Aug 21, 2009

Of course, an office window might make me feel otherwise

I don't remember how, but I ran across this booked called, Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of Patagonia clothing. Even though I'm fascinated with the life aquatic, I'm not one for surfing and as far as I know, I've never owned a thread of Patagonia clothing. It was actually the subtitle of the book, the education of a reluctant businessman that sparked my interest. I don't consider myself a businessman either, but I have always thought seriously of owning my own magazine, advertising or PR agency, but have been too reluctant to do much more than just think about it.

There was that time that I tried making a go of it purely on freelance writing, but I was young, my list of clients was too small, and I spent too much time riding moto and bicycles when I should have been at home writing. Maybe that makes me the ultimate reluctant businessman.

I'm only about a quarter of the way through the book and I'm already impressed with Patagonia's business philosophy and practices. Owner, Chouinard says he's always had a problem with authority and the traditional ways of doing business, which is why he started his own company in the first place. Being his own boss allowed him the time to climb, surf, and ski – all the while testing the hardware and clothing his company would eventually sell.

I too have always had a problem with authority and societal expectations. From inside my own body and mind, I know wrong from right. I don't need someone else translating it for me. That's how or why I became a writer in the first place. It allowed me to express my own thoughts in most anyway I wanted to, just as long as it followed the rules of the English language. That kind of authority I could live with. But just as man has evolved into a TV watching, fast food eating, video game playing, lazy sports fan lump, I let my guard down and my labor of love was extinguished and pried away from me by one with more expensive tastes and stronger convictions than I. One of my life's few regrets so far.

I guess the difference between myself and Chouinard is that he likes authority even less than I do and he's also less reluctant than I am. That's why he took the risk and I haven't. As far back as I can remember everything I've ever enjoyed doing involved taking sizable physical risks, but when it comes to taking a financial risk, I guess I'm a coward. I'm only willing to sacrifice so much apparently.

My longtime struggle with authority and societal expectations only gets worse as I get older and find myself with less time to do the things that I really enjoy. Through my dealings with foreign colleagues who are constantly on holiday, one thing is apparent; this country works too much. It may be the land of the free, but it's certainly not the land of the free time.

So what are my options? What is the alternative? Maybe Chouinard's book will help me figure it out. Or maybe I should write my own damn book.

Aug 17, 2009

At least he didn’t say basketball

Tonight at 7 pm I'm going to a kick-off meeting for Ryder's soccer team. He's only 4, so this is his first year of soccer. He recently said that he can kick further than any of his friends, and that could be because we've been practicing lately and he can put the thing pretty far. Or at least he does when his foot and the ball make the right connection. Still, I'm nervous for him. I realize that they're only 4-year-olds and there probably won't be a lot of soccer, by actual definition, being played, but I want him to feel as though he's good at it. If, for some reason, his teammates can kick further or are faster, or are more aggressive, I don't want him to get discouraged. It's easy to get discouraged at his age. Unfortunately he doesn't have the luxury yet of spending hours on his bicycle pedaling away the despair. That's probably a moot point anyway. Yesterday I asked him a simple question. "What do you like better, running or riding your bike?" He answered with, "Swimming."

Aug 5, 2009

Please consider history before not printing this blog

I realize that the practice may not be completely dead, but you never hear about someone having a pen pal anymore. Like milk men, pen pals have pretty much fallen by the wayside. Email, Facebook, etc. can be blamed for putting an end to pen pals. Because of the World Wide Web, its seems everyone has become everyone else's superficial pen pal. In the future, actual hard copy letters from one person to another are bound to be scarce. No longer will we get to watch a Ken Burns documentary on PBS where the narrator recites a heartfelt letter penned in actual hand writing on aged paper that reads:

My Dearest Loretta,

This may be the last letter I write to you. Cholera has spread throughout our office and I fear I have drunken from the contaminated water cooler from which it lives. As I write this letter my breathing is faint, my skin blue, and hand shaky. If this is my last letter yada, yada, yada...

Since most communication between people today is through email and other forms of electronic media that gets deleted, it means we'll lack the history and record of many personal relationships. It's kind of a double-edged sword. People want to save the environment by not printing emails, but what about saving memories. For almost the same reasons, the world is going to have a serious lack of printed photographs too.

So what's worse - a lack of trees or a lack of history?


"Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you." - Bookends


This just gave me a great name for my next punk band; The Dead Pen Pals.