What Do You Do When You Feel Trapped?

It is a universal fear. We all spend some portion of our lives worrying about it and trying to avoid it. One of the biggest reasons we make the decisions we make and take the actions that we do is in an effort to mitigate the chances of it happening to us. It could come in many forms, from money to career to an actual physical condition. No matter who we are or what we do or where we go, there is always a latent fear of becoming trapped in one form or another.

Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to believe we are in control of our own lives, the reality is that we will all become trapped at some point in our lives. The worst version of this is obviously some form of slavery, which has been a bane of human existence for millennia and shows no sign of being eradicated any time soon. Even if it isn’t explicitly restraining people and keeping them like animals, as long as one group of people stands to benefit from the cheap or free labor of others, it will continue to thrive.

Most of us don’t fall into this category, however, and while it is tempting to believe that we should ignore our own entrapment because it pales in comparison to such horrible conditions, it is foolish to ignore the feelings that arise when we feel like we have no options. No matter how small or insignificant our own problems feel in comparison to some of the more terrible situations that other people go through, they are important to us and deserve a significant amount of consideration, even if only from our own perspective.

As you might expect, the reason I’m writing this post is specifically because I feel trapped in my own life. For the last eight years or so, I have been stuck in a career I can’t stand performing work that is unfulfilling and waiting out the clock until the end of the day. Eight years of not building anything for my future or learning a valuable skill or doing anything meaningful with my time. The effect has been maddening and is one of the reasons I finally decided to do something like writing a blog.

Where the struggle is getting more and more difficult to deal with is the huge wall of the unknown that stands before me this year. My current job ends in the next few months and I have little hope that my next job will be any better than this one. My resume is geared toward the same kind of work I’ve been doing, and breaking into something new would reduce my income to a level that won’t support me or those who depend on me. I feel trapped in an endless cycle of useless jobs that simply pay the bills and nothing else.

Many people would be thrilled to have my problems rather than the ones they are currently struggling with, and I’m very aware that my angst could be judged as ungrateful by people going through far harder times than I am. However, I’ve said in the past that suffering is relative and even if our problems are not objectively as bad as another person it doesn’t negate the intensity of our feelings.

I’d like to say that this post contains some wisdom within it that will help you to figure out what to do in a situation such as this, and many times I do try to provide some kind of advice to help you decide how you want to approach an issue. However, in this case I can only state a question with no answer because the word trapped implies there is little or no chance to escape, at least for the time being. Until I can find a way out, it will simply be a question that needs an answer. For now I will have to be content with sharing my discontent and hold out hope that my situation changes in a favorable way. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

Are you struggling with your situation? Do you feel trapped in one form or another? What can you do in a situation like this? Many times just sharing how you feel can relieve some of the stress we feel when things just aren’t going the way we hoped they would. It isn’t wrong to be unsatisfied with your life, and most of us are always looking for a way to move from where we are to somewhere better. Sometimes we are just trapped by our circumstances.

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Why is Everything “Institutional”?

I spend a great deal of my time wandering the internet in search of information. Sometimes it’s news articles to keep up to date with current events. Other times it might be podcasts trying to get another perspective on a particular issue. If I’m perfectly honest, a lot of it is simply watching YouTube in an effort to pass the time. Regardless of how those efforts turn out, I inevitably come across something from the news media that makes me shake my head in disgust.

For today’s post, it was an “independent study” that found that the Virginia Military Institute exhibits “institutional racism and sexism”. According to the group, the Institute has no specific rules or regulations that allow or encourage this type of behavior, but the people there still engage in activity that displays a “culture of hatred”. As one might expect, they recommend a radical reform plan to the entire program there and close supervision of the process to ensure that the Institute is making the required changes.

You’ll notice a lot of quotation marks in this particular entry, which makes my position on the matter fairly clear. As a former service member, I have a hard time dealing with people who step into a situation that is completely foreign to them and imagine that they have any qualification whatsoever to determine what is appropriate behavior in that specific environment. Inevitably, it is the “touchy feely” people who go into these places with no reasonable point of reference for what they’re looking at and make sweeping judgements based on their own view of what is acceptable.

