Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jedi Knight

Perhaps the father of the self-improvement movement is Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was a lecturer, essayist and poet but is perhaps best known for trumpeting the ideals of Transcendentalism, which in simple terms means we find our spiritual state, transcending the spiritual and empirical through an individual's intuition. Having read that last line somewhere around 60 times I finally believe I understand the concept. Unfortunately my method is contrary to the very idea of the intent of transcendentalism which was meant as a protest against the intellectualism or deep thought of the time. So in short, the idea is, don't think, don't try, just do. I believe I have heard that somewhere else before.

So now that I know Emerson was a fan of ancient Jedi training my view of him takes a dramatic turn for the better. I mean, everyone knows Yoda was one of the great thinkers of the universe and could really work a light saber too!

The teachings of Emerson include such gems as, "We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE"

Great thinkers have been trying for years to fully comprehend this statement but luckily the true meaning was recorded for history here.

Emerson began his Jedi training as most Padawans do, his aunt Mary Moody volunteered to be his Master and moved in with the family to further his instruction in the ways of the force. Emerson emerged from his rigorous training enlightened in the ways of the universe. He later wrote, "A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us." This was clearly written after his first encounter with the dark side.

He also said, "A good indignation brings out all one's powers." This is very helpful to Jedi's learning the old Jedi mind trick.

Later he spoke these haunting words, "All diseases run into one, old age." Clearly this was a lament for the passing of the great Jedi Master.

Ralphie also said this, "As soon as there is life there is danger." I would imagine he was talking about this guy,

or maybe perhaps this ... whatever.

I know it's just a singer but it gives me the creeps.

So Ralph Waldo learns the ways of the force, fights the dark side most of his life and then follows the path of his hero Yoda and retires to a nice swamp around some pond where he lives out much of the remainder of his life. When he finally fades away like all good Jedi's we are left contemplating the eternal question. Just where is Waldo?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Denial Ain't A River In Egypt

At long last I'm back, doing what I love (making fun of others) and I'm ready to enlighten the mind, stimulate the senses and tickle the ivories. (Okay, I don't play piano but I've always loved that line.) The subject I have picked upon my triumphant return to blogging is, denial. This is the first obstacle we must overcome to accomplish any self-help program. No matter the scheme, it all starts with denying denial.

Those in need of serious help can usually be seen cuddling with their favorite excuse. "I can quit whenever I want." "I'm not hurting anyone." and "I need this to get through the day." This leads to more serious stages of this deadly problem like, "Chocolate dipped, deep fried Twinkies aren't that bad for me." which leads to the worse case of all. "The Cubs aren't that bad this year, I mean, they got a shot, right?" Followed by thumb sucking in the fetal position. Don't worry folks, the problem can be cured. Well, at least all but the that last guy, he's a goner.

According to Freud's kid Anna, there are three types of denial.

Simple Denial - which means you deny the fact altogether. This is a skill bred through centuries until mastered today by a species often referred to as, politicians.

Minimization - Admit the fact but deny the seriousness of it. "I can't believe you're wearing the same dress as Jenny to the reception." "So what, it looks as good on me as it does her." " But, she's the bride."

Projection - Admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility. "It was the dog honey, honest." "The dog ran away 4 years ago."

The tendency to deny is natural, but sometimes it can be helpful.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Satire - Get Your Inner Child a cell phone

I have been blessed in my life to be surrounded by women. After a divorce, my mother and two sisters lived for 6 years with me the only male in the house. My wife and I have 7 (not a typo) beautiful daughters, no sons. We tried to buy a male dog to help even out the odds, when we got it home we took a closer look at the puppy and you guessed it, he was a she. So I consider myself to be slightly more attuned to the sensitive side of life. I love chocolate and can even appreciate a good cry once in a while. (This may be attributed to being a Cub fan though) So using my highly development sense of self-awareness I thought we would would take a look at Self discovery today.

In the self-help profession they have created a little phrase for this. It always starts with "Getting in Touch ..." or as i refer to it GIT.

This implies that we human creatures lose communication with parts of ourselves at times. I can attest to this. Just last night I lost communication with my left arm, it went completely numb. I didn't have any books to help me so I developed my own system to get in touch with my arm again. First, I quit laying on it, second, apply a large amount of vigorous shaking.

