Filter Out the Chunks

When I first began my search for a way of life, I reached for any available opportunity. It was an expansive expedition to do everything.

For a few years, this type of journey falls apart. It never gains traction in any area and it’s a common pattern for people who hold an idealistic view of their journey, everything will work itself out. In time, it does, but at the beginning, I found it was best to seek many opportunities and begin the process of filtering out the chunks that didn’t work for my present needs.

Because of it, I was about to determine projects that suited my visions and goals. It enabled a greater capacity to devote more time and energy rather than spreading myself too thin in many areas.

This is the process of reflection, knowing the areas in life to expand or contract. The timing in my opinion is less important. It’s far better to make a decision and take action than to do nothing at all. In this way, it’s not a matter of if it will happen just when.

Game Changers

Imagine life when we did not have irrigated fields of food and we were hunter gatherers. Food had to be identified, found, prepared, and cooked. Sometimes, this required a nomadic way of life or one that was always on the fringes of survival. Getting out of the game requires that old rules be broken and new ones formed.

For the hunter gatherer, getting to know a plant would have provided many clues on forming new alliances with the natural world. Plants can propagate through many types of division; stem, root, leaf, seed, and today cells. Even domesticating animals would’ve been considered crazy. Humans crawl, walk, and run. It takes us time to travel far distances. Imagine the first person who decided they wanted to get on the back of a large animal and ride it across the world. Crazy. I know.

The games we’ve created for ourselves are many. The great news is that we can change the game, make a new one, and create new rules. The game of gathering shifted to the game of gardening, a new game with new rules. The rules now are to learn how to cultivate plants instead of just finding them. As rules change, our knowledge grows and expands to encompass new areas. With the birth of a new idea, more possibilities are available. For example, with gardening came the sciences and the arts. We had more time to waste looking at the stars building civilization as we know it instead of looking for things to eat. The advent of the internet allowed for commerce through online stores rather than a physical one; now, you can shop from the convenience of your home instead of going somewhere.

Game changers create a new way of life, some better some worse. The key is finding a way to change the games you’re in and make it better.

You Only Live Once

I hear it all the time.

The mistake is acting like you only get to live for today. I understand the appeal of being present and living here, now. However, the idea of being present is misunderstood with actions that destroy the possibility of the future.

Indulging in any activity for a moment because you only live once is an escape. It’s an excuse to fulfill actions that are very short lived.

The perspective is changed when “you only live once” is within the realm of fulfilling a legacy. A legend is not just a pool of people that are near you, but the ocean of life that extends beyond the present and far into future generations that have yet to come.

The choice then is to decide whether you want to occupy a moment and a life that is short lived or a story that will last for ages. It’s your story and your life. Make it the one you always wanted to live; you only live once.

End Planning First


or begin in the middle (en media res). It really depends on the story you’re creating for yourself, but they both work well to get you to your desired destination. Here’s a few reasons and steps to plan your life starting at the end.

The Unknown Conclusion of Beginnings
Starting from the beginning in any endeavor is a difficult task. There is no sense of direction taking your journey anywhere. This could be a desired to discover a new potential, find another path, or to recognize new tools. However, without a clear idea in mind getting to a desired state is often lost looking at your next step instead of seeing the paths in front of you. Rather than start without a destination in mind, figure out where you want to go. Then take a step.

imagesStarting at the End
Planning a food forest, a garden, or a meal starts with the end product in mind. We create the image of the ideal before we begin to create. For processes we are familiar with, we go through the motions without much conscious thought. To achieve great feats, such as terraforming a landscape, a logical plan helps to outline goals before the desired outcome. A thoughtful way to approach the task of planning is to go through the processes of dissection, selection, sequencing, and stakes once the end goal is in sight.

Use the acronym to help you acquire those four steps, Dissection, Selection, Sequencing, and Stakes. I learned it reading The Four Hour Chef by Tim Ferris. I highly recommend it. His life is surrounded in meta-learning, creating conscious methods to put information into action while becoming the best at it (top 5% in any discipline, cooking, running, etc). Onward!

Dissection is taking apart the product you wish to create. It’s finding out what are the lego pieces to the puzzle you are about to build. To build a garden, the main components can be taken apart into Time, Soil and Plants.

Selection is picking the pieces that are the most important. Most of the time, we focus on detailed information that doesn’t bring us to any outcome. It starts with discussion and ends with murmurs of words once spoken instead of actions gaining momentum. In the art of gardening, Timing is crucial to determine what process you should be working on first as well as when and what plants to be planting during that time of year. Planting watermelons in Winter got Farmer Chow bad results while learning an important lesson of the seasons. Soil is the shelter and home of plants. It provides everything the plant needs to survive and thrive. Finally, the plants are a product of good timing and great living soil.

From here, we can Sequence our timing to build soil during off seasons and plant appropriately during the growing seasons. Setting up this path will ensure decent results and as long as we continue on the journey of learning and gardening, we can expect better production and quality as the soil continues to be built and our timing is synched with nature.

