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Personal Development is for Smart People

The biggest challenge in personal development is not creating systems—it’s using them. You can know perfectly well that you need to quit your job, change religions, stop eating animals, and move to Mexico, but unless you take action, you’ll never get anywhere. In fact, as you dilly-dally, a whiny voice in your head takes over, telling you to remain complacent. You think that’s the only voice that will talk to you, so you become friends with that voice out of desperation. But it turns out that if you deny friendship with that voice, a far better, intially quieter voice will take over. That voice is your heart. The other voice is a mediocre part of your mind that gets way too much airtime.

When you kill off your naggy voice and listen to your confidant voice, you’re being smart. I’m two-tenths of the way there.

This is a review of Steve Pavlina’s book, Personal Development for Smart People, 2008 October 15. Thanks for the free copy, Steve!

Personal Development for Smart People cover

I like the title of this book. If you’re even interested in personal development, you’re way ahead of most people. Most people don’t even give a passing thought to the subject.

What happens to many smart people, is that they run into phony, substanceless personal development. Stuff like “do what you feel” and “be yourself.” Then, they dismiss the whole field as being wimpy hand-holding fluff. Psychology gets dismissed this way, too. Even photography. I’ve heard way too many artistic explanations that make no sense or sound wishy-washy, and I hold little reverence for photography schools or museums.

The problem, of course, with “be yourself,” is that in means nothing to most people. Most people think they are their jobs or their thoughts or their friends or their lives. So if your surroundings are boring, that must mean you’re a boring person. Which isn’t true, of course, because the closest thing to being yourself is being committed to personal growth. Trying to “be yourself” without knowing yourself is like trying to understand Einstein’s theory of general relativity without knowing the speed of light.

Steve Pavlina does not do this. This is a really down-to-Earth, practical piece of work.

If you’ve read his blog extensively as I have, I wouldn’t recommend this book. You pretty much already know all the stuff that’s in it, and in fact you can apply it with just a personally developed mindset.

In fact, I found Steve’s book a chore to read, and I couldn’t even finish it. I just flipped around a lot. It’s like trying to read an English paper. Or anything with an MLA Works Cited page, for that matter. When I read one of Steve’s great articles like How to Get from a 7 to a 10, Overwhelming Force, or 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job, I feel completely engaged and motivated. He pushes against the flow, but you know he’s darn right, and he loved writing those. He completely convinced me to not work in a normal job ever. This book, on the other hand, feels like something he was forced to write. I also think there were several committees involved.

Of course, if you read any of the reviews on Amazon.com or in the blogosphere, you’ll here people saying just the opposite—that this book is completely different and revolutionary. Most books in the personal growth field are garbage anyway, and this is 100 times better than a book by Wayne Dyer or Anthony Robbins. They’re just trying to sell books and DVDs and tapes. I don’t even think they apply or like any of the stuff they write. Pavlina is writing most of these 256 pages from personal experience, but he often paints too broadly and refuses to step on toes. He crucifies organized religion on his blog, but he avoids that in chapter 13 on spirituality. While he encourages his readers to disconnect themselves from the fixed viewpoint of one faith, he has diluted his message to offend fewer people. This can be justified: he’s opening his ideas to a wider audience who may not be ready to be challenged in that manner, but that is misguided because it goes against the principle of truth. I wrote this in my conclusion 17 Lessons from 17 Years: offending others is good, because it means you’re pushing them toward their fears. The only way to conquer fear is to move toward it.

This is unimportant, though. It would be creepy if Steve’s book was entirely perfect, and it is not important to quantify truth anyway. Don’t write for the critics or write for the past. They exist only in your mind.

I like the part about how Steve left his church on page 87: “At age 17, I finally recognized I was being coerced to participate instead of being offered a truly free choice, so I left.” I’m glad I haven’t spent years in the haze—my father has identical reservations and doesn’t believe we can know all the answers. If God is at all personally developed, he’s not going to respect you if you pay lip-service to church. In fact, that’s an insult. Either be a Christian 100% or 0%. Don’t sit on the fence like most people. You can’t fool the creator of the universe.

I like how Steve keeps saying “you are the commander of your life.” You can read that and think you don’t need to read at all, but reading about personal development helps you to think in different ways, which you eventually translate into action. Most people either read way to much while never getting anything done (PD junkies), or take action repeatedly without ever stopping to think. Steve would call these ready-aim-aim-aim and ready-fire-fire-fire types, respectively. The best way is ready-fire-aim-fire-aim, which is really just trial and error. No one else can ever teach you anything, because you’re always actually teaching yourself.

The chapter on courage is the best. I like this part: “People often take circuitous paths to their goals to minimize the risk of rejection . . . The idea is that if they can sniff out a negative response in advance, outright rejection can be avoided” (page 105). I was doing this with a girl over the past month, but it was stupid to lead her on, so I just asked her to be my girlfriend because I like her a lot. That’s the wrong way to start a relationship, and I was rejected, but it’s completely better than doing nothing at all. If I could know the result ahead of time, it would in fact be awful, because I would never build any courage.

The main problem was that I was doing unattractive things (i.e. not leading, being shy, etc.), but I’ll develop those skills through baby steps. As you become courageous, powerful, truthful, loving, etc., you become more attractive toward others. So personal development is exactly the same as pickup artistry.

The other great thing about being rejected is that you can focus on 100% on forging new relationships, rather than wasting energy on people who you’re not even being truthful with. Rather than waiting and hoping for other people to take command, you exercise courage yourself. That’s what Steve’s whole chapter on courage is about. It’s actually what all personal development is about. Instead of waiting for God or other people to do things or create opportunities for you, you create them yourself through unwavering dedication and extraordinary effort. Instead of hoping someone else will sponsor my photography and make me rich / famous / successful, I don’t make wishes at all. Success must come from my own efforts, not the efforts of others.

I wish (ha ha) Steve would have spent more time debunking the concepts of true love and destiny. Those are both empowering when you’re on the right side of them, but for most people they are disempowering. If you believe in destiny, you’re giving up control over your life. You are no longer the captain. Destiny means that you have a destination, and you’ll get there no matter what you do, even if you actively thwart it. Sure, you can redefine destiny in positive terms, i.e. you’ll let no obstacles stand in the way of your dreams, but it’s better to just abandon the concept all together and call the whole thing courage. It’s the same with true love. If you have one true love, doesn’t that mean that if she is eaten by sharks or grows to hate you, you’re ruined for life? Steve’s concept of oneness says no because we’re all people, part of a larger body, connected and the same. But the real solution is that love is a condition of circumstance. True love just means there are a whole lot of circumstances piled up—hopefully ones you’ve both created through courage. That may sound bad, but it’s actually really good because it means there’s an abundance of love. You can both totally find other people if you need do, and that’s great because it eliminates fear. You have no fear of losing each other, so you can live completely in the present moment. That’s true love.