Perhaps the most famous GIT need is to Get in Touch with our Inner Child. I am not quite sure what this means or how it is accomplished. Can you use a cell phone? Send a text? Does your Inner child have email? Maybe if your inner child was a little more technologically advanced we wouldn't lose touch so often. Another thought I had was, how much responsibility does you inner child have in this relationship? Shouldn't your inner child have to get in touch with you once in a while? Maybe the reason why so many people are unhappy in life is because our inner children simply don't have the time to get back to us. Sure they say they will call but it is always the same old story. You keep picking up the phone to see if it is working, You hit refresh on the email 40 times in a an hour. You leave messages on their voice mail, nothing. Now you really are depressed. If your own Inner Child doesn't have the time for you how pathetic is your life?

So I heard this Inner Child reach out was essential to my happiness in life so I thought, why not? My wife keeps telling me to quit acting like a child. This should be easy. So I think, who can I look to for contacting my inner child?

My first thought is this guy. He seems to be pretty good with kids. He knows how to build an interplanetary communication device out of a turntable and aluminum foil. This could be good. But then I find out he took the cash from his movie, skipped the planet and is sipping Mai-Tai's on the beaches of Betazed-9.

So then I think about this guy. I hear he is really good with children. If anyone can touch my inner child it could be him. (oops, had a few typos in that sentence, you know what I meant) The problem is, the guy was in surgery when I called and then I find out he has some kind of court order about him and children so there goes that plan out the window.

So then I start getting desperate, I figure I should turn to a guy with all of the answers. Well he isn't really a guy. I am not sure what he is but he is smart and amazingly agile for somebody that walks with a cane. I figure he could force it out of me. Somehow I get the little creature's cell number and he waxes all philosophical on me. Tells me there is no try, do or do not. Then I ask him about my inner child and he says I am too old to begin the training and hangs up. It is probably best, I can barely understand a word the guy says anyway.

So finally I settle on the best source for true knowledge. Abby.

Dear Abby: I am a middle aged guy, live in a house with 7 daughters, 1 wife and 1 female dog. Things can get crazy but for some dumb reason I keep thinking I am happy. I have been told that I can't be happy until I get in touch with my inner child. I have tried email, phone calls, text messages, nothing works. I am starting to worry about my inner child, maybe something happened to him. Do you have any suggestions? Signed Lost in Alaska (just in case my buddies read Dear Abby)

(I was so excited to get an answer a few weeks later)

Dear Lost in Alaska:

Try Facebook.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Get Rich, No Work Required!!

If there is one thing in America we are good at, it is breeding suckers. According to P.T. Barnum, somewhere at the rate of one per minute. I have often wondered what it is about the American spirit that lends itself to believing that the guy with slicked back hair on an infomercial at 3 in the morning really does have the secret to my dreams. If you will just send him $99.95 (available in 3 easy payments) he will let you in on that secret that will help you join all of the other "success stories they flash across the screen. John and Gail Johnson made $23,431 their first month by applying our system and so can you! At three in the morning your eyes don't even see the tiny little print running on the bottom of the screen which states (these results are not typical, in fact they only happened twice and it was pretty much luck, you can't sue us for your 99 bucks after our system doesn't work because we put this in writing. Hahaha you are so stupid!)

So is it stupidity that causes us to go for these schemes? Sometimes. But not always, there is another far more powerful factor at play here, laziness. Get rich quick schemes appeal to the very nature of those who play lottery, go to Vegas and order Chinese Take-Out, they are hoping to get lucky that one time.

So let's take a look at some of the schemes that have followed us down through the years.

Stuffing envelopes - This work-at-home opportunity will free you from the arduous task of sitting in an office, going to meetings, working on a computer, taking phone calls or perhaps you work a trade. Imagine leaving that all behind, no more building things, fixing things, digging things, filling up what others are digging. Instead, you can stay at home, watch soap operas and stuff envelopes for a living. The good news is that if you become really proficient, you could eventually earn the minimum wage. I have always wondered, what company sends their mailers out to people's home to get stuffed? Wouldn't they worry about that important envelope going out with donut and pizza stains on it?

