Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.

Advice to others

.

The best experiences of my life
Were the falls where I’ve not recovered

~

I was contacted today by a young man seeking work in another state. I thought I’d post my response here for other job seekers to consider. It’s a formula which has worked for me several times.

“Hi David. I think I can help as I have recently done the same thing. When I decided to come back to the United States I began looking for jobs on the Internet. I applied for many jobs online and put the word out with friends in the area where I wanted to live asking them to let me know if they heard of any good job opportunities. I was told about a very good job in Los Angeles. However, the job required skills that I didn’t have and I wasn’t fully qualified at that time. I then researched training and spent my own money taking business courses online in order to get the certification I needed. That took several months of evening and weekend effort. When I thought my resume was in good shape with the necessary certifications, I then sent a copy into the electronic filtering system for that particular agency. With the new technical keywords in place for my certification, my resume was picked up and sent on to the hiring manager who arranged an interview. I then flew to the United States twice at my own expense for two separate interviews. With no guarantees in place I was able to land the job and the big gamble paid off. Please keep in mind that I was fully prepared to accept failure in the event the interviews didn’t work out. That’s the key element in this story, a willingness to try and a willingness to fail, and then try again as many times as necessary while adjusting expectations to match whatever reality experience uncovered. I expect the same model will work for you if you want to work in Utah. Find out what the qualifications are for the job you’re after and then get those qualifications on your resume. Develop a concise, honest and complete resume and then send it to the people who are in charge of hiring at the place(s) where you want to work. When you get a bite, be ready to fork out your own money (start saving now) to drive or fly to Utah for an interview. I don’t need to tell you about the importance of a nice haircut, professional outfit and no displayed tattoos or excessive piercings. Do not tell the interviewer about all of the expenses and effort that you’ve made to get there. That stuff will come out in it’s own time and should not be a offered as a reason to hire you. The focus during the interview is what THEIR NEED IS and why YOU ARE THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE JOB. if you can demonstrate that you have the skills, talent and ability for the role then you will probably get the job; unless of course there’s someone with better skills and ability than you, which is often the case and just another risk of the game. If you’re willing to follow this difficult, time intensive and costly formula then you can probably work at any job you like in any area of the world you desire. Good luck!”

More on the subject of education, work and living:
https://softypapa.wordpress.com/advice-for-young-men/.

~

There’s worse things than dying
There’s surviving and giving up on life
There’s living without conscience
Denying the challenge of philosophy
Fellowship in excess
Consistency despite new knowledge
Rejection of consequence
Longevity is a mean and base measure of life compared with more meaningful standards of living

~

I’ll always regret the injury I do another. Let me never forget and carry it always like a heavy, rattling chain.

Note: the thought above is one that does not sit with me as it did when I first wrote it. I think the Stoic influence is causing this change and I’m skeptical of the attitude I once had on this subject.

~

Thank you for letting me know. I’m 50. I wish I could show you the view from this age. Everything looks so much different here. And what’s important is different, too. I remember being young and feeling pain for things that hardly matter anymore. I’m not saying that the things you are struggling with are unimportant or that the pain you feel isn’t real. I only wish I could share some of the peace that comes with age and ask you to be patient through the tough periods. I hope you have someone in your family you can talk to, or a teacher perhaps. I truly wish you all the best. Please let me know if you have any other questions. And Merry Christmas.

~

We do become the life we live.

~

Everything is better with dog.

~

Nothing crowds meaning so much as words.

~

Every road’s a dead-end beside the stretch you’re currently on.

~

Some of the best words I’ve ever read are those rare paragraphs of honest self-admonition penned by those seeking to convince no one other than themselves. These passages are as precious as diamonds among the hoard of humanity’s recorded treasures.

~

The truth doesn’t care what you want it to be.

~

Much money robs us of some comforting blinders. Opens our eyes to a fearsome truth. That money is no deliverance from our deepest pains. It’s just a comfort that we needn’t worry so much about paying for things we don’t really need.

