Now High Risk For Cancer

Des let me know that he and I are now a high risk of developing cancer given that our dad and our grandmother on our moms side got it. I haven’t really thought about cancer in those terms before.

From a purely statistical point of view, up until December, my actions had a much bigger impact onto my future with the disease than anything else. For all intents and purposes my body was the same as any other low risk body in terms of fighting off mutations that become disease – if diet, exercise, stress and sleep needs were balanced the potential for life was not handicapped by anything.

That isn’t the same anymore. It is now evident that written into my DNA is a lower finite potential to correct cell replication errors. The fact that my grand mother smoked has nothing to do with how you interpret the statistics because she ended up getting cancer. And on its own, my dad’s brain tumor is random and has an much consequence on my mom’s chances for cancer as it does on Des or me. But when both sides of the family are paired together there is a significant statistical relationship worth considering.

Dealing with an increased risk for something means creating an environment that is NOT conducive to it being there. With cancer there are two things to do, the first is avoid things that cause cancer – keep away from chemicals and stuff that is burning. The second is to do things that promote a healthy immune system, the most effective cancer defense you have.

Below is a list of some of the things I can do to help my body stay sharp and stop disease:

  • Eat more leafy green vegetables and more plants in general. They help with reducing the acidity of the body which can help reduce inflammation and lower physiological stress. They also provide antioxidants which help clear the waste associated with metabolic functioning.
  • Consider supplementing with some plant based vitamins. The bio-availability of the nutrients may be higher than for those made from raw earth. The is a link however between increased vitamin supplementation and some cancers, so be cautions and consider eating whole food as the preferred source of nutrients.
  • Lower sugar consumption to reduce insulin secretion. Insulin is a critical and nontoxic hormone when present in the body for short periods of time. Insulin secretion is a sign that something has gone wrong (we’ve eaten too much). The less it is around, the better for over all health.
  • Stop inhaling things that aren’t good for me, be it smoke, the fumes from cutting wood or plastic, the pieces of insulation that break off when I’m making panels, the disinfectant spray at the gym.
  • Eat more diverse types of protein and as much from wild sources as possible.
  • Reduce stress in all areas of life. Create a budget and save a fixed amount of money each week.
  • Restore a normal social life that gives me a variety of opinions and personalities. Close off any open loops in terms of grudges or crap that isn’t going the way I need it to.
  • Stop judging myself for my past actions and present thoughts. There was no malice in them, and I’m as susceptible to the fundamental attribution error as anyone else.
  • Update my goals to reflect the needed changes in my life in order to live to as close to my life expectancy as possible. Change my behavior to move me towards these goals.
  • Treat myself with as much respect as I treat other people and this means approaching everything with win:win or no deal. This may mean less short term gain, but it will come with less long term pain. The sadness of a relationship ending before it gets off the ground is a small price to pay for avoiding the enormous heart ache that seems to come from ending all of my relationships that last longer than a few months.
  • Balance my training to make sure all areas of wellness are being addressed – cardiovascular functioning, strength, flexibility, join mobility, and spiritual health.
  • Surround myself with people who are able to love compassionately and unconditionally; this also means learning these skills myself. This is a big one, stress is a major contributor to disease and illness and social interaction is a great way to relieve stress and feel connected to others and therefore the universe. Social interaction serves not to transfer the stress, but to allow for the healthy emptying of whatever is on the mind.
  • EVERYTHING I do is a choice so when I say that I can’t change something I am lying to myself. I will be sad about loss, but I do not have to feel that loss non-stop. It is fine to table dealing with parts of it until I’m in an environment were it has less impact on others.
  • Start to see yourself as someone of worth and value who SHOULD live a long time. More over, start to do the things that PROVE to me that I have worth and pay more attention to the Adults who are engaging me about my talents. After Natalie died I wanted to be dead but wasn’t going to actively end my life. It’s a paradox in this world, but legal enough are the things that you can consume that will kill slowly – smoking, drinking, low quality food, raves in condemned warehouses, and a “woes me” attitude. I don’t want to die sooner than I have to, so taking the action to eliminate these types of things from my life will go a long way at helping me achieve my life potential.
  • Cheer-up, let go of the nonsense and go with the flow. I can steer myself along the river, but I can’t paddle upstream back into my past. What’s done is done. Be grateful for having had the chance to do your best with it.

