personal trainer river north

7 Kitchen Tools that Will Cut Your Cooking Time in Half

Do you avoid cooking because of the prep time? Avoid no more. Here is the list of kitchen tools I use to speed up the cooking process. In many cases, the total time will decrease by 50 percent. Cook away, Chef!!!!

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Instant Pot


Personal Trainer Wisdom: The Instant Pot is basically a crock pot with pressure cooker attributes. Like a Crock Pot, you can simply throw an array of ingredients into the pot and cook with little extra work. The big difference: The Instant Pot only takes a fraction of the cooking time. Your 8-hour Crock Pot simmer will turn into a 20-minute pressure-cooked phenomenon. Either method will save you time from constant stirring stoveside. You may use the Instant Pot to sautee onions and garlic prior to cooking your stew, soup, or chili as well (which also saves cleanup time-less dishes).

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PL8 Professional Mandoline (Food Slicer)


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Cutting with a knife is soooooo prehistoric! With 4 cutting options (thick slice, thin slice, julienne and waffle) and 4 adjustable thickness settings for each cutting option, you will save time perfecting your slice and adding more shape to your life!

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Apple Slicer


Personal Trainer Wisdom: You can core and section fruits in one swift motion (8 wedges all at the same time). Less mess and time. “But it only saves you 30-60 seconds, Michael,” you say. Tell that to my screaming 2-year old son, Preston….

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Collapsible Salad Spinner


Personal Trainer Wisdom: As described on Bed, Bath, & Beyond, “This salad spinner is so versatile as it expands for use as a large salad spinner and collapses in an instant for easy storage. Its high velocity pull-cord mechanism dries your fruits or veggies quickly and efficiently.” Sold! Not enough? I also use the spinner to evenly coat a dressing or citrus onto my veggies. Essentially, you’re spinning away the excess while coating each piece of nutritarian goodness. Perfection!

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Stick Mixer


Personal Trainer Wisdom: I typically avoided recipes that required pureeing because of the food processor cleanup. With the stick mixer, you can quickly and easily puree a soup in the same pot you cooked it in. It’s lightweight and a quick wash compared to the many parts of the food processor or blender.

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Kale Slicer


Personal Trainer Wisdom: This kale slicer is more of a kale destemmer than anything else. It makes pulling the leaves off the stem one easy swoop (a big convenience when using several stems in your recipe).

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OXO Vegetable Chopper


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Many of my personal training clients will avoid cooking because of the preparation (especially the chopping). Although you need to slice an apple, onion, or green pepper in thirds, this chopper will make the remainder of your chop a breeze. Simply place the thick slices under the stainless steel blades and press down. Easy to dump into your dish and easy to clean.

Photo Credit:
Photo 1: williams-sonoma .com–Life may never be the same with the Instantpot.
Photo 2: mighty ape .co.nz– PL8 Professional Mandoline (food slicer)
Photo 3: kitchenettejen .com–Apple Slicer
Photo 4: blogtemplates. Info—Collapsible Salad Spinner
Photo 5: promotion. com–Stick Mixer
Photo 6: target. Com—Kale Slicer
Photo 7: crate and barrel .com– OXO Vegetable Chopper

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness
7 Kitchen Tools that Will Cut Your Cooking Time in Half
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.
 

4 Ways to Avoid the Same Poor Posture as Michael Cohen during the House Hearing

Don't be like Mike! Whether testifying in a House hearing or presenting at a board meeting, poor posture will not only send unintended nonverbal cues but also lead to poor physical health. Putting aside, the "look" of poor posture, anything beyond the neutral spine while sitting (think of your body naturally and symmetrically stacked in the neutral position) may put you at serious, long-term risk of injury. I've included tips from my interview with Wayfair to help you reverse this effect and redefine the way you sit at work.

Wayfair: How can you tell if you have bad posture during your day to day?


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Most likely, you are experiencing many symptoms, including lower back, hip, and shoulder discomfort and pain, that are surefire tells of your bad posture. Considering the constant distractions, it's not a surprise that you don't recognize these symptoms or realize how you shift your weight to one hip while speaking to someone or round your back while working on the computer 8-10 hours per day. In small amounts, your body is adaptable and can function out of a neutral zone (Translation: Pick up light objects with a rounded back). When reinforced repetitively, though, you are creating an imbalanced, inefficient system that can eventually lead to rounded shoulders or a posterior hip tilt (rounded lower back).

