On my 21st
Birthday (August 21, 2004) at exactly 0000 hours MDT
, I unveiled INDY.CC
to the world. Less than five people were aware of its coming, but even they did not know what to expect. Normally, I have a tendancy to ruin surprises early on in their creation. I can keep a secret, but I always manage to ruin my own surprises. I even ruin surprises that other people are attempting to do for me. Apparently, if I want a surprise to succeed, I have to wear blinders, earplugs, and duct tape over my mouth. Let's jump ahead to the present, shall we? Here you are now, visiting Indy. Whether its in search of adventure, advice, or just to stop by and see who I am; you're always welcome.
No matter what you choose to do here, remember one thing: VITRIOL
! It is within ourselves that we discover the greatest wonders of the universe.
-= indy =-
Groundhog Day 2018: Connection
Looking at my blog and seeing that I haven't published an article since last year, one might think that I'm stuck in Groundhog Day of 2017. The fact is that a year has passed -- and what a year it has been. If you're wondering why you haven't seen an article from me in a while, it's because I have been largely focused on writing for my academic pursuits as well as some other fear related research. However, my mind is not on the intellectual parts of my life, it's on the people.
As I spend time in my usual Groundhog Day reflections, I find myself thinking about connection. Human connection and our connection to our own individual lives. In past reflections, I've written about chaos, time, fear, change, and tradition; the things that make up some constituent parts of life. One piece that seems to be missing is connection.
Today, as I watch the film Groundhog Day [IMDB] on repeat, I'm noticing how Phil connects with others. Throughout the film he forms greater connections with himself as he forms greater connections with the people in his life. The essence of connection is in our intention with it. When we connect with a person in our life, we must be conscious of the significance of the mutual impact of that connection. When we connect with a hobby or interest, we must acknowledge our investment of time and effort into developing a new skill, knowledge base, or practice.
In the film, Phil Connors recognizes the significance of connection as he considers the impact he can have and has already had on the lives of the people in Punxsutawney:
"When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope.
Yet we know winter is just another step in the cycle of life.
But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts,
I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter."
"Ciao!" Image captured from Groundhog Day (1993) [IMDB]
When we focus our minds on our activities and reactions, we become lost in the day-to-day. To find substance in life, we must connect with it. We must become active participants in our own choices, not simply reactants to outside influence. That's not to say that outside influence has no place. In fact, it is through our interactions with the outside world that we discover ourselves. Without connection, life would be bleak and disjointed. Without compassion, life would be cold and empty. Without outside interaction, we would be stuck within our own inner worlds. Outside influences will always impact our lives, situations and people will always exhibit attempts at control over our autonomy. How we respond to those influences and how we choose to influence others is what defines a life of suffering or one of happiness.
Phil frees himself from his daily repetition through his connection with others. His freedom in life comes through his embracing the way that he can be a positive influence toward others. At the start, Phil views the repetition of life as doldrum and torment. For as long as he views the repetition as torment, it is his torture and seems to have no end, even in death. Once he uses the repetition to change his life and the lives of others, the cycle ends and he is free. He has transformed himself and countless others who are connected to him in life.
So, today, I encourage you to ponder the lives entwined with your own. In what ways can you positively influence others. How will you transform yourself and free yourself from the repetition of the day-to-day?
Groundhog Day 2017: Thriving in both chaos and order
It's been ten years since I wrote my first Groundhog Day article and even longer since I made the day something of a personal holiday. Here I am again noting the prognostications of various groundhogs, playing the film Groundhog Day [IMDB] on continuous repeat, reflecting on my journey in life over the past year, and revisiting the thoughts and writings of past Groundhog Days. These traditions are, for the most part, invented for myself by myself. That said, I also appreciate the company of others who choose to celebrate the day that has become uniquely special for me. It's a day that is oddly balanced as a visitation to both the repetitively routine and the excitingly evolving.