The future is coming, and I will pay for my past when it arrives. What damage was done, IS done and now get round to reducing it by restoring the loving relationship with myself. I have to care because I haven’t cared for a while, and that attitude shows in my actions, my thoughts and my essence.

Antiquated Coping Strategies – Smoking

NOTE – I don’t know the person in the image above but her story is available here. I use this image because it is reminiscent of my dad’s last few days and because those last few days were like NOTHING I have ever experienced. Take a look at the Poo bear on the table and the pictures of her loved ones. Read her story and the final words from her husband. I could be her in a few years and the post below outlines what I need to do to stop that from being my future.

I started smoking again. I had the choice to not start but I convinced myself that I DIDN’T have a choice and set-out believing that it was a fine coping strategy.

It was embarrassing to lie to my father about it. “I’m going out to work on something in the workshop” was what I’d say, and I’d do something, but it was really a trip out there to smoke. The lie made him feel better, like I was finally taking ownership of my life and working hard to build the panel business and it allowed me to avoid disappointing him in his last weeks here. He was proud that I had turned my life around after Natalie’s death – stopped smoking, started eating correctly, got back to exercising, became a personal trainer, started teaching cycling classes and effectively stopped doing most of the things that were destructive. I was glad that my dad was happy and once I slipped, and it was evident that he was getting sick, the smoking habit took hold because I didn’t want to stop out of fear of what it might be like. I also didn’t want to rock the boat given his terminal diagnosis.

Now I have quit. I left everything as it was until I was able to deal only with the death of my dad and the impact it has had on my self-awareness. This was a request of my family to just try and keep things normal until you know what you are feeling and are ready to make the changes. Strangely, the thing that actually clued me into the fact that it would be fantastic idea to stop was a realization about my girl friend at the time. She’s an amazing women and I think we both knew that the relationship would be a 2 part thing if it was to last at all. There was not going to be continuity in it, a separation / break-up was going to be absolutely necessary because of WHO I am and where I am in my life. BUT, my time with her was good and I realized that I actually wanted to live for as long as I can. There was something about the relationship with her that helped me realize that you can feel connected to someone and this connection can help you see things about your behavior that aren’t working. I needed to stop for myself, not for her, my dad, for anyone. I tabled the stopping until after my dad died.

I don’t want to die. I want to live forever, floating through the universe with a smile and love in my heart. But I will not live forever, and if I don’t fix my bad habits, I won’t live for much longer.

Below is a list of the positive changes that occur when someone stops smoking. I like this list because there are benchmark to achieve and it tells a story about recovery. The body will heal itself from a lot of damage if you do the things to promote recover, but only if you stop the damage as well.

Last smoke plus …
  • 20 minutes
  • Your blood pressure, pulse rate, and the temperature of your hands and feet will all return to normal.
  • 8 hours
  • Remaining nicotine in your bloodstream will have fallen to 6.25% of normal peak daily levels, a 93.25% reduction.
  • 12 hours
  • Your blood oxygen level will have increased to normal and carbon monoxide levels will have dropped to normal.
  • 24 hours
  • Anxieties peak in intensity and within two weeks should return to near pre-cessation levels.
  • 48 hours
  • Damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal. Cessation anger and irritability peaks.
  • 72 hours
  • Your entire body will test 100% nicotine-free and over 90% of all nicotine metabolites (the chemicals it breaks down into) will now have passed from your body via your urine.  Symptoms of chemical withdrawal have peaked in intensity, including restlessness. The number of cue induced crave episodes experienced during any quitting day will peak for the “average” ex-user. Lung bronchial tubes leading to air sacs (alveoli) are beginning to relax in recovering smokers. Breathing is becoming easier and the lungs functional abilities are starting to increase.
  • 5 – 8 days
  • The “average” ex-smoker will encounter an “average” of three cue induced crave episodes per day. Although we may not be “average” and although serious cessation time distortion can make minutes feel like hours, it is unlikely that any single episode will last longer than 3 minutes. Keep a clock handy and time them.
  • 10 days
  • 10 days – The “average ex-user is down to encountering less than two crave episodes per day, each less than 3 minutes.
  • 10 days to 2 weeks
  • Recovery has likely progressed to the point where your addiction is no longer doing the talking. Blood circulation in our gums and teeth are now similar to that of a non-user.
  • 2 to 4 weeks
  • Cessation related anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia, restlessness and depression have ended. If still experiencing any of these symptoms get seen and evaluated by your physician.
  • 21 days
  • Brain acetylcholine receptor counts up-regulated in response to nicotine’s presence have now down-regulated and receptor binding has returned to levels seen in the brains of non-smokers.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months
  • Your heart attack risk has started to drop. Your lung function is beginning to improve.
  • 3 weeks to 3 months
  • Your circulation has substantially improved. Walking has become easier. Your chronic cough, if any, has likely disappeared.
  • 1 to 9 months
  • Any smoking related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath have decreased. Cilia have regrown in your lungs thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean, and reduce infections. Your body’s overall energy has increased.
  • 1 year
  • Your excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.
  • 5 to 15 years
  • Your risk of stroke has declined to that of a non-smoker.
  • 10 years
  • Your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30% and 50% of that for a continuing smoker (2005 study). Risk of death from lung cancer has declined by almost half if you were an average smoker (one pack per day).  Your risk of pancreatic cancer has declined to that of a never-smoker (2011 study), while risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus has also declined.
  • 13 years
  • Your risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of a never-smoker (2006 study).
  • 15 years
  • Your risk of coronary heart disease is now that of a person who has never smoked.
  • 20 years
  • Female excess risk of death from all smoking related causes, including lung disease and cancer, has now reduced to that of a never-smoker (2008 study). Risk of pancreatic cancer reduced to that of a never-smoker (2011 study).

