My Latest Book: 101 Things to do Instead of College

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_________

 

The most successful people in life aren’t particularly gifted or talented.

They become successful, rather, by wanting to be successful.

Genetic giftedness is a figment.

There are no such things as prodigies.

Talent is a process.

Intelligence is a process.

Have you ever noticed that the smartest kids in school are almost never the ones who go on to be the most successful in life?

School in its best state teaches datum, not ambition or desire or will — all of which things can be encouraged and fostered, but not really taught.

Ambition, desire, will, persistence — these, as you may or may not guess, are the greatest predictors of success.

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No human being and no living thing begins her life by undercutting it.

No human being, no matter how pampered or abused, no matter how spoiled or mistreated, starts out by giving up or giving in.

No one starts life irrevocably defeated.

Abandoning the dreams of one’s youth comes only after a protracted process of perversion.

The time it takes before this mindset dominates differs for each person.

For most it is a gradual accretion of pressures and set-backs and frustrations and small failures, or by the systematic inculcation of mantras that this life doesn’t really matter, that our dreams can’t be fully realized anyway, and that human existence is accidental or meaningless or both — only to find, one day, that their passion, once a glowing force within, is now gone … but where and how?

Others, having no depth of thought or will, stop at the first sign of adversity.

Only the truly passionate persist. Only the truly passionate retain for a lifetime the vision they had of themselves when they were young. Only a handful maintain for a lifetime the beautiful vision of their youth and go on to give it form.

The means by which we give that vision form is our work.

No matter what any given person may become, no matter how good, bad, ugly, or great, in the springtime of life, each person at one time believes that her existence is important, and that big wonderful things await.

Each and every single human being has the potential to retain that vision, and each and every single human being should retain that vision, because it is the true and correct vision.

College, I submit, can do irreversible damage to it.

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Unactualized potential is a tragedy.

Nonconformity for nonconformity sake is meaningless.

Nonconformity for the sake of reason and independent thought, however, is a virtue.

Independent thought is a prerequisite of genius, and it takes courage to think for yourself.

Courage is also a virtue.

Blind conformity is the opposite of independent thought.

Ambition, too, is a virtue.

Virtue is human excellence. It is The Good.

The Good is that which fosters human life and promotes it.

The Bad, corollarily, is that which negates human life. It is pain. It is that which stultifies human thought and human flourishing and prevents gain.

Thinking is the human method of survival. It is for this reason that humans are properly defined as the rational animal, and it is also for this reason that morality — true morality — is rooted not in God or gods or devils, but in the human quiditty: our rational faculty.

As a thing is defined by its identity, so humans are defined by their acts — which is to say, their actions.

Our actions are in turn shaped by our thoughts.

Your brain is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. Nothing increases its strength like thinking. Cultivate, therefore, deliberate thought.

It is the greatest asset you’ve got.


_________

 

Your life is largely a process of turning your interests into talents, which is done through a process of practice.

Talent is learned. It is cultivated.

Talent is not fated.

Your talents are rooted in the things you most enjoy doing.

It is in this sense that your passions are primarily willed.

Find your passions and grow them, and the more you do this, the more completely you’ll be fulfilled.


_________

 

If you want to go to college, go.

If your true desire in life requires something specialized or technical — like medicine or engineering or law — go.

By all means, this.

The point here is not to condemn college categorically, for condemnation sake.

The point here — the only point here — is that if you’re going to college because that’s what you’ve been told you should do, or because you’ve been told that you must go to college in order to have a more complete or successful life, do not go.

Do not go to college merely for lack of anything better.

If you don’t yet know what you want to do, do not go.

Don’t go back to college for that Bachelor’s degree in sociology.

Don’t go back to college to try and motivate yourself to write, or in an attempt to fill your time, or your head.

Cultivate your brain instead.

Read. Think. Blink. Drink.

Relax.

Be self-taught. Learn to play the piano or piccolo or sax.

Read and think a lot.

There is no hurry — I assure you, there is no hurry.

I assure you, you need not worry. In fact, it is a good thing to not yet know what you want, because life is a gigantic canvas and there’s so much with which to fill it, so much to do — have you not heard? So much, indeed, that choosing one thing at twenty or thirty or even forty is absurd.

