Nick David Wright

Living well, laughing often, loving much.

Hot Air

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The metal cart banged on the swinging door of the cooler as the stocker emerged from the chilly room onto the sales floor.

A group of shoppers turned at the noise, and noticed the bundled-up young man.

“What are you wearing a coat for?” One of them asked, grabbing the collar of the garment.

“It’s cold in there,” he replied.

“Are you a pussy? I wouldn’t need a coat to work in there!”

“Well if I was as full of hot air as you, I wouldn’t need a coat either.”

Written by Nick David Wright

January 15, 2010 at 5:00 am

Posted in Fiction

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Bicycles

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I love bicycles.

I think that bicycles are a nearly perfect synthesis of human and machine. When I think of how to make our lives on this planet more ecologically sound, the bicycle is my mascot.

There exists no more efficient means to move people from one place to another than the bicycle.

I have to admit that I have not been riding my bike very much lately. That is due to the abnormal sub-freezing temperatures that we have been experiencing. Not that you can’t ride a bike in cold, icy weather; I was car-free all last winter, I assure you that it is possible. Even pretty nice when you do it right.

But I’m currently living outside of town, and an 8-mile ride through snow on these back country roads is not something I’m willing to risk my life for at this point in time. Not to mention that my current ride needs a bit of work before it’ll be running as smoothly as it should.

But as the weather warms up, you can expect to see more bicycle-related posts from me. And not just bicycles either, I’m a major fan of any human-powered tool.

Written by Nick David Wright

January 14, 2010 at 5:00 am

Heroes

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I was captivated last January when a commercial airline pilot managed to safely land an incapacitated jet in the Hudson river saving every single life on board. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger became an instant sensation. The news media was all over him. And he is very reluctant to use the label they’ve bestowed upon him … hero.

I recently read his book, “Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters,” in which he wrote about his experiences as a pilot, in particular the day he ended up in the river. He demurs from the title of hero saying heroes are the people who see a burning building and choose to risk their lives in order to save others. He says that he was just doing his job. But he fails to see that he made his choice when he sat down behind the controls of that aircraft and put the fate of more than 150 people in his hands.

The story of Captain Sully stirs strong emotions in me and many others. And it isn’t hard to figure out why. We live in a world where we are constantly barraged by the news media. And the news media apparently thinks that the great majority of the news we need to know is bad news.

Wars, murder, crime, corruption, greed, accidents.

It is depressing.

We need good news. But good news doesn’t sell as many papers. Good news doesn’t pull in the viewers (so they think). Good news doesn’t win pulitzers.

And we need heroes. In these bleak times we need to hear about them. We need to know that there are still people out there doing extraordinary things for the benefit of others.

Captain Sully does not want to be known as a hero. What hero does? But I think we can find at least 150 folks that disagree with him.

Written by Nick David Wright

January 13, 2010 at 5:00 am

Zox – Goodnight

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Written by Nick David Wright

January 12, 2010 at 5:00 am

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Purusharthas

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The past decade of my life has been dedicated, more or less, to the pursuit of the answer to one question: What do I want out of life, and how do I get it?

I believe I have a fairly good idea of what it is that I want. But I have been struggling with the second part of my question, how do I get it?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about balance between the various aspects of life. I have begun to suspect the answer to that troublesome part B lay in that direction.

I have swung between the extremes. Working so much I have no time for anything else, working so little I have no money for what I desire. And I’ve been thinking very hard about how to find my middle road.

Recently I received the February issue of Yoga Journal in the mail. In which is printed an article titled “Aim High,” by Hillary Dowdle. The focus of the article is the yoga principles known as purusharthas.

The purusharthas divide all the aspects of life into four categories, which according to the article, “offer a yogic perspective on how to engage skillfully with the world.”

The four categories, or “aims of life,” are: dharma (duty), artha (wealth), kama (pleasure), and moksha (the pursuit of liberation).

At first I was a little unsure what I thought of the four aims, but I have come to think that they are a wise division of life. I had only been making two distinctions in life, I was treating dharma and artha as one and the same with kama and moksha.

I have yet to grasp all of what the extra divisions mean, but the breaking up of dharma and artha will have an impact in how I approach life.

The article in Yoga Journal was a well-timed breath of fresh air.

Written by Nick David Wright

January 11, 2010 at 5:00 am

Posted in Yoga

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Buildings

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The older man was a devout church-goer. He had inquired many times about the faith of the younger man, only to be met with vague, deflecting answers.

The two met again one day and the older man again invited the younger to attend church.

“I don’t think I will,” said the younger.

“In my experience,” said the older, “the people with the most successful spiritual walk are at church every time the doors are open.”

“In my experience,” replied the younger, “the people with the most successful spiritual walk are those that realize that ‘church’ has nothing to do with buildings.”

Written by Nick David Wright

January 8, 2010 at 5:00 am

Posted in Fiction

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Scientific reductionism

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If I went in to an auto parts store and came out with only a steering wheel and announced that I was going to drive somewhere you’d think that I had gone insane. Obviously, you need much more than just a steering wheel in order to go places.

Yet that is exactly how scientists treat food. They see that folks who eat food X have less disease Y. Upon examining the food and discovering it has high levels of nutrient Z, they’ll announce that taking a supplement of nutrient Z will lower a person’s risk of disease Y.

But they are making two grave errors. First they are ignoring the fact that food X is not just nutrient Z, it is a whole host of other things that work together to make food X what it is. Secondly, they are assuming that they know everything there is to know about what makes up food in the first place. And if you take a look at the history of nutrition science you’ll see how often scientists find new players in the game of food.

Scientific reductionism, as the practice is known, may make sense in certain circumstances. But it leads to sloppy decisions regarding a subject much too important to be playing chemistry with … our food.

For more information see Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.”

Written by Nick David Wright

January 6, 2010 at 5:00 am