Honesty is the Best Policy

We live in an alien world these days. The one I grew up in was far different from the one we’re experiencing today. As a child, I was raised with certain ideas that were universally accepted by American society as an ideology we should all be striving for. The United States has been the beacon of hope for the world for nearly two centuries, primarily because of the views we have on individual liberty and the fact that we genuinely believe that everyone is equal. If you come to America, your expectation is that you have the same chance as anyone else to create a successful life for yourself and your family.

Somewhere along the way, however, our clean view of the world has been corrupted by a growing segment of the population who believes that the truth doesn’t matter as long as it brings profit of some kind. I’m not just talking about big corporations who greedily extract from others to accumulate their own personal wealth at the expense of the less well off. A large part of the issues in our society come from the fact that people just aren’t honest anymore. The moral framework upon which our nation was founded has eroded away and the rate of decay appears to only be increasing.

You need only look at the average relationship to get a good idea of what I’m talking about. Husbands have always snuck around having relationships with multiple women, but it used to be socially frowned upon. It was even worse for women. Females who “slept around” were shunned by the mainstream, which had the effect of helping to keep that behavior under control because most women valued their reputation over the brief pleasure they got from a seedy tryst. There used to be real consequences for acting outside of a truly moral code of conduct.

Today, however, people are proud of their misbehavior, extoling it as a more progressive way of living our lives. Commitment to one person is no longer viewed as the end goal of a relationship. Personal pleasure and satisfaction are the primary goals in relationships today, and a growing number of people are willing to stop at nothing to get what they want. Our society now celebrates misbehavior as progressivism, casting off the “old ways” in favor of a moral code that places change ahead of what is best for us.

The same holds true in the business world, and we are all guilty of participating in it whether we like to think about it or not. As jobs have moved overseas to cut down on production costs, we have become accustomed to cheap, quality goods that make our lives better. However, businesses never tell us and we actively ignore the fact that these goods are generally produced in countries where labor is so cheap that the population is just barely surviving. We live our lavish lives at the expense of others.

Even if we ignore the practical slavery we exert on others, how many of us have cheated to get what we want, whether it be from an individual or a business or even a government organization? Our modern welfare system is practically built on fraud, with millions of people living parasitically off of free money from charitable organizations or government programs. The government itself is stealing from our futures with the way it spends money now at the expense of the future. No one is willing to stop it because both sides are benefitting in the short term, and everyone hopes that someone else will have to deal with the fallout.

Our media is the worst of this trend toward dishonest behavior. It used to be that news organizations were the most trusted and respected sources of information in the world, and the unscrupulous people of the world were terrified any time a reporter came snooping around looking for a story. Now the media is complicit in the lies we’re fed every day as they maneuver to control the average person into voting the way they want or submitting to the ideologies they believe in, or even simply blatantly lying in vain attempts to increase their own viewership.

The problem with this path we’re going down is that it works like just about everything else in life. Most things we do have to pathways: an easy way and a hard way. The easy way almost always provides a certain limited reward up front, with diminishing returns as we continue forward with that method because it doesn’t put anything back into the system. It is a system of consumption rather than investment. When all you do is take without replenishing the pool, you eventually run out of resources.

This is why America did so much better back when we did things the hard way. Investment is the key to the future, and you can only truly be invested when you are honestly participating in whatever system you are investing in. Whether it’s a relationship with another person, business with the public, or the conveyance of information so people can decide for themselves, it is only when we honestly invest in what we are doing that we create something that is sustainable for the future. Anything else is doomed to fall apart.

We are slowly seeing a shift of the pendulum back toward a more honest way of living, but the question has become whether it is too late to fix things. As the corruption of our nation at all levels has become evident, many people are struggling to scour it from what has been the greatest nation to ever exist. I believe this country can still be saved if enough honest people step forward and bring back the consequences of the past. Not the barbarism, but the moral compass.

History has shown us more than once that societies decay when morals are discarded, so let’s learn the lessons of the past by going back to the old ways of thinking. It’s what made our country great and it’s what will continue to make it flourish in the future.

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Attention is a Precious Commodity

Just about everything in the world can be compared to business. When it comes to the things that have value, there are some things that are abundant and easy to come by and thus, even when demand is very high, economies of scale allow us to keep the price down to a reasonable level. On the other hand, when something is very rare, or just very valuable regardless of the quantity available, the price goes up as our valuation of it increases. Supply and demand works in just about every aspect of life, not just business.

