My philosophy on life, mostly based on individualism, self-sufficiency, objectivism and existentialism.

I often wonder how seemingly intelligent people hold certain opinions that slap the face of logic. The fact is that we are to an extent the product of the groups we live or work in. The danger for anyone in a group, work or otherwise, is that ideas formed in those groups get bounced back and forth, and doing so, gather momentum, strength, whether they are right or not. Individuals in those groups stop questioning these ideas because they are accepted in the group. I am a libertarian, but I spend a lot of time with die-hard liberals, a few die-hard republicans, Christians and atheists. That keeps me in check when my thinking goes overboard, maybe I keep them in check too, sometimes. It also certainly sharpens my social skills, as far as not stepping on toes too hard goes. I do enjoy a good argument, but when emotions take over reason and logic, it can get ugly. That’s when I usually end the conversation, for then there is nothing for me to learn or teach. Exchanging ideas is great, forcing them on someone else, not so much.

I would suggest anyone in a group (which can be a college, family, church, office, etc.) to step outside of it on a regular basis, and “fraternize with the enemy.” Simply because group ideas will always be more extreme than necessary, if not outright wrong. That is probably how young muslim men end-up strapping themselves with explosives and blow themselves up. Nobody around them is there to keep them in check. Extreme ideas become more extreme, and what would have seemed crazy before now looks perfectly reasonable.. So, step out of your group, and go meet people who think differently than you do! Nobody around? Fine, read a book people around you totally disagree with..

Group interactions can become group brainwashing. Cults know this better than anyone. A cult member will be isolated from his/her family and friends and rather quickly accept the ideas of the group. We all want to belong, we are gregarious creatures. Don’t think it can’t happen to you.. The most intelligent people get trapped. When I hear the political opinions of students at New College in Sarasota for example (I call it the “People’s Republic of New College”), I can’t help but think of mass self brainwashing.. Not everyone there falls in, mind you. I know some very bright (smarter than me) students there who don’t conform. Unfortunately Socialism has taken hold of most colleges and universities. I won’t get started on the evils of Socialism here.. Just keep reading my blog.. It is interesting though to notice that the most extreme young liberals come from wealthy Republican parents..

I actually decided to write this post after suggesting my friends to read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”:

I was also directing them to two great articles:

‘Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years
Battling Obama by ‘Going Galt’

Most of them will probably make the same face they would have sucking on a bitter lime! However, consider part of the first article: “readers rated ‘Atlas’ as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible.” I did read it many years ago, and it defined ideas I had for a long time, but never knew how to put together in a coherent form. For some people, it will be a turning point in their lives. Amazing how a book written in 1957 can be so timely, in light of the present economical situation.

But enough with politics. I just hate it when someone I know gets into a group and absorbs their ideas like a dry sponge thrown in a hot bath. Especially when those ideas are weird, extreme or even dangerous. There isn’t always someone close enough to shake you and say “snap out of it.” You have to check yourself. If a friend you’ve known for years gives you a weird look after a statement you made, ask yourself if you may have been influenced..

I had never been interested in boats until a few years ago. Not that I didn’t have the opportunity to sail, but the North Sea isn’t a friendly body of water, not to mention the weather.. My first day on a boat was out of Dunkerque (WWII buffs know the town) in a heavy chop and rain. We didn’t even hoist the sail. I used to think of sailing in terms of wetness and hypothermia. That and the fact that I didn’t know anyone else who owned a boat kept me away from marinas for many years. Moreover, owning a decent boat in France is for the rich, thanks to socialism.. You could also encircle the globe with the red tape associated with boating, in France that is..

Fast forward about seventeen years.. An older gentleman, friend of mine whom I met at the airport (he was a P-51 pilot in WWII) invited me to sail around Sarasota. I had the feeling that it was going to be a whole different experience than Dunkerque.. We didn’t go very far, but when the old Atomic 4 engine was shut-off, I was in heaven. We were moving at a decent speed it seemed, even though the scenery wasn’t quite flashing by. Time slowed. If you ever sat in front of a fire in the woods and watched it, the feeling is somewhat similar. There is a sort of fascination about being driven by the wind. The wine and cheese helped quite a bit too.

