When you live near a river, you notice when the tide is high and when the tide is low. There are places you can no longer walk to or there are places you haven’t reached since last summer. Really, rivers don’t have tides, but the highs and lows can change from one day to the next. The river is change. The water brings logs that dam spots and bridge others. I’ve been walking this river for 30 years. I know it, even though it changes. The kinds of people who visit are always the same. They come and go with the seasons. In the summer evening, fly fishermen cast their lines, as silent as the wind. And the red sun goes down. Sometimes, I’ll spend four or five hours reading in my tree. It grows at an angle, so that you can walk into it like a staircase and when you get to the top, you can lie down and watch the sky above. The river changes, and yet, it remains the same.
Chapter 2 What the Storm Brings
Frank knew that luck has limits. He didn’t expect to find anymore big nuggets, but somehow, working under the sun, slushing the pan, and sweating under his wide-brimmed Stetson had its own rewards. His bare feet gripped the soft pebbles in the stream, dislodged from mountains, and carried for miles to be shaped by sand. His skin soaked in the warmth of the evening and he felt this must be what it is like to exist for eternity.
The first star shined on the horizon and Frank felt that the time had come to knock off for the day. He’d find his copy of Poe, drink a Budweiser, and think of treasure never seen by human eyes. He rubbed his fingers over the smooth gold nugget, turning pages into the night, illuminated by his miner’s helmet. He reached for the switch and there was darkness.
Frank was drifting into dreamland. There was an African leading him through the dim woods and suddenly, they lit up, like a lightbulb turning on in a dark room. And the African was shouting, his face growing larger and his mouth becoming wider. His epiglottis vibrating to a high-pitched scream. “WAKE UP!”
The Winnebago was moving. “I thought I set the parking break,” Frank said. There was a jolt and a rushing sound. He looked out the window and saw a swirling mass of debris moving towards him like a freight train. And the crash was deafening. The wave pushed him down the valley like a toothpick flicked into a raging river. He grabbed hold of his bed and watched the hula dancer moving on the windowsill. “It will stop,” Frank said to himself, but the slide kept moving. Frank noticed rapids ahead, but that couldn’t be right. And then he realized the waterfall was the debris flow pushing into a canyon and his trailer would get buried with him in it. “BURIED ALIVE, not a good way to go,” Frank muttered. And the trailer tipped and got stuck in the gap.
Frank wedged himself between his refrigerator and foldable bed. The mud continued to flow until it didn’t. Night turned into day and desperation turned into apprehension as Frank tried to figure out what to do next. The red sun past the horizon and shined a light on the wasteland. Frank didn’t read the signs that said FLASH FLOOD FOR 30 MILES. That happens when a man is focused on adventure instead of precautions.
He opened the door and shimmied his right leg onto solid ground. Everything was brown. The blue river was gone. Frank looked into the canyon. There were trees and mud everywhere, but farther down there was a red biplane sticking out of the debris.
Thoughts from a Busy Week
The best people in life are those who have nothing, but do everything. There is rebellion in their spirit. They aren’t supposed to be free. They don’t have security or money to feed themselves, but their food comes from…
and discarded things
It sickens me to see people wasting their time at jobs
Someone told them they need one because they are worthless
They can’t sell their own value for a higher price
Few people master their thoughts, but if they do, they can do anything
If you want things in life, you must go at them alone
It is the hardest thing to do because we depend on others for survival
Where I am going, you cannot follow. I am certain of what I must do and I must do it alone.
We shouldn’t be afraid to make dangerous decisions
where we can no longer return to safety
These choices put us on a track for fulfilling our destiny
This is a step beyond ordinary commitment
It is a gamble
It is you willing to risk everything, for one thing
Escape is not your plan.
You must find something you can pursue to the exclusion of all other things
And those who steal time and finds inspiration have Beaten the System
they shed one self for another
losing who they used to be
Being left with memories
I like to pretend more than I like to be things
Somehow, the reality of it all is diminishing
I like to be the president one day and his worst enemy the next.
And I love those moments when I am able to step outside of myself and see the absurdity of it all.
Maybe one of the things you don’t get from being where you should be is the marvelous feeling that you don’t belong. Now I need to do the most important thing which is writing. And I need to do it effortlessly. If I don’t have the solution, I will go for a walk. I will do what I think is best and keep going.
The wise man of the woods walks the trails and trims the bushes with his clippers.
I walk down the stairs to greet my parents finishing a movie in the living room.
I tell them, “I figured out what I want to do with my life. I want to be a writer.”
My dad frowns and tells me, “I worked with a guy who was a writer. He said, ‘I’ve got the rejection slips to prove it.'”
Now, it feels so good to get away from everyone.
It feels so good to write words.
If only my mind was fresh and I had ambition…
My passion is not so much a love of writing, but the chance to be alone with my own thoughts and get lucky. -Intellectual Shaman
Some people are cursed with good looks
and some people with bad
Some have a good brain
and others do not
Any one of these
can be a help or a hindrance
When you are beautiful, people want you
They latch onto you
and only see one tiny part
When you are ugly, people ignore you
or they give you a hard time
but for the most part
they leave you alone
And the people that get to know you, really do get to know you
If you have a good brain
you can use it to find what you want
and if you have a bad brain
You don’t know what you don’t want
Those who are really cursed are the ones with good looks and a good brain
People see a tiny part of them and ignore the rest
The good brain wants to be so much more than what people see
It knows what it wants
and it cannot hide from what it doesn’t want.