    Narcissism – A Social Need For The Unenlightened

    I wondered for a long time why so many seemingly normal and highly functional people constantly find themselves at the source of all of the bad things that happen in their world yet take responsibility for few of their own actions. It was disturbing until Des told me that believing you’re are a piece of unlovable crap is a sure fire way to ensure that you seek out the social situations to validate your lack of value. Initially it struck me as odd until I saw Donald Trump talking on TV and it hit me that there is a man who doesn’t really care what anyone thinks of him. He’s not narcissistic, he’s confidence because he knows he has a lot of value and this prevents him from needing other people’s approval. He’ll settle for their money and he’s just right for that.

    If you are able to consider the inverse – that you are unlovable – you’ll see how seeking out this type of validation is a much bigger a social motivator than KNOWING you are the best. People who know what they bring to the table do not seek out proof of this from others because knowing it is all that is needed. I had an old girlfriend who would talk about things she knew nothing about but when it came time to debate about the things she knew, there was no debate. No need, I didn’t know what I was talking about. She’d correct me and then move on if I continued to disagree. What’s funny is that she would debate endlessly when she was full of crap.

    This is one of my favorite topics as I age because I am uncovering more and more people who don’t understand that their motivation to see themselves as the center of the world and the cause of everything is a symptom of a sense of unlove-ability and that it is paying service to something that happened when they were growing-up. More often that not, their narcissism is a result of an incomplete developmental stage and an inaccurate pairing of cause and effect – for example, very attractive people tend to become narcissistic as they age because they were never recognized for their efforts (the things they can control) and tend to receive favor simply for being good looking. Their pathological behavioral patterns will tend to pop out any time they begin to feel overwhelmed by someone they view as better than them (a meaningless distinction) or anytime they feel the withdrawal of approval. They will often say the oddest things that you cannot reconcile in your head because they are not based on fact. To them though, they are based on fact; they are based on the interpretation of the evidence which just happens to see them as unlovable.

    We tolerate this from children, movie stars and anyone we want something from because we can’t actually care that much about people who view themselves as unlovable because they tend to act in unlovable ways and alienate those who bring them kindness – they are dishonest, they create drama where it didn’t need to be, they involve others in their and other peoples business, they denigrate others in an attempt to make themselves feel or look better, they tell you who you can and cannot be friends with and they will throw you under the bus as soon as they realize that you are not treating them as unlovable as they act. Narcissism is obvious once you’ve seen it and the people it afflicts are toxic to those unfortunate to have to continue to engage them.

    The prognosis is poor for these types of people because they are incapable of seeing their actions has shaping their world – I’ve yet to meet one who later said “I was creating all of my bad luck because I was acting unlovable.” Sadly for them and the people they impact, you tend to hear “look what you made me do” or “that isn’t fair” when you treat them the same way they treat you.

    Chances are they are too heavily invested in keeping their delusion going to actually look at the root cause of their actions.

    Do The Best You Can, That You Can Live With

    Many people have taught me important life lessons – there’s a lot of them to learn and I’ve been open enough at times to let others impact me.

