Life has many good things about it. It can also be made significantly better.
I think, and it has been my experience, that we can improve our lives, and Life. That by making changes in our own personal thoughts and actions, we can, often, feel better; and bring about, or help bring about, or open up the possibilities of, what we consider positive change. LukeyoutheU, through this website, its podcast and books, proposes theories and suggests practices. It does not offer the one and only way to live. How and why you live is up to you to figure out. LyU offers abstract ideas and concrete examples, case studies, that give the visitor/ listener/ reader space. Mental space. Space to evaluate and consider. The goal of LyU is to assist you in identifying and deciding what you believe is useful and good. To help you to bring more of what is useful and good into your own life, and add it to the world.
That is a lot to ask of a website, a podcast, and some books. Nevertheless, I do. I ask you to, too.
I have, over the course of my now more than fifty years, heard some say it is wise to expect little from life so as to avoid disappointment. I take a different view. I think that only by asking much from life, and giving much to it, can one live fully. Can one add lastingly. Only by exploring can we find; only by discovering, and deciding, can we create.
We human beings are, by nature, generative creatures. We have much good to bring forth.
If you like to listen more than you like to read, you may want to head over to the LukeyoutheU podcast. Feel free to go even now. The podcast offers six series to choose from. Two of them are ongoing and have the descriptions of their episodes attached; four are in various stages of development. Expect not perfection, not easily-swallowed sugary treats, but engagement. The series offer the rare opportunity, in this world often crowded by flash, slick, shock, and demands, of some mental space and room. Some of the ideas expressed in the reading below are also presented in the series; the series offer other ideas as well.
The last major section of the website (as shown in the menu: website-podcast-books) is used to present LyU's books. LyU books are short and rich, and dive into a variety of topics. Everything in life has a cost including everything on this website, that cost being that which you have which is the more valuable: your attention. LukeyoutheU books, in addition, cost money. Not a lot of money but some of it. The books section is currently not greatly developed. The website, podcast, and books are all accessible from every page of the site: look to the upper right of your screen.
For the readers among us, here is more:
Some years ago, a friend and I met over coffee (his, I had a soda) and French pastries (we both ate them). Though it was years ago and I do not think of it often, that conversation helped me decide my life's course.
We both lived in San Francisco at the time. I had made the city my home for more than fifteen years by that point; he had only recently moved in. I asked him for the meeting with a particular purpose in mind. He kindly, and graciously, agreed. We picked a spot near Union Square and not far from Chinatown, a shop with French pastries.
I had heard that he had made a success of his life, a success personally, and in business. It was in the latter that I was particularly interested. Word had gotten to me that he had achieved the American (the San Franciscan?) Dream: he had bought a home in the city in a desirable neighborhood. As far as I was aware, he came from a modest background on the USA's East Coast; I surmised that he had business acumen. I wanted to know, but hardly dared think it possible that he would tell me, the secret to his success. I had an idea for a business of my own: what did he think of it?
After exchanging pleasantries, and catching up, I pitched my idea. He listened attentively. By the end of my five-minute presentation, a knowing grin had spread across his face. What was he thinking? I finished. He did not make me wait. Leaning forward over the table between us, he gave me his sage advice. It went something like this:
"People are driven by two emotions: greed and fear. If you can tap into their greed, or their fears, you've got it made. Appeal to people's greed, their desire to be rich; convince them that you can help them against their fears, and you will succeed."
He leaned back, having given me, in his estimation, the keys to the kingdom.
I was dumbstruck. I had expected a few practical suggestions, wanted his secret but not anticipated actually receiving it. Here he had given it to me, and it was one of grim realities. I was surprised to hear his perspective, such an understanding of life, from someone I had seen often smiling and laughing. He was suggesting I purposefully play to people's worst instincts just so I could succeed. Just to make money. This is what success in business was. How it could be (usually or always was?) achieved.
Was he right? Was this really how the world, under all its smiles and pretenses, layers of supposed good and concern, worked? Had he cracked the code to business, and to success in life?
Uncharacteristically speechless, it took me a few seconds to manage myself. I had little to say. I think I got out a few words of thanks. Our conversation and coffee drew to a close.
He insisted on paying for our drinks and treats. Being tight on funds, I let him. I thanked him for them and for his time, and meant it. It was not lost of me how friendly, helpful, even generous, he had been. He was under no obligation to have spent the time and energy necessary to meet with me, to give me his candid thoughts, or to pay for our snack. He was friendly, smiling, and generous even as he suggested I operate/ live for my own gain by pulling the emotional chords of others.
I left, and walked along Grant Avenue lined with its luxury goods shops. I wondered: could he be right? Is this how the world actually operates? Am I naïve/ stupid to think otherwise? Is this what all business and success in the world is based on, greed and fear with money at the center?
The answers that came to me that afternoon, that I gave to myself that night, said that we was right. Or: that he could be right. I had heard from other friends about other financially successful friends, rumors of what went on behind the scenes. I thought about the corporate events I had attended, the interviews for jobs I had gone on, a "spontaneous" business cocktail party I had been invited to drop in on, and did, as I got ready to graduate from college. How everyone had acted. Perhaps some, or many, or most, of all the successful businesses were built, and sustained, on greed, fear, or both. Perhaps, in their shareholder-value-above-everything-else modern forms, most (all?) played on those two primal, lizard-brain emotions.
I am not opposed to business. I am for it. I have one myself. I believe business to be important, useful, and potentially good for society and for the advancement of humankind. Still: if much, or most, or nearly all, businesses have as their primary playbook greed and fear, we are in deep trouble. Trouble as a people, and trouble as a species.
My friend and I have not been in contact with one another since. I moved to Los Angeles for a bit, and then other places, a couple of years later.
Probably it was a day after the conversation that I had made up my mind. My response to his advice, to that type of thinking/ belief, to the possible current reality in which we live, is the same today as it was on that second day: no. No. Not on my watch and not with my life. I do not want to live with greed or fear ruling me, or us; I do not, I will not, operate under that understanding of life. I will be damned if I will live that way. There has got to be more. More to life.
I am not saying I have succeeded perfectly or always in avoiding bouts of greed and fear. I have sometimes spent money just because I had it on things I did not need or really want. I have reacted in certain situations rather than responded, and, too frequently, it was because I was unnecessarily afraid. I am not saying I do not sometimes feel greed and fear crouching at my door. They will not be, however—I will not allow them to be—my guiding "lights." Because greed and fear may be (are?) our prime motivating emotions as a culture and a country right now does not mean that they must remain so.
LukeyoutheU takes another tack. It sails on different seas. You do not need to read one more word of it to live a good and happy life. LyU is a business but it is a business, an understanding of Life, not driven by greed or fear. LyU is about looking at life; finding life; creating life. It presents particular beliefs and ways to live but does not insist that you follow/ believe any of them. LyU is about the discovery, and employment of, useful and good ways to live. There are many beyond these pages. What do I mean, exactly, by all of this? Check out the LukeyoutheU website yourself or by using the page explore; listen to a series or a number of them on the podcast; read its books when they come out, to find out.
Whether you decide to investigate LukeyoutheU further, dear reader, or to go another way, I ask you to consider life. Your life, and Life.
Thanks for reading.
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