Thursday, October 25, 2012

Is There Life on Mars?

Humans have always been fascinated with the Red Planet. If you’ve been paying attention lately, we’ve sent quite a few spacecraft to the planet. Recent discoveries have revealed startling and amazing results, like the possibility seasonal of liquid water as this article relates. It’s a veritable wonder that on such a seemingly desolate and inhospitable place, the single most important factor to life still exists.

When I was a kid (and even today), space, space flight and the cosmos in general captivated me like no other subject. That’s probably why even now I’m a self-admitted Sci-Fi nerd. I’ll admit it, and I’m not ashamed either. I would soak up every TV show and movie I could get my eyes on; the books too were a source of inspiration and endless imagination. I used to wonder why Sci-Fi and fantasy were such powerful draws to my young mind. At first I just thought that stuff was wicked cool. Then I started to believe it was just because I was kind of dorky and socially awkward. After time went by, I grew up and experienced a lot of things, good and bad, I began to realize something. This realization started to really take shape when I truly committed to writing. Like all forms of imagination, Sci-Fi and Fantasy open up the mind to the infinite vastness of wonder. Those imaginary worlds are full of the astounding ‘what if’ factors in life that allow for amazing and awesome things to occur. Immersing yourself in the imagination frees you from corporeal bonds, social ties, accepted facts, unfortunate mental inhibitions, and fear. When the anchor of social construction is cut, the mind is free to sail upon the ocean of possibility. And when that happens, the universe changes, even if only in your own mind.

So if there's water on Mars, is it such a fantastic leap to think there might be life too? What if there is? How mind altering that would be. Think of it. To go to a place where commone sense tells you there can be no life, and you find it anyway, It makes you think about your own situation. If you are stuck in a mindset that is desolate and barren, perhaps all you have to do is look for something you don't expect. You may find it! In reality, inspiration is always just a thought away. It might even be lurking in the most unexpected places. I suggest getting out there and exploring the cosmos of your mind. There's a universe of wonder in there. Go find it.

Thanks for ready. Comments and questions are welcome.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Working Harder is for Chumps!

Has anyone ever told you that to get ahead in life you have to work hard? I’m sure you have, but I’m going to tell you something radical. Don’t listen to them. To be totally honest, working harder is for chumps. Yes, you read that right, working harder is for chumps. Now I know that might be offensive. Don’t worry, that just means you’re still alive. Relish that fact. 

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Have you ever read Animal Farm, by George Orwell? If you haven’t you should, but I’ll give you basic run down on one of the main characters. His name is Boxer. He’s basically the muscle and work horse of the farm. He believes in making things better for everyone and is willing to do what it takes to contribute. Unfortunately for Boxer, he’s not very bright. He religiously followed a mantra of “Must work harder” throughout the book. In fact, everyday he does work harder, while those in power continually take negative advantage of him, until one day, Boxer works so hard, he works himself to death. The truly sad thing is he didn’t really get anywhere with all that back breaking hard work. So, I ask you, what’s the point of working harder?

I’ve seen people ‘work harder’ all their lives. I’ve even followed that mantra for a while. You know where it got us? Nowhere but tired. No, don’t get me wrong, working hard is different than having integrity, being efficient, diligent, and reliable. Holding to a virtuous work ethic is a good foundation, but grinding yourself into the ground, day after day, working extra hours, not taking time for yourself, well that’s basically self abuse, and only benefits your boss, not you. Sure you might get a bit of overtime, but in the long run, you’re only wearing yourself down. I would propose an alternative.

“You must work Smarter!” Try that one on for size. If you think about it, that makes a hell of a lot more sense. But that’s so cliché, you might say. Perhaps, but think about how much more ingrained the work harder mantra is to most people. Innovators and entrepreneurs worked hard on their craft, to a point. They also examined the situation and devised a way of doing things that was more efficient, revolutionary, easier, less taxing, etc., and they changed the world. The basic example here is to look at what you’re doing and really contemplate the value of your effort with the value of your return. Then think about years from now. If you see yourself in the same position, or even just a few steps ahead, maybe it’s time to change your focus and attention to something new.

You don’t have to change the world if you don’t want to, but if you do things smartly you might just change your world. And that’s where success in life begins. Beating yourself to death working hard robs you of other experiences that can enrich your life and bring deeper meaning to your existence. Life is a balancing act. Don’t be a slave to your own convictions. Or at the very least, don’t be a slave to your job. Don’t be a chump, work Smarter, not harder.

Albert Einstein is a great example of someone who worked Smarter, not harder. He's a tough act to follow, but you might as well set your standards high. Otherwise, what's the point. 

