Contribute to the Joy of the World

The now well known and widely read speech from Roger Ebert regarding not fearing death is something that I think we should all take a moment to read and then spend some time digesting the words. I’ll highlight a couple of excerpts that stood out for me and made me pause and think:

I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances.

And this quote which was supposedly attributed to Vincent Van Gogh:

Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map.

Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France?

Just as we take a train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. We cannot get to a star while we are alive any more than we can take the train when we are dead. So to me it seems possible that cholera, tuberculosis and cancer are the celestial means of locomotion. Just as steamboats, buses and railways are the terrestrial means.

Photo of the Day – Breaking Day in the Badlands

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The ‘kindness’ quote above is the one that means the most to me personally – I could not agree more. There are so many people in the world that are ‘fake’ good people. They do their religious ceremonies on the weekends and believe that doing that makes them somehow superior to all. However, in their day-to-day life they treat people like crap or stand in the way of people’s happiness. We all deserve to be happy – heck its embedded in to the ultimate authority of the US Constitution so the founding fathers in the US found it important enough to make sure it stood the test of time. Yet some feel they know what will make others happy and thus stand in the way of their ultimate pursuit of it. To me (and to Roger Ebert) that is and should be criminal. If we all strive to do what he tried to do ‘Contribute to the Joy of the World’ we would all be in a better place.

Below is another inspirational speech at a TED conference from Roger Ebert on how he remade his voice following all of his surgeries for cancer which led to the removing of his lower jaw.

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Standing in the Shadows of Greatness – Our Four Fathers

I first discovered my nomad gene in the summer of 2006. I was 26 years old and while I had picked up and moved to Chicago on a whim following college I still had done very little traveling outside of the Dearborn Heights, Michigan area. That all changed when I took a two week trip to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. I went with one of my best friends and we spent those two weeks hiking, drinking whiskey and just getting away from it all. I was still early in my career but I was at a point where the hours were piling up and I had aspirations of making millions by the age of 30. I may have done it if not for that trip. Until that trip I had no idea what the world had to offer, but in those two weeks my life was forever changed. I’ll never again be driven solely by money (it’s still a driver, just not the biggest) because as life is about so much more. When we lie in our graves we won’t be wishing for more money but we will be wishing for more experiences. Money is just the tool to make those experiences happen.

Photo of the Day – Ominous Wisdom


During that trip out west one of the most memorable moments was walking around Mount Rushmore National Park. It wasn’t one specific moment when the lightbulb went off in my head but it was a collection of moments during that trip that I still remember vividly.

Vulnerable

I read an article this morning that really freaked me out about how vulnerable our online profiles/information are – its really scary just how easy it is to break in and hack someone’s account and do irreparable damage to their life without any real ramifications. It’s a long article written by a very respected tech analyst, Mat Honan at Wired. Apparently he was the target because they wanted to damage his twitter handle @mat because they didn’t like that it was three letters or something like that. Just shows how petty some people can be – it also shows how important it is to have a constant backup of all your information. Without it we are all VULNERABLE

Photo of the Day – Crazy Horse


I was on the phone today with a client and they were talking about their recent trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Immediately all the thoughts of my first trip out west came rushing back – it’s been about seven years but I can still remember all of it. I had never been out to Wyoming/Montana/South Dakota. I had never really seen the mountains – I’d been to Arkansas and the Ozarks but nothing like Grand Teton or the beauty and wildlife in Yellowstone. A friend and I went out there for about two weeks we flew into Montana and flew out of Rapid City. One of the highlights of that trip was the Crazy Horse Memorial. It was just being built in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This memorial was started in the 1940s and as you can see it clearly wasn’t built yet. The statue in front of me that I am taking the picture through is a replica version of it. The model version was maybe four or five feet – not very large so you can imagine just how big the actual version is. Looking it up on Wikipedia the size of the face is set to be 87 feet high – the heads on Mt. Rushmore are only 60 feet high – so it’s a very tall task. The project is not sponsored by the government – rather it was started by a sculptor who received a letter from one of the Lakota tribe chiefs asking for him to do it. It became his life’s work and he died trying to accomplish it. His wife and children have now taken up the project but it is still a privately funded operation.

I hope it is completed in my lifetime and I hope I make it back out to Yellowstone in my lifetime – or at least before the massive Yellowstone super-volcano ends life as we know it.

This was shot with a Canon Powershot – 3-4 megapixels (which at the time was huge!) – I bought a couple extenders for the trip (telephoto and wide-angle) but I don’t think I was using them for this. It was an amazing sight and one of my most memorable days there.