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Posted April 14, 2022

Sean Ring

By Sean Ring

Rise, and Rise Again

  • This weekend is Easter weekend.
  • Its time for a bit of resurrection of our own.
  • Theres no Rude this Good Friday or Easter Monday.

Its a fine Thursday here in Asti, and I cant wait for the long weekend.

The Rude is on holiday on Good Friday and Easter Monday - Im claiming my European holiday privileges immediately - but Ill be back on Tuesday.

As Micah ran around with the local kids in the Piazza San Secondo this evening, the bells rang.

It was 7 pm, so I quietly counted to myself the seven bells.

It occurred to me that I hadnt heard church bells in ages - not even in the Catholic Philippines.

I dont want to get overly misty about it, but hearing the bells clanging was just nice.

After gnawing on my white pizza - I cant get enough of the stuff - I let the food, drink, and sounds wash over me.

Since were supposed to be celebrating a resurrection this weekend, we may as well consider one for ourselves.

Im not a theologian, so Ill leave the body and blood to your priest or other spiritual advisors.

(Although I think Pascal had it right with his wager: if the only thing you need to do to get a glimpse of the Beatific Vision is to believe, then why not believe?)

For this Rude, Ill use philosophy rather than theology to make my point.

The Ship of Theseus

This is one of my favorite thought experiments and perhaps the oldest in metaphysics.

From Wikipedia:

The particular "Ship of Theseus" version of the thought puzzle was first introduced in Greek legend as reported by the historian, biographer, and essayist Plutarch:

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, insomuch that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

?Plutarch, Theseus

Plutarch thus questions whether the ship would remain the same if it were entirely replaced, piece by piece.

Lets loosely extend this concept to ourselves - and Im not talking about body parts.

But what about replacing the parts of yourself you think are substandard with better parts?

For instance, you may not think youre great with money.

Is that a life sentence?

Of course not!

Just start learning what you need to know about investing better.

Perhaps youre not entrepreneurial enough in your own eyes?

Start that side hustle you always wanted to.

Maybe youre not as in shape as youd like to be

Start experimenting with ways to improve your physique.

The point is that it doesnt matter if Theseuss Ship is the original.

You know who you are - and theres only one you.

So if you replace your substandard characteristics with improved ones, you become a better version of yourself.

And thats all that matters.

Tools in Your Toolbox

The question is how, as in How do I do that?

After many years of failing, Ive happened upon the one surefire method of getting good at something.

You must eliminate all other things youre trying to get a hold of.

For instance, Id get excited about learning how to play chess.

Id buy loads of lessons and get started.

Then Id think, I can learn to code.

And Id start a few lessons.

And then Id think, I bet I can learn the ukulele.

And I actually bought one once!

Needless to say, I cant play chess to save my soul. Nor can I code or play an instrument.

It was too much, too soon.

Take Steve Jobss advice on this, though he was talking about products:

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.

It works the exact same way with your goal.

Pick one. Eliminate the rest for now.

For instance, Im only learning Italian for the next six months.

Nothing else exists - except Pam, Micah, and the Rude.

No other lessons or ideas, just learning Italian.

It must be this way.

Replace one plank of your ship at a time.

Shifting Environments

But one thing we all must do is be patient with ourselves, especially when it comes to the environment.

One of the reasons I like living outside the major cities is that I experienced firsthand how impossible it is to save money while living in them.

Warren Buffett says his first rule is dont lose money.

But heres an ugly back-of-the-envelope calculation:

If youre paying out 30% in tax and costs rise 10% per year, youre down 40% on January 1st.

How can anyone get their heads above water when the math is against them

And thats why its so important to be patient.

While Im all for elbow grease and persistence, the cards are stacked against everyone but the oligarchs, plutocrats, and public sector union employees.

So be patient with yourself.

Everything takes more time and costs more than you initially planned.

Wrap Up

I dont mean to get preachy on this day before Good Friday, but I feel delighted and lucky, and I want to pass that on to you.

The sky is the limit, though the government is trying to ban aspiration.

It reminds me of Ferrari in Casablanca when he said to Laszlo, I might as well be frank, monsieur. It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles.

Maybe thats so, but one must circumvent the government when need be.

And that time is now.

Ill leave you with this image from the movie Robin Hood (2010):

Be a lion.

And have a wonderful Easter weekend!

All the best,

Sean

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