Author Spotlight: For Invisible People

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It’s after three in the morning and Matthew R Moore is finally coming out of his bedroom for the interview. The coffee he has left out has long gone cold. I inform him, again, that I don’t drink coffee, and he yawns and rubs his face, appearing to cross the line from apathetic to incredulous if only for a moment, but then he pulls out a chair across the table from me and centers on what he calls “stoicism with bad hair.”

“I’m sorry, but why are you in my apartment?” he says.

I remind him about the interview. The interview that was scheduled for seven in the evening, yesterday, until he said he’d be right back.

“Right,” he says. He pours the French press cold coffee into a mug that says “Keep It Simple, Genius” and downs the coffee like a sports drink. I ask him about the mug. Isn’t the saying, Keep It Simple, Stupid? He says:

“I don’t stand on the shoulders of giants to be called stupid. I will aspire to create genius, and if I fail and create mediocrity, then so be it, but those who set out to create mediocrity will create mediocrity.”

“Some local literary critics are calling early copies of your book Counselors and Comedians ‘a profound dose of cosmic humor,’ and ‘a wrecking ball against the status quo of doorstops’ What do you attribute to these claims?”

“Honestly? Or do you want a tidy package for the succinct paragraphs of your print?”

“Honestly.”

“Failure and being invisible. An impenetrable sense of worthlessness. Besides that, the intense feeling of dread and expired mortality that follows me around. You have to understand the hilarious juxtaposition this creates out of daily living.”

“That’s certainly…” I don’t know if he’s joking. Instead I ask him, “What’s your writing process?”

“First I consider if this is the day I’ll die. Then I consider petty details such as if this is the day I’ll finally understand semicolons. It’s usually a no and a no; or at least a total failure despite trying. Do you want to play Jenga?”

“No, thank you though. You allude to loneliness as the poison of the universe at one point. Would you care to elaborate?”

“That’s why I went bar-hopping looking for the impossible tonight. There’s a reason why dying alone is such a prevalent fear, even if the idea of ‘dying alone’ can be broken down into a trip we all take by ourselves into the…” and he drifts off slowly. He’s left staring at the black kitchen carpet.

My pen hovers over my notepad. “You went bar-hopping… tonight?”

He shrugs and gets up. “I’m really just confused. I didn’t think you existed, or if I did I ended up not thinking so because of all the other times, but here you are. You look different than I remember.”

“We’ve never met,” I tell him.

“I know, that’s how different you seem. I wouldn’t have left through the back door if I knew you were here. You’re from the government right?” He paces back and forth. “Because of the conspiracies? Are the others outside?”

“What others? What conspiracies?”

“They told me to stop creating so many conspiracies, because I’m distracting from their conspiracies. I guess they have a large budget for that kind of thing and when I start propagating idea it leads to Pentagon meetings where everyone looks around and says ‘I didn’t do that. Did you do that?’ But to note, they wouldn’t hire me – I think nepotism is involved. No wonder most of the conspiracies out there these days have the depth of an inbred donkey being ridden by children little further than one’s voting party.”

Once again, I tell Matthew I’m only here for the writing spotlight. I tell him, “My boss likens your style to a controlled chaos of idea, and that no matter where a reader may pick up your book, there’s a new point at play. Care to comment? It sounds dizzying.”

He sits back down and then holds his head in one hand with an elbow on the table and readjusts the candle holder Buddha to his right.

“These author spotlights, to me, seem ironic. We can shine the light all we want, but no one sees. The same pattern reveals itself on repeat all across the web. The spotlight shines and there stands another poor authorial soul who dreamt of connecting, and who dreamt of one day people saying ‘I see you,’ but the present is so inundated with this archetype of human longing we have disappeared. When everyone is visible, we become invisible. The good, the bad, all of it save for a few are the white noise of the world. The mass of men lead lives of white noise desperation.”

“It’s all background to you? Except for the few?”

