Enlightened Conflict

get caught trying

August 25th, 2016

 caught trying do not be afraid life do



“History doesn’t choose individual people.

History chooses everyone.


Every day.


The only question is: How long will you ignore the call?”


Brad Meltzer



“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”

Jonathan Safran Foer



How to succeed: Try hard enough.

How to fail: Try too hard.


Malcolm Forbes




what are you going to do i do not know


Some people choose to not just be bystanders.


Some people choose to be tryers.


Some people treat personal liberty with incredible care and responsibility.



Some people love the depth & breadth of the imagination and, yet, retain a healthy skepticism toward what they love & dream about.



Some people embrace personal freedom and, yet, permit limits and responsibilities to steward the freedom.



Some people can become captivated with the beauty of Life and dreams and following passions and, yet, understand the demands of reality are more pressing than anything that is simply captivating.



Some people are brave … and bold … and, yet, refuse to be stupid about it.


Some people seek the extraordinary and, yet, understand they are simply being asked to take advantage of the ordinary found available to any and all.




“And while I’d like to lay claim to some extraordinary act of originality, truth is I’m only taking advantage of capabilities inherent in everyone.”



Mark Z Danielewski




Some people not only hear the call of history … they also answer the call.


Some people think about doing … and some people actually do.



Some people understand that we all have multiple lives within us and, yet, decide to live one life well.





At some point you need to decide what type of person you want to be.choice is yours arrows direction


Some of that type of person or some of the other type of person.


To be a bystander or be a tryer.


All I can really suggest is … well … get caught trying to be a type of person.

is the fault in the stars?

August 21st, 2016

 fault mine




“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/ But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”



Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar





fault in our stars dear brutus julius caserFate, fault and personal responsibility.


John Green made this quasi famous Shakespeare quote famous again to an entirely new generation.


John Green made an entirely new generation start thinking philosophically about fate … and how you deal with it.




I have written about fate and destiny before.


Personally I don’t think much about it. Mostly because … well … I kind of figure if there is such a thing as fate it is completely out of my hands <it is in the stars> and I would be better off getting out and doing shit … my shit in particular, seizing fate by the throat as it were, rather than awaiting Fate to stop by and tell me, like an odd little waiter, what I should or shouldn’t do.


But … yeah … some things are written in the stars. Some things are out of your control and they happen … even if you do absolutely everything right in your Life <which is, practically speaking, almost impossible>.


In his book John Green used cancer as what as written in the stars.


I could most likely list a long list of various shit things many people are faced with that … well … they certainly had no desire facing.


But the point of the quote is how we respond to what the stars fate us with.


Our choice, or non choice, to do something in response.


Our choice, or non choice,  to make the best of whatever it is we are faced with in life.


Our choice, or non choice, to say it is the fault of the stars or the fault of ourselves in where we go with whatever Fate has handed us.



fate is a motherfuckerLook.


Fate is a motherfucker the majority of the time.


A real bastard.



Why do I say that?




How often do we view Fate with a smile?


<not that often>


More often we view that sonuvabitch Fate with sadness and dismay.


More often we view that sonuvabitch Fate with a yearning to be able to better control circumstances.


And, on occasion, we ponder Fate as if we actually did something to deserve it.

We reflect & opine upon on our actions and suggest to ourselves “if only”, with regret, thinking that somehow & someway we could have mastered Fate and redirected it.


That somehow if we had acted differently Fate would have been different.


That somehow we could have rearranged the stars in the sky.




Stars are stars.body making a fault in stars




Fate is fate.


And Fate listens to no one but itself.


Sometimes fate is fate and you can’t do anything about it.


But here is what you can do.

Truly your own acts with regard to fate reside in how you respond not in how you can avoid.




Shakespeare certainly was pretty good about suggesting that your actions, and your decisions to become involved, can impact other’s Fate … and by not taking action you assume some ‘fault.’


And I buy that.




