Archive for the 'Life Lessons' Category

11
Dec
08

Do women date down?

you know this guys got cash...
you know this guys got cash…

If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal. If her daddy’s poor, just do as you feel.~   In the Summer Time, Mungo Jerry

 I can’t help but notice the connection between having a beautiful girlfriend or wife and having money or power–or maybe just a nice car. (Expensive and fast, which equals money and power)

Men are considered jerks if we want a nice looking lady. We’re way out of line if we want sex. We’ve been told that sex is all we think about. Well ladies, I’m here to tell you, it is a big deal but it’s not all we think of. We think about football, video games, poker night, beer and sex. Oh–I already mentioned sex. Sorry. And beer, did I mention beer?

But maybe, just maybe, ladies, we use all of the things I’ve listed to sooth our wounded egos. See, a man pretty much defines himself by his woman (yep, we like our egos inflated by our women) and by his job. What’s really great is when you come home from a long day’s work and your woman comments on what a hard worker you are. It’s like two for one. Yea, I think our egos are hurt, because you gals can’t help but fall in love with guys who have money and power.

I walk around base here and when I see a pretty girl, I say “officer’s girl”. Sure enough when the guy turns around, he’s got captain’s bars on the front of his uniform.  I look away, so as not to be rude. (That’s not the way I roll.) Side note: Some guys say other guy’s girlfriends are fair game, they’re not married after all. Not me. Violates the Golden Rule.

End of digression.

But us Children of a Lesser God have little chance. I mean, head down to the local clubs here in Germany. You don’t see officers down there very often. They simply don’t have to be there. All they have to do is flash the rank, or rev the engine of their new BMW M5 a little louder as the smokin’ chick walks by. Maybe lean out his window: “How you doin'”?

I remember when I was in college, thinking the opposite of what I’m saying here. It seemed like some very regular looking guys with not a lot of money or much else, were able to score beautiful girlfriends. I see that much less now.

Oh, and looks and athleticism don’t matter much, either, unless those attributes bring the guy money and power. Money,money, money…

We see it in Hollywood too. When does an actress marry a guy who makes less money than her? maybe the bag-boy at Piggly Wiggly. He’s a really nice guy,I hear. Smart too. Working on his thesis in physics, about four-vector in relativity. Don’t ask me what that is. Give him a chance.

There’s this really degrading T-Shirt on T-Shirthell.com. It says: Fat Girls Try Harder, on its front. It’s degrading yes, but in some ways it’s true. People who feel they’re lacking in some areas try to make up for it in others. We could say, Broke guys with no influence try like fricken crazy.  I wouldn’t argue.

So maybe you should step outside your safe zone ladies. Give the guys driving Opels a chance. The guy at the gas pump who asks you out–don’t laugh at him when you drive away. He tries really hard.

 

 

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06
Dec
08

PAM

He who seeth the abyss, but with eagle’s eyes,- he who with
eagle’s talons graspeth the abyss: he hath courage. ~ Friedrick Niezsche~ Thus Spake Zarathustra

No, not cooking spray. Possitive Aggressive Mental-Attitude.

I learned of this when reading some articles on how Navy SEALS deal with fear and stress. I’ve used it for over a decade now, and it works.

Here’s what it is: In any given stressful situation we must take action before action is taken upon us. In a fight, we never let our opponent come to us. To be defensive is to lose. Action beats reaction.

For instance, when I’m training or playing sports, mentally, I become very aggressive. My face and demeanor change. During physical training, I view the exercises as my way of giving the finger to the universe. The pain can’t beat me. No–I like the pain. Bring it.

Yesterday, I was at the gym. I vary my workouts quite a bit, from their intensity, duration and selection of exercises. Today, I decided I was going to have a tough leg day. Sitting in the Nautilus leg-press machine, I pinned the weight at 430 lbs and pressed out twenty medium-paced reps. I walked around for a few minutes then returned to the machine, increased the weight by twenty or so pounds and did fifteen more reps. Finally, ten reps with a little more weight. My legs were smoked, but I wasn’t done.

I walked, if a bit unsteadily to the treadmill. I wanted to run for at least 10 minutes, at a high clip. I haven’t been running regularly here in Germany, since I’m still in-processing. This and my bout with the leg press were going to make things tough.

Good.

