COVID-19: Time for adventuring beyond fear and desire

The COVID-19 global pandemic has revealed the false security of our modern economy and lifestyle for many of us. The pandemic eviscerated the house of cards upon which most are fully dependent on. The certainty craved by the mind has evaporated into thin air nearly overnight. Uncertainty is what remains and we need to become comfortable with it. Adventuring is simply moving into the field of uncertainty and risk for the purpose of gaining something. It is time for us as individuals to become more self-reliant and independent. It is time to learn to adventure beyond your comfort zones and go beyond the fears and desires of modern thinking. Learning and practicing the skills required for adventuring is central to personal survival, happiness, and effectiveness. The current pandemic is an opportunity to take the exit ramp of a life of dependency leading nowhere and find an on-ramp to a self-reliant lifestyle that is inwardly more fulfilling.

The adventure of a lifetime

I was fortunate to recently participate in a once in a lifetime adventure descending the 2,000 + mile Missouri River from its headwaters in Three Forks, Montana to its terminus into the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis, Missouri. Luckily, the architect of the expedition, Tom Elpel, is an experienced outdoorsman and successful author who has been able to articulate our adventure in his book Five Months on the Missouri River Paddling a Dugout Canoe.    

Margie and I created our Prepped and Frosty website to fortify our rationale and thinking about adventuring so that we could do more of it. We strive to Go and Do so that we can Share and Enable with others.  I recently received a copy of Tom’s book and am I blown away by Tom’s account of our expedition. Tom’s book is a physical and metaphorical account of our treasure discovered by adventuring into uncertainty and the unknown. It is a perfect example of what adventure looks like and feels like. Metaphorically, we let go of clinging to everyday existence, physically we flowed with the natural speed of nature, became in tune with her, rolled with the punches, and discovered the treasure we sought – our deeper, truer selves.

No way is the way: cobble your gear together

As Bruce Lee famously said, “Use no way as way”. Tom’s vision for the expedition was unique. His cumulative life experience and vast knowledge translated into an expedition filled with history, primitive living skills, botany skills, geology skills, birding skills, navigation skills, and people skills. It would be impossible to fully replicate our experience exactly, but you can get a sense of what a proper, robust adventure looks like through Tom’s book.

Tom’s book is a rich, overarching, implicit lesson addressing “why to” and “how to” adventure.  He points out that following our life’s intuition, the path is not always easy or logical. A leap of faith is required, in this case of “seeing where all the water goes”. Tom clarified, embraced, and then realized the “enduring appeal of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery”, actually discovering and documenting what is out there, not simply racing to the end.

Tom’s expedition was appropriately named the “Corps of Rediscovery”,  geared toward exploring and discovering the river rather than merely paddling to the end. His photos reveal a mind open to awareness and observation skills that escape most of us as we are in our default “lost in thought” mode.  His narrative wonderfully interweaves our experience, peppered with insights from exploring the history of the Missouri River and the colonization of North America.

Disconnected from nature

The entire book illustrates what Tom labels a “fundamental disconnect from nature” that most of us suffer from. Adventure in nature opens the mystery of our existence into our being and retards the incessant, compulsory thinking that forces us to participate in the “rat race to nowhere”. In Tom’s words:

  • “We bask in the glory of our accomplishment while missing nearly everything along the way.”
  • “We yearn to connect with nature, and not knowing how to do that, we treat nature as an adversary rather than a dance partner.”
  • “We pit human endurance against nature and seek to overcome her.”
  • “We don’t know the plants and animals in our neighborhood; we are largely blind to species we encounter every day.”

At Prepped and Frosty, we embrace Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey concept. It is this outline that enabled a quick decision and response to Tom’s offer to participate in his adventure with a vigorous “HELL YES, I’M IN” without a second thought. Tom’s offer to participate in the expedition was a call to adventure. Some of us were “prepped and frosty” enough to say yes to the adventure, embrace the uncertainty, and seize the window of opportunity offered by Tom. Everyone prepared as best they could in their own way. Launching on the river crossed the threshold into the largely unknown challenges to come. Mentoring occurred as everyone shared and discussed their knowledge. Magic, serendipity, and discovery fueled our progress for over 5 months learning the lessons the river had to teach. Flexibility, adaptability, and innovation allowed us to overcome challenges as a team. We survived and returned to the everyday world.

Finding treasure

The treasure we found is documented in Tom’s book. A summary of our experiences and lessons learned.  Adventure forces us to stop clinging to trivial mental notions, to let go of logic and trust the physical and metaphorical current of nature. We stopped clinging, let go and went with the current, and appeared to fly to onlookers. We oozed adventure.  Tom’s book is a work of art that reveals the magic and divinity found through adventure and is available to us all. Whatever mental or physical apocalypse is to come, the Missouri River floods of 2019, the COVID-19 global pandemic, or the upcoming challenges of climate chaos, we are all on an adventure and always have been. Tom’s book is a window as well as a guide to adventuring robustly and being fully alive.

Suggested next steps:

Simplicity, Complexity and the Yonder Shore

In this post, we explore Simplicity, Complexity, and the Yonder shore.   The quote below has been invaluable in my career and personal development.