When it comes to the marketplace of relationships, men and women are shopping for two different things. A man is seeking someone he finds physically attractive who, at least when he’s young, will bear him healthy children and raise them, among other things. A woman’s value to a man is almost entirely in her ability to keep him sexually attracted and to provide the kinds of comfort and support he needs to face a world that cares little for him. He’s not looking for a servant, but a partner. A sexually attractive partner.

On the other hand, a woman has two specific criteria she looks for when shopping for a man who will be more than just a plaything like what she might have searched for in her youth. The first is obviously some kind of reliable support system, which usually comes down to a great job that provides enough money for the lifestyle she wants. Everyone knows this and there is little reason to cover it because it’s intuitive.

The second is the one that seems to be causing the most problems today, and that is attention. For a woman, there is little that makes her feel better than getting positive attention from the people she desires. The reason social media is so successful primarily because of women, because the average man cares little for any attention that isn’t sexual in nature, and you can’t really get that on social media. The true reason social media is the goliath it is today is because it has become a platform for women to publicize themselves and grab as much attention as they can manage, and men have to play if they want what they used to get the old fashioned way.

Like any other drug, attention for a woman is addicting and the more she gets, the further down the hole she falls. The problem is that this addiction works just like every other form of it on the planet: the more addicted they become, the more they need to feel satisfied. Reasonable levels of interaction with people quickly become unfulfilling to a woman who is desperately seeking the attention of others, especially when it comes to attracting a man. This is where we run into the chasm that exists between the sexes.

Men, in direct contrast to women, have little need for validation via attention. A man sees his worth in what he is able to accomplish, and while kudos are nice, they bear little weight in how he looks at himself. If he makes a lot of money, or is a master of his craft, or has become able to support himself in his chosen profession, he might consider himself successful and will generally be satisfied with his life. The positive attention of others rarely has any bearing on how he feels about himself, though he certainly appreciates it.

A woman, on the other hand, is biologically wired on social interaction. It is in her nature to be involved with other people and to have those people be involved with her. Most of this comes from the very necessary need to be emotionally available for her children, but the natural extension of this is a wide social network that provides her with the kinds of interactions she needs to feel important. For a woman, her worth lies in the relationships she has with others. Nothing she does, even in her career, can ever come anywhere close to that.

It is because of this disparity that men and women today are struggling to find a middle ground, and I’m going to say something that most people don’t want to hear: it’s mostly women’s fault. You see, continuing our analogy from before, relationships work just like businesses do. We each have something that we offer that we hope someone is willing to pay for. The problem is that what women used to value most, support, is no longer the primary good they wish to purchase from men, which is still the thing that most men have to offer.

The source of this comes from the fact that the modern woman simply doesn’t need the same level of support she used to. This isn’t a bad thing all on its own, and you would have to be ignorant to believe that we should go backward when it comes to the way we treat women. Still, the fact is that as women have become more self-sufficient, they have required less and less of the primary commodity that men have offered throughout our history: support and protection.

If we peel back all the various layers of other things that cloud our view, the root issue is that as women moved away from needing support from men, they began desiring that we fill that other desire they crave: attention. Their overall desire didn’t diminish, but as they were able to source their own support they started increasing their demand in the other area. Most women today have almost no need for a man to provide for them, so nearly all their desire is focused on attention.

Unfortunately, for most men attention is a very limited commodity. The average man is only able to focus on one thing at a time, and what little attention we do have is generally focused on things we’re interested in, which typically doesn’t include showering someone else with our focus. Sure, for short periods of time we might be able to muster the ability to pay real attention to a woman and what she wants, but men aren’t wired the same way women are and we quickly become bored. When that happens, we’re ready to move on to something more interesting, and no amount of sex or service or attention from a woman will overcome that.

It all comes down to supply and demand, just like everything else. A woman is willing to pay a certain price for attention, and a man is willing to sell his attention for a price that makes sense to him. If the two prices match up, a transaction is made. The problem is that most women don’t understand the basic principle that the attention of a man actually does have value, and they want more of it than most men are willing to give at any price. It doesn’t matter what you think is reasonable if the person who has what you want isn’t selling at your price. Both sides have to agree.

The point I’m really trying to get to here is that women have devalued attention to the point where it’s just not worth selling anymore. There is no appreciation for the attention we do give, so why would we bother going to the effort of providing more of it? Just like women didn’t want to give away their bodies cheap in the past, men don’t want to give away their precious attention for nothing. Until women start understanding the true value of attention and become grateful for what they get, it is unlikely we will see things improve in our modern relationship scene.