Steve defines truth, love, and power as the three principles of the universe. Three derivative principles are oneness, courage, and authority (respectively), and the consummate of the six is intelligence. It reminds me of photography. You have red, green, and blue as your primary colors. The derivatives are yellow, cyan, and magenta, and the consummate (all combined) is white. Or with subtractive (print) colors, cyan, magenta, and yellow are your primaries, blue, red, and green are your derivatives, and black is the consummate. I could draw a triangle, but I don’t feel like it.

Steve loves to tell this story about how he dropped out of college and became a shoplifter, went to jail for a while, woke up, went back to college and got his 4-year computer science degree in three semesters, then started his computer games business while becoming insanely personal developed on the side. All I’ve got is that I started college last year at 16, and the closest thing I have to shop-lifting is scamming coupons and rebates out of companies. I’m not going to go for my Bachelor’s degree, though. I’m just going to end it after getting my AA degree in computer science this spring. I don’t have a good reason to be in college. On page 235, Steve has a quote by Robert Heinlein which says “religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help.” Just replace “religion” with “college.” That’s why I refuse to go to photography school. It’s all people telling you what to do because they think they know what’s right for you. If you’re really dedicated to your art or subject, you’ll learn it all yourself and you don’t need college at all. Standardized education will just drag you down.

The first part of Pavlina’s book is theory. The second part is applications. He has lists of good habits, like “timeboxing,” batching, no-communication zones, deadlines, etc. One of these lists goes on for many pages (149-157). There’s more lists on pages 124-132, for quizzing yourself about following the principles. I didn’t care for them. The first half is much more interesting. Most people will enjoy the applications more, especially newbies to personal growth. Others will find them totally mundane.

Personal Development for Smart People is a good book, especially if you haven’t read anything of its type. If you can’t afford it, read Steve’s blog, which is even more interesting (to me at least). Right now, he’s doing this experiment where he’s eating no solid foods for three months. He’s grinding up nuts and leaves and grass and bark in a blender and drinking a gallon of that everyday. I thought that would kill you. Fascinating stuff.

Keep learning and growing.

Don’t Vote 2008

The United States presidential election is coming up on Tuesday, 2008 November 4. One of the things you’ll always hear people saying is that you have to vote because you’re exercising your democratic voice. If you don’t vote, then you’ve stated that you don’t want to have any say in our political system. Implicitly, you’re fine with the current system.

The real truth is the opposite. By voting, you’re legitimizing our elections. But why would you vote for one of two when the candidates are exactly the same? They’re both puppets to the concerns of internationalists and big corporations. Both the democratic and republican parties support the continued expansion of American empire, national socialism (corporatism), and the further creation of phony currency—and phony debt. Both parties call for “change,” but if there was change to be had, it would be happening already, because there is a constant alternation between the two parties. It’s like Coke and Pepsi. Coke and Pepsi pretend to be rivals, but their real concern is to keep out a third contender.

If you’re going to vote, don’t vote for either of these bozos. Pick a third party candidate, or vote for yourself or Mickey Mouse. That’s a protest vote, and you’re supposed to be able to do that in the American political system because you’re supposed to be able to vote for whoever you want. If I was of voting age, I’d vote for Ron Paul because he’s the only candidate who supports a capitalist, prosperous America free of empire and corporatism.

If only one percent of Americans turn out to vote, the legitimacy of the system will crumble. Our “two-party system” is no more than the choice between being killed with a blue grenade or a red grenade. If you pick the “lesser of two evils,” you’re still choosing evil. When you continually choose evil, you become a heartless person. Don’t vote for McCain or Obama. Change starts with you. The agendas of both parties are the same: to drive this country into the ground by wasting our resources as quickly as possible, fighting phony wars in other countries to kill countless civilians, all the while usurping the profits and freedoms of the citizens in the name of safety.

Safety is bogus. The only safe thing for us to do is to get out of the 100 countries we have troops in. We’ve already killed nearly a million civilians in Iraq. You won’t hear this on ABC World News, because ABC World News isn’t news—it’s propaganda. Other countries laugh at our “free speech,” because we have no love of free speech ourselves. Whenever you go into another country and bomb their people and overthrow their government, you can bet you’ll get terrorist attacks coming back on you—but only because you exercised terrorism yourself.

Terrorist attacks are relished by out military and internationalist leaders, because they’re an excuse to further restrict our freedom. We have ID cards and serial numbers. We’re photographed and finger-printed like common criminals—yet if we’re walking about free, the assumption is supposed to be that we are not criminals.

It makes no sense for an under-populated continental nation, rich with natural resources, to be obscenely indebted, and that’s what we’ve gotten from this. The founding fathers are spinning in their graves.

The big goal of Nazism a.k.a national socialism a.k.a corporatism is to merge big business with the government while robbing small businesses blind to make them unprofitable. Everyone is taxed obsessively. Then, the government gives back money and resources through social welfare programs, public schools, hospitals, libraries, etc. This giving back of resources seems nice, and most people accept it, but it’s actually a warm bath about to boil you alive.

The ultimate goal of socialism / pervasive government is to kill everyone. It’s the side of evil, and all evil can do is destroy both good and evil. From the side of evil, that’s the best outcome. The first goal is to replace worship of God with worship of man—the state takes over the religion. This is why most pervasive governments have a book, i.e. Mein Kampf or The Communist Manifesto, much like the Bible. They may also have a charismatic and fictitious leader, i.e. Big Brother from 1984. You worship this guy instead of a higher power.

Once you have people treating man as god, you can assume man can do anything it wants. This allows you to erode the sanctity of human life. This is done through eugenics, abortion, euthanasia, evolutionary theory, etc., and it’s always justified as being in the interests of the greater good. Since you’re all being taxed at 98%, you’re dependent on the government to support you and your children. You can bet that you won’t be receiving your “benefits” if you give birth to a child with down syndrome, instead of killing him like the government wants. Soon, this extends to all children, because we have “too many” people anyway. Environmentalism is often used as a ploy here. Then, we have mock famines and state-issued epidemics to get rid of people. Don’t ever get a flu shot—you know they’ll put the poison in there. People get poorer and poorer, as the state takes more and more.

Even our scientists are agents of the state. They all rely on government grants to fund their research. Do you think the government is going to grant money to research nitrilosides as the cure for cancer? No way, no how. Cancer is too much of a good thing, because it kills lots of people, makes people afraid, and leeches from their resources. Not only do phony treatments like radiation and chemotherapy do more harm than good, but they also cost a lot of money.