College is far from the be all and the end all. College is a lot of conformity and groupthink.

It can truly stunt your brain, every bit as much as lack of nourishment or food.

College is very often nothing more than pointless debt accrued.


_________

 

Your desire to become the person you most want to become is ultimately the only thing you need.

In its elaboration, this will require a great deal — focus, discipline, practice — but the desire is the fundamental thing.

As long as there’s a fundamental desire and it burns like a fire, there’s no limit to anyone’s achievement. You needn’t be a savant: The desire to excel is the most important ingredient in becoming what you want.

_________

 

Life is an unceasing sequence of single actions, but the single action is by no means isolated.

Your life is largely a process of transforming your interests into talents, which, in turn, comes about through a process of practice.

It is in this sense, I say again, that your passions are primarily willed, and not inborn or innate.

Even genius is willed. You make yourself great.


_________

 

Life is work.

Jobs are healthy. Work is good. Work is good for the soul. Be happy in your work.

Nothing more fundamental than labor is required for the production of abundance and the good things that you want for your life.

Labor takes many forms.

Blue-collar jobs build character, as they build invaluable work habits that you’ll never lose.

In her book No Shame in My Game, Katherine Newman points out what for many of us has been blindingly obvious for years: namely, that so-called low-skilled, blue-collar jobs, whether fast-food, waitressing, bartending, barista, custodial, so on, they require talents completely commensurate with, or even surpassing, white-collar work:

“Memory skills, inventory management, the ability to work with a diverse crowd of employees, and versatility in covering for co-workers when the demand increases,” she writes.

Among many, many other skills, I add.

Servers, bartenders, baristas, expos, et cetera, must multitask and remember every bit as much as, for example, an ER doc.

That’s one of the many reasons these jobs are good, and not something anybody should knock.


_________

 

What do you value? Parties and thumbs-ups and reblogs and other time-killers, day and night? Or the active work of your body and brain?

Find work that you enjoy and embrace it. Become good at it. Become better. Pour your energy into your work like rain. Enjoy the motions of your body in concert with your brain.

He who’s faithful in a little is faithful in a lot.

Everything you do, therefore, do it with all that you’ve got.

_________

 


101 Things to do Instead of College

 

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The following list is by no means exhaustive — you can brainstorm hundreds more — and most, though not all, involve starting a business or teaching (online, or brick-and-mortar, or both) the doing of which, thanks largely to the internet, has never been easier:

Don’t, however, do what I’ve done a thousand times, or more:

Don’t pick too many things, so that you end up doing none.

Pick one.

Pick two at most.

Take time to decide on something. Make a definite commitment — not for life (unless you want) but for a few months. Devote time to it every day. Learn it. Practice it.

_________

 

1. Learn wood-working, carpentry

2. Become a stonemason

3. Learn to landscape

4. Write books and publish them on Amazon (I can help — hit me up)

5. Learn a language and teach it online. There is a demand. Learn more languages.

6. Become an apprentice — electrician, bricklayer, carpenter, plumber. The work is good, and the money is great.

7. Start your own podcast about something that interests you, whether it be history or poetry or permaculture or anything. Build your audience and I promise you the money will follow

8. Become a YouTube superstar

9. Work construction

10. Work road construction

11. Bartend (the money is good)

12. Waitress or barista (the money is good)

13. Get your CDL and drive a truck (the money is good)

14. Start a knife-sharpening business — or, better yet, learn to make knives and sell them

15. Educate yourself and become good at something — anything: hula-hoop, fly-tying, photography, writing — and teach courses, by book, video, podcast, live, or all of the above. You need not be an expert to teach.

