Throwback Thursday

Each weekday I share a lesson I have learned in life. Here is today’s lesson…


Every Thursday, my Google Play Music service populates with several options for “Throwback Thursday”. For fun, I typically select tracks from the 50’s through the 90’s throughout the day.

As it happens, I am familiar with nearly every song on their playlists but they now have the option to add the early 00’s (I don’t know if we have a name for that yet–I have heard it called “The 2000’s”, “The Millennium”, “Double Oh’s”, and “The Aughts”). I know maybe 4 out of every 20 of those songs.

A stark realization hit me the last time I listened to the “Throwback Thursday” stations. It is not that I do not like modern music. It is that I have turned the corner where pretty much all the music I like is now Throwback Thursday worthy.

Every day is Throwback Thursday for me (which is why I posted this on Monday).

I suppose that is both good and bad. Good because I have built up knowledge, wisdom, and experience over all that time. Bad because growing older takes more and more adaptation to remain strong and youthful.

I have an easy solution to feeling bad about Throwback Thursdays, though. I just listen to timeless music that will never be found on those stations. Right now I’m listening to the full 15-minute version of Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”. Great song.

Throw back whatever day.


Who Should Lead?

I think about each day and figure out what lesson I learned from it. Then I share each lesson on this blog…


The band Genesis had a string of successful hits in their early years when they were headed by Peter Gabriel (who went on to become a musical pioneer and legend on his own). They did not become one of pop music’s biggest icons, though, until they gave their drummer a shot at leading the band–a guy named Phil Collins.

Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins both led the band successfully, and both went on to build musical legacies of their own, but there is no doubt when Phil Collins took the reigns on Genesis, the band soared up the charts. The other two band members remained the same, only the lead singer changed. Incidentally, after Phil Collins left and another lead singer was chosen, the band disappeared into obscurity.

The same is true of The Commodores–one of the biggest soul/funk bands of the seventies and eighties (I guess I am dating myself here–clearly I was a child of the 80’s). The Commodores had moderate success as a funk band early on but again, their biggest hits came when they let their eager saxophonist take a shot at the lead vocals. Lionel Richie led The Commodores through their greatest period of success before venturing out to dominate the charts on his own.

What fascinates me about these stories is that the best leader was already on the team–they just needed a chance to shine. Sometimes the person in charge is not always the best person to lead the charge.

Even though these bands already had talented people in front, when they recognized the promise of one of their other team members and supported that person everyone enjoyed unparalleled success. Just as obvious, when the right leader left the band, neither band was able to attain its former glory (though the leader that left went on to do even bigger and better work).

Who is leading your team? If it is you, are you the right leader for your team right now? Tough question, but one that is worth pondering if the goal is the team’s success.




Listen To The Music

Today’s Lesson: There is more than one type of anything out there. Try a lot more!


I subscribe to a music service that offers lots of “radio” channels, including several world music stations (I use Google Play Music but there are many services that offer similar music stations).

They are my favorite because I love the music of other countries, particularly Brazil, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East. I do not understand a word of it but I can feel the sentiment and I enjoy the unique use of vocals (Africa), casual rhythms (Brazil and those wonderful Caribbean steel drums), and percussion (nothing drives a beat like a Middle Eastern Dabke).

Of course, this is the same outside of music. I am not a fan of eggplant but there are many ways to make it and I always enjoy it in a Thai curry dish. I would never have known that, though, if I only judged eggplant by my first experience with it (fried–so gross) or even my second (in Baba Ganoush–even worse!). Like music, eggplant comes in many varieties and there are many ways of making it.

My point is, there is never only one of something. We do not judge all people by the first person we meet. Try new things even if they are variations on things you might have tried before. Unless it will actually damage you or others, the worst that will happen is you won’t like it and the best that will happen is you will find a new love!




An Easy Way To Have More Energy

Some days seem to drag while others zip by. You are the same person every day, so why don’t you have the same energy each day?


Some nights you sleep well, some are a struggle. For the most part, you have your daily routines, eat pretty much the same types of food, and for the most part have the same amount of activity each day.

It all seems to average out but I have noticed people’s energy (meaning awareness, activity, and acuity) is all over the map. Some days we drag and feel sluggish, others we seem to come out swinging and hit home runs all day! Why isn’t our energy level average most days?

The easy answers, I know, are always external factors like sleep, caffeine, exercise, etc. Today, while I was driving, the sky was overcast and I did not care for the music playing in my car and I felt really bored and on the borderline of a headache. Then, one of my favorite songs came on just as the sun came out and before I knew it, I was singing and tapping my feet and I felt lively and alert.

During moments of the day, I had lots of energy–when I was engaged and enjoying myself, and during other moments all I wanted to do was nap.