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Indecision is Difficult to Live With

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’re aware that my current job will be ending soon and I don’t really have a solid plan for after that. I have been fortunate that the termination point for this position has continued to be pushed back as the requirements for the project we’re working on continue to be delayed, but this will eventually run out and I will be out of work. As I continue to hurtle toward this massive blank wall in my life, I find myself really struggling with a strong sense of indecision about what I should be focusing on for the next phase of my life.

Above all else, and as I’ve stated in the past, I’m looking for a work from home opportunity so I can take advantage of the fact that I live full time in my travel trailer. I recently acquired the truck I’ll need to tow it, as well as all the necessary hardware to make it safe on the highway, so nothing is holding me back except that elusive job. If I can just figure out that one part of the equation, I’ll be ready to realize a dream I’ve been waiting on for more than two years as I’ve patiently bided my time in my current situation.

The problem is finding whatever it is I’m going to be doing next. As we move into this brave new future of virtual positions, I find myself in the same place I’ve found myself in so many other things in my life: after it’s started but before it’s actually ready. By this I mean that I feel like just about everything in my life feels like I’m on the back end of one way of doing things and incessantly on the cusp of the new way. I’m never right there in the “sweet spot” of things.

When it comes to virtual work, it is generally agreed that this will be the new way of doing things for many careers, but we haven’t quite reached the place where enough employers truly see the benefits to make work from home positions ubiquitous. Most bosses are still old enough that they are stuck on the old way of doing things, preferring to have an office where they can watch over their employees as they work, ensuring they have control in the most direct way possible. This is fine if you’re in charge, but not so great if you’re looking for something more flexible.

The title of this posts relates to indecision, however, and I suppose I should get back to that. When it comes to my future, I’m really struggling with what I should be focusing on. On the one hand, I have a skillset that is highly optimized for virtual work, especially because I have a very good office setup in my trailer already. I’m what you might call a “plug and play” employee. However, I also struggle with the fact that I’ve never been happy working for other people, and I really want to find a way to make my own money.

I found a way forward in this regard, and it lies in becoming a web developer. It’s something I actually enjoy doing and because every single business out there needs a website, it’s something that will always be in high demand. Where I run into problems is in the fact that running your own business requires the participation in something that’s right at the top of the list of jobs I don’t want to do: sales.

Talking to people is something that I’ve always struggled with, not because I’m really all that socially awkward, but because I just don’t have the patience to sit through listening to what other people have to say. My preference is and always has been conversation via text because it allows me to interact when I’m ready rather than having to respond in real time. I also struggle with remembering anything verbal, so having a written account of what was said is a very good thing for me when I need to recall something important.

Of course, that isn’t the biggest part of not wanting to do sales. The primary reason is that I’ve never been satisfied with any position in which my success is determined by the actions of others. Sales is the epitome of this particular type of work, with the potential customer ultimately having complete control over my success. When it comes to something like becoming a freelance web developer, I’m highly confident I can do the work, but closing sales is something I’m just not into at all.

So I find myself in the same quandary I always seem to exist in. On the one hand, I have an idea for a business I really think I can be good at, but it comes with the responsibilities of selling myself to people, which is at the top of my list of jobs I hate. On the other, I can probably find a job working from home where I don’t have to sell anything, but odds of making the kind of money I do now aren’t very promising, and I’d have to work for someone else. The question then becomes: which is worse?

And so like many other times in my life, I find myself struggling with indecision. I enjoy web development, but I’m really struggling with the other side of it. I could live with working for someone else if it means working remotely, but finding something that pays enough will be a struggle. That’s the real issue for me, if I’m honest. I’m not a fan of struggle. I’m lazy and I just want things to work. I’ve been blessed and cursed this far that things always seem to just work out for me, and I guess I’m just holding out hope that it will happen again.

But who knows what the future holds?

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Rittenhouse Verdict Shows America Isn’t Dead Yet

There isn’t really much to say that we all don’t know already with the result of one of the most high profile criminal cases in recent history. We all knew that young Kyle Rittenhouse was innocent of any criminal intent and was simply defending himself and his family. The only doubts any of us really had was whether the jury would have the courage to come to the only just conclusion and return a not guilty verdict. Fortunately for him and all of the rest of us who value what America was always supposed to be, justice was served today.

The left wing, mainstream media has suffered a huge setback today, but their failure wasn’t for lack of trying. From heavily slanted coverage to juror intimidation to mobs threatening riots in the streets, the radicals who hide in plain sight came out of the woodwork in a desperate attempt to sway the outcome of the case to suit their own twisted agenda. A young man had the courage to defend his family, and evil men perished as a result. It’s difficult for a reasonable person to see it any other way, but those who are fully enveloped in the cult that is the far left socialist movement don’t see reason.