The only solution to oppressive government is continuous resistance among the people, and the best way to do that is through personal development. Personally developed people know that empire building, fiat money, wealth distribution, and eugenics is not on the side of good. So they continue to oppose and thwart pervasive government. When you have enough people doing that, you get stuff like due process, jury systems, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It’s all about shackling the government while the people roam free. The government is limited to the very narrow scope of protecting people from being killed or harmed by others, providing courts for criminal and civil disputes judged by public juries, and providing basic emergency services, through apportioned tax funding. No empire, no industry bailouts, no social security, no public schools, no IRS, no CIA, no FBI, no illegal drugs, no FDA, no foreign bases, no postal service, no equal opportunity, no affirmative action, no bankruptcy laws, no nonsense.

When government merges itself with large business (corporatism), those businesses gain advantages over the small businesses, which become more oppressed by government waste and taxation. Soon, all that’s left are big businesses, because they’re the only ones that can survive, thanks to favoritism like closed-bid contracts. Because the free market has been removed, employees’ choices diminish to large companies, and the government leaders declare that we need more regulation to ensure fair and equitable employment for all. But in fact, if you don’t stand in the way of business to begin with, you need less and less regulation because there are more and more small businesses that have to compete with each other. If I apply for a job and they won’t hire Orientals, I can go somewhere else and it’s their loss. We don’t need artificial rules to support an artificial system—we need to get to the root of the problem. That is to remove the socialist system, because it’s crippling everyone.

When you have a huge, plodding military-industrial complex… and companies like Blackwater, Bear Stearns, SLM Corporation, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, AIG, and NORAD all suckling from the public teat… you know something is wrong. Billions of dollars and public resources go to these companies, when these companies are failures and couldn’t support themselves at all without government contracts and favorable laws. There’s no reason for us to have a military-industrial complex to begin with. Are we trying to rule the world? To kill everyone? This is what the Nazis did, because their name stands for national socialism, which means just this—merging big business with government. It doesn’t work. It never works. It always hurts citizens and tax-payers like you and me, because when you remove the free market, you remove competition, and there is no incentive to improve. There’s no incentive for scientific research when anything you find will be stolen by the state anyway.

When we return to a constitutional national with gold-backed money and none of this garbage, everyone will become richer. Living prosperously under government largess is like trying to swim with an 80-pound weight around your neck. You get a few life preservers, but you’d be better off if you were rid of both the life preservers and the weight. We’d be better off schooling our children at home or through private enterprise. We don’t even have that now—all schooling, even these types, are heavily regulated and controlled by the government. The public school system has proven itself so useless, that more people than ever are willing to pay for it (through mandatory taxes) plus private-schooling their children. But if we weren’t supporting this boondoggle to begin with, everyone would be more prosperous, and most people would be able to support private schooling. There would also be a lot more competition and quality by the free market and government noninterference. You can’t throw money at our school system to fix it. It’s not a problem about money. Scrap it.

It’s the same for our hospitals and doctors. You can’t make the system better by making our doctors government employees. The problem is government interference. People will claim that we’ve let the free market run its course in the medical industry, and it’s proven itself useless. The exact opposite is the case—hospitals are so thoroughly regulated and insured that everything is a liability and nothing can get done. Have you seen how much paperwork a doctor has to fill out just for a strep throat infection? You can bet there are people filling out paperwork in the office for you, too. His malpractice insurance is so high, he has to take on twice the patient load just to stay profitable. New doctors want to enter the workforce, but the government even restricts licensing to keep the pool of doctors small.

Doctors need to be able to enter into private contracts with their patients, free of the risk of frivolous lawsuits. There is no reason that we should need an insurance lottery scheme just to afford basic medical care. The solution is not further socialism—the solution is a return to the capitalist ideals of this country, meaning—get rid of regulation. People are largely capable of regulating themselves.

The same thing happens in restaurants. With more inspections and fines, restaurant owners and staff care less and less, because they’re being treated like cattle. But if you go into a church kitchen or a home kitchen, you won’t find garbage cans on the cutting boards or oil and bacon left out uncovered overnight. Shouldn’t your Grandma’s kitchen be filthy, because she doesn’t have the all-knowing and benevolent government to control her?

We can’t throw money at this country to fix it, even though we can print it by the boxcar. We can’t attack this problem with more empire and corporatism and government sponsorship. The only solution is the dissolution of the government into a base entity, only with the power to protect life and private property. Constitutionally, we should have a weak federal government. The states are in fact 50 nations, and they control both the federal government and the localities as a representative democracy. What we need to do now is to pull and dissolve our troops from all foreign countries, stop printing fake money, dissolve most government largess, laws, companies, and regulations, and sell off the land the government claims to own in the mid-West to pay for the debt we’ve accumulated through years of Nazism.

Will lots of people lose jobs? Yes. Will lots of people have to start making a real contribution to society? Yes. In the short run, this will hurt a lot of people—the people that are more on the receiving end of public funding than on the sending end. But it’s the only way to go, because it will allow us to become prosperous and self-reliant like never before. There’s no reason a house should cost $150,000 to build. Materials and technology are cheaper than ever, but when you have fees, tribute, taxes, permits, licensing, zoning, inflation, and other nonsense at every step of the way, things get bad.

When you get Nazism off our back, we’ll all have the freedom to survive. Sure, some people who get by on social welfare and refuse to work may die of hunger, and you may fear having no state-provided safety net, but in fact that safety net was an illusion. If you can’t fail in a nanny state, you can’t succeed either. This is core to personal development, yet neither Obama or McCain will ever support it, because it steps on too many toes. Dissolving empire steps on too many toes. Yet if we don’t do it now, it will happen itself with a lot more fighting.

Stop voting. Start making things hard for the government. Sign your name badly. Fill out forms by circling everything and checking every box. Don’t sign up for the draft. Stop paying income taxes. Keep stuff off the books. Buy a rifle and some ammo and keep it under your bed. You won’t need it—we just have to make sure that once the U.S. soldiers are policing our streets, they still have some fear in their hearts. Do you think the police all have guns for fun?

Be peaceful but don’t cooperate. We have a revolution on our hands.

Photo: Crystal Rose

Crystal Rose

A glass rose my Grandmother found at a garage sale. Its appearance changes dramatically under different light; the highlights turn out best with bright light shining down or from the side. I think it looks great here.