16. Master yoga and teach it

17. Make crafts and art and set up an Etsy shop

18. Learn to fight — Ju Jitsu, boxing, Krav Maga, Kung Fu — and teach it

19. Make people laugh and do it on YouTube, or via podcast

20. Start a small farm

21. Start a small hydroponic or organic farm (the demand has never been greater)

22. Teach farming

23. Learn forestry

24. Become a card-dealer

25. Learn locksmithing (always hiring)

26. Tow-truck driver (always hiring)

27. Learn to code (always a demand for that skill)

28. Become a handyman, or start your own window-washing business

29. Read books and teach these books: do books-synopsis podcast (it’s in high demand with college students)

30. Make movies

31. Direct documentaries

32. Start a small newsletter and grow it

33. Start a website that’s about something you love — knitting, tea, coffee, vegan, paleo — and grow that website.

34. Become a butcher

35. Become a pot grower

36. Start your own floor-cleaning business

37. Start a dog-walking business

38. Write jingles and songs and sell your services or become a YouTube superstar

39. Sell merchandise through a Facebook fan page

40. Sell merchandise through an Instagram fan page

41. Sell merchandise through a Pinterest page

42. Sell merchandise through the massive Twitter following you’ve built

43. Start a radio show, via podcast, wherein you interview experts in your chosen topic (experts are always looking for a platform to showcase their books or their knowledge or both)

44. Sell things on eBay

45. Sell things on Craigslist

46. Volunteer at a hospital

47. Work as a paralegal

48. Write scripts

49. Audition on Broadway for a full year

50. Become a real-estate agent

51. Become a party-planner

52. Start your own cleaning business

53. Sell dildos and other sex toys

54. Become a sommelier

55. Read a book a week

56. Cultivate your memory and teach memory

57. Copy verbatim in long-hand an entire book you love, and you’ll be amazed at how much you learn about the craft of writing. This is is the method by which Benjamin Franklin, among others, taught himself to write

58. Study what interests you. Get hold of something that bothers you and solve the problem — and then write about it, broadcast it, podcast it

59. Develop an app (Instagram and SnapChat made people into millionaires or billionaires)

60. Get on the speaking circuit and give talks on subjects about which you’re passionate (places are always looking for speakers, and they pay well)

61. Learn to mine, and go in search of gold (the mountains are virtually untapped, all enviro propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding)

62. Consult in your area of expertise

63. Become an auto mechanic

64. Become an airplane mechanic

65. Learn to fly helicopters

66. Work in the oil fields (great money, honest work)

67. Become an esthetician

68. Become a tattoo artist

69. Become a henna artist

70. Teach people how to paint

71. Teach people how to sculpt

72. Master a popular video game and become a YouTube superstar (extraordinarily popular subject, and this demographic spends money)

73. Learn to barber, or become a hair stylist

74. Teach Photoshop or Lightbox (always in demand)

75. Start a thrift store

76. Hold weekly yard sales or garage sales (you’d be surprised the money you can make)

77. Learn to write good sales copy, and you’ll never have to worry about money again, because good copywriters are sought after

78. Learn magic and perform it

79. Become a heavy equipment operator

80. Drive for Lyft or Uber

81. Start your own clean-up-after-construction-crew business

82. Learn to be a house-painter

83. Learn to be a glass glazier

84. Learn to bake delicious pies and you’ll never have to worry about money again

85. Learn ventriloquism and perform it on YouTube and in real-life

86. Learn to weld

87. Teach your video-audio skills (there’s always a demand for this)

88. Teach photography

89. Administrate other people’s social media

90. Become a repo man or woman (I’ve done this one: great money, slightly dangerous)

91. Become a private detective (I’ve also done this one, and it can be great money as well)

92. Become a process server

93. Become a fishing or hunting guide

94. Learn to make paper and candles and teach people (there’s a demand for this)

95. Become an EMT/Paramedic

96. Auto sales

97. Car detailer and mobile car-cleaning business

98. Fix computers (mobile business)

99. Become a florist or a horticulturist

100. Do you like blood? Become a phlebotomist

101. Teach dance, online and off

_________

 

Here’s the most important thing: learn to sell your skills.

You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to know more about a given thing than other people know about that thing.

Have you, for instance, spent time in the modeling industry?

Your insights, I guarantee you, will be invaluable to young people wanting to break into that industry.

Sell your insights.

_________

 

How to be Unforgettable

 

_________

 

Most people are boring. Not you.

Why?

Because you broke away from the pack a long time ago. You’re a different breed — a dog of a different color.

You cultivated the black art of individuality, learned the art of personality. You became brilliant. People argue about your modesty.

