His Name Was Prince

 

Prince, Rave

Prince was more than a musician, a rare gem in the world of celebrity who truly earned the right to become a “legend”.

Aside from being arguably one of the greatest musicians and performers of all time, he leveraged his talents to do more than sing. As he matured, he used his voice to advocate for veganism, animal rights, monogamy, feminism, peace, independent artistry, and more. I certainly did not agree with everything he stood for but I respected that he had values, particularly while living in a world that would offer him access to any and everything he desired.

Prince was not the reason I became vegan but I first learned the word through his speaking out on the subject, which, in turn, nudged me to dig further and eventually become vegan myself.

In short, Prince took advantage of his skills to do more than make money and have fun. He used his platform to make a difference in as many ways as he could. There are few celebrities who die with such an outpouring of respect from their counterparts, and story after story shared describing what an authentic human being they were.

Prince could easily have gone the route of so many famous people who died and were mourned for nothing more than being famous. After all, he came to his fame in the hey day of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, yet he changed the lives of nearly every musician, and every person, he touched. He made, for the better, the lives of many humans and non-humans who were never able to shake his hand or thank him.

The point is this… you have a voice. You have your social media accounts, or your blog, or your relationships with the people around you. Whether you know it, who you are–and who you present to the world–affects more people than you will ever meet, know, or even hear about.

A word of caution: be sure you know what you are talking about when you do speak. Your voice is also your reputation. It is the last thing anyone will hear from you.

Use your voice, like Prince did, to do more than sing.

rave lamb prince

 

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You Have To Die Of Something…

Each weekday I write about a lesson I have learned in life and share it with you, so you don’t have to.

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“Well, you have to die of something,” or “When it’s my time to go then it’s my time to go,” or “You never know when your time is up,” and other variations are all ways of making excuses for poor decisions.

It is true that we do not know exactly when or how we might die, but hiding behind that fact as justification for being an alcoholic, or smoker, or junk food addict, or (insert bad life decision here) is tantamount to saying you want to kill yourself but you want to do it slowly and torture everyone you love before you go.

There are anecdotal stories (stories, mind you) of some distant relative who smoked their whole life and died when they were a hundred twenty. Or somebody who followed the perfect diet every day and died of a heart attack when they were twenty. Aside from those stories almost certainly not being true (or at least not accurate in the loosest sense of the word), if those people existed then they were clearly the exceptions, not the rule.

When my friends or family offer poorly constructed rationalizations for bad life choices, I think, “Why tempt fate to prove you are unexceptional?”

Instead, live exceptionally and make exceptional the rule instead of being ruled by your exceptions.

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Take a Break

Exhaustion is not meant to be the end result of labor. Productivity is.

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I have a habit of, when left unattended, working until I no longer have the strength or mental acuity to keep going. Between trying to wrap up loose ends at work, with family, friends, and peers, and while packing, planning, and running errands to make the move to Tampa next week… I am definitely feeling the stress and strain of doing too much.

Some of it is my own doing, of course. I come home and immediately set to making a mess of the apartment deciding what stays and what goes and coordinating with charities and friends to pick up what’s left. I am gathering my and my cat’s medical records (my kingdom for a doctor, dentist, and vet that works on Saturdays!), ending one lease and starting another, taking the car in for a check-up, changing my address everywhere, and an absurd number of other little things to make sure the move is smooth.

Tonight, while packing, I realized I had almost no energy left and was zoned out, working on auto-pilot. So I stopped and decided to write about it! Sometimes you have to be the person that says (to yourself), “It’s time to take a break.”

The point of work (and by “work”, I mean any labor, not just my “job”) is to produce, to deliver value which can be traded for other things of value. Working to exhaustion, though, defeats the purpose of work. When you (or your team) are exhausted, you have not only stopped contributing value but are actually robbing value from you, your family and friends, or your company, or society. You have actually become a burden to yourself and others (and probably not a pleasure to be around).

The opposite of working, is of course, broken. Many of us, I think, struggle to figure out which one of those we are at times.

When you are not sure if you are working or broken, then it is probably time to take a break. Rest rejuvenates the engine of work and allows us to deliver our best results consistently rather than intermittently, at the whim of fleeting passion and motivation.

 

Today’s Lesson: Nothing is stopping you from working yourself to death. Think about that.

 

 

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Time to Die, Part 3 (of 5)

How long before we become more than human?

 

Think about this: as technology progresses, we will soon be able to upload the human consciousness. Death itself will be something poorly described in old history books.

At first, I think our nigh-immortality will be a result of clever technology, like a combination of WiFi, cloning, and 3-D printing. When you die or your body wears out, you will be downloaded into a new body and can pick up right where you left off.

That may happen while your grandchildren or their grandchildren are still living. I think the last generation of humans who will die (as we know it) are alive on earth now. Within a hundred years, death may be as curable as the measles or polio.

What about three to five hundred years from now, though? What if science continues marching on, with unlimited resources and no loss of knowledge or talent (because death has become a thing of fiction)? How much faster could we free ourselves from the boundaries of earth and colonize other planets, ensuring our survival as a species?

Imagine what space travel could look like when we have the ability to upload our consciousness to a computer? We could travel farther than we have ever perceived. We could upload an astronaut’s conscience and genetic data, send him or her a thousand (or million!) years out of the solar system, and download the genetic and biological information into a freshly created body when he or she arrives at the destination.

Indeed, when we are able to live in cyberspace, why hold onto the relic of the human body at all? How far away are we from living only as energy?

