The Second Law is Concealment.
This immediately throws up red flags. "Concealment? Are you being sneaky? Are you trying to hide something, or be dishonest?"
Let's try a thought experiment. You go into a job interview, for which you're barely qualified. You're riddled with doubt, but you really want this job. Are you going to go into the interview with doubt and fear written all over your face? No, of course not.
You conceal your real feelings. You smile, you act confident, and you do what it takes to accomplish your goal.
The opposite of concealing is revealing. Do you really want to reveal everything about yourself to everyone? No, of course you don't. The problem is, we do it all the time without even realizing it. And so, the Second Law urges us to pay attention to what we reveal about ourselves- and conceal what is necessary to ensure our survival in the Dark World. This doesn't necessarily mean deception, lying, or things of that nature. It is a simple evaluation of how we unwittingly make ourselves vulnerable by revealing too much.
A lot of what we do nowadays is a waste of time.
There, I said it. If we look at ourselves, we know this is true. Deep down, we know we waste a lot of time.
Now, I'm okay with wasting time every now and then. I love a good video game, or just goofing around. But really, there's a lot of things I do that I could use to evaluate. I mean, I know why I do some things, but that usually means "I just felt like it." That's not really a reason, per se.
So in light of my wife's wonderful thoughts on "Why" I've decided to put together a list of the major time sinks in my life, and then think about why I do them. Here they are, in no particular order:
Have you ever felt like you just didn't fit in? Like you were standing in a crowd, and everyone there was oblivious except you?
To some extent, I've always felt this. Growing up in rural Louisiana meant that most of my friends never shared the same interests that I did. I was reading horror novels when I was ten. Was reading epic fantasy and sci-fi when I was twelve. Was into games and adventures and things most other kids didn't care about. You see, my brain has always been somewhere else. (My apologies to all the teachers I had growing up... it wasn't you, it was me. I'm sure what you had to say was interesting, if only I'd been on Earth at that particular time.) Mostly, I was somewhere else, or wishing I was.
As I grew older, my penchant for feeling like a stranger in a strange land intensified. The more amazing new worlds I discovered, the less interested I was in this one. And without knowing it, I was slowly detaching myself from life in general, in exchange for something that was only a fantasy.
A large part of figuring out how to live life and get things done is being honest with yourself.
Let me explain. Productive people understand themselves to the point where they know that they can or can't do something. They don't waste their time doing things they know they can't do. Therefore, they have more time to get important stuff done.
Unproductive people keep trying to do something they can't do, and then blame it on everything else when the results are predictable. When I say "something they can't do" I'm not talking about a particular skill. I'm talking about their ability to focus on a task, or follow through.
For instance: I know if I sit down and try to write something while the kids are playing loudly, or the TV is on... I'm not going to get anything done. Honestly, my ADD kicks in and it's all downhill. If I'm at my desk at work, and I'm trying to get stuff done, and I have a browser open with a Twitter feed... guess what? Not going to get much done.
We lie to ourselves and pretend we're better than we really are. But the way to get things done is to be realistic about our shortcomings, our personal weaknesses, and plan for them in advance.
I've read several books recently about self-publishing books by writing them on your blog, one chapter at a time. (One of them was written this way!) Most of these work for non-fiction, however. I'm genuinely curious about writing a fiction novel (or series) by posting it chapter-by-chapter.
The problem is, everything I've read about this style of publishing is strictly about non-fiction. And as far as that goes, all the non-fiction stuff I write, you can pretty much read here. And I have to ask myself: could I write a non-fiction book based on what I know? And that begs the next question:
What exactly is it that I know?
The truth is a bit more complicated than me being an "expert" on anything specific. There's a few things I'm considered an expert at... playing the saxophone, cycling for fitness, using Linux, or being an idiot... I've got decades of experience in those fields.
But those things are practical, and with the exception of playing the sax, they're all things I taught myself for practical reasons. I don't necessarily want to teach people how to do something specific, as much as I want people to learn how to think in a manner that will let them accomplish and learn things. I want to teach them my mindset. I want to get people to learn how to direct their unguided yet limitless energy to accomplish great things.
If there's something that become endangered in the last two generations, it's the idea of sacrifice. We went from being the most respected and feared country in the world, to being the laughingstock of even third-world countries. I think this came about, largely, because of the elimination of sacrifice in America today.
Sacrifice /ˈsakrəˌfīs/- An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.
Think about it. How can you sacrifice for something "regarded as more important or worthy" when the most important thing in your life is your own comfort? When we value comfort, laziness, and entertainment above all else, we turn sacrifice into a mockery. There is no reason to give anything up.
By definition, there must be something more important and worthy to sacrifice for. We must intentionally choose what things are noble and worth pursuing. Otherwise, we fall into the default state of "whatever." People who have changed the world did it because they had a perspective for something bigger, something greater.
There are times when people (Christians specifically) need to seriously take a look at what they're asking and whether or not it's appropriate. There are, believe it or not, some times when you need to think about Jesus outside of church. I'm seeing a tendency for Christians today to go into "incognito mode" when they're discussing anything not directly church-related. We compartmentalize Jesus and God, so that even mentioning them outside of a church building is seen as "inappropriate" or a "Jesus juke."
But I've heard this so many times, I'm going to step on some toes. This just shows that we have superficial faith. In reality, God is involved in every area of our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not. It would be foolish of us to pretend otherwise. I see this predominantly in Christian circles where people are asking recommendations on some sort of new expensive toy or luxury. We don't ask if it's wise to get something like that. We effectively suppress the teachings of Jesus in order to not offend anyone.
This is comparable to secular consumerism today. Is it okay to demand that our food be ethically treated before we kill and eat it, but not okay to ask if someone's food choices are wise? Is it okay to demand our electricity be cleanly produced (because environment!), and yet pay no heed to ecology when we purchase disposable (and toxic) electronic devices, all designed with planned obsolescence? So it shouldn't surprise me when I see people claim "Jesus is Lord!" and then proceed to pamper themselves with luxury.
Recently, I stumbled across a sermon series by Bill Hybels, called "Simplify." I listened to it, thinking all the while it was going to be full of useful advice on how to simplify our lives... pretty obvious, right? He talks about simplifying finances, simplifying your schedule, simplifying your job, and so forth. For the most part, I was right.
Except that in one of the messages, he says something to the effect of "Don't ask what you should do; ask who do I want to become? And when you schedule your life around that idea, the rest will fall into place."
I can't really explain why, but that little question made me stop and think. What is it that I want to become? Why am I wasting time on doing things that have nothing to do with what I need to be? Why do I do those things?