It is clear to me that the jurors for this case are some of the bravest individuals we’ve seen for some time. We all know that this verdict puts all of them in danger from radical ideologues who will inevitably seek retribution against those who refused to lay down to their overt threats. Rittenhouse himself isn’t really out of the woods yet, as he will be the direct target of petulant radicals for years to come. He won’t be able to feel truly safe anywhere as long as the political landscape is allowed to remain the way it is. Bravery always has a cost.

Still, it sparks a feeling of hope to see that justice can still prevail in what is still the greatest and freest country the world has ever seen. It’s been a while since I could say that I feel proud to be an American, but when I see courageous citizens publicly standing up for what is right and saving an innocent young man from a terrible and undeserved fate, it makes me feel those same feelings I had when I joined the Marine Corps after the September 11 terrorist attacks. America is still the beacon for the world to emulate.

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If You Can’t Bend You Risk Breaking

Our modern world is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the services and technology that we have access to have given us an unprecedented quality of life that just a century ago was out of reach for even the wealthiest of people. The other side of the coin is a darker part of our society that we don’t think about very much: the entitlement that comes with having everything given to us without much being required in return. Most people in the developed world have little to really worry about, and our culture has morphed into something that has little patience for things not conforming to our preferences.

I am certainly guilty of this. When things are out of step with my expectations, I have a tendency to become agitated to the point where I’m unable to appreciate the things that I have because I’m so focused on what I wish was different. Rather than being grateful that I have a good paying job, I get annoyed when I’m asked to do things that aren’t really part of my job description. When I had a relationship with a great woman, I focused on the things she did that got on my nerves rather than appreciating that someone cared for me enough to take care of me. Instead of being content with my very comfortable travel trailer as a home, I pined after a boat because it’s higher up on my list of desires. The list certainly doesn’t stop there.

Unfortunately, I am not the outlier when it comes to this kind of behavior. Human beings in general seem to suffer from this acute need to have things exactly the way we want them to be. This by itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but where we start running into trouble is when we allow our impatience to become the primary driver of our ability to be content. There isn’t anything wrong with having a list of things we want, but when we refuse to be willing to wait for those things to either work themselves our, or for us to put in the necessary effort to make them happen, we set ourselves up for some pretty harsh disappointments.

Even if we’re willing to wait, though, perhaps an even bigger problem is the fact that most of us have lost the ability to compromise. One of the most clarifying statements I’ve ever heard was something to the effect of “you can attain any dream you want as long as you can accept the fact that it won’t be exactly the way you want it to be”. There is perhaps no other concept that a person can learn to take the biggest step forward toward a life of happiness. Learning to accept that things aren’t going to be even mostly how you wish they would be is the most realistic way to get past the things in our lives that prevent us from enjoying what we have.

In reality, however, our society isn’t pushing this very reasonable idea as a mainstream concept. There’s no money to be made in teaching people to be down to earth with their expectations. If they didn’t pump up your desires for that sports car, you’d never buy one. If they didn’t make outlandishly romantic movies for lonely people to go to get their love vicariously through the screen, no one would buy a ticket. Much of the world’s economy is built on convincing us that our lives aren’t good enough the way they are and that we deserve so much more than what we already have.

For those of us in the developed world, it has bred this elitist mentality which convinces us that we’re too good to settle for anything less than perfection. If you look at most of the rest of the world, no one is clamoring for the latest iPhone and relationships don’t just fall apart because one person isn’t fitting the mold the other set for them. They’re too focused on survival for those things to matter. It is only because we’ve risen to the point where survival is no longer an issue that we have the luxury to demand what we want.

Yet, one of the craziest concepts that we hear about is that the poorest people in the world somehow tend to be some of the happiest. Perhaps it’s because they only have a few things to worry about, and their simple lives make it easy to focus on what’s important. They don’t have time for wishing they had this or hoping they get that. Perhaps it’s because they have no choice but to learn to compromise because the situation in which they were born afforded them no opportunity to even hope for anything more than just making it to tomorrow. It may be that they are the freest people in the world, unshackled by unrealistic hopes and expectations.

As I grow older and wiser, I begin to understand that there is a difference between being uncompromising versus being unrealistic. It’s perfectly acceptable to push toward something better as long as you can accept that it might not work out the way you hoped. As flawed human beings, it is unreasonable to expect anything we do to turn out exactly the way we imagine it. Perfection is beyond our capability, and the sooner we all start to remember that, the happier we are likely to become.