She does things differently, they say, she’s heterodox, self-contained, haunting the higher eminences of thought, hard-worker, school-leaver, reposed, self-taught.

Like all of us, she’s a tightly packed pod of living potential, but she’s EXPLODING: a life-giving force, a mustard seed.

She’s never in need.

She has the common touch. Yet, somehow, she remains pure and remote and above the fray.

She has a certain way.

She’s silent. She’s sensible.

She’s sane.

She’s generous.

She’s still.

She’s esoteric.

She’s inquisitive.

She’s relevant.

She’s independent.

She knows that self-development is the aim of life and that self-control is the basis of character.

She’s happy.

She’s not sloppy.

It takes a certain kind of work to be boring, whereas in order to be interesting it’s … what?

It’s mostly a question of habit — and the true secret of habit, as everyone knows, is the insight that habit is discipline and that your habits are what you choose them to be.

Your life is your values.

Your values are what you most enjoy doing.

In this sense, your values are your habits.

How do you become unforgettable?

Here are three simple methods:

1. Cultivate your desire for knowledge

Work to want it more. Knowledge is at home in any public house, coffee-shop, diner, saloon, or bar.

Strive to become the unstoppable learning beast of unslakable thirst that you know you are.

How?

By generalizing. Specialize, yes, that too, but read a little about a lot — or, if you don’t like to read, listen.

Take a course. Attend a lecture. Plug into a podcast. Take in a play.

Most importantly: seek to integrate the new things you learn into the full body of your existing knowledge. In this way, your web of learning will become interconnected, contextual, hierarchical, sweeping.

2. Learn to listen in a charismatic way

You heard me right. (Or did you?)

People love to hear themselves talk. Not you. You’re far too interesting for that. You’re far too self-contained.

Attentive listening is an infallible hallmark of magnetism and manners — which two things go together like whiskey and wieners.

By being an excellent listener, slow to speak and swift to hear, you’ll go far in developing a kind of irresistible fascination.

Brilliant listeners focus sincerely on what the other person is saying.

They never participate in a conversation with the mindset that they’ll listen only until it’s their turn to talk.

If the whole time you’re listening, you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next, it will show on your face like food in one’s beard.

If you’re fidgety, this, too, will show invariably.

In your patience possess ye your souls. Hurry up and learn to be patient, for fucksake!

Patience and presence are signals of extraordinary listeners.

Good listeners do this:

Pause before they respond.

Never interrupt.

Allow in total silence people to interrupt them.

3. Become a passionate storyteller

How?

Simple:

Create stories around subjects that you’re truly passionate about.

If the subject of your story is something you’re genuinely interested in, your personality will BLAST through, and you’ll be exposed as the ferocious creative force of insatiable appetite that you know you are.

Those who speak well speak briefly.

And remember:

Talent is meaningless.

There’s not even really any such thing as talent.

Ambition is everything.

The truth is that the overwhelming majority of successful people aren’t particularly gifted or educated or blessed. Rather, they become successful, in any given endeavor, because they will it.

Because it’s not how smart you are.

It’s how smart you want to be.

_________

 

Lynchpin

 

_________

 

For you, the secret was never a secret, quite, because for you it always seemed natural — not necessarily easy, of course, but obvious, and obviously right.

It never mystified you, perhaps because you learned long ago that your body is a ship, your brain the pilot at the tip.

Which is why everything you ever decided to do you learned to do with skill, having discovered that in matters such as these the decisive factor is the human will.

You discovered that the secret key to the lock of life is nothing more — or less — than developing a durable purpose around which to arrange all the other things in your life, and against which all other things are measured and weighed.

This, in any case, is what you conveyed.

A central purpose, as you say, is the unifying factor that molds together the human clay and integrates all the other factors in your life, year-to-year, month-to-month, day-to-day. So that to be in control of your own life, you must build this fundamental purpose, and then not let it go.

But why is this so?

Because purpose forms the base and at the same time creates a kind of pyramid, the stones of which are your other desires, arranged in order of importance. This, in turn, spares you any number of internal clashes and strife. This great pyramid is your life.

The central purpose that forms its base allows you to enjoy existence more abundantly, and on the widest conceivable scale.

