The “Gymcensus”

gymmirrorIt’s January 9th and the gyms are getting less crowded by the day.  The “Gymcensus” is almost over.  With the holiday season having just ended, the story behind Christmas should be in mind but I’ll recap just in case.  The story of Christmas starts with Joseph bringing Mary, his betrothed, to Bethlehem to be counted for the census.  Due to the large influx of people, Joseph and a very pregnant Mary were forced to stay in a stable because there was no room at the inn.  In that stable Jesus was born.  Then he and his family had to flee in order escape the wrath of King Herod who intended to kill the child.  Now we have created the modern equivalent.

The Gymcensus is a slightly skewed reenactment of the story of Jesus.  After the holidays, all people who want to believe that they will be fit this year must travel to a gym.  They must go as often as possible during the first few weeks of the new year in order to be counted in the Gymcensus.  Since it is so crowded and there are a limited number of elliptical machines, people are forced to lift weights or run.  At that point these people must flee the gym because they are afraid that exercise might kill them.  Either that or they flee from their friends that they told about the gym commitment because they cannot face their “failure”.  While this depiction of a New Year tradition may be comical, it does not need to be so pervasive.  Most gyms give you the tool that you need in order to stay through the census and actually become more fit.  That tool is the mirror.

The mirror is an underused tool in and out of the gym.  In all honesty, the trip to a gym is completely unnecessary.  The main action that needs to happen is to look in the mirror and come face to face with your opponent.  Once you have looked your opponent in the eye and sized him or her up, you’ll have a very good idea of what he or she is capable of.  Then all you need to do is beat your opponent by 1%.  Perhaps I grazed over that too quickly.  The only person that you are competing with is you!  You just need to start by doing a little bit more than the lazy version of yourself would do.  If you do that, then you’ll gain momentum.  DO NOT COMPETE WITH A PICTURE IN YOUR HEAD OR A PHOTO IN A MAGAZINE!  You’re setting yourself up for failure by doing that.  Only compete with you, the you of today.  Don’t take part in the Gymcensus!  Use the mirror in your gym, bathroom or wherever to regularly challenge your greatest opponent to be better.  If you don’t, then no one will.

You’re not here just to be counted, you’re here because you count!

Jocko Willink does an AMAZING job of illustrating a more intense version of this lesson when he talks about the “man in the cave” in his interview with Tim Ferriss.  It’s worth a listen.

Pete

Transparencies

transparencyAt one point in my educational career, transparencies were the height of technology.  By today’s standards they are obsolete but at the time they were extremely helpful.  The ability to manipulate and project for a group to see was used daily.  My most vivid memories of them were from history class.  A territory could be shown with a variety of borders and other influencers.  Depending on the transparency that was placed onto the territory, a force like the Roman Empire could be all encompassing or completely inconsequential.  The territory was always the same but the translucent lines of borders and boundaries changed.  Even though the transparency projectors have all but disappeared, the influence of invisible and imaginary lines has not.

They are truly all around us, the transparent lines that often direct our lives.  The boundary lines, goal lines, bottom lines, traffic lines and party lines are subtly informing our every day experience.  So many different ways that we can choose to box ourselves in or direct our movement by using these lines.  The issue comes when the lines become walls that imprison.

Many of us have constructs that we have developed or have been developed for us.  Some are almost invisible until we look for them.  For example you are reading this blog in English.  If it is your first language, it changes the way that you look at the world compared to other languages.  A simple sentence like “I dropped the plate.” illustrates the point.  There is an underlying sense of responsibility attached to action because of the subject “I”.  Conversely the Spanish representation of the situation, “Se me cayó el plato.” literally translates to “The plate fell from me.”   For better or worse, the influence of simple things such as this can monumental and often taken for granted.  So the first step is to recognize as many of the lines that are influencing you as you can.  Then decide what makes sense.