“For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn’t give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that, I would give you anything I have.”― Oliver Wendell Holmes

This statement is genius and provides us a rare clarification that there are different kinds of simplicity.  In my work career, keeping things simple is often cited as “preferable”.  Not many can argue with that.  The issue is that some simple solutions do not address the complexity of the problem they are trying to solve, and therefore do not work.  Simplicity on “this side” of complexity is not a solution at all.  The wisdom of the quote suggests we must understand complexity, and a simple solution is derived on the other side of that understanding,  This is extremely difficult to do.

In my personal development over the years, some authorities have delivered solutions that I would personally award the label of “simplicity on the far side of complexity”.  The nature of a concept that meets this condition is interesting.  It is a simple statement that summarizes complexity.  If you were to “squeeze” that simplicity, complexity will come pouring out of it.  You could use some of these concepts to be your standard for living your life and they would produce some results for you.

Here are some examples I consider being vehicles of “simplicity on the far side of complexity”:

    • Joseph Campbell’s “the hero’s journey” and “follow your bliss” concepts
    • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
    • Getting Things Done by David Allen
    • Bruce Lee’s martial art Jeet Kune Do (the way of the intercepting fist)

Many of these authorities have written multiple books trying to refine and clarify what they are trying to say.  It takes a very long time of persistent work, usually over a lifetime, to simplify and clarify their insights and test them out when possible.  When we apply these tools or concepts, they generally do give us a structure to work our way through real-world scenarios.  They offer us a way and work to some degree, thus helping us grow.

The Yonder Shore

Bruce Lee said of his martial art “Jeet Kune Do is merely a name used, a boat to get one across the river, and once across, it is to be discarded, and not be carried on one’s back”.  So the end goal is to reach the “Yonder Shore” of the river, then leave the boat behind.  Not to stay in the boat or carry the boat with you.  The idea is to subject oneself to training and understanding and then integrate that into a larger base, on the other side of the training.  Bruce then leaves us with two additional powerful statements.

    • “Use no way, as way”:
      • Our personal path is unique and is on the yonder shore of training and adventure.  If you are using someone else’s concept for yourself, you are still on the boat, limited by that concept.
      • Your style needs to be your own.
    • “Use no limitation as limitation”:
      • The human body is limited, you should transcend it.
      • Express yourself maximally.
      • The ultimate style is to have no style.

The training/concept/tool is the boat that takes us across the river of complexity.  The yonder shore is the simplicity on the far side of complexity and there are multiple ways of explaining it.  Boats that can take you across the river of complexity include The 7 Habits, Getting Things Done, Joseph Campbell, and JKD.  They are valid vehicles, each expressing characteristics of the grand mystery we find ourselves in.  What is super cool, is that each boat has commonality in the skill areas of spirituality, mental thinking, and taking action.  Each concept incorporates all three but prioritizes differently.

    • Spirituality
      • “Follow your Bliss” by Joseph Campbell represents his latest thinking in terms of personal development.  The spiritual message dominates.
    • Mental Thinking
      • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey encourages us to step back from the stimulus, think, and choose a better response.  Here we are trying to optimize, to strategically think about what our plans should be before executing.
    • Taking Action
      • Getting Things Done by David Allen emphasizes the next action management to real-time stimulus, fighting multiple enemies at once to keep your head above water.
      • JKD is about expressing your physical body with speed, power, and flexibility all while conserving as much energy as possible.

We need to be good at spirituality, mental thinking, and taking action

So which concept is best?  Which one do I need?  You need all three to be ready for deployment at any time.  These three critical competencies are interdependent.  Each one affects the other two positively or negatively.

Let me mention three other subjects we all need:  happiness, brain function, and survival.  All of these are incorporated in books that discuss these important topics and offer suggestions on how to overcome their respective challenge.   The suggestions on how to understand the challenge subjects are yet again, variations of the above methodologies.  Below I try to show how these three topics use the above critical skill areas.  What I am trying to show here is that each topic requires all three critical competencies.

  • What Happy People Know by Dan Baker Ph.D.
    • Fear is our #1 enemy of happiness and we are to overcome it with spirit and intellect.
    • Happiness tools are about taking action.
  • Your Brain at Work by Jacob Rock
    • We need a director to help control what gets loaded onto your mental stage and to not be stuck in our default “lost in thought” existence.  Otherwise, you are missing the needed information because you are not paying attention.
    • Five functions of understanding, deciding, recalling, memorizing, and inhibiting make up the majority of conscious thought.  These functions are re-combined to plan, problem-solve, communicate, and to perform other tasks.  They use the prefrontal cortex intensely and require a lot of resources to operate.
    • There are severe limitations to optimal brain function.
    • The brain requires everything to be just right for it to operate at peak performance.
    • No matter who you are you cannot sit and make brilliant decisions all day.
    • Once you take an action, an energetic loop commences that makes it harder to stop that action.
  • Deep Survival, Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales
    • Survivors go inside.
    • Some people update their mental models better than others, they are called survivors.
    • Take correct decisive action – transform thought into action, take risks, large jobs into small tasks, do each task well, deal with what is within your power and leave the rest behind.

