Tag Archives: history

The Silent H

cropped-hurykunlimitedlogolarge1My last name has a silent “H” in it.  Despite the spelling of Huryk, it is pronounced “Yer-ick”.  I’ve grown accustomed to correcting mispronunciations (or not).  It can be a great separator of the people who know versus those who don’t.  The letter has no function but it has importance.  Running through a box of memories that I have, it became obvious that there were several events and people that have gone silent through the years.  They are the silent letters of life.

As we progress in the modern world, everything seems to be more analytical.  The value of time, interactions and relationships have an almost economic feel to them.  While waste is not particularly something to seek out in earnest, it is often a necessary ingredient to the eventual path that we take.

No matter what is in the past it is only prelude to now and what’s coming.  Those letters can be as silent or as loud as you choose to make them.  Their power is not real.  It is how pronounced you make them.  Choose the ones that move you forward.

 

 

Fair’s NOT Coming to Town

CottonCandyWith summer almost here, it almost time cotton candy, hot dogs, games and fun.  Unfortunately fair’s not coming to town.  The trucks, the rides and treats might all show up for a few days but there will be kids and adults alike expecting fair.  Johnny whose cotton candy is smaller than his sister’s cries about fair.  The father who remembers when the ticket for a ride was a quarter, not a dollar will complain about fair.  The Scrambler operator will hear about the pay that his friends get at their jobs and wish for fair.  Fair is not coming to town because it’s usually a one sided proposition.

When dealing in many of life’s currencies, it is smart and possibly necessary to pay attention to equity.  At times this should be pedestrian and others miserly.  Regardless the perception of fair comes from the perceived value exchange.  Time, money, love, gold, loyalty and a slew of other currencies trade at different values for each individual.  There is no standard exchange rate.  Even in monetary terms, there is constant fluctuation in the value of the dollar vs. the yen vs. the pound.  Fair is not coming, it needs to be created.

The world is operating on a deficit in many currencies.  The problem is that many people are miserly with currencies that are infinite.  The ones that we individually create.  So therefore we cannot run out of them.  Love, empathy, friendship, etc. are worth giving away in the hopes of creating more.  Determining a level of fair exchange is individual but why hoard these currencies?  We (the world) benefit from their free exchange.  Hatred, malice, jealousy, etc. are also infinite but should be wielded with great caution.  They tend to injure and despite our great civilizations, we are still animals.  Wounded animals tend to cower or lash out.  Both perpetuate a black market exchange that corrupts the soul.

Fair is not coming to town.  Your exchanges are bound to be imperfect and unbalanced.  The question is; do you feel proud of your balance sheet?  The sum total of your life cannot be measured in dollars and cents.  It can be estimated whether or not your life made sense.  Philanthropist, miser or tyrant is your choice to make and it will be decided by your actions.  Is that fair?

Buying Life Condoms

LifeCondomIn high school in the 90’s, it was difficult not to be bombarded with the safe sex talk of that era.  The positive test of Magic Johnson with HIV gave a famous face to a disease that had not fully hit mainstream awareness.  Many actions were taken to help protect young people from their hormones.  Not least of all the education system’s attempt to prepare us with lessons about condoms.  I remember very plainly Mr. Vellucci, my bio teacher, asking us if we understood how condoms worked.  Or did we need him to demonstrate using a banana as he had been instructed to do.  It was all very well intentioned and I’m sure that it worked to some degree.  Unfortunately with the widespread use of the internet and mass media, our children need to be protected again from a disease that threatens to kill every last one of them: LIFE.

Luckily major efforts have been made around the country and the globe to protect young people from this abomination.  Teachers, parents and coaches have been instructed to protect all children from failure, disappointment and reality at all costs.  Falls, cuts, scrapes, risks, chances, expectations and a slew of LIFE’s other cohorts must be eradicated with extreme prejudice.  Keeping our kids safe is JOB #1.  Allowing them to live and learn fall near the bottom of the list behind getting into a good college, winning many trophies, being perfect and so many other things that are put on their schedules.  What we need now are some Life Condoms!  A protective covering that will keep out all negatives.  Just need to find a new substance because someone is bound to be allergic to latex and sheepskin doesn’t protect anyone from anything.  At this point, I feel the need to stop because I’m afraid that there is a mother someplace who is reading thinking “This sounds like a GREAT idea!”

