Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: mark manson

Thank the Maker for Marketing!

The universe moves in mysterious ways…and most of them are due to marketing. How did I end up with Will Smith’s memoir bumped up the TBR list to #1 and landing in my mailbox? I thought it was because a friend was loving the book so much and because I also happen to be a big Will Smith fan, like my first post mentioned. But…alas…

The pile grows.

Over the last few days, I’ve noticed the book prominently placed on a shelf at Target, and several blog posts, interviews, and podcasts talking about it. The man is the master of promotion, and it has trickled its way down to me. And I am 100% happy that it did.

Everyone is at least some level of a fan of Will Smith. Why? He’s a magnet, not only as a rapper and an actor, but as a person. If you want to read about a life lived by real human being, read this. I’ve never read a memoir from an actor that didn’t make me cringe, and this one had its moments. Creatives have a certain “look at me” that makes me uncomfortable…probably why I have such a hard time moving forward and promoting my blog posts and submitting my own book. But most of those moments were followed up by beautiful insight and growth.

It didn’t make me feel like I wasted my life by not being famous. It only opened my eyes to another world, another way of life. We have a lot in common, including a similar life-changing reading list. And you know that’s enough to make me fall in love with a person.

Just a few quotes and some thoughts before I shelve this beauty.

“The human mind is a story telling machine. The creation of narrative is hard-wired into us. What we call “memory” and “imagination” are essentially just stories that we program into our minds as a survival mechanism to protect ourselves and help us thrive. We need our lives to mean something. It is a kind of mental illness if we cannot shape our experiences into a story that gives our existence a sense of purpose.”

The first part, yes, I agree. That brain of ours is amazing. It takes everything we experience around us and turns it into magic. The problem is that none of it is really true. Our imaginative re-telling of what it means isn’t the reality of what is going here. And yes, we need our lives to mean something, but we can make them mean anything we want. The great part is that we can shape our experience into a story, and then change that story as much as we need to get where we want to go.

That can also be a negative. We can believe our story, hold onto it so tightly, that we hurt ourselves and those around us. The story Will Smith tells about his life is his version of his life. It isn’t the whole story, the reality of his life. It’s a narrative woven together in his mind for our benefit and his. And I loved reading every page.

“Purpose and desire can seem similar, but they are very different, sometimes even opposing forces. Desire is what you want; purpose is the flowering of what you are.”

If only more of us understood the difference, learned to see it young and actively choose which to follow and when.

“Feelings are extremely valuable tools for maneuvering and manifesting in the world. They are like fire – they can be used to cook and heat and cleanse. But when extreme emotions go unchecked, my experience has been that they will incinerate your dreams.”

Another experience we share. I’ve always been a “feelings” person and I’ve let my emotions run my life for far longer than I should. I should have (cringy word, maybe I wish I had) learned far earlier how to harness them and use them to my benefit, not control and suppress them.

“To place responsibility for your happiness on anybody other than yourself is a recipe for misery.”

This one gets my usual response of “sure, maybe, and in some cases.” Maybe to place sole responsibility for your happiness is something you shouldn’t try, but assuming that the person you are attached to would do things and act in ways to an attempt to make you happy isn’t crazy. Ultimately, it is my responsibility to accept people’s behavior or move away from them so that I can be happy. So, yeah, I agree.

One more thing before I let you go. Will Smith mentions several times that all he wanted was to build a financially and emotionally stable home for his family. Family was important. But I don’t see that in his actions. If that’s all he wanted, he could have done one or two big movies and then walked away with the cash, bought a nice house, invested the rest and lived a life in peace with his wife and children. He clearly wanted more and was able to get it and that’s awesome.

If I could read a follow up to this memoir, I’d love to read ones from Jada, his first wife Sheree, and his children. I’d like to see what they saw and experienced.

I loved this book so much. I’m so glad it came into my path the way it did. Wow.

Inspired by a Magical Universe

I’m off playing in the world today, instead of waking up and doing my regular morning routine, so this will be short and sweet. I’m still devouring Will by Will Smith with Mark Manson like there’s no tomorrow. The man has me riveted. This morning, I found myself crying my eyes out, gasping in fear, and then laughing out loud at his antics, all within the same two hours.

But this quote is what I want to share with you most right now.

“The universe is not logical, it’s magical.

A major aspect of the pain and mental anguish we experience as humans is that our minds seek, and often demand, logic and order from an illogical universe. Our minds desperately want shit to add up, but the rules of logic do not apply to the laws of possibility. The universe functions under the laws of magic.”

When I read it, I thought, “Oh yes…this world is something else, isn’t it?” But when I went back later to quote it here, I thought, “I don’t know.” It’s certainly not what Mr. Spock would say, but it would be something Captain Kirk would spout on about over some Andorian Ale. It’s one of those things about humans that confuses the hell out of Spock. We know magic isn’t real, yet we insist on believing in it.

