AS302 - John Roderick of The Long Winters on Acceptance, Aloha, & SPACE WISDOM

In this episode, Andrew and John talk about:

This episode is hosted by Andrew Crusoe. It was recorded on 2020-04-27.

Aloha and welcome back to season 3 of the Aravinda into show, hosted by me Andrew Caruso. For today's episode I got to have a remarkable conversation with John Roderick, a musician, podcaster and so much more. I have been following John's band The Long Winters as well as his podcasts for almost a decade now. He is also tied for first place as my favorite podcaster, so it was an honor to have the chance to interview him. Our conversation goes to some unexpected places. Enjoy!

What is in the show is in the show! It starts when it starts!

Intro (AS302)

This show is called Aravinda show, which is the Sanskrit word for Lotus. When the Lotus is growing it pushes its way through the mud and gets up to the surface of the lake. It is a metaphor for life, a podcast about growth, personal evolution, change and doing work that is meaningful to us. It is also an excuse to talk to people whose work Andrew really admires. John likes it because he is definitely always trying to push up through the mud.

John Roderick is a musician, podcaster and so many things. Everybody should check out The Long Winters and he was in Harvey Danger for a little while. John lives in Seattle, but he spent most of his childhood in Alaska. He was born in Seattle, but his parents got divorced when he was about three and his dad stayed in Alaska and his mom stayed in Seattle, so he split his time and went back and forth for a lot of his childhood. Starting with the summer after 4th grade, everyone in his family moved back to Alaska.

John left Alaska when he graduated from High School and he bounced around for a while, but he settled in Seattle again as a grown-up person toward the end of 1990 at 21 years old and lived in Seattle for the most part ever since. Over the course of his life John spend a lot more time in Seattle than in Anchorage, but his formative years were in Alaska.

Andrew’s background with Merlin and John (AS302)

Roderick on the Line is Andrew’s favorite podcast in the world, hosted by John and Merlin Mann. The hosts share stories of their lives, but the show is really about philosophy disguised as a funny show and often they talk about some pretty deep stuff on there. Andrew has met Merlin in person a few times. Although he was born in East Bay, California, for a hot minute he was living near Sacramento and saw Merlin doing the Three Ring Binder with Scott Simpson.

Andrew bounced back and forth between California and Wisconsin, but most of his formative years were in Wisconsin. Today he lives on Big Island (Hawaii).

Andrew is an OG Merlin fan and met him first back in 2010 when Merlin did a talk for the Distinguished Lecture Series in Madison, Wisconsin while he was still running his productivity site 43 Folders. Andrew already knew Merlin because when you listen to some of these podcasts you feel like you know a percentage of the way their mind works.

He met Merlin when he hung out at a place called the Rathskeller, a pub near the University, and was drinking beers with five of his friends. Then Andrew met him one more time in 2015 when he did a meet-up at Two Cats Comics which sadly no longer exists and he got a photo with him.

Andrew and John were supposed to meet for lunch at one point in the past, but then the lava was flowing on Hawaii and Andrew had to change his flight to go through San Francisco instead of Seattle.

People who claim to be OG fans of John have to go back to 2001 because they know him from his music and 2001 is before the Internet really existed. There was Napster and Andrew was on Napster, but It was not John’s thing because he is not a super-consumer of music and Napster was designed for somebody else. Also, he had a record label and was writing a column at the time, so if he wanted a record they would just send it to him and he didn't have to steal it.

Andrew added Long Winters music to his library in 2012, which is early on in the Roderick on the Line cannon and he was listening to John's podcast since episode 1, looking forward to it every Monday. John just recorded the latest episode (see RL380) an hour earlier.

John recording a segment for a YouTube show with Adam Savage (AS302)

John is doing some Internet-based work today because he is Coronavirus or COVID-19 sequestered and a lot of fellow musicians are doing online concerts from their basements. John has resisted it thus far, but he was asked by Adam Savage to do a song for a thing that the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum is doing this Thursday, a live on YouTube concert featuring a dozen artists, and John recorded a thing yesterday for it.

His sister Susan video-taped it and now she is doing the edit while John is herding cats, acting as an intermediary between his sister and the Smithsonian Institution. If you are going to be caught between a Rock and a hard place, Susan Roderick and the Air and Space Museum is going to be it. Andrew follows her on Instagram, she shoots wonderful stuff, and got a lot of energy.