When you peel back the layers of transparencies from your life, you will most likely find things that you’ve taken for granted that just don’t make sense.  Driving on the right side of the road may be a useful constraint to keep.  However there are probably others that can be amended or dropped in order to better service you in the pursuit of what you want today.  Perhaps you’ve always believed that you’re not smart, that planning isn’t important, that sex is REALLY important, that you need to make it on your own or a million other things.  Maybe you’ll keep most of your beliefs but it is worth the examination to see if you’ve painted yourself into a corner with beliefs that don’t make sense anymore.  If you want to be a millionaire but think that making minimum wage is the best you can do, you’ve got a problem.  Do the lines that you’ve painted for yourself point you in the direction that you want to be going?

img_1844Physically, mentally and emotionally; what do you believe about yourself, people and the world?  Write it down in your notebook, iPhone, laptop or anything else that works for you.  Then pick through it to see what you’re keeping, tweaking or tossing.  It’s up to you to clean up whatever mess you might have.  If you’re honest in your assessment, you’ll be able to see through the person that you need to read better than anyone else: yourself.

Go get your hands dirty boys and girls!

Pete

Might Never Get to Poland

polandFor the past six months or so, I’ve been learning Polish using a program called Duolingo.  It is a completely free online language learning tool.  I started using it to prove the point to my students that you can learn a foreign language by using such a tool.  When summer hit, I took a Polish hiatus but now I’m back on the train.  The funny thing is that I’m not sure that I’ll ever get to Poland.  It is the homeland of my ancestors and I love to travel but it is not a huge priority.  So then why bother to learn the language?  There is no foreseeable return on my daily investment of time and energy into this language.

Return on investment is an almost pervasive calculation in the modern world.  Kids and adults alike seem to be in a never-ending calculation of whether or not things are “worth their time or effort”.  This is not particularly the troubling thing.  Time is a nonrenewable resource.  So being conscious of how you are spending it just makes sense.  Energy is renewable but often feels like it is linked to the time.  As if the addition of energy to invested time multiplies it and can magnify any possible waste.  “I’m only applying if I know I’ll get the job.”  “I’m not going out for the team unless I’m on varsity.”  “I’m not going to ask her out, she might say ‘no’.”

The problem with this almost ruthless avoidance of wasted energy/time is that very few limits get pushed.  Possibility is viewed as a negative rather than a positive.  Life tends to shrink into a smaller and safer box that confines and disillusions us.  Investing in only sure things expends nothing extra.  It is a transaction of time and effort for a result.  In this type of mindset, there is no room to give true gifts.  People become hoarders because giving of themselves is too risky and scary.  In the end giving of one’s self is the best way to come to know yourself better.

The sure thing may be comforting but it is not progressive.  Putting ourselves outside of our comfort zone or spending ourselves in an uncertain endeavor are the places where we become a new version of ourselves.  Much like a software update, we have the possibility of becoming more but it requires some risk to the old version.  Perhaps I’m throwing away ten minutes per day by learning Polish.  Or maybe risking that small amount of time each day will take me somewhere that I never would have imagined.  In my eyes, I win either way because of who I’ve become; a person willing to move forward.  Where you are is most likely not where you want to be forever.  The opportunity is there for you to move forward but you have to risk the time and energy of the step.  It’s time to step up!

A funny little reminder

 

Club Soccer and Dunbar’s Number: Is bigger better?

dunbarHumans are social animals.  Our ability to survive and thrive has been based on our interconnections.  Although technology has created the ability to “connect” with anyone around the world, our greatest and most meaningful connections are with those around us.  The people that we interact with regularly make up our “tribe”.  Despite the infinite number of possible connections, Dunbar’s number is a suggested limit to the amount of people with whom one can maintain social relationships.   Although it is merely a guideline, it makes for an interesting starting place when discussing organizations such as soccer clubs.

Soccer clubs in the United States have become a pervasive part of the landscape of the sport.  While many of these clubs are entities that improve the sport and the lives of its members, there is definitely room for improvement in the establishment and organization of a larger number clubs.  In essence, the successful club needs to find a balance in a two front battle of: where clubs come from and where the particular club is going.

