Sunday, April 24, 2016

Driving the Drift

Josh B. wrote a wonderfully insightful comment in response to my Drifting post a couple weeks ago. Here's what he wrote:

"I find it curious that the noun "drift" and the verb "drive" share the same etymological origin. we typically think of drift as apathetic, without purpose or intent, disconnected…the opposite of “drive.” but historically, the "drift" was the result of the "drive." The relationship between the ideas was direct and strong. we see that traditional relationship when we look at the leg sweep. the attacker drives, the defender drifts. There is a parallel in our relationships. A friend chooses, a partner withdraws. Did we drift from who we were, or did we drive to who we are? When we notice that we’re not as close as we used to be, is that because it just happened, or is it because we made choices, and our choices made the space? If we made choices, even choices of omission, do we have something to take responsibility for?"

I agree with Josh's comment regarding drive. The drift and the drive are related. It is usually easier to see direct relationships of drive and drift when they are isolated (i.e. concerning two things as they specifically relate and react to one another), however life tends to be more dynamic, encompassing numerous converging and diverging forces, objects and influences. Some of those elements an individual has direct control over, other things they do not. The more factors involved; the more driving and drifting happens to muddy the waters.

Life is interrelated, so when one element changes, it effects (or is it affects, I always get them confused) all of the others in some way (the butterfly effect). Being that there are numerous known and unknown factors, sometimes it can be difficult to determine where the drive or drift originates from or is affected by, even when it comes from within ourselves.

Where drive tends to be more direct, deliberate, drift is typically more subtle, many times even unconscious. Drift can be enhanced by a number of small decisions or non-decisions. Sometimes drift is caused or contributed to by another drift. Sometimes as you are focusing on driving toward or away from one thing you drift from something else. Other times you may not realize that your drifting is caused by some other drive. Sometimes we make one small, seemingly tiny decision that sets in motion a chain of events that we didn't anticipate. Factors that we may not even know about can come into play. Things that are not obviously related, but have some influence on us are not always seen clearly close up. Basically, what I'm saying is that sometimes we are in the drivers seat, other times not so much. We can't control all of the factors seen and unseen, however as Viktor Frankl once said, we do have control over one thing...

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

~Viktor Frankl

Larger currents and trends can drive drift as well. Like Viktor's quote regarding one's ability to choose their attitude: Although he was caught up in WWII, the Nazis and the Holocaust, all things he wasn't able to control, he was still able to choose his own attitude. 

This is not to say that I believe we are typically victims of fate and have no choice over our lives. On the contrary, I believe that we Set the Pace. And as Josh suggests in his question, "Did we drift from who we were, or did we drive to who we are?"  I think it's something in the middle, the environment we are in has influence over us as do each event that happens to us, however like Viktor suggests we have the ability to choose, we have freewill. So, I do lean toward our ability to drive toward who we are or at least who we are choosing to be. We make decisions every day, every moment to choose much of our circumstance. Over time not over night we can determine much of our lives and ourselves. Sometimes the decisions we make are done directly, consciously, other times they are done indirectly, subconsciously or as Josh says in his comment, through omission. However, whether passive or assertive, internal or external, sometimes we can see what drives the drift, other times the dust needs to settle a bit in order to see things from a clearer perspective. Yes, I believe its true that we often drive our own drift, but life is a dynamic environment, there are a lot of factors and influences driving drifts of their own, so in the words of Reinhold Niebuh:
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things 
I cannot change, 
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference."

I try to keep in mind that we are the common denominator in our own lives, both the drifting and driving has led us to exactly where and who we are in this moment.

"[W]hen you go through life … it all seems accidental at the time it is happening. Then when you get on in your 60s or 70s and look back, your life looks like a well-planned novel with a coherent theme … Incidents that seemed accidental, pure chance, turn out to be major elements in the structuring of this novel. Schopenhauer says, ‘Who wrote this novel? You did."

~Joseph Campbell from his book, Mythic worlds, modern words.

Here's one of my favorite poems about drifting and driving:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost

As for me, I try to remind myself that the surfer can control his own board, but not the ocean.

Ok, philosophical soapbox session officially done! =)

Thanks again Josh for your comment that took me on my little fortune cookie journey.  

Keep Going!

All the best,

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Einstein's Greatest Question


Albert Einstein is said to have suggested that the most important question we could ask ourselves is, "Is the universe a friendly place or not?" In his opinion how we answer that question determines our individual and humanity's destiny.  

Hmmm... I know my answer. What's yours?


