As much as we all hope our plans amount to something, and we graduate to “the good life,” it can often prove to be a bust rather than a boon.

Why? Because once you’ve climbed those rungs of success, you’ll constantly be afraid that “the good life” will be taken away from you.

Here’s the antidote. Don’t just anticipate misfortune without flinching, fully embrace it when it arrives. See what you can make out of a bad grade, crap assignment, or shattered dream.

Then every lost wallet, dropped phone call, job dismissal, and broken bone will lose its ability to disrupt your life.  Suddenly, you’re able to feel at ease even when a shit storm arrives.  And they will, so be ready!

On June 7, 1893, a young Indian lawyer was asked to vacate the first class compartment of a train because he was not white-skinned. He refused and told the railway officers that he would not go voluntarily, they would have to throw him out.  This act of standing up against injustice was, in effect, this holy man’s first act of civil disobedience.*

Even thought it’s not the exact anniversary of Gandhi’s first time speaking truth to power, it’s always a good day to channel the spirit of this activist for people’s rights. And independent thinking besides!

*He got what he asked for.  Gandhi was thrown out of the compartment, and his luggage was flung out too.  The train sped away, leaving him freezing outside the station.  However, he didn’t lose his front teeth in this encounter, that came later.


Feeling stuck? Blocked? Like you’ve hit a brick wall?

You’re not alone. But rather than work yourself up into a froth, we suggest taking a page from Marcus Aurelius’ notebook.

True, it is a pretty old notebook. After all, Marcus was a Roman ruler back when you could count the centuries on two fingers. But that doesn’t mean he was ancient in his thinking. In fact, he was one of the first guys to carry around some papyrus and stylus and pen notes to himself to keep him on track.

It was his journaling, at first untitled, then known as “Marcus’ Writings to Himself,” and finally as the “Meditations”, where we gain our understanding of Stoicism, an early form of philosophy.

Stoicism sets out to remind us of how unpredictable the world can be, how brief our moment of life is, and that the source of our dissatisfaction lies in our view of the situation, not in the situation itself.  In fact, Marcus wrote to himself that any problem we might face could actually be opportunity in disguise.  As he put it: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

In other words, everything is opportunity.  Even the brick wall that you’re currently banging your head against. So there’s no need to panic. Being stuck isn’t “bad.” It just is. By stepping back from self-flagellation and gazing at the problem dispassionately, you can begin to accept it. And in the acceptance comes growth.

So enjoy every blessed obstacle in your path, and they’ll return the favor by offering you a chance to overcome them!


If ever there was a day to consider your quirks, ticks, neuroses, body dysmorphia and secret thoughts to be your most valuable assets, it’s Friday.  So let us help you disengage from the race of the rats for a few moments and celebrate all that is freaky, beginning with the first true oddballs who paved the way for the iconoclasts we rally around today.

While today it can refer to anyone who chooses to take the road least traveled in search of new experiences, ideas or behaviors, the term “freak” originally referred to those with physically deformities or strange diseases. Superstition lead the masses to label these creatures as bad omens up until the 16th Century, when they were brought out of the closet  during the reign of England’s Elizabeth I. Public curiosity led to the development of the “sideshow,” with many of the genetically-challenged agreeing to be publicly displayed in return for a cut of the profits.

Over the centuries, people with physical abnormalities grew into a highly profitable market, specifically in England and the United States, with P.T. Barnum and the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. popularizing the circus sideshow to the delight of ticket-buyers.  In turn, performers of all stripes took this as a cue to develop more outlandish acts in order to shock and titillate audiences who had “seen everything.”

So where do we acquire our current understanding of what “getting your freak on” means? During the early 1960s, former marathon dancing champion Vito Paulekas and his wife Szou established an art studio and boutique in Hollywood that become the epicenter of a new movement combining semi-communal living with free-form dancing. Along with their friends and fellow artists, they called themselves “freaks” or “freakers” and became well known in the area for their unconventional behavior.  Among the musicians and performers of the day who congregated at Paulekas’ place were Frank Zappa, David Crosby, Don Van Vliet, and The GTOs.

It was Zappa, leader of the seminal ‘60s group The Mothers of Invention, who attempted to distance the freaks from being narrowly defined, preferring to champion an aesthetic that eschewed fashion or political leanings in favor of independent thought. He described their behavior like so: “Freaking out is a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded and restricted standards of thinking, dress and social etiquette in order to express creatively his relationship to his environment and the social structure as a whole.”  It’s no surprise that Zappa’s first album with the Mothers was entitled “Freak Out.”  Also noteworthy is that it was the first double album debut in history, which was a freaky thing to do.

At the Mothers’ first concerts, audience members were invited to express themselves however they wished, whether shouting, dancing, playing kazoo, or letting a band member spray them with a foreign substance.  Unlike the hippies with their emphasis on drug-taking and socialized protests, a freak could behave in whatever way they deemed creatively satisfying.

Naturally, being freaky and letting one’s freak flag fly was taken up by popular culture to mean any sort of fun, mischief or invention that could be had at the expense of normality. One way Zappa defied even the normality of being a freak was to make friends with the television avatars of pop music, The Monkees.  According to ’60s historian Barry Miles, Zappa was a fan of The Monkees, and actually invited Micky Dolenz to join his band.*  While that didn’t happen, The Monkees got Zappa to appear on their TV show and in their subsequent feature film,  “Head.”  Co-written by Jack Nicholson, Zappa plays “The Critic,” who commandeers a talking bull on a leash.  In his scene, Zappa tells Davy Jones he needs to work on his music because the youth of America is depending on him.

Today, letting your freak flag fly is something anyone can do, even if you spend most of your time behind a computer, inputting code for a social network.  We invite you to get up from your desk, walk into the hallway, and express yourself however you please.  Just make sure no one from Human Resources is nearby; they don’t let their freak flags fly until no one is around.  Then you should see what they’re up to!

*Shown above: Frank Zappa and Mickey Dolenz, both freaks of nature.