of commerce into profits.

Catching a wave is just a prelude to much more demand. Once up and standing the immediate goal is to turn either left or right. Go straight and simply end up in the white wash. It can swallow you whole. Get stuck in the mouth of the bowl or fight to get back behind the break. Once up on the board, look left, then right and decide. Lead with the chest and pivot at the waist. Lean into the turn. Once you turn, the goal is to get up the face of the wave, to gain the higher ground. From this vantage point you can fly back down the the wave or enjoy the view from the upper edge. Up there is where potential fuels possibility.

Fighting the forces of nature can result in disaster. The shoulder inflammation gets worse the more I fight. An intense shoulder pain right over the acromium. Worse when I lift my arm. Brought on by repetitive overhand activity like tennis or surfing. In my case, fighting. Fighting to catch a wave, fighting to get out of the bowl. Fighting a losing battle. Impingement Syndrome. Surfer Shoulder. The fix, physical therapy or surgery. Got me a bungee cord, pulling this way and that, surgery is one thing I can’t afford. Temporary relief from therapy. Temporary release back in the water. Permanent relief came when I stopped fighting. I became one with the ocean. My timing improved. No longer having to paddle all out for 10 yards. Instead I only need to paddle a few times to catch the wave. My duck diving improved. No longer getting stuck in the lions den of crashing waves. When pinned down underwater I no longer struggle to surface for a gulp of air, instead I just relax and swim deeper. No longer shoulder pain and gnashing of teeth. The more in sync with the ocean the less of a fight.

The Chase. Hawaii gets a big northern swell during the Northern hemisphere winter and a southern swell during the summer. It results in a year long migration in search of the perfect wave. Water flows to the path of least resistance. Surfers flow to the opposite. Bigger swells mean bigger crowds. They tend to clump in areas of easy access and perfect waves.

How to escape the crowd? The only rule of Mahalapu, don’t tell anyone you surf Mahalapu.

The hand of God. When you truly catch your first wave it is exhilarating. First you paddle until you feel the force in the wave starting to take over, then you jump up and lean just a little to turn the board and stay on the upper part of the face of the wave (the top of the slope) then turn just slightly the other way to suddenly shoot down the slope of the wave. Whenever this happens it feels like an invisible force wraps around your backside and heaves you forward. The first time I felt this I simply collapsed in the water and floated on my back looking up at the blue sky. If anyone saw me they would have seen the exhilarating yet confused look of disbelief mixed with utter enjoyment expressed on my face.

On the shoulders of giants. With persistence the other surfers start to observe your technique, you get to a point where you start hearing comments on not just the surf as a whole but the very tiny intricacies of each turn or bump or slide you do. I was asked how I get up on my board. My foolish reply, “I just pop up.” The equivalent of asking a construction worker how he built a high rise and he replies “oh I just built it up.” The correct answer, one brick at a time. One limb at a time. There is a system to getting up. A step by step. First place your thumbs by your nipples on the board. Then bring your rear foot to the back of the board. Then raise your chest. Then swing your front foot forward and place it between your hands. Then get up to a semi squat. Then stand. Not just popping up. Less falls, a ratio improves. How did Edmund Hillary climb to the top? One step at a time. How did Edmund Halley discover his comet? One calculation at a time. Hail History.

Hail Mary. The waves also get broken down to add to the discussion. The last blip where the right hits the reef and it creates this little bump on the wave that sometimes spill over into a tiny barrel. This is labeled as the Little Blessing. If you time it just right it will give you that last little push into the end zone.

There comes a time when you figure out how to catch enough waves to get a decent record. When you catch just one you become a statistic. One out of ten is better than none out of ten, then the ratio improves. Soon you catch about 5 out of ten. That’s a 50% success rate. It also happens to be just enough to match that of the veterans. You see, the guys that have been surfing your spot for ages rely on their average and when a new young buck comes in to disrupt it can get ugly. Risk a post surf beach brawl. One guy broke the other guys fins off his board. In Hawaii usually just a welcoming warning, a lesson on surfing and a Shakabrah from Uncle.

It so happened that one day I was catching about the same amount of waves as the veteran. At first, the problem with reaching the 50% average is that you may very well catch the waves but don’t quite know what to do with them after that. It takes a while to figure out how to pop up, turn, carve, ride the lip and stay on the smooth surface ahead of the curl. So when you catch as many as the veteran but don’t make each wave count, it can invoke anger. Think about it. The veteran sees the young buck catching waves that he could have gotten, but watching the buck waste a good wave can be infuriating. A small part in the veterans heart is satisfied when the buck crashes and burns.

So the day comes when the old lion snaps at the young cub. The warning to back off. It happened when I went for a wave, the veteran pulled out to avoid a collision, I crashed and ended up in the white wash. On my way back to where the waves break I saw the veteran paddling into a perfect wave. Right inline with me. I didn’t know if I should veer left or right or duck down below, he didn’t show me which way he was going to go. Imagine two cars heading straight for each other on the road, one waiting for the other to choose a side to veer off to in order to respond and go the other way. The veteran came rushing towards my head and at the last moment years of experience kicked in and he simply cut away and splashed a ray of water in my face. The way a hockey player can shoot the ice at an opponent’s head. I only laughed. The next round the veteran said hi, he acknowledged the young buck. A mutual respect. He gave me advice on popping up on my board better. Thanks Uncle.

The best thing to do is to paddle toward the side of the wave that already closed out. A surfer tends to try and stay where the wave is open. Just duck dive under the raging water.

The meeting place. There are few sports that bring the same characters to the same spot day after day. Surfing in the morning is like a daily reunion of the same characters. A few dare the cold dive before the sun is up. A sacred time with no wind. The morning sun has not had the chance to wake the onshore winds. The ocean wakes from a calm glass dormancy to greet the morning crew in succession. The birds have not had the chance to wake the tourists.

Bill reads the surf report. Today the disappointment is evident. He says the guy that wrote the report today most likely got up and did the Mexican Hat Dance on his D***. I’m still confused, but I guess that’s the point he’s trying to make.

