Let me start by laying this out there. My son is at a place in his life where he is not very sure that there is any value in books and reading. Graphic Novels (we used to call them comic books…) are fun, but all those words with no pictures? A story is better told by a movie. Harrumph! Where did my boy get such a perspective!?
One of my favorite quotes is from a man named Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, which says, “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet. ”
I hope to meet, re-meet, and meet more meaningfully with people by building a community online – where the clock and the map don’t impede us. We can meet across the globe, and you can read and respond to me while I’m sleeping and I can reply while you’re at work.
But that’s only half of the advice from Mr. Jones… what about the books you read? Most people don’t read books any more. We’re going to try to put a dent in that presumption. I hope to read with you, but I know it’s hard. So I have read for you! And my goal is to inspire you to get back to the reading habit.
There are some books that I’ve read that have caused me to think. And I’m finding new ones all the time.
I’ve decided to start with this one, mainly because it is freely available on the Internet. It’s over 30 years old, so it’s been forgotten by many. But I found it to have some good insights, and an interesting, sort of crusty, perspective on things that resonated with me.
The name of the book is “Wishcraft” and it can be found here http://wishcraft.com/wishcraft_intro.pdf as PDF downloads. We’re going to start with the introduction and go from there. What I’m going to do is just comment as I read, so if you don’t grab the PDF file and read it yourself, this might sound like listening in on a phone conversation. You can do it, but it’s much more fun if you sneak in and use the extension to listen in.
I just want to reiterate that this book, and any others I bring to you, are selected because they challenge me. A book I don’t have problems with is boring and not worthy of sharing. So I can say that there are some things I’ll be taking issue with – where I’ll disagree. But that’s where you come in, you will see two sides and have to decide for yourself where you come down. Oh, yeah, you’ll have to think. That’s what makes this good! That’s the point here, you see?
So I can start right off by saying that I’m a little embarrassed to be sharing a book on witchcraft — Oh, no it’s a play off of the word ‘witchcraft’ because it’s supposed to work like magic, right? It’s actually a rather clever name as you’ll see that Barbara, the author (I will refer to the authors by their first names, because we’re going to have a conversation, not an interview – so we might as well be friendly.), is a rather clever lady – so it fits her style.
OK, let’s get started. Hopefully you have a copy and can read along…
Right out of the gate on the first page your assumptions are challenged. What does it mean to be a winner in life? Who makes those rules? Who decides? Where did you get your definition? Question your assumptions; that always shakes up your thinking.
Right away we plow into my first “issue”. Barbara defines a winner for herself. She says, “Winning to me means getting what you want.”
Is that good? Is that good enough? I have two problems there, and she addresses one of them. What if I don’t know what I want? She handles this nicely and it’s kind of the theme for the introduction. You have to dig into yourself and realize that you really do know what you want. You’ve just forgotten or buried it.
She even spends a few pages there with a very realistic account of this process and some of the pitfalls and excuses we can (and I do) make.
Now I said there was a second part of the wishing that she doesn’t address. What if, at my core, I’m selfish? Should my wishes really be all about me? Barbara might say, ‘Of course silly, you are who you’re here for. It’s your life.’ I might debate that from the view of a Christian. I don’t want to dig into that here in the introduction, but I just want you to see the seed of my disagreements with her and where we start to diverge – and that’s right here.
I like the fact that she’s very real about the hurdles and obstacles we encounter when trying to define our deepest wishes and dare to think about reaching for them once again.
On page viii, she starts to break down the sections of the book: The first part is about discovering your “wish”. What is it really? And the second part is learning the skills that make up the “craft” – the doing to get to the wish. Like I said, clever.
The last page or two ends up with her inspiring us to dare to be dreamers again. It really caught me up. I can easily jump on the bandwagon with Barbara. This promises to be a worthwhile ride.
Did the intro catch your attention? Do you want to read on? I hope so, and I also hope you join the dialog. I like to talk to myself, no doubt. But I like talking with you better.
I know I wrote this down somewhere, I’ve just misplaced it. What’s all this about “Set of Sail”? What does it mean, and who wants to hear about it?
