Ted Cleaver

Tag: Friends

Piece of Mind

“When you are full of yourself, there is no room for others.”
– T. Cleaver

I’m a sucker for quotes. A true heavyweight champion in quotes is The Duke, who added one crucial word to the second phrase. Such a matter should not be taken lightly. These sayings work so well because of their simplicity. Expressing much with little is a difficult feat. If you manage to do so, you have the advantage that the reader fills in the blanks for you. “Room” is the perfect choice; it can denote physical, social, emotional or symbolical space. Or, if you’re English is really bad and food happens to be on your mind, you might read “no room for others” as the impossibility to eat more of what you are craving. Foolishness aside, I’m happy with this quote. So I googled it to see if anything pops up. For ef’s sake! Religious folk coined it centuries ago, replacing “others” with their deity. Here we go.

Bashing religion with rational arguments is like beating minesweeper on easy mode. Tricky on your first attempt, but understand the incredibly simple logic behind it and you’ll sweep away. Many great comedians excel at bashing religion, and I wholeheartedly admit that I fell out of my chair laughing many times, for instance while watching Carlin’s performances. A Dutch comedian said it best in a live “debate” – more like a rhetorical massacre – with three head scarf donning hypocrites: Religion, all organized religion, has the pretense of having a monopoly on truth. In a democratic and open society, the freedom to meet flaws and fallacies with satire is a necessary function. It reminds us to not take things too seriously and accept the pluriformity of perspectives. In the live TV incident, the comedian exposed the three hypocrites as such by pointing out how they openly discriminated against homosexuals on earlier episodes, and now cried wolf for being referenced in a pornographic context by the antagonist. He was actually the voice of reason, as grimy as it was. Quick quote:

“I was Catholic until I reached the age of reason.”
– G. Carlin

The problem with religion lies in ontology and epistemology. Can’t know, can’t prove it. That’s why poking fun at organized faith is no challenge. I’m bummed out. Who in the world would accept the warning that you must not let your ego swell, on account of the “room” a make believe omnipotence requires in your mind?
Here’s the thing. Look at religion functionally and it is very useful. It provides a moral compass, an ethical framework, social morphology, social cohesion, meaning and purpose, each of them for better or for worse. And the list goes on. I completely accept and respect people who choose to follow a faith, will however laugh at their believing in what essentially is a magic being. Since I try not to have double standards, I invite anyone to deride my run-of-the-mill conception that “there is more between heaven and Earth, I just don’t want to put a label on it.”
But the quote, which my pious forerunners claimed and wasted, has nothing to do with function. Sure you could wring it in, but fundamentally it is about idealism. In your mind, there should always be room for the invisible man, with his list of 10 things he does not want you to do (George! Genius!). Keep your self in check and let that set of abstract assumptions rife with unrealistic expectations nestle deep in your mind.

“When did I realize I was god? Well, I was praying and suddenly realized I was talking to myself.”
– P. O’Toole

“In your mind”. Science is advancing quickly. In your mind is a concept that is becoming more and more measurable. Take mirror neurons. They literally simulate in your mind what you perceive in the outside world. An abstract concept in a way does transform into a physical entity in your brain. Neurons and synapses build actual networks in your brain, representing whatever it is your CPU needs to process. So taking that into account, who do you want in your head? An old man with a beard, which is completely sexist; or your loved ones and sexy lover? In case anyone sees merit in this argument, thank you, I’m afraid neuroscientists would shake their heads at the over-simplification.
Let’s go at it from a different angle. Do you ever hear voices in your head? I hear voices in my head. I think situations through. This process is scenario-based and usually involves more than one actor. My scenarios are advanced enough for the characters involved to get speaking roles. Unless you are mentally severely impaired, the voices of others are a part of you. “What did Mr Freeze advise to do again? Lift the heavy thing?” He actually cautioned us to wear warm clothes, but regardless, point is that if you saw Batman & Robin and appreciate the brilliance of Dylan Moran, you might have just heard a commanding “get down” in a heavy Austrian accent.
The voices of others are part of me. My brain, like any functioning brain, constructs networks that represent what I know about the world. Who or what I know best gets special privileges like more room. Everyone will agree that the people most important to you occupy a special place in your life. Apart from the fact that we allocate more time to being merry with our loved ones, they have more influence on us. Influence is not only exerted during conversations, but also indirectly by taking into account the other’s expectations. If this happens consciously, there you have it, representation of another person directly in your mind. A representation that does not magically exist, but is the result of hardwiring a network and firing it up with electrical impulses. Our brains create the equivalent of entities in our mind, a repository for labels and information, memories and expectations, positive emotions and negative.

When you are full of yourself, there is no room for others.