Real Estate Schemes - Yes they are still out there. This is the best market in years for making a fortune in real estate!!! Don't listen to the experts, your realtor, your banker, your attorney, your parents or Donald Trump. Listen to the guy who bought a 30 minute spot at 3 AM to sell you a $129.95 package on making a fortune in real estate in today's economy. When you call be sure to ask the guy why he is creating competition for himself all over the country by sharing his secrets. If this is such a great market; why isn't he out taking advantage of it? This is the same guy who used to sell blenders on QVC at 1 AM before "figuring out" the real estate thing.
(He still has some great deals left on blenders though)

Metal Detecters - This is an oldie but goodie. I still see the commercial of the guy at the beach who find some poor woman's wedding ring. They show him with this happy face because he struck it rich. No remorse at all for the poor gal who lost a ring that means far more than its value in diamonds and gold and who will now have to go down to Honest Vinny's Pawn Shop to buy it back.

Get rich on Ebay!!! - This is the latest greatest. You can make a fortune on Ebay selling products that you never own. I actually looked into this one. I buy stuff on Ebay all the time. I have even sold a few things on Ebay. Didn't seem too bad. Why not give it a try? Just find a few drop shippers and put up some auctions and people will bid like crazy. I will make a mint. Problem is, the shippers selling to Ebay sellers are scam artists. They sell the same crap to thousands of people for the same price. So when you drop down a hundred bucks to sell ipods from your special dealer pricing you get pages and pages of this:

Ipods at retail pricing that nobody buys!! The winner in this little scam? Ebay who makes auction fees from all of the get rich on Ebay believers. I wonder who runs those commericals?

In Egypt we have the great pyramids of Giza. Don't feel gipped in America, we have our pyramids here too. Here they are called Amway, (which became so "popular" they changed their name to Qixtar, In Greek Quixtar means, I want to tell you about Amway but don't want the door slammed in my face before I finish), Mary Kay, This is Amway in pink cars. Yourtravelbiz.com, this allowed anyone to become a travel agent by allowing people to check a website for flight and hotel availability. Novel concept huh? Sunrider is a great herbal supplement company that grew naturally into hotel management. The transition had to happen at some point. Pre-Paid Legal sounded like a neat concept, pre pay for legal services. Make Lawyers affordable! Except they don't do anything for business matters. They only do certian things once and let's just say that if a lawyers is accepting the pittance that pre-paid legal pays them, they probably got their law degree from China, where everything else is manufactured these days.

So I stay away from stuffing, I am not motivated by metaling, I have ejected Ebaying and Poo-pooed pyramids. I don't need to get rich with any of thoseobvious scams that only a sucker would fall for. The reason? I am about to help the widow of a rich head of state in Nigeria who recently died in a coup! Don't believe me? Here is the letter.

I am Mrs. Mariam Abacha, the widow of Sani Abacha the Late Nigerian Head of State. You were introduced to me through the Chamber of Commerce. I am presently in distress and under house arrest while my son Mohamed is undergoing trial in Lagos and Abuja. He is presently detained in prison custody. The government has frozen all the family account and auctioned all our properties. To save the family from total bankruptcy I managed to secretly code or bank the sum of US40,000,000.00. through the assistance of our family lawyer/attorney respectively. kept by my late husband. To avoid government from know about this fund/money my lawyer/attorney have advise me to seek for a foreigner through whom this money can be transferred out of the country (Nigeria) for safety because it is the asset left for my family and myself.

I want you to receive this money and pay it into your account for the family safely. I am offering you 30% for assisting mesecure this money fast before it is located by the NigerianGovernment Agents. Contact me immediately with my E-mail Address so that we can start the transferring of this fund into your designed bank account for safety.

Best regards.
Mrs. Mariam Abacha.

I've already quit my job and booked my vacation. I'll send a postcard from Jamaica when my cruise arrives!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fixing Your Marriage: Start With a Hammer

Having sold a little real estate in my life I know my way around a contract. These wonderful documents that dance through the heads of lawyers are meant to help both parties complete their terms in a satisfactory matter. There are of course the penalties for not doing so. If party A does not fix the furnace, replace the dishwasher and remove the green shag carpet from the walls (true story), party B is no longer obligated to purchase the property designated as 146 longitude, 1354 latitude, 1325 N State, Backwater, IL 61111, and all deposits and money shall be returned forthwith in a timely manner (30 days) in full. I have seen $300,000 contracts hinge on whether a $600 water heater will be replaced. That's it, we're walking!