Here’s the poem that was the original inspiration. It was written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox in 1916. It’s entitled ‘Tis the Set of the Sail -OR- One Ship Sails East
But to every mind there openeth,
A way, and way, and away,
A high soul climbs the highway,
And the low soul gropes the low,
And in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.
But to every man there openeth,
A high way and a low,
And every mind decideth,
The way his soul shall go.
One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.
Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
‘Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
It is in the 3rd stanza that the “set of the sails” phase is used and the concept is introduced. This idea that we all face headwinds sometimes, the direction of the winds don’t matter – with the correct set of the sails a ship can travel east or west. We are truly not bound by our circumstance, as much as we might complain to the contrary. This idea was expounded on by a recently deceased, self proclaimed “business philosopher” named Jim Rohn. I consider Jim one of my virtual mentors and I will be sharing plenty of ideas that were sparked by my reading and listening to the thoughts he collected over his lifetime.
I’m going to write a book.
How many people share that dream? Well, I have an outline completed. The skeleton is there, it just needs some flesh. This is one of the reasons, only one, that I’m starting this newsletter. It is one of many attempts to get me actually writing. Collecting thoughts in one place instead of just scattering ideas out in e-mails or on Facebook.
I have a blog called setofsail.com that will host some of these articles, and perhaps it will grow into something bigger. If you check that blog you’ll see that it started up in the last few months of 2009. So these ideas have been jumbling around in my head for years now. Maybe by releasing them to the outside, then a seed just may germinate. Maybe an idea or a project will take root in your life, and the miracle that is inspiration will be passed on. That would bring me great joy. Uh, oh – am I mixing metaphors? I’ll leave the gardening references to somebody else, and get back on board with my own allusions. I just wanted to inaugurate this voyage with a bit of a background. (hee hee, nice recovery)
Hmm, things seem a bit dusty around here. Better spruce the place up. I’ve told a few more people about this little Shangri-La of a blog. Don’t you have to clean up before company comes? It seems to make more sense to me to clean up after they leave. But in this crazy world you end up having to do both.
I’m one article shy of posting out my first Set of Sail Newsletter. I already have 5 subscribers! (2 are me (for testing), 2 are family members (do family member have to support your crazy schemes? Sorta?) – and one is Lisa from school, shout out her!).
I’ve set the deadline to get issue one out by the end of the month. I’m thinking a little advertising might be in order. Maybe I should hire Darrin Stevens from McMann and Tate…
I decided to NOT clean up, so my scattered thoughts and schemes are still out here for all to see. The pieces of this tale of adventure are posted for all to see. It’s OK, you can chuckle if you want to.
I’ve discovered a new word lately. That is not really exceptional, I’m always interested in finding a new word (I wish I was as interested in being able to spell the words I do know..).
However, this word was very insightful for me and I’ve been examining it and rolling it around in my brain for some time now. It has direct application to the way I do things, and I think maybe it could have some application for you too. So what’s the word?
Well I just found out I’ve been pronouncing it wrong. I’ve been saying a-cra-see-a. But evidently that’s how a lisper would pronounce it. The Internet says it’s more like a-cra-zia or a-cra-ja. I think it would end like amnesia, but I can’t remember.
I guess it’s not so important how it sounds as what it means. It means: “lacking command (of oneself)” or, to make that less cryptic … doing something against your own self interest.
So why pick such a weird old word like akrasia, when you could just say stupid? Well hold up there, I resemble that remark…
Akrasia is a topic that is dealt with in the writings of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle – so it must be important, or at least worthy of our consideration. So what was the big deal? Why all the fuss about this weird little word?
Well, the thing is – it’s a part of our shared human experience. We all suffer, at one time or another, with this malady. We all have, do, or will succumb to akrasia. Basically we do something that, if we thought about it we wouldn’t. And this of course includes inaction. So “procrastination” is one form of akrasia. Tax day was yesterday, here are my forms (signed and in the envelops… come on, I’m not completely behind – well, I guess as of today I officially am) on my desk. I know better, I know there could be dire (and financial) consequences to not making the (graciously extended) deadline. But still here they sit – why?? Akrasia my friend, it’s an attack of akrasia.
