I’ve been in hermit mode for a week, venturing out of my cave only for the essentials – food, water, and the gym. This time around in the cave, I’ve been studying the nature of power. I’ve spent time with Machiavelli and his famous analysis of statesmanship and power, The Prince. I’ve spent time with Robert Greene and his books The 48 Laws Of Power
and The 50th Law. I’ve also spent time analyzing power at play in current events such as the Afghanistan question, U.S. Presidential politics, the Tory maneuverings as they get set to assume the power position in Britain, and something closer to home – how a few clever people are maneuvering to raise income tax and take away child benefits among other things from the middle class (middle class in their estimation being someone who earns £15, 000 or more). I say clever, but maybe I should say devious instead because the bill is being introduced in such a way as to create a dilemma. The argument goes: the UK Government is broke. If we don’t raise this money, then you will start to see schools without electricity, medical services reduced etc. In my mind I’m thinking, the banks still owe us billions of pounds, yet they are paying out billions in bonuses. Why not have the banks put this bonus money into the public coffers? The banks seemed happy enough for the public to bail them out of financial difficulty. Why not repay the favor? In fact, they still OWE us money. So WTF?

In other news, I’ve written a treatment for a screenplay to which I am seeking funding for through the film council. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

From a poet to her Internet lover:

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways. I’ll get my husband to eat horny goat weed and promise him sex in the woods.  Once there, I’ll slash his throat and stab him in the chest.  Then we can run away together.

That’s what Joanna Hale did to her husband Peter.  She was found guilty today by jury.

I know poets are suppose to be passionate, but this is passion on crack.

A young lady of 15 has written a letter to the local paper. She is lamenting about the rampant sexism in her school. She says she often hears “lads saying how amazing a girl’s behind is or her breasts.” She is quick to add that she is being polite in her description of the boys’ actual words. She wants to know “How can men treat girls as meat?” In her world “It is quite obvious that any dignified girl or woman will never set foot near a guy who is obsessed with her chest and can’t keep his eyes off her behind.”

It is odd that her letter raging against sexism should appear just below a picture of a Vivitar movie camera advert with a young blond girl holding the camera while sitting on the floor in just her underwear. I like to read about the latest gadgets. Isn’t it funny that a magazine that is 100% about gadgets has, on every single cover, a picture of a beautiful young lady in a swimsuit? Well perhaps not funny, but certainly a commentary on the use of sex to sell products to men. We seem to have a switch that regulates our rational thinking and diverts the energy elsewhere at the sight of an attractive woman. The less she is wearing, the more we revert back to being like our simian primate cousins.

Our young lady goes on to ridicule the boys she hears utter childish words like: “I’d tap that.” She goes on to wonder why her school does nothing to promote the fair treatment of women. “I suppose it can’t exactly be taught. Guys just need to grow up,” she concludes.

I would like to tell her that we will grow up, but I know that we won’t. In every man there is an adolescent boy trapped inside and a ranging simian wanting to get out. You need only play fly on the wall to any group of men, regardless of class or status, and let a beautiful young lady walk by, and you will hear the men groan, “man I’d like to tap that.” If they don’t say it with their voice, they will say it with their eyes.

The headlines in the British press over the past week have been fixated on President Obama’s upcoming decision on Afghanistan. What should he do – send more troops or look for an honorable way to get out? Perhaps President Obama should turn to the words of a former president – John Quincy Adams – for counsel. J.Q.A. had this to say about American entanglement in foreign affairs: ‘…she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy…She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom…She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit….’

I am  in the business of helping people help themselves, or at least guiding them through a journey of self-help.  One of my bones of contention with the self-help, positive psychology industry has been the dumbing-down, over optimistic approach to achieving the good life.

Barbara Ehrenreich has a new book out that addresses this issue called Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America She was compelled to write the book because of the deluge of positive psychology she received after finding out she had breast cancer in 2000.  She said all that shiny optimism was “like sitting in a warm bubble bath for too long.”  You can read the full interview of her here.

I like to think that my approach to the industry is more about challenging people to think for themselves and in doing that, to focus on what they can do and what they do want and not the opposite.  And maybe my thinking is left over from the “can do” attitude the army instills in you, or from my mother who beat it into me that “if you want something, go get it. Period!”

Re-engaging with the news and reading current affairs has reawakened a part of me that has lain dormant for many years now, probably since I left the army 12 years ago.  I think back then, I felt it was my duty as an officer to be keenly aware of world events.  So I religiously devoured current news, world events, history and politics.

It wasn’t until I got a job in sales that I drifted away from an active interest in news and world affairs.  Most of the positive psychology books discourage paying attention to the news.  The news headlines were deemed to negative to be consumed by minds in active pursuit of a positive mental attitude.  And so I drifted away from world affairs, politics, and history.