Life is a messy business.  We come into this world screaming, covered in blood, unable to speak, read, write or walk.  Despite this introduction through chaos, there is an expectation that life is supposed to get cleaner, neater and follow specific guidelines.  The truth is that the human animal was made for the rugged battles of the natural world.  We seem to be more susceptible to the trappings of comfort and fortune rather than hard circumstances.  Adopting a Spartan lifestyle is probably not necessary but a healthy dose of reality is probably in order.  Letting a young person tie their own shoe laces, make their own dinner, fight their own battles is not particularly a bad thing.

The life condom doesn’t exist but based on the complaints I hear regularly, some wish it did.  They want their parents, the government, the president, their teacher or any other official power figure to step up and fix their life for them.  Eventually these desires are going to come up empty.  No one is going to take care of you indefinitely.

So since it will be on you at some point, why not cut the complaining?  Take over the parts of your life that should absolutely belong to you and run with them.  Nothing is going to start out perfect and it never will be if you don’t do your part.  Complaining problems away seems like a bad strategy and a poor way to live.  Life was meant to be messy.  Get over it!  Dust yourself off, clean up your wounds and move on.  Otherwise go looking for a life condom but that truly is like taking a shower with a raincoat on.  Most of the joy in life is found in the things that we never expected to happen.

Don’t protect yourself out of the best parts of life.

Pete

The Myth of Keyser Söze

usualsuspectsOne of the best movies from a pure story standpoint that I’ve seen is “The Usual Suspects”.  The film takes you on a ride where you’re continuously led down paths for particular reasons.  A main reason for the perplexing nature of the film is the doubt surrounding the myth of Keyser Söze.  For those unfamiliar with the film, Keyser Söze is a purported crime boss who controls the sale of drugs, weapons, etc. from the shadows of anonymity.  At one point he is portrayed as a “spook story” that thieves tell their children, “Rat on your Pop and Keyser Söze will come get you.”  

RedRidingHoodPersonally I never heard that version of spook story when I was a kid but I can see its usefulness to some people.  The fairy tales and legends that we are told as children vary greatly depending on the desired outcome from our upbringing.  Aspirational and cautionary tales alike are used to push the child in particular directions.  Keep on trying courtesy of “The Little Engine that Could”.  Be prepared by “The Three Little Pigs”.  Don’t be sexually promiscuous by “Little Red Riding Hood” (Didn’t know until I talked to a German teacher).  These stories were all fashioned to get a result.

The thing about all of these stories is that they are made up.  Complete fabrications from the imagination of someone long ago.  They’ve been changed, updated, amended, forgotten and remembered.  The reason that they still exist is that they were effective through the years.  “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” got me to stop going to the nurse’s office every day in 3rd grade.  So since stories are effective if they’re told enough and have the desired message, what is the story that you tell yourself about yourself?  The Myth of Keyser Söze was that he was an almost superhuman figure who was powerful and ruthless.  Before that story could be spread, he had to at least partially tell it to himself.

Now it is your turn.  Tell the story of you to yourself.  Adapt it, amend it, change it to fit your needs.  The endpoint that you desire to have should be attained through some form of work mixed with an optimistic attitude to never give up.  The story is out there in the realm of possibility.  Now you just need to write it, tell it and live it.

Tell your story!

Pete

Care Enough to Lose

IMG_2192It was January 2nd 2003.  A clever little trick of mine to always remember the day that I proposed to my wife 1/2/03.  As I waited in her apartment with dinner ready and candles lit, I was extremely nervous.  That feeling was only compounded when she arrived.  Then I started to ask and I could feel my legs shaking.  This was gut-wrenching but necessary.  The fear and the nerves came from risk.  The risk of putting myself out there and the possibility that the answer could be “no”.  It ended up going in my favor but I think that risk is an important factor to the things that really matter.  You need to care enough to be willing to lose.