I did not get in this situation because I’m stupid. If I were to sit down and weigh out my options and think about the consequences and rewards of the different course of action – I would clearly reason myself into a different course. But, see, I didn’t. Why? It really is a fascinating thing to wonder about. What is the cause? And more practically – is there a cure?
Well we’ll pick up more on this next time, but for now your assignment is to become more aware of your akratic behavior. When do you do something and you think D’oh! (<< that is the theme word for the akratic! Homer is riddled with it (yeah, not the Greek author Homer, that other one)). There was a better way, if only I would’ve thought things through. And right there, that regret, makes me 2nd guess next time and while I dither and consider, the opportunity to act is past and I’ve done nothing when I should’ve done something. Oh, another victory for akrasia. Do you see how involved this concept is to everything you do (or don’t do)? Think about that for next time.
I ran across this little video clip. It’s about a Chicago Nanny named Vivian Maier. In her spare time she would travel around with her camera in the streets of Chicago (and around the world apparently) and take pictures.
I guess the thing that amazes me is that we only know about her because a man bought a box of her negatives from an abandoned storage locker. That box contained about 10,000 negatives. He went back and bought more boxes off of the other auction goers. Now there is a collection of over 100,000 negatives. She took all these pictures, documenting her life and her journey – but not making a big deal out of it.
For some reason her photos captivate me. I don’t know if it’s because they’re in black and white and so crisp. Or that the people are so “ordinary” or that the composition always has a little twist if you look for it. Just very cool. And the way they were discovered and her unobtrusive back story just adds to the mystery.
The man who found that box of negatives has started piecing together a biography. He’s done a few art shows and is sharing what he’s discovered on a blog dedicated to Vivian Maier.
And here is the PBS segment that tells her story – although it looks like a full documentary film is being put together.
So what is my point? That your journey doesn’t have to go “big time” to have lots of value. Ms. Maier’s legacy comes to us only by accident. It’s that desire to leave something that can make a person think that drives me to chart a course. But you don’t take 100,000 shots in a weekend, or over a few months. It’s an accumulation of a developed habit, a discipline, a ritual that over time creates a body of work that can be shared. Maybe it’s not photos. Maybe it’s audio recordings, home made videos, a couple of pages of script, or a blog post – some form of journaling to leave a trail of breadcrumbs as a legacy to those who follow behind.
Do you feel that pull to accomplish something along these lines? If so, comment here and tell me about it. And if not, why not?
The year is at an end. 2010 is in the books. What was done, is done. Any achievements are completed. Any unfulfilled dreams have to be moved forward to 2011′s list or left behind as “what might have been’s” or as anchors tying you down. (Have you ever thought of unfulfilled dreams as things that you should’ve dumped long ago to make room for what matters?? Think about it now…)
I’m not as prepared for the new year as I’d like to be. But you know what? Time marches steadily forward – ready or not. There’s nothing special about starting over on January 1st. Well, other than the fact that there are thousands of people starting along side of you. It’s a massive launch from shore. But there are so many vessels that aren’t sea worthy and their captains swim back to shore while the water’s still shallow. Others wander around in the bay and never make it out to sea. There’s nothing wrong with taking a little more time and starting out a little late, but in a condition to persevere.
On the other hand, there is always the adveturer’s option. Launch out. And with what you have on board and the inventory of your wit and skill you make due with what you have. You navigate while on board. You adjust, adapt, and overcome.
I, for one, will be trying a little of that this year. There were some projects I wanted to start in the new year, but it’s here already. I also had a few “paperclip” activities I wanted to have rolling right along by now. But I got sick for a few days (oh, it was a nasty bug..!), and I’ve dropped my habits. But I can pick them up in one day – how hard is it to move a paperclip once again? It’s not.
So I start the new year a little disorganized, but the ship is underway. A new year. A new beginning. There’s much to see out there on the horizon. The only way to get to it is to … launch out.
What are you doing? Are you taking that first step? Are you gathering a few last minute supplies? Comment about it in this post. I’d love to know what others are up to in the voyage of your life.
Happy 2011 to you! God willing we won’t be the same this time next year.
This is an illustration from a book I read. Illustrations have a lasting effect and help us to cement a concept into our brains so we can retain in for a long, long time. The principle is a combination of “get up and do something” and “it’s really hard to keep at it.”