Roger. He is 85 years strong. He has surfed for 65 of those. I was astonished. He said he is more amazed that he is still alive. I asked him if all those years have taught him to predict when a wave comes. He said at this point he can’t see very well, he only sees lines on the ocean surface. When the lines get higher he starts paddling then holds on for dear life. He doesn’t stand on his board, he stays on his knees. That way he is closer to see the shape of the wave better. He also has limited mobility in getting up. He can’t drive so he gets a ride to his surf spot. He still goes almost every day. He says he will do so until the day he dies.

A moment of silence for when the wind withers away.

The sun the surf the forces at play. The wind and the waves, a surfer sways. Rays from the sun travel a long way, for millions of miles to warm the earth every day.

The sun. Creator of the currency of life. A burning bank of potential composed of hydrogen gas. Emitting life giving energy via nuclear fusion. Four fundamental forces in perfect balance to keep its fire burning for another billion years. Our universe is governed by the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces. The fourth, gravity is the weakest of the four. So weak that we can easily escape it here on earth by leaping in the air. An impossible feat when compared to the shear size of the sun. A size that results in enough gravity to accelerate hydrogen atoms toward one another destined for a head-on collision. The result, nuclear fusion to create helium. The energetic byproduct keeps the core in constant commotion, the equivalent of a billion hydrogen bombs exploding per second. The energy released embarks on a 30 thousand year journey to escape the gravitational pull of the sun. It’s path destined for earth. It’s purpose, to provide for a perfect host. A host of life. Flora create order via photosynthesis. Green plants use this energy to assemble the elements created by the death of the very same stars. The ordered energy locked up in the plants is donated to the animal. The four fundamental forces in perfect balance to allow for the enjoyment of life.

One force remains a mystery, a force with a gravitational pull that draws the surfer to return to the waves day after day. Perhaps a fifth force?

The energy that provides for life also creates for the excitement there within. As the sun bakes the surface, the solid earth quickly warms up. Heating air rises rapidly and the vacuum left behind draws in cool air from the ocean. The liquid oceans absorbs the heat slowly through the day and releases it back late evening. The opposite occurs where air rushes in from the land to fill the void. This movement of air can cause onshore winds (towards the land) or offshore winds (from land to ocean). Onshore winds are the least tolerated. They tend to blow over the waves thereby preventing them from breaking. Enough to cause a mass frustration among the brooding surfers. Offshore winds are welcomed, they fluff up the waves which creates a loftier feel to the surf.

A surfers delight. There occurs this blissful time when the winds suddenly die down. The constant bickering ceases. The ripples previously created by the wind disappears. The ocean surface becomes glass. Oncoming waves become more predictable. Combined with a good swell all the elements seem to combine for the best surfing one can wish for.

A surfers debacle. A human fallacy maybe. Success breeds ambition. On to a bigger wave, faster ride, foreign wave.

Create your world

Creativity

  • Creativity is in all of us. It is the most powerful force in the universe. Only you can create your own success.
  • You can creatively tell a story, create sentences as if out of thin air, this is how creativity works. It is a language.
  • As you learn a skill, it becomes a language, once you can perform that skill without thinking it allows room to be creative.
  • Novel creations arise from the combination of different skills.
  • There is a connection between the creative process and happiness.
  • The structure in the brain related to creative thought.

Creativity, a force of nature that resides in all of us. You have it, I have it. I am using it right now to construct this sentence out of thin air. I didn’t copy these sentences, I came up with them creatively.. It is the single most powerful force in the universe. It can move mountains and divide oceans. Via creative thought humans have changed this world and is still doing so today. Humans are the only beings capable of this power, the power to create, the power to create their own destiny, their own world. You design your life. You alone have the ability to realize your dreams, to think, to plan and to work towards your goals. Creativity has led to scientific breakthroughs, billion dollar business enterprises, cures for diseases and more. Galileo Galilei used it to create the first telescope to observe the stars and conclude that the earth was not the center of the universe. Michael Angelo used to create the famous smile of the Mona Lisa. Anne Frank used it to endure suffering as she created her famous diary. Today, it is the most sought after skill in business and entertainment.

If you harness this force you can harness your future.

Creativity is not just reserved for the select few, but resides in every human being. It is what makes you human. The sad truth is that most people have lost touch with their creative side. Why is that? Why do so many forgo on the opportunity to create their own lives, their own fortunes? Some of the greatest companies have spent millions in what could possibly be the next big idea, the next new innovation. Some succeed and some do not. Why the difference? Those who succeed seem to have supernatural creative talent to invent the most innovative ideas yet. How did they do it? These are the questions that have plagued people for many centuries. How did Mozart write such sweet symphonies? How did Steve Jobs create the iPhone? How did McDonalds create the greatest franchise in history? It has caused much envy in those that strive for creative genius. What is creativity and how can we find it in ourselves again?

Many view creativity as a gift, a talent, but that is a common misconception. Every single human possess the ability to be creative. It is a unique difference between us and animals. It is the force that has lead to art, science, philosophy, innovation, the industrial age, the space age. It is the one force that leads to a successful life.

Here is the proof. Most people learn a language at some point in their life, usually during the toddler stage. As we age and practice our  language we become more proficient. Initially a toddler will say just one word at a time. They will point and say; “Dada, Mama.”  At around two years of age they can say two word sentences. “Dog woof, I want, Kick ball” and so on. This is the first creative ability we see, to take the words they have learned and creatively add them in different order to give new meaning.

This is my Definition of Creativity: to use the tools that you have learned and create something new.

Maybe a toddler speaking two word sentences is simply prompted by their parents. As time goes by and they expand their vocabulary. Soon they will be able to put together three word sentences and so on. At 15 Anne Frank wrote an ageless diary. At age 34 they might write a blog post. This is truly the first time they exhibit creativity and that is just the beginning. Soon they start telling imaginary stories to their parents with great ambition. Have you ever seen a toddler tell you about something they saw, or something that happened. They are full of emotion, very animated. It is truly a sight to see. They are so happy in that moment.

