The Fun (and Necessity) of Physical Things

the fun of physical things

Would you rather play or watch?

Over three decades ago, I worked as a day baker for a retired professional athlete in my hometown, Lake Orion MI. This man was an interesting character. After playing Major League Baseball, he went into the food business but kept his hand in baseball. He did fantasy camps, consulted young athletes and their coaches, did color commentary on broadcast baseball games, signed autographs at card shows, etc. However, he let me know more than once that he’d rather play than watch baseball any day. (Detroit Tiger pitcher Mickey Lolich was my boss, for those interested.)

We are physical creatures. We have five senses, all clamoring for stimulation. The essence of feeling more alive, not less, is to be fully, bodily involved in life, whenever possible. An actual, rather than a virtual, existence.

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax is easily the most interesting read I’ve come across in the past few years. This is not simply a book about the resurrection of the vinyl LP market. It includes that, but also has chapters on board games (Settlers of Catan), film photography (FILM Ferrania), longhand writing and sketching (Moleskine) and much more.

Sax is a journalist in Toronto, ON. The opening of a new vinyl record shop near his apartment renewed his lost love for 33⅓ hot wax. He bought a turntable and began bringing home records. Inspired by his experience with turntable and record albums, he ventured out into the world to places like Nashville, London, Milan and New York to understand why people—many of them born after turntables, rotary phones and typewriters were ubiquitous and who’ve been raised in the speed-of-light, digital world—are turning back to simpler, more archaic forms of hobby and interest. What he found was stunning.

Physical things like record albums, pencils, chess boards, film and brick-and-mortar bookstores are not dying; they are attracting interest and market capital. Oh, and making money. Sax uses analog as a metaphor for things that involve physical, face-to-face interaction, with as many senses involved as the experience will allow. An analog approach and technology is about the experience of the participant.

There are many benefits to analog technology but here’s just one: It slows you down as you use it. Analog things cause you to be in the moment due to their slower and ungainly nature. They don’t depend on fiber-optics and binary number combinations. 1’s and 0’s have their limits.

What are some of your favorite analog things? Records, real print books, Monopoly, hand woodworking tools? And how can adopting or revisiting analog technologies and practices give you a richer life in addition to your digital, online world?

Tell us in the comments!

 

Suggested Resources:

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day (Michael Gelb)

Measure Twice, Cut Once: Lessons from a Master Carpenter (Norm Abram)

 

Image Credit: Christian Fahey

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Laugh. A Lot.

“Keep laughing.  As long as you’re laughing you have hope.”

(Moe Howard)

Happy Saturday friends!

 

Suggested Resources:

The Three Stooges: The Ultimate Collection

Moe Howard and the 3 Stooges: The Pictorial Biography of the Wildest Trio in the History of American Entertainment (Moe Howard)

 

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Declare Your Independence!

It is the 4th of July.  The sun is out, the weather balmy.  A holiday from work for many of us.  Naturally, our thoughts turn to independence.  Here in the United States, it is Independence Day, when we celebrate the founding of our nation.

The birth of our republic involved a declaration of colonial independence from England and King George III.  Taxation without representation was one of the catalysts.  There were others.  The history is well-known.  No need to recite here.

What does it mean to really be “independent”? (Here we are reminded of Hermie and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer striking out on their own.  “We’re IN-DE-PEND-ENT!”)

Independence might also be called “undependence” or “nondependence.”  The underlying theme is standing on one’s own, not relying on others for certain things, being personally responsible.  In many areas of our lives this is a good and healthy thing, a mark of maturity and emotional stability.  Personal responsibility is not enjoying good press but it’s still the soundest approach to life there is.

Here are some healthy declarations of independence.  You can add your own (please!):

  • I am responsible for my happiness in life or lack of it. I will not blame others if my life is not the one I’d hoped for and want.
  • I am responsible for my choices. After all, I made them.  People and situations may have influenced me, but in almost, if not all, situations where I needed to make a choice, I did not have a gun to my head.
  • I can improve my lot in life. Ultimately, I am not dependent on others.  If I don’t like my job, I can find another.
  • I don’t have to accept the biases of the broadcast and print media, of either the Left or the Right. I can—and must—do my own homework and think for myself.
  • I don’t need to be owned by the zeitgeist, with its irresponsibility and blame-shifting and constant need to be made much of. The story of Echo and Narcissus should be writ large again in our land.  Were that the case, there would, at the least, be way less selfies plastered all over the net.
  • I can handle losing the approval, even of those closest to me, if I’m being true to my values, conscience and identity. Rejection, while unpleasant, is survivable.

Questions:

  • Are you quick to take responsibility for your life—your choices, successes, failures? Or do you blame others (“you made me this way”)?
  • What areas of your life are passive—meaning you’re depending on someone else when you shouldn’t? Where have you been responsible and independent?  If you take charge of your failures, you have the right to take credit for your successes.

Suggested Resources:

The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (Jack Canfield)

Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor E. Frankl)

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (Stephen R. Covey)

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Lessons From Rudolph (Our Beloved Red-Nosed Reindeer)

rudolphtherednosedreindeer01Last night was sacred at our house.  At 8:00, time officially stood still.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer made his annual appearance.  Other things can wait while you enjoy this Christmas classic and others.  There’s always tomorrow….