What these people don’t understand is that the military is not the place you want to start removing aggressive behavior. The men and women who volunteer for anything related military service are being groomed for a very specific purpose: to overcome the dangerous obstacles placed before our nation. To do this requires a hard hard and an unbreakable spirit. There is little room for weakness or understanding or adherence to popular opinion. It is about the fight; nothing else.

Understand that no reasonable member of the military, including those of us who have moved on, would ever advocate truly evil behavior. There has been obvious examples of inappropriate behavior in the name of military training that was used as a cover to allow bad people to behave in horrible ways. This rogue activity is unacceptable in any organization and should be stopped, especially when it involves physical violence.

Where many of us disagree is when it comes to what some people might consider “emotional abuse”. Of course no one wants to be subjected to harsh treatment or unfair bias or any of the negative things we all want to avoid, but the entire point of military training is to prepare us for an environment that cares nothing for our feelings. In a combat environment, the enemy has no concern for offending you. The stakes are simply far higher than that; they aren’t interested in your feelings, they want your life.

One might be tempted to suggest that not all military members will see combat, thus it is not appropriate for all to be subjected to this type of treatment. However, what this does not consider is that the best militaries in history have been the ones where every member, regardless of their duty, is prepared to pick up a weapon and fight. Without emotional toughness, this simply isn’t possible. A weak person is an ineffective person.

In the end, we know what we want from our military, and they are experts at producing the kind of people who can accomplish that mission. For us to step in trying to make changes as observers looking in from the outside is foolish and irresponsible. It weakens what has been the finest fighting force the world has ever seen and undermines everything that so many laid down their lives for over the last two centuries. Should we accept hatred in our military? Of course not, but we must learn to see the difference between hate and tough leadership.

What do you think about military culture? Is it dated and bigoted, or is there some usefulness to the way the environment works? Have you experienced it for yourself, or can you only stand on the outside looking in? We tend to judge what we don’t understand without having all the facts, and many times it is important to gain a bit of perspective before we jump in feet first trying to fix something that might not be broken in the first place.

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An Infantile Leader

We live in a ridiculous time. Yes, there are many awesome things going on in the world of technology and we have access to more information and more options and more everything than in any time in human history. However, at the same time as we have all these amazing things, we have an astounding lack of access to quality leaders willing to step into the limelight to push our country in the right direction. It is a wonder to me that we are still able to function in this crazy time.

I simply don’t understand how we’ve come to the point of having leaders who are so old that they can’t even function on their own strength. Our current President is simply a talking piece for the radical left and has never really been in control of anything. His own history shows that he isn’t particularly interested in the agenda that he has been forced to accept, but his desire to be President trumped his own morality, so there he sits in the White House as a puppet to those who have more sinister goals.

Among these are the extreme plans to attempt to close the supposed “racial wealth gap”, a ridiculous plan to try and life up certain groups of people out of economic difficulty by spending money giving them a handout rather than a hand up. You see, that’s all the government can ever really do: take money from one group to spend it somewhere else. Real economic prosperity comes from those who actually create jobs, not checks from the government.

The problem is that people are easily enticed by the trojan horse that is free money. This isn’t specific to one group. I would never label any particular ethnic group as lazy because they accept no strings attached funding from Uncle Sam. Any of us can fall victim to that. The stimulus checks of 2020 are a testament to the fact that laziness and greed are endemic to all human beings.

This is where the evil of far left radicalization really sets in. These people don’t even know the horrible things they’re doing in an effort to “help people out”. They apparently never learned the concept that “you can give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” If you haven’t heard this before, it simply means that giving someone something for free takes care of them for a bit, but if you want them to find success for life you have to actually teach them to get what they need on their own.

Human beings are always looking for the path of least resistance, though, so it is not in our nature to seek the hard path on our own. That particular method is usually forced on us because no one else is going to do it for us. We have to get our own food, make our own money, find our own place to live, and any other number of things that are our own responsibility to resolve. They are hard things to deal with, so when someone comes along offering to take that load off our shoulders, we are naturally willing to jump at the opportunity to be lazy.