You do this on a daily basis. You string together words as if out of thin air to convey an idea or a story. By your teenage years you know thousands of words and possess endless possibilities of expressive ability. You can string together any combination of words, you can give a touch of tone, metaphor and syntax. These deeper forms of expressive ability comes with practicing the skill of language. We have become so skilled at speaking that we take for granted the creative power of language. We can even communicate with body language.

Creativity doesn’t stop there. As we age and develop new skills we also develop new languages pertaining to those skills. Have you ever heard doctors speak in medical terms. They have their own language, incomprehensible to the patient or their family. When talking to the patient they have to switch over to layman’s terms. Their language is based on scientific concepts, of the knowledge they have accumulated over thousands of hours of study. Same with plumbers and musicians, mathematicians and movie directors. You name it, any craft has its own language. An apprentice will struggle with the terminology and understanding, but in time they can join the creative discussion with the masters. With study and practice in each discipline you inherently adopt that  unique language. The language of music involves understanding rhythm, tone, octaves,  chords and more. It depends on how you apply this knowledge creatively to produce new music. Many musicians simply rehearse known songs, but a select few use these songs to create their own. 

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Steve Jobs.

By studying the current art and the individual genres one can creatively combine these and build on previous knowledge, stand on shoulders of giants to create the future.

Knowing the language is crucial to performing any job adequately. You cannot walk into a courtroom and expect to speak to lawyers on their level without prior study and knowledge of the language of law.

What does science say?

Through scientific studies they have shown that expression and generation of language can be contributed to a particular part of the brain namely the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas. They are small collections of millions of neurons, one in the frontal cortex and the other in the temporal cortex. They are located in right brain lobe, the Wernicke’s area sits slightly behind your right eye and Broca’s reside slightly above your right ear. The Broca’s area is famous for a disease named Broca’s Aphasia. People with this problem can not generate speech, they are very capable of understanding language using the Wernicke’s area or even reading and writing, but when it comes to speaking and formulating the words they sound like a broken record.

Brain Imaging has been used to see what happens when Jazz musicians play music to each other. Jazz is largely made of hundreds of individual licks or “words” which enable a Jazz musician to creatively mesh together these licks as they feel comfortable. Another Jazz musician can pick up on the key that is played, the tempo etc to “speak back” with their own set of licks. They create new music on the spot, one musician plays a few phrases and then the other picks up and plays a few more and so on. A study was done by placing one Jazz keyboard player in the fMRI machine and the other outside with a guitar. To no surprise the fMRI machine revealed a massive amount of brain activity in the Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas. The conclusion? Music is a form of communication!

Side note, an fMRI is a machine that works by picking up an increased amount of oxygen in the body. This implies an increased blood flow meaning increased neuronal activity . The theory is that when the brain uses neurons more in a specific region it will need more oxygen to fuel those cells, therefore it requires an increase in blood flow to deliver more oxygen. Therefore in areas of high activity, one will see a flare on the fMRI scanner.

Every artistic expression is a form of communication. Movies convey an idea, music a feeling, paintings a visual representation of a thought. True artists combine all these emotions and language to convey an idea. So how does a skill become a language or a creative expression of the skill?

How does one go from simple skill acquisition to creative ability?

It takes a little while and a lot of practice for a skill to become a creative language. When a verbal language is first learned (specifically a second language) an fMRI will show activation throughout the entire brain, your brain has to work hard to string words together in a new language. On the other hand, when native speakers or fluent adopters of that language gets brain scanned it shows mostly concentrated activity around the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas.

At this point we have established that we all possess creativity. Creativity is also what arises from practicing tools that make up a skill. Becoming fluent in using those tools is likened to speaking the language of that skill. Once you can perform these tools flawlessly you are ready for the final step. The exciting step of creative play.

Here is another example illustrating the above. Remember the first time you learned how to type, it was a struggle, it went slow, you had to deliberately think of where to place each finger for every single letter. This period is known as the skill acquisition phase. It is very taxing on your brain, you engage with full concentration to guide your fingers. Once you have acquired the knowledge of how to strike each letter with your different fingers you enter the next step. The step of practicing those tools. This is the transition phase where you build muscle memory so to speak in your brain. By practicing those movements your brain makes millions of new neuronal connections. I imagine the brain devotes new real estate to that one skill you are learning. After lots of practice, once you have reached the point of typing fluently, you can almost do it as fast as you think, your fingers simply just glide along the keyboard as you think of the ideas in your head.

How do you know you have reached the creative point?

It’s easy, with the speak-as-you-do test.

It is when you can think of something other than how to perform the activity while you are actually engaged in that activity. It is like a musician playing their instrument or a driver in command of a vehicle who is able to speak at the same time. Have you ever driven a car and spoke at the same time. This is proof that the skill of driving is programmed into your automatic memory, you can perform the skill flawlessly and engage in a secondary activity at the same time. A more complicated example is a musician who is playing their instrument and talking at the same time. 

To take the driving example a little further. When driving to a specific place for the first time, you have to concentrate, you have the music turned down, you are engaged in looking at the street names, estimating distance, if you are using GPS, you hang on to every word the voice says. With time you will be able to drive to that location with less effort. With each subsequent time you have to concentrate less and less. There comes a point when you are so used to the route that you can guide your car there without a single thought. Have you ever arrived at your destination and not even remember anything about the trip home? “Did I even stop at that that red light?”

Creativity has been historically crucial to the development of the human race. Every innovation, every scientific discovery was the result of creative thought. Why do we engage in creative thought? Many scientists have tried to get to the bottom of this. They have tried to figure out what it takes to be more creative, to achieve greater creative success.

The key driving force behind creativity is curiosity, and the resultant effect is happiness.

Let us discuss the driving force behind creativity first. Children have a propensity to be very curious about the world around them. As toddlers, they see a multitude of foreign objects and experiences that spark their curiosity. Have you ever watched a toddler in a new setting. They walk around in constant amazement. They push on things, pick up, pull, throw, bounce, observe. Their curiosity captivates them. They ignore the rest of the world and go to work on discovering their new foreign land. This curiosity is what leads them to ask why things are the way they are. They strive, seek and do not yield (Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson) until they discover an answer to their curiosity. This curiosity is what has led scientists to ask the same question and make marvelous discoveries.