Perhaps it is part of being American or the popular culture of my youth but the idea of the underdog or long shot is ingrained within me.  The Rocky movies were an unofficial soundtrack to my young life.  The story of a nobody fighter who takes on the undefeated champion.  He knows that he is going to lose before the fight even happens.  That is the risk that the people who truly care must take.  The men who signed the Declaration of Independence knew the risk of the pen strokes but chanced the loss of life for something greater.  Elon Musk risked the wealth he had accrued in order to start a solar energy company, an electric car company and a space company.  Each venture had very long odds.  Those odds are not the ones taken on by a man looking to turn a quick profit.  They are the risk of a man who cares about the change he wanted to make in the world.  These are just three examples of caring enough to risk losing.

I’ve heard it too many times to count “What grade do I need to get on this quiz to bring my grade up to a __________?”  The lack of the math skills from my young students is not the most troubling part.  The most disheartening part of this question is the refusal to put forth any effort until a concrete exchange has been mentally negotiated.  Effort will only be employed if the target seems reasonably attainable.  This is not a statement about educational malaise or the disconnect between schools and our modern society.  It is a reflection on a pervasive attitude toward loss.  No one should fail.  The ref or the coach cost us the game.  The aversion to loss seems to be correlated to risk of losing one’s self.  If I give my all and fail, then I am not worthy and that is too much to bear.

In a world where we are better insulated from death than ever before in history, it is the death of our image of ourselves that we seem to fear most.  Much like the avatars that represent us online, we have created mental pictures of who we are.  Most of us will defend that image regardless of its accuracy or usefulness.  Playing within the boundaries of that existence may comfortable but is the lack of risk truly safe?  More than likely the risks that truly matter are worth taking because they force us to stretch.  Reaching out into the void is not a failure if it is done with true intention.  Failing to reach out is the bigger loss because the possibility of knowing yourself better and having what you actually wanted is left on the table.  Don’t aim to lose but don’t only play if you know you’re going to win.  All of the true joy on the back end lies in the fact that you risked yourself on the front end.

Have a great day!

Pete

The Credit

arenaFor most of my life, I’ve had a portion of Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne memorized.  “It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”  It’s moving.  It moves me in the sense that I actually take action when I think of it, hear it in my head or in my heart.  The issue is at the moment, the critics have such a large megaphone that it becomes hard to hear our heads and our hearts.  The echo of other people’s point of view tends to linger, burn and even cut the ones who are actually in the arena.  The credit may belong to the man in the arena but that credit is hard earned because people want you to lose and never let you forget it.

The only thing to do is go deaf.  Deaf to the jeers, the criticisms and the negativity.  The volume of the critic does not matter if you pay no attention.  Besides the only reason the words of the critic ever penetrated is because you believed them at least partially.  Their message about you being a failure or a loser resonated with you on some level deep within.  So the inner critic is actually the one that has the power to take you down.

The way to silence the inner critic is to run.  Run straight into the arena.  Sleep there, eat there, get your ass kicked there but at least in the arena, the inner critic has to stay in the stands.  He can’t get his hands on you as long as you stay fixed in the center of the ring.  Perhaps in the end you’ll find out that the critics were right and you didn’t have the stuff.  But at least you’ll know for sure, while they’re left wondering about themselves.  Outwardly chastising but inwardly envying the chance that you took to gain the credit of the arena.

Have a great weekend!

Pete

Your Part of You’re Problem

ObesityIt’s Mr. Baxter from 7th grade science class that started my tendency toward being a spelling/grammar Nazi.   Two times receiving a 99.5% based on spelling errors was enough frustration to get me to pay attention.  I fully recognize that language is a fluid and live thing.  Every day we can influence it for the better or worse.  Outside of church, very few people are using “thine” and “thou”.  These words have been morphed and replaced with their more recent counterparts.  Change is not my concern.  It is laziness and apathy.

Widespread education and technological advances have democratized access to knowledge and the overwhelming response of the public has been indifference.  There was a time in this country when only a select few could hope to become educated.  The huge supply of knowledge seems to have caused an equally huge plummet in demand.  While this lowering of expectation has happened in the realm of language, it is just as obvious in personal health, civic responsibility and many other areas of life.  As the challenges of life have become easier, we seem to be less inclined to meet them head on.  Instead we have found a degree of comfort in social proof.  If “everyone else” is holding a low standard, then it makes us feel that we are OK.