I bought a new lens: a Canon EF 28-135mm F3.5-5.6. I got a good deal ($260, refurbished). It’s been a lot of fun to work with. Quite a bit heavier than the old 50mm prime, but much more versatile. I like the image stabilization gyroscopes; they really work, unlike on some cheaper cameras. I used them here to hand-hold at 105mm with a 1/30 second exposure time.

I took this ten days ago. I’ve been taking photos, but not getting back to the computer to edit them. Feeling a bit disconnected lately. I’m getting back to my art though; just touched this photo up today. It really doesn’t have that much contrast, but I added lots of contrast in Photoshop. I also did some nice vignetting with the burn tool. There was a pipe on the wall in the background, and the grooves between the bricks are blurry dark lines, but I like them.

Photography is all about light, and I love light, so I love photography. Rather than building a scene from scratch, you start out with a pre-made scene, and then mold and shape it with light, composition, and computerized manipulations. It’s so freeing, because you can do stuff like this fairly quickly. No photo is actually finished quickly; there are dozens of dud photos in-between, and every frame represents years of progress and experience, but it all flows together when you’re working.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 28-135mm, 1/30, F6.3, 105mm, ISO100, 2008-10-16T12:58:11-04, 20081016-165811rxt

Location: 1985 S. Carpenter Ave., Orange City, FL  32763-7334

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Being Extraordinary

2009-12-20 Update: Being extraordinary is not necessarily positive, so be careful with this.

Extraordinary is an interesting word. It sounds like “extra” and “ordinary.” That means to be extraordinary, you have to be stereotypically ordinary, to the extreme. :cool:

Extraordinary people are usually extremely good or extremely bad. While ordinary folks get B’s, C’s, and D’s, extraordinary folks get A’s and F’s. They’re polarized on both ends of the spectrum. Being at the scary edge of the world is a much more interesting place to be than the safe and secure middle.

It’s not good to be extraordinary merely for the purpose of impressing others, because then you’ll do crazy stuff but have no direction. If you’ve set a mission that your heart loves, then you’ll have to do extraordinary stuff to fulfill that mission. If, however, you can meet your goals with ordinary actions, then the goals you’ve set aren’t your goals at all. They belong to other people. Those people could be your parents, your friends, or your perception of society in general, but they aren’t you.

Extraordinary people are not paralyzed by fear of failure. This is why they either fail or succeed. Failing once usually leads to succeeding—completely—the second time, through hard work and lessons learned in the first misadventure. Sometimes you’ll have to replace “second” with “tenth” or “44th,” but if you’re really trying, it doesn’t matter.

Once you stop fearing failure, you can eliminate excuses that justify your failures. Instead of handing control of your life over incidental circumstances, you take personal responsibility for your situation.

Some common circumstances ordinary people blame:

* Their parents.
* Their friends.
* Their environment.
* Being “ugly.”
* Race / ethnicity.
* Lack of talent.
* Lack of money.

There are many others, but this is enough of an overview. All these are excuses to justify ordinariness. They are all represented with disarming, demeaning beliefs and concepts. When you say that happenstance rules your world, you lose the burden of control. You become safely powerless.

Having an office job is an ordinary thing to do, because most people do it and it requires an ordinary amount of effort, relative to the alternative. The alternative is to be your own boss and pave your own path. You’re making a genuine contribution to your neighbors, and being paid with money, which you can use to convince others to contribute goods and services to you. This requires an extraordinary amount of effort and risk. Many times, what you think should earn money will be of no value to anyone else. You’ll keep learning, building, and improving until you are adding value.

The ordinary path seems secure, but it’s actually even riskier, because you’re not operating at peak efficiency. The bulk of your potential lies dormant. If you operate at 1% capacity for too long, change becomes scarier. If you do manage to unlock your potential while sticking with your ‘secure’ wages, you’ll make the same amount of money while producing far more for your employers. That’s bad, because if you received proper compensation for your efforts, you’d be able to plow that back into contributing more.

As my profits from photography increase, I’ll be able to buy better cameras and lenses which will give me more creative freedom. This will make it even easier for me to produce artistic photographs, which will make more money. A camera won’t make art for me—the best it can do is get out of my way while I create art. But a better camera will get out of my way even more. I’m in an upward spiral of creativity and abundance.

In the long run, it’s far safer to be paid what you’re worth, all the time. For a while, you may feel fine leeching as a government employee, but you’ll come to see that you’ve restricted yourself to ordinariness. It’s far better to contribute directly, even if you go into debt, lose your house, and live in the woods for a while. If you never give up, you’ll be extraordinary, and then you’ll rise far higher than your safe job would ever allow. A life of turbulence and adventure is more exciting than a life of safety and sameness.

Reframing the extraordinary

When I stopped eating animals three weeks ago, a lot of my friends were surprised. Apparently, becoming a vegetarian is an extraordinary thing. Many people want to do it. They see that torturing animals in our factory farming system is completely wrong, but they never take action to change it. Change starts with you. Only 1% of Americans are vegetarians.

Other people try to stop eating animals, but they do it for all the wrong reasons. They’re going along with friends, or following a new trend, or expressing their love of animals. They constantly have to control themselves, because when they see a crisp hamburger or juicy steak, they remember everything they’re “missing” by not eating dead flesh. It takes an extraordinary amount of effort to maintain their new practice, because they’ve chosen it for phony reasons. Usually, they’ll become “semi-vegetarians” (i.e. wimps) by eating meat occasionally, or by deciding that chicken and fish are somehow not animals. These are ordinary people.

True vegetarians, on the other hand, don’t have to exercise any self control. When they see a meatball or a collection of pork chops, they don’t feel hungry at all. Even though it’s a disgusting thing, they don’t feel disgust either. To a true vegetarian, a steak is the same as a rock or a pencil or a violin or a doorknob. It’s not something you eat. It doesn’t inspire fear or hunger or doubt or repression. It’s completely ordinary.

To be extraordinary, you have to believe the extraordinary is ordinary.

Not eating animals is completely ordinary to me. I can’t ever think I’m special or extraordinary for being a vegetarian. If my 14-year-old self met my 17-year-old self, he would think I’m extraordinary, but I hold no such opinions about myself. This way, I can continue to rise, instead of stagnating in narcissism.

Fighting ordinariness

In one of my college courses this semester (physics), I completely failed the first test. I thought I was prepared because all my other teachers make the exams far easier than the in-class work, but this one was just as difficult. We had to do six multi-step problems in fifty minutes, which is as fast as my teacher presents them.

Much of the class failed it—I got 43%, while the average was 60%. The tempting thing to do right away is to blame the teacher for not teaching properly, or for making the test too hard. “No one else did well, so it’s fine that I did the same.” If I was so bold, I could even drop out of college or give up on computer science, and I could go through life telling people that it’s not my fault because I had a really bad teacher. People do this often. College is supposed to be really hard and lots of people are supposed to fail. It’s completely ordinary to fail, but what isn’t ordinary is to accept personal responsibility for failure.

