The Slayer

“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

Last week I lost my voice. Whenever I would swallow any ounce of saliva it would bring my eyes to tears due to a painful sensation at the level of my throat. When I was outside I would barely breath, the wind was effectively provoking my swollen bronchial tubes. I smiled as I walked along. I can’t change this condition.

At same time I was having surgery for an ingrown toe-nail. I refused to take Tylenol’s so was I blessed with a few nights of bad sleep. Cold sweats and fevers became good pals of mine. Audaciously, I did my public presentations, mild exercises and went to work. I can’t change the inevitable, but I can change my reaction to it.

Later that week I was preparing for a sparring session. I was placed with two guys who were bigger and heaving that I was. I took many blows to the head. My lips are purple and my neck is sore. I did not wince, nor cry aloud. It is so. I chose to do this.

Then last night circumstances put me outside in the cold rain for a few hours late at night. I was freezing and wet. It was good. I was not tired, nor disturbed. I couldn’t change the weather, but I could change the way I dealt with it. So I tried to keep moving as to remain warm. I caught a bus and without paying attention to my situation I opened a book and started reading.

The world can be pretty harsh sometimes, I don’t know where some of us find the strength to summon up principles in unfavorable circumstances, but thank god for that. To be a slayer, is to have sudden realizations that our every move and reaction can change the course of history in subtle ways.

I don’t think this is a viable philosophy, but there is something satisfying about conquering and defeating our self and doing so is easiest when we are tested in difficult conditions.

Onwards! Maine!

As some of you may know, winter is slowly coming upon us here on the eastern coast of northern America. The sun is now hitting the snooze button on it’s personal galactic alarm-clock and likes to hit the bed as early as 3PM! We won’t complain, because the sun has earned it’s break with the sun rays it so aptly delivered during the whole of summer.

With all that said, we took this opportunity for one last dip before the snow’s first touch upon our lands. We chose to rent a cottage house in a place called Wells in the state of Maine.

The red zone is Wells in the state of Maine.

To be perfectly honest, I had planned on sleeping in a tent during the Thanks giving weekend. So I downright refused to sleep in a warm comfortable bed. Who in his right mind would choose comfort versus sleeping outside to the sound of waves crashing against the shore, the fireflies gently displaying themselves as gentle dots in the sky and the sound of the rain droplets massaging our beautiful tents. At least that’s how I pictured it in my mind!

Now, we had the cottage for two nights. Therefore our first night was spent on a trail in the White Mountains half-way to our final destination. We simply went deep enough to find a flat zone where we could setup our tents and get ready for tomorrow’s remaining drive.

I come up with a brilliant idea. The weather looks clear, why not sleep without my tent? What a terrible idea! I did not sleep one bit. And I kept sliding down the terrain. I spent the rest of the night swearing and fighting my sleeping bag.

First night setup in the White Mountains

We are rewarded with the view of what seemed to be a climbing spot. We were utterly lost as usual; I cannot point out exactly where this was. Enjoy the picture.

A climbing spot in the White Mountains.

On our second day we arrive to our cottage in Wells. I setup my tent in the backyard and then we proceed to rent a few surf boards. We got 3 millimeter wet suits. Boy did we need them. Our rentals did not come with shoes, gloves or caps. The winds were ice-cold. Spending anymore than 2 hours in the water was almost out of the question(Some of us pushed the boundaries ready to face the aftermath). The waves were quite small. Were talking chest-high at most. It’s still a whole lot of fun, some of us missed the sea so much that upon riding our first few waves successfully wanted to bear with the cold for a while longer. The place is very forgiving. No rocks and the surfing happens quite close to the coast.

The pathway behind our cottage leading to the ocean and a handsome man(me).

As far as tips go, if you plan on doing some surfing in Maine during the months of October and November make sure you bring towels to warm yourself up after your surfing session. We didn’t do it, but we had access to the cottage so it’s a different story. Don’t underestimate those winds. We had a clear blue sky on our last day and yet some of us felt frigid in and out of the water. I remember cussing a few times as the sharp winds razored the back of my hairless head.

The cozy lights emitted by the cottage before nightfall…

The village of Wells strikes me as quite welcoming. This village definitely has it’s low tourist seasons between December and April, but some people might find the vacant beach quite charming.

A panoramic view of the coast like making up part of a house formation in Wells.

All in all, if you are looking for a quiet place to go for walks, some fresh air and a few waves to ride out, then this place is worth a visit! Have fun!

On Diets

When I ate really really well, my stomach would get upset whenever I would consume fast food. I talked about this effect to a very knowledgeable friend of mine. According to him, the better we eat, the purer our “pool of water” is. And so eating anything remotely obscure will stain that water with visible consequences.

