I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.
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Image by Janko Ferlic on Pexels.com
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There is such an incredible tool out there for all of us to utilize that allows us to live the most fulfilling lives as possible, and the vast majority of us are not utilizing it. I've read a number of proposals scattered about Facebook and other social media sites that promise to improve your life whether socially or financially or spiritually, they all claim that it's spectacularly easy and that they've discovered some secret that we are all capable of finding or that we already have and are unaware of that would allow us to finally reach the maximum potential, to be the best possible versions of ourselves, and then, of course, they hit you with the sudden realization that it's only going to cost you 12 easy payments of $129.99.
But, here's the thing: there is an incredible tool out there for all of us to utilize that will allow us to live the most fulfilling lives possible, and it's true that the vast majority of us are not utilizing it. But I'm not going to charge you for this secret. I'm just going to tell you, and then I'm going to write about it, or continue writing about it.
The secret is to...
Maybe it sounds ridiculous to you, however, it is true. I cannot imagine what could be more satisfying than discovering what it is that you enjoy doing whether it be a hobby or a career or anything.
What do you enjoy doing?
And once you do finally figure it out everything tends to become more clear, and easier, and paths open up to you that you may not previously have noticed.
Yvon Chouinard founded Patagonia, Inc. in 1973. He and some friends took a trip down the California coast line and continued through Mexico and South America to what is known as Patagonia, a region at the south most of South America. Chouinard is an outdoors-man: a surfer, a climber, and environmentalist who decided he wanted clothing and equipment that suited his lifestyle, so he made it.
Yvon Chouinard an example of someone who realized his passion and turned it into a career. Although discovering what it is that you enjoy, that your passionate about does not have to reap financial gain, sometimes it's just a bonus.
Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain were musicians, and they were incapable of being anything but, however they were both famous for actively criticizing the industry. Yes, they made a career of it, and yet, for them, it was like breathing. They discovered what they loved and they pursued it.
This is the secret that so many people cannot see, when you’re feeling stuck or trapped in a sort of purgatory it’s solely because you’re not actively participating in whatever it is that would otherwise drive you. We have all struggled with this at some point in our lives, and it presents itself in a myriad of ways.
Whatever it is that you enjoy, or the list of things that you enjoy figure it [them] out.
Discover what your passionate about and do it. And if you cannot figure out how to monetize it, yet, don’t worry about it, find a way to supplement your life that allows the means to pursue your passion until you can. Actively do what you love, and don’t let anything...anything or anyone interrupt you from doing it. Again, call it a hobby if you have to, if that’s what it takes for your parents or spouse or friends to offer your their encouragement; as long as you’re doing it.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is an amazing source to find a starting point and, in some ways, to help you realize your passion, but it’s not the only source, and it’s not the only way.
Getting to know yourself opens up avenues beyond interests, even. It's utility can improve your physical, emotional, and mental health, it can help you to develop your social skills, and it can expand the way that your perceive the world. Paying attention to how you feel, physically, and what foods (or ideas) improve your health and which decrease it.
I enjoy writing, bouldering, learning, teaching, books, music; I enjoy telling stories using traditional as well as atypical ways and the act of creation, and ideas.
What do you enjoy?
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Netflix Original Docuseries: Our Planet
NARRATED BY DAVID ATTENBOROUGH
It's not that we don't care, we all care, a little bit, some more than others, in reality, it's just that it's hard. It's all just so hard. We have jobs, and relationships, and emotions to work through every day, and now we're having to fix the mistakes, the political and environmental and social mistakes that we created while we were to busy trying to find some way to make it all just a little bit easier on ourselves, you know, more convenient; and while there are some people who would like to pretend that some of our problems are elaborate illusions and pretense rhetoric so they don't have to actually worry about, geezus, something else, and while others are so busy pointing fingers and trying to diagnose some fundamental root we're all ignoring the very real truth that there is something that each of us can do, some minor changes to our every day lives that will have a very real impact on everything. If we'd only just discipline ourselves to be aware of our individual impact...