But isn’t that what being human is all about? That massively creative imagination inspires us to be more than the sum of our parts, do more than what logic predicts is possible?

“Quincy Jones understands magic.

He sees the universe as an infinite playground of magical possibilities. He recognizes miraculous potential in every moment and every thing and everyone around him. His superpower is that he has learned to present himself to the universe as a lightning rod, placing himself perfectly to capture and conduct the ever-present, ever-recurring magical flashes of brilliance surrounding us all.”

Can you imagine the possibilities your life would present to you if you had people around you like this? It makes me envious just thinking about it. Where’s my lightning rod?

I’ll be thinking about that all afternoon; the possibilities and how to achieve them. If these guys can do it by sheer willpower, so can I.

Will Smith: New Read

I’d call my self more of the “influenced” than an “influencer,” which is exactly why I picked up Will by Will Smith with Mark Manson. A friend of mine was listening to it as an audio book on his walks and said it was really good. I had reservations (and not for dinner).

I’ve always been a big fan of Will Smith. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of my favorite shows as a kid. He was SOOOO cute! Since then, I’ve never seen a bad movie with him in it. Whenever I heard interviews with him, he sounded so intelligent, grounded. And he and his wife were homeschooling their kids when I was, and for similar reasons! …swoons…

I realize my vision of him is probably idealized. He’s a performer, a public persona. Of course, it is! I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a memoir by him. What if he painted a picture of himself that didn’t match my expectations? My dreams…shattered.

One hundred and thirty pages in and, nope. Still dreamy.

“Living is the journey from not knowing to knowing. From not understanding to understanding. From confusion to clarity. By universal design you are born into a perplexing situation, bewildered, and you have one job as a human: figure this shit out.

Life is learning. Period. Overcoming ignorance is the whole point of the journey. You’re not supposed to know at the beginning. The whole point of venturing into uncertainty is to bring light to the darkness of our ignorance.”

The man continues to amaze me.

I can’t stop reading it. His life, his art, his everything is nothing like mine. I hate hip-hop (other than the most popular ones played in the 80’s…everyone liked those songs). But reading how he describes what happened? Wow…I’m completely absorbed in it.

There’s just nothing like hearing someone who is so excited, in love, and passionate describe what they do. It’s inspiring.

One more quote before I go. This one is so relatable, it made me tear up.

“Throughout my life, I have been haunted by the agonizing sense that I am failing the women I love.

This insatiable desire to please manifested itself as an exhausting neediness.

To me, love was a performance, so if you weren’t clapping, I was failing. To succeed in love, the ones you care for must constantly applaud. Spoiler alert: This is not the way to have healthy relationships.”

Yeah…about that…Didn’t we just talk about that recently?

This is why I love memoir so much. Every time I read the deeper thoughts, the process, the journey of another human being, no matter who they are or what walk of life they come from, I feel as if I’m more connected to the universe. A good memoir is better than any fictional universe I’ve ever experienced. And this one is already proving to be fantastic.

Why? Depth. The man thinks. He isn’t just moving through this world by instinct. He considers, reflects, and adjusts, admits mistakes, praises his own wins. It’s magic. Reading memoir is how we live, and learn from, more than one life at a time.

You Can’t Make Me WANT Your Social Gathering!

I had the book “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community” by Robert D. Putnam on my reading list because it was on Mark Manson’s list of “5 Books That Explain Why it Seems the World is so Fucked.” SEEMS is the operative word here, by the way. It really isn’t and he was right about this book! It’s a great read for those that think that social media is what is killing our desire for community. The book was written in 2000, before the advent and spread of Facebook. And he writes about things that have been in decline for the previous 30 years or so. He writes about my generation, the one that seems to have picked up the anti-community ball and ran with it.

The first thing that I found so intriguing about this book is that I have always believed I was in the minority when it came to my feelings about social gatherings of all types. I have never been a “joiner.” I have never wanted to be part of a club of any kind that wants to meet on a regular basis, other that maybe a book club or writer’s club…which also doesn’t seem to exist anymore. And even if it did, I’d be too scared to attend without a wingman. When I have been coerced into joining something, I find the group so desperate for leadership and volunteers, that I feel like I’m on a sinking ship trying to escape with my life. It turns out I am not in the minority at all. It’s more of a generational thing.

It also turns out that a lack of community isn’t a new thing. It looks to be cyclical. It isn’t that the world has always been a wonderful hodgepodge of community involvement and now because of social media addiction, everyone stays home. It rises and falls in popularity, mostly during times of crisis or scarcity. When there is a big war or famine, people tend to group together tightly for a generation or two, then the feeling wanes and we go back to our independent loner natures for the most part.

Weird to find, once again, that we aren’t in the throws of end times, but merely experiencing a low in the natural cycle of humanity.

There is one problem that I see becoming prevalent. Humans have a natural hormone response to being near each other, it doesn’t work through the computer. Bonding with and caring for others doesn’t happen through pictures and written words the same way it does through interpersonal contact. Is social media bringing us closer? In some ways yes, but not if we limit our interaction to online.

