July Book- Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

“It is never a mistake to say good-bye.” – KV

Summary:
Told with deadpan humour & bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon &, worse still, surviving it …

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he’s the inventor of ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker’s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh…

My Take, Why its worth a read:
It’s a short quick read that really gets you thinking.  Vonnegut uses Cat’s Cradle to discuss (in a rather funny and biting satire way) issues like religion, politics and the possibility of humanity managing to destroy the world.  He creates his own religion in the book to show us just how much power we give up to dogma and tradition.  How people can be taught to believe anything if there is cause for it. Through the main character John, you will find yourself re-examining  a lot of things that are now “normal” parts of our world.

Favorite Quote:

“Life is a garden, not a road. We enter and exit through the same gate. Wandering, where we go matters less than what we notice.”

About the Author:
Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student paper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a journalist before joining the U.S. Army and serving in WW II.

After the war, he attended University of Chicago as a graduate student in anthropology and also worked as a police reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago. He left Chicago to work in Schenectady, New York in public relations for General Electric. He attributed his writing style to his reporting work.

His experiences as an advance scout in the Battle of the Bulge, and in particular his witnessing of the bombing of Dresden, Germany whilst a prisoner of war, would inform much of his work
.Vonnegut was a self-proclaimed humanist and socialist (influenced by the style of Indiana’s own Eugene V. Debs) and a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union.  The novelist is known for works blending satire, black comedy and science fiction, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Cat’s Cradle (1963), and Breakfast of Champions (1973

The Psychology Of Spontaneity: Why Some People Drop Everything And Go

Bryan Daugherty

Originally published on Elite Daily written by Dan Scotti

On Sunday mornings, I watch Joel Osteen.

Being that I’m not a religious person, I suppose it’s a bit counterintuitive for me to spend weekend mornings watching a nationally televised mass,  but, still, there’s something about Osteen that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I guess it’s a spiritual thing.

Anyways, a recurring theme of his sermons tends to revolve around leaving comfort zones, and, at the end of each broadcast, he usually challenges his audience to try and leave theirs; he urges all of us to “try something different.”

And he’s got this agreeableness to him. He’s got this swag. And he’s also right.

Comfort zones encourage you to fall victim to habits — good or bad.

On the one hand, if you’re a creature of typically good habits, your comfort zone might be limiting (but not detrimental).

On the other hand, if you’ve picked up some bad habits over the years, then staying in your comfort zone might become destructive going forward.

One way to heed Joel’s advice is to practice living life more spontaneously.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, spontaneity is that which happens or arises without apparent external cause.

Likewise, spontaneous behavior, as defined by Leon Seltzer, Ph.D., for Psychology Today, is behavior that is performed without any planning, prior.

And while planning ahead is usually a pretty good life tactic, it appears that living life spontaneously — with no plan — can provide its own unique set of benefits.

Spontaneity leads to flexibility.

As Seltzer explains, living life spontaneously encourages you to live life in a more “flexible” manner. By not abiding by any set of plans, it allows you the freedom to just play it by ear, so to speak.

Sure, you might have planned to eat dinner at one place, but if when you show up, that place is closed, then you’re forced to come up with a new, usually less appealing alternative.

That’s why sometimes it’s better to attack things with no plan whatsoever.

Think about it: Plans can always get broken, but if you approach things with an open mind — you’ll never set yourself up to be let down.

Seltzer suggests that spontaneity allows us to “more readily adapt to changing circumstances.”

A lot of people may appear to have their lives under control, when, in reality, they lead sheltered lives that aren’t as much controlled as they are bounded to the norms.

Spontaneity encourages a “f*ck it” mentality that everyone needs from time to time in their lives.

I’m a huge proponent of moderation, and while I believe organization and planning are important, it’s healthy to shake things up.

By staying in your comfort zone, remember, you’re missing out on everything that’s outside of it.

Next time you make dinner plans, suggest finding somewhere new, on the fly.


Spontaneity leads to creativity.

Seltzer continues to explain the link between spontaneity and creativity using an artist’s ability to get “lost in the flow” of their vision as a useful example.

When I think of people who live spontaneously, I see their lives as very fluid — almost like an ocean current.

Sometimes the tide is low. Sometimes it’s high — the reason why it’s so difficult to accurately predict the tide is because it’s dependent on so many different factors.

Spontaneous people can be looked at in a similar way. Oftentimes, they’re hard to predict because spontaneous people don’t have comfort zones — they, like an artist, just go with the flow.

According to one Swiss philosopher, Henri Frederic Amiel, “Analysis kills spontaneity.”

Seltzer plays off this notion, suggesting “the state of mind giving rise to creativity cannot be the conscious, critical mind but rather the unconscious, non-evaluative, spontaneous one.”

By allowing yourself to just flow with your instincts spontaneously, you’ll also begin to flow with your more creative intuitions — perhaps without even knowing.


Spontaneity leads to happiness.

A lot of what is necessary for happiness also deals with flow — yeah, I know, it’s a very feng-shui type of logic.

Seltzer explains how happiness — much like spontaneity — is something we cannot plan for. “Nor is it anything we can contrive, arrange or manipulate,” he writes.

When you become so conditioned to following a plan, it’s only natural to feel sort of uncomfortable in the absence of one.