John adopting Aloha, going with the flow, yin and yang (AS302)

John first started talking about Aloha last year when he was in Maui for a month visiting his uncle and it became part of his shows (see RL324, RL325). Every time you come into a philosophy from the outside, you don't really understand it, didn't grow up with it, don't really know what it is, but you decide that you are going to for instance start doing yoga from your townhouse, you are only going to get a very incomplete and half-assed sense of what it really is.

John has co-opted Aloha because Aloha is not even 100% positive or 100% generous, but there is also a tinge of: ”Look man, it is going to happen when it happens!” Hawaiian time is wonderful, but it can also be a little bit aggressively casual. John was having some anxiety issues at the time and his life felt like it was coming unraveled while he was stuck in Hawaii, which is not the worst thing, but not everybody in Hawaii is living in paradise. You can fight Hawaii, but then you are swimming upstream because Hawaii doesn't care!

You can fight San Francisco and succeed, you can fight your way upstream, every day can be a struggle, but if you do that in Hawaii and stop moving for a second, the vines are going to grow over you and and you will disappear. John worked at it the whole time he was there. If you fight Hawaii itself, the ocean, or even some aspects of the culture it can get hostile, but it helped him to work out what was important. John needed to put some stuff that wasn't important by the wayside because fighting was not producing good results.

Just yesterday his daughter came in crying because she was in a conflict with the little girl across the street who didn't want to do what John’s daughter wanted to do. There was no resolution and they got into a big fight. She had learned to snorkel the last few times they were in Maui and John told her: ”Do you remember when you are watching a turtle and the turtle is eating little bits of green off of the rock from the big undersea lavascape?” These turtles are as big as she is. ”Remember when the turtle goes over to eat from the rocks and the wave comes in? It just moves the turtle and the turtle moves with the wave. When the wave goes out, the turtle moves out with the wave” - ”Yeah?”

”The turtle is going with the flow! If the turtle really wanted to eat a little patch of lichen and it was going to have to fight that wave and paddle real hard to stay right on that lichen, just to eat that one little lichen. But instead the turtle lets the wave push it in and out, it never fixates on a single piece of lichen. It is going to catch it as it goes by, and there is always another piece of lichen. That is going with the flow, and that is Aloha!” John’s daughter was rolling her eyes at him because he was moving up and down the hall like a turtle being moved by the waves, eating off wall as he went by, doing an actual demonstration.

She said: ”You are so awful!” - ”If your friend doesn't want to play your game, don't insist and paddle hard to make this game happen, but just go with the flow. You will get back to that game, or maybe you will never get back to it. Who cares? Ride the waves in and out!” - ”Ugh, I hate you, dad!” Hopefully if he continues to aloha her it will sink in.

One of the hidden themes of Andrew's show is balancing the yin and the yang. Jamie Catto, the co-foundeer of the world band 1 Giant Leap, was talking about how we are trained to go out and make the thing happen, to create form and focus, while he tries to focus on taking a step back and doing the yin listening and allowing space for things to happen instead of trying to make them happen. John is describing the same thing and it is a funny total accident that the same theme popped through in two different years.

John is not a particularly ambitious agro-type get-things-done person, but he is ambitious and wants to do and accomplish things. He is able to go with the flow, but a part of him is really holding on to not going with the flow and he is not as much yin as he thinks he is, which is the source of a lot of problems. Yang is the masculine, the making-the-thing-happen, fixing-the-thing, while the yin is listening, allowing, creating space, and spaciousness. A lot of men John’s age say they are yin, but a lot of yang is being masked by surface-yin.

Go practice the car, John learning to drive (AS302)

Andrew loves it when John does his dad's voice. It started when John talked about his dad telling him to go practice the car (see RL26). It was in Alaska and his dad wanted him to practice driving and John would take the car out to the airport runway and do donuts.

The first time John was taught to drive was during the summer before his freshman year in High School when he was working at the gold mine in Circle Hot Springs (see RW185). It is basically uncontrolled airspace up there, it is all gravel, and you are a long way off of any kind of highway. It is a closed system and there is not a road that is going anywhere from there.

