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Guest Blog: Mr. Daedalus and the Tree of Knowledge

Update 3/16/12: This American Life, who first reported Mike Daisey’s story (which we blogged about here), has retracted the story due to factual inaccuracies. Stay tuned to Welcome to Adulthood for our thoughts on this issue.

For Mike Daisey’s response: check out this article.

The blog entry below was first published on Welcome to Adulthood on January 20, 2012

“…It’s just too damn easy to rationalize away that nagging little part of my brain that knows I should be more concerned about what’s in the sausage.”

Mr. Daedalus and the Tree of Knowledge

By David Daedalus

So there I was,  in my comically-small San Diego flat playing Doom on my iPad, when I turned on the radio just in time to catch an installment of ‘This American Life’. I have a particular fondness for this show and was doubly pleased as, like a rare steak and a fine Bordeaux, it pairs nicely with laying on my futon and blasting the minions of hell into piles of pixilated goo. This installment was entitled ‘Mister Daisey and the Apple Factory’, and after hearing it, I was left with one startling revelation:

Mike Daisey might well be the devil, and oddly, the devil seems to care more about other people than I do.

You see, Mike Daisey is a monologist and an Apple enthusiast who recently traveled to China to meet the people who manufacture all our iPads and MacBooks and whatnot. The episode of ‘This American Life’ is an edited version of a monologue that he gave about his trip. He described in detail the staggering pollution in Shenzhen, the Chinese city where Apple and lots of other name-brand electronic stuff is made. His story also told of workers being forced to use a known neurotoxin (n-hexane) to clean iPhone screens simply because it dried slightly faster than the non-neurotoxin alternative, alcohol. He described in vivid detail sixteen hour work days, child labor, and rampant worker suicide. This was likely the price that a score of Chinese laborers paid to make the iPad that I held in my hands, all while I sat in comfort listening to ‘This American Life’.

Mike Daisey might well be the devil: what he did through that monologue was pluck the apple from the tree of knowledge, hand it to me, and ask with an impish smile:

“Haven’t you ever wondered what’s in a hot dog?”

The thing is, I have, and what’s worse, I know in my heart of hearts I’m not going to do anything about it. Why? Because hot dogs are good. iPhones are cool. While of course I am morally outraged about the things Mr. Daisey described, but as long as I don’t actually have to see the blood and pain and torment that goes into making the things that I like when they are new and toss once they become boring, it’s just too damn easy to rationalize away that nagging little part of my brain that knows I should be more concerned about what’s in the sausage. Moral outrage is well and good, but what use is moral outrage unless it prods you to do something about the issue at hand?

Let’s take this a step further. I dated a gal for a while who was a domestic violence counselor and twice a week she was the on-call person for her agency’s Domestic Abuse Response Team. Basically, when the cops would respond to a domestic abuse call, her agency would get contacted so they could do a follow up. It really opened my eyes because her phone was ringing off the hook every time she was on call. Every night women (and men) were victims of domestic abuse all over town, and if you look at the statistics for this kind of thing, you may be surprised to find it’s more common than you think.

This is just one tiny example of all the horrific things that happen every minute of every day in your backyard and across the globe. There are tons of things in the world to be legitimately outraged about, so many that it’s literally an impossible task to educate yourself and do something about every one of them. It’s also easy to use this rationale as an excuse to give yourself a free pass (as I am guilty of doing) and not put any effort into caring about any of it. Why bother looking when it’s easy not to and you know you won’t like what you’ll find?

Mike Daisey may be the devil for enticing me with the truth, but at least the devil had the chutzpah to seek that truth, and when what he found failed to meet even the most basic standards of human decency, he had the courage not just to be outraged, but to do something about it. Granted, I may not be able to soothe (or even be aware of) all of the world’s ills, but Mr. Daisey’s fine monologue reminded me that I need to do a better job at caring about at least a few of them.

***

David Daedalus is a writer, a filmmaker, and a graduate student of Philosophy at San Diego State University. He also has a project on Kickstarter.com — to fund an animated series (one of his short episodes in the series has already been made) which he describes as “Philip K. Dick meets Southpark…with zombies.” To learn more and to watch the short animation, visit David’s website, here. David has also blogged with us before on Welcome to Adulthood. To read his other guest blog entry (equally as riveting!), click here.

 

[Photo by Marcin Wichary via Flickr.]

 

Dear Summer, This is the First Day of My Life…

“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” – Dalai Lama

My life is for living. Not just working, and studying, and making dinner, and sleeping.

Not just catching up with DVR shows, and not just checking in on Facebook.

Not just for dating, or drinking, or hanging out.

My life is for living. Actively, freely, happily, healthily, and with compassion – living for me. Living the kind of life that fills you up to the brim, and you are sooo full of life that any moment you feel that you may burst!

I remember the first day I ever lived. It was the first day that I really lived for myself and realized that I owned the moments and outcomes of my life. I had just arrived in Madrid for my first solo international trip. I remember thinking I would just “wing it” to get from the airport to Puerta del Sol, the bustling epicenter of Madrid. So an exhausted jet-lagged Mara and her big red suitcase jumped on the metro and got lost for two hours. When I finally arrived at the Sol metro stop, I hauled my oversized suitcase up the stairs (it was too big for the escalator) while hurried and annoyed commuters bristled past me.

When I made it to the top of the stairs, it was mid-day in Sol and I was stunned and speechless. Never before had anything in my life looked so grand, so beautiful, so intimidating, and yet so full of limitless potential. I remember taking the biggest breath of Spanish air that I could muster and I vowed to memorize the moment. The first moment I had really lived for myself.

