Prioritize

Hello Friends ,

I’ve been trying to write this post for the past two weeks. Another epiphany struck me, just as summer set in here in Portland. I need to get my sh@# together. Seriously. It is time for me to start taking responsiblity for my life, for my goals, for my wants/needs/desires, for everything that I convince myself I can control in my little universe. What a sweet notion this is :).

With the kids being home from school, and my partner starting night classes at the community college, life got a bit hectic. I think we all handled ourselves pretty well, and there weren’t nearly as many catastrophic freak outs as I thought there would be. However, these changes did help me recognize that I put up with a lot of bullsh#% from myself that is really unnecessary. I make life harder than it needs to be, and this stresses me out, stresses my kids out, and generally makes life unpleasant and chaotic. So, I decided to stop doing all that and PRIORITIZE. Here is a short list of what I am going to put my time and energy into in the coming days/weeks/months. I’d love to hear what you are spending you energy on, so after you read my list, shoot me a list of your own!

I’ve always been adamant about putting family first. It always seems like the hardest to pull off, and it always feels the worst when something prevents me from fulfilling my responsibilities to the people I care most about. I work hardest on this one, because I know if I don’t have the foundation of love, support and accountability I need to continue to grow as a human being, I would be utterly lost in the world. My kids and Alix deserve the most from me, so I am committing myself to being the best partner/parent I can be.

Work only comes second because of how closely it is tied to the my first priority. I need to support my family by doing well at my chosen profession, and diligently endeavor to achieve excellence in whatever undertaking I choose to pursue. My work also gives me purpose and drive to grow academically, and develop my personality to thrive in a variety of different situations. As a coach, I spend much of my time working hard to ensure people clearly understand specific concepts, and teaching them how to articulate those concepts in a physical reality using their own bodies and other implements. Really, it is just excercise, but I will work to make it something special.

Training is a close third because it is also tied so closely to the first two. To be able demonstrate a Muscle-Up, it really helps if you can DO  a Muscle-Up, so I practice ALOT.  Also, physical activity helps me keep an even keel. I won’t ever claim that I have ADHD, but sometimes when I think about it real hard, the shoe fits pretty well, if you know what I mean. I NEED to move. Thrashing around with a barbell, or testing how long I can hold a handstand, or trying to beat my previous burpee record all serve to keep me active, fit, healthy and sane. Training helps me do my job well, which in turn, helps me take care of my family here. I bet you are beginning to see how these are all intertwined…

Friends don’t get nearly enough time, in my opinion. My social schedule obviously revolves around the first three priorities, and those often take up all the hours in the day. When I do socialize, it is often with the same people I train/work with. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad scenario, but it can get a bit awkward sometimes when people don’t act like adults, and they allow the lines of those respective circles to blur, and then shit can get messy. Recently, I have been working on expanding my social circle, but it hasn’t worked very well so far. I’ve also tried contacting a few long, lost friends from my past, but quality time and positive interaction with those people have been fleeting at best. Internet dating sites are a bit awkward, but I am trying it out, just to see who is out there in the big, wide world. You never know, until you look, right?

Writing comes last, and for this, I punch myself in the face on a regular basis. Words are my passion, and often, the best way to find common ground with other people.  I assume that is why you all continue to read what I write, and find some value in this blog. Right now, I am trying my best to bang out the last few paragraphs of this essay, so I can grab the kids, and jet off to the river for a bit before the sun tucks itself back behind the clouds. I don’t spend nearly enough time editing, or rewriting, or spellchecking, or idea-finding. I don’t spend nearly enough time using my words to alter the world around me in a positive way. I don’t spend nearly enough time using my worlds to affect social change, or to challenge the dominant paradigm of Amerikan culture, or rage against the injustice and insanity I see around me every day. I don’t spend nearly enough time using my words to tell people I love them, or to spread good cheer, or to make new friends, or send encoragement to someone I know needs it most. I NEED to write more!

This is a pretty short list, but I think it is necessary to pare down and focus. Even with only five items, I know there will always be something that isn’t getting my full attention, and there will always be something that I need to spend more time on. But, at least now I have a starting point, and I have plan of action. What are your priorities today? Who or what do you want to spend more time with? What goals and dreams are you chasing this summer? Drop me a line and let me know what is on your mind :). Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

Did We Forget How To Survive?

Hello Friends,

Last year, I read two books by author Laurence Gonzales. The first is a book titled “Deep Survival”. The basic premise of that book suggests there are innate characteristics in people that either a) predispose them to be survivors, or b) predispose them to be destroyed by their environment. The book is much more complex than those simple statements, though, and much of the research is based on extreme circumstances that often could have been avoided with proper preparation and some forethought.