“No one sees – and that’s the irony of this modern life. More people live and are lost within the static hum of the chaotic world than those who are commercialized as not. I write about that invisibility in many forms, but the focus tends to always gravitate toward the face of the truth at the end – when things are frighteningly real. Everything else is a primer for said truth – alluding to Hemingway, just continuing the story long enough.”

“…But Counselors and Comedians is humorous? Is that correct?”

“Correct,” he says. “Hilarious. Comedic timing like no other.”

“And when should the public expect your book Counselors and Comedians, or this other thing, The Directions of Metaphysics?”

“I don’t know.” He scratches his head and looks around, as though he were the one visiting and not me. “I live dreams upon dreams upon bedrock of rejection letters. All who aspire to get out of the place of dead dreams have to learn how to play this co-dependent game of structuring the human narrative. That’s something I strive to learn more about every day. I’m creating literary children that have to be best situated in the world to thrive – I want them to live meaningful lives. I want people to feel the experience of being alive for having known them. And all I can do is present my offering every day. Maybe someday soon a person will say yes to that, to me or to anyone reading this, but I’m trying to come to terms with the possibility that if it never happens and I stay invisible, that doesn’t mean the person who does the writing is existentially worthless, or all of the work has been in vain.

Matthew R Moore pushes in the chair on the other side of the table, the chair you were in, and turns off the light.

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Soul Mates

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I said, “If you’re going to drool
On the couch, at least
Have the decency to flip the pillow over.”
She went out drinking and flipped the car over.

She said, “Sorry. I drooled.”

She said, “If I fall in the toilet
One more time…
Is it really so hard to put things down?”
I put the dog down.

“No,” I said.

[2014]

Writing and Living Tips Compiled Through April 2017

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Notes From My Travels:

• Author Tim Ferriss says to lower your pass / failure threshold to a level you can accomplish every day. If you set your goals unreasonably high, like writing five pages per day, you’re not going to hit it on a consistent basis and you’re going to be discouraged by the outcome, whereas something like two shitty pages per day will encourage you to go on (or I think Kurt Vonnegut wrote five-hundred words per day). Once you hit your goal of two shitty pages, you might even be motivated to continue before you get up and do something else – you might find yourself in the flow.
• This one comes from a variety of sources, but a Jordan Peterson lecture solidified the idea. Be specific about your goal, knowing each day what you want to do. For example, you aren’t “writing a novel” – that’s abstract and built on many days or even years of work. Technically, to write a novel is to fail the completing of said novel every day except for the last. But if you set out each day to write two pages, or even five-hundred words, or write only when someone babysits your kids each week, then you will find success in common hours.
• Know when you’re going to do it – whatever “it” is, or else the conditions of daily living will present themselves as excuses.
• Control your environment. I’m an advocate of this one. In a famous psychology study, writers were invited to spend six months at a resort to work on a new novel. The catch was that the novel had to be built from scratch from the time they arrived. What the writers didn’t know was that each resort room had a different and distinct painting on the wall by where the writers would be spending many long nights. Psychologists found that 80% of the novels started at the resort included an element from the painting. … I made that all up, but you get the idea.
• “Temptation bundling.” How does one find more time in the day? Group things you enjoy doing with things you have to do or don’t enjoy doing. Listen to podcasts or watch TV on the treadmill. Combine pleasure reading with a research direction. Have sex while painting your house.
• Don’t make people aware of your good intentions – this is sort of a warning not to tell people your abstract goal. You get positive feedback from your intentions, then you get a positive feeling, but this can end up working against you – your brain got its emotional cake and bows out early. Instead, if you’re feeling wordy, tell people of your micro-actions and not your abstractions. Say, “I wrote two pages today,” or, “I did two sit-ups today.” Other people’s lack of enthusiasm for you doing the unspectacular might then propel you to truly create the spectacular.
• Tim Ferriss again. I just discovered his podcast and he has some truly good living advice. He says how successful people often ask themselves better questions. For example, “Why can’t you reach your ten-year goal in the next six months?” He explains how if someone had a gun to your head, you’d probably figure it out, right? Probably. Maybe not all incentives have to be a little carrot dangling in front of your head. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from hearing the stories of countless creative types, it’s that people can set the foundation for the rest of their life if they have their back against the wall. In this line of thought…

Safety is deceivingly dangerous if you’re trying to start a personal revolution.