The belt started rolling. Five minutes in I wanted to quite. There’s no use in denying it. My legs were smoked. Just stop, I thought–you’ve already had a good workout. But no. You’re a pussy if you stop now, Doug. You can’t go five more minutes? Think of all the incredible things people have done, and you can’t go five more? I forced myself to smile–that always works in times of stress–just laugh at the whole, ridiculousness of the situation. Six minutes in, and I was counting the seconds.

This run was mine. Physical training is me proving to Time and the Universe that they can’t win. I’m their master. All of the younger men here, that walk around looking hard–I’m harder. That’s what I tell myself.

The treadmill hummed to a halt. Ten minutes were up. I’d won.

Attack your life. Don’t let it attack you. Bring the fight to the enemy, and never, never,never give up.

13
Oct
08

Be careful what you put into your mind

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”~ Plato

Of all the things that effect us as humans, I think that music is the most powerful and reflective of ourselves. Not only can music change the way we act–it’s also like a mirror, revealing what is already in our minds. Music has for thousands of years been used to motivate troops in war, charge up athletic teams for sporting events and calm the wounded soul.

Music is power. And we must always be careful with power.

I’m sure you can look back at times in your life when you wanted to listen to music that agreed with how you felt inside. When we are depressed, we listen to depressing music; when inspired, we listen to uplifting tunes. This can be a trap though, and can keep us on negative life-tracks.

More and more I realize the existence of feedback loops in our minds and bodies. Studies have proved that the act of smiling can make us feel joy. The feedback loop is reversed. So it is with music and anything else we put into our minds. We can choose to edify ourselves or tear ourselves down. I fully believe too that we can make ourselves dumber and or smarter. Some of the younger troops I work with think I’m smart. I think that virtually anyone can be “smart”, at least in the way my comrades use the term. Why? Because, using the feedback loop idea,  I decided to be intelligent. I told myself that I was going to build my mind on my free time, and I prayed for wisdom. I told myself I would become a good writer. I’ll let others decide how good I am, but I can tell you that after my decision, and after writing in my journal about it, I became much better and I think I’ve gotten better every single day since. My powers of reasoning have improved too.

Nowhere is the effect of music so evident as in our children. Most music now is very negative and dark, and by exposing our kids to its mind-altering effects, we’re setting some of them up for failure. The cognitive model of psycho-therapy proves this. We are what we think… And the more often we think a certain way, the more difficult it can be to change that thinking, and thus our results in life–positive or negative. I feel sad when I hear young kids listening to music advocating violence or hyper-sexuality. I think they’re in for a struggle. We’ve done harm to our society by allowing this, and the greed of the music industry stomps out any consideration of right and wrong.

Obviously, literature and television can have serious effects too. I’ve pretty much stopped watching television, finding most of its subjects inane or damaging to my well being. I do watch sports and the news, but that’s about it. There has in the past, been certain books that I had to put down before finishing because I found them affecting me in ways I didn’t want them to.

Like most things, changing the way we think is a process. That process moves slowly and only with a full-spectrum attack on all of the things that hold us back. Negative thoughts, dwelling on aspects of our past that hurt us, outside influences such as music or television that destroy our potential–all of these must be dealt with and it’s a daily effort.

Recently, a study revealed that antidepressants are no more effective than sugar pills for all but the most severely depressed. http://www.thestar.com/living/article/307058 This confirms what I’ve believed about the subject for some time. We cannot remove the effects of our choices when it comes to how our minds function. At this point it seems, even modern medicine cannot catapult us over the hard work needed to get our thinking right…

If we want to be happier, smarter or physically stronger, then begin with what you may have thought was the end. Be happier, smarter and stronger. Remember–feedback loops.

10
Oct
08

Never Quit

I can taste the end of all of this now. Six months of tough training is nearing a conclusion. Long hours, restricted freedoms and challenging academic and physical tests; almost done.

This weekend is a 4-day weekend for my platoon. Then it’s back to class for the final surge. I’ll be getting plenty of sleep, drinking plenty of beer, and finishing a few books I have in my locker, in particular Niall Ferguson’s, War of the World and Marcus Wynn’s, Brothers in Arms. Lots of Outback steak and football too.

Free time tatses so good now. The Army’s version of Stockholm Syndrome has me appreciating the little things in life. It also has me missing things like friend’s and family.

This is Columbus Day weekend. I hope that people take the time to browse some history on Columbus, even if it’s just a wiki entry. Whatever people think of him, he had some qualities that are of benefit to everyone. The man simply wouldn’t quit. In the Soldier’s Creed, one of the first things an American soldier is required to commit to memory, are the lines: “I will never quit, I will never accept defeat.” Neither should we, neither should this country.