The second book is titled “Everyday Survival”. The tag line for this book is “why smart people do stupid things”.  This book takes a more general view of how human beings have survived to become the most dominant species on this planet. In this book, Gonzales also questions the physical and psychological systems that have evolved to sustain life on this planet, and he investigates the role human beings play in the functioning of the universe. The main premise of this book is that human beings have evolved to believe we can control the environment around us, and that we are somehow separate from and superior to the other inhabitants and processes that make up our “known, physical reality”.

Gonzales uses this book to caution against what he calls a “vacation state of mind”.  At some point in our evolution, human beings forgot how to exist symbiotically with the environment around us, and adopted the mindset that we are in control of “our” environment and can bend the forces of nature to our will whenever we desire. “Everday Survival” explains how terribly wrong we are.

As I worked my way through this book, more and more questions came to mind, and I became more and more frustrated with the evidence Gonzales presented. As a species, are we really re-programming ourselves to on such a grand scale? Are we truly forgetting how to interact positively and effectively with the natural environment? Have we really convinced ourselves of the foolish notion that we are the literal and metaphorical center of the universe, despite all the contradictory evidence? How did we get so confused, and how did we get this far off-track?

In modern, industrial society, we have constructed a series of boxes that now exist as our “natural environment”. You wake up in your boxy bed, in your boxy house. You find your food in an artificially cooled box, then you cook your food on another box using flame-less fire. Then you drive your boxy car to your boxy office, and spend the next eight hours staring at a your boxy computer on top of your boxy desk. Then the whole process reverses itself, and you end your day staring at another flashing box for a few hours before you fall back into your boxy bed in your boxy bedroom. Like a vast majority of modern humans,  you never experienced hunger or danger or pain. You are essentially numb to the world around you, because every day, life unfolds “the way it is supposed to”, and you are never presented with the opportunity to question that fact or challenge that fact or deviate from the simple, stepwise processes we have created for ourselves. Seriously, what are we doing to ourselves?

Not only is the lifestyle causing our brains to devolve, it is slowly diminishing the value of anything that could be called our “soul”, as well as conditioning human beings to exist without consciously and mindfully interacting with the world around them. Our bodies are wasting away from eating nutrient-deficient foods, not engaging in enough physical activity, and lack of stimulation from (and interaction with) our environment. All out little boxes keep us well-protected, and so we are never provided the opportunity to question our mortality, or test the limits of our physical bodies, or employ our mind to work our way through complex intellectual problems.

What does it mean for our species if the premise of this book is true? What will happen if we continue down the path we are currently on? The picture looks a bit dim, but we still have the opportunity to change our course.  How do you stay connected with the natural world, and what are some benefits that you derive from spending time away from the hustle and bustle of modern life? What do you do to get that jolt of epinephrine that let’s you know you are alive? How do you remind yourself of your place in the Universe? Drop a comment, and tell me how you keep your mind right in the modern world. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

The Right Questions

Hello Friends,

In an effort to spur some intelligent response, I think I am going to start asking more questions. Generally, yes, but also specifically here on this blog. I can type a whole bunch of words telling you what I think about the world, but until we engage in a meaningful conversation and exchange points of view, this is really just a whole bunch of mental masturbation. We need more than that.

To begin, I would like to share three important questions from Derrick Jensen. He has written a few great books and I had the opportunity to see him speak a few months back in Portland, Oregon. He has a great sense of humor, considering he writes books explicitly stating that human civilization is killing Earth, and that civilization should be dismantled and destroyed immediately. He actively encourages other people to fight for the destruction of civilization in whatever way they can, and to those who aren’t yet acting, he poses a few questions. I think if we all sit down and think real hard, answering these questions just might end up being the catalyst that sets us off.

The first question is, “which side are you on?”. We need to be able to identify our allies and our enemies. We need to be able to trust the people beside us on the picket lines and in the marches, (or at the gym, or the coffeeshop, or the library).  We need to know that we share a common vision and common purpose. We need to instill our community with a sense of loyalty and peoplehood that removes any doubt about where we stand. So, which side are you on?

Another question Jensen asks is, “why do we continue to lose?”.  Why do we keep getting beat? Is it our small numbers or our mediocre tactics? Is it because we don’t care enough, because we are unwilling to sacrifice enough to achieve success? Is it because our success would mean  we might be forced to live out our beliefs and we can’t really imagine what that would be like? Is it because our opposition is stronger, or more prepared, or better funded, or they cheat? Maybe we should begin moving away from the stockpile of excuses we have accumulated over the years and just starting winning. Maybe we could look hard at all those old excuses, analyze those scenarios, and then develop new, creative ways of avoiding previous mistakes. Maybe we could take a sincere interest in the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our communities and begin acting like we really wanted to see change in our lifetime. What is it that keep us from attaining our goals?