You, having discovered this long ago, could never after that truly go too far astray, or too disastrously fail.

All the rest fell naturally into place.

It’s one reason people argue about the liveliness of your eyes. It’s why they discuss the ineffable quality of your face.

She was always a little reckless, they say, a reckless shooter, a long-shot, a shoot-from-the-hipper, but despite her wild misses always, deep down, believed she could be a star. There’s a certain languorous confidence about her (they say) a certain laid-back quality that’s fascinating, yes, but somehow it seems taken a little far.

It makes her remote and solitary, like a star.

Still, she’s kind and well-spoken and oddly charismatic, if rather fanatic, who never cared to hunt with the horde — indeed, never hunted at all — but chose instead to focus first upon the work, whatever it was (night-audit, waitress, secretary, clerk), not the party boys or the alcohol-fueled life.

Nor, indeed, was there ever in you the all-consuming drive to be somebody’s girlfriend, or mistress, or wife.

Work is healthy, you say, jobs are good for the soul. Work provides an outlet for creativity and expression. Life is work. Life is purposeful effort. It is an unceasing sequence of individual actions. Productive work is for this reason not meant to be a perfunctory performance, or jail sentence. It’s just the opposite: it’s a creative act, an act that’s nourishing.

Productive effort is the sine-qua-non of human happiness and flourishing.

It’s your continual progress forward, one step to another, one step at a time, one achievement to another, always upward and always guided by the continual expansion of your mind, your knowledge, your inexhaustible versatility and limitless ingenuity.

Do you at any time reach a point when it’s too late to find a purpose, ever?

No, you say, never.

_________

 

Wickedly Cool

 

_________

 
Personality is personal style. It is nothing more and it is nothing less. The art of charisma is really the art of personality.

Which is why there are as many different ways to be charismatic as there are different styles of personality.

Personality is the sum total of one’s many individual characteristics as they come together and create the person presented to the world.

Just as a thing is defined by its identity, so humans are defined by their acts, which are in turn defined by their thoughts.

Since we’re each the shapers of our own thoughts — and only our own thoughts — we each have the power to change and to mold our own personality.

For this reason, charisma begins (and ends) in the brain.

Charisma is magnetism.

Magnetism, as the very word implies, is the power to attract.

People can be magnetic and charismatic in a multitude of different ways:

You don’t, for instance, need to be extroverted to be charismatic.

You don’t need to be gregarious or boisterous. Many of the most charismatic people you’ve ever seen are silent and strange.

Nor is physical beauty alone charismatic — or, at any rate, not in the full sense of the word:

Physical beauty attracts, esthetically, sexually, whathaveyou, but its power of attraction is limited, precisely because humans are conceptual: this means we think and ruminate and interact.

Magnetic qualities are ultimately qualities that demonstrate one’s skills at living life as humans are designed to live it — which is to say, conceptually.

This is why contemplation is the highest occupation of the human species — because your personality and your behavior are a complex interplay of contemplation and action mixed. But it all begins in the brain.

Which, in general terms, is the reason that the most magnetic quality anyone can possess is the genuine happiness and the relaxed disposition that comes from a life that’s been thought about and thus lived well, and then the genuine confidence which is the natural elaboration of that.

Perfection, however — and this is important — is not the determining factor in matters magnetic and charismatic:

Flaws, faults, foibles, and fuck-ups do not an uncharismatic person make.

How one deals with one’s own flaws, faults, foibles, and fuck-ups is what’s at primary issue.

Happiness is charismatic.

Understanding is charismatic.

Actual self-confidence is charismatic insofar as it discloses efficacy and worth.

Have you ever observed that you’re at your best when you’re doing something you really grasp?

Have you ever observed that you’re at your most relaxed and comfortable when you’re doing something you enjoy — i.e. something that you’re genuinely confident in?

That state of mind is charismatic.

Have you, on the other hand, noticed that when you’re put into a situation about which you know little or nothing and want no real part of, you feel diffident, timid, unhappy?

This is the opposite of charismatic.

The primary method of human survival is our rational capacity, because of which human survival isn’t just physical but psychological.

That’s why happiness is the goal.

The goal of life, then, is emotional. But the means of achieving it are not.

