Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

How Do You Make a Long Journey?

One step at a time.

If you think about how far you have to go, and how long it’ll take, the whole thing can become overwhelming.

But if you just put one foot in front of the other, day after day, you’ll eventually find yourself at your destination.

Be sure to take your time and enjoy your trip.

The journey is as much fun as arriving — maybe more so.

You’re never so alive as when you’re not sure you can do something, but you plow ahead anyway.

Learning by Doing

If you want to learn how to make a film, you can go to film school.

Or you can just make a film.

Either way, your first one, at best, is going to show some promise. Maybe, if you’re Bob Dylan, or Quentin Tarantino, it’ll be a masterpiece – but that’s generally not the way it works. And that’s ok…

I guess my point here is this: You’re never going to be ready, so you may as well just fucking jump in.

It’s what you wanted to do anyway. You’ll figure it out as you go.

Semantic Priming

Let’s say we’re playing a game where I say a word, and you have to say the first word that comes to mind after hearing it.

I say doctor, you might say nurse.

You have been primed with the word doctor, and your natural response is to respond with a semantically related word such as nurse, or perhaps hospital.

Our brains work like this all day, indeed, when we try to solve problems, this is how our prefrontal cortex reasons.

The problem is, this kind of reasoning isn’t always the best way to come up with a solution. Sometimes we need to get the prefrontal cortex out of the way and be more creative, to think outside the box, so to speak.

Some people can do this naturally, but occasionally even they need help.

It turns out that this what alcohol and other mind-altering drugs do — they turn down the prefrontal cortex. There are lots of published studies illustrating this idea.

Maybe substances that slightly alter our conciousness aren’t so bad afterall.

Just food for thought.

A Big One

Yeah, I’m biting into a big matzoh ball here folks.

Not sure if I can maintain this blog and dedicate myself to this project at the same time, but I’m going to try.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Fucking hell.

Shamen

This was the person, before man had science, whose job it was to get fucked up, usually on some form of psychedelic. But this wasn’t frivolous – it served a purpose for human evolution.

The purpose was this: by altering their consciousness, these Shamen were increasing the likelihood that they might discover an answer to whatever question was being asked, because they were scrambling their brain and seeing things from a completely different perspective.

Their breaking free from the constraints of status quo thinking allowed them look a the problem from novel viewpoints.

So psychedelics have assisted humans from the beginning of our species, as a tool to accelerate innovation.

Because that’s what humans do – we innovate.

Just a Tip

If you find yourself in an ER, telling your nurse to “Fuck off” isn’t going to make things go any quicker.

Seems obvious, I know. But trust me – not everyone got the memo.

Every Day is a Gift

I’m not spouting platitudes here, just stating a fact. If you’re reading this, you’re not dead yet.

The big D is coming, but in the meantime, stop your fucking crying and get on with some living.

Make it count.

Why People are Assholes on Social Media

Deep down we all still primates. Social primates, more specifically — that is, no single ape could survive without the tribe. If a chimp was an asshole, unless he was King Kong, it wasn’t going to end well.

This is why we are wired not to be disrespectful, much less antagonistic, to other humans in our day-to-day lives. Not only could this result in violence directed at us, it’s a behavior that disrupts the tribe, something that is anathema to us. After all, we don’t survive without the tribe.

But somewhere around 2006, social media as we now understand it, was born. Now we could confront other humans anonymously. Now the littlest chimp could hurl shit at the biggest chimp without fear of retribution. Indeed, this could be done gleefully, over and over, in public no less. Of course, this would cause other little chimps to join in on the fun, throwing shit at each other like pies in a Three Stooges short.

We’re just not wired to handle this level of responsibility in anonymous public communication. Particularly when, at the click of a button, we can send our toxic mischief out into the world. We become (not all of us, of course) little chimps out pretending to be big chimps. Without the danger of a real big chimp beating us into a pulp.

This, unfortunately, is who we are.

Welcome to the enlightened human race.

What’s That?

Sometimes the voice in my head gets a little out of line and I have to remind it who’s boss.

“All right Buddy, let’s take a deep breath and bring it down a notch. Now what seems to be the problem?”

That usually shuts him up.

Bullies always cave under pressure.

