The Voyager golden record

Happy Wednesday! Today I wanted to take a look at one of my favorite human cultural artifacts – the Voyager golden record.

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Golden phonograph recordings were included on both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. They include a diverse array of information about our species – including instructions on how to make a record player, in case the records are ever intercepted by intelligent life. (Neither probe is headed for any particular star system, but Voyager 1 will pass somewhat near Gliese 445 in about 40,000 years.)

The records include greetings in many human languages, images from the Earth and around the solar system, a variety of Earth music (also available as a Spotify playlist), as well as a variety of Earth and other nature sounds.

Far distant from the rest of human output, the Voyager probes and their golden records serve as a glimpse at our species which will possibly outlive us. I think that’s pretty neat!

What are your thoughts on space travel? Would you want to be an astronaut? Let us know in the comments!

Capitalism is fake and you are cool

Hello hello and happy Monday! This week I wanted to pass along a video from Hank Green discussing a lot of the things I’ve been writing and thinking about lately. TLDR: capitalism is fake and you are cool.

I also want to toss out there that I know advice all seems stupid sometimes, and that if all you needed was advice, then the whole world would probably be fine.

But I’ve also come to realize that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. It’s not like I or anyone else has everything figured out just because we have an internet connection. I cry and scream and feel all alone sometimes and sometimes the darkness blots out all the light.

And that’s why I have to do this. I have to repeat the things that help me, even if they’re not infallible, because better sometimes is better than better never. Focusing on my life outside of work makes work more bearable like 50 percent of the time. That’s good enough for me to make a habit of it.

Growth isn’t binary and you might never reach ‘nirvana’ or perfect inner calm or whatever you’re seeking. But feeling better some of the time is a good enough reason for me to keep trying.

Peace bewitch you ❤

New music!

Hello hello and happy Friday!

This week I wanted to try something new and share my new song Pound with you. I hope to be making some more chill electronic music, and hope that maybe it can help others get their chill on.

Hope you have a great weekend!

-Schlomo Steel, founder of I Won’t Commit

Wednesday thought

Hello hello!

I wanted to take a little time today to share something I’m working on this week in my own life: having fewer emotional responses at work.

Work anxiety has sadly been one of the driving forces in my life for a while, and there’s really no reason for this to be the case. Aside from this being out of whack in terms of work-life balance, it’s not like I’m juggling the stresses of having my dream career. Like I’m guessing a lot of you, I don’t have the job of my dreams. Truth be told, I don’t tend to have dreams about economic opportunity. Heck, maybe that’s why I don’t have a job I love.

But I figured out something pretty important in light of all of this: I have to really mean it when I say I don’t give a fuck. How many times do we say we don’t give a fuck, and then we post great memes like, oh, I don’t know:

or

But all the while what we really mean is OH GOD SOMEHOW I STILL GIVE A FUCK WHY WON’T IT STOP.

I noticed something at work the other day: nothing was wrong, everything was fine, and I felt very chill – and my right hand was shaking uncontrollably. I was soaked in sweat. Nothing was wrong, and I was somehow having a straight-up anxiety attack.

I had really been trying to keep a lid on my anxiety at work, because my head believes that I don’t really care about any of these outcomes, but still somehow every day the panic sweat, the “oh fuck” under my breath, the tears at the corners of my eyes.

I spent a lot of time trying to train myself into having some theoretical ideal reaction to work stressors. But it wasn’t until I realized that no normal work situation is worth having an emotional reaction to that things started to turn around.

As far as advice goes, I know this basically sounds like “just don’t be anxious anymore,” and I’m sorry about that. But hopefully I can explain a little more.

It’s just a thought I’m trying to keep with myself: You don’t have to have an emotional response to this.

Seriously. No emotional response! You shouldn’t be teaching yourself to take unfair screaming criticism like a champ, you shouldn’t be looking for the silver lining in every rude customer interaction.

Just don’t respond. If making (x) or selling (y) or doing (z) has nothing to do with your self-concept, then don’t involve your emotional life! I have a feeling this is something our coworkers who cope better with the drudgery already know.

Just because you’ve been having an emotional response to something doesn’t mean you have to keep having an emotional response to it. Many of us have even come to believe that freaking out is a positive work characteristic demonstrating passion and dedication, but in point of fact, it’s not good for anything.

My number one tip? Try and see why you care. If you can’t identify the reason why you care about something, you don’t care about it.