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are always welcome. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What Happens When You Lose Your Heroes?

Perhaps you’re aware of the almost unbelievable story of Lance Armstrong. Recent news of a supposed doping scandal washes away the mystique of his once shinning accomplishments. What he seemed to accomplish in winning seven consecutive Tour De France cycling races was an inspiration to millions of people. After his exposure as a cheat, not only do his accomplishments seem tainted, but so does the inspiration he ignited in those who followed and supported him. Sadly, cheating is not exclusive to Team Armstrong. Apparently he did it the best, until he got caught, but there is an culture of cheating in many professional sports, not just cycling. So what do we do with this information? How can we look to heroes for inspiration when those heroes are frauds?

Hopefully we all have at least one person we can look up to and admire. They don’t necessarily have to be heroes, but if they are honorable, trustworthy, loyal, ethical, moral, the list goes on actually, but if they are positive role models, their contribution to your life can be astoundingly positive. You can use them as character examples and emulate their virtue. This person can be a teacher, parent, friend, boss, relative, neighbor; good people come without titles. Learning to recognize them is a bit difficult sometimes, but you can if you try. I’ve had people in my life that I’ve always admired and I’m glad for their presence. Other people are less fortunate in that they haven’t been exposed to quality people. That doesn’t mean the virtues I spoke of earlier are inaccessible to them. No. In fact, even if you don’t have honorable people in your life, it’s still possible to acquire those values that lead to a positive, successful life.

You are the single greatest ally in your life. Ridiculous? No, it’s true. As cliché as it may sound, every choice and action you commit to is yours. You will most undoubtedly be influenced by those around you, your environment, experience and the like, but ultimately it comes down to you. There was a time in my life when everything was terrible. Seriously. I had nothing to look forward to, I was miserable, stuck in a situation with negativity and abusiveness surrounding my daily life. Loneliness and despair crept in and eventually I ended up alone out on the street, without even a tormentor to keep me company. And I’ll tell you, it’s exactly what I needed. I realized I was the driver of my life. If I made good decisions and followed through on them, good things would happen. I’ve stuck to that and wouldn’t you know it, my life is pretty good. It’s not perfect mind you, but I’m light years ahead of where I was.  

Everyone’s experience is different. It won’t be easy. In fact, it may seem impossible, but it’s not. If you need help, find it. Asking questions and seeking information are two great ways to get started. Don’t live another day in misery. Think about it, if you do nothing different, in five years you’ll be in the exact same situation, only it will be five years worse. Don’t let that happen. The struggle for a good life is better than apathy in a miserable one. Don’t give up!

Marvel superheroes, especially the Hulk and Spiderman have been personal favorites of my since I was a kid. Check them out at Marvel

Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are always welcome. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Don't Fear the Emptiness

I’ve often heard that when writers start a story the blankness of the white page can be a daunting adversary. I have experienced a bit of trepidation, anxiety even, when it comes to filling up all that white space. In fact, I even used to write on yellow legal pads just to avoid having to look at the emptiness of white. However, some writers find it paralyzing almost to the point where they quit writing all together. Now I suppose that painters and sculptors have similar problems at the beginning of a new project as well. Not all mind you, but some may. Personally, I’ve found a way to combat that paralyzing problem. Do you know what it is?

I write. Well, duh, that sounds simple doesn’t it? And a bit too obvious right? Let me explain. In my experience staring into the white, I’ve noticed that somewhere in my head I was worried about what might actually make it out onto the page. Questions would start creeping up on me and haunting my thoughts.  What if it’s all crap? What if I get stuck? What if it’s boring…?  You know what I say to that? So what! Really. Listen, I’ve been an editor for about eight years now, and I’ve learned a few things about polishing up narrative that is, how shall we say politely, less than stellar. Put more simply, you can’t improve something that isn’t there. So get something down on paper, no matter how horrible it may seem. You can clean it up. Hell it may turn out that what you wrote is crap, but it could lead you down a better path toward something that turns out to be gold.

This philosophy doesn’t have to be restricted to writing alone. Doing something, anything, is better than waffling over the possibility of failure and not doing anything. I believe that the only true failure is not trying. Lack of effort is the enemy of Potential. Nike always said ‘Just do it’. The wisdom of that simplicity is astounding. So, give it a shot. Try. Make an effort, and don’t fear the emptiness. Fill it up!

                                                         Photo is Feeling of emptiness
                                               Check out Ben Goosen's full portfolio. 

Thanks for reading. Questions and Comments are always welcome!

Understanding Pandemics

By Doug Clark Head Writer -  The Inspiration Engine With all that is going on with Covid 19, I thought it would be a good idea to help ...