Monday, April 11, 2016



It was a hot summer day a few weeks after my 14th birthday. I was out with my mom, dad,  brother, and a few friends. We were a few mile out from shore off from Grand Haven on Lake Michigan. It was late in the afternoon and we were done fishing. Dad asked if anyone wanted to dive in for a quick swim before we headed back to get something to eat? I took off my shirt and dove right in. The cool water felt good on the hot day. 

The lake started out fine, but within the hour the winds picked up pretty dramatically and the waves were starting to get choppy. I was big for my age and a strong swimmer, but I had ventured a ways from the boat. A little further than I had anticipated. I couldn't hear my dad yelling for everyone to get into the boat and by the time I caught on that it was time to pack it in and get back, the boat and I had drifted even further apart. As I began swimming toward my folks, the boat just seemed to effortlessly, unintentionally glide further and further away. No matter how hard I swam, the distance between me and the boat continued to grow.  I remember losing sight of the boat as the waves enveloped me in their trough. I would try to keep sight of its location by looking for the flag that waved on the end of the vessel's long antenna. As the waves continued to get bigger, I remember getting that panicky, anxious feeling for a second, and then reminded myself to relax, breathe and keep going toward the boat. Although my destination seemed close when I was on the crest of the wave, in reality, I was making little headway as the waves continued to grow on the open water. 

My dad saw that I was struggling trying to make it back, so he fired up the boat and came around to pick me up. I was hoping to make it back on my own power, but was thankful to get going because the waves continued to increase, now probably 2' to 4,' I was starting to get tired, and hungry! We got back to the dock just in time to beat the storm. It was a good day!

We can learn from this drifting analogy. Drifting apart, drifting together. In Krav class this past week we have been working on leg sweeps. I was demonstrating this drifting feeling as it applies to the physical technique we were doing. We would "drift" just out of reach from the incoming punch attack, then take the space necessary to gain the advantage and complete the leg sweep to effortlessly bring the opponent down to the ground. The drift was barely noticeable, especially if you weren't watching for it.

Later, while around our "campfire" we talked about how this drift happens in life as well as in the physical sense. Our relationships drift together and apart.We can notice it, we can try to control it, but sometimes life just take the controls and we are caught in the current so to speak. 

Have you ever had a good friend or lover whom you drifted apart from? Later when you tried to reconnect you noticed that you just weren't the same people, and the energy between the two of you had changed. You don't have the same connection. You've "drifted apart." Sometimes these circumstances can be mended, other times they can't. It can be a bitter pill if you are trying to get that same feeling back but just can't. 

There are other people you know who your friendship somehow defies the drift effect. You haven't seen each other in years, but when you get together, it's like you just spoke the day before. 

It can be easy to drift apart in our relationships, things change, people change, relationships change. Somethings we have a certain amount of control over, others we don't. We can just do our best to stay engaged and connected. Learn to roll with the changes together.

Drifting can often be imperceptible, it can happen over time without us noticing it. One day you wake up and notice how far apart you are from one another. However it can also happen suddenly, usually when something happens that is dramatic. So, if you want to minimize the effects of drift, after something happens, and the emotions subside, bridge the gap, reach out, work things out and reconnect, before too much time passes and the drift begins pulling you apart even further. This can happen in your personal, professional and public life. 

For me there is a certain melancholy to this drift in life. I think of friends and significant others who were at one time so close to me, so much a part of my life and then seemingly one day they weren't. I know it's part of life, but on some days I feel that loss more than others. Some people I miss the special connection that we had. I not only miss them, but I miss the facet of my own personality that they accentuated. I miss the way I felt around them. It's a lesson of learning to let go, to be thankful for what we once had and to appreciate what we have now. Rather than lamenting too much on the past or attempting to recreate relationships that have moved on, be present in each moment with the relationships you are in now. 

Keep it real, Keep Going and enjoy the ride. 

All the best,

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Advice From An Old Farmer

An old farmer reads a farming magazine
 "Farmer reading his farm paper" 
By George W. Ackerman, Coryell County, Texas, September 1931

Advice From An Old Farmer
  • Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
  • Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.
  • Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
  • A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
  • Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.
  • Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
  • Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
  • Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
  • It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
  • You cannot unsay a cruel word.
  • Every path has a few puddles.
  • When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty
  • The best sermons are lived, not preached.
  • Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.
  • Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
  • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  • Live a good, honorable life… Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
  • Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.
  • Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain dance.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
  • Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
  • The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.
  • Always drink upstream from the herd.
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
  • Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
  • If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.
  • Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
  • Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.
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