Where Clubs Come From

Clubs start with people.  During my last trip to England, I went to an academy match at Dagenham & Redbridge.  It’s a small lower league club on the outskirts of London.  I was early for the match, so I went into the club house to stay warm and grab a beer.  It was obvious to the twenty or so people that were there that I was an outsider.  Perhaps I was pegged as an American because of my clothes but even without that, it was pretty obvious that all of these people knew each other.  That is the whole point!  Clubs are communities.  Although soccer is now the focal point, the social aspect is the starting point.  People’s need to be together is where clubs truly start.  Soccer clubs are just a subset of something that people have been doing for centuries for a variety of reasons.  Since being together is so integral, it should not be forgotten.

Club Direction

The second consideration is the club purpose or direction.  At some point (hopefully at the beginning), a club needs to define a purpose.  This is probably the biggest issue that most clubs have.  They are unsure of why they exist and therefore struggle to do more than be the administrative support for individual teams.  While this may seem like a completely acceptable arrangement, it is a neutered version of what the organization can be.  Clubs can improve young talent, be a force for good in the community, build confidence in young or it can do all of the above and more.  Often this is done by default rather than design.  The results are felt by a small number of the members rather than the culture perpetuating them.  The vision and the actions of the club need to be in alignment with one another.  Being the club that helps develop the self-esteem of young people, is a fine vision for a club.  However this vision is inconsistent with having twice-annual tryouts.  Be who you are.

Once the vision is in place, Dunbar’s number can be applied in a variety of ways.  Although it may seem that Dunbar’s number lends itself toward the organization of smaller clubs, it can actually be applied to any size club but needs to be done with intention.

The Community Club – A local club that encompasses both a recreation an travel program can be an extremely effective environment.  With the shared surroundings, schooling and history, these types of clubs represent why Dunbar’s number was developed in the first place.

The Travel Teachers – A small club with a team at each age U9-18 hits Dunbar’s number almost perfectly.  While this may seem to max out the number, it truly depends on the structure and direction of the club.  Truly the U18 players do not need to relate directly with the U9s.  However if that is part of the culture that is being built, the older players can be mentors to the younger ones.  This type of scenario can have a virtuous cycle of development over the years.

The Talent Incubator – At some slightly larger clubs, it may be beneficial to have players of the same age group practicing and interacting regularly.  Rather than players being sectioned off as teams, an entire age group becomes a tribe unto itself.  The players see the competition at their own level regularly.

The Regional Behemoth –  A larger club can effectively apply Dunbar’s number by sectioning itself into smaller subsets.  All of these subsets need to understand the overall vision of the club.  This type of club is usually the most difficult to manage because of the sheer numbers.  However effective management can be achieved by each subset having a direct link to the central structure.  The name or the club reputation usually bring the players in but often teams tend to splinter off when they feel separated from the organization.  People are more loyal to friends and teammates than they are to logos and reputations.  So the club must always try to maintain its humanity regardless of size.

These examples are just generalizations of possible application.  However these short descriptions represent what many clubs have failed to do which is create a structure based on a thought process.   Dunbar’s number is a guideline that helps to avoid the pitfalls of over expansion without planning.  Humans are social creatures by nature.  Realizing and embracing that fact from the beginning gives anyone looking to build an organization a much greater possibility for success, whatever that word means for your organization.

 

The Beloved Poison Merchant

poisonDuring college and for the first year after I graduated, I had a job as a poison merchant.  It was a really good job for a young person.  The pay was above average, the hours fit perfectly into my personal and social schedules.  My boss was a great guy who treated me extremely well because he recognized that I was a valuable member of the team.  Our customers really liked me and I had banter with the regulars.  I knew the preferences of the regulars and was adept at helping the people who didn’t know what they wanted.  Despite how well things were going as a poison merchant, I opted to follow a more noble cause: knowledge salesman!