Wayfair: What are some tips to improve posture while at your desk?


Personal Trainer Wisdom: The number one key to your best physical health and perfect posture is awareness. Simple check-ins throughout the day can minimize or eliminate most chronic problems. Although the human body isn't meant to sit for extended periods of time, most industries require it. If you're going to do it, you must do it well. Essentially, you're fighting nature while maintaining a flexed position at your desk under quite a bit of sustained stress. Our bodies are meant to move in a neutral position, however, and you're most likely guilty of doing the opposite up to this point.

While it's not realistic to assume that you'll walk and type on a Stairmaster at the office, you can take several measures to maintain a neutral spine--the natural position of the spine that doesn't place unnecessary stress on your disks and maintains the natural curve of your neck and lower back. First, adjust your seat to the appropriate height to reduce a tilt in your hips or a round in your lower back. Your knees should directly extend from your hips at a 90 angle or lower. Second, maintain a neutral position while seated. Keep your ears above your shoulders, shoulders above your hips, heels under your knees, and your feet flat on the floor. Third, stand up and/or walk when you fidget or reposition your body while seated. If you begin to shift in your seat, listen to your body! It's time to move! It takes muscle activation and strength to fight gravity and maintain perfect posture. Although you may be using the right muscles, they will fatigue too! With this being said, relight the system and find a reason to walk around.

Wayfair: Are there any tools, accessories, or furniture that are best suited for having good posture throughout a workday?


Personal Trainer Wisdom: Your best tool for maintaining good posture is self-awareness. No matter what system you would put in place, you may unconsciously compensate in one way or another. An adjustable, ergonomic chair that allows you the fit for your neutral spine and the adjustable height to find the appropriate level for your hips is a priority. An adjustable desk will also help you find the proper height for your computer keyboard and the placement of the screen to limit any slouching. In the case your desk doesn't offer an adjustable function, you may want to simply elevate your computer screen to eye level instead.

Wayfair: For offices with raiseable desks, how much time should someone switch between sitting and standing for the most comfortability?


Personal Trainer Wisdom: In response to the constant demand on your body (gravity counts), it's important to move or change position every 20-30 minutes. The same principle applies when utilizing a raiseable desk. As mentioned before, your muscles will fatigue while maintaining perfect posture. Not surprisingly, ambitious people have bought the raisable desks with hopes of resolving their postural issues but still end up compensating by shifting their weight while standing and placing themselves in compromising positions. When you shift, it isn't a failure! It's just a cue to reposition. Sitting, standing, or walking may be the most appropriate response.

Photo Credit:
abc 17 news .com – Don't be guilty of poor posture!

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness
4 Ways to Avoid the Same Poor Posture as Michael Cohen during the House Hearing
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.
 

Why 'Follow Your Dreams' May Be the Worst Advice You Ever Heard

"'Follow your dreams.' It's impossible to do without self-knowledge, what takes years. You discover your 'dream' (or sense of purpose) in the very act of walking the path, which is guided by equal parts choice and chance." Maria Popova's response to Tim Ferriss's question regarding the worst advice she ever heard in the book Tools of Titans.


What Are Your Dreams Really Based On


'Follow your dreams.' You've heard this advice probably as often as I did growing up. Certainly, the most common words of inspiration given to a youngster and seen in coffee table books and wall art. What does it really mean and how serious should we consider this advice? Do you know?

As a student of psychology for the last 20 years, I've learned one very important thing: Most people aren't aware of themselves (or the influences on how they think). I fell into this category for a long time, and it's taken much effort to recognize and understand the trends and patterns of me....including my dreams. I'd love to believe that my dreams were an inspirational inner voice that always had my best interest in mind and guided me with a knowledge and understanding beyond my being.

Unfortunately, and fortunately, they most likely were a result of environmental influences, interactions, emotional interpretations, and unconscious cues from my history. At times, my dreams reflected insecurities and fears that plagued my unconscious or a disorientated interpretation of the day’s events. Often, they reflected a film I watched that day or an emotion I recently experienced. While I recognized the symbolism of those dreams, I also understand how easily misleading they can be.

