It has come to that time when I decided awhile back that I wanted to cut from the usual posting style and just talk about some things here one on one. To show you where I’m coming from and tie in the theme of what I’m doing before you get too lost if you aren’t already. No fancy stories or dramatic examples to prove how right I always am or fun science facts to show how incredibly, amazingly smart I am (If you disagree with these statements, you are probably wrong), just me and you. If I was the cool teacher in high school, this is where I would turn the chair around and sit on it backwards with my arms folded on the backrest. I have five posts on here so far and have many more in the works but I thought now was a good time to have a little chat before I added any more.
Ferdinand Magellan is famously known in most countries for making the very first circumnavigation around the earth. We all know this. We were all told this in grade school, answered the question on our pop quiz and moved on without another thought. Did you know that he actually only made it half way around? He left with 5 ships carrying 270 men and only 1 ship came back with a crew of about 18. He died fighting some islanders while trying not to look weak; his ego got the better of him. I bring this random fact up because it is the story of Magellan that has led me here. It also acts as an example of how I now think about the information we get exposed to, what we do with it and how not until all the right pieces are in place within ourselves does it stick and make an impression. So scratch what I said earlier about no stories and examples, let me show you how this happened for me.
In 2008 I left the Navy, married too early and the divorce soon after left me living alone at 26 for the first time in my life. Being alone now I see as something everyone needs to go through to understand what it is in them that makes them happy. At the time though I was just disgruntled at being left in a marriage and stuck paying for a house. I ate horribly and smoked and drank too much and it started taking its toll on me physically and mentally. I noticed I also had developed a negative outlook of the world and had become a moody pain in the ass. I complained non-stop about stupid government policies, about work issues to other co-workers. I used to see this as venting but I realized that it was starting to have some effects. I started reading a lot about things that I thought would help make me more balanced, being that I was unhappy mentally and feeling worse physically as well. I read a lot on meditation and yoga and eating right. The usual self-help path most people go through after big changes. I met a nurse who is now my fiancé. She showed me the wonderful world of eating wholesome foods and limiting sugar content and just getting back to what we are supposed to eat and limiting the processed garbage that is packaged as food. I’ve felt pretty good for the first time in a long time. But I would still get frustrated and irritable and extremely moody and I knew I still needed some changes but I didn’t know what. I started slacking on my yoga and tai chi and was just losing motivation at work and life in general. I knew people told me calming practices and exercise would make me feel better but without knowing how it would make me feel better, I saw it more and more as a possible wasted effort and lost my drive to improve. The classic feeling of a downward spiral (it sounds really dramatic as I write this, I’m sure it wasn’t that bad).
A year or so ago I read a book called “Over the edge of the world”, about Magellan’s circumnavigation. A few parts in there stuck with me, mainly how the author described that at that time (1520 or so) people still believed in sea monsters and the world maps were widely inaccurate and so on. A few weeks later an article on some recent Leonardo Da Vinci artwork had popped up and when they told me the date he lived, 1452-1519, I remembered the passages from my Magellan book. It hit me how the world could be so divided to have someone as advanced in science and biology as da Vinci but still contain the ignorant terrors that filled Magellan’s crew all around the same period of time. It was also amplified with my desire at the time to go back to school and take some of the advanced classes I never had in high school. My only math I had was algebra and geometry but I was intrigued by physics and the universe. I felt behind in academics for a long time but some of the greatest thinkers in time didn’t have much formal training either. I was curious about the way things worked and I had a new drive to see how these men of science achieved so much.
I started with the history of science. I read a lot about what took us through most of human history with alchemy and the false wizards of olden times and the ancient Greeks with their influential thinkers that carried us philosophically through the dark and middle ages. I read two biographies on Da Vinci and found it fascinating that at the time of such ignorance in the world and a lack of technology he was able to make such amazing advances in human anatomy and engineering. Granted most of these accomplishments were brought to light way after his death but it was still done before Magellan even left his home port. About a hundred-twenty years later Isaac Newton was born, my next biography. This was a man who was so driven that he not only made his own glass and constructed a new type of telescope based on his expertise of light optics, but also created a whole new form of mathematics to explain what he saw when he looked into it. I continued on and read about Joseph Priestly, ‘A brief History of Time’ by Hawking, Einstein’s relativity and a book called ‘the Empires of Light’ about Tesla, Edison, and Westinghouse which really fascinated me. The idea of electricity and magnetism had always been almost mystical to me. But out of all of what I read, in the back of my mind I could still never connect the dots from particles and energy to the inner workings of human beings. I have always had a logical and visual mind but felt a certain disconnect between the different aspects of life. I knew that everything was made of atoms and elements were made into compounds that made all things and that the body was cells and organs and chemicals. I knew all these things but they always felt like independent sciences, unconnected parts of the world even though I knew they were connected. I could mentally picture atoms and I could picture cells but I couldn’t really see the bridge from one to another. Then I found a book called ‘The Energy of Life’ written by Cambridge Professor of Molecular Biochemistry Dr. Guy Brown.