The past sixteen years as a knowledge salesman have been a tough slog.  I have plenty of prospective customers who are forced to consider my products.  Unfortunately most of them are resistant to buy because of the obligation that is held over their head.  Most see no point to my product and think the price is too high.  My store is antiquated.  Even though I see all of the deficiencies in my company, it’s an old industry that believes that it will always exist.  Despite the poor working conditions, I truly do care for my customers and know that my product could help them toward a better life.  Unfortunately I have grown weary from fighting with my customers in their own self-interest.  I know that in other parts of the world, customers risk death to get my products.  While in my territory, low prices are demanded constantly and I know that many of my customers despise me for trying to do my job.  The thing that keeps me going at the moment is my former customers who send me the occasional message of thanks.  I’ve thought often of going back to being a poison merchant.

Value is not a fixed thing.  Currency, real estate, commodities and almost anything else in this world has a value relative to the desire for that item, service, etc.  Since value is driven by need/desire, it changes by region, time period or circumstance.  It can also be deceptive.  Humans put great value on things that are inherently worthless much of the time.  They also put little to no value on things that are of great importance.  My time working at a beer and wine store and as a teacher are not particularly an indictment of American culture but they do paint a picture of the value that we put on different things.  Value is decided both individually and collectively.  As each of us presses forward in our lives and communities, it is important  to decide what we truly value in both the short and long term.

Soccer Is Not a Zero Sum Game

lukesoccerThe youth sports culture (especially soccer) is in need of change.  The needed change is not one of rules or procedures but culture.  The norms and beliefs surrounding youth sports are largely influenced by the adults that administer the delivery of the sport.  This article is not a complete plan on how to fix all of the problems.  It is the beginning of a conversation to be had on an individual, team, club and national level.  Are we giving our children the experience that they deserve?

A Zero Sum Game: Look at the Goal Differential table for any league from the Premier League all the way down to a U8 Flight 9, the table always adds up to zero.  By this mathematical analysis of soccer, there is balance that delineates some teams as “winners” and some “losers”.  By taking this viewpoint, a team that ends up at the bottom of the table receives less from the game than the one at the top.  While this may hold true in accolades and trophies, it completely discounts the majority of reasons why young people and adults play soccer in droves every year.  Winning is not the point!  If it were, then the key to being a successful team or club would be to join the weakest league possible.  

In Search of Something More: The game is not the result.  The game is a process that is intended to bring out more of what makes us human to begin with.  Many clubs are fully committed to the Zero Sum Game.  Putting all effort into getting better at winning.  Replacing players each year with better players, investing in trainers who look to win but not develop and charging a premium price for a sport that is mostly for recreation.  The problem with aiming to be at the top of the Zero Sum Pyramid is that the cups that are received there are largely empty.  The reason why sports and specifically soccer are so popular is that they can mirror and enhance the human condition.  Unfortunately many have fooled themselves into chasing some elusive prize while sacrificing most of the value that they aimed to get from the sport.  Although this process of empty cup chasing may be pervasive, it does not need to be.  We can go after more.

Breaking It Down:  Electrical signals and chemical reactions are all that we are looking for.  This is taking the human experience down to the smallest pieces but it will bring clarity to what we are doing.  The four major chemicals that cause good feelings or “happiness”.  

The “Selfish” chemicals can be produced without anyone else.

Endorphins – Their major purpose is to mask physical pain and are regularly released during physical exercise.  Soccer and most other physical exercises are a great source of endorphins.  Although endorphins are a great start, their production is only dependent upon the individual.  Go for a jog and the same endorphins get produced.  It’s a start but soccer is merely one endorphin producer.

