Simple Miracles of Light, Water, & Music

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube

As with the four tarot suits representing basic elements, I do believe the most basic, universal miracles we experience are derived from light, water, music, plants, and landscapes. Last night I was tired and looking to a 5.15 a.m. wakeup time to go on to Poland but decided to take just one more walk to get a new vantage point on light in Vilnius, Lithuania (near Užupis) – and I am so glad I did. The moment I walked into a park square a timed opera recording began with a fountain water show. Every second you take in a natural setting, even with human manipulation, there are never identical scenarios. Always take that one more walk, especially in the evening, if you feel something else awaits you.

 

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Calling on the Baltics for Inspiration – Vilnius

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube

One of the purposes of this site is to draw attention to areas of the world that may not get full western exposure in the media or as a tourist destination. I have been on the road for several weeks now and have gotten to experience the serendipity of the world on many fronts. A region that has a unique balance to it as the meeting place of Nordic, Slavic, Russian, Germany, and currently general European influences (via the EU) is the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These places have offered a great homecoming for me in a way though it is the first time in this lifetime to visit them all. There seems to be so many noble characteristics to these cultures, probably stemming from intense pressures to survive and thrive under more than one occupation. I’ll leave you with some particularly vibrant pictures from Vilnius, Lithuania from late May 2017 in hopes you visit.

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If you would like to know just how inexpensive Tallinn, Riga, or Vilnius are compared to your city, you can visit the Cost of Living Comparison site where users give their input on current prices – though this does not include hotels.

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Trump is a Mess – But the Tiny Thread Holding Things In-Tact Now

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Clearly I am not a political insider and there are lots of people who think they know what is going on in the world, but it takes years of hindsight to hash together a version of history that becomes acceptable or the construction most advantageous to the story of the regime in control. Something I want people to consider however is that we are witnessing a battle between intelligence communities and the controllers of the planet based out of the US and none of the players appear to be virtuous in the least.

It has been a struggle to explain to people my view of Donald Trump, which I am not alone in holding as there are millions of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein voting or supporting progressives that seem to be remarkably ambivalent toward him while holding Hillary Clinton’s feet to the fire. We are all still dissecting 2016’s election and not really getting any wiser or flexible in our views, which is really wasted energy in a way but I think everyone who voted did so with fairly valid logic no matter how they voted. If you can empathize with people who voted for each of the four main candidates, you possess the power to persuade in future ventures, and that is what is more important and effective than blasting your already closely held belief and fury over and over in the same way, which is what I see people doing from my perch in Europe, but also grew weary of on the ground in the US.

I very much believe that Trump can be duplicitous and an embarrassment to the US in the way he delivers information or spin, but at the same time there are many things to consider if you really want a brighter, more balanced future for the US and subsequently the world and you only have to look to the fairly recent past to see that Russia is a fabricated bogeyman to grease the wheels of military spending and destabilize the planet in a way that only further energizes and funds the ultra wealthy destructive class that we hardly see. Trump is very much the unwitting yet willing moving target in this landscape.

I liked Barack Obama for his abilities as an orator and general optics he provided to other western countries, but it is important to recognize shortcomings and faults rather than have a totally partisan view that paints one side as good and the other as bad. There is mainly gray in politics and governance since there are so many historic, systemic faults that cannot be overcome easily and enormously powerful, threatening, silent forces that have the final say of what happens. This is why the language and tone of an administration can change and there are some concessions allowed but generally, the bombs will keep dropping and new war fronts will be opening as the quest for fresh victims and markets can never be fully sated. We are complicit in this by needing returns on our investments and by continuing to consume non-renewables and products coming from dubious sources and origins. Therefore, we cannot get our ideals in place until we truly, meaningfully accept responsibility for what happens. A better reality has to be earned.

