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April 2010

Absconding an unsustainable lifestyle

This Friday's podcast addresses topics posed in the Abscondo song "Insecurities" in relation to the inevitable changes we are all confronting as we lead lives which are unsustainable.  We will discuss Europe's volcano-related travel disruptions, how this could be a tipping point that brings on the next Great Depression, and how this might affect our lives for the next decade.

This week, the commercial news media is desperately clinging to a tone of "normalcy" as millions of people are in the midst of absurdity.  What's significant about this mess, despite the frustration and suffering of all those caught up in it, is that I think this very-well could be the tipping point that will lead to the next Great Depression (the first Global Great Depression).

With the consumer and government debt bubbles worldwide, housing bubbles worldwide, a completely out-of-control and corrupt "rigged market" that is controlled by an untouchable financial elite in New York in London, peak oil, and a planet entering environmental chaos...all it will take is the wrong event at the wrong time.  This could be the "straw that breaks the camel's back", or if we're lucky it could be the next one...who knows.

Regardless, this got us thinking about our unsustainable lives, how they might change, and what those changes might mean in a practical sense.  Interestingly, this topic sort of coincides with the theme of a song I've recorded for the next album...a song called "Insecurities".  We will actually structure the conversation of this show literally around the chorus of this song:

You want this lifestyle to last forever

When you can't even stand today

You see fears where I see colors

Don't live a life a day away

Listen to the podcast for a fresh version of this song, with Sofia on backup vocals.  The sound of this song gives you a pretty good idea what I'm up to for the next album.  So far, I'm very pleased with the results (if I do say so myself) and can't wait to share it with the world.  Please tell me what you think by posting any comments / feedback here.

By the way, we usually finish the show a day early and get it uploaded right away.  I want to keep the scheduled Friday release dates for the podcast, but regular listeners can also check the blog on Thursdays and I might post the link to the show if it is done early.  Click here for early access to this Friday's show.

The Truth Is...

This week's podcast (click here to listen) is called "The Truth Is".  Sofia and I talk about the value of "truth-seeking" as we discuss the reasons why some chose a life of truth-seeking and why many choose not to.  We ponder the question "Is ignorance bliss?" in relation to some of the long-term benefits of truth-seeking.

I've long been intrigued by the topic of "truth-seeking" and how, in the current social climate where relativism is supreme and each of us are entitled to our own opinions, people no longer seem to care whether an idea has any basis in truth.  What I'm describing here is a lazy attitude where one can easy brush off even the most well-reasoned or well-researched statement or argument as "just your opinion", just at they do the same to the most ridiculous idea or argument.  However, during my years as not just a truth-seeker, but also a truth-teller, I've occasionally also noticed an almost militant resistance or backlash to certain positions or discussions about certain topics.  We might question the dynamics behind such emotional reactions.

What I finally realized is that even the most well-reasoned, most factual position does not tend to penetrate an individual who is not a truth-seeker (at least not immediately).  However, it is also true that, oftentimes, a strong argument grounded in deep and obvious truth has a way of "sinking in" over the coarse of months or an individual unavoidably begins to perceive his/her world with the new "tool" of that new idea.  Indeed, each of us comes to truth-seeking not as a conscious act, but as an unavoidable consequence of truth being shined on us at some point.  So maybe this illumination sets off the process, but what we do from there is our own, individual decision.  We can only go so far if we do not consciously decide to seek truth as an end in itself.

So, the truth is, we all have to make up our minds about whether or not we value truth and the never-ending quest for more of it; or whether we, instead, place greater importance on things like self-preservation, short-term happiness, or social acceptance.  In this podcast, we acknowledge the genuine difficultly of this life-decision.

By the way, our listeners are encouraged to post comments to the show by clicking the "comments" link below.  Each week, I will write up a blog entry that corresponds to each show.  Eventually, when we have enough listeners, we'll discuss your comments on the previous show at the start of each show.


To Have or to Be

In our second podcast, we talk about our relationship with our stuff.  The discussion is grounded in ideas presented by Erich Fromm in his 1977 work "To Have or to Be?". 

It has been some time since I read this work...a few years actually.  Nonetheless, the core of his ideas are clear and powerful enough that they have stuck with me.  I think, too often, we contemplate the topic of "materialism" by framing it as, "we should try not to be so materialistic."  This approach calls on restraint and will-power and too often fails.  After all, if it is believed that more stuff will make you happier, then why not acquire whatever it is you want?

Instead, I argue that there is a sort of optimum level of material wealth that is suited to each of us.  If we do not have basic tools or comforts, then of course we aspire for more.  However, if we go beyond that optimum level, each additional thing we have actually diminishes our quality of life.  One can find that optimal level by changing the mental model to one that considers "being" as opposed to "having" as an end in itself.

Finally, I think this is an interesting topic because the opposing "having" and "being" mentalities also govern our relationships with others.  "Having people" do tend to measure relationships and friendships in terms of questions like "how many friends do I have and how loyal are those friends", whereas a "being person" might ask, "How much do I enjoy my time with friends?".

A "being" mentality also brings us a sense of peace not just when it comes to material decisions and relationships, but also with respect to life itself.  To be is to accept how life actually is...that we face endless successes and failures, love and loss, youth and old age.  Indeed, we truly "have" nothing at all other than our existence in the moment.