We should be spending some time together in a physical way: dinner parties, bar-b-ques, and community projects, are all ways we can build social capital that allows us to trust each other. It makes us happier people. In the past, we (most of us anyway) felt compelled to put in the effort of going to see each other. How else are you going to know what kind of a monster your cousin married? How would you get to know your nieces and nephews? And how would your Mom know you were happy and healthy? But now we have social media. We can see what everyone is doing without actually going. But it shouldn’t replace actual, in person contact. It should be enhancing it.

We can’t blame social media for what’s happening. It’s only building on how our generation has been feeling. It’s escalating our isolation from each other, but it didn’t create our need to isolate ourselves. That is a whole other ball of wax and this book gets into the patterns that have been manifesting themselves for several generations. And it does so without making us feel negative and hopeless at the end!

The answer isn’t more or different government, more voting, social media/internet bans or regulation. The answer is more socializing. And we have to want that ourselves. We cannot be coerced into it or made to enjoy it. We have to become aware that we need it and then seek it out. Personally, I think it’s a cycle we will work our way through all by ourselves sooner or later. Eventually, a few of us will get lonely enough, unhappy enough to want to change things. We’ll start seeing people more often, doing things together in small groups that build up into larger groups again. These things will build trust between us and will open us up to relationships and happiness we can’t get alone. We’re social animals after all and, contrary to popular belief, I think we’re smart enough as a species to know when we need to do something for our own immediate good. Those that aren’t and don’t have friends and family to pull them along, won’t make it. Evolution is alive and well.

The whole time I was reading this book, I kept thinking about when it was written, 2000. What would the author think about the state of community today? Has it gone the way he imagined it would? Does our current situation surprise him at all?

One really funny thing before I end this! I keep notes about the books I’m reading in a paper journal. I keep the journal and my favorite mechanical pencil with the book, underlining passages and making stars where I have a note in my paper journal as I go. While reading through my notes to refresh my memory about this book, I found myself trying to use my finger to scroll up on the paper page! I think I’ve been spending a lot of time reading articles on my phone lately.

“Everything is F… – A Book About Hope”


I’m so far behind on book reviews that it’s just ridiculous. Should I just give up on the pile of just finished books I have here on my desk? Start fresh, so to speak, and simply review the one I’m currently reading when I’m done? That would be the easy way, wouldn’t it?

I think I’ll go ahead and do “mini” reviews for these books. I’ll pull out an idea or two from each and leave it there. Here we go.

I started to write a review for this over a week ago and realized I just can’t. First of all, I should have written it last month when I finished it. That would have been ideal, when the ideas were fresh. I sat here thumbing through looking at the words I underlined and getting a glimpse of the awesome

When I listened to the interview, he said the book would trigger anger in some people. His first book was gentler, this one goes for the throat, right to many people’s most sensitive spots. He got me too and I was prepared. I found myself thinking, “Hold on just one stinkin’ minute, Mark!” But then set it aside to wonder what it was he was really trying to say.

When you go to a doctor about a pain you have, say in your foot, he feels around that foot looking for the pain. He pushes on it in small increments until he pokes it right where it hurts most. “Sorry. I know that hurts. But now I know where exactly to put the medicine.” That’s what the author is doing here, I think.

To find a cure for what ails us, we need to look at all the pieces, all our life narratives, all the things we hold dear, to see which one, and then which part of the that one, is really causing the trouble.

This is one of those books that I’ll have to read again to get more meat off the bone. There was just so much to digest.

Here’s just one idea that I fell in love with!

“…why don’t we do things we know we should do? Because we don’t FEEL like it. Every problem of self-control is not a problem of information or discipline or reason but, rather, of emotion.

…emotional problems are much harder to deal with than logical ones. There are equations to help you calculate the monthly payments on your car loan. There are no equations to help you end a bad relationship.”

His caricature of humans as a consciousness car, driven by a feeling brain with a thinking brain in the passenger seat is just beautiful. Our feelings drive us, and our brain justifies and explains why we’re doing the things we want to do. That’s why we keep doing things we know are not logical. We eat when we’re not hungry. We throw tantrums instead of using our words to communicate needs. And we ruin our long-term relationships, knowing full well that we could navigate the waters a better way.

What can we do to fix it? He goes into some ideas and why they work. Some I’ve heard from my own kids. And some I’ve thought of myself. The big one being, sometimes we have to replace habits instead of kick them.

The book is just awesome. I was looking through my notes and found “How can one book have so many awesome ideas?!” I’d probably have written a thousand page essay about all the brilliant things he said if I had done the review last month when it was all fresh in my head, but instead, I’ll enthusiastically point you in the direction of it so you can read it yourself.

Don’t let the title and sarcastic tone make you think it’s a negative tale of doom. It’s not. Society, government, religion…all the forbidden dinner party topics, wrapped up in 232 pages. You won’t regret it!

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