Wow, this simplicity stuff is complex!

Exactly.  Simplicity and complexity are opposites.  One does not exist without the other.  As the Yin Yang symbol shows, there is a little bit of one in the other.  Simplicity has complexity in it.  Complexity has simplicity in it.  Squeeze one, and the other pops out of it.  Simplicity is order, complexity is chaos.  One begets the other. This is the cycle of change.

The “Yonder Shore” is the completion of the journey. The return.  Having completed the journey, crossing the threshold to the unknown (complexity) in a boat (adventure with certain gear, team, rules, concepts), battled against obstacles, finding treasure, and returning it back to the known (simple) world, we are bigger for the experience.  Saying no to the boat ride means stagnation and no growth.  Saying yes to the boat ride is saying yes to adventure, physically or in our mind. We should not carry our boat with us on our backs, we should find another one to adventure in the next time.

The “who we are today” in the simple known world, must adventure into the complex unknown world, overcome trials and tribulations (fight/wrestle with), obtain the treasure, and escape/return back to the known/simple world to grow the individual self into the “who we are after the adventure”.

OK, I need a boat to adventure in that is robust to ensure my safe return.

Luckily, we know that our survival/effectiveness/happiness kit is inside us.  We just need an efficient way to load massive complexity on our extremely limited mental stage, in a simple fast way.  The method must address spirituality, mental thinking abilities, and taking quick decisive action.  We roll this up into striving to be Radiant, Prepped and Frosty.

  • Radiant – spiritually alive
    • Lead with your strengths, they are your weapons of salvation to cultivate your personal power.
    • Trust in yourself and keep fear at bay.
    • In the end, security is an inside job.  Learn to live inside out, not outside in.
    • Align your inner-outer worlds for greater performance.
  • Prepped – strategic planning
    • Use your brain as much as possible, but it is extremely limited.
    • Your brain is powerful, but not sufficient.  You simply do not have all the necessary information and never will, even with a computer chip implanted in your skull.
    • Fear lives in the brain and will challenge us our entire lives.  It is the #1 enemy of our happiness and growth.  We must have the courage to adventure into the complex/unknown realms that are out of our comfort zone.
  • Frosty – tactical action
    • Be able to take quick action on instinct without thinking.
    • Hesitation can be deadly, you cannot afford to intellectualize every moment.

Simply saying the phrase: Radiant, Prepped and Frosty loads your mental stage rapidly with the tool-set needed for any and all situations known and unknown.  As the complexity of life oozes out of the Radiant, Prepped and Frosty mindset, you now have a flexible, adaptable, and powerful tool-set to deal with it competently.  They function independently when necessary, and complement each other into a balanced solution for the majority of life situations.  Make Radiant, Prepped and Frosty your core, then add your own needs on top of that.  The universe made you to be you.  Let’s make that happen!

Suggested Next Steps:

Prepped and Frosty’s Logo Explained

Our logo is based on Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey with a core methodology at its center.  Our logo is meant to represent the “anatomy of adventure”.  What adventure looks like, how to execute adventure, and how to repeat adventuring to bring about increased awareness and happiness in our lives.  Our logo represents a paradigm and methodology that establishes a map to navigate life, allowing a sense of awe to reach you, yet keeping you firmly grounded through all stages of maturity from birth to grave.  Our logo is a map and methodology enabling you to become and then express your greatest self.

What is The Hero’s Journey?

The Hero’s Journey is also known as the monomyth.  After years of study and teaching about mythologies throughout the world, Joseph Campbell concluded that they are basically all variations of the same story.  The one-story, the monomyth, is about historical spiritual heroes and the journeys they underwent.  “The labyrinth is thoroughly known” per Joseph Campbell.  We think of The Hero’s Journey as a map and we can follow it without having to get lost in the labyrinth of life.

The Hero’s Journey is, therefore, a template of the collective spiritual messages from myths and religions around the world as to how we should conduct our lives.   The story resonates with us all because it is a manifestation of the energies that work interior to us all.   Many popular movies, such as The Matrix, Star Wars, Harry Potter and others have used or mimicked The Hero’s Journey.  The Hero’s Journey resonates with people because it is inside everyone.  When watching these movies, we resonate with them, and we feel good.

The importance of being familiar with The Hero’s Journey:

It can help you because it is a map of the treasure you are seeking in your life.  It is actively being used against you as well.   The Hero’s Journey is the one story for us all and marketing takes advantage of this by indicating you have a problem, they have a product to fix the problem, and you are going to fail without their product.  As Alan Watts once said, “If you can be fooled, you deserve to be fooled.”   It is also a bit malicious as well.  Advertising and marketing are actively working to manipulate you from becoming your greatest, best self.

Key Elements of The Hero’s Journey:

The Hero’s Journey is the total sum of key elements of all mythologies, containing universal patterns, and can be complicated, with multiple variants.  It is well documented. “…A good life is one hero journey after another.  Over and over again, you are called into the realm of adventure, you are called to new horizons…”  (Pathways to Bliss. pg 122, Collective Works of Joseph Campbell).  We like a simplified version as follows below.