I have worked with personalities very similar to Trump before and I can safely say a number of things as to how to manage them even from below. As with almost everything else in life, you must not take them on directly and call them on their bullshit, however just or accurate you may be. Such people have strengths as well and appreciate attributes in the soft skills areas. You must not hit their ego but instead use it from an emotional appeal standpoint. Trump would be receptive to a well-reasoned and heartfelt appeal from the legitimate progressive left if coming from an appearance of respect and true need. What he wants is admiration and to be the hero that does make things better. However, anyone who humiliates or criticizes him he will be consumed with thoughts of destroying them. This drive of proving naysayers wrong is what gave him the drive to get everything he has achieved and also accounts for a pile of lawsuits from breached contracts and Twitter wars. If he feels the nation or groups are against him, he will be very spiteful toward these groups. I understand that it seems immoral to stroke his ego but when someone holds this office, it is the only way, and one very important piece of this process is that someone with this temperament will give extreme liberties and autonomy to trusted people because essentially he would like ot take the credit for good results from teams. If you attack the administration and him, what will happen and has happened is that you give the opportunity for really radicalized neoconservative people who will say what he wants them to say and manipulate him for more aggressive posturing to be the only people with access to him.

Even prior to the firing of FBI Director James Comey, I have been sensing that Trump may suddenly resign under great pressure coming from the neocons, the neoliberals beside them, and public opinion. In spite of what many people may think, this is probably the worst thing that could happen and I feel very confident in saying that Mike Pence and Paul Ryan would bring on a dismantling of freedoms in the US that has been unprecedented. These two figures are not as easily manipulated and do have very specific visions that they would have near universal support to expedite in a lightning round of events and legislation.

The last thing I want everyone to consider is that we are in the midst of a very nasty conspiracy or series of conspiracies that we will probably not hear the truth about ever. I do not know what or who is at the heart of it for sure any more than the next person, but I do know that the villainization of Russia is formulaic from the pages of how Iraq and Afghanistan went in 2001-2003, but the target audience is the old school left majority rather than the center right majority that existed 15 years ago. This is not to say that the leadership of Russia is good or right, but it is more fragmented and layered than we are probably acknowledging or able to comprehend at this time, and just because something comes from Russia, it does not mean that it is coming from Putin, who is upsetting the oligarchs at some times and appeasing them at others, depending on how that affects his ability to maintain power and also fend off western interference in the management of their country, influence, and orbit of power.

Last, it is helpful for all of us to finally abandon our Democrat-Republic paradigm at times because neither seems to be offering a full package of what anyone wants. The US does not have a true labor party, nor a moderate party of reasonable enterprise and security. No amount of protesting is going to have any measurable effect but boycotts and changes in personal behavior and accountability will. If you do write any political figure or organization, write to the Democrats or left-leaning figures and ask for fair, concise engagement with the White House and ask them to present what is reasonable and good for all people rather than to undermine the presidency and pave way for a much more radicalized brand of right-wing policy to gain traction.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube

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Inflexibility is a Death Sentence

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There are times to hold your resolve and push your agenda through despite any obstacle, particularly when your level of investment has progressed far along and the net loss for dropping out exceeds the cost of going forward but too often I see others and catch myself holding on to maxims and policies that may be losing their credibility. I read a book by T. Harv Eker years ago with a line that has stayed with me in many contexts – “you can be right or you can be rich.” Inflexibility does not always impact money or business outcomes either, but the cost of being staid or trapped in a particular echo chamber is missed opportunities that at best will amount to reduced influence bandwidth.

The concept of “saving face” in East Asian cultures is still somewhat esoteric to me but it is related to maintaining your pride and remaining on at least the appearance of the moral or reasonableness higher ground. When encountering inflexibility or profound misunderstanding of your views or the views of a third party being discussed, if you cannot present an argument to the offending party that penetrates them in any fashion, the next option is to be so reasonable, so charming, so ethical, so above board, so diplomatic, and so generous that particularly if you’re in a group, you have potentially made the aggressor or inflexible one seem marginal or tyrannical. It sounds devious to do this but if you are certain that you are in a circumstance where someone needs to weigh possibilities outside of their familiar thought patterns – not necessarily to change their mind but to steer them be more sympathetic and considerate to other groups, cultures, or mentalities – this is often the only way, and you’re doing them a favor because if incapable of swapping realities, the offending party (sometimes yourself!) will most likely lose respect and relevance at some point.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube

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Survivors Head Underground and Value Their Mobility

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube

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A home in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, England.

This is advice worth millions of dollars and yet highly generalized and evidenced all around us. For timeless reasons, some of the most wealthy and some of the most paranoid or astute (not mutually exclusive terms) are investing in property partly underground.

