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.

Curing Parkinson’s Disease

I left this reply after seeing Sergey Brin’s blog entry on his genes’ predisposition toward Parkinson’s disease:

My Great Aunt contracted Parkinson’s disease in her fifties; she passed on a couple years ago in her seventies. After twenty years, it got progressively worse to the point that she couldn’t move.

I remember my Grandma often having to call her back over the phone, because she’d inadvertently hit the “talk” button from the shaking.

I think Parkinson’s disease has a connection to arthritis and cancer, because all three involve the body turning against itself; destruction from the inside out rather than from external causes. I found out this year that cancer is a vitamin deficiency; you should eat apple seeds and similar seeds every day, so your body can use vitamin B17 to kill the rogue cells that want to form cancerous growths. I blogged about it here: The Cancer Myth. Cancer is a big problem, so it’s nice to know I’ll never suffer from it, despite all my friends and family that have died in vain…

Might Parkinson’s disease be a vitamin deficiency too, and all this stuff about genes just be a coincidence? There could be a vitamin we don’t get, because we eat all processed foods rather than natural foods. Our modern treatments don’t cure the disease; they just patch the symptoms, buying you some time.

If there is a natural cure, it’s probably something you have to get in your diet every day, just like how you eat iodine every day (in salt) to avoid goiters. It’s likely that you can’t “cure” Parkinson’s disease, just like you can’t “cure” thirst.

Finding that natural cure and prevention is harder, because it requires long-scale testing to be effective. But it should be easy to get started. Research dogs and cats in captivity (i.e. apartments) vs. in the wild; it could be that the ones in the wild don’t get the disease but the ones in captivity do, just like only domesticated dogs get cancer (because they can’t eat grass and weeds which have B17 in them).

The next step is to research people who live close to the Earth and eat straight from nature; perhaps in the jungles of Africa. Do they get Parkinson’s disease? If they don’t, find out what it is they’re eating that prevents it.

Good luck Mr. Sergey, and let me know if you get to the bottom of this.

The cure

Keep in mind that if you find the prevention and cure for Parkinson’s disease, it does nothing on it’s own. A few hundred thousand in this country know that vitamin B17 cures cancer, but the cancer industry is vehemently against the cure because it will put them out of business.

Even the FDA is in on this. The government is behind keeping you in the dark about cancer. I’m actually breaking the law by touting B17 as the cure for cancer right here. If I dared to sell apricot seeds on this blog, I could earn myself five years in federal prison.

B17 isn’t even recognized as a vitamin, and it can’t go through FDA testing because it’s an organic substance. They only want inorganic cancer cures.

Besides, no one will pay the tens of millions of dollars for the colluded, bureaucratic testing process. You can’t recoup the cost selling apricot seeds, unlike the phony cancer treatments we have now, which, incidentally, cost upward of $8000 a month. That’s how much the hospital was paying for my cousin when he died of brain cancer in 2006. And it was all B.S. and he could’ve easily avoided cancer if he’d been eating apples with seeds all along. Heck, he probably could’ve got out of it when he found out about the cancer if he would’ve started on laetrile pills right away.

The people in the American Cancer Society will tell you not to eat seeds, because they’ll poison you. It’s all for shock value, to scare you away from pursuing the truth. Seeds poison you no more than water.

When we find the cure for Parkinson’s disease, there will be a lot of resistance. Not as much as with cancer, because cancer has legendary status and is poised to kill tens of millions over the next 100 years. But still a lot of resistance.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic affliction. Victims do not get better, unlike with strep throat or any normal ailment, which we can eliminate with antibodies or surgery. You get Parkinson’s disease, you start with pills, progressing to invasive and mechanical treatments. The whole time, you get progressively worse, on the march toward death. At best, the mechanical treatments prolong your death. My neighbor has terrible arthritis dating back twenty years. He’s had two shoulder blades and a hip replaced, and the next hip is scheduled for the spring. And he’s still in terrible pain and his fingers don’t work and his face is contorted. Doesn’t that tell you we’re doing something wrong?

We’re not getting to the source of the problem by applying band-aid patches. That’s what modern treatment for cancer, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease is. A collection of kludges. If we treated tooth decay like we do cancer, the solution would be this:

1. Don’t brush your teeth. Do you know how much those bristles hurt your gums?
2. Keep eating the same foods. Diet change is linked to death, because many people who die recently changed their diets.
3. As your teeth decay, we’ll drill them out and replace the innards with concrete.
4. Your gums will shrivel and rot, but we’ll apply salves to counteract that.
5. Eventually, all your teeth will rot from the roots and fall out. We’ll go ahead and pull them out. Then you can wear dentures.
6. Eventually, the dentures won’t stay put because your gums will become fully eroded. If you haven’t died yet. Time to start drilling into your jaw bone. We can put in fake teeth with screws.
7. We put in the fake teeth. It’s a very dangerous operation, but it proves successful. Unfortunately, you get a minor infection and die, because your immune system is in shambles from the continued abuse to your mouth.

This is absurd. But it’s what we do right now with Parkinson’s disease. We have pills that stave off Parkinson’s disease temporarily. Once those fail, we bust open your skull and stick an electrode in your brain. “Deep brain stimulation.”

This is witchcraft.

Witchcraft does not work.

Pellagra is caused by a deficiency of niacin (B3). Pellagra is a terrible disease. Your skin starts peeling, you suffer from dysentery, you become light-sensitive, you go insane, and then you die.