    A few winters years ago my parents (mom) started feeding this big ginger cat that would hang out by the back of the house near the dryer vent. It had been hanging around the neighborhood for a few years and each year it seemed to be finding it tougher to get by. Being a male, there was no chance that they’d be letting it sleep inside unless it was fixed. And being an unfixed male, it was assisting in the making of kittens, adding to the cat problem. They talked to the humane society so the option of having them pick it up and deal with it was on the table. My parents dilemma was that a cat this old and independent wasn’t high on a adoptable list – the cat would have been up down. This may have struck them as unfair because the cat was effective at living and had earned the right to NOT be killed.

    My folks made the decision to bring him to the vet and get him fixed. It cost around $125 and after a day of recovery, he ran away when my parents let him out of the cage after returning from the vet. “That seems like a total waste of money” I said when I chatted with my dad a couple of days later. He just shrugged and said “you do the best you can.”

    About a week after its surgery there was a particularly cold spell and the cat returned to sleep inside and get fed. It left in the spring and you’d see it occasionally until the winter returned. It didn’t have anymore kittens and had a better quality of life when the winter became too much of a challenge.

    A few weeks ago I was talking with Tony about raising children. He has two kids, I have none. There are challenges to parenting that I don’t realize so my understanding of the process is almost completely theoretical. I had a few curiosities about some of his approaches and when I asked him about them it was clear that there’s a lot of room to wiggle when it comes to following the path of best parenting approaches. Realistically, you have to do the best you can, that you can live with.

    There are consequences to buying a child’s compliance through rewards but there are times when you simply need them to be quiet, focused, excited, etc…. but if you can manage those consequences and deal with whatever is thrown at you, you are going to be able to live with your decision.

    Life has many twists and turns, challenge enough without the baggage of regret. Doing the best you can is an effective way to eliminate regret from your future. But when life gets in the way and you need to balance some of your wants with some of your needs, you do the best you can, that you can live with.

    Do YOU Like Stupid Things?

    Some people like to do things that don’t appeal to me. They say they like doing them when I ask, so I’m usually happy enough if they don’t ask me to do it with them. I try to keep it simple so that if something doesn’t impact me, my enjoyment of the world or put anyone at risk, I’ll do my best to let it go. People don’t like being openly judged and being told that they are wrong is something that causes emotional responses in most humans; it’s best to avoid thinking too much about the things that have little impact on life because that isn’t going to fix the stuff that can be controlled.

    I suppose that I have told people that their dreams are stupid, that their actions are stupid, that they are kinda dumb. I do it less now that I’m older and understand what people hear when you ask them things. While it has been a long time since I actually told someone that they liked stupid things, I know that many of the people I have talked to have heard me say that they like stupid things. And to this point, it’s both sad and shittie.

    It’s shittie because using the word “you” is useful and can add a lot of efficiency to conversations. “You were speeding and got a ticket” is concise. Using fewer words tends to decrease the chance of a miscommunication. But what if using fewer words actually lead to hearing stuff that wasn’t being said? This will complicate communication dramatically and it is exactly what happens when some people hear the word “you” in a sentence that is directed towards them; they hear a criticism which usually gets their back up. In this case, we’re contending with someones interpretation of what was said vs. what was said. To avoid this potential derailment in a conversation I’ll try to not use the word “you” and I try to avoid accusing them of something or pointing out their actions as having a negative consequence on the world.

    It’s sad because there is a reason a person immediately interprets “you” as a criticism. Why would someone normalize the assumption that almost every comment made about them is a criticism of them? How this comes to manifest itself (or for whatever reason something comes to manifest itself) as an almost narcissistic obsession to see others blaming them for random life is a scary and sad notion. This tendency has been normalized because they have been in an environment where it was normal or where it was never shown to be anything other than what is possible.

    While this may not necessarily indicate abuse, it does indicate a tormented life leading up to the moment they are standing in front of you waiting to hear you rip them to pieces.

    Happy end to the forth fiscal quarter!

    What Do You Do When You Stop Running?

    I haven’t been writing much recently because I have found my life to be almost too boring to talk about let alone put in the physical effort to write it out. When my friends ask “how are you doing?” I’ve been trying to put on a smile and say “awesome” or “amazing” and gargle out a few sentence about why it life is awesome/amazing when asked. My friends aren’t bull shit so they call me on the lack of passion. I say stuff, they hear it, think what they think and the conversations move on.

