Refuse to Contribute Story 4: David Goggins

Although he’s a public person, unless you follow ultramarathoning you’ve probably never heard of him. And even if you do follow ultramarathoning, you may not have heard of him. He is one of those personalities I see from afar, I don’t know him, I don’t know how heavily curated his “story” is nor just how much what he puts into the world is actually his or if it’s what he thinks the world should see.

This matters not one ounce to me. What he puts out to the world is all about striving to be the best you can possibly be. Which is great, but who is he and why should I care?

A quick read of his Wikipedia page answers those questions.  He’s got asthma, has battled obesity, and has had a congenital heart defect repaired. A lot of us have faced these or similar challenges – my weight over the course of my adult life has yo-yoed between 175 and 230.  He tried and failed to get into USAF Pararescue twice before succeeding and eventually becoming a SEAL. The work he’s done since reads like a guidebook of mind over matter.  This is an exceptional person and I want to believe the majority of what he puts out to the world is actually his belief system.  You cannot do what he has done, you cannot overcome what he has overcome without the fortitude and strength of mind he expresses.

His Facebook post of Monday, September 10 struck a nerve for me. It resonates as true and I can see the truth looking back as far as High School: I’ve said for years that I was a mediocre student, but my comparator group was far more high performing than I gave credit for at the time; had I gone to my public high school, I would have been a mediocre student there too…but my comparator group would have been less high performing and I would have set my targets lower.

His message? Be mindful of your comparator group.

If you are always comparing yourself to mediocre people, that’s exactly what you will be! A lot of people think that they are at the top of their game because they are the best amongst a group of people who don’t even [care].

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fiamdavidgoggins%2Fvideos%2F460613751092881%2F&show_text=1&width=560

He goes on, much like Bill from yesterday’s post (“it’s supposed to be hard,”) that “mediocrity feels good.” Lower your expectations. He acknowledges that performing at high levels is uncomfortable, and people shy away from people that make them uncomfortable. Comfort is a drug, it becomes addictive.

A week before he said:

The most important conversations you will ever have are the ones you have with yourself. You wake up with them. You walk around with them. You go to bed with them. Eventually you act on them. Rather it be good or bad.

We live in a world full of haters and jealous people. People so [messed] up in their own lives that they can’t move forward so they put their hate for themselves on you. This world is full of distractions- a lot of them are from other people, social media, some are self-imposed. In a world full of distractions, you must learn to live in it undistracted, unphased.

Never let the weakness of this world infiltrate your mind! To do that you must truly know yourself! Don’t allow people to puppet master you from being [flipping] great!

Here he’s speaking the language of refusing to contribute. You’re in control of your own greatness. THAT is a powerful and scary message: it means that if you fail to be great, it’s on you. How many of us want that much power and control? Control your negative self talk, live your best life, conquer your goals, avoid mediocrity.  Don’t allow anyone elses’ mediocrity, no one else’s reasons for not striving for better be your reasons.

We all have our challenges and opportunities. Accept them, but do not excuse them. Compare yourself, your results to those you wish to emulate. We’re the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Choose the right 5 people. If you choose to be angry, you will make certain choices. If you choose to make a difference, you will make different choices. But make no mistake, you’re making the choice.

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I Spent Zero Time Editing This.

At various points, I’ve fancied myself a bit of a writer. Really, just a whim, a passing interest that occasionally loops around again – more the way a curiosity catches one’s attention every so often, more than any real interest. Perhaps a means to an end when the spirit moves me to communicate an idea or information more than any particular interest. I don’t even know what the point of this post is.

I deal in quantity, volume. I’m a purveyor of words. Words are tools. My main goal is getting the idea out, push it to words, organize it in some manner, shape or form, get it done, move along. I’ll sometimes have a draft sit for a bit, but its a rarity that it ever sees the light of day.  Just to show my commitment to the process, I’ll sometimes even go back and re-read a post once – perhaps even twice – after I’ve posted it. Sometimes. Generally speaking once it’s fully out of my head, I hit “Publish…” and away we go, usually not to revisit it again.

Then there are people like my friend David.  He’s considered, often poetic. He says what he means, deliberates over every comma, every phrase. Endlessly revises. Words are beautiful and exquisite materials with which to build stories.  By the time he pushes that friendly blue “Publish…” button, his work is as exacting as one would expect of a trained writer – one who doesn’t just fancy himself a writer, but one who is actually a writer, an expert wordsmith. Because, well, because he is a trained writer. He gives the impression of a person who not only speaks in well-thought out paragraphs, but thinks in paragraphs. The difference between my work and his is the difference between a framing carpenter and a finish carpenter.

