Gurus and their how-tos.

Do you buy into the profuse advice peddled over the Internet?
The “how-tos” from the “gurus.”
Covering everything from relationships and productivity.
To health, happiness, and hacking your way to success.
Most of it is benign monotony.
Age-old wisdom stockpiled, reassembled and polished by clever communicators.
Like a chop shop that makes and sells custom motorcycles from the stolen parts.
Uniquely painted with F-bombs, heartfelt stories, and personal frailties.
And obsessively measured to inform the next “creation.”
I typically just shake my head and sigh.
Hoping that no one I know gets sucked in.
To their self-admiring marketing machines.
But every once in a while, mindfulness fails me.
Because the guidance is that godawful.
Like this new millennium author meme:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Or, in other words, be with people you’d like to be.
If you want to be successful, hang around successful people.
If you want to be a rich executive, hang around rich executives.
Don’t spend time with lowly workers or ignorant customers, like Sam Walton did.
If you want to be a famous writer, hang around famous writers.
Don’t box, hunt enemy submarines, or work as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, like Ernest Hemingway.
If you want to be a career politician, hang around career politicians.
Don’t lead young men in the defense of your country, like Dwight Eisenhower or JFK.
If you want to be a priest or nun, hang around priests and nuns.
Don’t live among the poor and dying, like Mother Teresa.
Please don’t confuse the world as it is.
With the world as it’s described by the so-called gurus.
There’s a vast difference between the two.
Because every one of them is running like mad after success.
And they have no idea what it is.

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The Crisis of Narrative Coherence

Anyone who sees a crisis coming should warn others.
I see a crisis coming.
One that’s manifesting in confusion, anxiety and depression.
And the resulting societal fallout.
Intolerance, disengagement, substance abuse, excessive consumption, addictive technologies.
And it’s likely to get worse.
Because our collective illusion is shattering.
As we unexpectedly awaken to the chaotic reality of a hyper-connected world.
Which is at odds with the coherent nature of our narrative identities.
Our sense of self as the hero in a clear, empowering and auspicious drama.
Yet even though the signs are pervasive.
We continue to fight the disorder of human existence.
Erroneously believing that a solution lies in discovering the “truth” of the external world.
Or in rendering it to our wills.
And so we continue our vain attempts.
To reimagine and rewrite reality.
Or to control our environment.
Including the people in it.
To make it fit our uptight personal narratives.
Our conditioned beliefs of what’s good and bad.
Right and wrong.
Success and failure.
Which is a sure fire recipe for the aforementioned conditions.
So what’s the solution?
Pessimistic resignation?
Stoic resolve?
Sit back and wait?
What’s desperately needed is a revolution.
A new way of thinking and behaving.
We need to re-examine the founding doctrines of human cognition.
Reframe our interpretation of reality.
And rebel against our story-creating instinct.
We have to let go of our personal pasts and futures.
And throw ourselves into the present.
With a sense of curiosity and energy.
And a spirit of compassion and creativity.
In his book “Blink,” Malcolm Gladwell argues.
“We have, as human beings, a storytelling problem.”
Yes we do.
And the most pernicious story is the one titled “I, me, my.”
Which has caused every human conflict.
From Cain and Abel and the Battle of Zhuolu.
To our political divide and the spread of terrorism.
So let’s abandon narrative living.
Our self-concerned, linear, goal-obsessed storyline.
And let’s live a soulful, poetic life.
Let’s open our eyes to the magnificence of existence.
And to the complex and dynamic interconnection of all people and things.
Because life is indeed a strange and beautiful experience.
Unless we think it should follow a particular script.

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