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I have learned a lot throughout the course of building this website. I have done a lot of work online for many years, but nothing has been quite as informative or as stressful as developing communiteabooks.com. I am currently, and have been for the last few months updating the SEO to all of my products—I have over a thousand, and have many more to upload. One of the most important things that I have come to learn is that if you are planning to build a website you should have a basic knowledge of SEO before you do.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and if you have been researching the merits of starting a blog or any other kind of website you have undoubtedly come across these three letters at some point throughout your process. SEO is how search engines, such as Google, find your website. It is the use of unique key phrases that Google can track and direct people to where they want to be. There was a time during the internet post-pubescence when simple keywords would do the trick, that time has come and gone—the internet is over-saturated with keywords. Stop using keywords. With that said it is also important to consciously develop SEO key phrases. Be consistent with what you can, for example my product SEO uses the common phrase Hardcover; Used. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace at Communitea Books; Collectible, First Edition/First Printing; Fiction/Literature; $---.-- of course some things change maybe the book is a paperback and is a remainder (Trade Paperback; Remainder) and the title and author and price and genre might be different but I have created a consistent SEO template that is easily translatable, and is unique to my website and standards. It is incredibly important to find key phrases that you can maintain throughout the development of your website (or blog).
I am an example of someone who learned the hard way. I uploaded over a thousand products without having the understanding of SEO that I do now, and I ignored SEO. I have come to realize that it is so important that I have stopped working on almost all other aspects of the website in order to work my product SEO. I am noticing a decrease in sales these past couple of months, however my website is seeing an increase in traffic, and that's solely because of the SEO work I am doing. I cannot focus on marketing or sales right now, and that's fine because I am catching up on a process that I should have paid attention to at the beginning of this startup. You don't have to make the same mistake that I made. Create an SEO strategy, even if your blog is only a series of weekly rants that allow you to vent, or a creative outlet, it doesn't matter, because you never know what you may want it to be in the future, or what it might organically become—work the SEO!
I read a lot about SEO before, and during the first few months that I put this site together, and my brain did what it has a tendency to do in similar situations, my brain automatically over-complicated SEO. I watched videos, I read articles, I talked to people and it was so simple that I unconsciously decided it was too complicated to focus on with everything else going on. It's not, SEO is as simple as writing an about me on a dating site, it's probably easier actually because it can sometimes be a little challenging to explain yourself to somebody else, unless you're over-exaggerating some truths, which is almost exactly what we all do on dating sites. So, think of SEO as your websites about me and think of all the dates that your website is missing out on if your about me isn't as complete and accurate and amazing as it could be.
If I had taken the time to understand SEO, and I had included it with each product as I was uploading them in the first place I would have saved myself a very considerable amount of work, and the only thing that I may, or may not have sacrificed as far as a silver lining is regarded is this blog entry.
I should reiterate, in your initial learning curve when trying to understand SEO you will come to realize that there is a lot that can be included with SEO, it can be incredibly complicated, there are people who have spent entire lives and careers devoting their time to SEO. However, that does not mean it has to be complicated, I am not oversimplifying the intricacies of the process, I am however pointing out that it's like learning a language, depending on how you need to use it, whether you're moving to a foreign country or visiting for a week, there are degrees necessity. You don't need to be fluent in French to visit Paris for the week, and as far as SEO is concerned if your blog is about cooking then your language is not SEO it's a variety of herbs, spices, meats, temperatures, etc., SEO is important but only in the spectrum of your week in Paris. It's easy to over-complicate that but, and especially if you're an American, you already have the worldview that all you really need to know is to point and say “How do you say?” in whatever language in order to move your vacation along.
Don't over-complicate your SEO, be consistent, be thoughtful, be inventive and create a strategy. You want your site to include SEO, because why put all your time and effort into something if people cannot find it. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest are great tools for creating traffic but only if happenstance puts your site right in front of their face. That's where SEO comes in. Let them come to you, because people are looking for your site. They want to know what you have to say. You've decided that your have a voice, and something worth saying, now let SEO amplify your voice. All you have to do is decide how best to describe that voice.
