Who are the insane?

By day’s end, how much happened that you expected from the start? Perceiving individual capabilities bent on desire for more, many take it upon themselves to plan for great achievements. Those who are satisfied with the present and apprehensive of the workload required to ensure satisfaction in the future usually do well in their day to day routine. Many sane people do not remain satisfied for long and creep steadily toward insanity as they seek something new and exciting. Then there are those who stay insane as nothing works out the way they would like it to, yet they continue to try and try for something out of their reach. There is no balance as life continues to ebb and flow. It hurts to lose a fight. Many run from the notion of failure and defeat. It is a basic evolutionary survival trait.

We also have this inkling that we must rise above complacency. I’ve heard time and time again of the promise of a better future, about how things get easier. I hope that this is not merely motivation to help people get through the tough times. Because eventually you will grow tired of hearing the same old keep on keeping on sayings. It must be more than that. It must fester deep in your soul as a daily reminder of what it takes to grow as a human being.

When I was told that the best way to help a grizzly bear cross the road was to talk to it as if it were a shy child, I thought that insane. Who wouldn’t? First off, who would volunteer to help grizzly bears cross the road whilst encroaching “wildlife” photographers create the most ridiculous traffic jams imaginable as they hunkered down in the middle of the road to get a better shot? The truth of the matter is that without some insane person talking to the grizzly bear amid the chaos of the herd of “sane” tourists, all would descend into gory madness.

If you look back at all the great feats in humanity, you will find endless examples of the crazy coots who pushed the limits of society and drove the play on to new heights of imagination that inspired the masses toward the actions required to truly change for the better. There is a momentum to all this that can only be built up by the sparks of individuals passed on to more and more people who possess the ability to work together and get done what needs to get done. We are not built to do any of this alone. Self-reliance can only take you so far before you need to get a second opinion. Those who refuse to adapt are not helping. Nothing is constant in this world. A simple belief in that concept mixed with rationality equals a person who is ready to take on the fights that need fighting. If we only fought the fights that we knew we were going to win, then life would be a predicable bore and we would eventually become extinct. It is what makes us so different and special, that quality, that fight, to go after what we want. History shows that popular opinion is always wrong, so why do we perpetuate this thought that if only small groups of people say they are disenfranchised, then they must be confused? Grow up!

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad, because it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the ‘land of the free’? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the ‘land of the free.” – Aaron Sorkin

These are some interesting times. I just hope we don’t blow it and fall prey to the disintegration of past societies. There are infinite plans all over the place on how to fix the finite problems of this world. Why are we failing? If you are lost on a voyage, you do not fix that problem by veering a little bit to the left and nailing down the wheel. You are not at fault for getting lost, for everyone is lost from time to time on a journey. The truth is that the journey never ends and being lost is the only time you really come up with new ideas. The perpetually sane people wait for someone else to show them the way. Unless there is someone in the crowd who knows the way, and those people usually stay quiet for fear of being wrong, it takes an insane person to gamble with a new idea and show everyone that there is a way out. Semantics aside, because insanity is generally a negative connotation, it takes someone willing to split with the norm and blaze a trail further on through the consciousness of time. Take advantage of the opportunities created by these individuals and groups. It is them who have given us all that is worth enjoying in our modern civilization from Socrates to Jobs. Every single person has this capacity and “it’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney

Expecting To Fly

The statues were left behind in Columbus; the road west brought wonder with unexpected delight. The leaves turn again in Erie.

Expectations are quite dangerous to the individual. The promise of the future often clouds the present and leads to mistakes. The night back in June when I and another hiked out of the backcountry was one such example. In a blind drive to rendezvous out to a patrol cabin with the Great American Walkabouters, I failed to inventory the supply of my journey. The prevailing thinking was an evening of conversation and possible song. It was going to be so great, I thought. By the time we came across the Walkabouters, we had made a decision to return. The exact reason no longer matters, but could have been easily avoided if I had maintained a calm mind of living in the present.