So after two days I accepted personal responsibility, worked hard, and got a 93% on the last test. I probably deserved a B, but my teacher went easy on me. I could consider this an extraordinary accomplishment, but the fact is this is the way it’s supposed to be. This is ordinary. My first grade was just way below average; far worse than ordinary.

We’ve had a cat for about a year, but she was a stray that just started loitering in our yard. We never came up with a proper name for her. I called her “cat,” my Mom named her “Vanilla,” and my Dad named her “Asparagus.” Those names are all fairly ordinary. Recently, we came to a consensus on a new moniker for her: “The United Federation of Cats.” She’s already enjoying and responding to her new title. It’s a completely extraordinary name. I bet no one has ever named a cat that, in the thousands of years that cats have existed.

“The United Federation of Cats” doesn’t even make sense, because she’s not a federation. She’s just one cat, and I don’t see how she’s more united than any other cat. Most names are short and arbitrary, but hers is lengthy and declarative. I think most cats wouldn’t even agree that she represents the feline community. It doesn’t matter, because extraordinary things don’t have to make sense.

You can bring the extraordinary into your life by doing unexpected things like this. Go sit in the woods and look around for a couple hours. Go to a store but don’t buy anything. Eat breakfast in the evening and dinner in the morning. Wear crazy clothes. Write stuff like this. Change your name. Do you think I got this crazy “Thripp” name by happenstance? We were the Parrishes, but my Dad was done with that name and picked out Thripp in 1986. A lot of people told him he couldn’t or shouldn’t change his name, but he did it anyway and proved them wrong. That was extraordinary.

Make sure that you don’t do heartless extraordinary things. You can murder a bunch of people, and that’s quite extraordinary, but it’s not what I mean here. It’s evil. Evil can only destroy, while good can only create or convert, and when it converts, it converts evil to good. If you’re not sure if something’s good, it’s evil, because good is always readily apparent. Choose the path with a heart.

Excuses of the ordinary

Instead of saying “I have no motivation,” most people say “I have no time.” You go to a businessman’s office, and he says he doesn’t have “time” to speak with you. What if he just said you weren’t interesting / impressive enough? At first, a lot of people would be shocked by his bluntness, even considering it extraordinary. But shortly, it would become a hallmark trait that, while abnormal as compared to others, is completely normal in terms of him. While others lie about not having time, he tells the truth about not having motivation.

When you have a lack of time, you actually have a lack of motivation, because you have 24 hours per day just like everyone else. Whatever is important to you can certainly fit within those constraints. What isn’t important falls by the wayside.

If you have a hobby you don’t have time for, you either have to drop it, drop something else, or do everything more efficiently to accommodate your new hobby. It’s really quite simple, but most people never apply it and remain ordinary. I don’t even apply it well. It’s harder to do than it is to type.

I did a few pencil-sketch portraits in 2006. They weren’t particularly good, but I enjoyed the hobby for a few weeks. Modeling reality in sketch-form helped me to see interesting compositions in photography. But I’ve dropped sketching now, because photography is so much more empowering for me. I could claim that I don’t sketch because I don’t have time, but I’d be lying to myself and you. I just don’t want to.

On occasion, people see what I’ve done here and ask me to develop websites for them. It would be a lot easier in the short run to tell them I’m too busy, but that would be an ordinary excuse. What I tell them now is that I don’t design websites for other people. It’s the truth—apart from a funny site for my Dad, I only work on my own projects, and I use far more time writing articles like this than developing Th8.us. Often my response is surprising. I’ll hear “can’t you put me on a list?” or “this is only a little bit of work,” but I don’t budge.

If I said I was too busy, I’d have them believing I’ll get to them eventually. I may think I’m “letting them down easy” or that they’ll “figure it out,” but it’s extraordinary to speak the truth right away rather than hiding from honesty. When you lie about being too busy, you set off a whole chain of events that brings you down progressively. Especially if you do it to ten or twenty people. Everyone you meet keeps asking you when you’ll work for them. You have to keep the busyness charade up even though you never really want to work for anyone. You want to write about working instead of actually working. Why not just say it? :wink2:

If you don’t speak the truth, many of the people you meet will only know the fake, “too busy” you, and life in general will become depressing. You might even feel guilty that you’re going to the beach or reading a book, because you’ve told so many people how little time you have. If you have so little time, why do you have time to play games or go for a walk? You should be working on something really great.

When you are honest with yourself all the time, you’ll be honest with others, and they’ll be supportive of you. Instead of using busyness as a ploy to keep doors half-way open for you, slam those doors shut. They were never half-open anyway. No one is waiting for you to become less busy. They’re waiting for you to become less of a liar.

This is a foundation for being extraordinary, and it works in dating, hobbies, friendships, finances, work, life, work-life, projects, school, driving. Anything you can think of.

Even though I don’t drive, I see often enough that when you come to an intersection, people who have the right-of-way wave you on. You look at them, and you can’t see what they’re doing through their dark-tinted windows, and for a few seconds you’re confused. Why are they not moving? It looks like they’re waving, but you don’t want to chance it because as soon as you pull out, they’ll gear up and plow into you. It’s their turn. Why would they forfeit their turn? After a few seconds (or minutes), you become tired of waiting and you cross through the intersection anyway.

Wouldn’t it be easier if people just followed the rules of the road, instead of doing you a “favor” by letting you go first? It would be more honest too, and everything would get done quicker.

Applying the extraordinary

At all my classes at college, I give out a 4-by-6 print of one of my photographs to every student each class day. People enjoy seeing what I’ll come up with next, and it only costs me about fifty cents each day thanks to free shipping + referrals from companies like Shutterfly and Snapfish.

At first, I was afraid of doing this. Even though I hand out prints in the five minutes before class begins, I didn’t think my professors would like it. They’re prefer nothing to be handed out. Most students don’t want pictures of roses and sunsets anyway. They’re too busy studying (notice the “too busy” excuse).

Despite this, I went ahead and started giving out prints full-time about a year ago. I didn’t have many separate classes then, but it was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed it. The program continues to this day. I’d created plenty of reasons not to do it, but none of them came to pass. The voice that tells me to be ordinary gets quieter and quieter in my head, as my true, extraordinary voice comes out.

Many people tell me how impressed they are that I “have the time” to write these articles. “They’re so lengthy and in-depth! It must take you days to write this.” Sometimes it does, but writing 3000 words feels completely ordinary to me. It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how much I write. If you look at a blank screen with the sole purpose of typing 3000 words, you’ll fail completely. You have to have a topic and a purpose.