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Communicating with each other—how we develop and maintain relationships—envelopes so much more of our day-to-day lives than most of us really realize. In general the intention of communication is to convey a thought using verbal and nonverbal techniques the meaning of which describes your idea in a way that you can only assume I will understand, and you maintain the assumption that I have both heard and understood your intention—what you intended to express—from the cache of information that I keep based on my own experiences without having been misled or misunderstood in order to develop the same understanding of the thought that you intended to convey.
If, for whatever reason, I don’t understand the concept that you have tried to express in the way that you have tried to express it you might assume that the fault is mine, and I will likely assume the same; and that’s only if we both realize that the thought was unsuccessfully expressed. A circumstance that Psychologist Cordelia Fine has coined as Vain Brain in her book, A Mind of Its Own, where Fine also points out that, “when asked, we will modestly and reluctantly confess that we are more honest or better at something, and we rarely consider ourselves at fault…”—this is also known as a Self-Serving Bias (an idea that some might consider pseudo intellectual bullshit—psychology is not counterintuitive to religion). And, also assuming that our moods, triggers, and stigmas have not indirectly influenced your intention, as well as how well you might have expressed yourself nonverbally.
Aristotle in his work The Rhetoric suggests that talk is about persuasion, about influencing people. Most of us simply express ourselves in some manner of small talk much of which is supported only by the means of whomever we are communicating with decides—whether consciously or unconsciously--to interpret, and accept as our intention, and we continue throughout our lives as if very little has happened, or with the assumption that we were understood exactly as we intended. However, more often than not, we weren’t. Osmo A. Wiio, a Finnish professor of communication, humorously suggests:
How many times can most of us recall while engaged in conversation a happenstance where we’ve finished speaking, and the other starts talking about something that is so outlandishly bizarre, at least in regards to a response, that we accept that they could not have possibly understood what we might have been trying to express? It has happened so often in certain friendship circles of mine that my friends and I have coined a term for it: Organic Conversation. It’s kind of like playing Telephone and trying to make sense of how it is that we went from Orangutan from Jungle Book to Orange Peel Lemonade; though we all know that there was, at least, one person in the group that intentionally manipulated the direction, otherwise the game of Telephone is a lot like the redundancy of playing tic-tac-toe.
I have read about-, studied, and taken courses on Communication because, along with understanding our emotions, I cannot fathom a more important, and more necessary tool to have than being a good communicator. Our society, well the nature of our humanity is to change; we change, or grow, or develop, or evolve, or learn, or transition, however you are willing to recognize it without being triggered. Throughout the course of a single lifetime—my lifetime for example—I cannot express to you how many times my surroundings have changed, the people around me have changed, my careers have changed, my perspectives, and my beliefs they have all changed, and it’s true for most of you, even if, say: you were born, grew up, lived and plan to die in your ‘hometown,’ everything else that you knew, with the one exception, has changed. In fact the only thing in any one of our lives that will never change is that we will always be surrounded by people, the specific people will likely change, but nevertheless there will always be people; we will always be interacting with someone in some regards, and, for that reason alone, the ability to communicate effectively is profoundly important. Still, many of us maintain the Self-Sealing Belief about our role when trying to communicate with someone: when something is going well we take credit for it, and often unconsciously develop the idea that because we facilitated or communicated something well in the past or situationally that we have a talent for it, while if something does not go well we fault the situation, blame someone else, or claim that it may not really be worth out time.
The National Communication Associate did a study titled, “How Americans Communicate.” In which 62% of us claimed that we feel comfortable communicating in general, while 87% of us felt that we were comfortable communicators in our personal relationships, and with our significant others. However, only 42% of Americans felt that we were effective communicators. 42% felt that we said what we meant to say, in the way that we meant to say it, and yet we’re not positive that our intention is getting across. We feel less effective than comfortable. 53% said that a lack of communication was the most frequent cause of a breakup, while 29% said money was the most frequent cause (I mentioned money only because it’s a considerable factor for many of us in our lives). One of the problems is that most of us are not conscious communicators, and we do not often allow for the time to understand what gets in the way of communicating to one another.