What if you were the one to hold the line for yourself?  Not to tell the world that it is wrong but to do what is right for yourself and those around you.  If you held the line on your health, your marriage, your relations with people or yourself; what kind of a ripple effect could you have on your family, community or even the world?  Even if no one else took up your particular cause, how would it feel to be the answer to your own problem?  Deciding for yourself, exactly what you would and would not stand for could be liberating.  Rather than looking at those around you to find the path of least resistance, you could look inward to find the strength to hack out a new trail.  Our world is filled with more possibility and less hardship than every before, so are you going to sit there and bask in the glow of what our forefathers built?  Or are you going to do your own work?  The choice is yours!  And that is probably the biggest kicker of all, we get to choose to step up or not.

So I hope that you find within yourself a desire for better than most.  Be a leader by doing first.  Utherwhys whee May knot bee aybl two reklame wut weave lust!

Make today better.

Pete

 

 

Biting the Cow’s Ass

GalileoIf you go to a fine restaurant and order a steak, you will probably enjoy a fine meal and receive no side-ward glances from anyone.  The location and timing are everything.  On some level you must realize that months earlier, that steak was part of cow.  If you got dressed up, went out into the field and bit the cow’s ass, you’d definitely get a reaction especially from the cow.  There’s a place and time for almost everything.  Getting that combination right is the difference between being cheered and ridiculed.  To a certain extent, Galileo was considered a “cow-biter”.  The things that he was saying and doing were so far ahead of their time that no one understood them.  He was even excommunicated from the church for his beliefs.  People were not ready to hear what he was saying because they were too invested in their worldview.

The entire world is never going to cheer or ridicule you but it feels that way when those close to you do either.  In order to become the best version of yourself, you will need to change some things.  While some may be subtle, others may be drastic and misunderstood by your “world” (friends, family, colleagues).  The people close to you are invested in who you are now.  That better version of you is something that they might not be ready for.  Your actions may force them to see things in themselves that they do not like.  That’s not your burden to bear.  It is your job to decide if you’re a cow-biter or Galileo.

Can you see a future that you want to create for yourself?  If you’re a true believer in that future, then don’t worry about the people who think you’re a cow-biter.  They are invested in your yesterday and you’re using today to build a better tomorrow.

Sink your teeth into today!

Pete

 

Call Him Double Down

DoubleDownMike – “This is Trent. We call him Double Down.”

Trent. – “Stop right there!  Ladies, don’t you always double down on an 11?”

Lisa – “No matter what. Like splitting aces.”

It’s a smart play to double down on an 11 in Black Jack because your chances of hitting 21 are worth the extra gamble.  On the other hand, it’s foolish to double down on a losing hand.  In cards your chances are based on mathematical probability.  Playing the odds is the name of the game.  Avoid the slim odds!

In our lives, the game is not entirely mathematical.  Decisions are made for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with probability.  Emotion, prior programming and a host of other variables lead to the less than logical decisions that we humans make regularly.  For example I double down on mistakes.  It’s not something I do intentionally.  It happens less today than it did a few years ago but it happens.  Most of the improvement in this area is due to habits and pre-scripting.

Like doubling down on an 11, daily habits that have the greatest possibility of working are key.  Usually these habits are not hard to find.  You know what they are but in the moment people get overwhelmed by emotion and choose the easy/comfortable route.  The path to where you want to go is not hard to find, it’s just hard to follow.  The more times that you follow that path, the easier it becomes to stay on.

Actors can definitely ad-lib their lines but for the most part, they work from a script.  Pre-scripting particularly difficult actions in your mind can be an effective way to get past them with the best results.  Visualizing the event in advance puts you into a proactive state of mind rather than reactive.  It does not resolve the situation in advance but can reduce the amount that emotion carried to it.

So go out into the world and bet on yourself.  Double down on the things that lead you to the life that you want.  Don’t allow yourself to bet on lottery number odds with your life.  Getting what you want is not a matter of luck, it’s a matter of time if you set the game up right!

Pete

 

 

An American Soccer Manifesto (Part 1)

lukesoccerSoccer in the United States is gaining undeniable momentum in American culture.  While the progress of the sport in this country has been slow, its impact is becoming more widespread.  Through the various parts of this “Manifesto”, I will plead a case for the reasons for the proliferation of the sport and the impacts on the country at large.  Physical, social, psychological and philosophical outcomes can be reaped through the more widespread acceptance of soccer as a national force.  It may be a difficult argument to the general public because as Tom Weir of USA Today wrote in 1993, “Hating soccer is more American that apple pie.”  While this sentiment may be changing, a deep dive into the facets of a transition is in order.