Who do we blame for this situation? Not the groups of people willing to take the hand out. It is our natural compulsion to do so. If not the people receiving the benefits, then there is only one other option: those who are giving them out. It is our leadership that is failing to provide an environment that is ripe for people to thrive and they are directly responsible for the situation we now find ourselves in. A lack of any sense of morality combined with unlimited greed for power has left us with a group of people who are incentivized to create victims rather than citizens.

It is long past time for Americans to stop placing our faith in these incompetent people and start turning away from this centralized form of government. We excel so much more when each of us is able to do what is best in the unique situations we find ourselves in. There are simply too many people for a “one size fits all” mentality, and the sins of the past are far enough behind us that they are no longer an excuse for lack of performance. It’s time to get off our butts and start getting to work.

What do you think of handouts? How about the current administration? Do you like your money going to people who aren’t doing anything to earn it? How much time has to pass before the bad things in our past are no longer an excuse for failure? At some point, we need an awakening in our society that says we will no longer put up with those who refuse to put in the effort, as well as a rejection of those who place their own power and influence over the good of the people they are supposed to be serving.

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How to Get What You Want From Someone


Let me start with a disclaimer: the title of this article is a bit misleading. It isn’t so because I intended it to be, but there really isn’t any other way to word the sentiment of what I want to convey in this post. I want to be clear that there is a difference between manipulation and an honest effort to help someone want to do the things you’d like them to do. One is based on extracting something from someone; the other is simply learning to deal with people in a way that helps you have a more peaceful relationship with someone.

As we continue in this age of detached social media and all kinds of influences creating a barrage of pressure from all directions, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate reality from the world we create in our own minds. While the latest push into a new era of technology has many benefits associated with it, there are also some crippling intellectual and emotional issues that we will need to learn to deal with before we can claim that we have fully adapted to the new way of doing things in the modern world. Of course, with the rapid pace of advancement, we may never catch up.

One of the big problems we have today because of this constant shift in the way our lives work is that we are becoming more and more narcissistic in the way we look at ourselves in the context of others. As it becomes more and more easy to get what we want at almost the moment we want it, we are becoming more used to a constant stream of instant gratification. In the face of this, we are rapidly losing our ability to wait for the things we want or even to learn to accept that some things just aren’t going to happen.

This isn’t that big of a problem when it comes to things like material possessions that most of the time are simply a matter of hard work and focusing on a goal. Spend enough time working and saving and you’ll probably get what you’re yearning for, assuming it isn’t a super yacht or something extravagant like that. Of course, if you’re driven enough and lucky enough, even that is within your grasp. The problem arises when we start applying this mentality to our relationships.

Unlike the inanimate objects we might like to purchase, a relationship with a person has someone on the other side who has their own desires and needs, many time in opposition to your own. If either side refuses to take a step back and look at the situation from both sides, many issues will flare up into arguments because both sides are focused on their own point of view and completely disregarding the other. It is impossible to reach any sort of agreement when neither side is willing to even listen to the other person.

This isn’t much of a problem if you aren’t particularly interested in being agreeable with someone. When you don’t care about the feelings or needs of another person, you are free to focus on yourself. However, when it comes to someone you’ve decided is important to you, it becomes critical to start setting aside your own desires so you can start focusing on what the other person wants.

Part of this effort requires putting in some time to learn about the other person. There are things about them you will come to know as you spend more time with them, and if you really pay attention you can gain a wealth of knowledge that will help you smooth over differences and make things work more smoothly. Learn their little habits, the schedule they like to keep, the way they like to have things done and anything else that can help you to make yourself more of an asset to them.

The worst thing you can do is to try to shove your own wishes down the throat of the person you want something from. The harder you push, the less likely it is that you’ll get what you want. If you get irritated because they aren’t acting the way you’d prefer, you have two options: stop interacting with them or start figuring out how you need to change the way you interact with them to get the result you want. Brute force may work for a time, but eventually they will get tired of dealing with you.

In the end, we all have things we want or need. If we allow our differences to get in the way and solely focus on what we want and how we want it, there is little chance that our relationships will get any better. The only way interactions between people can work is through compromise, and it is important to not only be willing to compromise on our end, but also to recognize when the other person has made a compromise on our behalf. It goes both ways.