We’re all kids at heart even if we’re fifty.  Or a hundred.  (My mother still calls every year to remind me when it’s going to be shown.)  The program’s graphic technology—claymation—will never stand up to today’s incredible CGI.  But it’s not supposed to.  Made in 1964 and untweaked, it retains its charm.  Back to a simpler time.

Here’s what Rudolph teaches us:

  • Unique gifts have a purpose.  Rudolph’s shiny nose makes for embarrassment for his career-minded father as well as the butt of jokes from his peers.  But in the end, Rudolph’s gift saves Christmas.
  • Bucks love does (boys love to show off for girls).  “Cuuuuutttttteeeee! She said I’m cute.!”  Our women bring out the best in us and, like Rudolph, help us to fly.
  • Bumbles bounce.  Yukon Cornelius tames the Abominable with the help of Hermie the erstwhile dentist.  Defanged, this bully is reformed and becomes a help to the North Pole community rather than a menace.  There is hope for bullies.  Just ask the Bumble.
  • You can’t run away from your problems.  Rudolph leaves home, fleeing his family, difficulty and his destiny.  After a long journey in far away places, he heads back home to embrace his life, rescuing his family in the process.  Problems are better faced than fled from.
  • There’s a place for us misfits and ragamuffins.  After Rudolph leaves home, he and his friends journey to the Island of Misfit Toys.  A sad place for toys that “don’t quite measure up.”  But when Rudolph saves Christmas by leading Santa’s team, his first stop is to pick up the misfits and find homes for them.  There’s a place for us with all our brokenness, foibles and idiosyncrasies.

Well, enough for now.  Did you watch it?!

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“Remember Who You Are….”

Rafiki-Simba-(The_Lion_King)This world has always needed leaders.  Men and women aware of both the time and need into which they were born and live.  The grace to lead well is given to some more than others.  Today, in some ways like no other time that has preceded it, the world is looking for leaders.  Individuals who will show the way.  Who will stand up, even while feeling afraid, and give direction, security, competence and solace.

As I have grown older, I find that I am given strength and grace to lead.  I don’t, however,  have grace to cower, shrink away, idle away the hours and live for me.  My agenda.  My plans for a content life without taking those who know me into account.  “My World and Welcome to It” is a fine motto for a ‘60’s TV sitcom.  But it ill becomes a leader, who is supposed to embody–to one degree or another–selflessness.  Sacrifice.  It’s not about me.  Nor about you.

I’ve been struck over and over again by the children’s movie The Lion King.  One scene in particular.  Simba, heir to Mufasa and kingship of the Pride Lands, has run away from his home and sphere after the death of his father.  Afraid.  He takes up a worry-less, footloose-and-fancy-free existence.  Hakuna Matata.  No worries.

But the call of leadership niggles at him.  His father appears to him in a dream and says, “Simba, remember who you are!”  Simba is afraid.  His dad is dead.  His uncle Scar, who killed Mufasa and is now ruling the deteriorating Pride Lands, intimidates him.

With the help of Rafiki, the sage mandrill, Simba gets his mojo back.  He is a leader and has royal blood in him.  He cannot escape the role of destiny except at the peril of those counting on him.

So he returns to the Pride Lands.  There he overthrows the illegitimate ruler, corrupt Uncle Scar.  And assumes his rightful throne upon Pride Rock.

People are counting on you.  And you have what it takes to bring order, peace, direction and security to those who are watching you.  And looking to you.  Remember who you are….

Image Credit

“Remember Who You Are….”

This world has always needed leaders.  Men and women aware of both the time and need into which they were born and live.  The grace to lead well is given to some more than others.  Today, in some ways like no other time that has preceded it, the world is looking for leaders.  Individuals who will show the way.  Who will stand up, even while feeling afraid, and give direction, security, competence and solace.

As I have grown older, I find that I am given strength and grace to lead.  I don’t, however, have grace to cower, shrink away, idle away the hours and live for me.  My agenda.  My plans for a content life without taking those who know me into account.  “My World and Welcome to It” is a fine motto for a ‘60’s TV sitcom.  But it ill becomes a leader, who is supposed to embody–to one degree or another–selflessness.  Sacrifice.  It’s not about me.  Nor about you.

I’ve been struck over and over again by the children’s movie The Lion King.  One scene in particular.  Simba, heir to Mufasa and kingship of the Pride Lands, has run away from his home and sphere after the death of his father.  Afraid.  He takes up a worry-less, footloose-and-fancy-free existence.  Hakuna Matata.  No worries.

But the call of leadership niggles at him.  His father appears to him in a dream and says, “Simba, remember who you are!”  Simba is afraid.  His dad is dead.  His uncle Scar, who killed Mufasa and is now ruling the deteriorating Pride Lands, intimidates him.

With the help of Rafiki, the sage mandrill, Simba gets his mojo back.  He is a leader and has royal blood in him.  He cannot escape the role of destiny except at the peril of those counting on him.

So he returns to the Pride Lands.  There he overthrows the illegitimate ruler, corrupt Uncle Scar.  And assumes his rightful throne upon Pride Rock.

People are counting on you.  And you have what it takes to bring order, peace, direction and security to those who are watching you.  And looking to you.  Remember who you are….

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