History

The history of the kicking game has been chronicled at length by others.  Therefore my historical narrative will not be about the development of the game in the country but rather a juxtaposition of our historically American sports’ positive impacts on the country at large.

Despite baseball being considered the “National Pass Time”, American football has largely been the dominant sport of the past century.  This is due in large part to the sport developing during the emergence of the US as a world power while also sharing the American ethos of progress.  Football (American Football)* served the country well in the 20th century as it ingrained ideals that were instrumental during the manufacturing age.  The ideals of teamwork, coordination and positional hierarchy ran deep within the factory system and football.  Plans and decisions were centralized to management and passed down for execution by the line.  Statistics are used to track progress, performance and predict the emergence of talent.  The school, industrial and sports models of the 20th century complimented each other in structure and values.  Therefore football, baseball and basketball became dominating forces in the sports landscape of the United States.  Their appeal was compounded because of the community component and inherent aspiration of the team.  Professional sports teams created a sense of belonging to cities or regions.  High schools fed players and students into colleges.  Colleges fed players into professional leagues and students into jobs.  The systems worked almost seamlessly for a long time.

Identity Crisis (My independent film about soccer’s place in the US)

Times Change

Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.  While nostalgia may feel good and there may be good reason to long for times past, the present is the only place where we truly exist.  The past cannot be recreated.  While this may seem sad due to things that are perceived as “lost”, there are many gains that have come from that passage of time.  So where are we now?

factoryAs we progress even further into a new century and millennium, several of the rigid systems of the past are crumbling under the pressure of technology and the democratization of information.  The old systems are being replaced for the very same reasons that they thrived a century ago.  Cheap/efficient labor, mechanization, standardization and a consumer culture brought forth prosperity to the US.  Now, cheap labor is found elsewhere or replaced entirely by machines.  Standardizing of products has made many of them generic where cost and convenience become the most sought features rather than quality and craftsmanship.  The model of consumerism has left many bankrupt financially, depressed emotionally and weighed down physically.  The mantra “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” is the calling card of those primed for a fall to irrelevance or extinction.

The new economy of the United States is a connection economy that no longer depends on exclusively on commodity production but rather the unification of resources with opportunity.  Entrepreneurship is not a buzzword of the silicon valley.  It is an integral component of the new American economy that requires a more nimble approach to business.  Bigger is not particularly better.  Growth is not particularly the marker of success as people are often creating lifestyle businesses to balance work and life.

entreprenThe traditional American sports do not fit as effectively into this new economic paradigm.  The industrial model of tracking productivity in order to become more efficient in the name of progress does not hold.  The measure of a good worker in the new economy is not a mindless cog that produces more than the other cogs.  It requires a mixture of technical ability mixed with the emotional intelligence to make decisions based on varying factors.  In the traditional American sports, these decisions were made solely by the coach, quarterback or point guard.  Most other players were doing their assigned job as a part of an orchestrated unit.  Divergence from the rules of the system was not desirable.  The new economy needs more decision makers rather than rule followers.

This new system is more in line with the processes of soccer.  Eleven people working toward a common goal with principles in mind rather than plays.  Each individual must analyze what they see in front of them and decide what to do next.  Although there are statistics available in soccer, they do not particularly indicate good or poor performance.  The intricacies of the game are human.  There is a balance between pushing toward a goal while not overextending to the point of being exposed defensively.  While there is a coach with a certain amount of control, the players and their decisions are the key components to the performance of the team.

The individual has greater power to impact the world than ever before in history.  Our games, systems and education should be centered around the improvement of the decision making faculty while maintaining an empathetic compass.  Realizing how our individual decisions impact the rest of our team, community and world is a skill that needs to be developed in the generations to come.  Although soccer is implicitly a sport, there are components to its play that can have a greater societal impact.  This is not at the exclusion of the other sports but in addition to them.  The 20th century American ethos has a place in the amalgamation of our future as a nation.  It is through our diversity that much of our strength comes.

*From here on, I will refer to American Football as Football and International Football as soccer.  I’m sure this will upset someone somewhere but it is not my intention to please everyone but be as clear to as many people as possible.