When it comes to communicating with one another simple may not always be better, and it’s important, I think, to allow ourselves to address conflict—in the best way possible—without brushing it off as drama as a large number of people are beginning to suggest. It’s important to learn to be more conscious when we are speaking with one another about how we are talking to each other, in order to avoid hardwired reactions, and Self-Sealing Beliefs that will inevitably make things worse—especially if you effort to ignore them.
Since I started writing this blog I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the direction that I would like the blog to take and, I think, because there are so many things that interest me I have accepted the fact that the blog is just going to be more broadly approached then some, and I have to live with that. Though, it has also occurred to me that Relationships and Communication have had a major, and lasting impact on me throughout the course of my life, most of which I’ll explain in some detail throughout a series of blogs that I have decided to attempt regarding Communication. I will be indirectly joined by Professor Dalton Kehoe of York University via his The Great Courses Lecture on Effective Communication Skills, I have watched this course a couple of times now and it remains fascinating to me that regardless of how important I do find academia there is an obvious disconnect between practicality and academia, and the way that people live, and interact, and communicate does not always parallel with the science of it, at least not comfortably, like solving a math proof. I think the way that some professor teach something as practical as communication makes it come off as more of a science—an idea—than an active part of our day-to-day lives, and I hope that these blogs challenges and creates that assumption.
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In point of fact America has always been great.
I believe that it is insulting to the American people to suggest otherwise, regardless of whether it is in the form of a media debate or a campaign slogan; however, America was never great simply for the sake of being great. Many Americans allocate greatness for convenience in order to validate something, or themselves; attributing our greatness to a flag and a pledge, in honor specifically of a military that may or may not feel contempt for the manner in which Americans express themselves. Our greatness does not rest entirely on the shoulders of our military, our politics, or our sociopolitical perspectives. Our greatness is not the contract that is our constitution, the foundation of our greatness is within the written resolve for which the constitution has allowed us to be, and to become.
America is great because we aspired to do great things—because we aspired to greatness. The American people never waited for the government or the media to tell us what to think, or how to act, or who we were; we did not need everyone to agree with us. We are not great because of our personal ideologies but, rather, because we have been idealistic. America is great because we aspired to be educated, to be artistic and analytical, to be compassionate and resolute, challenging and supportive, and to be open-minded and critical. America discovered greatness in people and our ability to connect with one another in our compassion and our understanding.
“We stood for what was right. We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars…We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easily. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step to solving any problems is recognizing there is one.”
America is great because we stand for one another, not against; we did not paint right and wrong as a portrait of personal preference or belief—we became one despite of our differences, and stronger because of them. We discovered greatness in humility, and intelligence; for a time we allowed religion, science, and intellect to coexist and to develop not as one, or together but besides one another, because we were accepting of one as well as the others. Our scientist did not do things just to see if it could be done, we did so for the sake of our development or survival, and we didn’t use or conceal our advancements solely for profit. We admire artistic endeavors, and stand suspended in awe at our achievements; regardless of the medium. We found integrity in our identities complete only if accomplished, and educated in the arts. We found dignity in drawing, painting, photography, dance, writing, and music and more—and we continue to, only we disparage the education of the arts.
We are more than capable of greatness, because we have never ceased to be great; Americans have always adapted to-, and felt empowered by challenge: we are twenty-second in scientific achievement, with intent and direction—we have the means to be better. We are third in median household income, because are idea of what work is, and what it means to work hard has been influenced—we have the means to be better. We are seventh in literacy, because we belittle education, and don’t recognize the need to reform and develop—we have the means to be better.
Many Americans have allowed the intention of a powerful few to dictate their morals and their beliefs; we have been exploited in exchange for our convictions, governed to direct our own authorities towards one another; pitted against unity, and detached from our purposes. We are not manipulated by a specific party affiliate, as American we are being handled by our government in its entirety as they use the intent of our own greatness, and capable passion against us. Our affiliated parties have many of us believing that they alone are the means to better our situations—that is not true. As Americans our liberation is not in disunion. America is great, and always has been great because we stand for one another.