It works so well when “other” refers to family, friends, and people who have stories to share. We are social creatures. We learn from each other, and we derive happiness from being with loved ones. I damn well make sure that there are many others in my life, many people whose attitudes and dispositions in life resonate with mine. For someone who’d throw me in a fire pit on a whim, no dice. But then again, one function of nonsensical propositions is to challenge, recalibrate, and reassert the validity of your own assumptions. I’m pretty clear on the matter.

Ego up. Mutual respect +1. Allowing yourself to let other people in, 1up.

30-Day Challenges

I figured its time to address this subject. We talked it over. Its clear, we need a system. At the same time, we need to not feel the need to do that much. We don’t need to do anything, but we can do so much.

The 30-day challenge started after about a year of deliberation. It was Miss Whip who got things going for good. And now, five of us are challenging every day with unabated fervour. The idea is as simple as brilliant: Pick a challenge and do it every day for 30 days. Doing so will help you open your mind. You live more consciously and more lively because every time you perform your challenge you have a waking moment, something completely non-routine. At the same time, the period of 30 days is chosen because within 30 days it is possible to change a routine. For instance, I won’t continue writing a minimum of 300 words till kingdom come, but doing this for 30 days definitely is decreasing my lizard brain’s resistance to publish one-shots. It’s a skills building exercise, and one that has long-term effects.

Now, who wouldn’t want that? So far, it’s working out really nicely. I’m proud to see what my brothers are accomplishing, Miss Whip is drawing again like she used to when she was a little girl, and Tony Montana puts due thought into his haiku, challenging himself and letting go, going with the flow at the same time. One important element of the success so far is that we have a private blog where we share all our stuff – and where my writing that is not fit for the public is quarantined. Call it social control, or more positively, call it mutual motivation, we all check each other’s challenge every day and thereby create a stimulating and positive atmosphere in the group.

It’s working out so well that at least 20 people are joining the next round. We’re ecstatic; business models for our ponzi scheme are readily in place. I jest. But adding so many people at once will change things. With 25 people its impossible to keep up with everyone’s progress daily. The group effect will be different. Also, the actual architecture of our information system is not designed for more than, say 10 people. Things will change and we’re ready for it.

For starters, the core group will always remain. Next, the private blog will remain. However, it will no longer be a repository for all challengers, more like a master blog with links and general information. Everyone needs to make his or her own blog. Ha! I know someone I love who’ll need help with that. A personal blog can be set to public or private mode. Perhaps a combination is possible as well, either that or adding a page to your public blog but not linking it from your blog in a way amounts to an invisible web address. This URL can then be shared directly with friends.

It’s almost 4 am and I’m getting caught up with details. Rest assured that Kings Inc is on the job. The point is that 30-day challenges are a lot of fun and incredibly beneficial to you, as a person. It works best when done together with family and friends: Motivating and appreciating each other’s development adds so much more to it. We look forward to a flexible system, a network of bloggers, public or private, who challenge themselves to grow. Every day – Building Skills with Family and Friends.

Mad Deep Knowledge

Before sustainability became the biggest buzzword, I think its safe to say that diversity was the talk of the town. Not to say there weren’t any others, but diversity was a big one. Complex problems require creative solutions. Get a diverse team together and the probability that someone looks at the problem at hand differently is higher than if the team consists of all our old buddies from the club house.

The realization that diversity is not a bad idea is strongly reflected in social ambition among highly educated city-dwellers in their 20ies and 30ies. I’ve seen the research. Everyone claims to be multicultural, most however have quite the narrow social circle. Which is a shame if the underlying logic for multicultural ambitions is learning from each other and benefitting from differences.

Yesterday I won a book and a boardroom champagne lunch, mostly because of my talented team, rhetorical skill, and sexy suit. Today, or rather tonight, my MDK crewmember is celebrating his birthday. I’m psyched, it’s been a while since we shared cups. Between all the people coming, I couldn’t even begin to count how many competitions we won. Winning national championships is nice, what really counts though is the passion for your craft. Do what you love and love what you do. My friends from dancing and bboying live it.

The contrast in lifestyles of the friends I made yesterday and the friends I will meet tonight are huge. Moving between groups like this has helped me develop an understanding of society and group dynamics, and myself, that is useful in almost any situation. One of the most important lessons is that any identity can only be constructed by limiting it’s boundaries and actively excluding what it is not. More on Luhmann later. For tonight, it’s bottoms up, flips, freezes, style, and kicking it with Mighty Droengoe Kingz and fam.
Mi Dansi Krassi

days 1 and 2

10 Euros Worth of Advice

That’s what you get when you share money and ideas with a bum. Advice is for free, but worthless, instead of priceless, when it falls on deaf ears. All that’s left is the pecuniary offering. I’m tired, excuse my pessimism.