Fate is fate.


You can act and something good can happen … and something unintended bad can happen.


You can not act and something good can happen … and something unintended bad can happen.


Acts you take are rarely simple cause & effect.


Acts you take are also very difficult to find correlations with <note: cause and correlation are two very different things>.


I imagine some people reading the last few things I have written start thinking … well … Life sucks if you cannot be sure that anything you do is right or good.


They shouldn’t.




created my own worldNo one shouldn’t.


While Fate may reside in the stars … ‘fault’ in Life resides within us.


Fate will be fate and will be there regardless of anything we do or don’t do.


Let Fate own the stars.


But … Life is ours to own.


And it is our fault if we do not own it.


the bastardization of occam

August 20th, 2016

occam economy choice simplify



“I have tried in my way to be free”




Leonard Cohen





Occam’s Razor. You know … “the simplest explanation is usually the best one.”


clueless clever-but-we-are-clueless


Developed by 14th-century English Franciscan friar William of Ockham, Ockam’s Razor <more commonly spelled Occam’s razor>, suggests one should seek the ‘more economical solution.’


What he actually wrote <in Summa Logicae 1323> was “it is futile to do with more what can be done with fewer.”





This fabulous concept has been hijacked, twisted into a pretzel and, in general, bastardized under the insidious guise of ‘common sense’ logic.  It has been hijacked under the whole idea that ‘freedom’ is more often found in simplicity … or the simplest explanations … and , therefore, in a way those who use the concept in a misguided way are … well … bastardizing Life itself <and screwing up business in the business world>.




Somehow … somewhere … someone decided that good ole Occam’s razor could be used day in and day out as ‘common sense living.’


I would point out that Ockham himself, a philosopher, wasn’t a big fan of simplistic common sense.

I would further point out that Ockham’s razor theory was based on … all things being equal … the simplest explanation is usually the best one.

I would also point out that by “simple” Occam’s razor is really referring to the theory with the fewest new assumptions.


And, in fact, I would also point out that inevitably there are times when the simplest explanation for a given set of observations is … well … wrong.


Occam’s razor never claims to determine the truth or untruth of something. It truth ambiguity -false-bothonly identifies the things we should logically consider and evaluate.


Common sense, under the guise of simplicity, far too often strips … well … an idea, a concept, a process & a theory … of the texture & hues of which they should be judged.

The truth is that black, or white, is overrated … as in ‘this is a black or white thing.” The most interesting things and, frankly, the most effective ordinary things & ideas are neither black nor white … nor even gray. Complexity is a colorful idea & thought.




Should we view Occam’s Razor the way skeptics use it we would find that their ‘one explanation is more likely’ not only doesn’t mean it is a common sense black & white issue but it also tends to mean that the ‘common sense solution is not only not common nor of sense’. More importantly … it is also commonly suggest the incorrect solution.


Skeptics <or ‘simplify or die’ seekers> in their attempt to simplify everything treat Occam’s Razor as if it were an actual “Law of things” and use it to enable denying any rational claim, no matter how valid, based on … well … common sense.

Occam’s Razor is not a ‘law’ … simply a ‘rule’ of thought or a principle for which to think about things.




It was not meant to be anything associated with ‘common sense.’ Instead it was about making choices and deductions economically.


Occam’s razor was never meant for paring everything down to some beautiful simplistic core of truth.


The truth is that most things are, unfortunately, difficult and messy. And, yes, I can absolutely see why someone would gravitate to the good ole razor with the sense am i makingintent to simplify. But Ockham’s razor was not intended to cut away anything & everything or eliminate logic … it simply suggested that when everything is done, when everything has been thought of, and if all things were equal … you should look to the most economical solution as the one which made the most sense.


No, not common sense … but rather ‘the most sense.’




As Tao Ching said … “seek simplicity, grasp the essential.’


Occam’s razor does not mean eliminating the essential … no matter how complex or burdensome the essential it is.