What do you think about handling relationships? Do you excel at helping people to meet your desires or needs, or is it a constant struggle to get the other person to do anything for you at all? Are you constantly frustrated about the things you lack? Sometimes all it takes is a step back and a bit of attitude adjustment to get what we want from someone important to us. We just have to be willing to take the time and put in the effort.

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Existential Questions: What is Love?

We see it all the time. A man falls head over heels in love with a woman and decides he’s going to do everything he can to get her. There is lot of drama and nonsense and humor, but in the end he convinces the girl to marry him and they live happily ever after. Love looks so easy we wonder why it doesn’t seem to happen to us. Why don’t the people we like respond to our advances the way they do for others? But wait…oh man, that was just a movie!

This blog goes over a lot of topics that are plagues to our society, causing a decline in our ability to function the way people are supposed to not only in the political sphere, but also in our relationships with others. Popular media in the form of movies and television shows have peppered us with various images of what we have now been convinced love is. The reality is far different than the silver screen depiction of what a real loving relationship looks like.

What we typically see on our screens is actually called infatuation, a powerful and driving urge to attain something we desperately want that we didn’t have before. It comes along whenever we find something that is new and exciting, and our feelings are less about whatever this new thing is and more about how this new thing makes us feel. As long as the thing continues to give us that emotional high, we continue to experience these feelings of infatuation. There is a chemical process associated with this phenomenon.

The problem today is that we tend to confuse infatuation with love, which is a vastly different concept. Infatuation is about satisfying our own desires to feel excited about something. It is a naturally selfish emotion that has no intrinsic value. Love is the exact opposite of this. It is not a feeling, but a choice; a choice to put someone else before yourself because you have decided that they are more important to you than you are.

One of my favorite verses from the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Many of my readers will have never picked up a Bible and have read this verse, and that’s ok. I’m not trying to convince you to become a Christian, but to use this amazing definition of love to point out how off base our view of love has become.

You see, infatuation meets none of these criteria:

  • There is no patience because you can’t wait to feel excited again.
  • There is kindness only when you’re getting what you want; otherwise you’re probably grouchy impatiently waiting to be excited again.
  • We envy others who have it and we’re too proud to admit if our infatuation is bad for us.
  • We dishonor the person we supposedly love by making the relationship about us rather than them, which is self-seeking.
  • We can become easily angered if the person isn’t doing what we want, and how big is the list of faults we keep about the person as the infatuation begins to fade away?
  • How often do we engage in activities that are wrong because of the lack of judgement our emotional high causes, and how many little white lies do we tell to keep things going smoothly?
  • You might protect, but only for your own feelings. You can’t trust someone you barely know, and your hope is in something that is likely fleeting based on statistics. The popular version of love nearly always fails.

Regardless of your viewpoint on Biblical faith, if we take a bit of time to look at what really makes a great relationship work, it isn’t about how the people in it feel. It’s about what the people in it choose to sacrifice for the other. We are each unique individuals and the expectation that our relationships in the real world are going to look anything like these fantasy stories from the movies simply sets us up for a great deal of disappointment. In reality, love is far less glamorous and fun than we see everyone trying to show us.

So what does this mean for us? If we understand that love is not a feeling and is instead a choice we make, then it becomes necessary to start finding ways to make choices that place the people we care about before ourselves. This means setting aside how we feel and putting their needs first. That doesn’t mean we cater to their every whim, but it does mean that when someone really needs us we are there for them. It isn’t flowers or chocolates or date nights or cuddling. Those things are nice, but that isn’t love. Love is sacrificing yourself for someone else.

What do you think about love? Have you experienced what true love is, or are your relationships based on infatuation? Do you have the fortitude to enter into a real, loving relationship with someone? Many of us have unrealistic expectations when it comes to what love is supposed to be, and the reality becomes quite shocking when it finally sets in. Gaining a better understanding of this very powerful concept is key to living our best lives.

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Do We Need Constitutional Carry?

I’ve been trying to avoid writing this article. I’ve made my position clear in the past on my position regarding firearms and the place I think they should have in our society. I’m not a fan of rehashing topics over and over, but sometimes you just have to revisit things from time to time when they are as important as this. There are few things today more controversial than the idea of gun control, and it is one of the most dividing issues we have ever faced in this country. No matter where you stand on the subject, it is likely that the person sitting next to you has quite a different view on the subject, if any at all.