The alternative is a life of miserable disappointment, regardless of your status in life.

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You Have to Fight for Your Right to Be Left Alone

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I tend to be a loner. There is obviously a certain amount of need for me to have contact with other people, and I can’t be alone for extended periods of time without starting to get a bit of loneliness creeping into my space, but much of the time I’m content to be doing my own thing with a minimum of interaction with other people. It’s a struggle for me to participate in social situations, and with the exception of a very few special people I allow into my life, my goal is almost always to be separated from the rest of society as much as possible.

However, the problem is and always has been that society isn’t content to just leave you alone. There are too many people in the world who are so desperate to be involved in other people’s business that they just can’t help but to inject themselves into the lives of those around them. Perhaps it’s distant family members who want to give you their opinion on your life, or people who think they’re your friends wanting to join in on some cool thing you’re doing, or even just strangers who happen to be nearby observing something you’re doing and taking exception to it. Regardless of what it is, human beings in general seem to have a really big problem with minding their own business.

This is especially true in the big picture of society at large. When it comes to things like our government and politics, the rule of the day seems to be to poke around in people’s lives as much as possible to exert as much control as possible over the people. There is and always have been a certain portion of the population who aren’t content with just having their own lives, but need to expand their influence beyond themselves and into others. Perhaps this stems from our biological need to adhere to the “survival of the fittest” mindset that convinces us that we need to gain as much power as possible so we can have the best chance of getting the most optimal outcome. Whatever it is, it certainly angers the rest of us who are content to just be content.

It might be fine if these people simply competed amongst themselves, vying for the most accolades or most money or whatever it is they seem to desire at any given point. Where it starts to make me mad is when they start thinking it’s acceptable to start taking away from me to make their own lives better. You see this sometimes in the capitalist marketplace where certain companies manipulate things to transfer resources from others to themselves, but where this has become the bread and butter of existence is within all our various levels of government.

You see, we tend to think the purpose of government is to help us regulate our lives, and to a certain extent it is. However, the problem with government tends to be that it never stops at the end of preventing harm to the people. After a certain amount of time it always wants to go beyond just basic governance into running people’s lives for them. Many accept this management with open arms, happy to give up the responsibility that comes with having to figure things out for yourself. Some of us can’t stand the yoke of oppression that government always seems to bring about, and it is inevitable that some form of resistance arises.

What the former group never seems to understand is that government absolutely never produces anything at all. The people who work in government are never the innovators who come up with great ideas to make some breakthrough in a field that makes human life better. Government work requires process people who follow rules, and that leaves little room for innovation. It is the independent thinkers who break through the molds of modern life to bring us to the next level. When they are left alone to figure out a new way forward, that is when we see the rapid progress brought about by human ingenuity.

The only thing governments can really do are allocate resources, and when there is only so much to go around, it begins to be really hard to accept that a small group of very flawed individuals should be making those decisions for the rest of us on such a vast scale. For example, I live in California for the time being, and here in SoCal certain government agencies want to, in addition to the crushing taxes we already live with, implement a new road use tax that charges us a new tax per mile driven. It isn’t enough that we pay nearly a dollar more in taxes on fuel, and that our income taxes are some of the highest in the country. They want the money in our pockets, however they can get to it.

I can’t advocate for no government at all, because there needs to be a basic system in place to maintain certain infrastructures, but we really need to get away from this “big government” idea. The marketplace of ideas has consistently shown that we simple human beings work best when small groups are allowed to innovate on their own. The only thing centralization of power brings about is stagnation. Perhaps one day we’ll learn that, but until then we’ll just have to keep on fighting against those who think it’s ok to take from some people to give to those who didn’t earn it.

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Political Exhaustion

As an older millennial, it took me quite a long time to develop an interest in politics. I’m no expert, and I certainly don’t keep up with nearly as much as I probably should, but I try to stay on top of major developments so I’m at least aware of the broad stroke things that are going on at any given point in time. My interests in the field tend toward a more philosophical point of view, not really caring much about individual issues as much as how an issue should be viewed through the lens of what America is supposed to be. I could never have the patience to dive headfirst into the endless see of political topics.

One of the things I’ve started to realize lately is that I’m getting quite tired of anything related to politics. If you happen to follow my blog, you may have noticed I haven’t written a strictly political post in quite a while. This isn’t because I don’t care about politics anymore, but because the politics of today have become so ridiculous that I can’t take it seriously enough to summon the will to write about it. I look at our country today and it’s hard to decide whether I should be laughing or holding my head in my hands in depression. It’s surreal what’s going on in America today.