The Interpretation of Your Dreams


You may not be any different. Have you observed your physical, mental, and emotional self? Have you ever observed the trends and patterns of you? Have you identified the underlying influences on your behavior (i.e., fears and insecurities)? Have you ever examined the underlying influences on your dreams? If you're like most people, you will say "No." Would you follow any other prompt or cue like a dream with so many unanswered questions?

Don't forget that at times your dreams are also completely ridiculous and nonsensical. You may disregard those dreams, but it doesn't mean that you should follow your dream just because it possesses a sensible, relatable narrative that seems like the truth about your path. As Maria points out, we learn about our true selves and what's best for us by walking the path...interacting with people and the world. If you don't know what you want to do next, be curious instead of following your dreams initially. Find invigoration and direction through the collision of your being and experiences in different environments with different people and see how itself manifests later. Maybe at some point, you can consider the prompt of your dreams or your gut instinct. Be sure to truly understand yourself first, though.

You're a Leader Not a Follower


Also consider that the simple act of following infers that you are not leading. It is a serious unconscious nudge to wait for a sign to help you make lifelong personal and professional decisions without sound evidence why. Do you really want to only follow something that can be interpreted a million different ways? Let's be honest. Most of our interpretations aren't 100% accurate and often are self-serving depending on the influences (which isn’t always a bad thing when it comes to survival but should be recognized). Why not follow the mantra ‘Create the life you want’?

While I always love words of inspiration, you may want to reconsider how sound the advice might be. No path is as easy as following your dreams.

Personal Trainer Wisdom

No matter if you believe that your dreams are a result of your personal history or a spiritual push, you can’t argue with the importance of self-awareness. Whatever cue you receive, you should still examine the path you walked and the ground you stand on. Your assessment may just provide the direction you need.

Photo Credit:
Thefinancialdiet .com–Should you really follow your dreams?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness
Why 'Follow Your Dreams' May Be the Worst Advice You Ever Heard
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.
 

Advice My Future (10 Years Older) Self Would Tell Me Today (And Why I Need to Listen)

What advice would your 10-year older self give you today? What do you think he or she would say about your approach to life, work, and relationships? What do you think he or she would advise you to adapt? I spent some time contemplating this scenario and know that the 49-year-old Michael would most likely encourage these 5 life-enhancing tips (and I’m sure you will relate).

Listen


The root all being is interaction. Be an active participant with your ears. Listen to your environment. Listen to the random sounds around you. Take your nose out of your phone, and genuinely listen to your wife and son (and the rest of your family and your friends and your colleagues and everyone else you interact with). Look a person in the eyes when you're engaged in a conversation. Show them your genuine interest and strengthen the bond you initially created.

Don't hold onto worry or anger for more than 5 minutes


Quit wasting away seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, and decades of life worrying about not being perfect, doing perfect, or acting perfect. Embrace your emotion and passion but bundle it into a positive adaptive package and act instead of stewing in your destructive emotion. Don't let the resentment, anger, hate, and worry prison your mind and distract you from the precious little life moments (even if those moments don't feel important). Bark if you need to. Step away to be alone (and this isn’t avoidance, by the way). Shake your fist at the sky. But DO NOT obsess, swim, or dance in this negativity for longer than 5 minutes. Indulge in this instinctual (or reinforced reaction) for a short moment and then let it go. Find the silver lining. Accumulate wisdom from your error. Accept. Adapt. Be fair to yourself. Be kind to yourself. See the world as perfectly imperfect and don't let it overwhelm you.

Trust your genuine and real you and quit second-guessing yourself


Act in line with who you are but don't second-guess yourself because of fears, insecurities, or other underlying influences. Just be. Be assertive. Be confident. Don't act like yourself, just be yourself. Trust that you unconsciously have other people in mind. Don't worry about being judged. Don't judge yourself. Be yourself (unless you're selfish, inconsiderate, unsympathetic, unemphatic, demeaning, judgmental, egotistical, or unrighteous).