These contracts were fairly successful in real estate up until the last few years (glad I got out) in making sure that all parties were happy and they were completed at a fairly good ratio. Let's say around 90%. In the business world though, that is a horrible percentage. Very risky. 10% fail? Yikes! So as I begin my self-help marriage talk let's take a look at how we're doing on the marriage contract. The marriage rate in 2005 was 7.5% meaning that7.5% of the people in our fair country got married that year. The divorce rate was 3.6%. That number was down from the previous year of 4.2%. So roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. This is a contract written over the waste basket.

I was at a wedding a few years ago where the mother of the bride told a group of us that this would be a nice first marriage for her daughter. I haven't checked back to see how the marriage has gone but I thought at the time about slipping the groom a note with one word. "RUN!"

So in the interest of civic duty I will take my vast expertise on the subject of marriage and impart this to America to save our floundering land from this horrendous downslide. Those who know me will attest to what a model husband I am, catering to my wife's every need, nurturing ( I had to use spell check on that one) our relationship, growing a bond between us that is strong enough to withstand the hurricanes of baseball and golf season which are quickly approaching. Just thought I would remind you honey. I know you are reading. By the way, could you clean my clubs? They could probably use a good scrubbing. Thanks babe. Okay where was I? Oh yeah, a strong bond, nurturing and all that other stuff. I am Mr. Sensitivity. I once watched 20 minutes of Anne of Green Gables without falling asleep just for her. (I believe I fell asleep after the 20 minutes, man that girl is annoying) So these are my credentials, this is the time, let's explore my top seven ways you can save a marriage without counseling, or any trips to the hospital for stitches.

1. Nurturing - This is an essential aspect of marriage. Many women might think that this means that a husband should listen to them and try to understand their needs. Men are not capable of this. The nurturing that I speak of occurs at the dinner table. Make sure your man has a good meal on the table. It is very hard to argue with your wife while chewing on a slice of pot roast and although you might have an angry retort to a snide remark it just might wait if there are mashed potatoes with a nice gravy beckoning. You might think this is sexist, it isn't, it's genetics.

2. Listen up - Okay men, the ballgame is on, it is the bottom of the 9th inning, 2 men are on 2nd and 3rd, 2 men are out. Your team's best hitter is at the plate and your team is down one. A hit wins the game, an out and they lose. You have invested 2 1/2 hours in this game to see this moment. This is inevitably the moment your wife walks in wanting to chat. Now I have been married long enough that I will explain the situation and ask for a 5 minute reprieve. If you aren't there yet you can try to multi-task.

"So, Judy says she wants the kids to come over at 7 which of course is after dinner like she always does. I am getting so tired of this with her I am thinking about not even doing our exchange night any more."

"Uh Huh"

"I mean on our night we always have them over before supper time and feed them so they can spend more time together. I don't mind because the kids have such a great time together but if she can't feed our kids once in a while too that just isn't fair."

"Uh huh"

"I think I might just tell her next time that I can't have HER kids over until later either and see how SHE likes it.

"Yeah that would be good."

"So what do you think?"

"About what?"

"You weren't even listening to me were you? That stupid game is more important than I am."

Here is where it goes bad. I could continue the dialogue but I don't need to. Nearly every married person here could do the rest for me. For those not married, I don't want to spoil your fun. So men, let me give you three little letters that will save your marriage, DVR. Hit the pause button, listen for a few minutes and watch your favorite hitter strikeout with your full attention.

3. Marriage is marriage, Dating is dating - There is nothing that spoils a marriage more than little digs like "you never treat me like you did when we were dating any more." "Why don't you bring me a rose like you use to?" "Why don't we go see a play like we did?" "Why don't we talk like we used to?" The load of those expectations can weigh a soul down. So I have two pieces of advice here. For those not married yet, don't set the bar so high, you'll only live to regret it later. Don't bring flowers and take her to that special restaurant that you know she will like but that you hate. Instead, take her to a burger joint, then out to an action movie and then back to the apartment to hang out and watch a game. If she still wants to talk to you again afterward, you have a winner.

