On What Matters

Never, never, never, never give up!

—Sir Winston Churchill

Periodically I rearrange the books on my desk to keep the ideas I’m noodling with at hand. Just did it this morning and noticed that the first three in the line are books that have been given to me over a thirty year period by number one son, David, a thoughtful guy and an accomplished martial artist.

Zen In The Art Of Archery

Eugene Herrigel

“In the case of archery, the hitter and the hit are no longer two opposing objects, but are one reality. The archer ceases to be conscious of himself as the one who is engaged in hitting the bulls-eye which confronts him. This state of unconsciousness is realized only when, completely empty and rid of self, he becomes one with the perfecting of his technical skill, though there is in it something of a quite different order which cannot be attained by any progressive study of the art…”

Mastery is the Holy Grail in any skill, profession or calling. One does not get there without suffering much pain, heartache, and discouragement. Decades can go by, and no improvement seems obvious. Then, one magical day, everything falls into place and the doer vanishes into the deed. Fourteen years into seeking mastery in trading, I want to remain mindful of the lessons in persistence, endurance, and single-mindedness that Mr. Herrigel shared of his quest to master the art of archery.

The Snow Leopard

—Peter Matthiessen

Ostensibly the account of a trip to Nepal with field biologist, George Schaller, to study wild life, it was a spiritual quest as well for Matthiessen, many years a student of Zen Buddhism. He did not succeed in meeting with the Zen master he came thousands of miles to see, but the enlightenment he sought was to be had-from quite a surprising source. Unquestionably a mandate for the searcher to expect nothing, and accept everything.

Terrence Des Pres writes, “Mathiessen expresses with uncommon candor and no prospect of relief, a longing which keeps the soul striving and alert in us all.”

Deep Survival
Who Lives, Who Dies, And Why

—Laurence Gonzales

The dumbest idea I’ve ever had was that things would go as planned. All of the important developments in my life have been totally unanticipated. I’ve long wondered how I’d react if the shit really hit the fan.

Given that Black Swans cannot, by definition, be anticipated, it is a great comfort to absorb and keep in mind the behaviors of the survivors Gonzales recounts in the lucid prose of this volume. On page 271, he lists twelve characteristics common to these remarkable souls.

Summarized, he tells us to get pissed off, channel the anger into sizing up the immediate situation, see to it that the needs of those around us are met, pay absolutely no attention to anyone who represents the authorities, make plans for action and break them down into small increments, celebrate achieving each little goal, no matter how insignificant, play (yes), and never, ever give up. I do not want this book to be out of reach.

Thank you, Sensei Dave, for caring. Can’t say that I always deserved it.



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