When you start doing extraordinary stuff, many people will tell you they could do what you do. If you publish a book, friends will tell you they’ve thought about publishing a book. If you make a million dollars, people will say “I should do that.” This is completely irrelevant. It makes no different what other people can do. No man ever reaches the limits of his potential. The purpose of personal growth is to get you closer to the limits of your potential (what you “can” do), but you’ll never actually get there. The journey is what counts. Just because a billion other people can take a picture of a rose, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t. Only 100 million of them are doing it, only 10 million of them are doing a good job of it, only 1 million of them are broadcasting their work, and only 1 of them is me.

Extraordinary people live below their means rather than going into debt. Then, you can afford to take risks… but you can’t afford to take risks if you have a $3200 / month mortgage over your head and you make barely more than that. On the other hand, if you’re living in a tent in your parents’ yard, you can take risks.

You can actually take risks either way. Life is just one big risk. Security is an illusion. Let go of security, and then you’ll become extraordinary.

Photo: Sunshine Girl

Sunshine Girl

It was cloudy out, but Michelle makes it seem sunny anyway. The highlights on her hair and eyes turned out well.

She also has a beautiful smile. A lot of people are afraid to smile. I’ve noticed most fashion models glower at the camera nowadays, but it’s all an act, and it’s getting tired.

I found Michelle studying for her history exam at a picnic table at the college. Not minutes before the test, but days in advance.

What do all her bracelets mean?

I brightened the highlights in her hair, and made her eyes a bit lighter. The blue table and green trees frame the image nicely, on three sides at least. Most portraits are best below eye level. Here, that had the added advantage of excluding the cars and buildings behind her; crouching down makes the background become a plain-white sky.

I get all my models to sign model release forms. I’m not releasing all images as free stock photos anymore; you can use Michelle’s likeness from Fotolia or SnapVillage, which I get a commission on.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/200, F3.5, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-10-10T12:32:02-04, 20081010-163202rxt

Location: Daytona State College, 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL  32114

Photo: Caution

Caution

Caylee was studying some important college course; you can see she’s still holding her book here. I told her to give me the “what are you doing here?” look for this portrait.

She has to use a pencil to keep her hair in a bun… the economy is just really bad now. :cool:

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/200, F3.5, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-10-10T12:25:19-04, 20081010-162519rxt

Location: Daytona State College, 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL  32114

Photo: Breeze in the Wind

Breeze in the Wind

Ashley, resting against a palm tree during a windy afternoon. She’s so cool… probably because of the wind and all.

You can see she’s holding her glasses in her right hand. I told her to take them off since they weren’t working; you couldn’t see her eyes or face because you’d just be looking at her glasses.

Her plants were blue, but I changed them to black with color-channel desaturation. No spot-editing needed! I don’t like spot editing… some photographers enjoy it though.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/250, F3.5, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-10-10T12:10:52-04, 20081010-161052rxt

Location: Daytona State College, 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL  32114

Heartless People

2009-12-20 Update: Be careful not to become too jaded or polarized from reading this.

It’s easy to forget how heartless most people are when you’re not around them.

At the beginning of the semester, my speech teacher asked all the students what their majors were, and what they were going to do with their lives. What did he get?

Boring replies.

No conviction. No one was committed to anything they said. There were a lot of “I don’t know”s. Those are bad, but even worse are the people who have been brave enough to “choose” a path… but they’ve chosen one that inspires no confidence. You know these people. Often, they’ll even say what they really want to do with exciting enthusiasm, but then in the same sentence they’ll say how unrealistic it is. These people think they’re really smart. They think they’re being “grounded” and “down to earth” by choosing a “reasonable” career. No one will tell them anything different.

But really, what are they?

Heartless people.

They’ve sold out. They’re not even twenty, and they’ve already committed themselves to doing what they hate for life. And that’s reasonable? We’re telling the children of the world that selling out is reasonable?

Shame on us.

You can’t have a heart if you’ve already sold yourself out. Sure, you can have compassion, kindness, love, friendship, bravery. But you’ll just have a shadow heart. A sliver of these things. A crumb, when you should have a whole pie.

The way to bring others back to their hearts is not to comfort or support or empathize. It’s not to stick by them. It’s not to bring yourself down to their level.

The way to help others is to follow your heart to the end. When you find someone like this, it’s like meeting Jesus. You’re meeting someone so brilliant and spirited that his heart transfers to you. It’s like a wildfire meeting a blighted forest. His fire becomes your fire.

So how do you overcome heartlessness? Phase heartless friends out of your life, and bring heartfelt friends into your life. That means: get away from negative people.

Once you’ve built up a network of positivity, go back to those negative friends. You’ll find they aren’t so negative after all. Their completely positive now. Were you mistaken?

No, you made them positive. Whenever you embrace your heart, others do the same. When you deny your heart with lies, excuses, and limiting beliefs, others do the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hermit. You still hold other people back when you hold yourself back. What you do to my brothers, you do to me.

This is the perfect manifestation of chaos theory and the ripple effect, because it means that we’re all pretty much the same. You have an ethical duty to do the work that does the most good for yourself and others, because if you don’t, you’re bringing down humanity. This isn’t something that can or should ever be mandated or legislated, because no one but you can find your heart. I can push you in the right direction, but only you can drink the water.

You have quite a responsibility. Every minute you waste working for more fake money, you take away from humanity. You think you’re being good and staying out of trouble, but you’re actually being evil.

How good would it be if I decided to stop taking pictures and stop sharing these articles, to instead play the violin or open a shop selling widgets? It wouldn’t be good at all, because that isn’t where my heart is. I’d be doing something I enjoy far less than this, so I’d contribute far less to the lives of others. If I picked a safe path like becoming a computer-science teacher or a government-funded librarian, I’d actually be doing something completely evil. That’s where heartlessness comes from.

One of the greatest ways to have a heart is to choose your career. Your career is what you do that makes money. It is not what you do to make money; it’s what you do that also incidentally happens to make money. Also: it is not what you do, but how you do it. My photography and writing is always focused on the growth and inspiration of others. If I found that I could better inspire others by composing music or giving speeches or returning to pencil sketches, I’d switch in a heartbeat. But I don’t, because my talent + heart makes photography and writing the most effective mediums for me right now.

You can’t choose a career in advance. You have to do it and then see if you like it. This is costly and takes years. To speed up the process, you must choose what you really like now, as that’s the closest thing to your mission that you currently know.