In light of my previous post, I’d like to be clear that I’m not complimenting him at my own expense. His blog is something different from this one, his style is different from mine, his purpose is vastly different. I use words to communicate some ideas; he uses words to tell stories and paint pictures. He paints a picture of his father; I talk about the lessons my dad taught me. Just really different vibes. I read or listen to (audio books are ahh-maaaay-zing things) no less than 30 books a year, but since I left high school, I can count on one hand the number of novels I’ve read; I’m willing to bet his ratio is more a reciprocal of that than not.

It’s a good thing there are more than 300,000 books published every year in the United States – something for everyone.  By the time I press that friendly blue “Publish…” button on this post, the number of blog posts published today will be more than 2.7-Million and counting. A good number are rubbish, but I have to believe a plurality are posted by well-meaning folks with solid things to say. I also have to believe most are purveyors in words – more like me than like David. “Just get it out.” There are the hucksters, building blogs to convey topics and information designed to get you to subscribe so they can make money, unlike either this one or “willwriteforfood,” but I’m also quite sure most of the people who press that friendly blue button are legitimately seeking to express themselves.

Here’s what I’ve come to find: the people who stick with it, the folks who keep coming back – no matter the interval in which they come back – to bang on their keyboard and hit that friendly blue button are the people that actually have things to say, like another friend of mine. Some ten years and 2000 posts later, he still cranks it out.

There is just so many options out there, that if you’re pushing these things out for a reason other than the sheer enjoyment of writing, the need to read your thoughts written out, the desire to convey thoughts, you’re just setting yourself up and wasting your time. The odds of making money on a blog are remote. You’re not going to get famous. Not even for a minute. Just do what you do without expectation. You’ll be happier for it. If its not a labor of love, then you’re just wasting your and (perhaps more importantly) your readers’ time.

This fulfills my need for a place to dump my thoughts and words; for David his blog fulfills a need to paint pictures with his words.   Thanks for being here and indulging my words. There are millions of other posts dated just today to which you could give your attention and a fraction of those 300,000 books published yearly you could tackle. I don’t know why you’re reading this, only that you are, and I appreciate that. If you’re an aspiring writer, perhaps you’ve got some inspiration. If you’re someone who just surfs blogs, fantastic. I hope you come back. There are so many options and choices and directions to go that I hope I’ve provided something of what you came here to find.

Favorite Facebook Statuses: The Boy

My son and I have a pretty good relationship. He says and does goofy things – more than you might expect – and when I came across an old status update on Facebook’s “on this day” feature, I decided to go back and find my favorite updates springing from my relationship with him.

This is a pretty good selection of them; I know there are some that aren’t there, I just can’t put my hands on them, but will add them if/when I come across them again.

These aren’t in any specific order, more often than not they just happen to be the order in which they showed up in my search.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did re-living the experiences behind them.

March 27, 2014

The boy lost a tooth tonight. So for our evening story, I felt duty bound to tell him about the “Tooth Ogre” who uses kids’ teeth as a pretext for the opportunity to be invited into their rooms so she can drool on them.

 

March 4, 2015

As he was going to bed, I told him I love him. He then says, “ever since I could understand words, all I’ve heard you say is that you’re going to love me always no matter what.” I consider that a win.

July 23, 2017

Please stop telling the boy that hes my mini-me. It’s preventing me from calling him “Stinky” and “Clown faced dog.” Thank you.

October 1, 2011

The latest bed-time avoidance questions: “Are bunnies enemies of penguins?” and “how long can you let a fan run for 50-days without turning it off?”

July 14, 2010

The Boy said he was supposed to have a date with his girlfriend Melanie today, but she is 16 and decided to go on vacation today. He says she’s a good kisser.

May 27, 2015 ·

The Boy: “You know that awkward moment when you see a pretty girl sitting by herself and you ask her if she wants to sit with you and stuff and she says ‘No, I’m sitting with somebody…’?”

December 22, 2017

The boy is making his lunch with one hand, and holding his phone in the other watching YouTube videos.

“Why don’t you out your phone down and pay attention to what you’re doing?”

Puts phone down face up on the counter and keeps watching videos.

May 4, 2012

Me: “So how come you don’t like her? She likes you.”

The Boy: “She’s mature…and I’m not.”

Me: “So, that’s a problem for you?”

The Boy: “Yeah, I don’t like mature people.”

 

June 1, 2015

He just showed me his persuasive writing paper and I’m now absolutely convinced that robot teachers are bad teachers. I didn’t even know there was a controversy.