  • The Known World
    • There is a call to adventure: the universe taps you on the shoulder inviting you to adventure and it is time to leave the existing place behind.
      • Saying no leads to purification, a drying up of life occurs.
      • Saying yes requires courage.
    • Sometimes there is a mentor: one who is the source of the adventure.
  • The Threshold Crossing
    • Two cherubs block the entrance to the unknown and are frightening, but will not stop you if you do not let them.  They are actually benign.
      • These are also known as the “clashing rocks” or the symplegades.
        • These represent the active mind that generates the world of opposites, i.e. fear and desire, right and wrong, black and white.  We have to have the courage to go past these apparent obstacles and venture into the unknown world.  We have to go beyond our comfort zone.
  • The Unknown World
    • Trials and tribulations will test you.
    • Magical aid will be there to help you if you are worthy.
    • You will either:
      • be killed and resurrected
        • Motif from plant-based societies.  Group, priestly view of the world.
      • find treasure
        • Motif from Hunting based societies.  Individual, shamanistic view of the world.
    • Escape and return to the known world where you are to and integrate your treasure into everyday life and share with others.
      • Sometimes your treasure is accepted by others, sometimes rejected.

Our Logo is a simple representation of The Hero’s Journey, with a core added:

  • The left triangle represents the “known world” and is brown to represent fertility.
  • The two dots reflect the “clashing rocks” generated by mental thought.
  • The right triangle represents the “unknown world”, is green and slightly larger than the “known world” to represent new growth.
  • The red arrow through the middle represents a core that is meant to depict a sword bridge that is required to execute the adventure.  Its cross-section is our Radiant, Prepped, and Frosty methodology.  A methodology of bare essential skill set adjectives we should be able to describe ourselves with to be effective adventurers.
    • Radiant is a spiritual message that represents what is inside us all and suggests we should lead with our strengths, mitigate our weaknesses, and have confidence in who and what we are.  It is our source of energy, personal power, and courage.
    • Prepped is using your active mind to strategically plan.
    • Frosty is about taking tactical action.
  • The bottom arrow represents the return of the adventure back into the known world, where the treasure found is to be integrated into a new plateau of awareness.  It also represents a smile.  It engulfs The Hero’s Journey in its entirety and hints that your happiness lies in executing this process.   Adventuring is how we bring about happiness in our lives.
  • The cyclical nature of the arrows indicates we are to repeat this process over and over.

Suggested Next Steps:

  • Check out our core Radiant, Prepped and Frosty methodology we use to maximize adventuring in our life.
  • We have our favorite Joseph Campbell books listed on our resource page for your consideration to read.
  • “Finding Joe” is a great movie explaining The Hero’s Journey.
  • The Power of Myth is an excellent introduction to Joseph Campbell’s collective work. It is a is PBS interview between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell and is available as a book, a CD set, and on YouTube.
  • You can find other Joseph Campbell works at the Joseph Campbell Foundation.
  • Read our review of  What Happy People Know by Dan Baker PhD.
  • Read our review of  Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales.

Bruce Lee’s JKD: Interpretation for Everyday Life

In this post I offer an interpretation of Bruce Lee’s symbol for his martial art Jeet Kune Do (JKD) and attempt to generalize his concepts for everyday life applications.

  • The derivation sequence was:
      1. Research the internet, breaking the symbol down, and accumulating interpretations of them.  Most findings were combat oriented.
      2. Begin generalizing away from combat and refining
      3. Attempting to remove combat altogether and simplifying for everyday use .

I present my conclusions in reverse order.  In each refinement, I strove to clarify and combine similar elements from the initial search findings, but attempted to add nothing of my own.