Ask yourself: “What would I do if I had all the money and possessions I need to live? What would I do if I’d found my mission? What would I do if I’d created my religion? What would I do if I had a loving wife and family? What would I do if I’d overcame limiting beliefs and made peace with the world?”

What would I do? I’d write this.

My gut reaction is that I should make my life perfect first, and then write this. Once I eliminate my problems, I’ll have peace.

This is putting the cart before the horse. Problems give you peace. ‘Unhappiness’ gives you a mission, because it’s actually happiness in disguise, telling you what you need to be doing. It’s that little voice (your conscience) that watches out for you. You have to follow your intellect (the voice) instead of your gut (not the voice). You have to be open to hear him. You have to listen real close. God’s not going to help you if you refuse to help yourself. Be thankful for the voice, because no other species has it. We’re special. We have a voice.

The nature of heartlessness

If Yoda from Star Wars has taught us anything, it is that the dark side is much more tempting than the side of light, because it makes progress much more quickly. Siths seem to have much more power than Jedi, because they blaze ahead while Jedi make slow advances. Siths rise to greatness in days instead of years. Strangely enough, however:

The dark side is powerless.

Heartlessness is powerlessness.

Good always triumphs over evil, because evil is a dependent system, whereas good is an independent system. Evil is the derivative of good. You cannot have a pure-evil world; evil can only co-exist with good. If you have evil, you must have good. But you can have good without evil. The phrase necessary evil is the dark side’s Trojan horse. Evil is never necessary.

You can’t have shoplifters without shoppers.

You can’t have thieves without customers.

You can’t have poison without medicine.

You can’t have corruption without honesty.

You can’t have hate without love.

You can’t have evil without good.

You can’t have heartlessness without heart.

You can have heart without heartlessness.

If everyone is wholly corrupt, how can anyone have anyone to take advantage of? You can’t have a society of leeches. Someone has to contribute something, or else there is nothing to leech.

Think of evil as cancer cells, and good as healthy cells. Cancer cells leech; healthy cells contribute. Cancer cells are incredibly powerful because they can reproduce and continue growing indefinitely. They expand exponentially. Cancer represents evil and heartlessness. Healthy cells, which represent light and heart, have no such privileges. But, there is a paradoxical fail-safe that protects the light side.

As cancer gets more and more powerful, it actually ends up committing suicide. Cancer is heartless, but it relies on something heartfelt (the body) to continue living. Once it becomes unstoppably powerful, it overwhelms its host. Both die. It’s like using Explosion in a Pokémon battle.

In a bad world, terminal cancer victims would be completely engulfed by the disease, becoming walking cancer zombies that roam the Earth spreading the disease to millions of others. They’d also be green and glow like Frankenstein. Evil would triumph.

In our world, evil can never triumph.

The best possible outcome for the dark side is the destruction of both good and evil, leaving nothingness. Evil can never win. If you’re evil, the best you can hope for is a stalemate with good, resulting in the death of you both.

The best possible outcome for the light side is peace on Earth with unprecedented abundance, freedom, and growth for all of humanity. Evil is completely removed, but not in it’s destruction, so much as it’s conversion to good. The evil men lay down their swords, stop murdering each other, and commit themselves to empowering rather than imprisoning their countrymen. We and the dead spirits forgive their transgressions, because there’s nothing else that should be done. There is no love in perpetual Hellfire.

Evil cannot be isolated. Pure evil does not exist; it is always tempered by good, be it 50% or .001%. Pure good does exist, alone and 100% independent of evil.

Which side will you choose?

If you pick heartlessness (evil), you’ve actually already given up on life, because the best you can hope for is a stalemate. But if you follow your heart (good), the sky is limitless.

How could this be any simpler?

When you give up your freedom to secure your safety, you’ve chosen evil. When you choose a safe, boring life over a risky, adventurous life, you’ve chosen evil. When you choose accounting over lion-taming, you’ve chosen evil.

Evil exists in everything you fear, everything that leads you into limits, shyness, and seclusion, away from your God-given power.

If you become heartless, you’ll make fast progress. . . toward death.

Your life has no meaning. It would have meaning if it was defined in terms of good, but by defining yourself in terms of evil you’ve obfuscated your heart into a cryptogram that serves no one.

Just because evil cannot triumph does not mean that you should not be concerned. The best endgame for evil is the destruction of good, and that is still really really bad. We want to keep good around.

Knowing that heartlessness depends on the heart gives you unstoppable power on the side of light. You may think power is evil, but it’s completely necessary. Anything that’s necessary is good, not evil. Power is great. It allows you to uphold goodness.

Just think: any heartless person, no matter how far gone, can be saved, because there is a sliver of good in him which can never be destroyed. To destroy that sliver is to destroy him.

If your evil is too strong, it might kill you to return to good. Or at least, critically injure you. But that’s much better than continuing in evilness. If you’re evil, you’re drowning alive.

If you cause a really heartless person to die, not through force but by his free return to heartfeltness, you’ve done something great. Although I’d prefer him to live, you’ve proven that impossible, and so his fate was best.

The way to combat evil is not to fight fire with fire, or murder with murder. In Gandhi’s words, “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” When you fight evil with evil, you become evil. Don’t cooperate with nor support evil.

A good example of disguised evil is pre-emptive and retributive punishment. You cannot rightly punish a man for his plans or his genes or his thoughts. “Hate crimes” and “thought crimes” cannot exist, because hate is irrelevant to a crime. So is “affirmative” action. Abortion is also pre-emptive punishment, because it’s meant to save a child from the horrors he’ll face in the world, being unwanted and unloved and all. All these things are touted by the evil-doers as “good,” but they are squarely in the category of heartless evil.

Don’t support evil.

Your thoughts are important, but for the purpose of justice, they’re only important after you’ve committed a criminal act. Then, in an ideal legal system, a jury of your peers reviews the evidence and decides unanimously if you (a) are guilty; (b) should be punished. You can only be punished if you’re guilty, but not all guilty people should be punished. If you accidentally kill someone, it’s a lot different then purposefully killing someone. The difference can be between no punishment and life in prison (not death, because death stifles your opportunities for personal growth). If you dive in the water to save a drowning child, it doesn’t matter how many “no swimming” signs are around.

Governments are not inherently evil. Our governments are evil. American was not evil, but it has become evil by would-be do-gooders standing idle while evil-doers like Abraham Lincoln, the income tax, and the Federal Reserve system rose to power.

Irresponsible debt is evil. If you mortgage your heart, you can’t expect anything but heartlessness. Most debt is evil, because most debt is irresponsible. Live beneath your means always, buy less than you need, contribute more than you take. Possessions and thoughts don’t matter; actions matter. Don’t put up with people who push you toward debt.