But, Humanity frowns.

Unfortunately there comes a time when a child’s curiosity gets lost. We get older and we get distracted. It may have to do with getting oversaturated and desensitised by new phenomena or it may just be that “responsibility” gets in the way. A kid goes to school and suddenly they have more on their plate. They have deadlines and tests and are subject to failure. The biggest destroyer of creativity is the fear of failure. They age and go to college, the requirements are enhanced. They get a job and by that time, by their thirties they have completely forgotten the amazement of discovery. Their curiosity is replaced with mundane television shows and repetitive activities.

 

There is a small group of people who retain their sense of curiosity. They are called scientists, inventors and renaissance men.

A scientist is merely someone who asks the question. “Why?” The same question in the child’s mind. “Why does this happen, why is that the way it is?” They get to the familiar why-state. They ask “what will happen if I did this?” It’s an exciting time of rapid learning. Their little mind questions everything around them. Unfortunately we have two different types of parents. There are the ones who try to answer their child’s questions, they draw from their previous knowledge and give the best answer they come up with. This can be exhausting though, and they get to a point where they can no longer give an answer. Then there is the pivotal point where they dismiss their child’s answer. They say the dreaded words. “I don’t know, you will learn it in school one day.” The child agrees and forgets the question all together. They get used to this response. Whenever another question creeps up they dismiss it, hoping now that someone will teach it to them at a later stage. Then there are the parents who try to teach their child. They have some success but when that pivotal point comes, they do something different. They take the time to show their child how to figure out the answer. They set up an experiment or they open a book or search for a video online. They teach the child how to learn, instead of wait to learn. These are the kids who will create their own world.

The sad part is that we lose this sense of experimentation. We stop asking what would happen? We stop trying to experiment with our lives. There comes a point where we feel we have figured out most of life’s mysteries, we get set in our beliefs and stop to question them, we stop entertaining the other argument.

I was once told that the day we stop asking why is the day our inner child dies.

A child is naive to the world, they do not know their limitations, they don’t even understand the concept. They do not understand failure. These are the roadblocks to inhibiting our curiosity. The internal struggle. What if I sound dumb by asking why? I don’t think I am capable of learning how to do that. I’m not cut out for this. I wasn’t born with that talent. Does this sound familiar?

Get out of that funk. Stop believing there is no more to life. Walk up to the cliff and jump. Start today, experiment with your life, push your limits, ask why. Be naive like a child and instead, rekindle the belief that anything is possible.

If curiosity is the driving force behind creativity then why is happiness the result? Have you ever seen a child during creative play, they are in a zone of complete happiness. They appear to be in constant awe, a perpetual state of amazement. The same occurs in adults who have creative success. When you have mastered the tools of an art and engage in creative play it brings a good deal of happiness. The discovery of creative play is a moment to moment discovery of true joy.

Let’s get scientific again.

Are you familiar with the term Dope? It’s slang for something is exciting or good or even spectacular. It’s also slang for a street drug that causes feeling good. I’ve never tried it but it must be incredibly good if people are willing to lose their lives to it, but that’s another story.

The word Dope is closely related to the word Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in our body. A neurotransmitter is science slang for a molecule that acts on another cell to provoke a response. In the brain dopamine causes euphoria or happiness. Dopamine is most widely present in the caudate nucleus and the frontal cortex. These regions of the brain are thought to be greatly involved with creative thought. The frontal cortex can perform a number of activities that are unique to humans. These include computation, abstract thought, time awareness and creativity.

For example, using our frontal cortex we can predict future events based on our current actions. Animals cannot predict or envision a possible outcome, they only learn via experience. Animals may seem like they know the consequences of their actions. Dogs don’t poop in the house because they were told the adverse outcome of such an action. This behavior is based on classical conditioning. They associate an adverse outcome with a learned behavior, they avoid A because it results in B, they avoid pooping in the house because it results in a beating. Humans on the other hand can learn by conditioning AND observation. A toddler sees their friend get in trouble for A and receive punishment B, therefore will not perform A. A toddler will also avoid performing action A if they have already received punishment B. You also know it’s not wise to run across a freeway, you might get hit by a car, it’s not wise to touch hot stove, you might get burned. 

The frontal cortex aids in computation, mathematics and logic. It is able to derive possible future outcomes based on current experience. By using abstract thought we use our frontal lobe to deduce what may happen in the future if we act a certain way right now.

The frontal cortex also allows us to think creatively, it helps us to combine our current skills to create something brand new. The fact that the frontal cortex uses a lot of dopamine which gives pleasure explains why when we think creatively and produce something new with satisfying results we get a surge of dopamine i.e. a feeling of pleasure. Once you get motivated to start producing something new after learning a few new skills you will see what I mean. When I write a new paragraph, play a new guitar song, taste the bread I baked from scratch, I get this ecstatic feeling of joy. For that moment I feel on top of the world. For that moment I feel capable of anything. Are you catching my drift?

So how does creative play lead to happiness? There are 3 types of happiness. The first, instant happiness. This is the person who achieves happiness in the short run, eating a tasty burger, laughing at a joke, having sex or doing drugs can provide a quick burst of dopamine.  The quick onset of a dopamine rush quickly fades. They look to the present to provide happiness. Then there is the person who tries to achieve happiness in the future, they go out to the club to try and find a mate, they work towards a promotion meaning more money with possibly more happiness. They look to the future for happiness. Then the third type is the one who engages in a creative task that provides enjoyment. This is also instant happiness but it is built on years of practice. As mentioned before when you practice a skill to the point of creative play you will find this happiness. This is the type of happiness that drives you to continue practicing that skill, each session is a pleasure in itself. Eventually you will get so good at it that you achieve both happiness in the present and in the future. This type of happiness is self driven, it feeds into itself by making you better at the skill you are trying to acquire and as you get better you derive more happiness from it. It’s an intrinsic reward. (Drugs, paychecks and a start on the forehead are extrinsic rewards). This is the difference between the three types. The immediate and future happiness only lasts for a short while, they are subject to desensitization. This means that when you take a drug for example you slowly get used to the effects. You eventually require more and more of the drug to get the same effect. Getting a promotion is only rewarding the day off the promotion. Creative happiness fuels itself, it provides intrinsic pleasure that perpetuates it’s own motivation.