This past year has been tumultuous for many. Things have shifted in unexpected directions locally, socially, globally, politically, and environmentally. For better or worse, chaos is upon us. And yet, I find myself unafraid in the face of the unknown. I don't mean apathetic when I say unafraid; I mean that I feel ready and energized to experience new challenges. I have grown as a person thanks to the challenges I've experienced in life. Every new mountaintop -- whether literal or metaphorical -- has given me a new perspective. Sure, climbing each mountain was an arduous journey, but the experience has made me better able to climb the next mountain. Every challenge to my resolve has strengthened my willpower, every sadness has taught me new depths, and every smile has brought me new light. My journeys through chaos has become my new order.
In the ten years since I started writing each Groundhog Day, a lot has happened in my life. I have had more than a few perspective changing experiences coupled with more than a handful of "significant life events". I've learned well to embrace adventure and to seek challenge for myself both in my mind and the world around me. And yet, every year, I still circle back to a day of familiar routine and tradition.
Last year, I wrote about the value of perseverance and action. I expanded on those thoughts in a reflection on time. No matter how you choose to spend the time you have, be present in it. This year, I find myself thinking about the way that chaos has formed me into who I am, but how a personal foundation of meaning has given me purpose.
If life feels like a never-ending repetition, as it was for Phil in Groundhog Day, I invite you to find a way to create a little bit of chaos to stimulate fresh perspective. If instead you find yourself surrounded by chaos and turmoil, find a way to stay in the moment. If you panic, you allow the chaos which surrounds you to become a chaos within you. I invite you to thrive in the external storm of chaos while creating meaning and purpose within.
My life has been an amazing journey these past ten years; amazing in both its unexpected challenges and unanticipated growth. I expect that life will always present the unexpected and I know the future is unknown.
Life is a beautiful mix of chaos and order, routine and the unexpected. To live is to embrace that beauty and to heed the words of Douglas Adams in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" [Goodreads]... Don't Panic.
Review: A Misfit Entrepreneur's Guide to Building a Business Your Way
A Misfit Entrepreneur's Guide to Building a Business Your Way by Ariana M. Friedlander
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was approached by a mutual friend to review Ariana M. Friedlander's book A Misfit Entrepreneur's Guide to Building a Business Your Way. I later met with Ariana to ask her about the style and subject matter of her book, I wanted to be sure that it would align with my interests. I warned her that I don't alter my book reviews based on popularity of a book nor the source of its recommendation. She understood and still invited me to receive and review it.
I'm happy to say that my initial warnings were unnecessary as I very much enjoyed A Misfit Entrepreneur's Guide to Building a Business Your Way. Whilst reading the book, I found myself often thinking that this was not only a "guide to building a business" but a guide to building a great life.
I enjoyed Ariana's use of cycling metaphor and her overview of related works to each chapter's topic. Unlike many other books of this style which spend too much time telling readers of their own success, Ariana kept her personal stories on topic and down-to-Earth in the reality of her challenges. The book relays a number of tips for overcoming challenges (internal and external) to reaching your goals. Many of the books she recommends for further reading are ones which I have enjoyed. Better still, she summarizes the ideas from those books well for people who have not yet read them.
I feel more than comfortable giving this easy read 5 out of 5 stars. Well done, Ariana. Your journey is one which I hope can inspire other misfits to reach for their goals in both business and life.
View all my reviews
Janus in June
[Image source: https://takingawalkthroughhistory.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/ianuarius-the-month-of-janus/]
Earlier this month, I was visited by an old friend who had been a supervisor of mine many years ago. Through our years of working together we had created many new processes, projects, and teams which have continued on even after he and I had moved on to other duties in employment and stages of life. I fell out of contact with him when he retired years ago and had sometimes thought to find a way to reconnect.
We happened to come across eachother when he was visiting an old office of ours while I was there making an inquiry of the current occupant. We both immediately shared a look of pleasant surprise and recognition upon seeing eachother. We made time in our day to catch up about all that had happened since his retirement and to reminisce about our time working together.
I'm certainly accustomed to bouts of nostalgia and gratitude, but I found myself notably introspective as I came away from our conversation. I gained a unique -- almost third-party -- perspective in talking with him about all of the changes since his retirement and also noting the things which remained the same. That perspective provided the kindling for a thought: You don't realize how far you've come until you look back at where you've been. I find myself pleasantly captivated with how applicable that thought is to both practical things such as hiking and metaphorically with life.