It has been over 6 years since I studied in Madrid. But the memory of the moment still inspires me. The friends I made in Spain, even though I don’t talk to them much, still exist. Proof positive that it was real, I was there, and that I lived.

Now that I am a “responsible adult” I can’t just jet off to a foreign country to live. I have a job I take pride in, and friends and family that I love and that depend on me. But I still want to live a meaningful life. I still want moments I can memorize. I want to be full to the brim.

For a few years shaky years there, I equated my primary meaning in life with my relationship. I became stagnant in my own self-development because I was so focused on someone else’s happiness and making sure the life we were building was as happy as I could make it. And somewhere along the way, I stopped really living for me.

This is the first day of my life.

In the past few weeks, I have been filling myself up to the brim. I have been traveling on many mini-adventures, visiting with old friends and making lots of new ones, trying new things (I actually rode on a motorcycle!), writing, running, and cupcake-baking. But I want more!

Dear warm California Summer, I am dedicating your glorious months to Me. I am picking up bits of inspiration from everyone I meet and I’m forging a life rich with learning, growing, stretching, and self-exploration and evolution. My goals, dear Summer, are lofty. I am training to run a 5k and then a 10k by August. I vow to perfect a chocolate soufflé and the best-ever crème brulee. I am borrowing a “starter guitar” and am taking guitar lessons. I signed up for a metalwork jewelry class on Saturdays. I am going to learn how to golf and swim. And I am signing up to take a statistics class to remind myself that “living” is also a challenge.  (I have evaded math my whole life, but living is about conquering fears!) I will not take your warm days for granted, Summer, and in your comforting months, I intend to live life fully.

And somewhere in this Summer of Self — between guitar practice and learning the backstroke — I hope to have a few moments of meaning that I can memorize. Moments where I look at the sun, take a deep breath, and know that I am living for myself.

*Photo by Reservasdecoches via Flickr.

And They Will See Us Waving From Such Great Heights…

Some people I meet really don’t get blogging. “You blog?” They say to me incredulously. “I do!”
I respond proudly. Their eyes narrow, “What makes you think that your life is that special that people want to read about it?”

Really, I do love my life and I do think it is pretty special (we should all think our lives are special, after all), but I don’t really blog about my life, per se. What I blog about are experiences of adulthood that make us all more interesting: times we laugh so hard we cry (or cry so hard we laugh), challenges we face, awkward moments, tough stuff, lessons we learn, good work we do, people we love. This little community of collective wisdom really represents The Everyadult. And here at Welcome to Adulthood we celebrate all of us.

What I have learned through this kind of “blog scrutiny” is that I am pretty brave for blogging. I have also learned that being comfortable enough in your own skin to allow yourself to be brave, especially in the face of adversity, actually makes you a groovier person.

There was a time in my life when I wasn’t as brave. I was more concerned with how people perceived me than of how I could evolve as a person. When you become an adult you are finally able to embrace/love/adore all that you are, and accept everything you have experienced. And then it actually becomes pretty easy to be brave.

So my bravery is blogging. But yours might be something else – maybe teaching, maybe trying new things, maybe moving to new places, maybe being open to change, maybe making the hard choices, maybe being a good listener, maybe being honest with yourself and others (even when it is very hard), maybe being confident, maybe wearing your heart on your sleeve, maybe finding a spiritual path, maybe being a good friend or partner, maybe standing up for yourself and for others… (…)

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Welcome to Adulthood – Our New Site is HERE!

After months of planning, the new Welcome to Adulthood site has finally launched!
(Having problems viewing all our cool features? We run best in Internet Explorer 8.0, Mozilla, Chrome, or Safari. Our excellent designer Mike is also working on fixing all the bugs for the old versions of your browsers. Stay tuned!)

If Adulthood is about milestones, this has to be the biggest milestone our little-blog-that-could has achieved in its nearly two years of existence.

When I first conceived the blog, I had a vision of a blog that was a repository of collective wisdom about the themes and issues and complexities and celebrations of being an adult. I wanted it to be a place where people could come and learn from one another. A place where people could engage in the dialogues and discussions about what was relevant to them as an adult – whether they engaged as silent reader who visited the site, as a frequent commenter who gets the discussions going, or as a guest blogger.

In its new and improved layout, Welcome to Adulthood can finally grow into the dynamic space that it was always conceived of being.

But making the new look wasn’t a process that happened in a vacuum. We took all of YOUR feedback very seriously. You wanted Adulthood updates in your email – check! You wanted a more logical way to explore ideas and themes – check! You wanted more themes—check! You wanted to be able to submit for publication on the blog–check!

Morgan and I worked hard to hear all of your great words of encouragement and feedback and put it into one master layout (on a budget of course.) We couldn’t have done any of it without the work of our wonderful and talented designer, Mike Smith of Made by Guerrilla. Honestly, I can’t say enough great things about Mike. He was absolutely amazing to work with, and was so patient with Morgan and I’s many requests. He was also a knowledgeable sounding board for us on things we weren’t sure about, and gave us honest, thoughtful advice. He worked within our budget and he was extremely trustworthy. Not to mention, though we have never met him (he is out of Knoxville and we are in San Diego), he is a really nice person and someone I now consider a friend. It goes without saying that Mike is extremely talented, and we love the art direction he took our blog.

So, everyone, take a look around and let us know what you think of our new digs! Also, check out our “Submit” tab for more information on our first Call for Submissions.

Watching a project you have worked so hard on hit such a milestone is an awesome feeling. Friends, today adulthood feels really inspiring and I want to thank you all so much for all the love and support you have given us in this special little Welcome to Adulthood community that we have all helped to create.

Cheers!

Mara

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