Of all the seven deadly sins, gluttony is my favorite. We have no excuse to abuse our bodies with regular exorbitant consumption of any kind – but minor infractions cannot hurt every once in awhile. To celebrate, I do not mind eating five meals in a day or downing a hefty dose of alcohol. Mark the occasion as you please. You should not do it every night and you should not do it to pass time. But feel free to do it to bookmark a moment in your life as memorable. Gluttony all the time is not memorable. Gluttony on a rare occasion sticks with you for life. Make it count.
You know that gut feeling? The one that tells you to do or say something? The one that hits you like a hockey puck and knocks you over – almost without your permission? Yes, they call that intuition – and it’s a special gift. In the prehistoric days, intuition was the essential mechanism that kept us alert and alive in the wild. Today, it serves a far less animalistic purpose and yet still informs our judgement calls.
Acting on intuition can be a terrifying thing. No information, no data and no time to support your gut. What if someone judges you for it? What if it gets you into trouble? Takes you down the wrong road? What if you misunderstand your inner voice? What if you’re wrong?
You may not be right. But there’s no way to know ahead of time. That’s why they call it a risk. Many situations do not have time or the infrastructure for the kind of research most decisions call for. Sometimes you just need to listen to your belly and do something. It takes balls. Or ignorance. Or blind luck. Whatever it is, you don’t have time or reason to think. Just do it. And see what happens. Intuition can be a magical thing if used diligently.
I sit beside this exact fire once every few years with old friends – most of whom I had not seen since the fire before it. In moments like these, everyone can catch up, let go and share in timeless togetherness again. As if the last fire occurred in the not so distant past, conversations and idiosyncrasies flashback in ways that challenge the passing of time. Reunions often cathartically reorient your core and priorities. You remember who you were, remember who your friends were and remind each other. Save for a few nostalgic campfire stories, the echo of your past happens subliminally. It feels like reverberation in your memory – like a moment worth reliving. Reunions enrich the soul. Without losing yourself to total nostalgia, I recommend assembling them as often as you can.
As much as it pains me to quote a Quentin Tarantino film on my blog, awkward silences always make me think of Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction: “Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about bullshit in order to be comfortable?” You don’t need to flap your gums all the time. There are other ways to communicate and experience relationships. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit there with someone. Enjoy the company. Feel the breeze. Live life – and remember you’re living it together. I will never bash good conversation. But some of the best moments in life go unspoken.
We wouldn’t get anywhere in life if we didn’t think “getting there” was possible. Pessimism, naysaying and caution may protect people from risky business, but they do nothing to help meaningful change or make the world a better place. Progress depends on setting a goal and the confidence to see it through. More important than confidence, I think, is faith. Blind and unrestrained optimism for doing great things, supporting great people and believing in the impossible. If it hasn’t been done before, surely it’s impossible – right? Wrong. There are no boundaries we cannot cross, no puzzles we cannot solve or no messes we cannot clean up if we truly believe. Perhaps ignorantly, if we need to. Whatever it takes to get the job done. While I refuse to identify with myopia or traditionalist thought, I do respect people who can believe in their mission so wholeheartedly that nothing can stand in their way. That’s bigger than persistence or stubbornness – that’s faith.
Balance between input and output is key. Lately, consumption is easier than ever. Distractions run amuck. But the tools are easier than ever, too. Save for more distractions, you have no excuse to procrastinate your work and talent. If you’re not creating, you’re consuming. You’re not giving back to the world and people in it who give you so much. You’re living a selfish relationship with life. Good luck leaving a legacy. No thank you.
Write. Paint. Speak. Raise children. Build things. Get your hands dirty. Give back to the world and the people you care about. Make a difference. Don’t sit still. Don’t wait and watch. Don’t only take in – put out (no innuendo intended). Try not to concern yourself with turning your creation into your business – if you create well enough, the business will come. Focus on building great things and gifting them to all. It’s good for the soul (and can’t hurt your legacy).
Public speaking and education theory underscore the value of repetition. If repeated, the odds of audience retention increase dramatically for a given piece of information. Repeated more, listeners may start to engage with the material. Debates, testing, execution or indoctrination may ensue.
Take repetition to the next level: get people to live and breathe the information. If repeated enough, opponents may even give up opposing and join the team. The information may not be true. How do you think we came to associate the Trojan War with a lust battle? Enough people recited the Iliad as historical literature, over and over again. Call it “truth conditioning.” Tell a lie so many times that people start to believe it. You may even start to believe it yourself.
When you surround yourself by theories, people and literature that never leave you alone, you start to accept their fiction as fact. Watch Star Wars enough times and you will believe in the Force. Read a book enough times and you will believe the world started six thousand years ago. Spend enough time in your environment and you will believe it’s the only way to live life. We live and breathe conditioning every day and fall prey. You accept “truths” within the world you live and move on accordingly.
Repetition and persistence may be the most powerful tools in mass communication. Say something loud – and then say it again. And again. And again.
You must keep thoughts of failure in check by balancing them with hopes for success. Without hope, we have little room to grow and no path to follow. You must have something to believe in and live for. Otherwise, what’s the point? A true balance between fear and hope should land you in the middle – a realistic place where accomplishments are appreciated and failures become lessons well-learned. That’s a pretty comfortable place to be.