    My thoughts on the matter are as follows:

    I have a tendency to be narcissistic. All of the blogs I’ve written about toxic people and those kinds of things come from a place of experience, experiences that I don’t need to repeat anymore. I’ve been a real dick to a lot of people. I haven’t been the pacifist observer I’m capable of being because I make myself the center of everything and trying to control the crap out of the things I don’t like. I am sure there are reasons why I do this but they don’t matter much to someone I’ve just made feel guilty for something they didn’t even do.

    The controlling tendencies remain, but I feel them now. I know the buttons to push and I know when I’m about to push one of them MOST of the time. The awareness that I’m about to push a button is very important to me because I don’t like being a dick. Creating an emotion within someone can have a positive impact, fear of dying can motivate someone to correct some diet issues, but given that I don’t have any control over the exact emotional response I trigger, there are too many unknowns for me to continue to do it to people without telling them I’m doing it. Manipulating other people is a problem I have had for a long time and I’m happy to be able to identify when I’m doing it. I’ll get my way a lot less often but maybe I’ll get some different life experiences….

    Goals and dreams are fine, a man needs a purpose, but you need to be certain that you are trying to make real a dream that is actually yours. If you’re working towards something you don’t actually want, achieving it isn’t going to be very satisfying. This wasn’t a problem when it came to me riding too much to make sure I was this image of optimal health – worst case I run myself into the ground – it’s a huge issue when dealing with relationships because they involve someone else. The problem is that you end up saying and doing things that don’t match-up with your intentions. This creates a lot of anxiety and dissonance within the both people; it causes suffering without a positive end goal. So I’ve let go of the relationship dream / goals I had and have shifted my focus onto money and career objectives because I KNOW I need them in my future and I know I can control my efforts in achieving them.

    For most of my adult life I have been experienced a constant low level of anxiety. It is so much a part of me that I search for things to think about to justify feeling it; it’s only recently that Des pointed out to me that I tend to feel something and then look for a cause. This is something about all humans. In most instances, the feeling comes before the reason. The truth may be that I am anxious and have unconsciously found chronically stressful life situations to displace the thought that my fight or flight response is on a hair trigger.

    The only relationships that fail are those with or between narcissists. They don’t work because a narcissist thinks in terms of me, myself and me. The other person is a thing that serves a purpose. When the needs are being met everything is fine NOT because the two people are getting along but because the narcissist is getting their way. Once that stops happening, the controlling and abusive nonsense begins. Being a partner to a narcissist is a lot like being a robot. Your role is to do whatever they need done, usually preemptively and without prior coaching, and to take their ridicule for not doing the right thing for as long as they need to spew it out, and listen to it again anytime they feel like reliving their disappointment in you. I’ve served up enough of this sh!t to know that it doesn’t help anyone in the long run and it only gets the other person to modify their behavior and rarely impacts their nature.

    Close the loops that hold you in the past. This summer was the culmination of my adult life so far. I was able to see who I was, who I wanted to be, what I had been doing, why I had been doing it, and what I needed change in order to move my life towards what I know I want. These realizations answered a lot of questions I had about myself and framed a lot of my actions in a way that makes complete sense, allowing me to stop thinking about them. With each loop I closed, I gained a little more mental energy which I put towards the panel business, something that represents my future. As the past gets put away the future gets brighter because you’re putting more energy towards it. However, open loops still remain that sap energy. If you really want to move into the future, create a big goal and start closing the loops of your past. It’s insane how they bleed you out.

    I only have so much nervous energy to devote to stuff. It doesn’t matter what it is you want to do, think or move, it requires mental effort, and there is a finite amount of it available. Once it is used up, you slow down dramatically and need to rest and recover. It stands to reason that a long bike ride will have an impact on my ability to think later in the day. It was less obvious that a long stressful thinking session will have an impact on my bike ride later in the day. It does, and it tends not to be as positive an impact as physical exercise has on thinking. It’s also true and even less obvious that unconscious thinking will drain your nervous energy reserves. It makes sense why I’m a little flatter now, the work on the panels is new so it’s a little stressful. To learn it most effectively I’ve been immerse in it, which tends to prime my unconscious brain to work on solutions and advance my understanding, which takes energy.