One of the big reasons it has become such an issue is that we have a media that has lost the relevance it once had and is desperate to find a niche in the new world of online information. They no longer have a monopoly on our attention in the form of nightly news broadcasts because we now have access to a multitude of different sources of up to date articles and videos giving us minute by minute details on situations unfolding in all parts of the world, usually right on the device we carry in our pockets. It is difficult to compete with that sort of access.

This desperation has caused a shift in the way that media companies do business. Rather than maintaining their status as purveyors of facts that they distribute to the public, they filter out anything that doesn’t drive up the ratings. What this means in a practical sense is that when it comes to issues like firearms we end up receiving an inordinate amount of coverage of things like mass shootings. Of course these are terrible events, but in a nation of hundreds of millions of people in a society as narcissistic as ours has become, these events are actually very rare.

To get some perspective on this, let’s put down some hard numbers. There are more than 328 million people in the United States. In 2020 there were 614 mass shootings that killed 446 people and injured 2,515 others for a total of 3,061 total people affected by these high profile events over the course of the year. Using basic math, that means that a total of 0.0009% of the entire population of the United States was involved in any way at all in some form of mass shooting. Given that nearly three quarters of a million people are raped every year and murder rates are higher than they’ve been in a very long time, I think we have bigger things to focus our attention on.

I point all of this out because mass shootings are the tool being used by gun control advocates to shock us into lining up with their way of thinking. We all feel bad when we have to see a group of people being killed by some crazy person with a gun, especially when it involves children. It forces us to think about our own mortality and sparks powerful protective urges we have for our kids. The thought of something like that happening to our own family is a powerful emotional tool that is being used to convince us to disarm ourselves for “the good of the nation”.

The problem with this is that the reality is that people who want to do terrible things like this aren’t going to be deterred by laws attempting to limit access to firearms. If history is any indicator, and it is, the prohibition of anything results in a vast underground black market for said item which results in the item not only not going away, but the addition of a violent criminal element that makes things worse than they were before. Even though firearms are legal in our country, there are many gun smuggling operations from coast to coast to serve those who aren’t able to acquire a weapon legally. You can’t legislate good behavior.

Getting finally to the point of this article, firearm laws are simply not reasonable in any manner, and we’re beginning to see a push in the more conservative states toward this line of thinking. Maybe not as far as I would like to see them go, but definitely steps in the right direction. Most recently, Texas has passed a “Constitutional carry” law that allows its citizens to own and carry a handgun in public without any form of government control or intervention. This is the way it should be everywhere.

The ugly truth is that there are people out there who simply want to hurt others, whether it be for personal gain through taking what you have or just because they’re angry and want to lash out at someone. Despite our desire to place our safety in the hands of some omnipresent, altruistic body such as a government, the reality is that no one is responsible for your safety but you. In the end, when the time comes that you are confronted in the street by a criminal intent on doing you harm, the only person who can stop them is you. When you imagine yourself in that situation, which would you rather have: a phone or a gun?

This is the image that the gun control crowd doesn’t want you to think about. It’s perfectly fine to take a mass shooting and point out the children who were killed, but you can’t do an apples to apples comparison to something like a father protecting his own kids from a home invader or a bystander shooting someone intent on stabbing someone. These situations are just as emotional as a mass shooting, but because they don’t get ratings they don’t get much attention.

If we stop focusing so much on the negative consequences of firearms amongst our populace and start taking a more balanced view, it becomes much more obvious that giving people the choice to defend themselves is a far better option than trying to disarm everyone in the hopes that they will behave. We see time and again that people end up doing what they want anyway, and it is only the law abiding citizens who comply. They are exactly the people we want being armed in the first place, ready to step in when the situation calls for it.

With this in mind, the calls for gun control are just baffling. The truth is that we should be going in the opposite direction, promoting gun education and safety and encouraging our citizens to take their safety in their own hands. At best, the police are a weak deterrent to crime, typically showing up after everything is over to figure out what happened. The odds of an officer being right there when something is happening is very remote. In the moment, it is just you, the criminal and whatever means of self defense you happen to have with you.