People develop as a product of their time believing their childhood years to be among the best of their, and therefore anybody’s life. It is easy to look back on a time with the imagination of a child and see greatness, and that greatness may not seem to exist during any other point in our lives. I believe that our present is one of the most difficult times for America, there have been periods of struggle throughout our history, when many people could rely only on hope—many had nothing; I know that today we have more than we have ever had before, the benefits of developing technologies and sciences, but still so many people belittle and discredit our sciences in reaction to a perceived threat against their religion. I cannot help but to feel trapped in-between a culture of fear and/or invalidation, but for what? To what end?
I cannot understand why someone might listen to another human being offering philosophical or psychological guidance or direction and it being brushed off as, “pseudo-intellectual bullshit,” or “bushwa decadence,” why are we so dismissive of information? Why can we not accept one anothers perspectives in open-minded understanding? Whatever concept of greatness that any of you have come to revere about America our greatness is, and always has been a representation of our ability to concurrently be artistic and analytical, to be compassionate and resolute, challenging and supportive, and to be open-minded and critical. America discovered greatness people and our ability to connect with one another in our compassion and our understanding. America is great, because we have always managed to find cohesive contrast in our understanding, and perception of our world, and ourselves.
We have never before been so eager in our absoluteness and judgment of another as we are today, and regardless of whatever reason you may think you have to predicate and undermine those that behave or believe differently than you, it is not enough of a reason to dismiss the characteristics that help to define, and allow to endure what American greatness tenaciously is.
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I keep a handful of books shelved at my bedside, standing upright between a candle and container of really cool rocks that I’ve found here and there throughout the years, my keeping the books next to the bed like this is a new happening; we all know that most of us do our best thinking and processing as soon as our heads hit the pillow and we’re trying to fall asleep, so I keep them there for reference for a wandering mind. There is a copy of Swann’s Way, Meditations with Dante Alighieri, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, and The Element by Ken Robinson.
I first discovered Ken Robinson on TED.com, he was giving a talk about creativity, and education, and how schools, at least in the way that they are currently formatted, actually “kill our creativity.” I reference him several times throughout my blogs, because he deserves to be referenced. Ken Robinson is an education reformist, he recognizes that our school systems are creating thoughtless ‘monikers’ of the human race; Robin Williams, I think, said it best as John Keating in the Dead Poets Society, and “…the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, business, law, engineering these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love these are what we stay alive for.” Our school systems are devolving more, and more, and away from teaching children how to be desirous about their passions, and therefore their pursuits.
Reform makes me nervous because instead of recognizing where the foundation of our problems actually lie we are simply attaching or amending, applying an adhesive in attempt that our fix might mend the swelling dysfunction within the institution. Unfortunately, the flaw within the education system is the system, the point at issue lies at the foundation of the design of the way the institution was structured. I mentioned in a previous blog that our current education system was implemented in late 20th century, and was constructed for farming families and industry work, but, you know, like, what does that mean? Well, our education system is procedural, and is formatted systematically: course, semester, season, etc., and every year students spend the first semester reviewing what they studied the previous semester, and then in the second, and final semester students are more extensively examining what they reviewed the semester before—the same five or six courses year-after-year-after year—for twelve years. The institution was set up this way because the majority of students were averaging five to eight years of schooling before they were removed from school and expected to work on a farm or in industry to help provide for their families, it allowed for a quick exercise and review and overview for a number of subjects within a short period of time, and if children were able to continue their education they would dive a little deeper into familiar subjects and increase their knowledge base. It made sense for the average lower and middle class families, which, at the time, outnumbered the upper classes significantly, only the system became our only source of education, and it continued much, much longer than it should have—you know, like, it somehow manages to exist even now, as our primary public educational means; which is, obviously beyond me.