Moving Back Towards Normal

I was one of the first people in the U.S. vaccinated for COVID back on December 16, 2020. And yet it has only been in the last month or so that I have begun venturing out in public unprotected. I still wear an N-95 for every 12 and a half hour shift in the ER, and I continue to wear a KN-95 at the gym, but things are changing fast. To wit:

  1. I had dinner with my wife and 2 BFF at our house. No masks. It felt scary for about 1 minute, then normal.
  2. My wife and I went to our yearly overnight anniversary in Rockport, MA. While there, I didn’t wear a mask at the Inn. I also didn’t wear a mask at 2 restaurants. And I didn’t wear a mask while shopping.
  3. Today, we went to an outdoor public pool. Lots of children — clearly unvaccinated children. For a moment, I panicked and put on a surgical mask before I realized I was outdoors, and it was 90 degrees with a breeze. Mask off.

The earth kept spinning, and I was surprised how quickly I felt comfortable. Not saying I got too close to any children, mind you, but I was outdoors on a beautiful summer day, enjoying life.

After working as an ER nurse in the apocalyptic first wave of the pandemic in NYC, witnessing death on an unimaginable scale, seeing how helpless we were to stop the onslaught, watching our colleagues fall ill, some of them dying, wondering if me or my loved ones would be next — after living through that and starting to see the beginnings of post-COVID life, I am struck by how resilient human beings are.

Life, such as it is, goes on.

There’s something comforting in that.

It’s a Paradox

Artists make art. Not because they hope to make money or become famous — just because they have an unexplainable compulsion to express something.

From the perspective of evolutionary biology, it makes absolutely no sense. Nonetheless, it’s a thing. A human thing.

Now, even though the artist’s motivation is not fame and fortune, they of course want other humans to see it, to get the same joy and meaning out of it they did when they created it.

Invariably, this isn’t the case. This is just how life works, and it’s certainly not a value judgment on the merits of whatever art is on the table. Art is a subjective thing — why it may or may not resonate with another human is a mystery.

Understandably, this can be a source of distress for the artist. Why don’t other people see how cool this is? Wait a minute, is this really shite and I’m misguided?

No, you are not misguided. It is as great as you think it is, at least to you. But here’s the point of this post: You want to know the best way to deal with rejection?

Go back and make more art.

It’s what you really wanted to do anyway.

Be Kind to Yourself (Part 4)

Let’s be clear: You didn’t mean to do whatever it is that’s triggering the inner voice now berating you. Making mistakes is part of what makes us human, and it’s certainly a byproduct of trying to grow.

So extend yourself the same courtesy you would a student.

Learn from your mistake and move on. You are not your mistake.

Be kind to yourself.

Transitioning (Part1)

We’re all going somewhere, aren’t we? I mean, nothing stays the same, right? So if that’s true, then everything is in a constant state of transition – but that’s not really the kind of transition I’m thinking of…

Sometimes life points us in a new direction.

If we choose to recognize it and accept the challenge, we must be brave and fearlessly move ahead, even if we’re unsure.

This is the kind of transition I’m talking about. It only happens a few times in each of our lives. If you recognize this chasm opening up, what’s the best course of action?

Damn the torpedoes.

RIP Roger Hawkins

Roger passed away on May 20, 2021, at the age of 75. Best known as the drummer for the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, he played on many classic soul hits from the late ’60s to early 70s. What hits, you might ask?

Well, let’s start with one of my favorite grooves of all time – “I’ll Take You There,” sung by the great Mavis Staples. When the drums come in, it takes about 2 beats before the whole track locks into the deepest pocket this side of the Mariana Trench, and it just stays there for over four minutes. It’s almost impossible to keep your body from moving to this beat. Magic.

Or how about Wilson Pickett’s “Land of a Thousand Dances.” At the time he was a 21-year-old white boy from Muscle Shoals Alabama.

Let’s not forget “Respect,” Aretha Franklin’s seminal classic.

Yeah, Roger Hawkins – thank you for all you gave us.

Gone but never forgotten.

Rest in Peace.

The One Who Wants it the Most Wins

I was fortunate to have studied with a great teacher from the age of roughly 29 to 38. This was one of the earliest things he taught me.

It kind of encapsulates how life works.

Gender has very little to do with it.

Intelligence has very little to do with it.

Physical gifts have very little to do with it.

The one who wants it most wins.

Remember that.