For those who are married it is too late for that. So the next time you hear complaints about not doing what you did when you were dating just tell her that you have something planned. When she brings it up you tell her it is big but you are still planning it. This will give her something to look forward to for at least a few months and depending on how good you are maybe a half a year. Then when it comes time to deliver, fake a serious illness with possible amnesia.

4. Don't Fix it - You might think this will be about the honey-do list you receive on the weekend. Nope. This is a handy little piece of advice from my bathroom reading. As mentioned in a previous post I was force fed the Mars Venus planetary relationship module while sitting on my throne and although I remember pretty much nothing else from it this little piece of advice did sink in. When she comes to you in tears because her best friend is telling everyone that she is a two-faced, psychopathic, kleptomaniac with no clue about how to keep house or raise children. Your first inclination is to tell her what to do. "Well you just tell Susie that you don't steal stuff. That is ridiculous!" Your wife doesn't want that. She hasn't come to you for advice. She just wants you to listen and empathize. Look that last word up guys. So this is how you do it.

"I can't believe it, Suzie is spreading rumors about me to the whole neighborhood. I thought she was my friend."

"Wow, that is really hard to believe. I am sorry to hear that. Are you okay?"

"Yea, I just needed to tell somebody. Thanks honey."

See how easy that was? You didn't have to provide a solution, fix the problem and didn't get in trouble for anything. So google empathy and practice it with your friends. You'll get the hang of it.

"Man I just shot the worst round of my life. I couldn't hit my irons, I couldn't putt, I should just give up this stupid game."

"Man that is tough Bob, Are you okay?"


Well come to think of it, don't practice on your friends.

5. Compromise - This is a key element to every successful marriage. A woman compromises most of her ideals just to marry a guy. That is unless they have a two week engagement. Generally a guy can hold it together for two weeks if you don't spend every day together but after that reality sets in and the girl will inevitably be disappointed. Surprisingly enough many girls go ahead and get married anyway so they have shown the ability to compromise. It is the guys who have a hard time with this concept. To a guy compromise is, instead of golfing every weekend he will mix in fishing once in a while. "What are you complaining about? You said you were tired of me golfing every weekend. Now I don't and you are still not satisfied." Men learn from an early age that compromisers get beaten up a lot. You know what Spike? We don't need to argue like this. Let's just talk about it like civilized human beings and... ow... ugh...your elbow is in my ear...I can't breath."

So chucking this method men learn quickly that life is a "get what you want when you want or get the crap kicked out of you" kind of place. They take that mind set into marriage and of course things don't work too well. To a man, compromise in marriage means she needs to change her mind and do it the way I want. So my advice? I don't know, I am a man. I don't want to get beaten up.

6. Present a united front or die in battle - I am convinced that we have the wrong people in charge of our military. Instead of codgy old men who haven't seen a battlefield in decades making decisions on strategy I think we should have kids do it. Kids are more skillful at conniving, manipulating, fighting and taking advantage of every situation than any old men could ever dream. I could picture it now. A smoky room, the map laid out on the table, the enemy positions noted, the friendly armies poised to strike. But where should they go? In walks 8 year old Tommy Johnson in a Sponge Bob Square Pants T-Shirt for the briefing.

Tommy speaks,

"Okay people, I just woke up from my nap and Mom says I can play for a little while but I got to be home by four." Someone in the control room sets a countdown marker to four.

"The way I see it is this. Start with a heavy artillery bombardment on the enemy positions located here, here and here. Then hit their lines with tanks right there where they are weakest, circle around and take out these two towers. Bring in the infantry behind the tanks and fan out to both sides for clean up work. You should have the city in a few hours. Anybody got a sucker?"

When parenting you know nothing strains a marriage like arguments over children and usually children employing divide and conquer strategies. So before any decisions are made, make sure you both agree or better yet just turn their tactics around and keep sending them back to the other parent until they drop it. "Can I go Dad?" "Ask your Mother." "She said to ask you." "Tell her I think she should decide. Go ask her." "Mom, he said to ask you" "Really, I thought for sure he would want a say. He is probably just being nice. Go back and tell him I don't mind if he decides and that he is sweet." "Gross Mom, just forget it." Somewhere Mom and Dad are smiling.