The owner of the mine had an old Ford F-250 and put John in the driver's seat because he wanted to have one more person working at the mine that he could send to get supplies, but John never got to the point where the owner trusted him to drive the truck. His first lesson was to drive in reverse using the mirrors.

By the time John was 14 it was somewhat plausible for him to get a learner's permit because they lived in a rural place. His dad started to teach him to drive and from December of that year (John was 15 by then) his dad would throw him the keys. He had taught him how to use a clutch, but he didn’t want to have to drive around with him while he stalled the car at every stop sign, so he said: ”Go practice the car!” He didn't mean: ”Go down and do donuts at the airport!” He meant: ”Go drive around at 5 mph (8 km/h) and stop at every stop sign!”

It didn’t take John long to teach himself how to drive and then once you do, you want to push your limits and see what the car can take. The first vehicle John bought for himself was a Vespa and that was a long time before he was 16, probably in May of that year. In Anchorage you could get a motorcycle license before a car driver's license. It was a long time ago!

Hawaii has changed a lot in the last 30 years (AS302)

Andrew was 25 or 26 when he first came to the Big Island and he has been off and on there for seven years. There have been changes during that time, but it would be a lot different if he had grown up there and was coming back 30 years later. Before the Internet Hawaii was very isolated and felt like the 1950s. Many of the cultural assumptions and the way people lived were of a different time. Hawaii is the belly button over the world, the most isolated population center.

They have the Saddle Road now and you can drive from Hilo to Kona in an hour and a half, which is sacred land and you are not supposed to drive between the mountains, but nobody cares anymore. John has driven that road and didn't realize it was a new road. Parts of it toward the end are four lanes now and they really improved it. Back in the 1990s it was not what you wanted to use: ”Well, good luck! The night marchers are going to get you!”

The night marchers are Hawaiian ghosts, ancient warrior spirits. The second night John was there some friends invited him to hike out to a crater and he didn’t know where he was going because Big Island is huge. They ended up standing on the edge of a lava lake and it was incredible! On the hike back they were telling him about the Hawaiian ghost called Night Marchers and the only thing you can do to protect yourself is to take off all your clothes and go into the fetal position and then they will ignore you. You also got Menehune, the small people. There is a lot of stuff there! It is very, very special.

John’s story with Hawaii (AS302)

John’s dad was in the Navy during World War II and like everybody who was fighting in the Pacific he was in Oahu many times and stayed at the Royal Hawaiian. He had great memories and John was either conceived in Hawaii or Mexico, he can't figure out which story is the real story. His mom and dad went to Hawaii in the 1960s on a cruise ship back when that was the main way to get there. In 1970 John's aunt and uncle built a house in Kihei. Together with three friends they bought an acre of land across the street from the beach, which at the time was undeveloped, and they built a compound of four little houses behind a lava rock wall.

Throughout John’s whole childhood his family would go there and stay at the little Kihei house, but they also went to Honolulu. Alaska and Hawaii have always had a special relationship as the 49th and 50th states. A lot of people from Alaska bounce back and forth to Hawaii and there are also a lot of people from Hawaii that go to Alaska, which seems less normal.

When John was a kid the plane fare from Anchorage to Honolulu was not that serious. There were no direct flights to Big Island or Maui, but everybody flew through Wahoo. John and his family went to Hawaii all the time, but in High School they stopped because his parents didn’t want to be with him any more than they had to.

How Anchorage has changed since John’s childhood (AS302)

Anchorage has changed a lot since John was young, but weirdly also not. When Seattle wants to change they tear stuff down and build new stuff where the much cooler old stuff used to be. Seattle doesn't really need to do that, but it is constrained geographically and can't really expand because it is on an isthmus. When Anchorage expanded they just kept building stuff further and further out, like an urban sprawl situation.

The center of town doesn't look and feel that different now. They built a new High School on the South end of town and they called it South and now when you are up there and talk to people, they will tell you: ”Oh, he went to South!” as though that is significant. When John was growing up, if you had said: ”Oh, he went to West!”, that said it all about that guy. ”Say no more!”

