Here it is: The corporate life sells you the lie that you can own the company or a
: BleacerBreaker. (August 27, 2019). Facts About The Roman Empire That Will Shock And Amaze You. https://www.bleacherbreaker.com/trending/facts-about-the-ancient-roman-empire/Because of the self-serving bias, those few writers who do get lucky think that their persistence, hard work, and skill played the major role in their success. They’ll discount random external factors and we, their admirers, discount randomness as well. We discount the role of luck because we suffer from our own biases, in this case, survivorship bias — the tendency to focus on the survivors (the lucky ones) and to forget all about those writers who are just as persistent, just as hard-working, and just as skilled, but who nevertheless keep failing for no fault of their own.When hell is other people, foraging reminds me of the connections we share. The leaves, the stems, the flowers are on the map leading me back to the bestower of the names. Hare’s foot inkcap, mule’s ear, monkey flower, wake robin, we chant across time.: BleacerBreaker. (August 27, 2019). Facts About The Roman Empire That Will Shock And Amaze You. https://www.bleacherbreaker.com/trending/facts-about-the-ancient-roman-empire/As we look up to the winners and compare ourselves to them, we conclude that something’s wrong with us. We think that there must be some secret lessons they’ve learned that we haven’t and so we ask them for advice. More often than not, the winners dole it out. They’ll tell us how important it is to shape our pachinko balls just the right way, how critical it is to make them shine with just the right polish, and how we, too, if we keep improving our own little steel balls, will win. They’ll retrieve a steel ball out of the winning pocket and they’ll show it to us. “Do you see how special this little ball is?” they’ll say, “How much better it is than all the others? How it has just the right shape, how it’s shiny but not too shiny, and how that little dimple at the top made all the difference?” But if you understand pachinko, you’ll understand that this steel ball doesn’t have any inherent properties that made it a winner. Sure, it wasn’t a big misshapen potato, but that’s about it. It was just a good steel ball — like countless others — that happened to hit the right pins in the right order and at the right angle.Survival depends on knowing the difference. I’ve been thinking about the resilience of those who have foraged before me — the prehistoric ancestors who hunted and gathered for millennia; the witchy power of those who possess the medicinal secrets of the forests; the indigenous and immigrant families who carry on their cultural traditions; those suspicious of the industrialized food systems; and the impoverished who search for wild foods to keep themselves from starving.Having success as a writer is pretty much the same as playing pachinko. The stories you write are your steel balls and when you publish them you’re launching them out onto the world. After that, how they bounce around in the pachinko machine — whether that’s Medium, the blogosphere, social media, or the Internet at large — is out of your control. All you can do is lean back and watch. If you’re lucky, your story will end up in the winning pocket and go viral. More likely than not, it will just be swallowed by the machine.
Though the days feel shapeless, an eternal present in which none of us plan far ahead, when I forage I’m reminded about the persistence of time. Of life. The neon vibrancy of spring foliage in Northern California parched as temperatures rose. After the chickweed dried out, the plentiful green walnuts and green almonds emerged, remnants of the agricultural past in our neighborhoods. In the heart of summer, dusky plums and swollen blackberries hung heavy and ripe.
Have you heard of pachinko? It’s a cross between a pinball machine and a slot machine and it’s all the rage among gamblers in Japan. It involves a set of small steel balls which you, as a player, put into a tray and then launch onto a vertical playing field using a spring-loaded lever. By adjusting the pressure on the lever, you can control the force with which each ball is launched. And that’s just about all the control you have over the game. Once you’ve launched a ball, all you can do is watch how it randomly ricochets back down between hundreds of brass pins. If you’re lucky, the ball lands in a small hole at the bottom of the playing field — called the winning pocket — and you’ll win.
I have always enjoyed corporate life. But recently, I realized I need to save myself from the pitfalls. An unconventional approach to corporate life helped me. It stopped me finishing work and feeling like I wanted to bash the plaster walls in of my apartment with my piss-weak fists.
You’re told to follow the rules, get a good job and climb the ladder. You do so, often in total blindness of what is at the end of the corporate rainbow. I fell for this trap too.
One of my sons told his fourth-grade class that we went on “400 walks” over the summer, “two or three times a day.” An exaggeration, but foraging has shaped these months for my family. The vast majority of what we identify, even if it’s described as edible, we leave alone. It’s the equivalent of catch-and-release, the thrill of the hunt without intending to consume.
We humans suffer from self-serving bias: we attribute success to our own abilities and efforts, but failures to external factors. When we earn good grades it’s because we’re smart. But when we get bad grades it’s because our teachers suck. When our article gets accepted it’s because we wrote an awesome story. When it gets rejected it’s because the editors are opinionated sticklers.
When hell is other people, foraging reminds me of the connections we share. The leaves, the stems, the flowers are on the map leading me back to the bestower of the names. Hare’s foot inkcap, mule’s ear, monkey flower, wake robin, we chant across time.
Your favorite superstar blogger tells you to believe in yourself, to never give up, and that success eventually comes? He tells you he started out as a nobody and that it was only after three years of daily writing that he became a massive success? Well, someone out there has been writing daily for 10 years and writes just as well, yet, that poor fellow remains unknown.
Since the smoke from West Coast blazes cleared, I’ve been harvesting bay laurel nuts, butternuts, and acorns, which have dropped from their branches. In places scorched by wildfires, birds are already feasting on pine and cypress seeds, freed from the heat. This winter, I’ll be looking for tart rose hips, ready to pick after the first frost. Come spring, when miner’s lettuce unfurls again, it will be a sign we have survived the darkest of times. Within the year, honeycombed morels will sprout among the ashes of burned-out conifers.