These days, we fall under the control of many. It isn’t something you really notice until you start wondering about what freedom really is. Politicians love the word, but they never seem to define it. After the advent of the industial age, big money and large goverments, freedom’s definition became a bit fuzzy.

Take your house for instance. You really only own it after it’s paid off, and only if you pay your property taxes. Even after you die, your kids will have to pay an inheritance tax. Which by the way is the biggest racket I ever heard of. You can’t leave and take your house with you. That’s fine if the city or country you live in is heaven on earth, forever, but things change. Many people have been reminded of it in our present economy. You can’t find a buyer in a down market. Boats don’t have that problem. Sure, they lose value every day spent on the water, but a well kept boat can last a lifetime. You get waterfront property for free and pay no property taxes. If things get iffy, you can sail away in the sunset. You’ll never be bothered by Jeovah’s Witnesses either! Those who say that a boat is too small have never seen the inside of a fifty footer. A well ajusted family of six could live well on such a large boat. I would own a house, don’t misunderstand me, but I would also own a boat, be it a small one if that is all I could afford. My Dagny is 32ft on deck, enough for probably four for extended periods of time. I plan on building a bigger one if I can.

Traveling in a post-911 world is more of a hassle, to say the least. You get patted down, scanned, IDed, and arrested for carrying so much as a pocket knife. Hell, you’ll get arrested and jailed for raising your voice in a plane. Don’t shrugg, it has happened. God may have mercy on you if your name happens to be on the terrorist watch list, as this eight-year-old found out. If there ever was a large scale evacuation, or some sort of country-wide lock down, you might not even be able to leave. A sailboat gives you that option.

The first time I lost sight of land while at the helm was in a plane, flying to the Bahamas. It lasted all but ten minutes before I spotted West-End. I wasn’t concerned, but found myself checking my oil temperature and pressure guages a bit more often. I imagine that being away from land for days or weeks in a boat is not for the faint of heart. You can get used to almost anything though.. You are after all traveling in your own house. There is plenty to do on a boat, and you can always load-up on books, musical instruments, DVDs, video games and fishing tackle. How else could you travel around the world for a reasonable amount of money?

Sailboats are not just toys to sail around the ICW. They give you global mobility if you ever need it. Once you get into international waters, you are your own master. A boat can take you and your family out of a bad area to safety. More than powerboats, sailboats can become a lifestyle that might be the only way to truly be free in this world. And of course, it is always nice to go out for a day, drink wine and eat cheese while anchored near a local uninhabited tropical island..

I hear too many people telling me how they found this new philosophy or spirituality that surely will make them happy. Usually it’s fairly complicated, involves Eastern customs and an old man with a beard wearing a bed sheet. I’m not knocking Eastern Philosophy. It just seems to me that anyone who has some ability with words and fancies guru outfits will always find eager listeners. Being a coffee shop junkie, I hear it all. New-age mumbo-jumbo mixes with Buddhism and quotes from various self-help books. It’s like a soup for the soul in which you can’t recognize the original vegetables. Sometimes they even throw in Jesus, like adding brown beef chunks to the broth. Unlike real vegetable soup however, it certainly doesn’t make sense.

Trying to be happy is missing the point. Being happy is mostly a personal decision. Anyone who has a roof over their head, has enough food, lives in a relatively safe place and is not clinically depressed can make that choice.

It’s no wonder people are confused and stressed with the number of stimuli assaulting us every day. Take your garden variety supermarket; flashy colors everywhere, lights, music, promotions, coupons, aisles of products jumping at us from all sides. Television shows us fictitious lives of beautiful people with all their toys. The average shot length for movies in the U.S. (ASL) Went from around fifteen seconds in the fifties to 2.5 seconds in 2007. Society pressures us to adopt everyone else’s standards, to perform as well and look as good as the guy or woman next door. So many expectations breed depression.

