The Only Way Out is Down

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if it was more like Minecraft. I wake up alone in the middle of a foreign, undeveloped terrain full of wild animals and scary beasts. My only tools are my fists. I’ve got 12 hours until sunset.

Sometimes I fantasize about escaping through tunnels. When I was young I wanted to build a secret tunnel outside my brother’s basement closet wall. I never did, but I wanted to. I still think about digging a hole in my basement floor.

Maybe that’s because I’m an introvert. At least I am some of the time. I know this because I get energy when I’m alone. But when I’m alone, all I want to do is find things to share with other people. So maybe I’m an extrovert. Who knows.

The only times I’ve been alone in real life is when I chose to run away. People naturally group together. We are naturally social. It gets harder to make friends as an adult. You have to be more intentional about it, but it’s still possible.

In elementary I had a wooden fort in my backyard I made from recycled fence material. In middle school I built forts out of osage orange trees and old telephone poles. When I got one fort done, I’d start another. I do the same in Minecraft.

I go out exploring until I find a good spot to built an outpost. I then spend a few days to a few weeks setting up a small outpost. Sometimes people come behind me and the outpost grows into a town, but by then I’ve moved on.

I’m a developer. I develop new procedures, new roads, new towns, new ideas, and new products. I help get things started and then I move on. I’m a maker, a doer. Less talking, more action. But enough about me. Let’s move on.

novaskin-minecraft-wallpaper

Underutilized Me

I work 8-5 and do IT support and web design nights and weekends. My wife sells essential oils and makes soap for Skinny Coconut Oil. We have 5 kids. I go to church 2 times a week. I have an hour commute.

There’s just not a whole lot going on.

I’m underutilized. There are whole evenings where no one has any work for me to do. There are no meetings to attend. I spend entire Saturdays and entire Sunday afternoons with no work requests. So what do I do?

I rest. I meet with friends. I read articles on the Internet. I make videos. I tweet. I update my website. I go for a walk. There is still more time. There is a ton of time. I take the kids to the park. I read to them. Still more time.

There have been times in my life where I’ve felt overwhelmed or underwater. But even in these times, with a little bit of diligence and perspective, the short periods were not as bad as I originally thought. It was okay.

In January of 2012 I wrote, Problem Solver Seeks More Things to Fix, which I later regretted when hard problems began to present themselves (be careful what you ask for). But that’s essentially what I’m doing now.

The world is apparently changing exponentially, but the news seems slower than ever. We are living in amazing times, so why do I feel bored? Why do I just want to throw rocks in the creek and climb a hill?

Do I need more purpose in my life? Do I need more goals? How do I determine success? What do I want? Maybe I’m being too introspective and I’m asking the wrong questions. Maybe I should look outward more.

Who can I help more? How can I start thinking more about other people’s needs, rather than my own? How can I seek to add more value to the world than the value I take from it? What I can I do to get started?

In order to reach my next goal of earning $20,000 a month, I’m aiming to create $200,000 a month in value to the world (or $2.4 million in value per year). This changes how I think about the problem I’m solving.

I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but I’m going to document the process so you can follow along with me. I’ve heard that if I ‘take massive action’ or even if I ‘work a little bit every day’ I’ll get there. We’ll see.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Weedeating

I hated to weedeat. I never wanted to do it again. I thought that if I killed the grass, I wouldn’t have to do it again. Every spin of the plastic blades was murder. I wanted the grass to die. And it did.

But something worse returned.

Bare ground, like power, abhors a vacuum. There is always a nefarious weed seed ready to grow in place of the previous grass. But unlike grass, weeds grow at a faster rate, and in weirder directions.

erich-weed-eating

Instead of simply trimming the grass, now I had to trim the tops and sides of the crazy-haired weeds. They too would have to die. But there was nothing I could do to kill them. It was me who had to change.

Instead of fighting the grass, I would work with it. Instead of trying to kill the grass, I would simply trim it back. Two things happened: I started to actually enjoy weedeating and the grass didn’t die.

Zen masters who trim bonsai trees seek, “a kind of oneness with nature and with the universe” and they used it as a discipline to aid enlightenment. Trimming bonsai trees was also used as a means to meditate.

When you’re out weedeating you have a lot of time to think. This time can be used to appreciate nature and practice an attitude of gratitude or it can be used to be vengeful and hate your life. I’ve done both.

Thomas Campbell, physicist, author, and expert on consciousness, believes love is the opposite of fear and love lowers entropy while fear increases entropy. 1 John 4:18 says, “perfect love drives out fear.”

When we decide to love what we are doing and change our attitude about work, we reduce entropy and help bring harmony to our lives and the lives around us. In this, I’m reminded of this poem from 1100 A.D.:

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself,
and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself,
I could have made an impact on my family.
My family and I could have made an impact on our town.
Their impact could have changed the nation and
I could indeed have changed the world.”
by Unknown Monk, 1100 A.D.