Stakes. This is the kicker. It gets you to get started whether you succeed, fail, or go nowhere. Placing a bet with a family member, getting feedback from friends, donating to a charity you hate or dislike, it needs to get you motivated to try. When something is at stake, it motivates us to work and succeed at keeping it.

From here, the journey is yours to create. Get lost while you’re at it and find your way back to the legacy you want to leave behind.

“ Would you tell me please which way I go from here?”
“ That depends on where you want to get to”, said the Cat.
“ I don’t much care where…”, said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go”, said the Cat.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Poi: Playing with Fire

Triquetra                    Photo taken by               Isiac Ramirez

It began in the drug filled years of my teens. A few friends introduced glow sticks and ever since then I became fascinated with dancing with the luminescent objects. Evolution took its tole and eventually we attached ropes to them. At that moment, the beautiful lights became dangerous.

With vague memories of the previous night, I would wake up with bruises all over my body. Apparently, the beautiful display of lights results into self-mutilation the following day and rants from my friends who would tell me I would hit everything around me with spiraling glow sticks. It took me years to learn my lesson.

In 2010, I attended a camping trip with some friends at an event called Art Outside. The idea of dancing with fire was a familiar thing, but I never realized it was the exact same display of art. The major difference was that the artisan in between the flames or glow sticks was calm and collected. They knew exactly where the fire is and how to direct it. If it was me, I would’ve been on fire.

My fascination immediately ignited into a new passion; I had to spin fire.

The light show bonanza is called poi. It originated in New Zealand from the indigenous tribe, the Maori, and that’s as far as I know about the history. Modern poi has taken their traditions and has been used with just about anything. You can use two socks with rice inside, tennis balls on strings, a rock, or whatever your imagination can combine with two ropes and two objects to spin around your body.

After Art Outside, I would spend time everyday with two tube socks and a bag of rice in each of them. The self-mutilation continued for a while and has slowly become a memory of the past. With each day, I would learn new tricks and techniques until I refined my own style. My progress in displaying poi also shifted the mental state of my initial fascination.

The want to spin fire changed into the desire to tame myself. Although the display for the public are spiraling meteors that twirl around your body, the dancer themselves don’t see the same display. The heat is more present to us than the show. To tame the element of fire required that a person first becomes conscious and aware of themselves and their surroundings. The last thing any fire dancer wants is to hit anybody or to change a tame fire into an uncontrollable flame.

The progression of the fire arts continued to transition who I am. Controlling my mind allowed me to think through my actions more thoroughly and realize how the poi was flowing from internal ideas into the reality of spinning flames. From that idea, poi translated into the co-creation of moving abstract thoughts into a particular direction in the material world; synonymous to moving my arms to direct the fire around my body.

And so, I realized it is the same with many if not all of the arts.
Tame the mind to co-create your ideas with the elements of the universe, otherwise, you may be playing with fire.

Life Design: Slow Learning and the Beauty of Hobbies

Half Dome

Every hobby is a journey with lots to learn along the way. Reading a book to accrue knowledge or creativity, gardening outside to grow beautiful flowers, cooking delicious herbs or scrumptious veggies, or just hiking up a hill to see the surrounding area around you. It’s all a pathway to finding new things about the world around, within, or somewhere near us.

At times, it’s hard to realize the steps required to reach the destination. It gets so easy to fixate on that pinnacle point of your potential. In this way, the journey becomes less meaningful and more destination oriented. It’s good to have goals, but creating the pathways to them are equally as important.

Half Dome
After finishing high school, my twin brother and I hiked up Half Dome in Yosemite Park. We were at the fresh age of 18. A few years beforehand, we visited the national park and saw that huge granite piece of rock. We both looked at each other and knew immediately we had to climb it. Somehow my parents remembered that key aspect of the trip and took us back.

It was a grueling 6 hour hike up and another quarter of a day back down. To me, we spent so much time walking and running up the mountain that at times we didn’t soak in the scenery around us. However, we knew we had a time constraint. We and my parents didn’t realize that we barely prepared to make the hike. We wore comfy tennis shoes, brought 3 bottles of water, and a few snacks. The only thing we made sure to do was wake up really early to get our day started. Our physical shape was over estimated as well. Even in our teenage years, we weren’t as fit as we thought.

With each way point along the trail, we thought we were almost there getting closer and closer. My focus was too intent on getting there. We finally reached the base of the dome and didn’t realize it was still another hour or two up.

Getting to the top turned out to be easier than I thought and not as satisfying. Although looking down into the valley was pretty cool. Getting down was another story. The physical force of gravity working with your legs and muscles created a harder impact. Our little teenage bodies had to absorb more force and continue that for another 8 miles down.

At the end of the hike, we made it. The 12 hour hike got the best of us though. My brother and I were debilitated for a few days and couldn’t enjoy the rest of the trip. We were burnt out and beaten down by ourselves.

Lessons Learned
Being over prepared at times can be a good thing but don’t get too fixated on all the details. Focus on the crucial and limiting factors. Take time to enjoy the experience. As you can pick up the pace do it at a rate that doesn’t destroy your mind, body of soul.

And Enjoy the Journey.