Here’s the basic premise – try this challenge: Pick an activity to engage in. Make it a relatively small or insignificant one. For example, decide to pick up a piece of clutter and put it in it’s place. Or how about emptying a trash can, or doing one push-up, or even moving a paper clip from one location on a desk to another. Once you’ve decided on a task, see how many days in a row you can consistently complete that tiny task. It sounds easy, but try it and you might find it’s harder to remember, or to rationalize why you’re persisting.
You see, for me it’s the starting that’s the problem so I haven’t even faced the persistence issue yet! But I have decided that there are a few things that, no matter how senseless they seem, I’m going to endeavor to do and track my progress. Don’t worry, I’ll update you on how it’s going. Consider it a practice run to launching out.
Why don’t you try it yourself? Let me know if you can pick something minuscule to do, and then tell me your record for how many days (or time periods if you are doing it weekly or hourly or whatever you decide) in a row that you can keep it up. I’d be curious to see what kind of records can be made and broken.
So what do you do during the times in your life when the wind isn’t discernible and your sails lay limp against the mast?
I’ve felt a little like that over the last week or so. My productive time is in the early morning, but lately (including today) I’ve had to go in to my 2nd job to get a few things done before I have to be at my 1st job. What, did you think I just sat around and philosophized in blog posts for a living?
This has been disappointing as I was trying to build momentum during those morning hours to make some progress. However, pouting about a change in the wind or our circumstance does no good. We just need to adjust and take advantage of the new situation. For me this has meant grabbing extra sleep in the morning hours. I know that won’t last long. Soon I’ll be back to my early morning bright eyed ways. So the extra sleep has been nice.
So when your sails aren’t catching any wind, there are still things to do. There’s an opportunity for rest. Rest is just as important as activity. We build up our reserves are allow ourselves to regenerate and repair while in repose. We can look around the ship and see if anything needs attending to while our attention isn’t to the wind and wave. Is there any tidying up that can be done, minor repairs, inventory checking, or even charts to be consulted?
There are still things that can be done, even when we are in a dead calm.
I’ve read and read about the need to set goals, to make a plan – to chart a course even!
Is it really necessary though? I wonder. When you learned to walk, did you sit down and map it out? “First I’ll just get some leg strength by standing there holding on to the coffee table. Then I’ll try to move over and slide along the edge of the couch. I’ll do a little bit of ‘free standing’, and finally I’ll take a step when mommy notices and crouches down and holds out her arms.” Maybe you’re too young to remember if you did or not.
How about learning to ride a bike? Did you sit down and map out your 90 day strategy? Or did you see others out there having fun, look at the bike propped up in the shed and decide you were going to figure it out. You dabbled a little around the yard and in the driveway. You probably had some nasty falls there at the beginning. But you just went out and did it. There was no Gantt chart, you didn’t have staff meetings. You wanted the “freedom ride” experience, so you got on your bad little cycle and peddled away! (And if you’re around my age, you probably did it without a helmet or elbow pads! Amazing lack of planning there…)
So what do you want to do? Are you holding back because of a lack of a plan? I have talked a lot about my sailing metaphor for life direction. But you know what? Sometimes you just “take the boat out for a spin.” If your not careful, that can lead to memorable adventures. Some memories you just have to laugh about later – after their over, but some that are treasured thoughts that last a lifetime.
Are there times when you can’t see your way through? When you aren’t sure where you are going? Or maybe there are times when you don’t even know where you are! How do you navigate through times like these?
Since our sense of sight is so integrated with everything we do each day, we not only depend upon it – we definitely take it for granted.
So what do you do when your sight is clouded by situations, such as weather, or by natural deterioration or injury?
We are left to rely on instruments. The most common would be corrective lenses for our eyesight. But there are also navigational instruments like the compass and the sextant to help us figure out where we are so we can know where to strike out towards where we want to be.
I plan on putting together a series of posts to expand on this idea and see where it takes us. What lessons can be learned? What applications can be made to help make sense out of our lives? We will see.
If you have any ideas or thoughts or suggestions of your own, I’d love to hear them.