What do you think about the idea of Constitutional carry? Is it something that scares you, or are you ready to cast off the restrictions we’ve placed on ourselves and start taking a more active role in your own defense? What reasons can you think of for or against this concept? The polarizing issue of gun control will hardly be solved by a single concept, but this could be one step in the right direction.

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Setting the Right Goals for Yourself

There is a great deal of conflict when it comes to the dreams we have for our own lives. Part of this is because we come up with amazing visions for what our future could look like that simply don’t have much of a chance of being a reality. The other part is that we tend to understand that our dreams probably aren’t going to work out like we hope they will and we accept that we have settle for something less.

The problem is that most of us tend to settle for quite a bit less than we really have to. As we come up with many dreams over the course of our lives that seem completely impossible, we become used to accepting that we probably can’t do the things we wish that we could. It all seems so out of reach and it sometimes feels like the whole world is out to stop of from achieving the things we really want. When this becomes out mentality, we end up settling for far less than we should.

How do we resolve this problem and find the right balance between dreams and reality? The trick is setting the right goals for yourself. Notice I didn’t use the word “realistic”. When we focus on what is likely to happen rather than what we are passionate about, the chances of making that dream come true are next to nothing. It’s all about setting goals in your life that are right for you.

What this means on a practical level is that you have to do some of the self reflection that we discussed in our last post to figure out who you really are and what you really want. It is only then that you can find out what you’re passionate enough about to put the kind of time and energy into to turn that dream from a vague idea into reality. In the end, the only thing that turns our thoughts into an actual part of our lives is putting in the time and effort.

That’s really the crux of it all. It is only when we have a passion for something that the chances our dreams will come true rise to any measurable level. Rarely does what we want just fall conveniently from the sky into our laps. In almost every case a person had to put in some level of effort to make their own dream come true. Depending on your goals, the amount of that work can range the gamut from a mild strain to a life consuming, excruciating load that can break you of you’re not careful.

It is important to consider how much effort you’re willing to put into anything before you start choosing which dreams to focus on. If you want something that requires far more effort than you’re willing to put in, you will inevitably fall into that cycle of discouragement that forces you to settle for less than you could potentially achieve. Knowing where to draw your own line will help you pick the best dream to pursue, not only based on the chances it could happen, but also on the fact that it’s something you’re actually willing to do.

A personal example of this is that I wrote the first in a trilogy of fantasy novels, but never made it past that first book. The story is still there in my head, and I might actually get it written down one day, but the dream of being a fantasy author requires quite a bit more effort in tasks I don’t particularly care for than I really want to put in. I love to write; editing, publishing and marketing are on my list of things I don’t really want to do. Those tasks aren’t particularly difficult objectively, but my distaste for them makes it very difficult to do. My unwillingness to put effort into the secondary tasks of writing a book makes that dream unlikely to happen.

However, my desire to write is still there, hence why this blog exists. I have learned that I’m only willing to put in a certain level of effort into any task that I do, and short blog posts are much more in line with the way my mind works. It is much easier for me to take a topic and do a brief, but thorough run down on what the topic is along with some things to consider about it. It is something that is far more sustainable than trying to force myself to write a book that I know I’m not willing to put the work in on the back end to for.

That’s the trick, really. Like everything in life, we have to exist in moderation. Aim too high and you’ll never be happy, either because the level of work to maintain that dream leaves you with no time to enjoy it, or because your dream isn’t possible and you never end up achieving it. Aiming too low ends the same way because you spend your life wishing you could have done more. Each of us has a balanced goal that we can pursue that is both realistic and fantastic. It just requires a bit of thought.

What do you think about pursuing your dreams? Do you have a dream you tried for and failed? Or do you tend to doubt that any of your dreams are possible? Dreams can be a very good thing that propels us into a future that is better not only for us, but for the people around us. Learning to figure out which dreams are best for us can be the key to finding the kind of happiness in our lives that we all hope to attain.

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Learning How to Look at Yourself

Most people struggle with self image. Our society tries to teach us that we have to maintain a certain type of image that we project to others and we spend a great deal of time trying to conform to that expectation. It isn’t necessarily any one specific configuration of person that everyone is trying to be, but a standard sense of feeling like we are accepted by others. You need only look at the various social media accounts of the people you’ve decided to let into your life to verify this.