Dopamine – This is the achievement chemical.  It is a reward system for moving closer to goals.  It is not particularly linked to physical activity but can be attributed to physical goals.  This can be a useful tool for progress but can be an extremely addictive chemical.  Dopamine “hits” can be caused by things such as completing a task or achieving a goal.  Unfortunately they can also be caused by getting a text or email message regardless of its importance.  In our modern culture, no one needs to go out of their way to develop a dopamine addiction.  It is everywhere.

The “Selfish” Chemicals can be dangerous if they are not kept in balance.  The “Community” chemicals are aimed at the survival of humans in a group setting.

Serotonin – This is the leadership chemical.  It produces feelings of pride and status.  Serotonin in the veins increases confidence of the person.  Pride and status were extremely important in a hierarchical society.  Desire to be acknowledged by the community helps to reinforce the actions that are in the best interest of the group.  This chemical helped to strengthen tribes because it biochemically rewarded the individual for putting forth effort in the interest of the common good.  The problem in the modern world is that status can be bought and manufactured.   It is however an essential ingredient to effective group living that humans have serotonin releases based on real pride.

Oxytocin – This is the chemical of love, trust and friendship.  There are many ways to get oxytocin.  Physical contact is one of the key releasers of oxytocin.  Acts of generosity also release oxytocin into the system and encourage more acts in kind.  Oxytocin inhibits addiction and boosts your immune system.  It is a gradual chemical that builds up over time due to the inherent relationship dynamic.  It is the chemical that is released during childbirth that makes mothers feel an overwhelming sense of bond with their newborn.  Although our society is interconnected like never before, the separation between us seems to be widening.

Good for the caveman but not the modern man.

Cortisol – It is the chemical of stress and anxiety.  This is the chemical of fight or flight.  It prepares the body for dangers that are threatening.  Although the release of cortisol into the system can be extremely useful in the short term, its long term use is devastating.  The side effects of cortisol release are paranoia about possible threats and inhibition of the immune system.  

Club Culture

Our present club culture is aimed at systematically creating better soccer machines through the help of the “Selfish” chemicals and Cortisol.  The system is ingrained throughout almost the entire country.  Teams are formed by annual or seasonal tryouts.  Clubs use names like “Elite”, “Select” and “Premier” in order to advertise status.  While competition is an integral part of soccer, the club culture is unbalanced in its approach toward the development of our young players (who are more importantly people).  In essence we’re trading our human equity to rent falsified prestige.

The present club model will create better soccer players over time.  The competitive cauldron that we have cast most of our players into will incrementally produce better soccer in the US.  While that may be an objective for the USSF and other agencies invested in player improvement, is better soccer without regard for other consequences truly the aim?  

From a biochemical standpoint, our present club model is relying principally on Endorphins, Dopamine and Cortisol in order to move soccer forward.  While this method will be effective in getting players to perform, it is not a fertile field in which to grow confidence, connection, empathy and trust.  When viewed from a national level through a soccer lens, these attributes are not particularly the recipe for success.  However the majority of our youth who are playing soccer today will not be part of a National Team or a Professional Academy.  They will play club soccer through the years of their youth and at some point their playing career will end.  Even the longest professional careers only last into the early forties.  So the competitive cauldron ends for everyone with the message, “you’re no longer good enough”.  Whether early or late the player becomes what we all are on some level, a member of a community.  Since they will live a majority of their life interacting with other people and not a ball, it is the interpersonal skills and self-realization that should take precedence in a majority of our clubs.  Rather than treating the vast majority of our youth as if they are heading to a storied career of individual glory, focus on the team dynamic and each player’s contribution to that collective.

