#2- Knowledge is the Foundation
Updated: Dec 29, 2021
This'll be a bit of a tale, but it'll connect, I promise.
I believe that knowledge and how we apply it is a big part of what makes us human. Our personal interests, hobbies, jobs, education, people in our lives, goals - at the end of the day it is the knowledge of a given topic and how we apply it that makes us individual. I'm not Erik (my brother from another mother), but we did grow up in the same area and attend the same school with some of the same people in our lives outside of school.
I can't play an instrument] to save my life, yet Erik runs multiple bands at different venues in what he sometimes claims to be 'free time'. By contrast, he probably can't run a chainsaw in a tree while hanging off of a rope. It's the knowledge of these subjects and what we've chosen to do with them that helps us to mold ourselves.
As time and life happen our knowledge on subjects either expands or contracts. Our interactions with others give us opportunities to pass along the knowledge we've gained, and for others to share theirs with us. One of the most incredible things we've developed as a species is methods to communicate with those around us, those that are nowhere to be seen, and even to the future in the form of books, and more recently blogs, videos, and everything the internet makes available.
For context, after my divorce I thought of things I lost over the years, and I felt that getting these things back would in some way make me whole again. They weren't just material things. They stood for who I was (or so I told myself). I realized I didn’t care starting over with a very short end of the stick, especially financially. I was going to swipe my way into happiness. I might not have been able to replace the West German Sig P226's very easily, but damnit I could buy 1911's instead. After all, my divorce present to myself, from myself, was a Dan Wesson, so why shouldn't I get a Lightweight Commander to go with it? And why not grab an optic-ready 1911 in 9mm and a Springfield R.O. in .45 for CDP class? And I obviously needed a 22LR 1911. I think you can see which way that debt needle was swinging here - that was just the start.
I'll take a pause and say that I hope you never go through a divorce, but if you do - remember that no GOOD marriage has EVER ended in divorce. I highly recommend you remember that line. It strongly resonated with me.
I can't remember which day it was, but I think it ended in a y (I’ll be here all week folks). I was putting the lightweight commander (LWC) in 9mm into my JM Custom holster (http://jmcustomkydex.com) and wondered why I have a .45 and a 9mm LWC, in addition to a stainless steel in 9mm. I had justified it earlier, but had never critically thought about WHY I had two backups to my divorce present in two different calibers. This prompted me to re-evaluate a lot of things, and actually sit down and read an excellent book by Varg Freeborn called Violence of Mind (https://amzn.to/2VwG7Ya).
The knowledge contained in this book is passed on by an author I have never met, who doesn’t live anywhere near me. He recorded his thoughts, experiences, and analysis with honesty for the rest of our species. By penning this book and publishing it, Varg is literally able to pass his knowledge along to future generations. We can't time travel, but we can pass our knowledge along to people who haven't been born yet. It's a gift of time - the author's time, and the existence of this knowledge over the time span between writing and reading. If you think of yourself as a sheepdog, I highly recommend you read this book written by a wolf. Read it even if you don’t fancy yourself a sheepdog.
A week or so later I opened the bill from Visa, stared at it, and slumped in a chair. I hadn’t even opened the Mastercard envelope yet. I cracked open a beer, took a sip, looked in the mirror and didn't like what I saw. That beer was delicious though. I realized that while I thought I was gun rich, I was actually poor. Having bought all these pistols at retail cost, I was going to be gun poor if I sold them, but even poorer if I didn’t . I'm grateful I didn't start with 2011's, because.....yeah, that would be an incredibly expensive mistake. I suddenly didn't feel bad about it having read Varg's book, because it taught me how to pay attention to what was around in ways I never knew before. This information is far more valuable than any spare, back up, or quadruple-backup gun sitting at home would ever be. I started to want to train my mind, not just my eyeballs and trigger finger.
The next book that really shifted my perspective was I Will Teach You to be Rich,by Ramit Sethi. It brought to my attention that if I wanted to get out of that debt, be able to solidify some very basic personal financial things, and then redirect that time and money towards other things (like ammo and quality training), then I needed to get some help. (https://amzn.to/3nnJhco)
So I did. This book broke down a lot of things I had never been taught HOW to do, like making a budget - painful, complicated, and means I can't live a life because I'm a slave to some spreadsheet and account number, right? Nope, not at all - the budget is there to ALLOW ME TO LIVE the life I want by setting guardrails to keep me from loosing track of my goal. I just had to decide what my goal was. He explains how EASY it is to start a Roth IRA and why the reader really should get on the ball, even if not maxing things out and is still in debt. I had no idea I could invest in stocks, let alone do so in a Roth - after all, I'm in debt and I'm certainly not rich. Sethi really breaks it down, and I credit him for a drastic turn around in my thoughts and pocketbook. It isn't the only book on this subject, but it is simple and goes so far as to give phone numbers for bank customer service and guides for bartering down interest rates. Seriously, buy the book and keep an open mind when reading it - there's not a single bit of guilt tripping that hit me along the way.The book doesn’t challenge ego, or assign blame to the reader, it’s a life preserver. That knowledge has brought my dream of buying a home a reality with every passing payday.
The last book I got was spurred by a loss in the firearms training community. Dr. William Aprill wasa gentleman that I wanted to learn from because of his unique perspective- he was an actively practicing criminal psychologist. Having spent time with psychologists for my own mental health, made me notice what a huge breadth of knowledge Dr. April offered in his seminars. I never got the chance - in August of 2020 he passed away. Thankfully, his knowledge is well preserved, but it is always going to be incomplete without the person who really delved into subjects and could connect so many different things in life.
You can find an archive of his works, free of charge, here:
One of Dr. Aprill’s recurring themes was attempting to understand what other humans are saying, and what their actions say. I can't paraphrase as I haven't learned from Dr. Aprill nor have I gone through enough of his works to even begin to comprehend them - but what I got out of the bit of interviews I listened to was simple: communication is critical, and I knew I wasn't good at it.
I had heard “Verbal Judo” referenced a LOT in the traveling defense training industry and its incredible value. Eventually I figured out that the reference material (the knowledge) was a book, and it was readily available, and it’s incredibly valuable despite its price. (https://amzn.to/3nmOfG9)
This book approaches communication from a practical standpoint and is written by an author who went from being a teacher, to being a very seasoned cop Its simple concepts fundamentally changed how I talk to and worked with the other owner of my company, and with strangers alike. I also credit this book for repairing the relationship with my father, and for this I am grateful. While he refused to read it, the book helped us see where the other was coming from and start a painful but necessary talk. All it took was putting the book on the table upside down, and both of us pointing at a rule when we felt the other had violated it - that conversation would never have happened without this mediation, and I'm incredibly grateful for the knowledge this book passed along to me.
So, knowledge is the foundation of who we are and how we interact with the world. It is up to us to determine what knowledge is factual, applicable in our circumstances, and worth passing on to others.
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