7. Don't let Money get you down - The number one cause of divorce is money. So how do you fix this? There are several options. 1. Have no kids, this will save you a ton of cash. Warning, no kids means you will spend a lot of time talking to each other. Many couples end up buying dogs, cats, horses, birds and fish to keep from having too much conversation left by the children void which costs lots of money therefore negating the cost savings of having no children. Having no children also negates the possiblity that one of them will strike it rich and take care of you some day. 2. Get multiple jobs. If he works 2 full time jobs and 1 part time job on the weekends and she works a full timer as well you should have enough money to survive and never see each other enough to argue. You can text each other notes to keep up on your lives or join Facebook to keep up. 3. Just realize that most people don't have enough money and get over it. John D. Rockefeller was once asked how much money is enough and he said, "Just a little bit more." If you are trying to keep up with the Jone's and can't do it, move and find lower end Jone's who make less than you do. This will make your life a lot easier although it may cause your new neighbors to move.

So I hope this has been helpful. It is about time this country got its act together and stayed together. It isn't so tough. My marriage is the perfect example. If a woman could stay married to me for 15 years, then any marriage can work.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Goals: The Root of All Evil

Click the above image to enlarge.

March 1 came and went for many of us with a whimper. Yes, 2 months have already escaped us in this "new" year. Wasn't New Years Day last week? So with 2 months gone and only 10 left it is time to pull out those new years resolutions and see how I am doing.

Lose more weight - Do it later

Finish my novel - Well, this thing happened and I kinda had to ... Later

Get in shape - See Above

Be nicer to the dog - Oops, this is my old list. (We got rid of that dog)

Okay found my 2009 list, conveniently enough the first three items are unchanged, including the answers.

Improve my relationship with my wife - I will, right after this game is over.

Well that is the list for me. How did you do? Better than that? Worse? What list? (I like you)

Most people by now have chucked their lists, scrapped their goals and are back to living life just like they do the other 51 weeks of the year. The freaks are still going strong on their new sets of goals and loving every minute of it. So is there any harm in setting goals? No, other than the small fact that they will lead you down the road to pure evil.

You might think this is a stretch. Let me explain before you click away and I won't even ask you to put on your tinfoil hat and prepare your bodies for the takeover from the mind-snatchers from planet Zedxo. (How can you prepare? THEY ARE INVISIBLE!)

It starts off innocently. You set a goal for some small self-improvement in your life. Let's say your bad breath, (people have been talking you know) . As part of your goal you write down mid-range and short-range goals to accomplish the long-term goal (Don't smell like a landfill when you open your mouth).

Short term goals: go to store, buy new toothpaste, (that baking soda might save money but it ain't doing the trick,) buy floss (yes floss, some of the stink is from the pot roast you had two weeks ago rotting between your uppers incisors,) mouth wash.

Mid-Term goal, USE THE STUFF, (novel concept huh?) have rotting teeth removed (sadly the list above will be like putting perfume on poopie until you get that rotting hunk of decay out, use a dentist or tie a string to a door, whatever method sounds less excruciating.) Long Term goal, Nice fresh breath. There, wasn't that worth it? So what was evil about all of that? Hold on, I am getting there and it happens quickly from here.

Seeing the power of goals and the pleasant reaction of literally everybody to your new "lifestyle," you start sniffing around your life for other ways to improve. Before you know it your house is clean, your checkbook balanced, your car waxed, that area between your eyebrows is even plucked clean. People start to notice a real difference in you, (and secretly resent the heck out of you for it.) Your whole outlook is changing, you take your new approach to work and really start to make waves. You clean your desk, take on more work, innovate, motivate,energize, synnergize and a few promotions later you are running the place. This is where it starts going bad.

It isn't enough for you to get to the top. You now start expecting others to do what you did too. You send down helpful ideas to the masses (lackeys, grunts, slackers.) Worse yet you tell them that you were once right where they were and with a little hard work and goal setting they can get there too. You start writing your first book. All the titles you wanted are gone though, "Think and Grow Rich" "The Secret" "How To Become a Millionairre" "Greed Is Good" so you finally settle on, "The Power of Goals: From Grunt to Grand." You have a few squabbles with your publisher over edits so you buy the publishing company and fire him.

