Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Truth About Honesty

Words are a funny thing. They have the ability to illustrate the most vivid of pictures or take a story and produce a piece so abstract it would rival any Picasso. They can be made to serve any agenda and manipulate the masses. Language is a beautiful way to express things that we feel, think, see and desire. Words can also be used to the detriment of all these aspects. Caught in the middle of this space is a little aspect of the English vernacular known as the truth. It can simultaneously set the narrator free, burden the listener, and have consequences unforeseen by even the greatest fiction writer. There are many variations of the truth, whole truths, half truths, white lies, and even not telling a lie can constitute honesty. This of course depends on who is asked. Versions of the truth are a plenty and one must be very conscious of the way the truth is communicated, as it is often misinterpreted and misunderstood. But enough about the vagueness of honesty it is time to analyze what the truth can do and what it means through the eyes of yours truly.

The truth is more often that not a very difficult thing to present. The truth is susceptible to degrees in terms of the ease in which it is to relay to people. Some subjects are close to the heart and revealing the truth is perceived to be a position of vulnerability. A position that is uncomfortable and thus usually undesirable. A misconception though it may be but reality is defined by perception.

Time is also a factor the longer one continues to 'live the lie' so to speak the more difficult it becomes to shed that falsehood. Honesty is the best policy and acting accordingly from the beginning often has very surprising results. The results primarily being that it places you in the position you want to be in while adding a clarity to the exchange.

I speak from the perspective of someone who is continually working to make my conversations more constructive more useful and substantial. The direct approach is a thing I find to be difficult but becoming increasingly easier with practice. I hold this practice and way of operating similar to that of acting first and then asking for forgiveness later. I believe that being honest is often the most selfish thing one can do and yet it is looked at as being rather selfless. Take advantage of this. Of course there are delicacies involved but on the whole I would rather impose on one's feelings for a fleeting moment rather than restrict myself.

The fact is as much as people like to think that he person not being told the truth is the one who is being denied and made to feel foolish for not knowing it is the person withholding the facts that is carrying the burden, and freedom is the price paid.

The true ending of a good or difficult conversation is leaving with the thought there is nothing left for me to say and actually meaning it.

I suppose after all telling the truth is easy. It's just words right?

A dedication to a woman with the same initials. Thank you for helping me find the truth.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Balancing Act

Constantly surrounded by changing circumstances the power of observation is essential. Minute details that play into the larger fabric of the environment and people around us. Those who successfully master this skill are often at distinct advantage. Allowing those who do realize to capitalize and react effectively.

Individuals inherently strive to achieve more, become better at their craft, and generally increase the utility derived from each endeavor they pursue. Generally speaking the nature of being human is first and foremost self preservation and thus many things we do are self serving. In recognizing this and looking at what it means in a more modern context it is usually acceptable to equate the concept of self preservation to creating economic wealth. This is by no means the sole measure but perhaps the most widely understood and accepted one. The basic premise being that security, comfort, and overall satisfaction are highly correlated with the assets one is able to accumulate. The intention is not to oversimplify the many aspects people strive for but in general self worth in the eyes of the individual and society would agree with this thought.

All the above is observation, but to put it in a more contextual and real life perspective it is useful to look through the lens of those who have 'made' it according to the guidelines of self preservation above. There is no better way than to look at circumstances of the 'made it' population. Given the unique advantage of knowing several (some who are very close to home) in the 'made it' crowd I notice glaring deficiencies in their lives. The chinks in armor are as varied as the people themselves but the fundamental similarity is that things has been lost on the journey to making it. Some are quite obvious such as trading time in the office for time with the kids, or losing sight of ethics and morals in the pursuit of profit or squandering the once unbreakable bonds of previous relationships. However, all too commonly the deficiencies are minor and can go ignored. When coupled with multiple deficiencies or when unaddressed the flaws grow increasingly larger. This is evidenced in the well known mid life crisis, when a breaking point is reached and drastic, instant gratification measures are taken to remedy the problem; often ineffectively so. Well documented is the notion of how things going from seemingly perfect to the disastrous. Whether it is the sensationalist movies bridging fiction between the life of the privileged and the confines and trials that such privilege come with. Or the gruesome news story of the seemingly perfect family gone wrong. There is no doubt you have been exposed in some way to this as even the most oblivious must have observed.

The reason for this post is to analyze the what, when, how, and why this is so often the case. In order to do so provided is a list of terms that are essential ingredients to making it as defined by Webster's and the dissection of the reality of the terms.

: a favorable juncture of circumstances
: a good chance for advancement or progress

As Oprah so eloquently puts it this is when hard work meets luck. I however prefer to think of this as two thoughts colliding to create the pursuit of an objective with reckless abandon. In the context of the made it crowd I have seen people look at their successes and dismiss them instead choosing to focus on the missed chances, and trying in vain to make up for them. A game in which satisfaction is never achieved and the thirst for acknowledgment is never quenched. Corrupting current chances. Hindsight is 20/20 but no perspective is blinding.

obsolete : outcome, result
2 a
: degree or measure of succeeding b : favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
: one that succeeds

Commonly known as the most arbitrarily and simultaneously measurable aspect in life. Measurable due to the quantitative nature associated with the term but arbitrary because it means so many things to so many people. In a consumption based society the degree to which success is defined is simply money and the ability to attain possessions of desire. However, the world through a different perspective sees success in a broader context, much like the second definition. One in which you work to live as opposed to living to work. The latter is what too many people do. Work above all else is a hazardous practice that lends itself to much unhappiness.