The means of achieving it are cognitive:

We must use our brains.

We must think.

Charisma stems from this uniquely human faculty.

Charisma comes from thinking.

So cultivate your power of thought.

Cultivate contemplation.

Contemplation is the highest occupation of the human species.

In the very decision to do this — and even more in the sincere follow-through — your charisma will EXPLODE.

Develop excellent eye contact.

Everyone knows that excellent eye contact is charismatic.

Everyone also knows that poor eye contact is a sign of diffidence and shyness.

Everyone knows that poor eye contact is a sign of distraction and a lack of interest.

Shifty eyes are fidgety eyes, and fidgety eyes do not attract but repel.

What most people don’t know, however, is that excellent eye contact means relaxed eye contact. It’s not some fierce, hyper-unwavering stare.

If you have trouble holding somebody’s eyes, try looking instead at the multitude of different colors contained within her eyes. Make a scientific study of those colors.

Or:

Count their blinks, which has been demonstrated as an effective way to maintain proper eye contact.

Or:

Look at the eyelashes. Notice them. Count the individual strands, if you can.

Or:

Look only at the tip of the nose, which will appear to anyone whom you’re talking with as if you’re looking into her eyes.

Notice as well how you’re physically feeling, and pay attention to that in an analytical way. This, believe it or not, will help with your eye contact.

Try this experiment:

Look at yourself in your phone-camera, or in your bathroom mirror. Then close your eyes and think of something in your life that’s made you feel genuinely happy — happy to be alive. Concentrate on that thing. Actually put yourself back in the moment so that you’re feeling it again.

Feel it for at least a half-minute.

Then open your eyes and observe what your eyes look like in that precise moment.

That’s what charismatic eye contact looks like: relaxed and happy and soft.

Be still.

As you don’t fidget with your eyes, so also don’t fidget with your body.

Repose is always charismatic.

Repose is a hallmark of a relaxed disposition.

Develop and maintain proper posture and a purposeful walk.

Keep your back and shoulders straight, though not in an exaggerated or uncomfortable way.

Slouching isn’t charismatic. It suggest listlessness and a certain lack of confidence.

Keep this good posture when you walk.

When you walk, walk purposefully but not overbearingly.

Be slow to speak and swift to hear.

And pause a beat or two before you begin speaking.

Slower speakers are almost universally regarded as more magnetic than those people who speak rapidly. Speak, therefore, more carefully, and speak also at the appropriate volume for the room or place you’re in.


_________

 

The Art of Independent Thinking

 

_________

 

Individualism is the act of thinking for yourself. It’s rooted in the most fundamental choice you’ve got: the choice to pay attention or not.

There are approximately one thousand arguments against individualism — and every single one of them, without exception, is predicated upon a fraudulent premise.

That human beings are, for instance, essentially social doesn’t negate or nullify our individualistic nature.

True individualism is not “rugged” — and next time you hear that, dismiss it immediately for exactly what it is: a canard, if ever there was one.

Karl Marx saw humanity as an “organic whole,” and all the neo-Marxists like to use that phrase, pointing out simultaneously the obvious fact that “most humans grow up in families and live in societies.” All of which misses the point and does not render individualism void:

Individualism does not mean atomism.

Neither does it mean that humans are anti-social by nature.

Nor does individualism necessarily embrace self-destructive hedonism, or moral subjectivism, or moral relativism, or fleeting range-of-the-moment pleasures that are too short-sighted to consider long-term consequences — or any of the other adversary ethics that nullify human happiness over a lifespan.

Ultimately, the thing that grounds individualism in fact is that no one person can think for another:

Only the individual reasons.

Only the individual thinks.

Thought is the fundamental act of human will.

When you distill it down to its essence, the decision to pay attention or not is the choice that determines all your other choices because it’s what determines your thoughts.

For this reason it’s not an exaggeration to say that the locus of free will is in the choice to pay attention or not.

We are each defined by our actions, but our actions are defined by our thoughts.

The choice to focus your attention is the spark that shapes and determines everything else because that choice is what shapes your thinking patterns.

Thinking is the uniquely human method of survival.

Thinking is reasoning.