 

May 27, 2014

Tonight’s bedtime story was about the boy and me hitchhiking on the moon, en route to the dark side to see if there were aliens on that side. We got picked up by one of those aliens, and he didn’t want to let us out. So the boy distracted him by playing Scrabble while I took over the ship and flew it home. Of course, the only Scrabble board was in the alien’s language and he got all flustered when the boy was making up nonsense words, so when we landed on Earth, the alien simply stormed off. All of which the boy seemed to enjoy, but I lost all credibility when I suggested that I think the alien works at Wal-Mart now. He found everything else believable except that.

 

November 28, 2012

My favorite quote from his letter to Santa – here’s the boy stating his case: “My room is kind of messy, but I clean it sometimes…like last month.

February 26, 2015

The boys words of wisdom while avoiding bedtime:

“What if the toothfairy has a pawn shop?”

“I had to do an opinion paper – I wrote ‘Robot Teachers are bad’”

“Think about a fancy girl wearing a jewel encrusted hat…her head would keep falling down…”

“I had to look up how to spell ‘ironic’ in one of those books with the list of words…”

October 11, 2014

Out of nowhere, he says “I like talking to you, Dad” Me, thinking I’m #doingitright: “Thank you, boy. You know you can tell me anything, right?” The Boy:”Yeah, When we talk I learn all kinds of dumb things…”

May 2, 2015

The Boy: “I’ve got Thor’s bat!”

“But Thor had a hammer”

The Boy “Not when he played baseball…”

 

July 2, 2017

So here’s the latest letter home from camp from the boy:

“I am awesome.

Dear Mom and Dad,

I found expired glue. I got my memory foam pillow and it is good. I went to do riflery. I’m not dead and I’m happy. ”

 

June 1, 2015

“You should play this game. You can get married, get a dream home, and have kids.”

I already got married, have a dream home and have kids…

“Yeah, but this is fun…”

October 11, 2015

“If we get snatched by a ton of bats, I’m blaming it on you.”

No automatic alt text available.

 

December 21, 2015

Scene: At the bus stop

Me: Hey man, how do you put your jacket on inside-out?

The Boy: Same way I put sweatpants on backwards two days in a row. I was in Social Studies and realized I had a pocket in front.

August 12, 2014

The Boy: “This place is really organized”

Me: “Honey, this is a bathroom.”

 

May 21, 2017

The Boy: “You’re bleeding.”

Me: “I know. How manly is that?” He asks, hoping to impress the boy.

B: “How’d that happen?” Questioning further

M: “I stuck my finger on a thorn”

B: “Not very.”

 

October 2, 2011

We’re watching Spongebob, and the boy blurts out, “Yeah, that’s what she said…”

December 31, 2014

Picked up my first pair of glasses today. The boy tells me, “You kind of look like Papa [my Dad] in those.” He had no idea how big a compliment that was to me.

April 20, 2012

“how do you spell ‘Goober Doober’?”. G-o-o-b-e-r d-o-o-b-e-r. “Nice, I DO know how to spell make believe words.”

April 19, 2018

On our way home tonight, the boy says, “I saw this great quote: ‘There are only two days in your life that matter – the day you’re born and the day you realize why.’ I know that I’ve had them both already.”
Suitably impressed, I say “Really. So what have you realized about why you were born?” To which he said, “I dunno.”

April 27, 2014

 More words of wisdom from the boy: “I think the zombies had a pretty good life before the plants showed up.”
May 8, 2009

I told the boy that he needed to learn to poop on the potty. He looked at me and said, “relax.” Oh man…

When The Media Fails to Accept Responsibility

I’m usually the first person to boost NPR.  In this age of editorial slants, #fakenews and the like, it’s one of only a handful of resources I trust to be giving me the information I need to have: I didn’t hear of too many other broadcasters live airing James Comey testifying to the House Intelligence Committee.

So imagine my disappointment hearing an intelligence commentator on NPR’s “On the Media,” a weekend show dedicated to breaking down how media shapes the conversation, portraying Wikileaks as “playing” the media in their CIA information dump.

The segment is entitled “What the Media Got Wrong About the Latest Wikileaks Dump,” but a careful listen to the content and interviewee Nicholas Weaver indicates that the dump itself was exaggerated and “fear mongering” and that Wikileaks intended to create that coverage with it’s own “helpful” analysis. He lets it sit out there that it’s just a fact of life that the news industry is cut throat, people climbing over themselves for the breaking news. Wikileaks “planted” misleading leads.

