My run-in Monday morning with the troll-like comments about Ure’s truly – and a very thoughtful reply by Oilman2, who as you might expect is a friend, got me to thinking I should do a lot more explaining about what real UrbanSurvival thinking is all about.
Oh, sure, it will come into focus as you read the Thursday chapter of the “Millennial’s Missing Manual” when we explore [keyword: Worldview] but there is much more to it than that.
It begins with deciding what kind of person you really want to be in life: Key contributor, independent thinker, able to call “your own shots” when you feel like it? Or, is it enough to just stack a bunch of cash and own “things and people” sufficient to get you whatever it is you happen to want?
It’s not a simple question.
I’ve known lots of people in the $10-million net worth and up category, but something odd often happens to them. For one, most of them seem to lose their “connection” to the world.
After a certain period of “active disconnect” all the wait-staff and financials become an “expected.”
Not that such people don’t have it really good. They do – but only until change of a violent social or natural event takes place. When those come along, those folks are screwed.
We have only to look for examples and two outstanding ones come to mind.
Warren Buffett is one of my heros – not because he’s been able to get rich…anyone in America with a million to start with can do that. No, what Buffett got exactly right was the notion (which I’ll poorly paraphrase) that in “…any other time, I’d be dinosaur food.” He recognized that in the longer span of history, there are some skills that may be short-lived, although I hugely admire his accounting approach to investing (along with Charlie Munger’s) that has led them down the “get rich slowly” path while remaining (oddly) functional and humble.
The second example is the core character in the Bible. Carpenter, was he not? That’s always spoken to my heart about “hands-on matters” though the point is lost on many.
I contrast these facts with people who have come into a goodly sum of money and yet fail to appreciate their good fortune.
Since this weekend was Chinese New Year (28th) reminds me that most Chinese have an almost Buffett-like sense of humbleness. The Chinese, more than Americans, acknowledge that sometimes “good fortune” is all you need.
With the wind of Fortune at your back, you cannot fail. With it in your face, however, no matter how skilled, how hard you work, you’re fruits will be failure.
Fortune is a terrible Opponent in Life and anyone who doesn’t come to this perspective is either a liar, a fool, or both.
So what is the Renaissance Core idea?
In many ways it is about the values that are foundational to UrbanSurvival. If I had to distill it into two words it would be “Personal Competence.”
Talking the game is one thing. Doing it is quite another.
I kicked this idea around with once of my sisters long ago – 35-years maybe. What unfolded (since all of us Ure kids could have probably made it into Mensa) was that Life is much more than just having the highest functioning pile of gray matter. It’s in the “’doing.”
At the Core there are personal skills. What can you actually DO? With enough Core skills, you can be a walking Renaissance person.
The insulting comment from the reader about mobile homes as somehow being lesser housing that, oh, a McMansion, touched a hot-button with me.
Facts are facts and any sorry sonovabitch can write checks all day. Accounting department are full of such people, tool.
But who among the check-writers can (or has) actually created value? Most check-writers are only able to put a yoke on the work product of others.
I know first-hand, Oilman2 creates tons of value (not to mention his kick-ass fortified homemade wines) in the petroleum industry. But when times cool as they have in the Oil Path he’s a masterful recyler/repurposer/re-user to boot.
He’s the poster-child for “No bad times, just bad people.” He will succeed for his family inspite of all conditions, and like a great rig engineer will spit in the face of Fortune when required.
Remember weekend before this I did a 5 or 6 course Chinese dinner from scratch? I love that kind of thing. Could I go out and BUY? Sure, just remember it comes down to what you do versus what you buy.
Folks like OM2 and our friends up the street have a remarkable handle on two pieces of Life’s puzzle set.
Sure, one piece is “what you have” but the other is “who you are and what you do.”
Saturday, my son called on his sat-phone from another wilderness location high in the Washington Cascades. He was overnighting in 20-degree temps and snow showers not because of what he “could do.” Of course he could have checked into a motel with a mountain view and room service.
But what turns G2’s crank is the “Who I am and what can I do to grow myself and my competencies” part of life. Which is what makes him Renaissance Core material. The concept fits someone like him well.
You find the mindset in a lot of places: Emergency medicine, Rangers, SEALS, MARSOC, law enforcement, fire/rescue and a lot more. Yes, some in business, but few.
This is the mindset we admire. Anyone can say “I’m a survivalist” but who walks it? Who really lives remote, plans for the unthinkable, and shares with others? Damn few…but gems they are that do.
Renaissance Core might be reduced to a simple “personal accomplishment’s checklist.”