Reasoning is the power of the human brain to form connections and make distinctions — which is to say: reason is the human capacity to discover the identity of things.

It is the process of learning the nature of reality. It is the process of learning what things are.

Recognizing this will take you far.

Reason is choice, said John Milton.

This insight — what it implies — is ultimately the thing that embeds individualism in fact.

Societies, communities, tribes, bands, and so forth — all are composed of individuals. But each of those individuals must perform alone, in the privacy of their own minds, the fundamental thing that shapes every subsequent thing:

Each individual must choose to focus the brain and pay attention, or not.

That is where the art of individualism begins, and ends.

It is the most essential choice you’ve got.

_________

 

What is Friendship?

 

_________

 

The beautiful Japanese word kenzoku connotes a chemistry or a bond sourced in similarity of spirit.

It suggests the sharing of certain fundamental values.

It is in this sense that our most profound connections come from our power of choice — not birth or blood — because our values are chosen and developed by each one of us individually.

Friendship, in a very real sense, comes from our capacity to value.

Valuing is an individual choice. It comes from your thoughts.

Our values are our passions.

Our passions are largely willed.

Those who value things most deeply, feel love most deeply.

Friendship is a spectrum: there are different degrees, types, and depths. And yet they all have one thing in common:

They’re all founded upon esteem and affection for the other person.

Friendship is reciprocal.

The friends whom you feel the most affection for are the friends who reflect your deepest values.

You needn’t even have very much in common with your closest friends: provided you’re likeminded in certain fundamental things — this, more than anything, will bond you at the most fundamental level.

Love is in this way mirror-like: it reflects those values you yourself hold most dear.

“Natural love is nothing more than the fundamental inclination which is stamped upon every being by the Author of nature.”

Said Thomas Aquinas.

Like his teacher Aristotle, Aquinas believed that the highest love was friendship.

Both, however, believed that friendship was just a precursor to understanding the love that is, in Aquinas’s words, caritas.

One of the first questions Aquinas poses in his tract on charity is whether charity equals friendship. He answers this way:

According to Aristotle (Ethics VIII, 4) not all love has the character of friendship, but only that love which goes with wishing well, namely when we so love another as to will what is good for him. For if we do not will what is good to the things we love but rather, we will their good for ourselves, as we are said to love wine, a horse or the like, then that is not love of friendship but a love of desire. For it would be foolish to say that someone has friendship with wine or a horse.

But benevolence alone does not suffice to constitute friendship; it also requires a certain mutual loving, because a friend is friendly to his friend. But such mutual benevolence is based on something shared in common.

Both also believed that love is active.

Thus, when there ceases to be reciprocity, there ceases to be love.

When there ceases to be an active and passionate mind, there ceases to be values.

When there ceases to be values, the capacity for friendship is proportionately diminished.

Love and friendship are both life-affirming and life-giving: they are an interplay of mirror-like reflection and exchange, and they both begin with the individual’s capacity to value.

Life is largely a process of valuing.

And valuing begins — and ends — in the individual mind.





6 Comments

  • Angelo

    September 27, 2017

    One of the the most thoughtful and inspiring things I have ever read. I have never been known or will ever be mistaken for a conformist. Well written sir. Well done.

  • Ray

    September 27, 2017

    My friend, how good it is to see you!

    Thank you.

    Thank you for reading and thank you for your kind words, and thank you for dropping by.

  • Angelo

    September 27, 2017

    Yes sir.

  • Dave Zoby

    October 4, 2017

    Dear Ray,

    I was so inspired by your latest book that I have decided to cut the grass.

  • Wen Griffin

    October 11, 2017

    Tried to contact you via email but it bounced. So I will leave here the email I sent…

    Hello Mr. Harvey,

    I hope all is well in your new adventures. I learned recently that you’ve moved on from Ace. I am remembering how kind you were to me and missing you for it.

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen you and I hope you’re enjoying your time.

    I would be overjoyed to see you again!

    Yours loyally,

    Wen Griffin

  • Ray

    October 16, 2017

    Dave Zoby, I don’t think you’ve got what it takes.

    My advice to you:

    Stick to teaching literature and blowing your bugle (so to speak).

    Thanks for dropping by.

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