In Ken Robinsons’ book The Element he discusses how, because of the lasting curse that is our education system, we elevate certain subjects over others, we think of them as more important or more relevant in our day-to-day lives, subjects like math and science are revered when the vast majority of us don’t really employ either of them that often, and when we do it’s when acknowledging time and going over finances, things that are not actually taught to the majority of us during our primary schooling anyway, and other aspects of each that we employ daily we experience unconsciously when we confront them naturally—in the natural world, in the way that math and physics are the “language of the universe,” but, you know, like: “Cool!” Yeah, it’s awesome how the Fibonacci Sequence, The Golden Ratio, and Fractals apply themselves in nature. And Pythagoras, and his relationship with math, and music are undeniably intriguing and influential; a number of my favorite musicians (David Bowie, Andrew Bird, Josh Ritter, The Flaming Lips…) utilize math and science in their songs. Otherwise, I mean, math and science are as relevant as dance and literature depending, only, on whom is actively applying them. Meanwhile, in school, subjects like art and music and dance are ignored or belittled, subjects that far more people employ not only on a day-to-day basis but professionally, and with more passion. Because the simple fact is that far less people think and process like a mathematician or a scientist than the number of people who think and process the world like artists, and musicians, and dancers, and writers. So why is our education system designed not only to create scientists, and mathematicians, and college professors but to do so as if we all process the world in the same way that scientists, and mathematicians, and college professors do?
Ken Robinsons’ The Element challenges people to find what their Element is, and suggests that once you do figure it out your relationship with the world will change dramatically, because it is not only possible to learn math, social sciences, geography, and language through the lens of a dancer—or any Element—but necessary in order for some people to actually understand, and relate to the world. In his book Robinson gives the example through a number of ‘case studies,’ he tells the stories of Mick Fleetwood, Faith Ringgold, Meg Ryan, and Others, of how our traditional education systems very nearly secured a world without the music of Fleetwood Mac, or the acting of Meg Ryan, or the choreography of Gillian Lynne.
I would go as far, even, to acknowledge our general lack of understanding when relating to our emotional selves. People have a series of emotions and moods that affect us, and our relationships every single day, and yet we dedicate zero time to learning how to acknowledge and relate to those emotions. I cannot find the sense in that at all, in fact it’s systemically dangerous. And, quite likely, the reason for our present devolving moral and political situation. I mean, we have a difficult enough time actually surviving in the world, let alone becoming an adult, being expected to handle a career, bills, taxes, relationships, and people without the underlining stress of dealing with erratic, sensational, and seemingly unpredictable emotions and moods; and then we die. We got all that going for us, while behind the scenes there are people creating budgets based on a foundation of education that we, generally, accept as a sensible standard, but why? For all intents and purposes there is no sense at all for these people to continue looking for ways to get rid of art, and theatre, and music, and dance in school.
My idea of a healthy and formidable education system would be as follows: imagine a system where we spend the first few years of our lives learning how to relate to those reoccurring, and unpredictable, and overwhelming emotions that we experience, sometimes without any apparent reason, so that we might recognize what we’re feeling, when, and why, and in various situations and then knowing, as adults, how to go about behaving. And then, in the years following, after having spent the previous few years of education learning, not only about our emotions, but simultaneously, and unwittingly, ourselves, and, as a result, we have a better understanding of our own Elements, and then being taught those, seemingly, core subjects through the best lens that we have in order to relate to our worlds, ourselves, and one another. The best way to educate yourself about a topic is to relate to something that you’re interested in, and the best way to others to educate us is to do exactly the same, because we cannot assume that we all think and process theories, and facts, and ideas the same way—because we don’t. If you’re still on the fence try reading The Element by Ken Robinson and Embracing the Wide Sky by Daniel Tammet.
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For as long as anyone can remember reading, or being a reader has been synonymous with being smart. As a child if you enjoyed reading in school you were a nerd, inasmuch as being good at math, or science, or what, I don’t know, being able to build a *lamp. I wasn’t this child. I did not have a particularly normal childhood. The dynamics of my schooling did not fit within the confines of the stereotypical Jr. High, High School drama. I was kind of a nerd jock: which is to say that though I played basketball and tennis, and I ran cross-country and track at different points throughout those six years, I was labeled as being smart—though I never understood why. I wasn’t particularly smart. I hated reading the assigned reading. I pretty much hated doing everything that I was expected to do, and as an unconscious result I lived as unexpectedly as I cou…well, as unexpectedly as I wanted, at least inasmuch as the unexpected would fit into the purview of how I thought I might want to live my life, someday—yes, that’s seemingly paradoxical, but if inquired I will always explain the unexplainable when explaining me.