So this week as I submerged myself in news via the press, radio, TV and the Internet, I began to rediscover a lost love.  And I fear, like Pandora’s Box, I have let loose a terrible and great evil into my world and I don’t think I can put it back.  To paraphrase an old army cadence: I like it.  I love it. I want more of it. Make it hurt, drill sergeant, make it hurt!

I’m in transition phase, which means I’m between projects.  I spent the doing some light research for my next project(s).  My morning reflection time yielding a long list of to-do’s, but I ended up blowing most of those off for a trip to Borders.  I wanted to get a feel for what other writers are doing out in the field and I wanted to gage where I want to steer my own writing to next.

On the drive to Borders I ran through the various subjects that have interested me in the past.  Philosophy, spirituality, culture, politics, and outdoor adventures are topics that generally occupy my attention .  I told myself that I would open my mind in Borders and see what other subjects might attract me without much forethought.

I picked up a few titles I have not read nor seen before like:  Adbusters, which bills itself as an activist toolkit.  The theme for this month’s issue is Thought Control in Economics.  I’ve never considered myself much of an activist, but the articles looked like I might learn something interesting.  Index on Censorship was the next title and it’s central question for the month is: Time for a Revolution?  I personally think it is time for a revolution, if not in the world, then in mind and body.  I thought I had run away from matters of spirituality, but the Buddhist Review, Tricycle caught my attention and reminded me of why I am attracted to Zen philosophy.  The articles are thoughtful and not airy-fairy.  Enlightenment Next, the magazine for evolutionaries was the next title that grabbed my attention with the headline reading: The Evolving Faces of God.  The voices of many of the leading popular spiritual leaders and gurus are in here.  The articles are well written even if some are a bit obtuse.  Next I wandered over to business and current affairs and found The Intelligent Life which is a title put out by The Economist and covers life, culture, and style in an intelligent, grown-up manner.  It’s like a lad mag for mature men (the cover doesn’t sport any half-naked sex goddesses). The writing style is heavy and intellectual, much like you would find in The Economist.  And then when I arrived back home the latest copy of Philosophy Now was waiting for me in the mail.  The cover story is existentialism and culture.

After an hour or so of browsing it seems my interests are indeed spirituality, philosophy, politics, and culture.  I did spend some time browsing the outdoor adventure mags, and techno-geek stuff, but none of those titles inspired me to part with any cash.  I was surprised that I didn’t spend any time in the travel section.

Back at the ranch, I got a last minute call from Ed asking me if I wanted to go see Pandorum with him and Rich.  After checking with the boss, I agreed.

Pandorum is a pure sci-fi action film.  It’s kind of like a mix of Alien, Descent, and Fight Club.  It’s a good film if you like your action flicks to be heavy on action and light on dialogue.

I feel the need for motion.  The past seven months I have been fully engaged with work behind the walls of the corporate castle, and now I feel the need to spend time roaming urban landscapes, wilderness, countryside, and mountains.  I want to re-engage with the world beyond the walls.  And those walls include the walls that surround my home.

I thought this would be a good story to share because I often here people making their big life goals – the goals they claim they really want – conditional.  They have the ‘someday’ mentality. ‘Someday when all the conditions are perfect, I’ll do the thing I really want to do with my life.’

I believe what they are really asking for is guaranteed success. Before they are willing to begin, they want someone (God, the Universe, Madam Golda) to look into the future and tell them that if they go for the thing they want, they will definitely get it and it will be just as they dreamed it would be and life will be wonderful. Without this guarantee, they refuse to act.

I’ve been down this road myself, sticking with the safe option, the perceived ‘sure thing’, the steady paycheck. All the while watching one day bleed into the next and wistfully dreaming about ‘someday.’

I don’t know if you know the story of Liz Murray, the lady who went from being homeless on the streets of New York City to attending Harvard and becoming a successful international speaker, author, and life coach. Their is a movie out about her life called Homeless to Harvard. All the odds were stacked against her. She had only a grade school education. She was living on the streets and being raised by two drug addicted parents.

But she wanted a better life. To get it, she knew she had to give up the if-this-then-that mentality. She said: “Before I had my transformation, I always had this illusion I call if-this-then-that. If I find a quiet place place, then I’ll study. If I get some more cash, then I’ll go to school. We do that when there is no real commitment to a goal. We’re saying ‘I’m committed unless…’”

She goes on to say there is a big difference between ‘I’m committed unless’ and absolute commitment. Absolute commitment means you’ll do whatever it takes. No excuses! No waiting for permission to act. No waiting for someday. No waiting for absolute guarantees.

To begin, you have to begin with absolute faith. Let go of the if-this-then-that mentality. This reminds me of a story Joseph Campbell, the late 20th century philosopher and mythology expert, told of a Native American father’s advice to his son: “As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump! It is not as wide as you think.”

Are you standing on the edge of a chasm?

Take a good look at it.

Now jump!