With much money we discover we cannot hide. Can’t buy our way from dissatisfaction and resulting despair. And that’s a difficult place to be. As there’s nowhere to run. No hope when we’ve got it all and that’s not enough. At least when we were poor we could tell ourselves, if I just had more money.

Much money isn’t for everyone, though nearly everyone wants it. And I’ll take it too. Though first, let me prepare by learning to make do and be satisfied without.

~

I’ve told my daughter several times how the perception of affluence has a way of wearing off. That privilege is a perishable sense. And that even the “good life” is usually revealed to be nothing more than “just life” in spite of fortune, fame or influence.

~

The beach where I take my family is lined along the cliffs with multi-million dollar homes, complete with private stairs leading right down to the sands. One day last summer I was alone at the beach when I spotted an older man making his way down one of these exclusive stairways. After fumbling a bit with his locked gate he emerged on the sand and turned to walk a short distance to a nice spot of sand with a commanding view of the cove and the great ocean beyond. He passed me on the way and we exchanged hellos, and I noted his many accouterments for a satisfying few hours on the sand. He had a beach chair and umbrella, a small ice chest, a towel and a book.

~

The man had his little camp set up in less than a minute and proceeded to sit, sigh, and gaze out at the little waves. After another minute he put on some dark glasses and continued to look straight out to sea, searching for dolphin perhaps, or maybe contemplating the horizon, or possibly considering his good fortune in life, and asking himself why it didn’t feel better than he thought it should.

~

I wondered these thoughts as I remembered when the same thing happened to me. The week I became the luckiest man alive, was inducted into a dream life, and faced down the sober truth that there really is no such thing; that dreams are for dreamers, and that nothing more than reality ever awaits us beneath the thin veneer of whatever good fortune we happen upon today.

~

I was twenty one years old and had been given a beach of my own. Twenty miles of California seashore with a river filled with salmon, sea stacks topped with conifers, mighty storms to keep me entertained and the blessing of more solitude and free time than even a hermit can properly handle. It was everything I could have imagined in life. My dearest dream come true. A humble cabin in the wilds just like my hero Henry David Thoreau had enjoyed during his two year sojourn on thought.

~

That first week alone on the beach was a busy one as I moved my decrepit little motor home into place, hooked up utilities, cleared a spot to make a waterfront yard, and spent a whole afternoon gathering driftwood to fashion into yard furniture. When everything was done, and my dream home complete, I decided to take a break and to bask in a moment of satisfying reflection on my wondrous good fortune, amazing privilege, and – though I had no actual money – the deep affluence of my youth, health and optimism.

~

I grabbed my beach chair, along with a snack, a book and my journal and stepped barefoot from my motor home onto the cool sand. I walked out onto the beach and began searching for a good place to sit, a little like a dog looking for the perfect place to curl up and sleep. I found a nice spot in front of the little river which is actually called ‘Little River’ and set up the chair where I could take in both the fresh water moving slowly before my feet and the salt water where the river poured into the waves. A truly magnificent view.

~

Great waves blocked out the horizon by their line of foaming white, though the accompanying roar was sufficient energy to churn my thoughts and imagination. I sat, put my book and journal on the sand and nibbled my snack, giddy with the energy and wonder of what was happening, where I was, and the life I had somehow managed to engage. I was thinking of the potential. Not even noticing the beach. Consumed in the realization of a dream without yet living the dream.

~

Finally my snack was done and I put the wrapper in my pocket. I thought about the book and the journal but decided instead to stare at the sea. The silence of my thoughts was a bit unsettling. So this was it. This is what it’s like to have a dream come true? I think I was waiting for some sort of revelation; a sudden secret to be revealed that only those who arrive at the giddy heights of good fortune are privileged to know. Nothing came. The river and the sea were beautiful beyond words, but no more lovely than before. My youth remained vital and strong, but it had been just so days prior when I was without an address and living on the streets. My mind crackled with ideas not unlike it had when I was a small child. My freedom was no more improved nor less impaired than before I had found this life. Nothing really had changed. Within a few minutes a noted the arrival of my old thoughts and worries, the companions which plagued me always, the characters changing with the years though the roles always remaining the same. While the great drama of my beach unfolded before me I thought of my classes, my exams, money, and how I would afford books for the coming semester. And what about that oil change I needed to do on the car. And just what was I to do for dinner tonight. The beach was gone then and my real life had returned.