Of course I did, eventually, come to enjoy reading once I had escaped the invisible bubble of the accepted, and expected societal constructs of systemic humanism, which is to say that once I no longer had anyone telling me what to read, how to read, and what to think about what I was reading. Still I could never shake the concept of the synonymic between readers and intelligence. I thought about it for a long time as if working through a math problem in the back of my head over the course of years, and years (I would do the same with religious and political ideas, as well). See, there were adults in my childhood who were apparently intelligent, I mean, based on a series of mutually accepted societal measures these people would be considered, by all means, intelligent. Yet, I could see through them. I thought back to Jr. High and High School and this apparent impression of intelligence that surrounded me, and how I did not actually fit that construct, and then how at the present time, I was an avid reader, I had become synonymous with the construct, and still I could not accept the identity of-, or measure that intelligence granted. I could read every book that I got my hands on, and enjoy it, and want to know more, and still anything that I might learn from picking up a book was equally accessible to everybody.
One day—I cannot remember where, or when, or why—it occurred to me that the way we perceive and measure intelligence itself is simply wrong. I mean, think about our IQ: it’s supposed to be fixed, it’s supposed to never change, but considering how often we change that’s ludicrous, and we base our intelligence on a series of ostensibly calculated questions that have been accepted arbitrarily by an academic minority in order to organize us, but it’s all entirely academic. How can we possibly base the ‘intelligence’ of a persons’ humanity on our hypothetical academic agility? The idea is based on an academic cast system establishing ranks with the understanding that the top tier, at the highest level of humanity, is chaired by college professors. Yet we still put so much stock in the idea. Politically even, the Alt-Right and many Conservatives are not classically educated, they are vocational and business oriented, and they often mock the more classically and liberally educated left while still maintaining the idealism of an academic intelligence, as if they accept IQ as the God of the classic liberal, and they revere Him.
But look, our humanity does not exists entirely in our head. Our bodies are not vessels designed only to carry our brain from one place to another. We are social creatures, by our very nature. Everything in our lives changes: the jobs we keep, the ideas we share, the beliefs we hold, the facts we covet, the environments in which we live, the people that we know it will all change throughout our lifetime, however the one thing that will never change regardless of the extent of our effort is that there will always be people in our lives. This is unequivocally the one thing in life that never changes, so would it then not make sense to define our intelligence by the way that we act, and react towards people?
Daniel Goldman wrote a small handful of books describing the different intelligences that we, as humans, share however Mr. Goldman based it all on the idea that our original measure for intelligence is true, and that academia somehow casts a shadow over us in dominion, but our present education system was designed in the early 20th century to accommodate farming families and industrial workers, it was not designed to develop well-adjusted, informed, innovators, artists, and thinkers. We have let the system dissolve without reform and now our education system is a f%#king disaster, and that is in part because we have developed the belief that our bodies are only vessels to carry our brains from one moment to the next; Daniel Goldman would suggest that basing our intelligence on our ability to interact well with others is Emotional Intelligence, however I would suggest that, if there is such a thing as emotional intelligence that it should be recognized entirely by how well we act, and react to our own emotions, not the emotions of others, and definitely not by the means in which we interact with one another.
I believe that reading is identified with intelligence because the means in which we measure intelligence is based not only on outdated concepts, but concepts that may not have been appropriate to create parallels with in the first place. We inherently recognize a problem with the means in which we base the foundation of our entire society, so we avoid it, and as children, during school, we find ways to separate ourselves from intelligence. We create negative stigmas around ‘smart’ people and reading. And not only has the act of reading taken a loss because of those parallels but are humanity has as well, and it continues to. Until we decide to change the way we perceive the world around us.