    Maybe it was my face. With my teeth moving and the spacers prevent me from closing my mouth completely there is nothing to force my jaw out of alignment. When the jaw sits naturally there is very little tooth contact on the left. That means a life-time of my mouth closing in a way that isn’t lined up. No matter how small the deviation, it’s going to have an impact on muscles, bones, fascia, and nerves in that area. Being both an eater and a talker, my jaw has opened and closed millions of times. Millions of reps, each one tracking just a little bit to the left. I’ll accept that we can normalize dis-function, I can’t accept that normalized dis-function to be equal to proper bio-mechanical function. I’m open to the possibility that much of my recent flatness has something to do with the improved soft tissue environment in my face, head and neck.

    Arguing – You Need To Know Why

    Part of a series on arguing.

    You need to know what why you are arguing and what you want out of the interaction

    Fundamental to doing your best at anything in life is knowing what you are doing and maybe why you are doing it. This applies arguing because if you don’t know what you want out of the situation, you’re just going to give the other person what they ask for, usually after a dispassionate defense from their verbal onslaught. If you don’t know what you want, you get what you get.

    Every goal you have every achieved started off as a something impossible, a clearly defined and measurable objective, sometimes with a do by date. Once you create it, your brain and body set out to make it happen. This is the way human beings achieve things. In exactly the same but entirely opposite way that you are not setting an argument goal in your head and letting your powerful brain figure-out what to say to create a compelling case to win, person who is going to argue with you next has and is doing these things.

    The chronic arguer is working on these things all the time, so if you end up talking to them, there’s a good chance that what will come-out of their mouth will be manipulative and calculated. Unless you want to argue with them, set the goal of getting out of the conversation as quickly as possible. Create a couple of fixed responses and fire them out whenever you are being engaged – “sorry, I have to check on my kids / parents / pet stocks quote, etc…” or “that is an interesting point of view but don’t have time right now, I have to go.

    If you do want to argue with them make sure you know what you are fighting about. If it’s a ongoing thing, you are not arguing to change someone’s point of view (if this was possible it would have happened by now), you are arguing to change someones reality (unless their world changes they are not going to change). Make sure you know what that is before you set out making it happen.

    It is important you look out for your best interests. Knowing what these things are before having to defend them will go a long way in guarding yourself from manipulative people. When someone engages you in an attempt to change your point of view take a moment to figure-out what you want out of the interaction and work diligently to achieve it.

    Forbidden Relationship

    The beauty of a forbidden relationship is that it only exists for the moments that the lovers allow it to exist. When they part ways it stops, when they reconnect it begins again. During their time together the relationship burns so completely because they know it dies when their time together ends.

    It is both marvelous and profoundly sad. The lust, passion, closeness, desire and exhilaration can never be shared with others. It can never exist. Life, for the lovers, will be a series of dazzling moments dancing on the waves of what is otherwise an endless sea of longing desperation.

    They listen with consummate focus to each others words that they then become the thought the other is emoting. This experience of completely shared moments will be later milked of every memory in a futile effort to bridge the gap between encounters.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be imagining the secret lives of squirrels as I watch them gather their winter food but the clocks went back last night and I didn’t sleep in.

    The Last Day Of This Life

    Tomorrow I get braces. I need and want them. I need them because my top front teeth are very worn down because of where they are and because I grind my teeth very badly when I sleep. I will wear then through or break them in the next couple of years. I want them because the smile I see in the mirror doesn’t match how my smile feels.

    It is supposed to take 18 months for the teeth to move and set so today I am having a few apples and chewing a bunch of gum. People have told me that it can be a little uncomfortable and there will be adjustments that leave my mouth feeling a little punched. I’m not looking forward to that, but I’m welcoming it. I have felt ugly for a long time and other than getting braces, there wasn’t anything I could to about the way my smile looked. I hide it some of the time and then just gave-up trying. But thoughts about what other people thought about my teeth would pop into my head when I was talking to someone new.

    It’s a first world problem and frankly I’m lucky to have it, but living in Canada, I have an expectation of dying with most of my original teeth so I’m going to buy that future. I’ll trade my time now for my teeth later. It’s a good investment.

    Tomorrow at lunch, when I leave the office my smile will be something different than it is today. It will be a vision of a brighter future because I am taking action about something that has bothered me for a long time.