John went to East and if you met somebody who went to West don't leave your wallet lying around, not because West is a dangerous place - it was the least dangerous of all the schools - but because you can't trust those people. John has no idea what South is and when they say: ”He went to South!” - ”Is that good? Is that bad? What is it?” That is what has changed about Anchorage: There is more of it, but they haven't torn down any of the old Anchorage.

John’s mom being worried John would not make it to 30 (AS302)

On his 30th birthday John's mom was relieved because in the era when he was between 18 and 26 years old she legitimately thought he might not live to his 30th birthday. In High School he wasn't actually in much jeopardy. He hadn't started doing drugs. He drank, but everybody in Alaska drinks like crazy and the fact that John drank like crazy didn't set him apart.

When John was 30 he walked from Amsterdam to Istanbul in a time before cell phones and when email wasn't very commonplace. He couldn't imagine it until he had a kid himself, but imagine your kid walking from Amsterdam to Istanbul and you will hear from them only occasionally. That can't possibly be very fun for a parent, especially because John had been doing drugs and drinking quite a bit before and she wouldn't hear from him for weeks.

All you can do is sit and imagine the worst. Now that John has a kid, just the prospect of her being 24 years old and in trouble for whatever reason, like if she lost her way somewhere, is a terrible feeling. He can't imagine how it would make him feel and he has a lot of sympathy for his poor mom. She does not spend any time or emotional energy wishing things were different because she is entirely action-based and if you want things to be different, she will figure out ways to make things different, but she doesn't wish the past was different and she doesn't wish things now were different, she just does what she can.

When John was sick or drunk or lost she just coped and it was very stressful, but she didn’t have any remorse. If she had gotten a message that he was injured she would have had something to do, and she would have gotten on an airplane to find and rescue him. Him being hurt or arrested or something would have been great for her. She would have had a mission. The only thing she couldn't do anything about was if he was dead and then she would have to fly to Romania and collect the body and that would be the heartbreak.

John is different. He will sit and lament and he is very self-reflective. Andrew can relate to that and it is one of the reasons why he enjoys John’s work. He wouldn't be surprised if they had the same Myers Briggs type.

Andrew’s background (AS302)

Andrew owns his own business. He is an author and a computer consultant. He has written six books in Tropical SciFi and he actually got to call into Back to Work episode 100, the one call-in show, which was was right before his first book came out back in late 2012. All six books are inspired by Hawaii. Three of them are tropical SciFi with mystery elements and three of them are true.

They are technically an action memoir because it could basically be an action movie. It is the story of what happened when Andrew moved from Wisconsin to lower Poona on Big Island and all these incredible things that happened to him. Getting those out was one of his biggest projects for the last 10 years and the reviews have been really good.

Before the pandemic Andrew was selling his books in person in bookstores and in markets to tourists and locals. He does hope that John will get to release a book some day. The Hawaii book is called 10.000 Hours in Paradise and to sign it for people whose adventures here are just starting is like coming full circle. You put years into these things when you are able to hand it to somebody and they give you cash American money you think: ”Wow, I am making an impact!” Then you go on Amazon and that person leaves a review. It was a pretty good gig until the virus.

Andrew has been embraced by the great state of Hawaii as a local author and most of the other local authors he has met are all mystery writers. Nothing like hiding a body in a volcanic hole, called a puka! Occasionally there are missing people here and people get freaked out. They are almost universally ladies and they are basically all Andrew’s aunties and they are super sweet. He is really lucky in that respect. He also does some design work on the side, but most of his income was the book sales, which is incredible.

How John came onto podcasting (AS302)

In the very early days John didn't know what a podcast was, but he was doing all kinds of media. Throughout his Rock years he would give a lot of interviews and at the time when Merlin asked him to cover for him on his podcast with Dan he said: ”Sure! I will talk to somebody on the phone, that is not hard!”

Merlin and John had become friends and Merlin built John’s first website. One time he was helping Merlin by being on The Merlin Show (see MSHOW), not that Merlin needed his help, but Merlin had given him so much help and when he asked him: ”Be on my show!” - ”Sure!”

Merlin suggested to record their regular phone calls and publish them, and John said: ”Whatever you want!” and it wasn't until a couple of dozen episodes in that John realized that they were doing a show. It was also fun for John and it was a thing that he had some ownership over, to whatever small degree.