What do the philosophers say, or what gave them happiness?

Aristotle loved to argue. He argued that because man is a rational animal, having the ability to reason is what makes man different from animals. He believed the ultimate happiness is the man who exercises this virtue, to Reason. To reason gave him the greatest happiness which makes sense because he practiced philosophy which is comprised of making arguments and solving problems. I’m sure whenever he engaged in reasoning and debating he was using all the tools he built to creatively come up with new arguments. His ultimate happiness was in his ability to create philosophical arguments.

What does my dog say?

Whenever I play fetch with my Labrador Shaka, it is no surprize that he is at his happiest when chasing after his ball. It is in his genes, it’s his instinct to hunt, because that is what ensures his survival. He drops the ball by my feet, wags his tail and barks until I throw it again. He loves the chase. Most of the time he is already running by the time I throw it. Just as a dog is in his happiest moment of exercising his instinct to hunt, humans are the happiest when we engage in our unique instinct. To create.

——-

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” Do not simply copy others but create something new. Every artist commits copyright fraud. That is how creativity works. You take little bits and pieces from all the artists who influence you. You study them, you practice them, you make them your own, you steal them. Then the creative part happens. You take all these things you’ve learned and you string them together in your mind in a way that makes sense to you and you create something new. I am guilty of this crime, but unlike a common thief I stand up and I thank all the great philosophers who have influenced me. My theories are not my own but a conglomerate of great theories which are already out there waiting to be rediscovered. I am simply trying to forge connections between ideas, to make sense of my own actions. I try to find a pattern in the abstract. This is why artists can feel irrelevant. They feel as if it has already been done by someone else. I want to tell you today, it’s okay to steal, please take my theories and apply them, mull them over, mould them to fit your belief structure and make them your own.

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal Mart said it himself, he stole the best ideas from the most successful businessman.

The mastery of two or more different disciplines will inevitably give birth to something new. Music is a great example. There are artists we get to know and love in a certain genre. After some success and many albums and songs later suddenly they will disappear for a while. What happened? They are studying a new genre. Not long, you see this, artist-x featuring artist-y. That’s it, two separate different genres of music, suddenly combined. This is the creative process. Artists will often take melodies from the oldies or classical music and merge them with elements of modern music. This happens in every field. It’s very evident in medicine. With so many sciences combined you often see a mechanical device borrowed from a totally different discipline implemented in medicine to perform something better. Our gut resembles the plumbing and piping we find in our homes. The tools that surgeons and gastroenterologists use just so happen to resemble the tools plumbers use.

It doesn’t take talent to be creative, it simply arises from hard work and practicing different disciplines. In the next chapter I will discuss the fallacy of believing in talent.

 

The Importance of Play

Do you play music or do you play with music? What is the difference? We were always taught, don’t play with your food… but isn’t being a Chef really just playing with food, playing with flavors and colors and combinations? Almost anyone can play music. Just take two pencils and start tapping a beat, that’s music. The fun part comes when you get to play WITH music. You can learn to play a famous song on the guitar, note by note, chord by chord, congrats, you know one song. On the other hand you can learn a few chords, arrange them to a new strumming pattern, new order and viola you can create tens of hundreds of new songs. Which would make you happier? Playing one famous song or playing endless you-songs? 

A relationship between two people is so much more fun when play is involved. Do you play with your spouse, do you try new combinations of chords and licks to get a rise out of her, to make her smile or cringe or jump for joy?

It is only when at play can one can be creative!!!

Think of telling a story. If I met you face to face and have you tell me how your morning was. There are two ways of telling the story. One is simply recalling the facts. The second is playing with those facts. What can you add to make them more fun for yourself? Maybe use emotions and see how they affect your lister, or large hand motions and see how engaged your listener can become.

 

 

I am Doctor Z.

What’s the meaning

What’s this feeling

What is it I am to know

Why this thought creeping

What am I seeing

What seed I am to sow

The question that looms

What to do

Without an answer soon

Only time will tell,

Depends on how bold

My story may unfold

I am here to tell

When I finally figure out

How to become rich

I’ll pay you my dues

No doubt

Share my wealth

To help your health

Is my goal no doubt

So share with me

Your secrets to see

To help save you

And me.

Lucky Luke

There was lucky Luke, a loathsome lone outlaw, he gained fame for his six shootin game. He was feared in the west and anyone knew best, don’t mess with Luke, let him ride.

For luck was on his side.

With a six shooter pistol before the rooster crows, he would knock of ten. A lucky bullet shot one, two, three in a row, and then,

the crowds would erupt at his display, with luck on his side Luke saved another day.

“Leave luke alone, leave luck on his side. Live long live well, let lucky luke ride.” they would cheer.

………..

How much of success depends on luck? Is there a way to make more luck? What is luck and where can it be found? Do you need luck to answer that last question?

Many failed startups will argue that the one thing they were missing was luck.

Many bronze medalists will argue they weren’t lucky enough to have the right genes.

Many B-students will proclaim the lack of luck of not having good parents therefore good teachers therefore a good education.

We speak of luck helping many successful startups like twitter, paypal, uber and airbnb.

Is this true? Can it really be that Michael Jordan simply had the luck of exceptional genes, specifically aligned with the times and the Bulls to produce the greatest basketball player known to man?

It may be so, but this type of thinking may kill motivation. If success depends on what genes you are born with, and you think you didn’t get those genes, then why try to become successful? If all you need is luck, then what is the point of working towards a goal? If you don’t strike it lucky you might as well give up right now. Wouldn’t it be better to just sit and wait patiently for luck to find you?

I’ve mentioned before that we may be different from animals in that we are capable of abstract thought as well as capable of creating new ideas. We can create tools and objects with our hands. So, can we create luck?