: abundance of valuable material possessions or resources 2: abundant supply : profusion 3 a : all property that has a money value or an exchangeable value b : all material objects that have economic utility; especially : the stock of useful goods having economic value in existence at any one time wealth>

A prime example of how the things we value in life can be out of order. I personally know millionaires that would gladly give their abundant material possessions for a real and substansive interaction with their children. Wealth should encompass much more than your bank account. The healthy relationships that you have with peers, family, and friends is more often than not a fortune in itself.

In all this observation I must look at myself and say am I writing this because I have not 'made it' or is my 'made' defined differently. I would like to believe its the latter but a third party is always useful when it comes to evaluating that.

I urge everyone to reflect on their picture of being made. You may already be closer than you think.

Song of the Day: Nina Simone-Sinnerman

Friday, September 11, 2009

Delusional Daydream

In doing some leisurely reading I came across a great exercise from one of my favorite blogger's. The exercise is much more extensive than what I present however for my purposes the basic premise is creating your ideal situation in life and eliminating expectations and perceived obstacles. Things that I have written at length about before but this is actually quite cool because it give interesting insight into what everyone wants when they wake up in the morning; which would be an amazing day. It's one of those 2 times in a year days that most people have. That find the money in a pocket feeling all day. So I thought I would map out my perfect day just to see if I could make it more of a common occurrence.

The context: I currently reside in Bali, Indonesia a mecca for backpackers and high society expatriates alike. From what I understand its a blend of excesses, indulgences, and spirituality all wrapped in one nice beach towel. I will find out for sure in about 3 weeks. But it does sound like the perfect setting. Close enough to all the action yet the secluded spots are still right there. It is this setting that provides the atmosphere for my perfect day mapped out as intricately as my mind can imagine.

7:00 AM Presuming the previous evening ended relatively tamely I wake up to a rising amber sun grab my surf board and head to the beach for some tranquility and adrenaline served in a lovely cocktail that can only be achieved in the barrel of a wave. This form of meditation suits me perfectly.

8:30 AM I head back to my place which is located adjacent to the hostel that I co-own with one of my best friends. We sit at breakfast with some of our guests and talk about the day ahead last nights events and go over the business. New reservations, current and future occupancy, look at some other acquisitions we are planning, and meet with the team to see how things are going get feedback and see how we can continue to be the best hostel experience that side of the world. We wrap up by talking about upcoming events and excursions for the guests and with that last sip of passion juice we call it. Time to go back to work.

10:00 AM We head out to the Gili Islands catching a ferry that we arranged for our backpackers day excursion. Although we have made this trip several times before with our guests and just for fun this one has a slightly different goal. We have recently been told that one of the many backpacker accommodations is for sale and the owner is also intent on selling his beach front bar as well. Realizing the potential of the place we agree to pursue further talks after a period of due diligence. Not only is this going to be a profitable compliment to our existing business and help build our band but its the right price and just up our alley. We talk briefly about a plan of attack and agree that getting more familiar with the other business owners is key.

12:30 PM After a quick bite to eat from a local food stand we head over to meet our staff and guests as today they are taking snorkeling lessons with a good friend who a master diver that we partnered with as part of what we offer to guests. I relax on the glass bottom boat as Latif eagerly plots our next moves for the Gili Island take over. Already the theme nights are spewing from his thoughts and I urge him to relax as the temperature nears 30 degrees.

4:00 PM Back in Bali I walk into the hostel to check on preparations for the evening as tonight is the legendary ladies night at our bar. Things seem to be shaping up with their usual fervor. And the bar seats are already filled with new arrivals.

4:30 PM I head over to my place a shower and some administrative details need to be handled. It seems that with profitability the appropriate planning is necessary. Our accountant needs to be sent a few documents and our broker needs to put an offer in on the next property. But what I really relish is the opportunity to sit down and add a new entry to my website. I have had a topic brewing for quite some time and its finally time to give my readers an update about what they can expect in the coming weeks. My first online product is finally about to come out and there are only a few touches left to go from my graphic designer and editor before its released to the public. I have completed several free packages and they have been met with an excellent response leading to what is now a solid readership base. Lastly, I have to book my ticket to Nairobi next week. It's my dad's birthday next week and he is in for a surprise the whole family is going to be there, grand kids too!

7:00PM Finally a bit of time to relax on the deck with a book and catch up on the pages that I have been neglecting. An escape even from paradise is necessary. The book is by a good friend and mentor that is currently flying off the bookshelves, and I can see why. The perfect blend of information and entertainment.

8:15 PM Ready to go! The airport is a bit of a trek, especially with Indonesian traffic, and one I rarely make but this time it is for VIP I have my cousins and 2 friends flying in and they are kicking off a one month trip in the region. The 4 nights that will follow are sure to be a page from the adventures before. Perceived maturity on lasts until the plane lands and then indulgences are pursued with reckless abandon.

10:00 PM We are catching up, laughing and finishing up dinner as the drinks go down smoothly. I tell them about a great spot we need to hit later that evening but dropping off the bags and showering is a must after their journey in. I drop them off at the Villa and head to the hostel the meeting is our bar no later than midnight.

11:30 PM People start to flow in and family and friends are enjoying the tropical blend of beverage specials. The new bartender seems to be working out well and the work for accommodation arrangement is hopefully more permanent than that the few weeks initially intended. The numbers continually improve and sure enough as 1 AM arrives the place is packed. I make sure loose ends are tied as these nights can seem too much. The crowd of locals tourists and expats overflow onto the beach as the visiting DJ keeps feet moving before. Heading out into the moonlight with the crew there are new adventures to be had and a night full of stories waiting to be made. But the nagging thought of 'Can I get a surf in tomorrow?' nags at me. There are worse things to be worried about I console myself because days like this are only 7 times a week.

Song of the Day: Adele-Hometown Glory (High Contrast remix)