Buddha and I drank fresh squeezed fruit juice on the square in front of the church today. A bum comes by and starts complaining about the fact that she’s no longer allowed to sell Holland’s crappiest newspaper anymore. But, she has a solution! She offers to perform a poem of hers in exchange for money. We agree. To our surprise, the poem is not half bad. Since we’re social and humane human beings, we welcome her. A barrage of self-pity and egocentrism ensues.

We find out that she has a history of violent abuse which in her mind prompted a 27-year period of drug abuse – heroin. Her life bitterly sucks. Governmental budget cuts are the end of all but one shelter in our city, according to her. The police circles around on bikes, very much willing to give her a fine for begging. She laments that she’s not allowed on terraces. She complains about the people from the shelter calling her, asking whether she will stay with them. They run an organisation, they have lists, they have rules. She finds them annoying. She hates Mark Rutte, who calls bums second rate people and who, according to her, would not survive two days on the street.

I look at Buddha and say I seriously doubt that, we laugh. He’d probably have a steady place to stay and a way out of the misery of homelessness within a week. Here’s the thing: He’s in office because he gets something that eludes her. An unfair comparison, of course, but its warranted. And here’s why.

The message of her poetry – we were treated to two in the end, no sarcasm intended – was treating people with love and respect. Naturally, as a bum, she receives little respect. In turn, she deals with the constant disrespect by hating on the people who actually help her. Not us, of course, she loved us and the conversation we offered. No, she hated on the people from the shelter, told us how she disrupted a review board deliberating over her potential future in a project by bursting in the room and showing off scars on her back, and well, best of all, telling her psychiatrist he has all the mental afflictions he diagnosed her with himself. Freudian psychology at its best.

If you want respect, give respect. If you want to be loved, give love. If you want to be taken serious, take people seriously. She does neither. Her life sucks bitterly. At least she got more than 10 euros today. And maybe, just maybe, some of our lessons on Mandela, Buddha, self-reflection, and optimism did not fall on deaf ears. Doubt it though.

On average 3.50

That’s all you need for a night out in Rotterdam. Not always, obviously, but in the event that two major locations throw massive parties the smaller, more intimate clubs need to adjust their entrance fees. Capitalizing on this, I went to two parties that were more than their money’s worth – by a mile. At least!

Of course, the vibe is always dependent on your company. Going out with new people is always a bit of a gamble, because who knows, the newbies might feel uncomfortable or worse in a wild club. I mean, if you are used to partying like a boss you embrace the freedom to mix it up. But looking at what went down that Saturday objectively, it becomes pretty clear this is not the type of place you should take your mother-in-law – unless she grew up in Studio 54. My crew of the night? Seasoned party people and eager, open-minded aspirants.

So we rendezvous for drinks chez moi and ride our bikes to location A, just in time to get in the club for free. Its relatively empty, as expected, but the dark atmosphere, corridor-like layout, and most of all hundreds of light sabers decorating the ceiling create the right vibe. As do we. And the DJ’s. Two fantastic sets move the crowd, whipping up energy second only to Maori tribal dances. Mind you, the comparison relates the intensity of energy alone. During these little adventures the mind state is mutual inclusion. Mutual inclusion, the occasional obnoxious drunk unable to reciprocate a welcoming attitude doesn’t get in. It’s our circle, open and closed at the same time. A popular and perhaps necessary arrangement, as the chaotic social situation is catalysed by peak activity in our amygdales but mediated by forming stable structures. Our cypher is dope. And just like us, others are having the time of their lives together with their friends.

We left location A after one friend got tired and went home. Off to location B, 7 euros entrance for a packed party with two floors. Hip hop in the bar area and house/techno in the basement. Ethanol reigns on the ground floor while a different type of medication has apparently circulated in the black-lit underground. My flavour: Water and apple juice. Try it. Bouncing to hip hop tunes is a welcome change of pace, but this party soon turns into a show. People losing their balance, literally falling over, is just the beginning. Two gyals back it up so hard to Chuckie’s party anthem that the recipients of their enthusiasm throw up their hands in surrender. Still cracking up, we go outside for a cigarette and a Dutch lesson, only to witness four aggravated usual suspects nurturing the illusion they could take on the bouncers. Nothing remarkable happens, except for my lovely friend calming down the main antagonist with a smile and well-meant advice. After all this we finish a fantastic night out in the empathy chamber, dancing. I know the five girls I’m with are beautiful, but my mind is blown when one of them gets a foot massage in the club – with her shoes still on.

So on average 3.50 for a nice night of clubbing. The company was great and this wasn’t the last time we’re going out together. As for me, I was born free. Dancing is my passion. Friends are always there and music will always move me. Enjoying life to the fullest is priceless.