Luck is an abstract idea, therefore is possible to imagine in our minds. It would be hard to prove outside of our thoughts. It may not be very easy to create with our hands, create in a chemistry lab or in a workshop, so maybe we will try a different approach.

Maybe it is possible to find luck. A famous historical figure would argue “I am a strong believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”

Maybe not “create” luck, but instead search for it. The fun is in the search. You won’t know what luck you are searching for until it finds you. The luck game is based on odds. What are your odds of striking it lucky? Of landing in that right spot at the right time to hit the jackpot? If you are sitting on your couch all day, chances are you might not find that perfect moment where everything is aligned. Your chances are low, the odds are against you.

Now what if you deny yourself the pleasure of sitting on a soft sofa with soft soothing tunes coming through a network of speakers? What if instead, you get up, search, find an opportunity and get after it. In which scenario would you increase your odds of striking it lucky, of finding that golden opportunity?

That’s what is meant by the “goldmine is between your ears.” The amount of luck you gain depends on what you set your mind to.

Let me put it this way. You may be able to increase your chances of getting lucky if you expend more energy in seeking your goal. The harder you work and the more time you put in, the greater your odds of striking it lucky.

We don’t know how much luck played a role in every famous success story but they do share one thing in common. One thing that invariable plays an integral part in the equation of success.

Every underdog movie shows this sequence,

“Cue the montage music!”

The hero of the story gets defeated on their path. It leads them to start working harder than ever. Rocky would wake up every morning before sunrise and get out and start running. A montage of training clips flash by to the beat of an inspiring minor chord progression. The film director zooms in on the straining face of Stallone. A macro lens spies a bead of sweat emerging from his anger and rolls down his forehead in a slowmotion bliss. The third Act begins with the hero facing his opponent with confidence, built on endless practice.

The moment of glory, the moment of joy, that second been forged, by work and work, work employed.

Michael Jordan even admits that his luck came from endless practice. He said that early in his career, after every game he played, he would remember several mistakes he made. Then, instead of going out to celebrate, he would head to the gym, practice those moves or free throws over and over and over. The next morning he would come in early and do the same before practice. That was putting his heart and soul into what he loved. That was him ensuring he would find “luck” in the future of becoming the greatest ballplayer of his day. Watch the video below and tell me this. Were each of those points he scored due to luck?

“To air is not human” – go to 13:49

………………….

Back to Lucky Luke.

The bandits loathed his luck. They envied his hand. There was only one way they could make a stand. They once heard a rumor that luck sits in the soul. They had to strike there in order to gain full control. In a devious plan to give reprimand. Held him down, they sliced off his hand. In a foul swoop a dried clover, his six shooting days were over.

…………………

You see, the misconception lies in the perception of where luck comes from. Are some people just favored by the gods? Are some just born lucky, to strike it at every turn? We tend to jump to conclusions without the background story. We invoke magical thinking to answer questions about where success comes from. We fail to see the progression that lead up to that grand success.

Every success story shares the same thing, the hero started somewhere, had a dream, then started working diligently towards it, practicing endless hours.

There was a time when Usain Bolt was just learning to walk.

That is the hard part though. How do you get yourself to work ten thousand hours toward achieving that ultimate level?

The trick is to focus on the journey, to focus on the habits you have to form to ensure you have no choice but to reach your goal. Let me give you an example.

If you are trying to lose weight, stop trying to set a huge goal. Don’t say “I want to lose fifty pounds.” Instead, ask yourself, how will I lose one pound? Make it a small goal. Chances are, if you can lose one pound, you may be able to lose two. If you can lose two, you can lose three and before you know it, fifty! Ah, but wait a minute, not so easy.

How do you lose just one pound? Start with just an ounce.

Try this. It is better to try and fail, than try at all. So try the first thing that comes to mind, just one thing, thought of it yet? Now, execute. Do that one thing with all your effort. Give up drinking soda for example. Completely give up soda and see what will happen. Weigh yourself Monday, no sodas through Sunday and weigh yourself again. See if you’ve lost an ounce, maybe a pound?

Studies have shown that by drinking just water for one week straight will result in weight loss. I can positively tell you that extra weight will be history, evaporated into thin air.

Keep it going my friend.

Finding the method to loose weight does not depend on being lucky, it simply means you searched until you found it.

…………………….

Luke secretly knew that the key to success

was not in luck or those who are blessed

forged in steel he made a new hand

trigger and all avoid tempting can’t

with his new hand by his side

saved another day,

lucky Luke shall ride

……………………..

Rare moments occur around us all the time. I consider these lucky moments, to witness that perfect mix of luck and chance.

You have to look for these moments. We dream of the last second three pointer to fall through the hoop and save the entire season, but we have to be realistic. Think of it this way, you are lucky to be alive, what are the odds that your exact DNA makeup has ever existed before, almost zero right. You have never existed before. You are the only you. How lucky is that? So every moment you encounter is unique to you. By searching you will find more of these moments.

When I garden and I dig up some earth worms I would call the kids over to come look. There’s that magical moment when they realize they are holding an earthworm in their hand. You can see the joy in their eyes, the curiosity overflowing. I feel lucky to be alive to witness such a perfect moment.

The other day I happen to discover a birds nest with little babies inside, I was able to get some video of it, what a moment.

……..

So in the famous words of a legend gone old, “do you feel lucky punk?”

Seasons will change

Remember where you came from

Remember what you’ve become

It’s okay not to belong

Keep building your own kingdom

 

Every day when you wake

Breathe deep and seize the day

Count back from five

Do not delay

Forget the pain and ache

that’s life I say

 

Think and stare through the floor

Gather your courage,

And make the day yours

 

This one life given to you

Don’t waste it, don’t snooze

Let your success soothe

pain endured and soon

 

Seasons will change

And time moves on

Seek and strive on

You’ve got many to prove wrong

 

The Force is in you.