The hard part about all of this is not feeling exhausted by it all. We see all these people doing things that just don’t make any sense, but they keep on doing it because they think it’s going to convince us that they’re important. I’m not sure why they think this, and the only rational answer is that enough people respond to it that it props up this fake view of the world that they’ve created for themselves. When you see a large group of people with a favorable attitude to your antics, you can easily convince yourself that what you’re doing has value.

On the other side of the coin, however, it seems like we’ve reached this point because the majority of people who think these things are stupid don’t have the time or energy to speak up about it. Like a juggernaut, these crazy ideologies that are nearly the polar opposite of what most of us believe in have slowly gained speed and mass and have so much inertia that stopping it will cost so much more than any of us really want to pay. What we don’t realize is the cost is there whether we want it or not. We either fight back or spend the rest of our lives in submission to insanity.

It’s difficult for the average person to pay attention to politics. With bills and housing and food and gas taking up so much of our focus, having anything extra to watch out for crazy political agendas just isn’t viable. The crazies know this, and they have tons of free time on their hands to think about it and take advantage of those of us who have our attention fixed on just making it through the day.

We like to use the phrase “survival of the fittest”, but we don’t truly understand what it really means. It’s nice to think that the best person for a given condition is the one who will come out on top, but the reality is that it’s the person who takes the best advantage of a situation that is going to win in the end. You can be the biggest, strongest, most noble person in your community, but if someone further down the totem pole figures out a way to bring you down then you lose just like anyone else.

The American dream has been described as a place where anyone can come and find their success, but we are no more immune to the true meaning of “survival of the fittest” than anyone else, and our politics reflect this. Few people get into government with the intention of actually helping anyone. It is a stepping stone to expanding their network so they can gain access to bigger and better opportunities. Some might actually care along the way, but it’s hard to care about people you don’t know. And of course money and power are quite intoxicating.

I think that most of us are suffering from political exhaustion after so many years of “woke” culture and ultra-liberal agendas and the price of everything slowly choking us to death. Many people just have no hope left for the future of our country, and are ready to just break away from those people who insist on forcing their way of life on us. Who can say if this is right or wrong, but I can totally understand.

I’m just as exhausted.

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Learning to Make Money with Something You Enjoy

Making money is one of the more sad things that we have to deal with in our lives on this little pale blue dot we call Earth. The laws of nature dictate that we have to put in time and effort into very boring things like finding resources to survive. As most of us have come to realize, the idea that we can find a way to survive that doesn’t involve long hours of toiling away at something we don’t particularly want to be doing is a bit crazy. A very select few of us have found a way to make a living doing something we actually like.

We’re seeing a shift in the job market today that is partly based on how we see this particular viewpoint. While it is so natural for us to have to struggle to make it that we rarely question it on a serious basis, a part of our consciousness is really starting to ask the question: “have we reached a point in our evolution where more of us can start ‘living the dream’?” As technology improves, perhaps the answer might be yes.

For myself, I’ve started teaching myself web development. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed is doing things on the computer. Video games are a staple, just like millions of other men out there, but there is also a small part of me that enjoys the programming process. Men typically like to make things, and though something like websites aren’t actually something real that we can physically hold, it does produce a visual, measurable result that can give us a feeling of accomplishment. When you look at a website at the end of your project and are satisfied with how it turned out, you get that same feeling of worth that a craftsman does when he looks at something he made with his hands.

I don’t know if I actually have a talent for this sort of thing, but it’s something I want to at least make a try for. Becoming a freelance web developer is one avenue toward a larger goal that I’ve had for my entire life that I’ve struggled to find a way into: becoming my own boss. For most of my life, I haven’t really had a skillset that lent itself toward working for myself. You have to have something that’s marketable, and being a musician or an administrator isn’t really something that you can market very well. Just about everyone needs a website, though.

One of the more inspirational quotes I’ve ever heard said something to the effect of “follow your dreams, but just accept the fact that it probably won’t turn out exactly the way you hoped it would”, the point being that it is our expectations that typically cause us to be unable to find what we’re looking for. Many of us either have or could have a version of what we want, but we become paralyzed thinking that what we want is out of reach. This is absolutely true in most cases; exactly what we want is almost always out of reach, but perhaps getting even a small slice of it is worth the effort.

As I grow older, I become increasingly discontent with the life I’m living today. The first decade of my adult life was marked by so many amazing experiences, and this last decade has been a long series of nothing. I’m content to live a simple life of simple means, but the idea of toiling away for someone else’s profits just doesn’t sit well with me. There is a tiny hope welling up inside of me that I might have finally found something that can make me money that I actually enjoy doing, and it is starting to spark an excitement in my soul.