In traveling in the US, Iceland, and British Isles the last few weeks I have been watching for trends but also historical wisdom, and something that stands out is that partly underground homes resurface throughout history such as with Cappadocia homes and cities dating back 3,500 years, and we’re seeing the emergence of this again with emergency underground bunkers for millionaires. The reasons for going underground were anything from not having the technology, knowledge, or resources to build structures, to hiding in a time of war, to more speculative reasons such as hiding from aliens or in preparation for the end of the world above ground.

For those that don’t have millions of dollars, who want to live above ground, or want the

ability to move in a hurry and not lose too much, at the British Museum a few weeks ago, I was reminded of earlier forms of habitation where the thatch cottage was not a quaint novelty but rather a home that could be produced locally and without a ton of sophistication. I think that the ideal for survival, comfort, and cost effectiveness in the next century may be a combination of these two strategies once one is able to invest in property.

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A poster at the British Museum in London showing early habitation in Britain.

We do not know for sure what the future holds and so it is never a good idea to invest extreme capital outlays in planning for things that may never come, but it if you do have extra money to work with or have other means of spreading your resources to cover a variety of future scenarios, there are some important things to consider when it comes to both underground homes and forms of habitation that you can build yourself:

  • there may be tax advantages to building underground or with a roundhouse/thatch house, or one that does not have a conventional foundation
  • with a roundhouse or thatch house you can often source the materials locally and build yourself for nominal costs. One must be wary of and adhere to local building codes though, of course
  • in the event of severe climate change, both housing structures have better heating and cooling stability features that would also be assets in an energy crisis
  • as central control of nations worldwide collapses and the rule of law may come into question, with an underground home you can sometimes escape detection. With a thatch or roundhouse home you can have less invested in property and have the ability to more easily cut your losses and flee in the remote possibility this becomes a necessity
  • the roundhouse/thatch home option may eliminate the need to secure external financing to get a home
  • in more peaceful times and assuming that an abstract finance-oriented economy continues, you have a novelty property that could be used as rental income like with Airbnb

It is my belief that for a variety of reasons we have been in a time of financial instability and we have actually passed peak energy, but a combination of subsidies and other costuming are designed to keep the post-war order in place. Two books from the innovative and prescient New Society Publishers, Dark Age America by John Michael Greer and Shrinking the Technosphere by Dmitry Orlov, while I agree with neither in their entirety, have opened my eyes to the possibility that even a world of wind farms and solar panels still may be out of reach given the levels of resource extraction necessary to transfer to these forms of energy harvesting. I continue to maintain that the most dynamic formula for success is to access the funds still available from globalization while purchasing slowly and affordably but decisively into land resources on a small scale to ensure you have a non-urban power base to shelter in during disruptions of energy and food availability. We need only to look at historical modalities of living to see what has held up and what kinds of emergency structures come about in unstable times and settings. By all means we must also enjoy the variety and convenience that dynamic and successful distribution channels in globalization offer us now and we must with joy connect with friends and share these resources both material and informational in this age.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube

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1990s Kiddos: The Constructive Side of Globalization

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At the moment I am on the road after a major reorganization of a media company I was working at for the last year. All facets of the trip have synced together wonderfully with great friends coming back into my orbit in northwestern Europe and my house safely cared for by tenants and friends that needed the space. In 2012, after this blog/website took shape, I had a clear idea of what to tell about and the videos to go with it. Five years later, the world has evolved to such an extent and is so unpredictable in the West that what is interesting topically is now quite altered.

I have an optimistic view of a lot of things, I think partly inspired by a more powerful US dollar exchange rate when traveling in Europe. Once again I am frequenting hostels, and I would like to report that per usual there is almost always a German, a Frenchman, and a Korean guest, but Canadians seem far less numerous than they used to be on the road (maybe a less powerful Canadian dollar is at work here) and Americans have become far more present now that hostels are a household name in the US.