Yesterday I posed a question on what is the difference between humans and animals? It seems as though animals act based on a prewritten script, a blueprint of instructions. Their instincts determine their every move. Humans on the other hand seem to have a choice of how to react. Some may say that we are “determined” to act in a certain way exactly like animals do, but some may say there is something in us, somewhere in our human brain that can think, weigh the odds and make a choice. I mentioned that, as we lead our lives we are constantly acted on by external forces. The course your life takes directly depends on how much you push back, im talking about another force, one from an internal origin. 

Watching my kids grow has been a pure delight. There is a moment, around one year old, that your child will suddenly make their first choice. I think this is the moment your baby becomes a toddler. “Toddler” say it with me, it has a little playful sound to it, makes your tongue dance in your mouth. They come with many surprises at this age. 

You see, a little baby depends on their parents for everything. When they get hungry, they cry. The parent will come rushing in with a bottle to save the day. They soil their diaper. The parents look at each other, the first one to give in rushes in to save the day and so on.

Then comes that magical moment. Around one year old you may place a good nutritious variety of food in front of your darling baby. She will pick up a few pieces of food and suddenly, without warning, toss them to the floor. What just happened? You turn your attention to them, scoop a spoonful of food and aim for their mouth. Their response, “neh” and turn their head at the last second just in time for the spoon to come crashing into their cheek. More food on the floor. This also happens to be the dog’s favorite day in child development. So where did this sudden choice come from?

Let me explain.

As we grow, we come to this realization, that we have a choice in what we eat, what we do and how we react. A toddler keeps growing and learning about choices, they learn what they like and what they don’t. Many times it may seem absurd what they choose to do, but hey, even if they are eating off the floor, at least they are eating, right? It is the parents duty to help guide their child to discover new truths of life, like broccoli really isn’t that bad, or they can slide down the slide on their own. They also learn that crying for everything is not the best reaction but instead to ask for help. 

I’m struggling with my three year old right now, trying to teach her to ask for a snack instead of cry for a snack. When she stubs her toe or gets a scratch to wait instead of crying, wait, waaaait, and the pain will eventually go away. Crying is the response a baby shows to feeling discomfort. It is in learning how to better deal with discomfort that they grow.

I tell this to my patients as well. Especially someone trying to lose weight or kick a habit. There is no magic pill or exercise, to lose weight you just have to push against the discomfort of feeling hungry. To stop smoking cigarettes you have to push against the discomfort of withdrawal. To get that gym body you have to face the discomfort of going there in the first place. 

Our path in life may only depend on these two forces. External forces and your internal force. External is what happens to you, internal is what you make happen. For example, if you walk outside and suddenly it rains. The rain is the external force. You may decide to go back in the house and get an umbrella or risk a few drops and dash like a madman to the car. That is the internal force that helps determine your response to the rain, how you choose to react.

External forces are out of our control. The weather, what happens in the news, the driver that ignores the red light and crashes into another. Some of us are very preoccupied of what may happen in the future. We check the weather report, we try to predict the stock market, we try to imagine what will happen if we say this or that to her or him. Some of us just take one day, one moment at a time. I’m not the one to say which is better but I embrace these changes instead of grubble. 

If it’s sunny out I run outside and enjoy the heat on my skin. If it’s rainy and stormy I run outside and enjoy running against the resistance of the wind and the sting of the rain drops.

Depending on what you believe, these external forces may just be random occurrences in our lives. Internal force is within our control. So ask yourself, would you rather be concerned with what is in your control or what is outside of your control? We decide how we react to external forces, the decisions we make, the actions we take, the mood we exhibit.

There is a flaw in the argument though.

How much of what we do is taught to us by our surroundings and circumstances? How much of how we react to external stimuli are simply prewritten by our previous experience? It is hard to say. Some of us believe that our decisions are in our own hands, some are okay accepting the fact that we are predetermined. Some like to think that these forces are subject to the metaphysical or religious but that’s another discussion.

The argument of determinism takes a different stand. It assumes that we are no different from animals, that we simply react based on a prewritten script, that our actions are merely determined by our genes and previous experience. Determinism goes as far as stripping away our free will. 

If we cannot choose to act a certain way but instead the choice is made for us by our god or our genes we must therefore have no free will to choose to make a decision. What? So both religion and Darwin had it wrong? 

This is an important issue in the legal system. The question of criminal responsibility routinely creeps up in the judicial system. It is the goal of a lawyer to prove their client’s actions were due to external forces. When I was in Afghanistan I caught wind of a famous court case where two F 16 fighter pilots had their sentence of manslaughter reduced on the defence that their actions were influenced by “go pills.” They were taking prescription amphetamines offered by the Air Force at the time which was a routine practice for pilots to help them stay alert on long missions. An unfortunate incident happened where they dropped a bomb on friendly forces killing several.  Amphetamines blamed for Friendly Fire.

Despite the flaws in the legal system we have to remember that external forces may just be out of our control. Once we accept that we can start clearing those anxieties from our daily lives. Try giving up checking the weather, checking the news or trying to predict others’ behavior. 

Look back at your life and try to see what forces have acted on you and how you chose to respond. Which of your actions then led to good things and which led to bad? Now that you have that separated in your mind, try and think, were all those actions, with good or bad outcomes, made  entirely by you? Were you ultimately the one that chose to stop trying diets or stop working out or working on your relationship or working for the sake of working? 

So what if another person’s decision directly affects your life?

If your boss demands you to do something, if a parent restricts their child or a Jewish man is held captive by the Nazis, it means that their life circumstance was determined by someone else’s decision, right? Consider this, from the worker or child or Jew’s perspective they were merely acted on by an external force. The choice they have is in how they will react to their suppressor.

The amazing story of Viktor Frankl illustrates this beautifully. He was an Austrian Neurologist, Psychologist and Holocaust survivor. As a concentration camp inmate he discovered these truths about our lives. He said that “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in a any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Man’s Search For Meaning

So hopefully we are a little closer to understanding ourselves, maybe you are just as confused as I am, but it’s worth a try to see life this way, to take responsibility for our past actions and consider the effects of our future decisions.

With that I leave you to watch Star Wars and really think what is this force within you.

The force is strong with this one.

Marthinus Zeeman

 

Baby Blue, a song for my mom.

