Speaking Up, Steve Jobs, and My Role

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There have been so many crazy—crazy in a good way—thoughts running through my mind lately.  It seems impossible to categorize them all. I’ve been having so many conversations with people about different topics; and yet, all these topics center on one subject. Whether I’m talking about food and diet, farming, television, politics, my corporate job, or church and religion; the topic undoubtedly comes back to frustration with the way America has progressed.

All you have to do is scroll through Facebook for five minutes and you’ll see countless posts about how America is progressing in a way that neither side is happy about.  Have you been a part of progression and felt deep in your gut it wasn’t really progress?

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Maybe you felt like you should say something but nobody else spoke up so you kept your mouth shut. That reminds me of when I was in school. I was hyper-sensitive about being the only kid that didn’t understand the assignment so instead of raising my hand and asking the teacher to explain it again, I would sit in silence and look around at my peers like I knew exactly what was expected. It wasn’t until my late 20s and 30s that I realized what made the smart kids smart. They asked questions. They were engaged in the topic. They immersed themselves in the process of learning. So what if the rest of the class thought they were stupid, they wanted to get it right and they knew several other kids would benefit from their questions. By admitting they didn’t have all the answers they were moldable and able to learn from their teachers.

I began to wonder about the way we learn as adults and I realized many of us still have that same fear of raising our hands or opening our mouths. When injustice is witnessed we keep our mouths shut because we don’t want to be the one that spoke up. When our kids demand cereal or cookies and milk for breakfast we oblige them because that’s the way we were raised. “It’s obviously good for them because it says there are lots of vitamins and minerals right on the front of the box. And kids need calcium so they have to drink plenty of milk to grow up big and strong.” If our kids demanded cocaine and a shot of whiskey before running out the door to catch the bus we might be concerned; but why are we not concerned when the cereal, cookies, and milk have the exact same effects on their brains as the cocaine and whiskey would?

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It’s understandable to assume we are making our own minds up about decisions that we make. We feel confident in our ability to choose what shirt to wear and what socks to put on. These are decisions that we make and nobody controls that. We plan ahead when we grocery shop and have discussions as a family about what meals we can expect to prepare throughout the upcoming week. “The kids have games Tuesday and Friday night so we need to have some easy-prep meals those nights.” We run through fast-food because it seems more convenient in the moment completely ignoring the long term effects these food-like substances are having on our brains and bodies.

We sit in big houses mostly empty, communicate with our loved ones from separate rooms via text, and smile at the comfortable stranger while passing in the hallway. We say we love each other because that’s what families do when in reality our actions prove otherwise. I remember a time when our family got together with other families all the time. Our social lives were lived in community having ongoing relationships with different people almost every night of the week. A lot of that has been lost in the busyness and chaos of our current situation.

When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way that it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world and try not to bash into the walls too much. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: And that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that are no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is just there and you’re just going to live in it versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it, and once you learn that you’ll never be the same again.

The words you read above were quoted from the movie Jobs—a portrayal of the life of Steven Paul Jobs. I must admit, even though I use an iPhone and my children have nearly every gadget Apple has invented in their lifetime, I didn’t know much about Steve Jobs. I heard about his Type A personality and his passion to change the world and compete against the giants of IBM and Microsoft. A friend of mine who read his biography told me about some of the crazier things Jobs did that made him infamous.

The quote above struck me because most of my life I felt as though I was told what to think. “Input, Output, what goes in is what comes out. Input, Output, that is what it’s all about” All these years later I still hear the words from Psalty the Singing Songbook. Eventually I learned that if you’re in the business of training parrots then the Input, Output method works marvelous; but in the case of raising children we owe it to them to teach them how to think instead of what to think.