Still, being the pessimist that I am, I’m holding on to a very large chunk of reservation about the whole thing. While things involving my survival typically work out in the end, I rarely end up in a place where I’m actually getting something I want out of the larger things in my life. Hope is a fleeting thing that can be snuffed out in an instance, and I’m trying very hard to shelter that little candlestick of light from any vagrant gusts that might come blowing my way. Pull your hand away too soon and the wind can blow your heart away.

At any rate, my hope is that I’ve finally found something I can do that I enjoy that earns me a living. I always hoped it would be writing, and in truth most of website development is writing code, so it’s not turning out exactly as I hoped, but maybe it can be a version of something I’ve always wanted. You have to be willing to accept a compromise to your dreams, or you may never realize any of them at all. Take a chance on something different.

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Why Is No One Getting Hired?

We hear it all the time these days: so many jobs and not enough employees to fill the positions. It seems crazy to think that with so many people out of work, yet so many available jobs, that we are struggling to get people hired. There are a lot of theories as to why this is, and the primary one I’ve heard is that government handouts are encouraging people not to work because they make more staying home. I’m sure this is the case, but as someone who is in the market for a new job, I have seen a trend in the jobs I’ve been looking at which and a personal feeling which leads me to two separate conclusions.

The first is that many of us are simply tired of doing the jobs that no one else wants to do. There’s a reason you pay someone to do certain things, and most of the time it’s because it’s too boring or time consuming or mindless for you to bother with. As an employer, it makes sense to hire people to do the small, detail oriented tasks so you can free up your time for bigger, better things. The problem is that none of us want to do it any more than you do. Having spent the last seven or so years of my life in construction administration, I can tell you that I spend very little of my time actually doing administration and almost all of my time doing all the little stupid tasks that everyone else hates. I’m supposed to be working on the computer; instead I run errands.

For many years, most of us had no choice but to accept these kinds of jobs. It wasn’t until very recently that technology grew to a point where a large number of people could reasonably expect to work from home. It was already starting to move in that direction, but the pandemic supercharged that trend a significant portion of the country was forced to stay home. People like me, who dream of getting away from needy bosses who think their time is too precious for menial tasks, are looking toward a future of working from my own office in my own home.

The problem here is that while it seems nearly in reach for many of us, most employers are still stuck back in the old days of wanting a traditional office with traditional hours and traditional employees. They want that person of convenience there to serve them and make their day easier. “Go out and grab me this order from the vendor” or “run this thing over to this place because our guys need it” is the order of the day for most bosses. Many of us are simply tired of these meaningless jobs that are only around because people are too lazy or arrogant to do it themselves.

Aside from all that, the second conclusion I’ve come to is that employers just aren’t willing to take a chance on people anymore. I read all these job postings that require an unreasonable list of requirements for prospective employees. Ten years of this or five years of that, or you have to be familiar with this particular system or program or process. Employers want ready made workers who require little or no training, let alone an actual investment.

Case in point, my current employer has paid me for four years to sit around the office doing almost nothing but twiddle my thumbs. I have many years in administration, yet the job has never had enough work to keep me busy. So what does my supervisor do? He sends me on errands. The career I’ve built for more than fifteen years is meaningless where I am, and when I asked for something more meaningful to do, I was just given more meaningless things to do. No investment or risk taken on me. Just a bunch of useless work that does little for my employer and absolutely nothing for me.

We’re told all the time that to be successful in anything you have to be willing to take risks, but it seems that employers today are too busy trying to avoid potential headaches or focused on their own priorities to actually consider someone other than themselves. Perhaps the biggest reason why the job market is the way it is today is simply because employers are the embodiment of everything wrong with our society today: they want instant gratification.

For example, I served more than eleven years in the Marine Corps and have nearly twenty years of administrative experience, along with several other skills and experiences I’ve picked up along the way. However, because my list of skills doesn’t match what some person put on a job description, I’m disqualified before I’m even really considered. We’re not people anymore; we’re an algorithm.

It used to be that you would get a job and your employer would invest in you hoping that you would turn out to be a great employee that would stay with the company for many years, or even decades. Today, we live in this ridiculous “gig” economy, where it’s rare to stay with an employer for more than a couple of years. People like me, who crave stability, are sick and tired of jobs with no shelf life…with no real future. We’re tired of being stuck in positions where all we are is a convenience.