We certainly do not want to make things more complicated than they need to be but you also do not want to simplify so much that losing something essential ends up ‘under complicating’ things.


And this is where common sense and the whole simplicity thing really screws up good ole Occam & the razor.


Pretty much any great theory, any great concept, any great idea … has to incorporate what I would call ‘intentional simplification.’ And that is intentionally ignoring some things <some effects or causes of things> not because they do not exist or do not actually happen … but because they do not have any impact or much of an impact on the final outcome.


Conversely, this means some idiot <or a bunch of them> are going to wander around picking up all the non essential things and say “common sense suggests your conclusion is flawed because you ignored these things.”




“I purposefully, intentionally, ignored them … as meaningless in the grander scheme of things.”


In some absurd version of their world their ‘simple common sense facts’ … well … over complicate things. They use Occam to … holy shit … complicate things.

Uh oh.

They actually use common sense to … holy shit part 2 … complicate things.

occam simplest clue deduce choice

As I said back in September 2013 when I first used Occam’s razor … sometimes what is … is … well … just is.



That may be the paradox that ‘common sense’ struggles with … sometimes the simplest explanation is complex.




Occam does not nor should it take sides on any given issue.


Occam does not nor should it shame a complex issue out of existence.


People who ignorantly wield Occam’s Razor often seem to be unaware of this.


To wield it incorrectly is a lazy tactic at best.

To wield it incorrectly is usually a reflection of ignoring the crucial question … whether there really is a need for the questioning.




That alone is Occam’s largest suggestion … should I slice away questioning what is?




Where the lazy Occam users gain confidence is that Occam, at his core <albeit I did not know him personally> was a nominalist … maybe even a minimalist.


But even the most simplistic minimalist recognizes that analysis of anything truly worthwhile is likely to be incredibly complex … even at its simplest.


While I love simplicity … I will admit … the utility of Occam’s Razor is highly questionable. I fear that its misuse flippantly eliminates the useful by selecting over-simplified competitors.


Occam’s razor is simply a heuristic or rule of thumb which should be used to guide discussion but not to offer a solution.


All it does is to encourage us to favor, among otherwise equivalent theories or hypotheses, those that make the fewest unwarranted assumptions.


It is not a law.


It is not a scientific principle.


It cannot justify a position in and of itself.


simplicity meaningfulIt does not represent common sense.


Maybe everyone should remember only one thing about Occam’s razor that really matters … the razor analogy refers to “shaving off” or cutting from the theory those variables or concepts that are superfluous & non-essential and only create unnecessary complications.

Maybe everyone should remember before they invoke Occam’s Razor as common sense that it is more important to identify ‘the essential’ as true common sense decision making.


In the end?


“I have tried in my own way to be free.”

Far too often people do so by attempting to simplify. They assume, through common sense, that less is better … less is more. And, in some ways, that is true … but not at the expense of what is essential & needed. Complexity is a Life truth. Freedom of choice, of living or … well … almost anything is more often found in an “economical truth” and not in a ‘simplistic truth.’


Ponder that for a while.

life is not a mathematics problem

August 14th, 2016

treacherous thing




“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”



John Green




“Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal.

 When you’re good, bad things can still happen.


And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.”



Barbara Kingsolver



10 score math lifeWhew.



We score everything.











We almost treat Life as a balance sheet.




We almost treat people as a balance sheet.


We most certainly attempt to make life, a specific event or time, a mathematical problem. And we then proceed to analyze that Life or event or time with some unequivocal mathematical solution in mind with the intent to measure it.  As well all know … we do this particularly when we want to discuss “improving”, i..e, wanting a person to be more than a person.


That said.


Ponder this Life math conundrum.


  • Balance sheets are assessed by zeroing it out. Pluses equal minuses.


  • Scoring usually goes 1 to 10. 10 being the best.





