Archive for April, 2012

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?
Akrasia
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.