That being said, it’s a relationship that can serve as a parallel for how we deal with our own happiness, too.

Many of us live extremely happy lives — up until something traumatic happens — and, when it does, a lot of us aren’t exactly sure how to react to adversity.

This is because happiness — like anything else — can become a habit, a comfort zone.

By training to live your life spontaneously, your happiness won’t hinge on the same old things — and if misfortune strikes — you’ll be better prepared to deal with it and cope in other ways.

Roll the Dice by Charles Bukowski

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
mockery,
isolation.
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
that.
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with
fire.

do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way.

you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
there is.

Quote for 7-29-15

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for.  And the most you can do is live inside that hope.  Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”

-Barbara Kingsolver

People Who Travel Alone All Have One Thing In Common: They’re Wise

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Originally published on Elite Daily and written by John Haltiwanger

There’s nothing quite like waking up by yourself in an unfamiliar place with nothing to do but explore. It’s simultaneously invigorating and unnerving.

But the frightening aspects of it are precisely what make it so intoxicating.

Adventurous souls are infatuated with unchartered territory. They’re driven by wanderlust, and a perpetual desire to embrace the unfamiliar.

Those who travel alone possess these characteristics and beyond that, they recognize the inherent value of celebrating earth and its dynamism on your own.

We are all citizens of the world, and traveling alone is the ultimate validation of this. When you travel by yourself, you belong to no one and everyone all at once.

There is certainly value and great joy to be found in traveling with others, but it’s also far more predictable. Through solo travel, you become more comfortable going with the flow, which is vital to success, survival and happiness.

Indeed, traveling alone is underrated.

Solo travel breeds enlightenment.

Solo travel allows you to set the pace of the journey. You make your own plans and dictate your own schedule.

But with no one to watch your back, you’re also responsible for your own safety. In turn, your instincts become your guide and greatest friend.

When you venture into the unknown by your lonesome, it drives your senses into overdrive. Humans are never more perceptive than when they’re immersed in the unfamiliar — it’s a survival mechanism.

Thus, via solo travel, you absorb and recognize far more than you would if traveling with companions. You sense, feel and learn more than you could’ve ever anticipated.

Individual excursions help us shed naïveté about the world, broadening our perspectives while making us more keenly aware of our vulnerabilities and idiosyncrasies.

To borrow from Henry Miller:

One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.

Simply put, traveling alone makes us wise, as it fosters both outward and inward discovery.


Traveling alone reduces stress and increases self-awareness.

Make no mistake, if you travel alone, there will be times you feel extremely lonely.

Even if you’re completely surrounded by people, loneliness can creep in — particularly if you’re in a place where no one speaks your native tongue and communication is difficult.

But the experience will also help you understand the important distinction between being alone and feeling alone.

Solitude and loneliness are not one in the same. Loneliness increases feelings of isolation and depletes the spirit. Solitude increases self-awareness and ultimately makes us feel more connected with the world. We are never truly alone, but it’s difficult to recognize this without time to reflect on it.

Humans are social creatures; we wouldn’t survive without the presence of other people. In seeking out company, however, we often fail to recognize the benefits of solitude.

Life is full of distractions, and it’s difficult to live in the moment. We need time to sit with our thoughts and process it all.

Reflection is vital to our mental health, and it’s much easier when we’re separate from others.

Research shows that mindfulness meditation, or the practice of focusing intently on the present, can decrease anxiety significantly as it helps reduce the stress hormone, cortisol.

Traveling alone provides for this type of benevolent reflection.

The heightened awareness that accompanies this form of travel, combined with the excitement of new experiences, unconsciously focuses your mind on the present.

In turn, you begin to let go of the past, and the pain and regrets that often come with it.

At the same time, you stop worrying so much about the future.

In other words, solo travel helps free your mind and teaches you to celebrate each and every breath.


Self-discovery requires exploration.

Perhaps the best aspect of traveling alone is that while you discover the world, you encounter your truest self. It’s an intrinsically self-reflective form of journeying.

Limitations you’ve been placing on yourself become elucidated, inspiring you to step outside of your comfort zone.

Traveling with others allows us to latch onto the familiar, but during solo excursions we have no choice but to venture into uncharted territory, physically and mentally.

You make friends with strangers, eat cuisine you’ve never heard of, listen to music played with instruments you can’t name and begin to see the world in an entirely new light.

In the process, you become a more confident individual, ready to run out into the wild with nothing but a smile on your face and a passion for new experiences.

When we travel alone, we also discover we’re just a small, but interconnected, piece of a big, bright, dynamic and beautiful world. There’s nothing more healthy for the ego than to recognize while you’re not the center of the universe, you’re still connected with it.

This epiphany will make you revel in the diverse nature of the world and its inhabitants. You’ll care more about the well-being of other people as well as the overall health of the planet.

Simply put, solo travel will make you a kinder, more empathic and insightful individual.

It teaches you to seek out and celebrate the unfamiliar, making you more adept at adjusting to the only constant in life: change.

You’ll find answers to questions you didn’t know you were asking, have adventures you never imagined and grow as a person in immeasurable ways.

To travel alone is to get lost on purpose, in order to be found.

Quote for 7-27-15

“It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.”

-Ian McEwan