You need to have one serious (preferably certified) skillset each for Earth, Air, and Ocean competencies. That may take some explaining:
On Earth, everyone likes to drive, and we all hold a mental image that we’re all NASCAR drivers for example. But have you actually gone through a high-performance driving school? Or, have you ever driven in a Porsche Club of America track day? Or, can you mow a field, till a straight line, bike 30 miles or jump a dirt bike 10-feet or more and land without falling consistent? I mean actually DO something outstanding on the face of the Earth?
Same thing when comes to Ocean skills. I’ve got 11-years and thousands of miles under the keel of my own boat so I take a checkmark. Toss in some basic (expired) resort course diving (max. depth 120-feet so far) and let’s not leave out summers of rowing the backwaters of western Puget Sound. Saved one person from drowning, too. Yeah, I’ll put a checkmark under “Ocean” proudly.
Others in the family have different Ocean skills, like long distance rowing (10 miles or more), advanced SCUBA, and water rescue training and such…but the point is Ocean is a Core competency, too.
Then we come to sky competence. Yes, hundreds of hours in our old Beechcraft and I need to get up and fly it again next week, even though we are planning to sell it. And a fresh biennial flight review will get done one of these days, too. Anyone can fly, but how many do?
G2 earned his “sky competence” as a Class C skydiver. And when I look at his abilities around boats, his overnighting in bitter winter mountain conditions and his marksmanship skills, I’m proud to say he’s the sort of 30-something who would pass the “basic competences” to display the Renaissance Core logo. He’s also an Extra Class ham radio operator.
As you can see this is a much different – broader and far more action-oriented group/tribal concept than the singularly-dimensioned sharp minds of Mensa members.
No, that’s not a dig – just a reminder that human capabilities are not one-dimensional. There’s a lot more that makes a person truly Renaissance Core material.
Let’s turn to the tools and survival part of membership.
Having come from a fire department family, I was able to name 10 different types of pliers by the time I was 10-years old. Slip-joint pliers, needle-nose pliers, gas pliers, lineman pliers…have ‘em all.
If you can’t name at least five or six kinds of pliers, you wouldn’t pass our Renaissance filters.
“Name six ways to cut a piece of 1” diameter PVC pipe into an accurate 12 1/8th ” length.”
Sure, a PVC cutter works, as does a hack saw, scroll saw, saber saw, table saw, coping saw, power hack saw, cut-off saw, lathe, milling machine….the mind boggles at how many ways there are to skin that cat (sorry Zeus!).
The point is damn few people in today’s “hands-off” world are really capable of answering such questions. Specialization, as someone said, is for insects.
Source that quote? Sure, Robert Heinlein:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
Do I have some deficiencies by Heinlein’s definition? Most of us do. Even Heinlein’s list deficiently doesn’t list an electronic competency yet that is today’s world.
There’s always room to grow, though. I have learning to play some musical instrument on my bucket list (although translating the numerics of stock market averages into the “music of the market” I would claim as original and creative in music theory…)
Then there’s the “dying gallantly” part…no hurry to get there. Fortunately that’s not something we could set Renaissance Core membership on.
It’s an interesting concept, however.
Interesting because people who make America great are not those with the most liberal attitudes or the biggest checkbooks (yes, you Mr. Soros).
It’s the people who work and by expressing innumerable competencies give this country the breadth, depth, inventiveness, and skills to surmount all obstacles and do things like get to the Moon first.
We’ve lost that.
Instead of banding together as a Company of Renaissance Persons, we have been sliced into political, sexual, demographic, educations, income, and ethnicities which doesn’t mean jack-zhit about who a person is, or what a person can create for the benefit of all.
Which is why Renaissance Core is kicking around as one possible route to refocusing our nation’s “creative Middle” back on the “Outcome Equation.”
With a professional-thinking, competency-based allegiance in the Middle, we should be able to drop the divisive politics and get on with the task making of things better. At the same time we’d all have more excellent adventures in Life as we each work to rediscover whether we really have any personal limits.
(Secret: We don’t.)
Reader comments on this – it’s almost the “1-upping of survivalists” – are welcome and invited. If this has scratched a “familiar itch” – (can we get past all this present bullshit and just move on to the Stars, please?) then it’s a project who’s time – 35-years later – may have finally arrived.
Perhaps I can have the final LAFF. (Limits Are For Fools) after all…
[Elaine thought this rambled a bit – and she’s right. But I wanted to blast the concept out there…so *and I SDO hate this phrase( It is what it is…”]
Write when you get rich AND/OR competent,