I, for instance, often get worked up about rapidly changing work parameters and unclear expectations. But now I can ask myself: do I care? Is there any reason for me to be invested in doing this work task in any particular way? What’s that you say, you don’t care about this work task or its outcome? Then give in. Don’t make extra fights for yourself. If the end is meaningless, then so are the means.

My number two tip would be to let go of the idea that you should already be perfect at your job. Learning is a key component of pretty much every job, so you have to stop beating yourself up for not knowing everything already. Being willing to learn and grow will serve you better than getting defensive about a teaching or training moment.

Lastly – and I cannot say this enough – your ability to perform in capitalist America has nothing to do with who you are as a person (unless you want it to). Even if you’re a natural-born high achiever, you don’t have to be Captain Awesome of a shitty job you’d rather not be doing. Compliance isn’t a virtue, and in case you’re wondering, they don’t actually reward people for ripping their own guts out.

I want you to picture yourself 10 feet tall. I want you to think about the you that is way bigger than your job. The you you’re fighting for when you tell yourself you shouldn’t have to do this bullshit.

I know it’s a reach. Or maybe two. But I think maybe you can be that person all the time, and that’s how you cut through the bullshit.

Just try it. Try not to have an emotional response to that thing that always gets under your skin. Don’t try to have a better response, don’t try to smile. No response. It’s really gotten me to another place this week.

Submissions open!

Happy Monday!

I wanted to take this chance to remind readers that submissions to I Won’t Commit are always open.

We accept tips, tricks, art, prose, poetry, links to cool videos you saw one time – anything you think makes a valuable contribution to staying alive.

Head on over to our Contact/Submit page to learn more. And share with friends who might be interested!

Thanks!

Saturday Action: Chechnya

Hello hello!

I’m sorry about missing our usual Friday post, but it’s been a doozy of a week!

Anyway, this Saturday I’d like to tell you about an action I took this week, and ask if you could do the same.

This week, BuzzFeed reported that the Russian LGBT Network was not pursuing U.S. visas because they had come to understand they would not be made available, and I want to help change that. If there is no political will to get these people visas, then we have to create the political will.

Contact your senator

Contact your representative

I’m asking you to consider contacting the people who represent you in government in hopes that we can find the people to create the political will to do something here. Ask your senator or representative to do anything in their power to help get this visa process moving. You could also link them to the Russian LGBT Network for coordination. 40 people are in hiding in Chechnya, fearing for their lives just because of their sexual orientation.

This is a dark time for our government in the United States, so it is on us to bring the light.

Thank you.

Virtual Museum Visits!

To celebrate International Museum Day tomorrow (May 18), we’ve gathered up some of the awesome virtual museum tours that you can go on right now!

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The State Hermitage Museum

The State Hermitage Museum, better known just as the Hermitage, is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. If you can’t make it to the famous Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia to see the world’s largest collection of paintings, click the pic above!

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The Smithsonian, it must be said, has an incredible virtual tour available! I’m probably going to go get all wrapped up in it after I finish writing this post!

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The Museum of the World is an online tour from The British Museum and Google that offers a timeline of artifacts from around the world, arranged by region and time. Click on any artifact, and you can find pictures, text, audio, geographic information, and links to related objects. Neat!

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You can even tour Georgia Aquarium – the world’s largest – right from your computer!

And of course we wouldn’t want to leave out the museum in the featured image above – the Louvre also offers virtual tours.

What are your favorite museum? Let us know in the comments!

 

Off-brand

Happy Mindful Monday to you!

This week I want to get real about “branding” and self-help culture. Do we all need to have a brand? And could we stand to be a little more critical about what it means to become the commodity?

I watched The Secret the other day. Yeah, I admit it. I’m the kind of person who would at least watch The Secret. Research.

*cough*

Anyway, I’m a big enough person to admit to you that there is a certain sexy allure in the idea that you can visualize your way to independent wealth, and that you are the only obstacle standing in your way.

And if it helps people get over the barriers they really are creating for themselves in life, then by all means, I’m for it.

But far from pushing me into my most alpha mindset or whatever, The Secret helped me see what kind of self-help I don’t want to self-administer anymore.

I do not believe every individual was sent to this Earth to succeed in post-industrial capitalist society.

I do not accept that happiness is at the other end of a guided meditation to help me uncover my one true app concept.