I thought I did not sleep well last night or maybe I needed an extra caffeine or sugar boost today. Then I realized I was responding to external stimuli but the energy was coming from inside of me the whole time. I generated the energy I wanted when I wanted it. When I felt bored or depressed in a moment, I let that take over. All I had to do, though, was put on a good song, or smile and move and suddenly I felt better. I could have done that the whole time!


Today’s Lesson: You choose your energy level.



Space For Living

When in doubt, throw it out!


Part of simplifying my life means ridding myself of non-essential things I carry around that do not contribute value to my life.

I tossed out my old journals along with a lot of bad poetry I have held onto since I was a kid. I did keep one or two good(-ish) pieces, though. Maybe I will tidy them up and share them later.

I also went through my library of books, which I already pared to my 50 or so “essentials”. Still, there were a lot of books I have not read for years. Some of them I have not read at all. I have been saving them for when I have time to pick them up. Of course, when I do make time to read, I choose other books anyway. I have merely been saving them for the sake of saving them, it seems. Same for audio books and music CD’s.

I can buy new books or buy again the old ones I meant to read but never have (and probably never will) and it will be cheaper than storing them for decades and lugging them around wherever I move. With CD’s, outside of a few rare singles, local artists, or hard-to-find albums, most of my music is available online (which means it does not have to take up space in my apartment–less cleaning, storing, and clutter to move around).

If I do actually miss anything, I can always buy it again, but I usually find I do not miss things that much. There is so much new music, new books, and new gizmos and gadgets produced that there is no need to hold onto things for the sake of holding onto them.

Today’s Lesson: The less clutter you keep, the more space you create for living. That’s why we call it “living space” instead of “clutter space”.


How Often Do You Listen to Your Self?

The world is loud. Turn it off once in a while.


Listening to music is fun and it is obviously pleasing to the soul and body, at times, but at least twice a week, do not play any music in your car or at home. Take one of those days off television, too. When the world is a cacophony of sound and vision and every voice is shouting (often bad) advice at you or demanding that you consume more, it is important to have quiet time where the only voice you are listening to is your own.

Today’s lesson is: at least 2 times per week, stop the noise in your life and spend time just thinking about whatever is important to you (and only you).



Today’s Lesson: How Much Should Your iPhone Cost? [141025]

“I can’t believe how expensive these new phones are!”

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I could retire now. I am shocked at how quick people are to complain about prices of things they could not have even imagined would exist a decade ago.

What should the value be of a device that replaced your $200 camera (plus the cost of film, flash bulbs, and processing), and your $250 video-camera (plus the cost of bulky VHS tapes and extra battery packs, a tape rewinder, cleaning kit, and a VHS player to play it), plus your $300 Gameboy (and all the individual games and accessories), your $50-$500 watch, your $500-$1,000 big, bulky computer, monitor and desk, your $60 beeper, your entire music collection (and now even your video collection), every encyclopedia, dictionary, and other book you ever owned, your Franklin Planner, stopwatch, alarm clock, home phone, black book, recipe collection, etc… how much should a device that does all that and more cost?

The many thousands of dollars in technology and storage that we all used to clutter our homes and bodies with now literally fits in our pocket at a fraction of the cost and we have the audacity to whine that smartphones are too expensive?

Nothing has ever been as cool or as useful in all of human history as any mid-tier smartphone today. The truth is, we should marvel that we do not have to finance them over 5 years at Tesla-like car prices!

Yeesh. If we slept on king-sized levitating beds covered with gold-infused satin sheets, I think many of us would complain about one corner being too hot.


Today’s lesson is… some people are just committed to never being happy.




Today’s Lesson: Let The Music Play [140918]

I gave up listening to music for about 6 months. The following 6 months I listened only to instrumental music. It was a fascinating experiment and I was reminded of it today when a friend shared one of their favorite songs.


The music was great but when I heard the lyrics, I immediately remembered what I learned from my experiment. Popular musicians are crazy.


So many of us find comfort, solace, or worldly wisdom from pop songs. The only problem is pop musicians do not live in the same world as most of us. People like Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Prince, or Tim McGraw are so far removed from normal relationships, social and political struggles, or common hardships that they are simply not qualified to have a relevant opinion on these matters. Do you think Prince has ever had any dating/living situation that even remotely resembles any relationship you or I have had? Yet, people flock to these performers in fantasy worlds for guidance. We learn about love from Sting and Van Halen before we ever read a book about it or turn to actual professionals.


If you are getting advice on love, sex, religion, society, or politics from complete nutters like Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Shania Twain, Elton John, Lil’ John, or even John Mayer… just consider the source.


You would be better off taking advice on Quantum Mechanics from your actual car mechanic. I am not a total curmudgeon. I like music. You should enjoy music… I just think you should also remember you are listening to, at best, talented crazy people.