    Because We Need To Know You Don’t Know

    “I don’t know” is not an apology. There’s no shame. It’s a simple statement of fact, is the key line in Penn Jillette’s special comment to as a follow-up to his interview on Piers Morgan. He then compares his answers during the interview to Piers’ answers to the same questions. They are saying exactly the same thing it’s just that Penn admits it. Neither one of them knows how to look after all of the people in the US but Piers’ answer “the government” does shifts the responsibility of answering onto something that isn’t part of the discussion. It’s distracting and it can be a very effective tool when trying to convince someone of non-existent expertise. Piers HAS answers to the questions he just doesn’t know the actual answers.

    That’s the thing with bullshit. No matter how you shine it, gloss it up, and air the room, it’s still bullshit. The only way someone is not going to see it as bullshit is if they don’t want to see it as such, they CANNOT see it for what it is or they do see it as bullshit and they don’t tell you that they know you are full of shit.

    Penn’s comment comes at a time when I have grown particularly open to the fact that I don’t know a lot of that things that I thought I did. I’m starting to know what I don’t know and that makes me wiser, if only slightly. Long term it means that I may end up actually knowing these things because I’ve emptied the knowledge hole of the bullshit so it’s ready and waiting for the facts to fill it.

    I’ve always sort of admired people who say “I don’t know” because I find their honesty refreshing. It’s time saving because you don’t have to think about the quality of their answer. The process of internalizing a lesson someone gives you is resource heavy because you have to vet the quality of the information they are giving you, ask qualifying questions, collect more information about the topic to allow you to store it in a way that is easy to retrieve, then unconsciously the brain does whatever it does to assimilate the information into a world view that is consistent with the real world.

    Now imagine someone makes something up instead of saying “I don’t know.” You move forward on the belief that it is true – you fill the knowledge hole with bullshit – and fully believe that you are right about the topic. Confident and passionate because you got it from a good source. When you spread the lie later to someone who respects your opinion, you burn a little piece of your credibility.

    Overtime two things happen that take a major toll on the quality of your life. First, people stop trusting you because a lot of what you say is incorrect yet you fail to see it or even consider that it could be wrong. Second, your “knowledge” starts to become a liability to you because it cannot be counted on to represent the way the world actually is but you have full confidence that it does represent the world – worse than not knowing or not knowing that you don’t know, you believe you know yet don’t. It may not be your fault that some of the people you considered to be mentors or sources of wisdom misrepresented themselves, but it sure is your problem.

    Over the last 6 months and more and more recently I say “I don’t know”, “I’m not sure”, “what do you mean by that”, “what impact does that have on you”, “what impact should it have on me” and “what do you need/want me to do”. I say these things because I’m growing more and more confident that I don’t speak the same language as everyone else, and that maybe most of the people speak a different language from each other.

    I’ve known my dad for almost 40 years and we’re now asking each other more questions to get an understanding about what the other is talking about. For a very long time I believed that I understood him, but as we chat now, it’s evident that we have a very different understanding of many words, concepts and things. My mom, dad and brother are the people who I have spend the most time with in my life and after almost 4 decades of interaction the only thing that they can say to me that I know I fully understand is “I don’t know”.

    This is liberating. It shifts me from participant in life to scientist-participant in life. I need to seek high quality information from reliable sources. The new challenge becomes the vetting of the sources, and here I’m really lucky. The people who know me the best and who I respect the most answer questions with “I don’t know” often enough from me to realize that facts are the critical currency when it comes to talking / mentoring / educating me. Ones ability to say “I don’t know,” to be comfortable without knowing and to be curious to find out the answer is the first thing I’m using to vet the quality of my sources. So:

    • If you always know the answer, you don’t.
    • If having an answer is more important than having the correct answer, your answer isn’t important.
    • If you KNOW you know and don’t need to check current research, you may not know anymore.
    • If you are emotional when you are learning something, you don’t know it yet. Be cautious when dealing with facts with overly emotional reactive people as emotional states tend to impair the brains ability to store memories accurately.

    What does my world look like after I’ve vetted my sources and realized where the wisdom lays? It’s very interesting. I’m learning more, that is true. But I’m also having some really great conversations with people. By cutting out the chaff you free up a lot of time to engage other people, or the ones you like more frequently. I realize that I know at least 50% less than I thought I did, but that knowledge build my confidence that most people know a lot less than they think they do so my expertise in certain areas are actually a lot higher relative to my peers. I know a heck of a lot about 10 things and bits and pieces about other stuff. If you can admit when you don’t know something, talk to me about the other stuff if you know and listen to me when I talk about the 10 things. Otherwise, we can just talk sh!t and have a good time.