With haste, we trudged back the way we came and the only thought was making it back before darkness fell when the beasts would have an advantage over us. Of course there was fear, especially when I took a shortcut off the trail and it became dark before we met it again from the sagebrush covered knolls. There were many bear sightings on this trail and bison were known to frequent the area as well as the occasional sneaky mountain lion. I did not know it at the time, but there was a reason for this ridiculous situation. That day had been full of signs that something was coming. In pitch black we balanced caution and speed toward the trailhead to meet our brave escort. There were sounds of branches snapping in the distance and not certain whether it was wind or beast, we continued forward up the steep face shouting enough to distinguish us as human and not an easy meal.

Many of us do not practice resilience until backed into a corner. If it were easy to live on a daily basis with such purpose and drive, then we would have little worry over problems and take each adverse condition as a challenge to better ourselves. The ability for us to focus on our memories of the past that were good instead of dwelling upon mistakes and regret is a quality that must be nurtured. Mistakes are made, deal with them, and work to minimize them in the future. What more can be said about that? Do not allow mistakes to follow you into the future by avoiding the consequences. Instead of BEWARE OF THE BEAR, you need to BE BEAR AWARE. Our understanding of the present is what gives us the ability to learn from the past while cognizant of a future that is out of our control. There is so much that we cannot avoid in the days to come.

I’ve heard people mention time and time again the temporary nature of happiness and the unlikelihood of experiencing repeating past glories. I chose to check it out. A decision was made, the ducks were quickly put into a row, and off again to see if it would happen again, that wonder and delight. And great it was, but was that enough? Expecting to fly, I fell hard to the ground. What would happen next was anyone’s guess, but this time listening to others and accepting a new way seemed to make perfect sense. Relief comes quickly after letting go of the old ideas and practices that caused so much grief. There were signs that at the time were either ignored or not understood. Looking back, the hike through the darkness, the close encounters, and many other moments, were opportunities to really learn and change for the better to avoid a repeat of the same mistakes. The fact that it took a few more mistakes, some grave, does not mean the lessons of the past are not as significant. They are all experiences and if you don’t believe they happened for a reason, then give them a reason. Make that reason an improved quality that will serve you in the future. Be aware in the future, be aware in the present, be aware of the past.

Beautiful obstacles

Some tough days or moments when you realize that the journey is far from over are the most memorable and important in the long run. Retrospect is the only certain confirmation of this point, but really if they did not happen from time to time, you would never know where you are. Time will tell and we’ll all see one day. No one person will ever experience the multitude of hardships in the present day. Individuals do not possess the ability to handle that much even considering phenomenal examples of great people. Those great people did what they did by taking advantage of their own abilities in context of the system. Sharing those experiences and working as a team leads one through the adversity and into the light.

“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.” – John Hope Franklin

Making a move

There are root causes for every situation and several lifetimes could be spent dwelling upon how you got to that point: some mistakes and obvious bad choices, “should have brought a map” sort of thinking. Even worse would be to blame some other person or force that led to your predicament. You are the one who is stuck and must find a way out. Most likely it will eventually come down to blaming yourself and seeing the regrettable faults. Think, think, think all you like. Until you act, not much will happen.

Getting up off the ground is not always graceful, nor does it feel that great.  Look at how many times a child will fall again and again walking their first few steps. It can be that way with getting up after being beaten down Rocky Balboa style. Sometimes you have to learn how to walk all over again. You will need help and doing it all on your own is not the recommended way, unless you are ready to fall over and over again. If so, prepare the gauze and icepacks because on your own will not be pleasant. So, you get up, make a break for it, walking first, then running, then out of breath wondering if you will fall again, keep going. Find those who will help you, surround yourself with their might. Giving up is no longer an option. Take another breath, another step, make it another minute, live, live, and live some more.

So you got the tools? You know what it will take? Fed up with the waiting, you are ready to take the next step. Made a decision? Go! Take it! Jump! Run!

Make it happen.