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Imagine what our children could accomplish if they were told life has no limits and truly grasped that concept!?! Half the battle of growing up was simply figuring out how to assimilate with the world around us. Once we figured out how to assimilate it felt too exhausting to tackle the bigger questions of why things were the way they were. Just passing my Social Studies test and finishing my Science lab were stressful enough. The history behind the world’s currencies, the motives for world dominance through geographical pillaging, the creation of thousands of religions, the reasons behind our current calendar; these were all issues I never knew existed. I simply assumed life was always like this. Once I wrapped my mind around the fact that humans created the world we are currently living in astounded me. Every single decision for the way the world is run today was made by a human who said it should be done that way.

Sometimes an error humans make is assuming their findings about truth and wisdom is true for everyone. Instead of unity, this grave mistake does nothing but divide. If you discover truth for yourself and want to share it with the world, that’s wonderful. Some people might hear of your truth and agree with you. But don’t impose your truth on the rest of the world as the only version of truth. Even someone that experienced the exact same truths as you might interpret them differently and find different meanings as a result of the same truths. When you attempt to force your truth on others, the original truth that was intended for your growth becomes distorted. When you force your truth onto others, you have closed yourself off from learning more truth. You hold tightly to your truth as a possession. Instead of an orientation of truth as being, you choose an orientation of having. Being is limitless and ever-flowing. Having is limited and numbered. An orientation of having leads to wars, church splits, divorces, and all kinds of human suffering.

No matter what your position in life, there will always be people who desire nothing more than to tell you what to thinkThere’s a certain assurance that comes with numbers. By that I mean the more people we can get to think like us, the more right we feel about our position. We naturally attempt to align ourselves with people that agree with us.  But Steve Jobs salutes the ones who dare to be different:

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, about the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.


My Role

My role on this earth has eluded me for years. I have heard whispers. I have seen glimpses. I have felt breezes on rare occasions. It didn’t elude me because it wasn’t reaching out to me. It eluded me because I was deaf to its rise. I was blind to its waving hands. And I was numb to its ferocious winds. For years I was buried in my own drama. I couldn’t possibly begin to help someone else when I was incapable of helping myself. Little did I know, by putting my health first, by focusing on the here and now, I have an impact on others.

My day-to-day routine is anchored in my ability to be aware. My relationships are affected by my presence—with them and with myself.

My role on this earth has eluded me because for so long I felt I wasn’t worthy of speaking my message. It eluded me because I allowed my mind to be drug along as if in a wild river without even a passing thought about the present moment. I was always living either in some far-off distant future; or I was stuck in some drama of the past. Little did I know the power of the present moment! Little did I know that a great life is accumulated by ferociously staying present in the NOW! The only real peace in life is found in the now! By being present, by being aware, by being who I am; in this very moment, I create peace, joy, and contentment.

I have discovered my role on this earth is to learn and write what I have learned. As a writer, I will devote the time I have left on this earth to learning and writing. As long as I never forget my role — learning and writing about what I learned — then I can count on many fulfilled years in my future.

I need not worry about my brand, i.e. not worry about the topic, I need not worry about the audience, I need not worry about praise, publicity, or publication. I do need to focus. I need to focus every minute on showing up. I need to show up every second in the moment. Live in the now! By living in the now, I write from a place that all wisdom is stored. Whenever true beauty is shared with the world, it originated from the Now. When I read words that penetrate straight to my soul, those words were born in the Now. The present moment holds all beauty and wisdom in her hands. As a saint doles out food to the hungry, the Now awaits with full hands to distribute wisdom to those the seek her.

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In this moment life is exactly as it should be. I lack nothing. I want for nothing. I have a better life than countless kings throughout history who could have used their power and riches to have anything they wanted. I am truly blessed and truly thankful! Why the universe chose to bestow life upon me is a mystery but I won’t leave here disappointed! I will learn and write, learn and write, learn and write.

The first half of my life was spent learning. Learning how to be in this world, learning how to survive in this world, learning proper etiquette and how to navigate. Now, as I am nearly halfway through my journey on this large rock, I am prepared to share what I have learned.

Peace my friends!

~Travis

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