Perhaps the cure to the current dilemma in the job market is for employers to start seeing people as people again. We’re not mindless automatons that are here to service you. We’re people with our own goals and dreams and hopes for our futures. Maybe if you start looking for partners instead of servants, you might start finding more of the kind of people you need to make your business successful.

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First World Living Is Hard

I’ve said in the past that suffering is relative. It can be difficult to have sympathy for someone who appears better off than you do when you see or hear something from them that claims unhappiness or pain or whatever other negative experience they might be going through. It is a natural thing to write off the bad things others experience when we feel like what we’re going through is so much worse. How hard can it be when you have access to nearly unlimited resources? Why should I care if you aren’t getting exactly what you want?

If you live in the United States, chances are that you aren’t living in abject poverty like most of the rest of the world. Nearly 700 million people live on less than $2 US per day, and with numbers like that it’s difficult to justify feeling unsatisfied with what we have here in America. Any reasonable person living even a modest life in a first world country should take that information and begin second-guessing any negative feelings they might be having about their lot in life. Literally millions of people have it much worse than any of us do.

Still, as Dave Chappelle famously said during one of his Netflix specials in response to a friend pointing out the children are starving in Africa: “So what? I still want lunch.” As harsh as this sounds, if we keep in mind that he’s just trying to get a laugh we can get past the apparent heartlessness of the statement and get to the core of what it’s trying to get across: the suffering of others doesn’t lessen our own needs. Starving ourselves doesn’t do any good if it isn’t actually helping someone else who’s starving. We still need to eat, even if there are others who aren’t able to. A need is a need.

One of the things that most people don’t stop to take time to consider is that most of us have vastly different needs from one another. Once you get past basic survival needs like food and water and shelter, the things each person needs begins to branch off in many different directions. Although there are an infinite number of ways that a person might have a need, these all can be categorized in loose groups. My personal favorite is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which lays out a clean, progressive pattern of increasingly esoteric things that a person needs to be fulfilled in their life.

Whether we know it or not, each of us is on a very personal and individual journey to reach a very specific destination. We don’t know exactly where it is, or even really how to find it, but it can be summarized by the word at the top of Maslow’s pyramid: transcendence. Most of us aren’t cognizant of what that word really means, but ultimately it comes down to finding that peace in our lives that fills our soul with satisfaction. It is important to us that our lives mean something, even if it is only to ourselves.

The difficult part of reconciling our own needs versus those of the other people in the world who are objectively much worse off than we are comes in the disparity that results from living in a civilized world that has removed much of the law of nature from it. We tend to forget that outside of our comfortable, first world nations the rest of nature, including those human beings unfortunate enough to live outside of the developed world , lives in a “survival of the fittest” state of existence. Only those who are strong enough to will themselves into action are able to succeed in life. All we can see is that so many of us here have it so good while so many others have to struggle just to put food on the table.

As harsh as it might sound, we have to think about what it is to be a living creature on this planet. The primary biological purpose of every living being is to procreate and perpetuate the species. It is an inherent, typically unconscious goal of each creature on this planet to bear offspring and do whatever is necessary to ensure not only their survival, but also a better future. Most people are completely understanding of this attitude, and because we are so genetically predisposed toward caring for future generations, there is little thought that really goes into the full and complete scope of what this idea truly means.

If we accept that we want to create a better future for our children, then we also have to consider the fact that previous generations did the same thing for us. Few people living in a rich nation do so because something was somehow given to someone in their past. For most, their ancestors struggled hard over many, many years to slowly build their family up to the point where their children had the opportunity to succeed. America itself was built from the ground up by people who had to flee subjectively terrible circumstances to find a life they could be content with. It is our forefathers over the last two centuries slowly building us up that provided us with the insanely rich lives we have today. It’s what they wanted for us.

When we begin to understand this aspect of life, we can feel a bit less guilty about our own dissatisfaction with the lives we have today. The prosperity we have now is a result of the centuries of hard work that our ancestors put in to advance us to the point we are today, just as we put in hard work to make our children even better off than we are. Life is the struggle of moving from where we are now to the next place we want to be. Some of us are further along the path than others, and that’s ok. Each of us must figure out how to walk it on our own, perhaps with a little bit of help now and then, but mostly the journey is ours to make.

It is commendable to have compassion for those suffering in the world, and it is good and right to try to do something about it. Just remember that your own needs are just as important, and striving to meet them, whatever they might be, isn’t a bad thing. When we ignore what we need for ourselves, we have nothing extra to give to those who don’t have as much as we do. And you can only really give when you have more than you need. Seek out that abundance.

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