• Define your goals. How can you reach goals that are never defined? Again, be specific. Ferriss says to also define your fears. What’s the worst that could happen and how would you get out of it? You’ll likely find that fear of the worst is worse than the defined worst. Dr. Jordan Peterson lays out a similar idea in his Self-Authoring Suite when he has participants write out the worst timeline and the ideal timeline.
• Like Dr. Peterson, wildly successful graphic designer, teacher, and podcast host, Debbie Millman, has her students write out a plan in detail about a single day in their life ten years from now. Where they want to be living, who they want to be living with, what kind of car they want to drive… anything you can think of. She tells those who write it to look at what they wrote every year. What is otherwise known as a “self-fulfilling prophecy” for a person’s mysterious ability to steer oneself to negative outcomes they think will happen, Debbie Millman teaches that this behavior can work for the positives in life as well.
• On a TED podcast titled “Headspace,” one speaker says to interact with the world as the person you want to be, not as the person you think you are. You might have also heard this as “fake it until you make it,” but it also wanders into the idea of how perception defines reality. Become the bullshit artist of confidence. Write convincing fiction until you hit upon the truth. Hey, did you know that I’m one of the best writers of my generation?
• Elizabeth Dunn says on the You Are Not So Smart podcast to buy experiences and not things. From experiences, you have memories, and often with others. Even if the experience is short, or turns out to be bad, she says it’s worthy. From a creative perspective, you know both the good and the bad experiences are equally as valuable to your art. In contrast, how often do people write or talk about that TV they bought ten years ago?
• Adam Robinson says that the magic happens only when you involve other people. No matter what you do, make it about the other person. If you don’t want anything for yourself, you’re playing a game you can’t lose. Be genuinely interested in others in all facets of life.

Lament the Day!

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My side project “Lament by the Black Suit” has been becoming one of my main projects. Consider it a soundtrack without a movie, or A Soundtrack for a Troubled Mind. The aim is to send the listener on a hero’s journey to a dark place and then bring the hero back. So turn the lights off and hug your demons.

It’s a work in-progress, but here are some pieces I think are getting close to the final cut.

The Newest Drafts:

“Byzantium Over Lost Souls” meshes the poem Byzantium by William Butler Yeats with a long uneasy trip into madness as the soul constantly tries to rewind.

“Lure into the Pit” leads into the deepest part of Hell.

The first one who makes a dance remix earns my everlasting respect.

~Matthew R Moore

Much Old and Wiser

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I got to the shore and I said, “Ocean!”
I flung sand and I said, “Ocean!”
“My path will not cease here;
I will not bow to your tides of power –
So either you make me Jesus
And I walk to England,
Or you drown me with all you have.”
The waves crashed.
A dirty seagull stood staring far to my right.

I walked into the surf – into the warm July water,
And when the water got to my knees
A sharp, burning pain coursed up my leg.
I leapt back and fell with a splash.
I scrambled until I found dry sand.
There I sat, clutching my leg, the pain true,
And while rocking back and forth,
I gasped, “Ocean.”
I gasped, “Ocean.”

Defense Filter for Your Wallet and Mind

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Poverty is a wormhole that can be impossible to crawl out from; its walls are tinted with anxiety and its days can bleed you dry, leaving nothing left at the end but a question of worthiness. I’ve been thinking about precisely that these past few weeks, but what got me there, and thinking about my own economic situation, was an unlikely source: the book The Millionaire Next Door. This economics book (not a self-help book) tracks the patterns of millionaires in America and tries to find what makes them so financially successful. My goal was to take those patterns (of a sub-group called PAW, or prodigious accumulators of wealth) and see what could be applicable for those below the poverty line.