People ask your opinion, but they don’t want to hear it.
They want to fight
or they want to tell you how you are wrong
They express disapproval
or maybe they don’t ask your opinion
and this is best
but then they look at you
wanting you to ask them, “Why haven’t you asked my opinion?”
Sometimes you can’t get away from this
You must endure
but their hell is so much greater than yours
they can’t stand someone who loves their own opinion
Most people are not convinced they are right
they want to be
but deep down
they know they are wrong
These are the most dangerous kinds of people
They have no real beliefs
They just want to be validated
and they will validate anyone or anything
hoping that others will reciprocate.
My Principles for Beating the System
The more you read and think about ideas and make them your own, the less you will be influenced by the maddening crowd. To really Beat the System, you must act on your ideas.
Beating the System means to own your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You own your work. You are not a slave to any master. Your mind directs you, outside of all entities.
You must find the things is life that help you to step outside of your routine and feel good. Usually, what we invest our time, energy, and resources into, we value. If you pursue mastery in a craft, this is a method for Beating the System.
Value Yourself and Your Ideas
You must value yourself and not allow yourself to be cheapened by things. People wrongly think that if everyone contributes to an idea it develops and reflects the intention of individuals within the group. But this is not true. The idea has been diluted. It belongs to no one. The greatest atrocities in life are caused by ideas that belong to no one. There is no accountability. It is very difficult to hold a group accountable.
To Beat the System means that you are able to sell and live off your own ideas. There will be barriers along the way, but the man or woman using intention sees these obstacles as an opportunity to exert their power. To Beat the System requires total self-reliance. To achieve self-reliance requires a man or woman to see the world differently. They must abandon convention and do what is unconventional.
Develop a Personal Truth and Commit to It
Understand, you have more influence than you think, but you are exerting it in the wrong way. Rather than trying to convince others of common messages, influence yourself with messages that make you better and lead to personal truth. Most people in the world lack belief. Those without belief try to convince others more than ever, but they are really trying to convince themselves, and they’re failing miserably. They are constantly distracted by fears, insecurities, and the opinions of others. They do battle against them, not because they are certain of their position, but because they are uncertain. They do not have a personal truth that they believe in. They have not committed to anything. The only way to have meaning in life is through commitment. A man or woman can commit to a craft, a relationship, a personal philosophy, but they must truly commit.
When we are young, we feel the urge to sort out the world and not take the advice of those in authority. If we stick with this practice and suspend the temptation to latch onto a truth too soon, we gain insight into ourselves and the world around us.
My personal philosophy is called Beat the System. It is not for everyone and that is what makes it worth pursuing.
Oh, I wish I could feel good again…
Oh, I wish I could feel good again
I’ll let other people fight my battles
I won’t engage with the angry or the anxious
I’ll find a quiet moment
pour some root beer
I know I should be tougher
but my calloused skin
can’t feel in the same way
I’ll do the things I was meant to do
I’ll do the things I would have done if I had slept in
I’ll see the world the way it was meant to be seen
Oh, to feel good again
I need to ride my bicycle into oblivion
walk down forest paths
play chess for hours
swing a golf club at night
I need to let go of so many things
and let other people be who they are
I’ll let the angry fight the angry
and the anxious console the anxious
I’ll do the things I’ve always wanted to do
because I must.
We start life
at beautiful things
and all the joy that can be had
before the end of the day
Then we grow older
getting hurt by words
and burned by the sun
We take lonely walks
spending time in quiet rooms
All those beautiful things
Chapter 1 The Old Prospector
The lonely road was nearly impossible to follow as Frank squinted through the windshield of his dusty Winnebago. Desperation had taken him into the desert. He didn’t need money, but he needed to look for treasure. There’s a difference.
He was looking for a landmark, a mountain that appeared taller at night, but he couldn’t see it. He’d been driving all day and the three Rockstars were losing their kick. He pumped the break and skidded to a halt.
The old prospector reclined in his bucket seat and went to sleep.
Frank was a business man. He’d been about the business of making money for 35 years and in that time, he’d created a predictable revenue stream. There were not a lot of surprises. That’s exactly who Frank was, organized and predictable. He was in search of a different stream, one with gold in it. He wanted to find something he couldn’t make or buy.
The morning began with Frank’s schedule. He looked in the mirror he normally shaved with, admiring his grey and disordered beard. The face was finally alive. He checked his maps, grabbed his pack, and secured his pickax and shovel. The mountain smiled at him in the sunlight.
Frank’s friends had warned him that prospecting was dangerous. There were dozens of things that could kill him, rattlesnakes, dehydration, dynamite mishaps, or other prospectors, but he didn’t heed their warnings. He needed to test himself in the way men used to test themselves; to walk into the unknown and take risks for things that can’t be seen.
He stepped out of his Winnebago, admiring the blue river snaking out of the mountain to his left. He’d test the waters and pan for gold. The tumbleweeds and sage brush clawed at his jeans as he worked his way to the stream. It was clear water and he scooped up some pebbles in his pan. The washout left several flecks of gold at the bottom. “This must be the backwater to the biggest gold mine in Arizona,” Frank said. His gold fever was just beginning.