I wasn’t too keen on being unable to process bad food so I started re-integrated crap food into my diet. I experimented a little. After a few trials I realized that I felt good about eating questionable food about twice a month. To me, it means that I am warning my body that there is potentially awful consumable content out there and that my immune system should be aware of it. I’d like to think that this is similar to the process of vaccines. For those who don’t know, vaccines usually exist as injections of dead viruses. This helps the body get familiar with a virus as to have the best chances to fight it, if he were to catch it for real.

In the end, were talking about richly balancing diets. I am an omnivore, I will avoid processed food, but I will not mind straying off my path if the circumstances oblige. This attitude has been pretty good to me and so I don’t believe that strict diets ever reach the projections made by experts and books. Of course, this is putting aside intolerances and allergies. Then one must simply learn to accept them.

The Brazilian dietary guidelines are a good starting place. The document has a lot of insights and I’ve always thought of Brazilian’s as pretty darned fit. Setting aside the massive alcohol consumption that Brazil has been showing statistically in the last 10 years, the document is promising.

Play the Game, Change the Game

I think it was two weeks ago. I was with a friend of mine at the university which we graduated at. There’s a room with a projector and a game console. Among many other titles, we mostly play Mario Kart and Super Smash. We do this perhaps once a month for a few hours. It’s a great way to flush out all the mind stuff that is in our heads for a moment. I especially enjoy these because I also get a dose of nostalgia from my childhood days. I wouldn’t want to spend more than two or three hours a month playing video games, but a few hours are natural investments. We reap joy, we swear and yell at each other, we let our ego be free, we feel sane.

So what does this have to do with the title? There’s a song on Toro Y Moi’s album Samantha which has a verse that goes like this :

You gotta play the game if you wanna change da game.

This is some simple, powerful shit. It makes total sense too. Involvement, engagement, belonging, those are all similar words that describe a feeling of being apart of something that we aspire to. I love this stuff. Think about it. We enjoy expanding our horizons, going beyond ourselves, making discoveries and being amazing. We most surely feel those states of mind when we are interacting with our direct environment. The rewards are not immediate, but here’s something you already know :

Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.

Going back to involvement and all it’s synonyms. When we are involved, we becoming involving. When we start the day like we mean business we naturally have other people who are looking for that trait too. In addition, when were acting we are permanently changing the world; mixing with our environment we become one with it. There’s no time for worrying when were always doing something. We hit the bed like a two-ton anvil crashing down from the sky on frail glass, it goes through like butter. There’s no resistance. It’s similar to a concept called occupational therapy. Get busy, lose worry. Win win. I don’t really want to make a point here. I’ve just noticed in the last week that sometimes I have grand schemes in my head, but my body isn’t acting towards them in the moment. I began thinking and realized that I was like a helicopter, the moment my turbine stops I’ll crash down and explode into bits and pieces. I like moving and being involved. I want to play the game. The surest way for having a shot at finishing first in Mario Kart is to at least try the game… so let’s try.

Demonstrating Zest and Vibrancy

This quick tip is about helping us out build up some “hooza!” in our lives. Sometimes you wake up in the morning with a list of tasks handy and you tell yourself : “That is a long-ass stair-case!”. Just looking at that pile is giving you the wibber gibbers.

So without further ado, here’s the tip! The number 78. What does 78 represent? Think about it for a moment…

It is the average life expectancy of the US, the UK and China according to the World Bank. So in general we can say that we will live about 78 years before blowing the candle. Now, simply take a piece of paper and draw 78 circles in rows and columns(they can be squares if that tickles your fancy). Make sure you do it by hand, avoid using an excel sheet any kind of table on the computer.

What is the next step? You have guessed it! Based on your age, fill in each circle(or square!) for every year. For example, if you are 30 years old that would mean 30 filled spots. Now you simple divide your age with 78. This will give you a ratio that represents how much time you have left if you fit in the average and nothing unexpected happens to you.

I’ve had this piece of paper on my desk for a few months now and it always springs me to action. Time is fleeting, the chance we have been given is now and we never really know how much time we have left. This week I almost got hit by a vehicle twice on two different occasions while I was riding my bike in the city.

Here’s another story; my mother showed me a picture of a woman who had passed away recently from a heart failure. My mother knew her personally, that woman had been the owner of a successful business in the beauty industry. She had plans to travel around the world now that she had sold her business. It never happened though. She still created a lot of value for many people, but this is a testament of how quickly our lives can change.

So do yourself a favor, take that piece of paper, put it somewhere visible and look at it every now and then.