Now a published author (your book is 1,445,998th on the NY times best sellers list,) you feel you have a blank check to make your approach the law. The board, high-level, mid-level, low-level and bi-level (pschysophrenic) managers are called in and given the new edict from the CEO, who will now be referred to as potentate and who now speaks only of themself in the third person.

"Ms. Johnson, is that draft of the letter the way you wanted it?"

"Ms. Johnson thinks you can do better than that."

"Why are you speaking that way?"

"Ms. Johnson would like it if you would leave now."

Work in every level of the corporate machine halts as every member of the complex scrambles to create their goals for the quarter, create goals for the year, create goals for the next five years, for their career development, their personal development, their relationships at work, at home, with their pets. Goals become the buzzword. Every meeting the managers review their progress, raises are hinged on meeting those goals. The pressure rises. The tension mounts. People don't say hi to each other any more (unless that was a personal development goal.) At the end of the year the board meets to discuss the carnage. Ms. Johnson is staring out the window (the board is not allowed to make eye contact.)

"We have the results of our employee evaluations Ms. Johnson."

After a dramatic pause she speaks, "Ms. Johnson allows you to speak."

"Well, of our 6 divisions and our roughly 21,000 employees 1,000 of them have completed all of their goals." The board cringes. This could be a bloodbath.

"Some 14,000 have completed most of their goals and the remaining 6,000 have completed what we would term some of their goals or less than half." Everyone holds their breath. Not even the squeak of leather from the ample behinds of a nervous board member can be heard.

"Ms. Johnson is not pleased," she starts. "Ms. Johnson made it perfectly clear that goals would take our company and its employees to their dreams. Apparently our current employees do not want to dream. The only solution then is to find new employees. Ms. Johnson is merciful though, just fire the 6,000 for now."

So you see what has happened? A little fresh breath has lead to 6,000 innocent people losing their jobs. All in the name of goals.

Where does it stop? So put those goals away. Just say no. Leave them to the tyrants, the kings, the CEO's and the people who work for the Drivers License office. I hear Ms. Johnson is running for President and coming out with a second book, "Ms. Johnson knows Ms. Johnson can solve the problems of society." I am sure it will be a bestseller.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Zen: The Art of Napping

Today our path of self discovery leads us on the road to Zen. You may not know much about Zen but you should. Get with it!

Zen asserts that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature. So basically at heart, we are all pony-tailed fat guys. I like that!

The aim of Zen is to discover your nature through meditation of daily experiences. While researching I found no ratio though of meditation to experiences. I mean, how many experiences does it require in order for you to stop and need meditation? This perhaps explains rush hour traffic. No lights, no stop signs, no reports of accidents and yet we are stopped and not moving. Maybe somewhere up ahead a driver has reached their experiences limit and has stopped in the middle of their lane to meditate on them.

"OOHHHHMMMMM Today has been a marvelous day, my shower felt refreshing, my toast didn't burn and the butter melted just like I like it. Even my cat came out of hiding to send me on my way. My commute seems to be doing fine. I wonder why people are honking at me? OOOOHHHHHMMMMMM"

"Hey buddy! What @#$%%$$# are you doing? Get out of the middle of the road!"

Clearly that guy needs to turn the eye inward.

The Flower Sermon

The origins of Zen can be related to a big misunderstanding. It is said that Gautama_Buddha gathered his disciples one day for a talk. The Buddha silently held up a flower and several of his disciples tried to interpret what this meant, though none of them were correct. One of the Buddha's disciples silently gazed at the flower and gained a special insight into the flower. He said "I know what you are trying to teach us! You want us to focus on the direct experience and not rely on the written word!" The Buddha said "Well no, I was just going to tell you guys to water the flowers but that is good. You run with that." And thus Zen was born.

So how can Zen help us today? Is it practical for us to use this ancient method to center our lives and enlighten our minds? Beats me. All I know is this meditation thing is a great excuse for taking naps. "Hey Joe, the boss wants to see us in 5 min... Joe are you sleeping?" "Of course not Chuck, I have begun a rigorous new Zen regime where I meditate every hour to help me find my center. It has really helped to refresh me. Got a tic tac?"

So wherever you are in life don't hesitate to stop what you are doing, slow down and find your inner fat guy.