  • Personal Take Away’s from Bruce Lee’s JKD Emblem:  Combat removed
    • From a Wing Chun man, to a Gung Fu Man, to a JKD man, to an individual human being
    • Through his evolution of martial arts, to creating his own art – JKD, Bruce Lee sought continuous improvement on how to be himself and express himself.
    • Practicing in various styles revealed the limitations of any style, in the inability to properly address the dynamics of a fight, and constrained the ability to be fully spontaneous and express oneself.
    • Properly aligned and integrated best practice concepts (Wing Chun, Boxing, and Fencing) produced something new, that frees us to trust and follow our own path.
    • Recognizing that we are participants in the duality of yin yang, expansion / contraction, hard / soft, one must recognize the whole and its dynamics.
    • Recognizing the  “dynamic oneness” necessitates certain criteria.
      • Flexibility, adaptability, speed, economy of motion,……
    • Although JKD contains the chaotic forces present in an physical encounter (Arrows around Tai Chi symbol).
      • Utilizing No way is the way
        • Your “style” needs continuous improvement.
        • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, it’s a subtraction process.
        • Your way is the way. It must be created individually.  An existing way is somebody else’s way.
      • No limitation as limitation
        • There should be no style, no mind.
        • Sophisticated spontaneity is the goal.
        • Fully express yourself in combat, as in life to obtain victory.
        • Open your heart, trust your feelings.
  • Summary conclusions of Bruce Lee’s JKD Emblem:  Generalizing away from combat
    • Taijitu 
      • Represents the realization of the supreme ultimate undifferentiated oneness before duality which is an indivisible whole.
      • The indivisible whole contains two characteristic seemingly observable forces of Yin Yang.
      • The interplay between the forces is spontaneous, dynamic, alive, and every changing millisecond to millisecond.
      • You and your opponent are part of a oneness and complement each other.
    • Arrows: represent your personal style or approach to the  oneness represented by the Taijitu
      • The arrows around the Taijitu signify an awareness and  recognition of the Taijitu realization about our existence represented by the symbol.
      • The requirements of a solution are determined here as they must address the Taijitu model of existence.
      • The solution must address the ”dynamic oneness” of yin yang forces of which one is a participant in.
      • To address the dynamic interplay where every situation is varied, the solution must be flexible and adaptable.
      • This necessitates a flexible and adaptable approach to deal with varying conditions.
      • To obtain victory, therefore, it is essential not to be rigid, but to be fluid and able to adapt to any situation. He compared it to being like water: “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. Lee’s theory behind this was that one must be able to function in any scenario.
      • Economy of time and energy are needed.  Jeet Kune Do seeks to waste no time or movement, teaching that the simplest things work best, as in Wing Chun
        • Maximum expression/effect with minimal movement
          • Maximized force seeks to end the battle quickly due to the amount of damage inflicted.
        • Economy of motion is the principle by which JKD practitioners achieve
          • Efficiency: An attack which reaches its target in the least amount of time, with maximum force.
          • Directness: Doing what comes naturally in a disciplined way.
          • Simplicity: Thinking in an uncomplicated manner; without ornamentation
        • Interception
          • Simultaneous parrying & punching utilizes the principle of economy of motion by combining attack and defense into one movement, thus minimizing the “time” element and maximizing the “energy” element. Efficiency is gained by utilizing a parry rather than a block.
          • Redirection has two advantages over blocking,
            • First that it requires less energy to execute and
            • Second that it utilizes the opponent’s energy against them by creating an imbalance.
          • Efficiency is gained in that the opponent has less time to react to an incoming attack, since they are still nullifying the original attack.
    • Chinese characters indicate:  Your personal style needs continuous improvement:  Where you are has limits, and there are no limits.
      • No way is the way
        • There is no standing method or system that can deal with full spontaneity.
        • You must be flexible and adaptable with speed to be victorious.
      • No limitation as imitation
        • Continuous improvement is required, every method has limitations that need improved.  Its a subtraction process.
  • Background details / Research Notes: Combat oriented
    • Taijitu:  Symbol representing the yin yang forces of existence
      • A commonly used version of a symbol for Taiji.
      • Taiji is a Chinese cosmological term for the “Supreme Ultimate” state of undifferentiated absolute and infinite potential, the oneness before duality, from which Yin and Yang principles arise.
      • Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.[2]Everything has both yin and yang aspects (for instance, shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang (i.e. taijitu symbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.
      • In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other dichotomous moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole.
    • The arrows
      • Represent the endless interaction between Yin and Yang.
      • It is the awareness that both life and fighting can be shapeless and ever changing that allows one to be able to adapt to those changes instantaneously and bring forth the appropriate solution.
        • According to Dan Lee, “Bruce added two arrows around the Tai Chi circle to further emphasize that the JKD fighting techniques must contain the harmonious interplay of Yin (pliable, yielding) and Yang (firm, assertiveness) energies.” It is to emphasize the continuous, unceasing interplay between the two forces of the universe: Yin and Yang. “
        • Lee emphasized that every situation, in fighting or in everyday life, is varied. To obtain victory, therefore, it is essential not to be rigid, but to be fluid and able to adapt to any situation. He compared it to being like water: “Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water.” Lee’s theory behind this was that one must be able to function in any scenario.
        • Real combat is spontaneous, alive, and dynamic, with circumstances changing from millisecond to millisecond.  Be unpredictable placing emphasis on efficiency, speed, and adjust-ability.
      • Economy of motion
        • Maximum expression/effect with minimal movement
          • This is meant to help a practitioner conserve both energy and time, two crucial components in a physical confrontation. Maximized force seeks to end the battle quickly due to the amount of damage inflicted upon the opponent.
        • Jeet Kune Do seeks to waste no time or movement, teaching that the simplest things work best, as in Wing Chun. Economy of motion is the principle by which JKD practitioners achieve:
          • Efficiency: An attack which reaches its target in the least amount of time, with maximum force.
          • Directness: Doing what comes naturally in a disciplined way.
          • Simplicity: Thinking in an uncomplicated manner; without ornamentation
        • Interception
          • A concept originating in Wing Chun where one attacks while one’s opponent is attacking.  Interception may occur before, during or after the opponents attack.  The concept may be extended to include understanding your opponents’ thoughts and intercepting them to your advantage. Interception
          • An opponents attack offers me an opportunity to intercept it. This means intercepting an opponent’s attack with an attack of one’s own instead of simply blocking it.
          • Simultaneous parrying & punching utilizes the principle of economy of motion by combining attack and defense into one movement, thus minimizing the “time” element and maximizing the “energy” element. Efficiency is gained by utilizing a parry rather than a block. By definition a “block” stops an attack, whereas a parry merely re-directs it. Redirection has two advantages, first that it requires less energy to execute and second that it utilizes the opponent’s energy against them by creating an imbalance. Efficiency is gained in that the opponent has less time to react to an incoming attack, since they are still nullifying the original attack.
    • Chinese characters indicate
      • No way is the way
        • Lee did not believe in “styles” and felt that every person and every situation is different and not everyone fits into a mold; one must remain flexible in order to obtain new knowledge and victory in both life and combat.
        • Fight circumstances change from millisecond to millisecond, thus pre-arranged patterns and techniques are not adequate and can be described as a “classical mess”
        • One is to approach combat without any preconceived notions, and simply respond to “what is.” In this way, the martial artist is adaptable and pliable enough to fit in with the opponent and situation instantaneously. He is using no particular or set way that was preconditioned in him. “No-mindedness” is a term often used to describe this state of unconscious consciousness or conscious unconsciousness. And, indeed, it is an ideal state that is difficult to attain but which one aspires to.
        • In addition, one tries to be like water when using this “no-way” approach. Water automatically assumes the container that it is poured in, thereby constantly fitting in with and adapting to the situation.
        • “All out Sparring” provides the right environment to determine if a technique is worthy of adoption
      • No limitation as limitation
        • To fully express yourself, you can have no limitations.  Traditional or classical styles of martial arts are limiting due to rigid and non – flowing movements.
        • By having no limitation as the only limitation, one can transcend martial arts boundaries that are set by style, tradition, race, individual preferences
        • One must never become stagnant in the mind or method, but always evolving and moving towards improving oneself
      • Combined effect of these phrases
        • Lee wanted us to search deep within ourselves to find what works best for each one of us.
        • No longer are we dependent on the teachings of various styles or teachers.
        • But by taking an honest assessment of our own strengths and weaknesses, we can improve our martial skill as well as our daily living.
        • Like he said, “Knowledge… ultimately, means self-knowledge”.
        • ” With this freedom to improve our skill and life in any way that we like, one is able to honestly express one’s self”