This takes the media itself off the hook.  Weaver breaks down the dump itself, why it’s really not a big deal, and highlights at least one reporter who did a really good job of actual fact checking: Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post, You know, doing what reporters are supposed to do.  He lets everyone off with the trope that it’s a landrush out there, and even misrepresents the purpose of what Wikileaks actually said.

Wikileaks specifically says there’s more information than reporters, go look for it.  He portrays this as  cynical because they knew reporters would just report what they were given.  My question then is this: is that the work of Wikileaks acting against America or is this a failing of our media to do their job? The media has created this landrush mentality, this media cycle.  Wikileaks may be acting to make the CIA look bad, but make no mistake the media was their witting pawn.

Interestingly enough, Bob Garfield inadvertently admits media corrections are almost universally ignored, making them meaningless because no one pays attention to them.

What this means, then, is that the media owes it as a professional responsibility to get it right and getting it right the first time.  It means that if Wikileaks gets their preferred message out there, far from Ellen Nakashima being exceptional it means she was the exception in that she did her job. It means that printing a retraction or a correction doesn’t relieve the organization when they make a mistake.  They need to be impeccable, particularly when the media in general is being attacked by a particularly in-credible President for their lack of credibility.

NPR doesn’t speak for the entire profession, but this broadcast is designed to provide a window into the profession, and represent it.  When they refuse to take responsibility for their role, and instead allow Wikileaks – whose main purpose was to create publicity for itself – to control the conversation, they’ve minimized their own importance and exaggerated the importance of the subject.  If Weaver is correct and that there was nothing thusfar in this dump that he wouldn’t have assigned to advanced undergraduates, it was the media’s fault for giving the story more credence than it deserved.  It’s the media’s responsibility to determine what deserves credence and therefore newsworthy and what isn’t.  It was the media’s fault for playing the ratings game that the media itself created.  You can’t blame Wikileaks for understanding that game.

Wikileaks probably did play the media.  The information is probably not that important.  So why was it newsworthy?  Because the media was lazy.

When #Friends Die

Social Media, and Facebook in particular, increases our connections – it more easily invites us into other people’s lives. Historically, we maintain a network of a maximum of some 150-friends, otherwise there are just too many people, names, faces to keep up with. Psychologists have recommended that we don’t maintain more than 354-Facebook friends because of the combination of the effects of our propensity to post only positive things, thereby leading us to unfavorably compare our own lives to those of others.

Life does happen. We can now see into the lives of others more ably than ever before, which is a connection – no doubt. What happens when that connection is severed, not through a falling out or the click of an “unfriend” button, but through death. What should we do with our online connection when one of our “friends,” or worse “in person” friends, passes away?

I’ve struggled a bit with this – I had a friend who knew he was failing, and he took great pains to make sure those connected to him understood that he was comfortable with death. He said what he had to say and he was at peace. When he passed, his family posted notice of his passing and his friends that he had so carefully prepared mourned. But then what? Do I “unfriend” him?

We are so good with beginnings: Facebook posts that you’ve made a new friend, Twitter announces to you when someone has begun following you. We’re not so good with ends: connections are terminated without an acknowledgement. And so it goes, that when a life ends before a connection ends, it is a question left unanswered.

I’ve had a childhood acquaintance pass away suddenly through accident. It was a particularly harrowing situation because while I was connected to him through other friends, I wasn’t connected directly. Many of my friends were able to express their sympathy directly to his wife or on his Facebook wall, but I was not – and perhaps that was best, after all, as I was able to express my condolences for my friends’ loss. It was eerie, though, so pull up his wall and see him smiling yet to know he was no longer with us. A similar feeling came to me upon learning of the passing of another friend’s mother. I know him through online ventures, although not in person – I helped him write his resume. I was looking for information on his mom, and found her wall. To see the things of interest to her, her connections and activity up to her death was a bit unsettling.

Regarding the first friend I discussed, I said my condolences to his family through his wall and said my final words to him…and unfriended his account. It was too much of an emotional investment to see notices posted to his wall, comments of his loved ones expressing their missing him.

We all grieve in different ways. Perhaps had I more of a connection with him, I would have wanted to keep that connection – almost like being able to visit a grave site. I know many of my in person friends have kept their connection to our common childhood friend’s account and stop by on occasion to comment. A blessing and a curse, really. I honestly don’t know what is a healthy response: is it healthier to keep that virtual connection or to let it go? Should loved ones remove the account, or keep it active? Perhaps it is best to be able to say good bye, have that final conversation, and let go. Life isn’t about hanging on to the past, it is about our own individual journey, and when our journey ends it may be best to let the minutiae and detail of it rest with us.