John never had a plan of any kind about how he was going to make a living and he is only now conscious that he needs to make a living. The advantage of not having a plan is that when a fork comes in the road and you don’t really force the issue one way or the other. A lot of the decisions that John made since he was 21 were made because he came to some really small fork in the road. It is not a case of going in the path of least resistance, but following your attraction and your aptitude much more freely because your decisions weren't pre-made based on your assumption about what your future was going to be.

John came up with a handful of bands that were fronted by amazingly talented songwriters. They were differently talented than John, some of them way better singers, some of them really crafty songwriters, some of them just really good musicians. A lot of times they had a vision of what they wanted and what they thought success for their band was going to be. It invariably involved signing a major label deal, getting tour support money from the label that would enable them to have a bus or a van and then they could quit their job and then they could make a record, et cetera, all of those preconditions.

At the same time John didn't have a goal and when somebody came along and said: ”We can only pay you $100 a night, but it is going to cost you $150 a day to keep the band on tour!”, he borrowed a car, put the guys in the truck, and they slept in the van or on people's floors. John didn't have an expectation that he was ever going to have a deal where people were paying him. He was never going to have a major label deal. He hoped, but he never thought he would and he never expected to.

In 2011 a lot of people said: ”Hey, let's start a podcast!” and their first thought was: ”What does it pay?” or ”I can't do it because I don't have the time!” Merlin and John did that show for three years without ever making a penny from it (their first sponsor was in episode 105) and to do that required that John did not have a plan. If you came to him now and wanted to start a podcast with him he would say he can't afford to unless it is something that he can see is going to earn him some money because his time is valuable.

John was 42 years old when they started with the podcast and apparently at that time he didn't think his time was too valuable to do it. He considered his friendship with Merlin to be important, it sounded fun, and he couldn't possibly have had a strategy. If his strategy would have been to have a successful podcast that would become his career he would have done 1000 things differently than what he did and if he had been yang about it he wouldn't be here today. It takes a lot of energy!

What a lot of people don't understand about performance is that you have been rehearsing and training your whole life to be able to talk to somebody comfortably and not get social anxiety, and to not ever get tongue-tied or feel dumbfounded. John has trained himself out of that. When he was young there were plenty of times when he sat in a chair just covered in flop sweat because he didn't know what to say and he didn't know how to be there.

Using your inner voice also as your performing voice (AS302)

Years ago John was on a panel show on live radio hosted by John Moe, who then went on to work in Minnesota Public Radio. The other panelist was Luke Burbank who later started the show Too Beautiful to Live. They talked about the news of the day on public radio in Seattle and they threw a question to John that he didn't know how to answer. Luke Burbank was sitting next to him, and he put his hand on John's shoulder and said: ”It's cool! You got this!”

John was embarrassed! It was the first time he had ever been on radio and it was alien for him to sit at a microphone with headphones on and try to be fun and funny. Andrew doesn’t think so because he grew up recording himself on cassette tapes and he thought it was endlessly entertaining. John doesn’t like to hear the sound of his own voice. He listens to his songs 8000 times when he is recording them, and then he doesn’t want to ever listen to his own album.

The other day John was talking to Dan about the process of having your written voice, your speaking voice, your inner voice and your storytelling voice all be the same voice. It has been a long process for him (see RW183)! A lot of people switch modes when they start to tell a story and they are no longer themselves, but they switch over into some sort of ”Now I am telling a story!”

You can just tell that the voice they use in the world is not the same as their inner voice. The hardest part of being a liar is that you have to remember all your lies and if your inner voice and your outer voice aren't the same voice, then you basically have to remember your lies all the time.

Your inner voice is yourself and if your outer voice is different then it is a lie and you are lying all the time, even if it is just in tone. That is why some people are always uncomfortable because they are hoping that nobody finds out that this isn't their real voice. Linking all those things up was a process of realizing that John's inner voice was fine and he could just use that as his outer voice, his writing voice, and even his singing voice.

Andrew was listening to Ultimatum this morning. He asked Siri to shuffle The Long Winters and Ultimatum came up and he hadn’t heard this in a few months.

