Hey kids, The Drop Off is back. We had some connectivity issues at our previous operating base, but those have now been resolved! I currently have some other commitments that are going to limit to my outputs to a trickle, so expect some content from me every now and then in the coming months. My aim is to have some new podcasts air early in 2020, with some occasional writings mixed in before then. Here’s a short little Sunday nugget for you:
Its easy for a lot of us to fall into what I like to call the “Buffet mentality” (Jimmy that is, not Warren haha). Life can be hard. No matter how much money or “privilege” you have, its a struggle for everyone. Finding meaning and feeling like you are being the best you can be, well, sometimes a lot of us come up short and hey, that’s okay, we are only human after all. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the Margaritaville concept (and the song). In some ways I think we could use a lot more kicking back and taking time for yourself as a culture. The “career” mentality that dominates in America has most of us burnt out, stressed out, reeling, and for a good deal of us, its for something that might not contribute all that much to us feeling whole – whether we fully realize that or not. Many of us could use a little more Jimmy in our lives, or rather a little more to balance to our well being.
Something I notice in my own life is that this burnout strikes hard. Its easy for me to feel like whatever I’m doing in my day to day doesn’t “matter” (even if it is involved with something I am generally passionate about). So what do I do? I tap out. I self-indulge. I put in my hours, punch out, grab a six pack, and find some beach to sit down and numb. A lot of us do this in more subtle ways (talking to you scrolling through your phone).
How many times did you drink or smoke this week? How many times did you stay out late with friends chasing a hit of that “chillin’ with the homies” college feeling? For most of us, we just think of this as having a good time, enjoying life, and it is – in balance. Sometimes though, it kinda seems like this is all anyone does. A lot of people I know with a more serious “career” seem to need these hits, they habitually numb. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to suggest that if this is the way many of America’s young professionals are spending their nights, something might be wrong with the way we are spending our days (future post bubbling about alcohol/numbing…).
I’m a big fan of The Joe Rogan Experience – its contributed significantly to the poisoning of my mind with thoughts like this (no, I’m not gonna use the word “woke”). Last week Joe had on his first ever (to my knowledge) remote guest on the show – Edward Snowden (Ed is former NSA staff turned whistle-blower, he couldn’t make it to the studio because he is now in exile in Russia to avoid charges of espionage for revealing that his home government was violating the constitutional rights of American citizens). There’s a lot of controversy around this guy, a lot of people accept the hand-fed view from their government that he committed treason. President Trump even said he should be “executed” and accused him of leaking state secrets to Russia (interesting accusation…) – he (Ed) in-fact leaked them to several U.S. media outlets, making them public, to everyone.
I’m not interested in the political conversation for this post (this isn’t a partisan thing for me, I’m equally upset at Bush, yes – Obama, and now Trump for their roles in perpetuating the programs Ed revealed) , but just to give some context, I’m of the view that Snowden took the high road. He inconvenienced himself to a massive degree to do what he felt was the right thing.
My inspiration for this post is not to talk about the NSA or surveillance programs or politics, but rather this point – taking the high road. Even if it feels hopeless, its still worth it. Many of us (myself included) take that secure job, make that proverbial deal with the devil, and clock out and hit the bar to forget about our values and potential that we’ve stowed away somewhere.
Ed decided he couldn’t do that anymore – he gave up pretty much everything to just lay one brick on the road to what he hopes will be a better world (and the government acted in such a way to discourage anyone else who might have the same idea from thinking about doing the same). My guess is he still has a vodka every once in a while, but from his conviction on the podcast, I’m also guessing he sleeps a bit better than most of us. Here’s my favorite bit transcribed from his interview with Rogan:
“…well a lot of pragmatic people will say yeah, they say you’ve done enough, they say you’ve done your part you know, they say whatever right, be safe, live long, be happy. But I didn’t come forward to be safe. If I wanted to be safe I’d still be sitting in Hawaii [working for the NSA] making a hell of a lot of money to spy on all of you right, and nobody ever would have known about this, the system would have gotten worse, but the system, the world, the future, gets worse every day that we don’t do something about it.
Every day that we stay silent about all the injustices we see, the world gets worse, things get worse and yeah it’s risky, yeah it’s uncomfortable, but that’s why we do it because if we don’t no one else will. All those years I was sitting, hoping for someone else to come forward, and no one did, right? That’s because I was waiting for hero, but there are no heroes right? There’s only heroic decisions. You are never further than one decision away from making a difference. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a big difference, doesn’t matter if it was a small difference, because you don’t have to save the world by yourself. In fact – you can’t.
All you have to do is lay down one brick. All you have to do is make things a little bit better in a small way so other people can lay their brick on top of that, and together, step by step, day by day, year by year, we build the foundation of something better… Yeah it’s not going to be safe, but it doesn’t matter, because individually it’s not, you know, me whoever you are that’s the Iron Man. I don’t care if you’re the biggest doomsday-prepper with cans full of beans – if the world ends it’s going to affect you.
We make things better, we become safe together, right? Collectively that is our strength, that is the power of civilization, that is the power that shapes the future. Because even if you make life great for you, you’re going to die someday, you’re going to be forgotten someday, your cans of beans are going to rot someday. You can make things safe-er, you can be more careful right, you can be more clever, and there’s nothing wrong with that but at the end of the day you have to recognize if you’re trying to eliminate all risks from your life, what you’re actually doing is eliminating all possibility from your life. You’re trying to collapse the universe of outcomes such that what you’ve lost is freedom, you’ve lost the ability to act because you were afraid – that’s what got us into this mess…”
Couldn’t have said it better myself Ed.
More to come soon <3