Pellagra raged through Europe for hundreds of years. It even hit America hard 100 years ago, because people weren’t eating the foods with niacin or tryptophan, which the body can convert to niacin. Milk, eggs, soybeans, yeast, and meat stop pellagra.

The people with pellagra spent most of their time eating corn, because that was their dominant crop. For two hundred years doctors believed that corn was toxic. Obviously it causes pellagra.

Another hypothesis was that the people who got pellagra were evil and God was punishing them.

These are all valid guesses, but they pale in contrast to the truth. It’s a simple nutritional deficiency.

You could spend millions of dollars now on research for a mechanical cure for pellagra. Perhaps we can use surgery? Perhaps there’s a pill that can cure it? Even better, a pill that you have to take for the rest of your life, so we can keep charging you.

Of course there is. A multi-vitamin. Even better, you can eat the foods that have niacin in them.

What are the theories behind Parkinson’s disease? It’s either your parents (genes) or your food (toxins). But really, it isn’t the foods you’re eating. It’s the foods you’re not eating. That’s the only logical answer.

What are the theories behind cancer? Everything causes cancer. Sunshine, motor oil, radiation, dish soap, cell phones, computers, processed food, lead, lawn mowers, air conditioning, genes… the list goes on.

It doesn’t matter if you have a consensus that pellagra is God’s wrath. It’s still false.

It doesn’t matter if everyone agrees that sunshine causes cancer. Science is neither a popularity contest nor an emotional debate. This may seem cold, but it’s actually the most loving thing I’ve ever said. When you become trapped by dogma, you never get to the truth. People continue to die en masse. Phony solutions persist under the guise of scientific theory. This is happening with cancer, and I bet it’s happening with Parkinson’s disease.

There’s got to be something better than witchcraft. In the future, students of nutrition will have to answer the question: “__________ is to Parkinson’s disease as Vitamin C is to scurvy.” If only we can find out what that blank is.

Dumb People, Smart People, and Smarter People

2009-12-20 Update: I revoke this article because it is negative and condescending. Read it anyway if you want.

Dumb people ignore the rules.
Smart people follow the rules.
Smarter people make the rules.

Dumb people live below their potential.
Smart people live up to their potential.
Smarter people live beyond their potential.

Dumb people can’t focus.
Smart people multi-task.
Smarter people obsess.

Dumb people eat meat.
Smart people never eat meat.
Smarter people eat meat when they’re starving to death.

Dumb people don’t go to college.
Smart people go to college.
Smarter people think college is a joke.

Dumb people become lazy and fat.
Smart people stay fit by going to the gym.
Smarter people don’t pay others to lift weights.

Dumb people can’t keep to a budget.
Smart people set a budget and stick to it.
Smarter people don’t need budgets.

Dumb people don’t know.
Smart people know.
Smarter people don’t care.

Dumb people follow trends.
Smart people set trends.
Smarter people transcend trends.

Dumb people fail IQ tests.
Smart people ace IQ tests.
Smarter people don’t take IQ tests.

Dumb people are angry.
Smart people are tolerant.
Smarter people take action.

Dumb people buy cheap stuff.
Smart people buy good stuff.
Smarter people buy stuff for free.

Dumb people are emotional.
Smart people are analytical.
Smarter people are intelligent.

Dumb people read magazines.
Smart people read books.
Smarter people read books, magazines, blogs, and more.

Dumb people rent.
Smart people buy.
Smarter people sell.

Dumb people don’t read.
Smart people read.
Smarter people write.

Dumb people go with the flow.
Smart people go against the flow.
Smarter people get out of the water.

Dumb people text message.
Smart people telephone.
Smarter people shout.

Dumb people are afraid.
Smart people are courageous.
Smarter people are contagious.

Dumb people disappoint.
Smart people impress.
Smarter people confuse.

Dumb people have jobs.
Smart people have careers.
Smarter people do what they want.

Dumb people take video.
Smart people take photos.
Smarter people draw sketches.

Dumb people hate.
Smart people love.
Smarter people care.

Dumb people waste.
Smart people save.
Smarter people create.

Dumb people make enemies.
Smart people make friends.
Smarter people are friends.

Dumb people run.
Smart people jump.
Smarter people laugh.

Dumb people want the money.
Smart people have the money.
Smarter people print the money.

Dumb people live for no one.
Smart people live for others.
Smarter people live for themselves.

Dumb people don’t think.
Smart people think.
Smarter people act.

Dumb people use MySpace.
Smart people use Facebook.
Smarter people go outside.

Dumb people talk.
Smart people listen.
Smarter people connect.

Dumb people know what they want.
Smart people get what they want.
Smarter people have what they want.

Dumb people follow.
Smart people lead.
Smarter people convert.

Dumb people guess.
Smart people assume.
Smarter people ask.

Dumb people date.
Smart people get married.
Smarter people go canoeing.

Dumb people wait for true love.
Smart people look for true love.
Smarter people create true love.

Dumb people take.
Smart people give.
Smarter people share.

Dumb people join religion.
Smart people make religion.
Smarter people are religion.

Dumb people forget.
Smart people remember.
Smarter people make you remember.

Dumb people live beyond their means.
Smart people live within their means.
Smarter people live beneath their means.

Dumb people repeat their mistakes.
Smarter people learn from their mistakes.
Smarter people learn from the mistakes of others.

Dumb people value work.
Smart people value ideas.
Smarter people value implementations.

Dumb people have guns.
Smart people don’t have guns.
Smarter people have lots of guns.

Dumb people are dumb.
Smart people are smart.
Smarter people are both.