~

It would be decades before the lesson sunk in that my every circumstance in life had been nothing more than a circumstance in life. The years alone on the beach, the summers hitchhiking across America, my time as a millionaire, the years in Japan, and now my circumstance as a family man struggling to make ends meet, do what I perceive is right and good, and contemplating the end which will be here much sooner than I like to think.

~

I wonder if such thoughts were on the mind of that middle-aged man I met at Shaw’s Cove? While staring through sunglasses at the calm sea horizon did he wonder why his exceptionally privileged life didn’t deliver more than mere reality? Why his wealth and status always distilled to nothing more than who he knew he really is? Was he cataloging and solving his problems in spite of his circumstance; letting worry overcome the sunset, the soft sand, and the sight of dolphins swimming by just off shore. Maybe he was facing down these truths, perhaps he was coming to grips with a reality more real than any dream life, or maybe he was simply taking a carefree snooze while his maid prepared his dinner, his gardener cleaned the yard and his accountant did his taxes.

~

The penalty of actually incurring the risks which appear so present and fearful during youth, is less terrible than the punishment of their aversion, which must be sustained and borne when we are old and our opportunities have passed.

~

Youth is the time to assuage mid-life regret.

~

From papa to Emily:
What should I tell my child on the use of time? Should I caution her simply to be mindful of its passing? To measure each moment with her attentions, and keep busy with the application of sober utility? Should I recommend foresight towards the life she may want to live? If so, how do I caution her not to reside too long in the fiction of what might be; or against setting up house in the past; or living as a ghost within the life of another? I must indeed offer caution against the waste of moments, which is the sport and pastime of so many; the impatient counting down of hours towards an ignoble, and seemingly, untimely death. Yes. I’ll instruct her to beware all this and more; to mind carefully what is ahead, and what is passed; to not lose sight of her own way by ungracious attention to the footsteps of others; and to know her true and even course not by the landmarks of her surroundings, or the warmth of the air, or the pleasant company, or the ease of the road; but instead by the satisfying perception of firm footing over any ground, any fortune, and for as long as her daylight remains. * , **

~

From papa to Emily:
The edge of your universe isn’t far. You were there that day you led me back across the empty black desert. Did you know you were so far then?You’d certainly have realized if you’d gone alone; though the thought of you by yourself in that place scares me. You can get there elsewhere, and without leaving home, or being alone; though that’s a neat trick your dad’s never figured out, and the reason I put on boots and wear a hat.

Why go to the edge of the universe? We humans go there for treasure. It’s a very old human trick. All the heroes do it. That’s why they’re remembered. That’s how our species moves on. They go because the best ore’s already taken where they are. There’s little to find besides rhetoric, dogma and law.

When you go bring an open mind for filling, something to carry your treasure back. Leave necessities behind. You’ll find what’s needed along the way. Again, you need not return to that black desert to find this place. Simply go where no map, compass or god can show the way. *, **

~

From papa to Emily:
Make your great life adventure early in life, when you’ve both everything and nothing to lose. The gamble then is more secure in your favor, the likelihood of success augmented by your ignorance and inability to recognize or assess risk. You’ll succeed even if the adventure kills you. Just don’t get pregnant, and in so doing assume your own risk onto the life of an innocent another. Save that wondrous adventure for later, when you’ve had your fill of yourself, and are more mature and ready to truly give. For your adventure’s venue, select what appears alien and strange; a curious and seemingly foreign life street or some exotic backwater of nowhere. Go meet your anxiety, and give it a fair listen; rebuke its fearful claims and hysterical protests. Come away satisfied you know better your mind, and can now answer and assuage its ancient unsound fears. You’ll know when the adventure is done, when you possess fewer dreams of tomorrow, and behold a broad and expansive landscape of today. Oh, and go alone…If you can bear it. If not, then take, or better still make, a friend along the way. You’ll find your tribe is out there. *, **