The uncertainty of what will come with Brexit is very strongly felt outside of London in particular, with places like Scotland and Northern Ireland potentially in limbo in the midst of possible separations from the United Kingdom of their own to contend with and Ireland somewhat in financial limbo if the Trump administration pressures company headquarters  to repatriate to the US and the European Union penalizes companies or Ireland itself for having too favorable tax rates for foreign companies

What does stand out more than anything is that a very high proportion of people born in the 1990s seem especially brilliant, informed, community-minded, and pragmatic. There is a high number of persons in this age group that can speak several languages with greater native fluency (they credit financial news outlets and YouTube videos), and I surmise that since they grew up after 9/11 and in the midst of the 2008 to present financial crisis, they missed the trauma of a world altered and did not have the shock of going from more pampered times to an era of surveillance and looming scarcity.

Our comfort zones are to be stretched in 2017, as I have termed it Institutional Breakdown,  but it is also exciting and a new generation gets to make their impression. Could they be indigo children, the starseeds?

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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Books and Travel Are the Best Value Multipliers (When Chosen Strategically)

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My historic go-to in a so-called desert period, or gap between work or scholastic assignments, has consistently been travel. When funds or timing did not allow my imagination to be expanded with travel, I have relied on books, documentaries, and subtitled films to stand in and do this work while I physically stayed in one region. Reading and travel are relatively inexpensive education and value producing activities in a world of depreciating assets and liabilities.

Quite simply, you can afford to see the world by simply not ever ordering drinks or appetizers in restaurants, spending an extra day shopping for the best flight ticket prices, and being creative or flexible about your accommodations when traveling. If that is out of reach, you can check out books from the library and essentially experience the world without having to go anywhere or spend any money.

olymposWhen embarking on travel, one hears friends and family asking “how can you afford to travel so much? Are you just playing around?” The truth is, I have been to 31 countries and because I shopped around for deals and stayed in youth hostels (check out hostelworld.com to see some of these locations – their reviewing system really prevents a lot of danger and heartache), and by being strategic with this, I spent far less on doing it than on all my used cars combined, and I estimate about half of what my higher education cost, though the latter is somewhat blended with travel. There is nothing wrong with taking package tours or cruises, especially if your time is limited, you have a higher income, and you don’t want to think out a trip. However, it is more cost effective to see several countries at over an extended period and it’s also better for the environment to see a lot of places at once than to make several trips to see one or two countries for a week or two.

If you travel extensively, you are more likely to be a critical thinker when it comes to international diplomacy and reason and be able to think in a more abstract, contextualized way. From a purely fiscal standpoint, if you know that you are going to be changing houses or changing vehicles or the like, you can time your travels so that you are not paying rent and mortgages and it can actually be cheaper to be traveling than it is to maintain a house or apartment.

Books and film with an educational or cultural value are something that produce value to multiple people with very little overhead. I recently went into a bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas called The Raven Bookstore that has extremely well-vetted literature selections. I hesitated for a long time to spend about $25 there because I am very careful with my spending, but I had to take a step back and ask myself 1) Do I want authors to be compensated to produce good work? Yes. 2) Do I want this bookstore to exist and for the clever people there to have satisfying work? Definitely yes. 3) Is $25 worth of education going to come to me from this? Yes, and I could sell the books for a reduced amount or give them to a library and provide residuals to the community.

That said, your time and funds must be spent judiciously. There are times when you want to read for fun or see a beautiful place just because you can, but more often than not you want to try to extract something from it that will pay you back either in having more apt responses in the workplace to better engagement with friends facing problems, compete better in an exam or job interview, or establishing another base or two in other locations to escape to periodically. Where you can go “wrong,” I caution, is that in my case I pursued so many interests, angles, businesses, friendships, cultures, subjects, and what-have-you that I spread myself too thin over hundreds of contacts in a dozen countries and states and could not focus. Therefore, when I have the chance to meet and mentor people in their early 20s in particular, I tell them to consider focusing on a couple of places of interest and to not pursue intellectual interests to the point of impracticality or delusion because the payoff gets watered down as a result. You can relate to lots and lots of people but not be able to get them all to interact together and it becomes incredibly frustrating in a world of specializations and market and demographic segmentation.

Before thinking that travel is a luxury or reading is a waste of time, truly break down the costs and try to think outside of the box for how to place a value on these investments in comparison with the mundane, bourgeois, or necessary things in your life now. If you are not able to afford a budget trip – and most of us have experienced this dearth of time or other resources – living in an age of literacy and information should give you a comparable free substitute in a book or movie.

I’ve written on some of the merits of hostels before, which you can read here: Hostelling Rite of Passage.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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