We spend so much time and energy setting goals, pushing forward, and looking toward new horizons that we sometimes lose touch with the accomplishments we have had and the improvements we have made both within ourselves and the world around us. I'm always eager to experience the next challenge and welcome new opportunities; I hope I will never lose that eagerness and excitement about change, but I now also hope that I can give myself pause in order to appreciate the paths of the past which have brought me to the present.
I'm not advocating for dwelling on the past; I find that people who are stuck in mindsets of bygone times and out-dated ways often stifle innovation, curiosity, and progress. Rather, my thought is that one should attempt to gain satisfaction with the present and motivation to form future goals by intentionally taking note of one's past progress, tasks accomplished, and challenges overcome.
Embrace the adventure, Part 2
I’d had a pretty normal day, but due to work-related events I ended up heading home on a different bus route and a later time than usual. I arrived at a connection point just in time to watch the next route I wanted to catch pull away. No worries, I’d just sit and wait, with plenty of ways I could occupy my time and mind; “boredom doesn't come from a lack of things to do (activity), it comes from a lack of action and intention.”
I sat at the stop, while continuing to listen to an audiobook, but decided I wanted to use the time creating/engaging rather than only absorbing. Remembering that there was a Pianos Around Town [fcgov.com] piano nearby, I walked over to play while I waited for my bus.
Photo source: http://www.fcgov.com/artspublic/pianos.php
I started playing a melody which always seems to tune my mind into music and spread a peaceful calm to the world around me.
As I played, I heard the strings of a guitar being plucked. I concluded my song and turned my attention in the direction from which the sound of the guitar had come. My glance was returned by the smiles of two travellers I had seen sitting together against the wall of the bus station. One held a small guitar in her hands, the other clapped his hands together in applause.
They complimented my music and asked about the song. The guitarist said she’d been trying to find the right notes and chords to play along. Many people might have ignored or even passed judgement on these two travellers, based only on their appearance and gear. However, I saw an opportunity to welcome the discovery of a new story -- or in this case, music. I offered to attempt a song I thought they’d appreciate and recognize.
“Try this one. Let’s see how quickly you guys recognize it.” I said, as I started to play again.
I’d barely started playing the first notes when the guy exclaimed, “The Pixies!! I was just thinking about this song!”
Exactly. The three of us called out the well-known title lyrics: “Where is my mind?” I continued my attempt to play, broken as it was due to my recent lack of practice. I named the chords as I played, so the guitarist could play along.
After a minute or two, she began to sing. Her voice was incredible. The smoky rasp in her singing voice gave it fullness and character which fit perfectly to the song. I immediately wished I could record her vocals for this song and combine it with my version of the piano arrangement.
I’d love to say that we played beautifully to the end of the song, but the reality is that I was so out of practice that I could barely play the first stanza. Eventually, I noticed the time and saw the bus I thought mine pulling in. We exchanged names and social media information and I hurried toward the bus. Had I been sitting in passive waiting, I might have been disappointed that it ended up being the wrong bus, but instead I found myself relieved… I could return to continue the conversation with my new acquaintances: “Travelin’ Trav” and Cole.
I was greeted with when I returned to their spot, “You even have the hat!”; they’d already pulled up my website and saw me wearing my fedora. Our conversation turned to a discussion of adventure and travel. There I was standing among kindred spirits, not wearing the appearance of Indy the adventurer but of Indy the tie-wearing professional.
We discussed the magic of our meeting. How our inner mantras had brought us to the same place with compatible attitudes and openness. My desire to seek adventure throughout life, Trav’s enjoyment of peaceful meandering and exploration, and -- most significantly -- Cole’s draw to “always follow the music”.
In the first part of this writing, I described how I found paradise instead of despair. In the adventure of life, we’re sometimes the ones stranded in the wilderness, other times we’re the tow truck driver. Had I not decided to play the piano and had Cole not followed the music, our lives would be short one story and another amazing adventure.
Someday, I might try to combine Cole’s spectacular vocals with a piano arrangement of that song by The Pixies. Regardless, I hope I can continue to “embrace the fun and adventure of each day and strive not to take things too seriously.” Because…
With your feet in the air and your head on the ground
Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head will collapse
If there's nothing in it
And you'll ask yourself
Where is my mind