Suggested Next steps:


Review of Getting Things Done by David Allen

Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen is an excellent book and concept.  I have been a fan and practitioner for years.

David Allen created a productivity system for the office based on the martial art Karate.  Beyond his book, he has many videos on YouTube that are worth watching.

Here are some of his key concepts:

  • GTD is a thinking process that facilitates getting things done.
  • Achieve organized, stress free, productivity.
  • Be in control at all levels at all times.
  • Clarify and surf the issues instead of being buried by them.
  • Spin many plates at a more sophisticated level.
  • In a chaotic workplace, we do not have time to optimize our environment and must react to what is on our plate.  The emphasis is on managing next actions and taking as many actions as needed until completion.
  • Your environment will swamp you.  Its a matter of survival to act quickly.
  • Get ahead and stay ahead.  You do not know what is coming around the corner.
  • Want to get things done with as little mental and physical effort as possible.
  • Your mind tries to be the system.
  • Your mind is limited in its ability to manage commitments, because it is handicapped in its ability to remember and remind.
  • Develop a trusted system to be your minds mind.
  • Discipline is remembering.
  • You don’t want to have to re-think or have the same thought twice.
  • Get things out of your head for the rest of your life and into a trusted system.  Your brain is a focusing tool not a storage device.  Lose ends cause mental drag.
  • The brain is a natural problem solving tool.  Tasks requiring more than two steps are projects but do not require sophisticated project management tools.
  • David offers a ” Natural Planning Model” that reflects how your brain actually plans:
    • Clarify purpose and values
    • Vision of what “done” looks like
    • Brainstorm
    • Organize
    • Take next actions
    • Move: up to increase clarity, down to increase action
  • Core process steps: Collect, Process, Organize, Review, Execute:
    • Collect Information:  Capture everything into the inbox of your trusted system so that you don’t have to store them in your head. Collect all potentially relevant information.  See my recommendation below for a trusted system.
    • Process the Information: Collected things need additional processing to clarify and determine if further action is needed.   Derive next action and execute on it.  Move the item from your inbox to an appropriate storage location or trash it.  If the next step can be done in 2 minutes or less, execute on it now.  Transform tasks into actions.
    • Organize the Information:  Organize and prioritize tasks for next action management.
    • Review the Information:  Review your projects frequently to keep them on your mental stage.
    • Execute Next Actions:  What is the next action needed to move this forward? Next action management is the key.
  • How do I set things up so that:
      • I don’t have to remember
      • I can find things quickly and easily
      • The least amount of effort is used; how do I define what “done” what looks like
      • I can be in control at all levels, at all times
      • I can capture things that grab my attention, then figure it out later
      • I have a reminder function so tasks cannot disappear

After years of practicing GTD, here is my evaluation:

  • Pros:
    • Fighting is a great metaphor for life and GTD is based on Karate.
    • David Allen is completely right.  You cannot keep things in your head or your environment will swamp you.  Get ahead and stay ahead.
    • If you are not taking notes, you are wasting my time.  I am dismissing you as I speak because I know your brain is overloaded.
    • “Get things out of your head for the rest of your life.”  This is a brilliant concept that I use all of the time. You never know what is potentially relevant.  Taking notes helps you pay attention the first time. Your recall will dramatically improve as well.  The act of paying attention and recording helps your mental recall as well as it can be searched in your trusted system when you do not remember.
        • Idea > capture it in Evernote or write it down
        • Defect > capture it with a picture in Evernote to commicate broadly
        • part number > capture it, then you don’t need to ask for it later.
        • Contact info > capture it
        • anything and everything > capture it and free up your mind.
  • Cons:
    • Karate is a series of katas or dances to simulate fight scenarios with multiple opponents.  It is a scripted set of rules.  GTD is a smaller set of rules that make quick action more likely.
    • GTD originally did not fully recommend a system to be your “trusted system”.
    • The Secret Weapon (TSW):  GTD was written before the explosion of modern internet tools.  At the time there was no perfect organization system for executing GTD principles.  I discovered TSW on YouTube, implemented it, and have been using it for many years now as my “GTD trusted system”.  I could not live without it and highly, highly recommend using this tool. TSW is free and involves using the Evernote application with GTD principles.  I used this tool in my Mechanical Engineering job for years and now have a premium Evernote subscription due to the megabytes of data that I process.  Capture on your phone, process on your PC after synchronizing. Those megabytes are not stored in my head. Its a true competitive advantage.  Click here to watch a video on TSW.

Review of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is an excellent book.  I have used it for years and found success beyond what I could have done without it.  Other great books by Mr. Covey related to this are First things First and the 8th Habit.

As a 7 Habits practitioner for many years, here is an overview:

  • Effectiveness is a balance between production and production capability.
  • Think of production as golden eggs and production capability as the goose.  There are no golden eggs if you do not take care of the goose.

State of Dependence: others take care of me

  • Habit 1:  Be Proactive
    • It is your responsibility to make things happen; get busy and reprogram yourself.
    • You are the programmer.
    • You are never a victim, if its broke, it’s your fault.
  • Habit 2:  Begin with the End in Mind
    • In the perspective of your entire life, what do you want to accomplish?  These are the wildly important things.  These are first things. These are priorities.
    • Write your program.
    • The Eisenhower Matrix is introduced and broken into 4 quadrants.
    • You are seeking to identify important but not urgent things and get to work on them.
    • To do this, you need to not work on anything unimportant.  In today’s world of work, everything is declared urgent.  Learn to say no to the unimportant.
  • Habit 3:  First Things First
    • Do first things first and second things not at all.
    • Execute your program.
    • Optimize and execute around priorities.

State of Independence: private victory achieved; I take care of myself

  • Habit 4:  Think Win/Win
    • Have an abundance mentality where there is enough for everybody to win.
    • Avoid win/lose and lose/win scenarios.
    • Seek win/win or no deal and move on.
  • Habit 5:  First Seek to Understand, Then to be Understood
    • Listening skills go a long way towards lessening resistance to your plan.
    • Make sure you hear and understand what others are saying.  The extended team may have red herrings you need to dismiss or may have the key ingredient your plan is missing.
  • Habit 6:  Synergize
    • 7 Habits calls this is the “3rd solution”, your ideas, plus ideas from others makes for the best plan possible.

State of Interdependence:  public victory achieved, we take care of each other

  • Habit 7:  Sharpen the saw
    • This is the habit of renewal.  You need to renew yourself in each of the dimensions below everyday.
    • Always work with a sharp saw.  If your saw is not sharp, it will take you longer to saw down your trees.
    • This habit powers all of the others, creating an upward spiral of capability.
      • Sharpen the Saw Physically:  Take care of your physical body: Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise, Water.
        • Exercises and fortifies Habit 1:  Be Proactive
      • Sharpen the Saw Spiritually:  Cultivate your spiritual side.
        • Exercises and fortifies Habit 2:  Begin with the End in Mind
      • Sharpen the Saw Mentally:  Continual honing and expanding of the mind.
        • Exercises and fortifies Habit 3:  First Things First
      • Sharpen the Saw Socially:  Build and maintain relationships.  Maintain a positive emotional bank account with others.  Do not bankrupt the account by making too many withdrawals.
        • Exercises and fortifies Habits: 4, 5 and 6: influencing and dealing with other people.

Evaluation from personal experience:

  • Pros
    • Applies in all circumstances and offers a way forward most of the time if you are stuck on something.  It gets your creative juices going and you can derive options.  Just review the habits and you can find an actionable way forward.
    • Is effective and works after substantial investment in effort to understand and practice the habits.
    • Powerful web of habits that all align in a beautiful way.
    • Habit 1 is a punch in the face: Be Proactive.  You are responsible for your own life and are not a victim.  It is your responsibility to make things happen for yourself.
  • Cons
    • It is too big to load onto your mental stage all at one time.  You can’t keep it in your head.  I wrote them out everyday for years to get them to sink in.  I have them memorized, but it takes considerable time to even state them.
    • The book is a difficult read. I spent years reviewing and summarizing the concepts into a workable format for myself.  I have never met another individual who understands the entire message.
    • Upper limit: limits spontaneous action if you try to process everything on your plate with these steps.  Hence, it becomes more of a background activity and reminder rather than a front line tool.  if you have time to think, then these steps are helpful.
    • As pointed out by David Allen in Getting things Done, 7 Habits is an optimization methodology that is hard to execute on when dealing with many issues that are overwhelming you day to day.
    • Too many steps, many not needed for every situation.  It is hard to load onto your mental stage quickly and easily.
    • Not fast enough.  You cannot intellectualize every moment.  Chaos will punch you in the face if you cannot operate quickly enough.