In the past, I’ve quit too often, I think. I learned at an early age that quitting works to alleviate pain in the short term. I ran away from abusive homes five time, slept in bus stops, on sidewalks, in abandoned cars, on some of those nights where the chill of autumn in Maine was preferable to domestic strife. That was a long time ago and it’s certainly no “Million Little Pieces” story, but those times make me who I am now, because I remember them more vividly than things that happened last week…

I quit high school too, before getting a general education degree and then going to college. At that age, and to some extant even now, I was searching for something, more appropriately someone, to fulfill me and make me feel of worth. This was a huge mistake on my part. Our sense of value cannot come from others. Mine comes from my own view of what is right and wrong and my faith in God. We must consider how our actions affect others, but ultimately the best men do what they know to be right. Honesty with self is the most prized of attributes–and that’s called wisdom.

I quit in marriage too, though of course it takes two to tango. There’s regret about almost everything that I’ve quit, and a sense of pride in all of the things that I’ve toughed out.

There’s a character in my novel: Cliff Harding. Cliff wrote a cheesy book called, The Meta Life. He sells it on paid ads. That book, though filled with foolish anecdotes, presents the theme of my novel, and it’s a lesson we can all use: Nothing good is easy.

Don’t quit worthy causes. Never give up the fight. After 37 years, this slow-learner has finally learned that lesson.

01
Sep
08

Changes Or: How to start an Existential Crisis

In the past three years, I’ve experienced an enormous amount of change. Change can be good. Too much change is bad.

We all need a sense of stability. Something that we know we can count on to be there for us when we wake up. And that thing has to make us feel good.

As I said, over the last three years, change has been its own pattern in my life. A divorce, leaving my job as a police officer, a job which taught me more than I knew about life and people than all of my other time combined. I worked as a cop for eight years. I don’t regret it, even though it’s a tough job for an introvert. It brought me out of my shell a bit, toughened me, sharpened me.

But it was time to go. Especially after the divorce. A divorce can ruin you or save you. I’m not sure which mine did or will do, to be truthful. Everything I had, came and went with that marriage, so I had to start over. Leaving my previous job was a way of trying to escape the memories of that marriage. It was a partially successful gambit, because I took to writing, something I’d always wanted to do, and knew I had a knack for, at leat I think so. I completed a novel. I don’t know how good it is and it doesn’t really matter, because it took a lot of work and its power as catharsis was undeniable. When I sit here and think of writing it, I get chills. My time alone, thinking and typing at home, at the coffee shop, finishing 350 pages, it’s an achievment for me.

I lost a brother last year, too. I didn’t know him very well, and hadn’t seen him in decades. He was married, with children and he worked for a power company in Georgia. The prior Christmas, I’d received a card from he and his wife. He’d provided a phone number and invitation to call him. But I put the card in a drawer and never called. My sense of guilt, something I’ve carried with me since childhood, prevented me dialing that number. I wasn’t what I wanted to be–stable, in control of my life, and able to give much to others. Despite having an honorable profession, I felt like a bum. From my earliest days, starting from when my grandfather died, I’ve felt mysterious guilt. Or perhaps “angst”, as Soren Kierkegaard would have called it. A year after getting the card, I was notified that Charlie, my brother, had died when he fell several hundred feet from a cell-tower. I’m told he looked like most men in my family, with a rugged build and blue-collar temperment. Now, I had not only to deal with my own guilt and pain, but that of my father, who hadn’t seen Charlie in a long time, either. My father is disabled, has little but his children and the stories he can tell with a proud smile of them. He’s experienced the sudden loss of a father, brother, and son now. I worry about him every day, which makes being away from home tougher. This brought me to the realization that everything I’ve ever done, everything I’ve ever accomplished, was in some way connected to trying to make Dad proud. To aleviate my sense of guilt.

So, now I’m in the Army. It’s still too early to say if it was a good choice. The training environment is intentionally kept stressful, so I can’t really say it’s been too enjoyable. I’m in what many consider the best job in the Army–Intelligence. I’m good at it too. Time will tell, as always…

I hope that the Army brings me some stability in the coming years. I want a family too. I do want to marry again, I think. One thing I’ve learned is that almost all successful people have a measure of family to rely on. Even if it’s just a call from Mom or Dad, it makes a difference.

Barack and his acolytes preach change. I say beware what you wish for.




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