~

From papa to Emily:
Your mind is on a track. There’s actually very little leeway between birth and death. The course is strikingly simple, though we don’t notice due to our one chance at living, and the fact that our perspective biases us to exaggerate what little difference there really is between one life and the next, and one generation to the next. Gender plays a role in the course we must live, as does age, though these aren’t very popular topics to discuss. But keep that in mind, and listen to what your nature has to say, even if you choose not to heed; for informed choice brings both responsibility and accountability into the hands of the chooser. Always apply reason to your biology, always demand diplomacy of your motives, always seek virtue of your wants, or deny them altogether. In this way, never hesitate to resist your nature should it prove base, barbarous, unjust, or inhumane.

So you’ll bump along this course of living, fortune heaving you at once to the left, and next to the right; but always forward, and at a steady rate, even when at rest, even when you decide not to choose. Remember that you’ll always be on those rails, and there’s nothing spiritual or spooky or inexplicable about them; so don’t get suckered into motivation, divination or exorcism to change your way. Instead, ride the rails like the successful survivor you have become, we have become, we’ve all become, by virtue of the simple fact we’re alive. You see, biology’s criteria for success is both simple and absolute. So ride your rails to the end of the line. And if you choose, pass carefully your successful mandate into the future, as your mother and I have done through our loving creation of you. *,**

~

From papa to Emily:
You are still young, and perhaps enjoying greatly the thrilling fury and turmoil of a mind just coming to grips with the tantalizing interests and distractions of adult life. However, like any loud and ruckus event, you may eventually tire of the ceaseless demands of your attention, and the exhausting fact of attendance to so many life “necessities.” When that day comes, do not seek simply to escape your cares by lessening your burden or changing your circumstances, as such changes alone rarely provide much lasting relief; instead, understand that the tumult you feel exists less with the outside world, than with your inside impressions, and your ability to mind and manage your thoughts, and their consequent decisions. To this end, I’ll provide you now some links and references where you can find worthwhile guidance on how to live; as well as my own summary of best practice in the direction of The Good Life. I hope you’ll come see me to talk on these things if I’m still alive when you read this and are old enough to find this topic interesting. Though I know how things go, as our folks are sometimes long gone by the time we’re ready to talk. That’s OK. That’s why I made this post. Papa loves you very much! **

Links for my daughter:

~

From papa to Emily:
As you embark on your adult life you’ll find need of principals and ethics to guide you. From your mother you’ve received the fact of being Japanese, which identity is self-contained with a quite complete system of morals and a very mature world view. You’re very fortunate to have this; though keep in mind that this is a highly specialized system which may not always fit outside the rarefied cultural atmosphere of Japan. From me you get The Good Life, which is my best effort at a system of living designed to promote a life of virtue, which is defined as improved objective well being for yourself and others. As your parents, it’s our duty to suggest and offer you our best model and system to help you get started in life. But it’s your responsibility to evaluate these to assess their worth and merit; to determine if the tenets we offer are true; and to reject any unsound claims without fear of consequence or social sancture. Beware the many readi-made systems which are out there, especially the religious ones, which lure and tempt with welcome society, offer relief from worry, guilt and death, and perhaps even explain away your doubt with dogma, and the mind-numbing agent of faith. Find your own way if you can. Begin with what your mother and I have given you, though never relinquish your adult responsibility to think, act and decide according to your own best discretion regarding what is true and real as opposed to what is simply comfortable and safe. **

Citations

* Included in “My Muse is a Corpse”
** Included in “To My Daughter”

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