And honestly, I had a lengthy article written for this, but the more I read about what some people go through and how the system is almost collectively designed to make poor people spiral further down the economic ladder, I just got the sense that anything I could say would be reductionist and might even be insulting. Way down into that wormhole called poverty, one can see a lack of empathy at almost every turn, prejudices and frustration abound, and the phrase “It’s expensive to be poor” is encoded into the perception of reality itself.

So I can’t offer much – I can’t change the world, I can barely change my clothes – but I can offer a list I’ve been creating for the past few years to tackle the economic drains of mindless consumption. I come at it from a variety of angles: behavioral economics, propaganda studies, philosophy, and probably a good bit of the everyday skepticism that drives my family nuts. I call this “a filter for your wallet and mind,” and the point is to create a framework of thinking instead of looking for single instances of where you can save money. The main takeaways are: 1) Seemingly insignificant financial choices are always significant in the long run, and 2) If you don’t keep track of where all of your money goes, you’ll end up wondering where it went.

Defense Filter for Your Wallet and Mind

1) Start a budget. Make a spreadsheet or get out the pen and paper and start tracking where ALL of your money goes, e.g. housing, utilities, gas, food, entertainment, child expenses, car repairs, medical bills, student loans from that ventriloquism degree, etc.. How much would you save if you did things differently? This is one of those activities you can undertake that’ll give you the benefit of doing so, but as you’re doing so you’ll also improve the behavior of why you were doing so in the first place.

a) You might say, “I don’t have time for that!” Recognize that saying this about budgeting is a consistent predecessor to saying “I don’t have money for that!” So what do you do then? You spend more time trying to generate money, of course. Small sacrifices now lead to benefits later.

b) I have to add this point because of the sad state of the world – maybe you know the world I’m talking about. From TV preachers to seminar leaders, there are those out there who prey on the vulnerable who simply want hope, and those people in positions of power will exploit this idea of “sacrifices now lead to benefits later” by saying if you give money to ME, then some OTHER force will reward you. These other forces are often mystical or the deeply abstract and mistaken for concrete. Life is not a karma-fueled vending machine.

2) Find out why you’re broke by a thousand cuts. I tried to research the psychology of why subscription-based models work so well, but all I got was subscription offers. To boil down this concept, this rampant $10 per month subscription model of life, the universe, and everything is extremely successful at getting people to pay for services they’d hardly ever agree to if phrased as a yearly model. Here’s a sample package of what some “cord cutters” use:

a) Basic home internet and TV – $90 per month, or $1,080 per year. (But you know it’ll increase bit by bit as the year goes on. Another tactic exploiting perceived insignificance.)
b) Netflix – $11 per month, or $132 per year.
c) Amazon Prime – $11 per month, or $132 per year. (Plus you get the added benefit of spending more money on impulse buys every month. “I have Prime, and so I might as well. If I don’t buy something I’m basically wasting my Prime membership!”)
d) HBO Now – $15 per month, or $180 per year.
e) Spotify – $10 per month, or $100 per year.

Total yearly cost = $1,624. Five-year cost = $8,120.

3) “Free” is hardly ever free. For $132, I’ll ship this to your door for free in two days.

4) Don’t pay others for services you can do yourself. Make your own damn coffee. Do simple maintenance and car repairs with the power of YouTube. The same goes for your home. The tenants before me at my old apartment left the washer because it didn’t work anymore. I fixed it with YouTube and $2 plastic clips that went into the… turny thing.

5) Center your diet on cheap and healthy foods. There are a ton of websites discussing this very bullet point. You might find that being frugal has an unintended consequence of becoming healthier. Healthier is cheaper over the long run.

a) Fast food, pizza places, most restaurants – these are places of temptation. Why do most of them exist directly on the side of the highway? Because they’ll fail on back roads. People don’t truly care for them like they do for grandma. The restaurants have to constantly be shoving themselves into people’s minds to stay afloat.
b) Now is a good time to emphasize that this isn’t an all-or-nothing endeavor. Whether saving money or trying to lose weight, it’s important to realize that eating or sharing your favorite foods every once in a while is one of the joys in life – and that has real value that can’t be measured by your wallet.