For those who have not yet found a way to positively contribute to saving the world, the most powerful questions is, “what is your threshold?”. What is it going to take for you to act? Put this in whatever context turns your stomach the most. How many more species of plants and animals must go extinct before you will act? How many more tons of plastic will clog our rivers and oceans before you will act? How many more indigenous people will be killed or displaced by corporations seeking to extract and exploit natural resources before you will do something? How many more children will die of obesity or be killed by toxins in their mothers breastmilk before you will make a decision to change your life? How sick will you allow yourself to get before you act against those who are destroying our planet and absolutely do not have your best interest in mind? What will it take to make you act?

Derrick Jensen asks other questions in his books and presentations. Many of his questions are poignant and insightful, and the answers to many of his questions are both disturbing and inspiring. He is asking the “right” questions. Let’s start asking ourselves questions that inspire and disturb. Let’s start asking each other questions that put us outside our comfort zone. Let’s start listening to each other, and then let’s start answering some of these questions, honestly and openly. I can’t wait to see what happens. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

Literally!!

Hello Friends,

I often wonder about the power and meaning of the words we use when we speak. Do we tend to say what we think people want to hear? Do we tend to overuse metaphor, rhetoric, or other literary devices that often distract from our original point? Do we attempt to understand the world around us by way of fables and parables because we find the literal lessons to be too off-putting? Do we find it difficult to simply say what we mean, and mean what we say?

Some of the frustration I experience when I think about the coming revolution comes from the fact that we could be accomplishing so much more if we just decided to ACT as passionately as we SPEAK. That is to say, if we started behaving literally. Can you imagine if we all started talking about our dreams and plans and goals and fears and desires and everything else in literal terms? Or even if we just started talking about a fraction of our thoughts in literal terms? I believe it would be a truly incredible shift to see manifested. But we have to remember that if we actually behaved this way, our accountability and our responsibility toward to the Community around us would increase exponentially. We would be forced to consider the well-being of those around us to such an extent that we might actually put their needs above our own. We would do this because we would understand that the realization of individual dreams has such little value unless those dreams can be shared. And you can’t share something with someone unless you understand their desires and needs, and understand how to meet those needs. And you can’t undestand someone’s needs without communicating and connecting with them on the most profound, basic, literal level. And you can’t connect and communicate with the community around you if you can’t speak in truth, if you can’t speak literally.

Sometimes it is fear that keeps us from saying what we mean. We can’t predict how someone will respond to what you are going to say, and we worry that we might hurt, sadden, or anger that person. We are worried we might be ridiculed or shunned for speaking our true position, and we believe that shunning would be worse than the injustice we serve ourselves by not speaking truthfully(LITERALLY).

Sometimes it is pride that keeps us from saying what we truly want. We don’t want to admit how important something is to us. We can’t admit our vulnerability, because we don’t want to admit that we can’t function effectively without someone or something.  We don’t want to appear insufficient and we don’t want to appear weak.

Whatever the reason, it is time for our strange, unsuccessful patterns of communication to stop. It is time for our words to carry all the weight of our beliefs and desires. It is time for our actions to match our words, for our words to match our thoughts, and for our thoughts to be inspired by action. It is time for our lives to become literal manifestions of our hopes and dreams and failures and successes and fears and everything else. It is time to speak what we want to see happen in the world and in our lives and in our relationships, and then ACT to make those words a tangible reality.

Let’s do this together. I want to see a Living Revolution take place on this planet in my lifetime. I want to see equality and natural justice. I want to see Liberty in it’s purest form. I want to be a good father to my children. I want to love and respect my partner. I want to live so there will be no questioning what I believe to be true and right. What do you say? Drop a comment, or write me an email and tell me how we are going to change the world. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

Finding The Truth

Hello Friends,

Life is crazy, this we know. Often, we find ourselves unprepared to deal with the drama of new changes in our lives, and  sometimes we shut down. Our job is stressful, we don’t make enough money, our kids aren’t happy, our partners don’t give us the attention we need. We don’t get enough exercise, we eat too much, the car insurance needs to be paid, and the dishwasher is broken. We feel like things should be better or at least different, and we find ourselves slowly slipping into a dark abyss of self-pity and apathy. I think so much of the displeasure we find in our own lives comes from convincing ourselves we “deserve” a better life.

I watched this movie last night, and it made me think a bit more about my life, and the lives of the people I love. Mostly, I reflected on how blessed and lucky we are to have access to the plethora of resources that are available to us, but I also thought about how often I find myself or someone else complaining about how “hard” life is. I thought a bit about White Entitlement, and I thought a bit about how I might live my life differently if I knew when I would die. As a amateur psychologist, I contemplated how the way we think effects our physiology, and how a poor attitude can actually produce poor health. As a self-proclaimed “silly hippy”, I contemplated how a negative attitude can produce  negative energy or “vibe”  that is perceptible to other people. As someone who believes we are all connected by the energy that makes up everything, I contemplated how this kind of attitude may  adversely effect our interactions with the people around us.

