George Gray

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One of the surprising little books I came across many years ago in my tenure as an under-grad was the book “Spoon River Anthology” by Edgar Lee Masters. The story, which is actually a collection of poems, is read in first person by people (all 212 of them) who inhabited a Midwest town in the early 1900s.
This morning, after consuming a short snippet of Neil deGrasse Tyson asking Larry King “if you could live forever, would you?”, I was reminded of George Gray, a character in the book.

The sentences below have haunted me ever since I was introduced to them.

“I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me–
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire–
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.”

If you know the book, you’ll know that all of the characters have died. Some rant, complain, gossip, pontificate, or in George’s case, which is the worse, in my opinion: regret. He lies pondering his life as he looks up at his tombstone: “the marble chiseled for me”. Chilling.

Sailing the seas of consequence

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What is “success”?

It’s February 1st. For a the past 2-3 years, on the first of every month, I listen to the same video recording of Ernest Nightingale‘s “The Strangest Secret”.  It’s a simple message really, and the practicality of it makes it almost elusive in it’s execution. It’s unapologetic and it seems he could care less if you believe what he is saying or not. He proceeds to give quote after quote, scenario after scenario of examples of the process he is describing actually working, which at the end, you know to be true. But still, we don’t execute (ideas are shit, ya know).

Ernest starts the recording by telling us that he would like to discuss the strangest secret in the world. Right off the bat he hits the listener in the head with a response from Albert Schweitzer  to the question “what’s wrong with with men today?”. Schweitzer paused for a moment and replied “men simply don’t think”. We seem to be happier with the winds of destiny rather than solving the puzzle.

Next are statistics describing that out of every 100 men, by the time they are 65 years of age, only 1 will be rich. Four will be financially stable (retirement, insurance, etc.). Five are still going to be working (WTF?!) and 54 will be BROKE! Given the same starting point, why is it that so few men (or women) are succeeding in a society with the enormous opportunities that we have in front of us? And with the internet, the playing field is  even more level than it has ever been so don’t whine about not having a rich family or a proper education.  (note, we can argue all day about socioeconomic class, gender, race, etc., but that’s not the point). 

I’m in the middle of a Joe Rogan podcast with Henry Rollins as a guest and they talk a little bit about David Lee Roth (“Dave”). Dave often returns to his home town of Pasadena to visit and sometimes hangs out with old high school buddies. Every once in a while, one of them will say crap like “oh yeah, it must be easy for you, you’re David Lee Roth” to which Dave replies “You know what? On graduation day in high school, we all were on the same starting blocks. You chose the bank job. That’s a sure thing. You’re gonna die in that cubicle. I chose to sail the seas of consequence“. Geez Dave. :/

Dave’s life falls squarely in line with the strangest secret. As Ernest points out, using a deep cutting quote from Rollo May’s book Man’s Search for Himself, “the opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.” Conformity is a result of feeling like we are a victim. Things happen “to” us instead of “for” us. I’m guilty.

In Dave’s choosing to “sail the seas of consequence”, he unwittingly stumbled upon the strangest secret: “We become what we think about”. In Ernest’s talk he paints a detailed story of huge cargo vessel in a harbor without a captain or crew, ready to leave for its destination. How can this behemoth get out of the harbor without a captain or charts? Obviously, it can’t. Yet we expect to be swept by fate to a goal that lies somewhere in the future. Somewhere over there. That’s a lot of what ifs. Inevitably we come to the conclusion… no goal, no destiny.

The definition of success in this narrative is mathematically gorgeous: “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal”. A goal without a plan is a wish. Simple and true. Uncomfortably true.

Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. Forever one that asketh, receiveth, and he that seeketh, findeth and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.

 

Act as if

I read an article this morning and other than changing a few tidbits, this could be me.

Years ago when talking to the barista at our office (yes, there was a barista at our office, #velvetcoffin) he gave me some solid advice as we lamented about the powers that be. “You will never make money working for somebody else.” I laughed and politely agreed. Hell, at that point my stock was worth a small fortune and I though to myself ‘what the hell does this guy know’. Plenty, it seems.

Money is not real. It is a belief system. Jack Canfield said:

  • You have to make the decision to be rich*. If you don’t make that decision, your unconscious mind won’t work on trying to make it happen.

*“rich” doesn’t always mean $

“Act as if” is going to be a recurrent theme here. So touch base often.

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