6) Find the redundancies of modern living. See my articles about the benefits of getting rid of home internet and cable. This is a huge cost that gets absorbed as a borderline necessity. If you can, get on the internet once a week at the library or wherever else it’s already offered. If your job necessitates home internet, start factoring that cost into prospective salaries. Write it off on taxes if you can.

The library is a place that keeps on giving. A couple books, free library movies, and going home to homemade soup can last for days and cost only a few dollars for ingredients and transportation, but in one night, even someone who considers their self cheap can spend $20 at the cinema, $30 at a restaurant, $5 for gas money, and $20 for a few drinks at the bar – because the night is still young. Once a month doesn’t seem too bad. Everyone deserves to get out once in a while, right? Twelve months later, those $75 nights you totally deserved have turned into $900. Or maybe it’s that once per week trip for less than twenty dollars? (Ever wonder why the TV commercials say something like “For less than (this amount) per day you can adopt a child you’ll never see after we take out our overhead fees”?) Five years later, you need a new used car and you’re wishing you had $4,500. Maybe if you paired it with your five-year cost of internet and saved it before you spent it, you’d have over $12,600! In a savings account, you’d probably have around $13,000. But instead, you just have worry because you don’t know how you’re going to get to work or pick up your kids. Maybe you take out a car loan or start using credit cards. The interest adds up the other way – that is, not in your favor and at a far greater rate, which is how the world feels when you’re poor – not in your favor.

7) Fight Club has this quote: “The things you own end up owning you.” That fancy suit is dry cleaned only. That smart TV needs a constant connection to utilize all the features. The size of your house and your heating bill are intertwined. And on and on…

8) Try to find others who have the same frugal-based values as you. In The Millionaire Next Door, the authors explain how the clash of money values between couples doesn’t bode well, and if you’re saving money, the consumption-based lifestyle will usually find a need for it. But it doesn’t even have to be in your home life; your friends can also have a drastic influence on the type of lifestyle you develop and stick with.

9) Focus on efficiency.

a) Find ways to reduce your energy bill (but don’t spend money to save a lesser amount of money). This includes wasting more money in gas driving across town than what the amount saved is worth.
b) Find ways to better utilize your time.
c) Don’t take shortcuts – do stuff better! That has value in the long run.

10) Be honest about your addictions. If you smoke, drink, gamble, etc., your expenses sheet isn’t going to judge you for it, but it might help show you the true cost of continuing on your current path. If you’re trying to save money so you have more to spend on your addictions, or if you find the money you do save ends us going to an addiction, as an ordinary fellow human, I recommend help.

11) If you have student loans, use your saved money to pay off the highest interest loans first. If you’re on IBR, find out how much interest accumulates per year and try to at least beat that pace. Budgeting primer:

a) (Your loan amount * your interest rate = interest per year). For example, $4,210 * .068 = $286.28.
b) Now do that with all of your loans and add together.
c) Realize that sum will accumulate every year and then come to terms with the fact that it will not vanish. The more you pay in excess of that base interest rate, the less interest you will ultimately have to pay, likely thousands of dollars, and the sooner you can start putting it all behind you… If you’re in college now or thinking about going to college, save this article. Come back to it. I thought I was OK at math, too, but even I was shocked when I poured money into student loans the first year after graduation and ended up in the same place as I started.
d) Realize that if you buy a new computer with student loan money under the header “school supplies,” that computer is going to cost you money probably long after you no longer have it.
e) Realize degrees that pay less in the job market often end up costing a lot more because of the longevity of accumulating interest.
f) Yes, people who have their education paid for beforehand will end up getting the same education for thousands of dollars less, but the consequence of having student loans for a decade of more will then lead into a spiral of missed opportunities.