For the first time I found a book that discussed energy in terms of the basic understanding of it, including the laws of thermodynamics, and piece by piece built the bridge I was looking for into how our body was put together and how it works. It was the first time I had even heard of the electron transport chain, I had never been taught that or read it anywhere else and it all clicked into place for me. It talked about our body chemically and worked up to athlete’s limitations and Sigmund Freud and psychological motivations and stress. It worked from the atom to the cell and its components, to systems within the body to the big picture. Of all the things I had ever thought about and read and worked on, this book showed me the way it was all connected. I now saw the benefits of yoga and tai chi and meditation from a scientific standpoint. I knew what breathing and perspective was doing to our bodies and our minds and science was now proving what the ancient yogi’s and Eastern Indian and Asian philosophies have been working on for thousands of years. To be fair though, before you run out to get a copy for your own mind to be blown, the impact this book had on me was very much due to where I was at mentally in my life. I gave the book to a friend to read and I said that you may not get out of it what I did. You may think the book is hard to follow at times but if you can get the insight it gave me then you will understand how wonderful it is.
There is a lot of information out there today. When I was kid living on my Missouri farm, the only source of information I had available at home was an old encyclopedia of the letter “L” and a bible. Now it’s so overwhelming and chaotic that at times it just seems like background noise in my daily life. The amazing thing with this abundance of information is that we still may not have a good accurate picture of something no matter how many times we are exposed to it. How it is presented to you and how you plug that into what you already know or what you are feeling in life at that time actually determines if you get it or not. It creates a spark of insight. This is why I take the time to write my posts the way I do. I try to make it so many different people with different backgrounds can connect to it in as many different ways as possible. I also picked a topic that I felt is important because there are too many resources for exercise and nutrition and all that jazz. I didn’t need to be another face in the crowd. When it comes to stress, I feel it usually falls short. Sure there are yahoo articles talking about ‘7 hot new ways to beat stress’, but what I’m discussing here isn’t just stress related. It’s more about attaining a better perspective to try and fix many of our problems that we don’t even realize is initiated through us.
We are raised to think about our internal selves as being just what we are. The older generations are ‘set in their ways’ and the younger generations are ‘kids being kids’ and those of us in the middle are too busy working to really pay any attention. We know that we change over time but in the moment we don’t acknowledge that we may be causing some issues. Read my post “We all have multiple personalities….. Just not at the same time.” and you will see what I mean here. We feel we are the way we are and if something is off or we have an issue then the only remedy is to bring in something from the outside. If we have a headache, we take a Tylenol. If we fail a test it’s because the teacher didn’t cover all the material, not that we didn’t study. If FEMA takes days to get water to hurricane victims we blame the government but fail to recognize we could’ve prepared more. I have said multiple times in these posts that we cannot ever stop the external influences from affecting us but we can limit the issues we create ourselves.
That’s why I am here. I see the benefit of emotional regulation. I don’t want to live my life making my life harder than it has to be. Every person, rich or poor, gets to the end of his or her life and wishes for more time. I don’t want to waste my time clumsily stumbling through. How many ‘drama queens’ have you known to have created drama just to get that attention they need? How many people have you seen fail because they were too proud to ask for help? How many excuses have you heard from people when they are too embarrassed to admit they are wrong? Magellan died because he was trying to show the natives how powerful and godlike he was by attacking their enemy. He took unnecessary risks and paid deeply for them.
If we meditate to slow down and practice finding the true causes of our emotions we can make better decisions and have a higher success rate at whatever it is we are trying to achieve. We are running on hunter/gatherer operating systems in a world of sensory overload and internet explorer and ipads. All these things are distracting us from figuring out a better way to operate ourselves so we can better handle those distractions. This is what I am trying to achieve. This is what I am writing about but it doesn’t mean that I’m already perfect at any of it. Practice makes perfection and I have a lot of practice to catch up on.
I am not a doctor and I am not a scientist. If you find inaccuracies with some of my writing then you are focusing on the wrong parts. You are missing the message. Thanks for reading and please give me some feedback. Let’s talk. Give me topics or give me issues you may have and want another perspective on it. Let’s do this together.