The problem with this sort of social striving is that we make it much harder on ourselves to do any sort of true self analysis. Our attention is so caught up in trying to polish our public image that we tend to ignore taking a really hard look at who we really are on the inside. We are far more interested in taking the perfect “selfie” than looking in the mirror and trying to seriously understand the person staring back at us.

I can say with some honesty that this isn’t really something I’ve bought into with any significant level of commitment. Social norms have never really appealed to me, and being in groups of people has always made me uncomfortable, especially when they are people I’m not very familiar with. This has allowed me a great deal of solitude, which is an excellent environment for self reflection.

When you have large quantities of time in which to really take a hard look at yourself, it becomes much easier to be honest about who you are. With all the distractions gone, you stop listening to what other people are saying and really start looking at how you work at every level. The things you start to learn can be shocking at times, as you start to realize you aren’t even close to this ideal image everyone seems to want to wear like a costume.

For many, it is much easier to be honest about the flaws of other people because our egos make it very difficult to think that we aren’t good people. In my own case, I have a very brutal sense of honesty, to the extent that I admit terrible things about myself that I would never have the courage to point out in someone else. As we all know but never admit, we each have an incredibly strong dark side lurking somewhere beneath the civilized veneer we cloth ourselves in.

If this sounds scary to you, don’t be discouraged. Truth is rarely easy or safe. When you decide to start down a path of serious self analysis you’re going to find things about yourself that aren’t very nice to think about. The trick is to have that thought firmly in your head from the very beginning so that you aren’t surprised when you stumble on something that you would normally consider shocking. If you aren’t finding anything that makes you afraid of your own potential, you likely aren’t doing it right.

What do you get out of all of this? As you start to peel back the layers of your own person, you gain a deeper understanding of why you behave the way that you do. It also allows you to identify things in your life you never knew you’d be able to live with. Sometimes we have expectations that simply don’t need to continue, mostly because the way our true selves work is in opposition to these flighty desires. Learning to look at yourself with as clear a lens as possible is a great step toward moving to a better place in your life.

What do you think about self reflection? Have you learned to cast off the illusions we tend to create around ourselves? How can you apply these things to your life in a way that makes it better? Taking the time for self improvement requires a lot of time and effort; there are no shortcuts to anything that is truly worth doing, but the rewards for such a journey can be life changing.

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Minimizing Your Life

As Americans, we have a certain idea of what our lives are supposed to be like based on how society has portrayed the “average person”. We picture a separate house with a yard, a couple of cars in the driveway, and a secure job that we go to every day that pays the bills and gives us enough extra to have a little fun. This isn’t a bad view of life, but the problem is that we tend to think of it as the only view of how life should be. It doesn’t necessarily have to be this way.

I’ve struggled with what is “normal” for a long time. Following the rules set by others tends to irritate me, placing arbitrary limits on what I want to do in an attempt to force me into the box that everyone else lives in. The problem is that for the most part I don’t really like being in that box, crammed in with so many people. I tend to want to escape; to find some space to do my own thing in my own way and be free from the expectations of others. Some people would call this a “loner”, but in reality no one is an island.

Where we can start to exert some of our own individuality in our life choices is in what jobs we choose and in what dwelling options we decide to take advantage of. Some people choose the standard, cookie-cutter life never knowing that there are other options out there. When you look around the world, you can see a multitude of examples of different ways of living, from primitive farming to “earth ships” to sailing the seven seas. There are so many options.

The way you choose to go will primarily depend on what type of personality you have. If you like having lots of things around you, that limits your options quite a bit. You may need a full size house to store all the things you want to keep. Even if you aren’t into keeping memorabilia or similar things, just having room for things like major appliances and entertainment setups requires a more traditional living situation.

On the other hand, perhaps you are more like me and as you get older you start wanting to find ways to simplify your life. Having all that stuff is great for a time, but as you gather more and more and your living situation becomes cluttered, you might begin to feel like it’s time to downsize. When you get to the point where the life you chose is starting to suffocate you, it might be time to start thinking about how to minimize your life.