Missouri River Expedition

In 2019 Scott participated in a Missouri River expedition spanning 2,341 miles in 5 months and 2 days.

Scott signed up for this life-changing canoe trip padding the entire Missouri River.  The expedition was led by Tom Elpel and partially re-traced Lewis and Clark’s journey on the Missouri River from the 1800’s.  They called themselves “The Corp of Rediscovery”.  An almost magical window opened up and Scott chose to say yes to the trip.  To participate in the 5-month trip, Scott resigned from his job of 14 years and he actually felt free!   Scott discovered Tom Elpel via his year long apprenticeship course under Doug Hill’s Gone Feral: School of Primitive & Traditional Skills which was held in the Front Range of Colorado.  Tom’s books form a substantial part of Scott’s outdoor skills library. The expedition offered Scott a perfect window of opportunity to test his own kit, identify weaknesses, and evolve to another level of competence under Tom’s leadership.

Expedition Objectives:

  • 2,341 miles descending the Missouri River from its origins at Three Forks, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri.
  • A conduit for exploring the land and its inhabitants.
  • A wilderness skills immersion experience and nature awareness exercising botany, foraging and fishing; seeking a deeper connection with nature.
  • A media-centric fundraiser to purchase land along the Jefferson River for a public campground; local media will be invited out to interview the group.

The expedition lasted 5 months and 2 days. The crew was supported along the way through various Lewis and Clark enthusiasts, the Missouri River Paddlers Association; i.e. “river angels”, earth skills community, as well as strangers.

We posted over 1,000 photos on our Prepped and Frosty Facebook page and updates were also posted by Tom Elpel.  Scott put together a presentation for public speaking and can be found below.  Tom is writing a book about the expedition and it will be available in March 2020.

Click here to order
Missouri River Presentation

Overnight Hike-Ward, Colorado

We had another nice overnight hike to the Gone Feral field site just out of Ward, CO.  The temperature dipped below freezing and winds gusted to 40 mph at night. We are working up to full winter conditions when we will need a fire in our shelter. We experimented this weekend with a fire in the wikiup.

~Go, Do, Share, Enable

Hide Tanning Workshop-Lafayette, CO

Scott had a fun and physically challenging hide tanning workshop with Doug Hill from Gone Feral.  Making full use of animals was obviously very important to our not so distant ancestors.  The hide has several uses, including tanning it to use as material for clothing and other purposes.  It would take approximately three hides to make a pair of pants and each hide takes an expert approximately 8 hours to complete.  Doug’s course was 3 days long for one hide per student.  There are many methods for tanning a hide, we roughly followed this process:

  • Pronghorn Hides were provided by Doug:  Most hunters do not want the hide and often leave it in the field.
  • Bucking was also done by Doug:  An alkaline solution is created and the hide is soaked for a few days in it.  Bucking artificially decomposes the hide, swelling the grain and membrane layers making them easier to scrape.
  • Scraping:  We wet scraped the hair, grain and membrane layers leaving the densely fibered inner layer accessible for tanning and softening.  The grain and membrane layers are less dense and mucusy.  The mucus prevents the dressing solution from penetrating to the inner fibers and therefore needs to be removed.
  • Sewing:  Artificial sinew was used to sew holes that were in the hides.  Ideally there would be no holes, however pronghorn hide is thinner than most hides and the initial hide removal from the animal must be done with care.  Holes make the process much more difficult.
  • Brain dressing:  We opened up skulls of the pronghorn to access the brains.  The brains were mixed with water and smashed up into a solution.  A general rule of thumb is that the the brain of any animal is enough to tan its hide.
  • Wringing:  The hide was twisted tightly draining off the dressing from the hide.
  • Softening and stretching:  As the hide  begins to dry, it shrinks and hardens.  Stretching the hide while it is drying softens it so that it becomes more like a fabric rather than stiff rawhide.  This is very labor intensive.
  • Smoking:  Once dried and soft it is ready to be smoked.  Smoking the hide provides a degree of weather proofing.  Buckskin is not waterproof, but the smoking increases the resilience to moisture and retards the hide from become stiff when it gets wet. The hide is folded in half and and the sides secured to each other forming a “bag” of sorts.  This can be done by sewing, glue, or clothes pins.   The hide bag is then sewed to a denim pant leg which will go over the stove pipe.  The denim provides a channel for the smoke and provides a buffer area to prevent sparks from burning the hide.  Coals are covered with punk wood to generate smoke.  Fifteen minutes for the first side, reverse the bag making it inside out, and fifteen minutes of smoking on the other side completes the hide.

~Go, Do, Share, Enable

Recommended Resources: Deerskins into Buckskins: How to Tan with Brains, Soap or Eggs; 2nd Edition