Suggestions for change

  1. Recognize the level – Teams and clubs can be broken up many ways but in terms of competition: Elite, Competitive Recreation and Recreation.  The competitive cauldron has its place but should not be everyplace.  If a team or a club is truly “elite”, then they are competing at state or regional level or have a proven gateway to professional ranks.  Most teams/clubs are “Competitive Recreation”.  Recognizing this fact is a great opportunity for parents, players and coaches to embrace the best of what both worlds have to offer.  The moniker of “Recreation” almost has a negative connotation in most sport circles today but it is something that needs to be embraced again.  Playing for the joy of the game is not a bad thing.  
  2. Act appropriately within the level –  Elite clubs need to be pushing their players and re-evaluating their talent levels regularly.  The level of expectation is higher because the ultimate desired destination is also higher.  Most Elite clubs do not have a problem setting this higher expectation.  The issue is usually that a club is trying to keep Elite expectations without being Elite.  At Competitive Recreation clubs there can be high expectations but the long term growth of the person should supersede the short term desire for “success”.  Simple changes like holding tryouts every second or third year would allow players, coaches and parents a period of team building.  This long term view allows players and all others involved to develop both on and off the field.  Professional trainers are still an option to develop players soccer skills.  However as we head into a third or fourth generation of soccer players in this country, the knowledgeable parents will begin to make this less of the norm.  The Recreation level should continue to be fun with friends.  
  3. Remember what’s at stake – Often the famous line from Bill Shankly used by people to discuss the sport’s importance. “Some people think football [soccer] is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”   In terms of game results, I would disagree wholeheartedly with Mr. Shankly.  Game results are a moment in time that may be remembered or forgotten.  However in terms of societal impact, he is absolutely right.  This game has the ability to give and take life both literally and figuratively.  The passion for the sport has unfortunately taken life in several tragedies.  It has also given life by stopping violent conflicts in different parts of the world and giving a pathway to many poor children who would otherwise succumb to their impoverished beginnings.  In the US, the game is rarely a matter of life or death.  It can be a catalyst toward a better life.  Using the game as a vehicle toward better living involves a conscious recognition of short and long term impact of the game on the young person.  Pushing all of our youth into a “one size fits all” system of sport kills most of the inherent positives of participation.

The conversation does not end here.  The difficult thing is not recognizing a problem.  People see problems every day but generally wait for someone else to do something about it.  The answer is usually much closer to home.  Each individual needs to contribute to see the cultural shift that is needed in the beautiful game here in the land of the free and home of the brave.  There is a reason why “We The People” are the first three words of Constitution.  Change is brought by regular people, doing the right things consistently.

 

The 3rd Person

3rd PersonIt’s full blown election season and this one is a doozy!  Now I know that it is a “faux pas” to talk politics but I will keep it clean.  Regardless of who you personally support there is the ever-present idea that if another side is elected that the country is “going to hell in a hand-basket”.  Having heard this type of fear during many elections and never seeing it actually happen, this race may be heated but not particularly new.  The major problem that I see is not with the election but the bigger problem: the 3rd person.

At the end of the National, State and Local elections, a large majority of people will submit themselves to being victims of the 3rd person.  “They”, “he” or “she” will cause all kinds of problems in the lives of regular citizens.  This point of view leaves those citizens completely powerless and it is completely contrary to the founding principles of this country.  The very first words of the Constitution are “We The People”, not “They The Politicians”.  At a certain point, that fact got lost in the shuffle of daily life.  We do not all have to run for political office.  However the elect, complain and blame model is not progressing us toward a better life.  While it is obvious in politics, it is evident in other areas as well.  The 3rd person seems to ruin many people’s lives daily.

The boss, the guy in traffic, the gossipy bitches at work, the carbs, the alcohol and so many other 3rd persons can be blamed for where we are.  These are easy scapegoats but much like the view of politics today, this is a losing long-term strategy that leaves us powerless.  It is time to say I and WE before giving power up to “THEY”.  Regardless of how real your complaints about they are, it will get you much farther to focus on what you CAN do rather than what they are not doing.  Have the constitution of your life start with “I”.

Have a great Labor Day!

Pete

Invisible Meals

InvisibleMealI love food!  Almost too much.  This is at least one of the causes of my battle with weight loss.  Cravings for things that taste good at meal time are a daily occurrence.  Although I know all of the reasons for a healthy diet, the struggle still exists.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.  The other day I started to give some real thought to this dilemma.  At that time I realized that most meals are invisible.  It’s not that we can’t see them at all but rather that they only exist long enough to serve their purpose.  After they are gone, they are generally forgotten.