The first thing to do in your life is simplify it. Don’t try to buy things because others do and you think it will make you look better. It’s not a competition. If you try to attain a social status you don’t have, it will stress you to no end and you’ll never be happy, even with a Lamborghini in your garage. Rich people commit suicide too, hum, I wonder why.. Stop watching the damn TV every day! You will find more interesting things to do, more on that later.. Simplify your finances, your work, anything you can find that doesn’t have to be as complicated as it is. You will be amazed at how many hours a week you can save, not to mention your stress level going way down.

The second one is to do things. I don’t mean sit on the couch and play video games. Build things for yourself, anything. I work on my laptop computer, programming. At the end of the day, when I close it, there is nothing for me to look at. The satisfaction from doing my work disappears at the same time my computer memory empties, when I pull the plug. We need to build things, and look at them. For your brain to be happy, it needs to move your body, that’s what it’s for! Otherwise, we might as well be a tree, no brains needed there.. Exercise to make your brain produce the chemicals it needs. You’ll lose weight and look better too, it’s a winner. Before television, many more people knew how to read and play music. There is no satisfaction be be gleaned from watching a screen hours on end.

The third one is to go places. We need to see different things. No, not the mall! I mean landscapes. There has to be something green within driving distance of where you live, you know, trees, grass, that sort of things.. Not the local football field, real wilderness. I am thinking about buying a kayak to explore the West Coast of Florida. I used to fly around during flight training to log hours. A fellow student would come back from, let’s say West Palm Beach, telling us there was a good looking girl behind the front desk at the FBO, and five Cessnas would take-off from Sarasota in a hurry. It was great. It’s not that we were all so obsessed, but just going somewhere else was exiting and uplifting. Just walking sometimes does the trick. You can also end-up pretty far on a bicycle when you forget what time it is.

The fourth one is to see other people. We are gregarious creatures by nature. I often go to Sarasota News and Books to sit outside with a cup of tea and watch people passing by. Soon or later, someone I know comes along and we end-up a full table, in an animated discussion. Last time I did that, I found myself playing Boggle with a bunch of friends! I might appear distant to some, but I like people. Why would I go to coffee shops all the time when I could make tea, coffee and chocolates at home? It’s human nature. When I hear “I don’t like people,” I usually don’t believe it. Self deception, that’s what it is. Hermits are few and far between, I’ve never met a real one. the best part of this tendency is that you can do things and go places with other people!

I am no expert in psychology. I just know that I enjoy life, always have, always will. I don’t need spirituality, religion, gurus and whatnots. If you do and it works for you, that’s fine by me. I just wanted to say that life is incredible and beautiful, and just looking around us and remembering it it all it takes sometimes to bring forth a smile. If you are never happy, go see a doctor, seriously, they can help, to a point. In the end, it’s always up to you. Have a great day, I am!

Life, it seems to me, has a necessary roughness. Animals in the wild are probably the best example of this necessity. They are the perfect adaptation; the result of it. Nothing is easy for them as life is a constant quest for survival. Their instincts and bodies are perfect for their environment. We, most humans, have lost an essential element that brought us from the caves to this day. We no longer propel ourselves with our own power, we use cars. We don’t embrace this animal perfection, we destroy it. I am afraid some day, this edge will make the difference between our specie surviving or disappearing. Yet, traces of it do remain, or at least did until a couple hundred years ago, when comfort slowly invaded our lives. What leaders came of adversity! Compared to today’s heads of states. They created empires, civilizations, without mechanization. Even the horrors of war brought us strength. Not that I wish my fellow people to fall upon hard times, but there has to be a way to keep our edge, our spirit. So, when hard times come, think of them as, if not blessings, a necessary roughness that will make you a better person.