Putting up a defense for specific consumption-based decisions:

1) Do you have a functional one already? People say, “But I want a red toaster. It looks better than my old toaster.” “That car suits my personality better.” “But the newer one has a 1” bigger screen.” “But the newer one has a smaller screen.” A billion different reasons.

2) Is the purchase imperative to ongoing life? Hey, maybe you will end up deciding to buy that stripper pole for your living room. That’s all right – we live in a glorious society where if you really want a stripper pole, you could probably get one by the end of the afternoon. But think about it for at least a few days and see the effect this has on what you actually end up buying. Let the decision sit for two weeks and you might find you’ve moved on.

3) Is your quality of life and experience significantly affected? I wanted a ladle. Used a spoon instead. I wanted a better example. Got this instead. Good enough.

4) Is it a “what if” item. “I might need this. What if…” Guess what’s still going to be at the store if you actually need it? …However, buying food and supplies before a hurricane might be a worthy exception. Just thought I’d throw that in there so no one dies.

5) Will a more expensive version be cheaper over the long run? Items designed for planned obsolescence are everywhere, but within it all still exists examples where longevity and durability is a designed factor. You’ll have to find out what the peak efficiency of the item is you’re buying. This point particularly is where I notice many people get hung up on the idea of “frugal.” They save on one item, but then end up losing sight of where that saved money goes.

a) This is a tough topic for the poor, I know firsthand, because the main concern always looming is what to do about vehicles. If one loses their vehicle, life has the potential to fall apart in a hurry; it’s the scotch tape holding all the pieces together. We buy what we can afford to hold our life together now, but in a few years the car ends up costing more than that other, nicer vehicle we could have bought, if we could have gotten to the next price point. Consider how much stress this brings, and then consider all the other areas in this article.

b) A specific example: If you don’t care about color print, I highly suggest getting a laser printer. I’ve seen them as low as $60. They’ll print 1,200 to 1,800 pages per ink roll, and you can buy generic ink for about $15, whereas ink jet printers – I’m sure you already know about those demon spawn.

c) Always look at the cost per unit of measurement when at the grocery store. Come to understand that those minor price differences between sizes and brands are working the same way on your psyche as anything else that doesn’t seem so significant right now. It all adds up to be very significant, and you end up living the consequences in a big way down the line. You’re making dozens of these decisions every time you go grocery shopping.

d) Even after eating generic brand food most of my life, I still tend to think, “It’s not as good as the name brand, though.” But what does this usually amount to? We often associate perceived quality with a particular taste and not with any objective standard. For example, in the TV show Roseanne, the mom would always empty the generic brand cereal into the same name brand cereal box and her kids never knew. They thought they were living the name brand cereal lifestyle for years.

6) Is it intellectual consumerism? You might be saying, “I didn’t know intellectual consumerism was a thing.” I had to make it a thing – it’s an appeal to the intellectual ego, like a growing book collection far outpacing your reading pace, or even knowledge that goes unused.

Some students bring a the-customer-is-always-right mentality to education, and this started happening more when universities shifted to operating with the values of large corporations instead of with the values of education for the sake of education. In a way, the university is becoming lost in its own symbol as it gets subverted by the consumption-based zeitgeist – a cultured child of American in its own right. Tied to that, many people are going through the motions of learning. Technology has enabled droves of students to become proficient at Google while sacrificing independent thought and creativity. Students have become the symbols of students, paying with the symbols of wealth, to earn a symbol of education, in hopes they can graduate and obtain all the symbols of a well-adjusted life. Maybe you don’t see it that way. That’s all right.

7) Is it trying to placate negative emotions? This is a big one. Buying to fill a void that’ll never be filled with stuff. Going to the store because you’re bored, lonely, depressed, upset, etc.. Let it go long enough and you’ll find yourself in a George Carlin segment – you’ll need to get a new house to fit all of that new stuff, but then that new house will seem spacey…

“It was mostly junk,” a child of a UAW said in The Millionaire Next Door, remembering all that his father bought and filled the house with before he passed away.