I do not even accept that the meaning of life is escaping existential insecurity. Yes, I want to escape existential insecurity, but I don’t think it’s what I’m here to do.

I think entrepreneurship is super-awesome. I also think selling everyone on the idea of entrepreneurship is how the self-help industry creates obsessed lifelong devotees.

It is not possible or reasonable that every person is intended to helm a successful organization of their own creation. For one thing, who is going to be the employees?

But this is what I really want to stress here: 1) being the boss is not an escape from capitalist reality; and 2) this ideology is based on the notion that capitalism is a moral necessity. 

In its present iteration, secular prosperity theology posits that the best we can aspire to is becoming the product. You get the Instagram likes, you get the Squarespace sponsorship deal, you are what you put as your occupation.

We are in a ridiculous time that has managed to democratize fame just enough to drive millions and millions of people crazy trying to get it. The wrong thing is participating, the right thing is…creating something it would be morally wrong for other people to participate in?

It’s cool to follow a dream that makes you internet famous, just like it’s cool to follow a dream that makes you wealthy.

But becoming the product isn’t the only resolution to living in capitalist society.

I don’t have the perfect answer to a third way. But I’m not going to beat myself up anymore for not having meditated my way into being my best, most producery/consumery self. Enlightenment isn’t meant to be a symbiotic relationship between you and your curated monthly subscription services. And just because people will pay you to shout at them for not having made enough money yet doesn’t mean the essential question is the best way to make money.

Nothing is for everyone. People who are happy and thrive in the entrepreneurial world wouldn’t jive with a word I’m saying. That’s fine.

But you are not a failure because you haven’t ‘escaped the system.’ Maybe there isn’t a price on what you’re really meant to do. Maybe the thing that brings you lasting happiness can’t be monetized. Stop thinking that’s a failure! Stop limiting your human potential to your ability to generate capital!

If nothing else, ask yourself how much of your spiritual or emotional energy is invested in your material reality. How much of your interest in bettering yourself as a person corresponds with wealth accumulation? There’s nothing wrong with accumulating wealth per se, but you should be prepared to take a critical look at what part of your value system is money-based.

TLDR: it’s ok if you don’t think being the boss is the only way to transcend capitalist drudgery. And it’s really ok if the whole thing round hole, square peg thing never works itself out. The meaning of life probably has nothing to do with an exploitive human-made economic model, so you’re probably doing fine. ❤

 

The Friday Feelgood for May 12, 2017

Hello hello and Happy Friday! This week for the Friday Feelgood, we wanted to share some of the recent news that’s made us go WOW!


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Popular Science shares an interview with a star-nosed mole researcher (so that’s a job!), who highlights findings like how the mole uses that star as a super-sensitive touch organ. The mole has also been found to be that fastest-eating mammal in the world – but I’d counter that they’ve never seen me when my mom makes enchiladas 😂 😂

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In news that might be literally out of this world and with almost too many cool names to count, researchers are sharing their theory that a pillar called the Vulture Stone at the archaeological site Göbekli Tepe in Turkey shows confirmation of a theorized comet strike thought to contribute to a miniature ice age about 12,800 years ago. Vulture Stone is definitely a Nicolas Cage movie waiting to happen, right?

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In probably the biggest WOW we’ve had lately, human tools found alongside a mastodon now dated to be 130,000 years old suggest that humans may have come to the Americas more than 100,000 years before previously thought. That might change the way we understand a huge chunk of human history! (!!!)

PS how much does that picture make you love the internet!? Shoutout to Pixabay user SerenaWong!

What made you say wow this week? Let us know in the comments!

Artistic landmarks

Happy Wednesday! This week, let’s take a look at some amazing public or collective artistic landmarks 🎨🎨

Malowana chata (Zalipie, Poland)
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The town of Zalipie, Poland is covered all over with amazing hand-painted designs, with the town getting together to keep it up every spring.

The Heidelberg Project
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The Heidelberg Project was started in Detroit by local artist Tyree Guyton, who transformed his neighborhood into a “living indoor/outdoor art gallery.” The project is currently transitioning to a new home in the city.

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The HOPE Outdoor Gallery in Austin, Texas was launched with the help of artist Shepard Fairey. “It is the only paint park of its kind in the USA and was developed to provide muralists, street artists, arts education classes and community groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive & educational messaging.”

Are there are artistic landmarks where you live? Let us know in the comments!