Self-acceptance (AS302)

Finding his voice was a journey of self-acceptance in the sense of: ”This is who I am and this is what you get!” The Woo-aspect of our contemporary society goes the extra step of: ”It is okay and you are okay and you are good and you are lovable and you deserve a hug!”, but John doesn’t believe any of that. He believes to get to a point where you can say: ”This is who I am and this is…”

Years ago John was dating a girl who was an outlier for him, not somebody he normally would have dated, but it was a weird transitional moment in his life. She had a lot of cool-kid tattoos and she was very cool and brash and much more of a flamboyant alternative culture than he was. She was very fit and being very fit was part of her culture.

By the second or third time they were undressed with one another, it was in a hotel in the middle of the day, not under the covers or in the dark, there was a look on her face and she said: ”I am used to being with guys who are really fit and you are not really fit!” John was in a very vulnerable place already because not being fit is a place that he had always reprimanded himself for.

He had a flash of confidence born of necessity because a comment like that would otherwise devastate him and in a state of being devastated he is done and if they were going to continue a relationship under those conditions he would be under her thumb from then on.

John said: ”Well look, here is the deal: This is me. There is not some platonic ideal of me that you are dating and the one in front of you is one that needs to achieve the platonic ideal of itself. This is it and it is really your choice. Is this what you want? Am I the one you want? Or do you want to date someone else? And if you want to date me, then I am this and it is 100% on you whether or not you can handle it or not!” and he was watching the look on her face change as she about-faced it and said: ”No, no, no! It is you. I want to date you!”

It is the confidence that comes when the chips are down, when somebody has got a gun pointed at you really. Walking away from it John did not feel like he deserved a hug or he was worthy of her love and there was nothing sweet about it, but: ”Look, I recognize I am fucked up, but I am it and I am not going to walk around being sorry. I don't deserve anything, but I am sure as shit not going to be sorry!”

As far as love and romance goes it is always easier for John to be alone. The threat of being unloved or the threat for someone to say: ”If you don't change, then I might withhold my love!” does not exist for him because he is two steps ahead of you, he is fine being alone and he is not going to put up with any of that kind of shit! It is a kind of freedom!

There have been plenty of times where a desire to be loved by someone was stronger than his desire to be alone and those have been nightmares. It is not like being alone doesn't satisfy his desire to be loved, but he would rather be alone than be either despised or on a leash and that is liberty, but it has nothing to do with feeling like he deserves better.

When people say: ”You deserve better!” - ”No, you don't! You don't deserve better. You get what you get and don't be upset!” and if you don't like it, then change it. The culture that says that we deserve anything is the one that John can’t get with. He doesn’t have any part of him that feels like he deserves anything, except he deserves more faves on his tweets. Andrew faves John’s tweets sometimes, they are good tweets!

John had that tweet the other day about Star Wars where Mark Hamill replied to him (see RL380). It was the biggest tweet he ever had and it makes him super-mad because it is his daughter's tweet. She said said something and got 220.000 likes and John worked his ass off over there on Twitter and he doesn’t get shit.

The lyric "Crave translates into slave" (AS302)

Andrew had a lyric stuck in his head when he got out this morning: ”Crave translates into slave” (from the song Ultimatum by The Long Winters), if you are craving a person's acceptance and if you are willing to change for someone else, you are already losing. It starts in drug addiction, food addiction, or sex addiction: As soon as you go across the line to crave, then you are totally a slave, whether it is heroin or whatever it is, and approval is a big one.

A lot of John’s songs starts with addiction, which then becomes a metaphor for love. He himself was developing addictions and love at the same time and he didn't develop a healthy relationship to either thing. He wasn't particularly well grounded in love or drugs when he met those two things in the wild. They were the only two directions it seemed like a person could go toward an experience that you could really feel.

If somebody gave John an assignment he was never somebody who completed it, handed it in and the grade he received was sufficient. The grade was never sufficient! He got an A? Big fucking deal! That's it? This was our exchange? You gave me an assignment I didn't care about, I completed it to your satisfaction, and you gave me a letter? Why am I participating in this?

Whether it is A, B, or C, it is just a quick round of applause that immediately goes away. It is the ”What have you done for me lately?” culture. There is no thrill and no passion. Getting drunk, getting high or falling in love on the other hand felt dangerous, passionate, unpredictable and scary. They were potential gateways to experiences that John didn’t have to think up himself. If you fall in love with somebody, you don't have to think up the thing that is going to push you to the edge, but the animal in you is making it up.