If the best people are the ones who balance out <they would then be a zero … oops … or are they then a 10?>, then wouldn’t they … uh oh … they don’t even show up as being worthwhile on the 1 to 10 scale.


Or how about this <if you want to ignore the balance sheet idea>.


What happens if someone’s 10 version is an 8?


What a treacherous thing to demand a 10 on an 8 score … when they are truly a 10 as is.


What a treacherous thing to demand that a person be more than the person they are.


Society almost seems to encourage us to not only make Life mathematical but to judge mathematically.


And, to be clear, the whole positive and encouragement and “think good things” industry certainly ain’t helping us in accepting a person as … well … a person.

the fuck question fucking stupid


The whole “Secret” & positive thing can far too quickly translate into some wacky life mathematical problem people can solve in making a ‘better Life.’



You can do better!


If you are at 7 you should always be striving for 8!



Personally I believe we have bastardized real encouragement in combination with ‘numberizing’ people <a bad combination>.


People are not numbers, nor should they be assessed as numbers and, surely, they cannot simplistically be represented as something as simple as a number.


And what makes this even more treacherous?


There is rarely such a thing as a good or bad person in isolation.


What I mean by that is what may be good at one moment is bad at another.


And what that means is … well … a number can trap someone in the past or being measured for but a moment.


Therefore, not only does it become treacherous to believe a person is more than a person … but treacherous to believe a person is less than a person.


And, yeah, I know about 360degree reviews and measuring shit by tracking over time but inevitably the math works out one of two ways:



  • An average of highs and lows <which diminishes true learning on how high is up and how low is low>


  • A snapshot in time <in which the person gets screwed if they are having a bad time and benefit if it is their one truly good time>



When I took a moment and really thought about this I kind of thought this was related to the whole ‘perfect person and imperfections’ thing.


We have a nasty habit of looking at the people who we dislike and immediately assess, judge what could & should be improved, and think “they could be a 10 if only …”


We have an even nastier habit of looking at the people we like, yes … actually like, judge how close they are to a ‘perfect person’ and think “gosh, they would be absolutely perfect <a 10> if only …”



That’s silly.


calculate how fucking stupid math judgeNo.


It’s just fucking stupid.


People are people.


On their best day and at their best they are … well … their best. And judging someone as if they can be, and should be, their best … a “10” … every day is just fucking stupid.


A person is no more than a person.


And no matter how much we want to make a person a number and make Life a mathematical formula or equation we cannot.


And because we cannot we actually should not.




It is a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person.person expect treacherous paper towns


Just as it is treacherous thing to believe a person is less than a person.


Don’t try and make life, or a person, a mathematical equation.




“We should always bear in mind that numbers represent a simplification of reality.”


Kenneth E. Boulding


backward glancing daydream

August 12th, 2016

life choices imperfect time moves away




“I was surprised, I was happy for a day in 1975 / I was puzzled by a dream, stayed with me all day in 1995.”


opening couplet to The State I Am In <Belle & Sebastian>



“ … the softly creaking door into their sweet, strange, drolly funny and not a little sinister world, where it’s always a backwards-glancing daydream.”




writer in the Guardian about Belle & Sebastian






let it go & move on



<with my fingers tightly curled around a subject, nails buried deep in it>


I Have






finding themselves as they go backwards forwardI tend to believe we all look back on occasion.




We look back incessantly.


Especially on the good stuff.




Especially on the bad stuff.




Suffice it to say … good or bad … we backward glance incessantly.




And we are creative in our backwards looking. It can be after decades, after years, after months, and … yeah … even after minutes.


“I always say the perfect words, five minutes after the conversation has ended.”


The world we look back at is a sinister little world.


Sinister in that the view looking backwards more often than not is rebuilt in our heads to reflect some utopian feeling moment.


Sinister in that we view some moment as if we were in control everything or, maybe conversely, the universe had controlled everything to occur at that moment in time <some would call this destiny or fate>.