Verse 1

I see you baby blue

I heard you got your heart broke right in two

I wish I could write the perfect words

To heal your wounds

But all I have is this little tune

I wrote for you

Chorus

So all I have to say

is Time will take your pain away

so All you gotta do is wait

Time will make the pain fade away

Verse 2

Lay your head on my shoulder

And I’ll sing to you, baby blue

Listen to my tune

To help you see this through

Chorus

Verse 3

I see you baby blue

I heard you wanted something new

I wish I can make

All your dreams come true

But all I have is this little tune

I wrote for you

Chorus

So all I have to say

Is good things come to those who wait

So all you have to do is wait

Good things will surely come your way

Bridge

Time and time again

Make time your friend

Accept that there’s an end

Until then time will mend

time and time again

Make time your friend and

Time and time again

Your life will mend. (Make your amends)

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Baby blue

Beal street

Walking down Beal street

Started thinking

What is life and

Why I am sinking

Walking down Beal street

Looking for answers

What can change me

What am I seeing


Walking down the mississippi

And who do i see

The king’s alive

He’s shaking those hips

Walking down the mississippi

And who do i see

The king’s a leading

The many, the free

Walking down the mississippi

And who do i see

J’s a walking

On the water with me

Walking down the mississippi

And who do i see

Jay’s a walking

Rapping to me


Walking down bealstreat

Who do I see

The king yeah

Right in front of me

So I asked him, he told me

Something I needed

Loosen up and shake those hips

And move your legs and your lips

So I went walking in new deli

Who do I see in front of me

It’s Ghandi and he told me

Wisdom I needed

You gotta live free

Detaching and you will see

You’ll be free

So I went to South Africa

In prison Mandela

He told me to be at peace

To to be free, be sweet to everybody

So I back to Tennessee

On Beal street who’d I see

Mr King yeah right I front of me

And he told me baby

To be free walk with me

Be at peace you will see

So we walked all the way to DC

And I made friends with everybody

Black and white united

Coming together to be free

Poor and wealthy

Believing in unity

What is bitcoin

WhitePaper

Above is the white paper. This was written by a guy who nobody knows who he is. Described in this paper is everything one needs to know about it. Unfortunately it cannot predict the future of its product.

Let me explain my experience with it thus far. I met my old army buddy for a hike one day. Deep in the Sierras he explained the basics of the coin. At the time he pondered whether it will hit $2000. 10 days of hiking led discussion later we left the Sierras to reunite our phones with the internet. The first piece of news, bitcoin increased to a little over $2k. My friend was ecstatic. He made money by hiking. I finally got a job and saved some money. Instead of paying my credit card off I bought bitcoin on a hazy night. At the time a coin cost $4500. Within 2 months the value of what I owned doubled and then some. Not much later the value tripled.

I discussed my experience with a few people. I sent several of them a small percentage of bitcoin. I hired an app developer and paid the initial down payment with bitcoin. I bought coffee with a fraction of coin. All transactions were done via email. None of the transactions lost a percentage or a transaction fee. The transactions occurred as far as from Hawaii to India. The rest, to different US states and some right here in person. All transactions were instant. The only transaction fee occurs when you exchange bitcoin for any other currency. Most folks did not convert to conventional currency. Every single person saw their gift increase in value. The developer received a generous bonus and replied with a smiling emoticon.

How it works?

Every transaction that occurs between two bitcoin addresses are recorded in the network, it’s public knowledge. What remains private is the identity of who holds the address. Perfect anonymity. When a number of transactions have been recorded a group of computers or “miners” go to work. The bitcoin algorithm WhitePaper determines a randomized math problem that involves all the characters that define the transactions. These characters are the bits that contain the information regarding the transactions. Date. Time. Address. Amount. Etc. the data is then scrambled and the computers go to work again. This time the goal is figure out the solution to to the math problem that results in the information being unscrambled. This takes an immense amount of energy. The fastest computers in the world are working together on this. We know this because the reward for the computer that finds the solution is to write that block of transactions coupled with answer to the math problem into eternity. It then gets added to the block chain. The end of the block is coupled with a scrambled version plus the answer of the last transaction in the previous block. This way each block added in succession is linked to its predecessor and so the entire block chain therefore can never be reversed. Unlike banks a payment can be recalled with a good enough argument. The block chain has no conscious therefore cannot be convinced via reason.

Now why all this effort?

The reward for recording a block into eternity is one bitcoin. This bitcoin is then in possession of the miner and they can elect to sell it or keep it or turn it into dollars.

Here’s the catch.

There’s ONLY 21 million bitcoins available!!! Right now about 16 mil have been found. It is similar to what happened to real estate in Hawaii. There is limited land that is very desirable. So over time the land value in Hawaii skyrocketed due to its scarcity. With a known limit of bitcoin and knowing that eventually all will be mined investors in the coin are betting on the eventual scarcity to continue to drive up the price. So far it has worked. It has out performed the stock market by all measure.

The miner. You can buy a mining machine for as little as $4k. The catch, it eats energy. In several states and other countries specifically China, solar farms are being built to support the energy demand. Bitcoin is essentially a representation of an amount of energy used.

What’s going to happen when all the coin has been mined?

There will suddenly be an immense amount of solar farms with nothing to do but provide green energy. Services will be paid for across continents with zero transaction fees. There is no such thing as over draft fees. Banks may loose income from less transaction fees. The government won’t be able to tax payment. Transaction fees between bitcoin and conventional currency may sky rocket. Tips for your waiter won’t be shared with the rest. I may pay off my credit card, although so far the increase in value has outpaced the 15% interest rate on the card.

Good luck. Buy at your own risk.

according to the WhitePaper;

The incentive can also be funded with transaction fees. If the output value of a transaction is less than its input value, the difference is a transaction fee that is added to the incentive value of the block containing the transaction. Once a predetermined number of coins have entered circulation, the incentive can transition entirely to transaction fees and be completely inflation free.

It may be a good idea to invest in mining?

Remittance. The act of sending money home by a foreign worker. This money flow makes up a huge chunk of 3rd world foreign income.