8) Are you trying to tie a purchase to an unrelated narrative? “I deserve this because…” I remember seeing a young woman on the news who said this as she rationalized the purchase of a $150+ belt. Did she have enough money in her wallet for the belt? Yes. Could she afford it? No. Two different things.

Edward Bernays, as talked about in the documentary The Century of the Self, was largely responsible for recognizing that consumers’ irrational behaviors could be manipulated by presenting a narrative that had nothing to do with the product being sold. Cigarettes were called “Torches of freedom,” clothes and cars were tied not to functionality or quality but to the modern individual – a marketing concept for “who you really are deep inside and how you want to be represented,” and just about everything else under the sun and moon was tied to sex so they could steal your sexuality and sell it back to you. Sexy car.

9) Are you buying more because you’re being fooled into using more?

a) Toothpaste started selling more when the commercials showed an excess amount on the brush.

b) Alka-Seltzer started selling twice as much when the commercials showed two pills dropping into the glass instead of the dosage of one.

c) People eat less when they have less before them. People eat and drink more when they have bigger plates or bowls or cups, because not only do they want to make the meal appear complete – often on a level they’re not aware of – but also simply because that’s what’s within their reach. It’s like we’re all still programmed to take down wild animals in the forest. The next meal is uncertain, and so we better eat it while we have it.

10) Are you going purposeless into stores?

a) As soon as you’re in there, the social obligation to buy something arises. “Going shopping” with no greater purpose than the shopping itself must be somewhere in the consumption handbook for indoctrinating children to repeat the patterns of their parents.

b) “Because I’m hungry” is a surefire way to assault your budget at the grocery store. Make a list. Check it twice. Find out the cost-per-ounce and final price.

This may sound like an end-of-an-entry ploy, but if anyone else has tips on what they can do to take control of and be more mindful of their own consumption behaviors, I would truly like to hear them. I’d like to use them for my own life.

When this whole topic is brought together, it forms the basis for understanding personal momentum, because one thing that was abundantly clear in The Millionaire Next Door was the PAW’s constant awareness for how momentum could work for them. Unfortunately though, when you’re poor it’s the momentum that often works against you, and it’s tough, and decades can go by without an end in sight. But hopefully a list such as this one can help, if even a little bit.

~Matthew

Into the Mountain

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My father said and sat and hand on knee,
“When you grow up and become the author
I know you to be never write passages where
The rain is symbolic of your feelings.”

It was a Thursday in 1993.
I was almost ten.
And despite everything, it was raining outside,
And the passage of time was taking us
-that is, him and me.

My father said and sat and hand on knee,
“You may not believe this, but we have the dragon gene –
No, listen, the dragon gene in our family;
We become old and fiery and fly away.

Then into the mountains we go,
Burdened by the modern world,
Mythical in our disappearance,
Afraid the cliché of rain will extinguish our power
-forever.”

It continued to rain.
The sky poured like it never had before,
And between him and me and all to see,
His hand trembled, and for the first time, I knew why.

[2015]

Tumble

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The hand springs open;
The fingers sign “here.”
From the palm, the rocks
Tumble forth and patter –
Bounce and collide:
Chaos, love, and war.

The fringe rocks say,
“I am an outsider;
See life outside, I implore.”
The center, collected rocks say,
“Being close-nit is needed
Ever-the-more.”

We Did All We Could

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A man swiped a little girl from her mother’s arms
And ran with her down the sidewalk.
The girl reached out behind the man
While the mother chased and screamed
And tripped and cried for help.
Bystanders looked on and hoped for the best.
Some even prayed.

The man cut off both of the little girl’s arms
With butchering swings from a machete,
Then placed her down and ran again.
Blood spurted out over the cement
And boiled immediately in the summer heat.
The man yelled back,
“This is the only way she’ll ever pick up God!”

The little girl was too hurt to utter a sound,
And while she survived that day,
God didn’t;
God couldn’t take it anymore.
The man went into his big stone house,
Put on his white collar,
And passed around the donation plate.

the-book