I realized that much of the drama and discontent we experience comes from our confusion about what real life and happiness “should” be. I recognized a series of untruths we tell ourselves that create a skewed view of reality in our minds. We hold ourselves to a unrealistic standard that is a product of the messages we absorb throughout our lives, forced on us by a variety of authorities, from our parents to the people who control advertising. I started putting together a list of experiences in my own life that were based on untruths and confusion. At the same time, I started putting together a list everything in my life I believe is TRUE.

Here are a few of the TRUTHS I recognize: The love I have for my kids. The love I have for my partner. My desire to be tested to the core of my being.  My distaste for modern American culture and the corporate government that runs the show. My belief in the chaos and order of the natural world and the importance of a symbiotic relationship between human beings and the rest of the Earth’s inhabitants. My belief in the power of focused thought and intentional action to inspire lasting change. The thankfulness I have toward the people who have influenced me to become the person I am today. The importance I place on physical interaction with my environment and the people around me. The belief that our attitudes, not our circumstances, determine our happiness.

I wondered if there is a pattern or process that comes with recognizing the TRUTH in something or someone, and I wondered how we could show other people this method, assuming it does exist. I wondered how we could go about unlearning old patterns of thought and action, and learn new ways of perceiving the world. I wondered if we could all get on the same page and put forth a message that contained TRUTH and agree on what that meant. What is TRUTH in your life? How does it determine your thoughts and actions? How often do you share your version of TRUTH with other people? Tell me something true.

Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

How to Avoid the Inevitable (and be Happy with Who You Are)

Hello Friends,

Just so you know, as of this moment, I no longer believe in fate. What do you think of that? I don’t believe in predestination or the “butterfly effect” either. I don’t believe ANYTHING is meant to be, and I am trusting that whatever happens in the world around us, happens because of some thoughtful, intentional action. What about you? Do you believe we possess a free will to determine how our existence plays out, or are we slaves to some benevolent(hopefully) higher power that moves us around as IT sees fit? Many people I know say the answer to this questions falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, but I don’t buy it anymore. So, what do you think?

As the New Year continues to march on, and I continue to work my way through each day, I am finding more and more that CHANGE is the only constant that can be relied upon. By mindfully seeking each day to keep up with my personal revolutions, I recognize that remaining static, in any circumstance, can only bring failure, sadness, destruction and death.

That might be a bit strong, yeah? Seriously though, diving into a new schedule, rearranging my life, and encouraging those around me to make some drastic change in the way they live have all brought a new fire to my life. I started this year by recognizing there is NOTHING in the human experience more organic or more holistic, than CHANGE. Our bodies die and regenerate every second of every day; we are literally a new person every morning we wake up. A vast majority of the change we experience happens beyond our conscious control, but doesn’t it feel sometimes like we are trying so hard to just keep life together only to constantly fail and end up frustrated? Wouldn’t it make more sense to learn how to flow with change and be happy regardless?

This is where intention comes into play. This is also the place where we can learn to release our desire to control, and let our actions determine how our life will be. I am sure you are wondering by now how this all plays into the Living Revolution, and I am going to tell you. The changes we desire to see take place in the world around us will not happen because it is destiny. They will not happen because we send good vibes to politicians and businessmen, hoping they will wake up tomorrow and change their evil, destructive ways. The change we want to see take place will not happen because we pray, or meditate, or align all our chakras. The change we want to see will only happen when we decide to ACT.

It is possible, and I’ll even say it is likely, that my generation could prevent the destruction of the natural world. We could begin taking steps today to unplug modern technology, undermine corporate colonialism, unclog polluted lakes, rivers and streams. We could take steps to reverse childhood diabetes and chronic obesity, as well as anorexia and bulimia. We could begin teaching our children to love themselves, to love the natural world, and to be better stewards of this planet than so many generations before them. We could start doing all this today, and real change would occur, and it wouldn’t be because of chance or fate or the inevitable. It would happen because we want it to happen.

What are you waiting for? What excuses are you going to use to avoid creating the life you want? What responsibilities will you avoid because the work is “too hard”, and you just don’t have the time? More appropriately, what are you doing to make positive change in your life today? What thoughts are you thinking, what actions are you performing, what habits are you breaking, to ensure the world is a better place because you are here?

I look forward to hearing how you want to help me change the world, and how you are going to change yourself for the better this year. Drop an email or a comment and let’s start talking!! Until next time…

Peace.Tobias