Seek to understand FIRST instead of judging when in a disagreement


In a world of negativity, it's easy to judge and interpret someone or an incident through a personal lens (a filter you developed from a collision of internal perspective and your daily life). How accurate is this judgment or interpretation though? What are you overlooking? Do you truly know the full story? How do you think your emotion has affected your initial interpretation? Your initial reaction? Seek to understand first, and you will foster sympathy and empathy instead of the anger, disappointment, and frustration you most commonly feel when judging.

Find 1 positive attribute in every person you meet


Quit looking for the negative in yourself, your environment, and people….especially other people. Retrain your initial thought process when meeting someone new by finding 1 positive attribute in every person you meet. Instead of assessing, try searching for the best in them. They may not be you, someone you know, or someone you may hang out with for a lifetime, but they still deserve your respect, genuine interest, and a chance to show their best selves.

Photo Credit:
thenews.com .pk–What would your future self say to you?

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness
"Advice My Future (10 Years Older) Self Would Tell Me Today (And Why I Need to Listen)
Learn how to lose weight from a personal trainer in Chicago.
 

The 1 Article that Will Make You Rethink Your Day-to-Day Approach

No commentary on life, living, and pursuing goals has influenced me more than what you’re about to read here (or see). Invest in this moment and read this post from start to finish…it will make you rethink your day-to-day approach and how you approach goals (especially since the speaker committed suicide 3 years after). I’ve included the full transcript to David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech “This is Water” as well as the video below.

Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address Written and Delivered by David Foster Wallace (May 21, 2005)


(If anybody feels like perspiring [cough], I'd advise you to go ahead, because I'm sure going to. In fact I'm gonna [mumbles while pulling up his gown and taking out a handkerchief from his pocket].) Greetings ["parents"?] and congratulations to Kenyon's graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story ["thing"] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you're worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don't be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I'm supposed to talk about your liberal arts education's meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let's talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about quote teaching you how to think. If you're like me as a student, you've never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. But I'm going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I'd ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious.

Here's another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: "Look, it's not like I don't have actual reasons for not believing in God. It's not like I haven't ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn't see a thing, and it was fifty below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out 'Oh, God, if there is a God, I'm lost in this blizzard, and I'm gonna die if you don't help me.'" And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. "Well then you must believe now," he says, "After all, here you are, alive." The atheist just rolls his eyes. "No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp."

It's easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people's two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy's interpretation is true and the other guy's is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from INSIDE the two guys. As if a person's most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice. Plus, there's the whole matter of arrogance. The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They're probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists' problem is exactly the same as the story's unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn't even know he's locked up.

The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too.

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

Please don't worry that I'm getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It's a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being "well-adjusted", which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets very tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education -- least in my own case -- is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me.

As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in day out" really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine, and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about.

By way of example, let's say it's an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you're tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there's no food at home. You haven't had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It's the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it's pretty much the last place you want to be but you can't just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store's confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to maneuver your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren't enough check-out lanes open even though it's the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can't take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college.

But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line's front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to "Have a nice day" in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera.

Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn't yet been part of you graduates' actual life routine, day after week after month after year.

But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it's going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is.

Or, of course, if I'm in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV's and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, forty-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumperstickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest [responding here to loud applause] (this is an example of how NOT to think, though) most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. And I can think about how our children's children will despise us for wasting all the future's fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on. You get the idea. If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn't have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It's the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I'm operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the center of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world's priorities.

The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it's not impossible that some of these people in SUV's have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive.

Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he's in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way. Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket's checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do.

Again, please don't think that I'm giving you moral advice, or that I'm saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it's hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won't be able to do it, or you just flat out won't want to.

But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the lowwage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you what to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it. This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship.

Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.

They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing. And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving and [unintelligible -- sounds like "displayal"]. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don't just dismiss it as just some fingerwagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

"This is water."

"This is water."

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.

I wish you way more than luck.

Photo Credit:
https:// medium.com/reflective-stance/seeing-the-water-e31d8f12f5c3–Is this the greatest philosophical question of this century? Check out Debbie Donsky’s thoughts.

Article Credit:

Author: Michael Moody Fitness with excerpt outsourced from https://web.ics.purdue.edu/~drkelly/DFWKenyonAddress2005.pdf.
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