Simplistically … this means backward glancing has a very uncomfortable relationship with “perfection.”






Because we ‘still’ time <make it stop in our viewing> this creates a wacky perception that everything was actually still in that moment. And that stillness implies control and alignment.


This is flawed thinking.


Flawed because this utopian backwards moment is great conceptually but does not even come close to reflecting the reality.reality persistent one






Several reasons but let me focus on our imperfection.


What we view backwards looking as perfect is more likely a reflection of our imperfection in the moment <or imperfections in general>.


Let’s maybe call those imperfections “a confluence of uncontrollable factors.”


And what makes that idea even worse for us is … well … we hold on to the beautifully imperfect moments with fingernails dug in.


To be clear … this can go both toward incredibly good memories and incredibly bad memories. Both reflections of imperfect reality which in the rear view mirror look perfectly aligned with us … or against us.  what I mean by this is that backwards looking is a completely  warped view in our heads.


  • The moment is made up of imperfections yet we see it perfectly.


  • The moment is most likely a confluence of uncontrollable factors yet we view all the factors as controllable <or we should have controlled>


That said.


This means backwards glancing is more often than not grounded in what I often call “if only thinking.”


I coulda, shoulda, woulda things.


Backwards glancing far far <far> too often glances off of several thoughts which can steer our current view in the wrong direction:


  • Not being good at something <or in a moment>


  • Not being good enough <in the moment>


  • Fucking something up <or a moment>


  • Leaving when it got too hard <or leaving in a moment>




As for “if only” … we can certainly change ourselves and our circumstances to some extent. I have written about this numerous times. However backwards glancing generates flawed perceptions of change.  It implies “well, if I had done this” or “if I had only been paying attention to” … you would have done the ‘right’ thing <whatever right truly is> and all would have been good.


Flawed thinking.


All that would have guaranteed is a different ourcome and  different experience. Neither of which is guaranteed to be the ‘prefect’ scenario you envision.




I believe that the past can be a great place to learn from. The past offers us the opportunity to see glimpses of who we truly are in a variety of different situations. It does provide some opportunities to gain some valuable self backwards glance where i am going stay here life pathwisdom.


But at the exact same time it takes some fortitude to not let the past dictate your future or even to let the past get in the way of living in the present.


Simplistically … backward glancing can freeze you.

Freeze you stuck in the wretched middle of the past, present and future.




“And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been.

 But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.


So she was turned to a pillar of salt.

So it goes.


People aren’t supposed to look back.

I’m certainly not going to do it anymore.”



Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five




In the end.


Here is what I believe most of us learn by looking backwards.


Looking backwards it can seem quite easy to think everything would have explained itself if you had only stopped interrupting.

Looking backwards it can be difficult to discern what you should miss and what you shouldn’t miss as well as what you actually missed and what you didn’t miss.



“Do you ever catch yourself missing the things that you shouldn’t?

The people you shouldn’t?

Do you find yourself wanting them back but you know that you shouldn’t?

You suddenly remember the million reasons that you shouldn’t want them back in your life but all you can focus on is the one reason you should take them back.”


i think that’s a hard lesson to learn. that it’s okay to miss something but not get it back


/// the-homie-sexual



Unfortunately Life is not so easily explained.


I can pretty much promise you one thing … you missed some things you shouldn’t have, you miss some things you shouldn’t and you didn’t miss some things you should have and you don’t miss some things which you should miss.

universe backwards imagination watch

Back in 2013 I wrote about how most people either get trapped in past or trapped in the future as they live Life. I called it ‘forward without looking over your shoulder. Life is tricky. Always has been and always will. And both the past has its attractiveness <learning> as well as the future <possibilities>. And there is only balance and not perfection.


And maybe that is the thought of the day.


In the end if all we try is to make this life perfect we will fail and make ourselves miserable in the process.

And backwards glancing is a key components to making ourselves miserable.



Enlightened Conflict