If technology increased to let us ascended our fleshy packaging and live as energy, we could travel the universe at the speed of light. Light is so mysterious. We are only beginning to grasp what it is. For example, one of the great conundrums of light is that it exists as both a particle (stationary) and a wave (in motion) based on whether we are observing it directly. Another mysterious property of  light is nothing is able to outrun it. The speed of light is the hard speed limit set by the universe .

What if light itself is a form of life? What if light is the ultimate result of intelligence, technology, and exploration? Our destiny as creatures of energy may already be in front of us, all the time, everywhere.

If extraterrestrial aliens created technology to reach earth, even from the next nearest solar system, they would be so advanced to us that we would not even recognize them as living things. Just to get here, they would have to figure out the challenge of moving beyond Physics and Flesh. They would have to figure out how to survive for thousands or millions of years while traveling and figure out how to meet or beat the hard speed limit set by the universe.
Here is today’s lesson: maybe one day we will be the aliens… think about that the next time you enjoy a sunny day or turn on a light. Maybe some of that light is not coming from the stars. Maybe it’s them. Or us.

 

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Time to Die, Part 2 (of 5)

If you knew you could never die, how would you live?

 

I believe death will be cured within a hundred years. That may sound optimistic but consider that we have already mapped the human genome and are closer to mapping and understanding the genetic structure of our brain. As computer technology progresses and storage becomes increasingly cheap and widely available, I think the day will arrive when we can essentially upload our consciousness and genetic make-up to the cloud.

Imagine just a little, further, though, that technology will be so powerful in just a hundred years that your mind and the details of your body are constantly and automatically being backed up on a server somewhere, wirelessly, without you having to do anything.

You step in front of a bus or drown in a swimming accident and your last data copy is instantly downloaded into a 3-D genomic printer at your home. You die, only to open your eyes and find you are completely safe, in a new, but identical freshly made body.

Crazy, right? But nearly every piece of technology required to make that happen exists in rudimentary form today. Cloning, Bluetooth and WiFi, data storage, 3-D printing, and DNA mapping are all here now. What will those technologies look like after being refined another hundred years?

I probably won’t live to see death disappear from humanity, but my little brother or his children or his grandchildren might.

What will happen when essentially no one dies anymore? Will we all live as cynics, losing the optimism brought on by appreciating the fleetingness of life? Will we move ever forward with unlimited time to learn and develop, or will we slide backward, knowing we can always get to important stuff later? How long will fearful religious zealots, corrupt politicians, and greedy corporate entities force us to keep death around when the technology arrives to eradicate it? How much will it cost at first and how long until it becomes affordable for most everyone? Will it be the end of money as a means of trade? Think about it; of what use will money be when time becomes unlimited? What will it mean for managing Earth’s resources?

I assert the future is not that far away. We should be thinking about it now.

Today’s lesson, then, is obscure but still buried in here: if you never had to die, how would you live? (And also, why aren’t you living like that now, anyway?)

 

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Time To Die, Part 1 (of 5)

In all likelihood, everyone reading this blog will die, including me… but that might be a good thing.

 

Despite what we see in the media, I think the human race is greatly, almost romantically, optimistic, perhaps to a fault. Every great invention I can think of came at great potential peril. The airplane–can you imagine the optimism it took for the first pilot to test the first jet airliner? “You want me to try to fly fifty tons of metal 20,000 feet in the air and you say the engineers over there say it should work? Sure, what the heck. I’ll give it a go…”

How optimistic did Neil Armstrong have to be in having faith that some crazy idea of sending a ship to the moon would work? Even the internet itself–what kind of cautious optimism was required for the risk of opening up the world’s knowledge to anyone?

We move forward at the risk of death all the time. Driving. Taking the elevator. Living by the ocean. Walking across a bridge. Swimming in the ocean.

What I wonder is, does death make us optimistic?

It seems like a contradiction but I wonder if knowing we will eventually pass away helps us appreciate the time we have. Could it be that we take risks to enjoy life more (going bungee jumping, for example) because we know how fleeting life is? It is, perhaps, our way of reminding ourselves how precious our time here is.

 

Today’s lesson: it is obvious we do not live our lives in fear (not even the most “fearful” of us). Knowing now that you are actually fearless and that you might die at any given moment, the question is: how will you live the rest of your life?

 

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The Lesson I Learned Today… 140615

The universe is wise.

Watching a robin catch its breakfast today, I pondered the fate of the worm. What a horrible fate! Plucked from the ground, torn in half, and swallowed, to be slowly digested in stomach acid. I wondered why evolution seems so cruel.

Wouldn’t it make more sense if all life was peaceful, if both the worm and the robin worked together to help each other? Alas, no. The universe is wise. It knows immortality is not a good value, and it knows fear is of great value for encouraging life.

If we all got along and had nothing to fear from each other (or other animals), then we would quickly lose our desire to achieve, to appreciate, and even to live. Who would care? We would all be equal and all going to the same place at the same time with no fear of dying, no need to be better at anything than anyone else, no need to further our species in any way. What would be the point of life if life were not precious? If life was not short and indeterminate (comparatively speaking), then it would not matter much if we lived or died.

Thus, our fear of dying, of losing what is sacred and immediate, drives us forward, inspires us to protect what matters to us and ensures we appreciate the fleetingness of our time.

We might eventually find a way to beat death but it will not (it can not) be in a form we would recognize as human. The universe is wise and it sees time not in hundreds of years, or thousands, but in billions and billions. If life became immortal, even nearly infinite space could eventually become overpopulated and unable to sustain itself.

Death is the universal law of population control and abundance of resources built for time beyond lifetimes, generations, or eras.

Watching a robin eat a worm today, I learned the universe is built for success.

 

 

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