I went through this after my marriage ended. I realized all the stuff I had to deal with separating my life from another person, and as I looked back on my life before that I shuddered at the amount of effort required to move all that so many times. My vague recollection of that era is that we never spent more than two years in any one home, so moving was a regular occurrence. Getting an entire household of goods from one location to another requires quite a bit of effort, which you either need to put in yourself or pay someone else to do.

My current way of thinking is to put myself into a situation where even if I end up having to move around a lot, I don’t have to do much to make it happen. Part of the reason I purchased a travel trailer to live in was the potential for adventure, but and even bigger reason was the fact that to move myself from one place to another simply requires closing the slides, putting everything away, hooking it up to a truck and driving away. An hour or less and I’m on my way. Compare that to four to six hours of loading a truck and then the same thing to unload it on the other side. It isn’t much of a contest for me.

The real point isn’t that everyone should be selling their stuff and their homes and getting as basic as possible. What I’m really getting at is that you don’t have to follow the pattern template that we’re told is “normal” when deciding how to live your life. As long as it works for you, that’s all that really matters. What you should really be doing is thinking about what you want and considering options outside of what you think might work. You’ll be surprised at just how many doors are open to you.

What do you think about downsizing your life? Do you have too many things and are ready to pare things down? Or are you happy with what you have? Sometimes you reach a point where you really want to make a change, but you might be afraid to think outside the box. You might not need as much as you think to live the kind of satisfying life you crave.

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Personal Post: Living Life as a Goldfish

It’s been said that a goldfish only has an active memory span of about three seconds. Science has disproven this myth, but it has been an apt comparison to people who struggle with remembering things. I say all the time that I have the memory of a goldfish, mostly because I have a consistent pattern of forgetting things. Most of the time those things aren’t very important, but sometimes they can be quite a problem.

The problem for me is when this bad quality crops up when it involves making plans with other people or conveying important information to those who need it. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told some detail that needed to be passed on or discussed with someone only to forget the entire thing moments after the conversation is over. It isn’t very frustrating to me, but it usually sparks quite a bit of irritation or anger when I come in at the last minute with important information. It’s even worse when I completely forget altogether.

I’m not sure what causes this problem with my memory. There isn’t anything in my long term memory to suggest this was ever a problem in the past, so either my memory is so bad that my entire life isn’t as I recall or this is something that is getting worse with age. I don’t believe Alzheimer’s runs in my family, and I hate to think about possibly going down that road. I’ve seen what that can do to people.

Another possibility is simply that my attention seems to always be focused on the moment, which I discussed in another article. I get a new piece of information and then, if I don’t do something to make sure I remember it later, my attention shifts back to whatever it was I was doing or whatever the next thing on my list is. The detail I was supposed to retain is lost to the void, only to resurface later when something happens that forces it back into my head.

The problem is that it comes off to other people as if I just don’t care enough about them to remember. That’s an understandable way to look at it, even if it isn’t true. I do care, and I’m always there for the people who need me when it’s most important, setting aside anything I have going on to make sure they have what they need. The problem is those pesky details that just aren’t big enough to stay in my brain for very long. Those get left by the wayside.

It makes things very difficult for me in my daily life. I’m always blindsided with things that I should have taken care of long before it came up, but didn’t because I wasn’t able to retain the memory long enough to do something about it. It constantly frustrates my significant other, and there have been a non-zero number of arguments that have stemmed from me forgetting to tell her something she needed to know. No one chooses to live life that way. Why would I choose to make things more difficult?

If you are a consistent reader, you’ll not that I put the moniker of personal post on this article. All this means is that I wanted to share something about myself with you that isn’t necessarily about the topics this blog was created for, but more about who I am as a person. Sometimes it helps to share things with others, even if it probably won’t fix whatever problem you have. Maybe it can or maybe it can’t, but at least putting it out there in the world is doing something about it. Here’s hoping that I can figure out how to make this problem more manageable.

What do you think about forgetting things? Does it mean you don’t care, or is it a problem with your brain? Is there someone in your life who struggles with an inability to keep track of things? It can be hard to tell the difference between someone who doesn’t care and someone who just can’t keep it together, but it’s usually better to assume that they just can’t make it work until you have evidence to the contrary.

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