The same is true with with drugs and alcohol: You don’t have to make up a problem or an adventure, but one will happen. John does equate all of those things and they feel equally perilous, but now that he doesn't do drugs and alcohol - he has been sober for 25 years - it is love that imperils him more and that is not what he set out to do.

Andrew has a couple of alcoholics in his family and dealing with that personally has really given him a lot of empathy for that as a condition. Craving is always a slippery slope and if you don't have any perspective on your limitations, then you give all your power away.

John never felt like he deserves anything because he is inherently virtuous or good, but he does have the expectation that things always have been in some way, you could describe it as entitlement, but if you grow up and your water is always clean, you don't even know to think that stipulating that your water be clean is a thing you have to do and the day that you first get a glass of dirty water it is not a flaw and you are surprised by it. Every morning you woke up and no one ever chopped off your finger, so the first time someone chops off your finger you are surprised of course! That is not a moral failing on your part.

There is a lot of that in John’s life because he was raised where he was and how he was and by whom he was. He expects when he walks into a room that he is going to be greeted. It isn't really even that he feels like there is anything special about him, he is just used to being greeted when he walks into a room. Understanding that this isn't true for everyone has been a learning experience, but it wasn't that he thought he was entitled to anything, it is just the subtler form of entitlement, which is: ”What do you mean there's no seconds? There's always seconds!” The first rule is: Make it all! Make all the scabetti!

Religion (AS302)

Andrew is a non-practicing Buddhist. Both of John’s parents were free thinkers that had been raised in a tradition. His mom was a Methodist and his dad’s father was a Presbyterian minister, but by the time John’s dad got to be an adult he was part of an Episcopal culture. They were raised in the first half of the 20th century and religion played a much larger cultural role in the middle class, but by the time John came around neither one of them was religious so much as they were part of the first generation of people that had transitioned to spiritual rather than religious and they got to call their own shots.

John’s dad had a lot of different religion, his mom had a lot of different religion, they put it all together and took what they liked and it worked for them. It works the same way for John’s sister. She is variously Buddhist and practices a whole goulash of religious, but John is not. He doesn’t have things that are sacred, he doesn't have sacraments, he doesn’t have ritual in his life really, he doesn’t do the same thing every day or every Sunday, he doesn’t take comfort in things being constant, he doesn’t look outside for something to be his polestar.

All of John’s reflection is bounced off of what he perceives to be the known universe: The laws he has managed to discern, other people, and what they appear to be constituents of. He is looking at systems and is asking himself: ”Am I in this system? Am I not? Are we all? Is there a way to ever be out of it?” All of that is fascinating, a thing to let your imagination roam toward. John’s self reflection is evident in his podcasts, but it is not related to the question of: ”Is there a space wisdom? Is there space math? For sure, but space wisdom?”

John chases God all the time, but we are such malleable little monkeys. How can you say? My perception, your perception, they are such flawed little scripts that are running. Who cares what John’s little mind says? It comes back to what Mike Squires said: ”Feelings are real!”, that is as far as it goes. John got sober because he stood out in the in the forest and said: ”God, please relieve me of my suffering!” and God did, but what is that? Feelings are real more than that he is going to tithe to the first church that he walked into after that happened.

John doesn’t really think there is a great spirit, but there is such a vastness that we could never know. There is a force, but force is just Midichlorians, and the story keeps changing.


Andrew is thinking about also getting a silver ingot because it is such a good idea to hide your money in plain sight (see story in RL176).

Andrew enjoyed the new Western State Hurricanes album. The story about remastering the drum sounds was harrowing (see RL341/RL342). John was in the studio for two weeks, but the process of making it happen was ongoing for two years. It was the last show people got to see before the coronavirus lockdown started.

Andrew was in Seattle in 2009 before John started his podcast.

Andrew says that Merlin and John are tied for first place of his absolute favorite podcasters, especially now with lockdown affecting Big Island as well. You are still allowed to swim, but everything is strange. Andrew likes routine and in a way John has a routine as well because he is now doing a podcast every day, but not because he wants to.

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