If you were asked, I’m sure you could probably remember what you had for dinner, lunch and breakfast yesterday.  However unless you eat the same thing each day or have a schedule, the memory of your meals probably only goes back a week or less.  Even take a special meal like Thanksgiving, you probably remember what you had but don’t remember whether the turkey was dry or how many helpings of mashed potatoes you had.  The power of a meal is the power of an instant.  Based on our national problem with obesity, it is easy to see that we have a problem with getting past those instances.

Choosing what we want most over what we want right now is the key to overcoming this issue.  It does not just relate to food and weight.  It is a failure to fully decide what we want before the instant of temptation comes up.  Being prepared to react to those temptations with a steadfast denial by saying with your actions, “I already chose differently.”  It is not easy!  Without a doubt, this is most likely a fight against years or even decades of habit and desire.  Depending on the habit, like me, you may be carrying around a large reminder of all of those momentary choices with almost no memory of the “joy” that they brought.

So if the memory is going to fade of these instances and you know they will, can you start to make a better choice?  Can you choose to not be overwhelmed by now in the service of later?  Whether it’s food, sex, anger, distraction, beer or any other vice that you may have, make your choice before the moment arrives.  Then carry that decision into tomorrow.  You are not a machine!  This will take time and practice but remember that your present desire will eventually fade in your memory.  Most meals end up being invisible.

Have a great week!

Pete

The Air Conditioning Farce

heatIn these hot summer days of New Jersey, an air conditioned house, store or office is a sanctuary.  Relief from the pounding heat and humidity seems as if it is a necessity.  I often think about our “pre-AC” ancestors and how they reacted to days like this.  Most likely, they had to be slightly more intelligent about breaks, shade and water.  The prospect of artificial cool was long off in the future.  Like so many of our modern conveniences, the advancement of technology seems to come attached to a double result: the desired effect and it’s opposite.

An air conditioner is thought of as a cooling mechanism, unless you visit the back end of the unit.  There you will realize that the AC unit is producing almost as much heat as cold.  So the cool factor is for a selected space and temporary.  When the heat and cool reunite, the entire equation is most likely a wash.   The effect for us as the recipients is not particularly a wash.  The perception of cool and hot becomes skewed.  While we have in theory “beaten the heat” by creating air conditioning, we’ve made ourselves less able to adapt to it when it is thrust upon us.  This inverse relationship is evident in many areas.  The internet has connected us all but we are losing our ability to communicate.  Everyone has a phone in their pocket but people are talking less.  We have more information than ever about the human body and how it works best but obesity and diabetes are rampant.  It is as if we have forgotten something that could bring us back to the center.  The thing that we have forgotten is that we are animals.  Specifically we are mammals who were intended to find an equilibrium with our surroundings in order to survive.

The technological advances that we have created have brought us off of our center where we feel like we need to adapt.  The world is supposed to adapt to us, right?  Not quite, when we forget our heritage, not too subtle reminders will be visited upon us.  So my message is pretty simple: Find out, without!  Find out who you are without all of the gadgets that you use to cause comfort.  Think, plan and execute some time in an outdoor environment that slightly tests who you are as a human animal.  An overnight hike, a day without air conditioning, a period of time with no cell phone or any other exercise that allows you to come back to a natural center.  (Yes!  I realize that I’m asking you to unplug while writing an article over the internet.  Hypocrisy?  Only if I did this without doing what I prescribe.)

So find out, without!  Find out whether or not you can have a face to face conversation with one of your Facebook friends.  Find out if you really would shrivel up in this heat or do you just need to have a plan for hydration and find shade.  The human animal has conquered this world and found now that his biggest adversary is himself.  Don’t get crushed by your comfort!

See you along the path!

Pete