When I told friends in London that I was going to travel around Europe and write a book about it, they said, “Oh, you must speak a lot of languages.”
“Why, no,” I would reply with a certain pride, “only English,” and they would look at me as if I were crazy. But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.
When I was a kid, my mom would pack me: a healthy sandwich, a bottle of water (or, even more offensively, an apple juice), and a piece of fruit. Not “fruit snacks,” but actual fruit. Like, the kind of fruit that you pick from a tree.
Have you ever tried to trade a banana for Dunkaroos?
The cafeteria was my first experience with supply and demand. The demand for sweets and savories was high. The supply was low. I had fruit, and I wanted chocolate. Even sweetened with the ubiquitous “I’ll be your best friend,” ain’t nobody trading a brownie for an apple. Early on, I lamented the system. I raged against the machine, if you will. ‘Unfair!’ I thought, and pounded the table with tiny, clenched fists. Until I learned that money given me for birthdays, for holidays, for treats on the weekend… worked anywhere. Including the grocery store.
And so it happened, then, at age 9, with not one lunch-sized container of Dunkaroos but a WHOLE EFFING BOX OF DUNKAROOS IN MY BACKPACK, that I became the master of my own life.
Do you want to work at a company that needs programmers while you are naught but a lowly-English major still talking about how much you wish you’d learn to code instead? Well learn to code right now, dude. You’re already sleeping in your parents’ basement. Use the time wisely and improve yourself. Attracted to a girl or guy with a great body while you yourself do not have a great body? Well, first of all, I think you look fine, but if it’s bothering you go the eff to the gym and get your ass ripped or svelte or whatever. You hear me? You feel this? If you need a skill, acquire it. If you need a contact, make it. Email exists. Welcome to the 21st Century, in which pretty much everyone alive is accessible to you.
You do not have to trade for Dunkaroos. You can buy your own Dunkaroos.
And then you will control the world.
From “This Is How You Win Your 20s” By
“We have names for people who have many beliefs for which there is no rational justification. When their beliefs are extremely common we call them ‘religious’; otherwise, they are likely to be called ‘mad’, ‘psychotic’ or ‘delusional’…Clearly there is sanity in numbers.
And yet, it is merely an accident of history that it is considered normal in our society to believe that the creator of the universe can hear your thoughts, while it is demonstrative of mental illness to believe that he is communicating with you by having the rain tap in Morse code on your bedroom window. And so, while religious people are not generally mad, their core beliefs absolutely are.”
There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.
Religion … has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!’ If somebody votes for a party that you don’t agree with, you’re free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If someone thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it. But on the other hand is somebody says ‘I mustn’t move a light switch on a Saturday’, you say, ‘I respect that’.