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Reading is deeply personal for me, the act of-, and the subject has always come from a place of familiarity. It has never mattered, either, what I’m reading, or what I’ve read. There have been a number of people throughout my life whom have inspired to engage with me about books, and stories because I’m a writer, an avid reader, and a book collector. However, I don’t enjoy talking to people about the stories that I read. Even when describing, or explain a plot, I have never felt comfortable opening up to a person about the subject of any book that I have ever read. Still, people try, and they will never not want to converse with me about what I have read.
I will, instead change the subject, slightly, to similar books or authors, and if at all possible about parallel philosophies, anything that will redirect the conversation.
I have been asked many, many times to review books for people. Just today I read a message on LinkedIn from a publisher asking if I would consider reviewing, they have several ARC’s out this month. And I have reviewed books, in the past, and I enjoy it—which is strange. I’m a writer, I enjoy the process, and the means in which ideas, philosophies, and themes come to life from a place within ourselves, and sometimes, depending on who you ask from elsewhere. From above. The Great Creator…from somewhere else.
Sharing ideas, even someone else’s idea in a way that is both illuminating and developing simultaneously intrigues me. I have always preferred expressing ideas more when I write them then I do when I verbalize them. I have had a long-time internal conflict with that process. Our society has led us to believe that there are very specific, and exclusive behaviors that are more acceptable than others, and those that not only accept but prefer those means are rewarded. And though I enjoy talking to people; I love the art of conversation, it can never compare to how I feel, and what I’m capable of expressing when I’m writing.
I recently, watched a TED Talk with Matt Goldman. He described his 3rd grade music class: everyone was brought into a room, with a piano, and the teacher played ‘C,’ the 9 year olds were all asked to sing, to hold the ‘C,’ and after each student stood and sang they were asked to stand in one, of two groups. Finally, after everyone had finished singing, one of the two groups, the group that Matt Goldman was in, was asked to leave, Goldman explains that he did not have another music class until Middle School. Similarly, in an English class years later a paper he had written was returned to him, he received a C+ on the paper, which, apparently, he was pleased with, because it wasn’t a C-, or a D. Except that underneath the lettered grade, written in pen, was the note, “As good as could be expected.” Which, Goldman says, stung a little. Matt Goldman went on to cofound the Broadway sensation, Blue Man Group. Making a career of writing, music, and almost everything else. Sir Ken Robinson gave a TED Talk titled Do schools kill creativity? In which he describes a young girl who was often getting into trouble in school because she could not stop moving. Finally, after trying a number of things, her mother took her to a psychologist. The three persons sat in his office, the girl struggling to keep still, but being very respectful and kind. After several minutes of talking the psychologist asked to speak with her mother outside. The two stepped outside and he explained to the mother that he didn’t really want to talk to her, he wanted to see what the young girl would do once the adult left the room. Inside the girl was on her feet, and dancing away. The psychologist turned to her mother and said, “There’s nothing wrong with your daughter. She’s a dancer. She needs to dance, to think.” That young girl is Gillian Lynne, who went on to earn more than 60 stage credits, most as Choreographer for notable shows such as Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. Neither Matt Goldman nor Gillian Lynne may not have accomplished what they had if they listened to, or were met with an opposition that may have paralyzed them.
When I write I think differently, more creatively, more introspectively, and when I’m reading there is a similar relationship with the subject. People, sometimes, well, often, don’t understand that. When I review a book—with the exception of one situation—the author has met my review with great gratitude, and that’s, most likely, because of how intimate reading is for me. When writing a review I attempt to keep my review as commercial and unbiased as possible, but as a writer and a reader, as someone who feels a deep connection with story, and the written word, it’s exceptionally difficult for me not to relate to something, and in a very personal way.
I love to read, but I do not love to talk about what I read. I don’t enjoy sharing my experience with the book. Maybe it’s an occupational hazard, or maybe some words and thoughts and feelings, for me, are not meant to be shared or expressed. The way I relate to people, in this way, is by putting a book in their hand, telling them to forget the world, and to read. To just read.