Born to Run

This was a great book to listen to while running. I really enjoyed it and it was hard to go slow and not push myself while listening to these great stories.

Mainly the author kept running into issues while he was running. His body kept breaking down. He then heard about a tribe of peaceful long-distance runners who seemed to be able to go long distances without any problems. It was a race of people called the Taramuhara, who kept to themselves.They were known for their serenity, good health, and incredible running skills.He wanted to learn more about them.

Running was not a sport, but a lifestyle. They had flat, minimal shoes and not great diets. Yet, they could run miles in the glaring heat. They smiled while they ran and they ran together, not against one another. Here’s some quotes:

  • “You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.”
  • “The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other,… but to be with each other.”
  • “That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they’d never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that running was mankind’s first fine art, our original act of inspired creation.”
  • “Scott stumbled upon the most advanced weapon in the ultra runner’s arsenal: instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it.You refuse to let it go. You get know it so well, you’re not afraid of it anymore[…]You can’t hate the Beast and expect to beat it; the only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.”
  • “…there was some kind of connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love *running*. The engineering was certainly the same: both depended on loosening your grip on your own desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you’ve got, being patient and forgiving and… undemanding…maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that getting better at one could make you better at the other.”
  •  “Make friends with pain, and you will never be alone.”
  • “When I’m out on a long run, the only thing in life that matters is finishing the run. For once, my brain isn’t going blehblehbleh all the time. Everything quiets down, and the only thing going on is pure flow. It’s just time and the movement and the motion. That’s what love–just being a barbarian, running through the woods.”

Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind

A great story which seemed more like a Natural Geographic series versus an audiobook. Fascinating to learn more on where we came from and how our ideas evolved.

As a quick summary, human history has been shaped by three major revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), theAgricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500years ago). These revolutions have empowered humans to do something no other form of life has done, which is to create and connect around ideas that do not physically exist (think religion, capitalism, and politics). These shared“myths” have enabled humans to take over the globe and have put humankind on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection.

Home sapiens most likely wiped out the Neanderthals. Our ability to communicate and learn from past generations allowed us to continually grow and adapt. We can collaborate (groups of 150 at most) together and build amazing things. Other animals do not have this capability. We also can think of things that do not exist – myths, religion, politics, law, etc.

I also found it interesting how chimps gain social order. It’s not the strongest; it’s the social chimp that touches and gets others on his side to join him that ends up leading. This is very similar to politics in our world.

I also found it interesting that humans were the most athletic/smartest hundreds of years ago when we were hunter gatherers. This is where we had to listen to nature; understand our environment on when a rabbit or snake was near; know when to pick berries and when to leave home. The author also mentioned there is no evidence that we’ve gotten more intelligent with time.

The first few thousand years of the Agricultural Revolution actually made life harder for humans by creating more work, less leisure, and a ballooning population that created more mouths to feed. 

Why did Europeans discover and conquer the Americas? Why not the Chinese? TheEuropean drive to explore the world was the primary difference.

Adam Smith’s brilliant insight about capitalism in TheWealth of Nations was that increasing private profits is the basis for increasing collective wealth and prosperity. In other words, by becoming richer you benefit everyone, not just yourself. Both parties get a bigger slice of pie. (Note: this only works if profits get reinvested, not hoarded.)

More than 90 percent of all money is just electronic data, not physical money. In fact if people requested all their money at once, all banks could not deliver on this.

Here’s some direct quotes:

  • “According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify. People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them. 
  • “We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us.” 
  • “This is the essence of the Agricultural Revolution:the ability to keep more people alive under worse conditions.” 
  • “Money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.” 
  • Homo sapiens has no natural rights, just as spiders, hyenas and chimpanzees have no natural rights. But don’t tell that to our servants, lest they murder us at night.” 
  • Domesticated chickens and cattle may well be an evolutionary success story, but they are also among the most miserable creatures that ever lived. The domestication of animals was founded on a series of brutal practices that only became crueller with the passing of the centuries.

Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations

This was a good book that was done by the Navy Seal who wrote, “Make Your Bed”. He had an amazing career as a seal commander. This included surviving seal training which pushed soldiers to the brink to ensure they would never “ring the bell.” He had a crazy career, which included a near death experience in a parachute jump. He blew out his pelvis and landed on a patch of grass. He informed the potential of bombs on airplanes that updated the TSA’s policy on laptops and shoes. He helped coordinate finding Saddam Hussein. He helped save Richard Phillips from the Somali pirates. He led the team that found Osama Bin Laden. The book was told through McRaven who always trusted and pushed his men to their best. 

  • Work hard. Be humble, and I think that will serve you well in life.
  • Hope is not a strategy.
  • You may be in charge, but it’s never about you and you can’t forget that.
  • Life is full of difficult times,” McRaven writes. “But someone out there always has it worse than you do…. Never, ever, ring the bell!
  • Sometimes the simple act of making your bed can give the lift you need to start your day and provide you the satisfaction to end it right
  • You cannot paddle alone. Find someone to share your life with. Make as many friends as possible, and never forget that your success depends on others
  • Failure can make you stronger. He talks about how failure literally made him stronger during SEAL training, when, as a result of coming in last on a distance swim exercise, he and another SEAL were punished with an extra two hours of physical training each day. The punishment was known as the “circus,” and it was no fun. While the circus could have broken them, it made him and his fellow SEAL trainee stronger.
  • Life is a struggle and the potential for failure is ever present but those who live in fear of failure, or hardship, or embarrassment, will never achieve their potential. Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life
  • At some point, we will all confront a dark moment in life. If not the passing of a loved one, then something else that crushes your spirit and leaves you wondering about your future. In that dark moment, reach deep inside yourself and be your very best
  • Help as many people as you can. Make as many friends as you can. Work as hard as you can. And no matter what happens… never quit. 

Ted Williams – The Biography of an American Hero

Ted Williams had quite an amazing story for the fame that he received. I probably will recall listening to the final pieces of this book while running up and down to the top of Peavine for my fun, one-man, rattlesnake-riddled half marathon to the top. But I also spent a few beautiful, dark night runs around the neighborhood listening to who “the Kid” was.

He had a hall of fame career and is arguably the best hitter of all time. He interrupted his hall of fame career twice to serve his country as a fighter pilot. He got shot down in a plane. He retreated as much as he could out of the lime light to fish. And he’s the most famous person ever to have his body cryogenically frozen.

  • A man has to have goals – for a day, for a lifetime – and that was mine, to have people say, ‘There goes Ted Williams the greatest hitter who ever lived.
  • Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel, not just to be as good as someone else but to be better than someone else. This is the nature of man and the name of the game.
  • By the time you know what to do, you’re too old to do it.
  • Hitting is fifty percent above the shoulders.

Bossy Pants

I love 30 Rock, and I’ve been really sucked into SNL lately, especially Weekend Update on YouTube. So, Bossy Pants seemed appropriate to listen to while I finish up my 1,000 mile year on foot.

  • SNL (and 30 Rock) writers are made up of a mix. It’s a science to match the Harvard grads with Chicago improvs. If you lean too far to Harvard grads, the jokes may go over everyone, but if you the Chicago improv jokes, it may not push it enough. This is the balance that wins emmy’s
  • Being a good boss means hiring talented people and getting out of their way…. In other cases, it’s sometimes pretending you’re not the boss and letting them treat you like the boss… Being the boss almost never involves marching around, waving your arms and chanting that you’re the boss.
  • Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles
  • To say I’m an overrated troll, when you have never even seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair.
  • I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years
  • You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.
  • By the way, when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your fucking life.
  • There are no mistakes; just opportunities.
  • A coworker at SNL dropped an angry c-bomb on me and i had the weirdest reaction. To my surprise, I blurted, “No. You don’t get to call me that. My parents love me. I’m not some Adult Child of an Alcoholic that’s going to take that shit.
  • “Never tell a crazy person he’s crazy.”
  • “Brendan suddenly ‘came out’ to me. In my experience, the hardest thing about having someone ‘come out’ to you is the ‘pretending to be surprised’ part. You want him to feel like what he’s telling you is Big.