Thwarting the Death-Worshipers

The heartless have a plan right now. They want the best endgame for evil. The only path to that is the extinction of the human race (after a lot of pain and suffering, of course). The population of the Earth must become 0. Then, both good and evil will be gone, permanently. The evil-lovers worship death.

If you’re “neutral,” you’re evil. There’s good and evil, and neutral people are evil because they let evil people reign without matching evil with good. You have to choose between good and evil. This isn’t something you can wuss out on.

“The world is evil” syndrome

The main counter-argument of the dark side is this: nature, including the nature of man, is naturally uncaring and evil. Whenever we do something good, like sharing kindness or love, we’re doing it for ourselves. It’s selfish, because the end result is the betterment of ourselves. The betterment of others is merely a secondary result, making every person evil.

The problem with this theory is it objectively defines the self vs. the other, when such an objective declaration does not exist. When you redefine the world in terms of subjective reality, which is the only congruent system, you’ll find that other people are just projections of you and they represent the struggles and dreams of yourself. When you’re sharing your art or love or generosity with others, you’re being “selfishly evil,” insofaras that you are benefiting yourself. If the world was objective, that would be evil. But it isn’t, so love and compassion are always good and on the side of light, because you are other people, other people are you, you single-handedly represent all of humanity, and every other person on this planet is the exact same person as you.

Suicide is murder and must be illegal. Killing yourself is the same as killing someone else.

The environmentalism ploy

If you’ve read the Georgia Guidestones, the ten commandments of the death-worshipers, the first item on the list is “keep the human population below 500 million.” The way to do that is to kill 93 out of every 100 people. It’s going to take a lot of wars, nuclear attacks, famines, sterilization, abortions, and plagues to do that, and you can bet the illuminati are plotting right now.

If you support population reduction, let me tell you the truth: population reduction starts with you. Show your commitment to the 500 million milestone by taking the lives of yourself and your family right now. I’ll wait here.

Are you done yet? Very good.

Humanity is the calm within the storm. Humanity is the beacon of light that shines through all the smoke, fog, and mirrors that plague the lower forms of life. Humanity triumphs over adversity and heartlessness eternally, not by extinguishing the heartless but by converting them to the side of light and making them our strongest allies.

We’re strong together. It doesn’t matter if we have twenty-billion people; the life of each person is inherently valuable and sacred regardless. This is the path of heart.

Look at dogs for example. Before we came along, that had no mission. The race of the dog was a ship with no rudder, no engine, and no captain. But now, with man as the captain, dogs have love, abundance, and a mission like no other. By partnering with us, they’ve unlocked their true potential. It isn’t all sunshine and roses, because we’re killing dogs all the time, just as we’re killing people. Support the good things while denouncing the killing. Killing isn’t necessary; enough people die on their own.

Humanity is the most perfect and natural form of life on Earth. Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t our planet. The planet is doing great, life is more diverse than ever, there is no global warming besides natural cycles of the sun, and pollution is minimal due to technological advances. The volcanoes of the Earth put out dozens of times more pollution than all of our actions combined. This is a secure, versatile planet; it can easily handle us. Mother Earth is not a fragile butterfly; she’s a solid rock with a will like no other.

Following your heart, day to day

If you’ve read everything I’ve written and am eagerly looking forward to my next articles, you’re one of a few. You’re reading a lot of other personal development books and blogs now, taking in all the information you can.

Yet you’re doing nothing.

You’re scared to do anything.

It’s much safer to read than to act.

It’s even safer to write than to act.

Right now, I’m just writing. You could say I’m being evil, because I’m encouraging other people to do nothing but read my writing, even if I say I want them to get out and see the world.

There is no personal development in sleeping, or reading, or even writing. Only in action.

You can read all you want, but you have to apply what you’re reading. If you’re merely amassing a list of quotes or a collection of books, you’re doing worse than nothing, because you’ve convinced yourself you’re making progress where really you’re making none. You have no heart.

When you forfeit your power to others, you give up your heart. You say that other people can make better use of your heart than you can. You’re afraid to wield power or personal responsibility, so the best you can is to let others guide you because they must be smarter.

The thing is, you can’t live with two hearts or zero hearts. You can only live with one heart. If we take that heart away or transplant a second heart next to it, it will kill you. Completely. When you become heartless, you’ve given your heart to someone else, and that person will die too because he can’t support two hearts. Heartlessness is the most pure form of evil, because it results in the death of everything.

It isn’t natural to live in fear. Courage is the natural state of man, but we’ve drifted away from it. When you’ve drifted off the path, the only thing to do is to get back on the path. Return to courage. Do something real.

Conclusion

Some people will say I’m naïve and idealistic for defining good and evil so concretely, or for believing in the goodness of man.

To them I say: :silly:

If you want something to pick on, I also believe in true love, real money, joblessness, purposeful happiness, and the sanctity of human life.

Always remember that the people who push atheism or Christianity on you the hardest are the ones plagued with painful doubt themselves. When people become highly angered, they’re never angry at you. They’re angry at themselves for not following their heart. Anger means that you’re either jealous of someone else being true, or unhappy that someone else is imitating you by being heartless.

Whenever I’m angry at other people, I’m actually angry at myself, because other people are me and I am other people. We’re the collective heart. It’s like the Borg, but ten times better. We’re working to consecrate the heart rather than extinguish it.

Live in the light.

Photo: Reading the Script

Reading the Script

Miss Criscilla, evaluating an important piece of paperwork over her cigarette break.

She was actually preparing for an exam in constitutional theory. This was ten minutes before that. I told her not to let me bother her, so I shot this portrait as she continued studying.

The building is interesting. The wall is all scuffed up, but I decided to include it in a full-body portrait instead of just her face. I like her shoes, and the overcast sky makes for good light.

I hope Criscilla passed her test; she had the material down. I don’t believe in being tested by others, but testing remains a staple of the college experience.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/800, F3.2, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-10-08T13:17:24-04, 20081008-171724rxt

Location: Daytona State College, 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL  32114

Photo: Messaging

Messaging

Bethany, receiving an intriguing text message before class. I don’t know why people use text messages when they could just talk over the phone, but they’ve become quite popular somehow.

She’s in cosmetology at the college, which apparently involves applying makeup and such. I think that’s why she has a purple apron. She could also have a future in modeling, because when I told her to be serious, she didn’t crack up like this girl.

I burned in the corners a lot (vignetting). They were bright to start, but darkening them really strengthens the portrait. You’re in Bethany’s world now.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/250, F4, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-10-08T12:51:09-04, 20081008-165109rxt

Location: Daytona State College, 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL  32114

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