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Guest Post: Greatness and Humility

A few days ago, I wrote an open letter to a good friend of mine - "I Think Greatness is Something You Are, Not Something You Do" - I said to him, I'm not a great man, just a normal man working on great things. Greatness is something you do, not something you are.

To give you some background, my friend Brendon is just one of the most amazingly good people in the world. He takes care of everyone around him, his mind, body, and spirit are sharp. He's a black belt, an excellent programmer, a philosopher, a Shodan in Go (actually, even stronger than that - he's a Shodan under the Asian rankings, so probably even higher in America), a hard worker, extremely loyal, a clear and free thinker, widely read and knowledgeable, and again - an amazingly good guy. I've learned a lot from him (notably, he taught me how to play Go, sysadmin Linux, understand basketball at a very high level, improve at martial arts, improve my fitness, and other good stuff - we'd usually go drink green tea and play Go at Samurai Restaurant in Boston, go fight in the park, talk philosophy out at nightclubs, do stuff like that).

He wrote back to me about greatness and humility. I think this is a really beautiful piece, so I asked him if I could gently edit it and put it up. He graciously agreed. It's long, but go ahead and just start it and give it whatever time you have - there's a lot of amazing insight in here.

A Quick Favor Request - if you learn from this or it helps you, please send Brendon a quick email to mail@bobz.in - he was actually a little gun-shy about having such a personal piece put up with such raw power in it. He only agreed when I told him how many people it could help - so please, drop him a short line to say thanks if this teaches you as much as it did me.

Without further ado...

Item #1 Crossed Off! Build a House!

On FVD

Being an anarchist, anything regarding auto-sufficiency is of a huge interest to me. The thought alone that I am so dependent on other peoples knowledge (most of these commercialised through companies) is dwarfing to me. Most of my friends wouldn't even know how to grow a tomato, let alone change a door knob or fix a broken toilet. In the recent years, I have tried to combat that notion. We are more powerful and capable, than we ever give ourselves credit for.

That's why I'm fascinated with learing life skills, learning how to grow my own food, build my own house and repair my own clothes, tools and electronics. I am also intrigued by ideas about living without money, off the grid and minimalist life style. That is how Build a House made it to my bucket list.

Said jokingly, how can I call myslef a man, if don't even know how to build a house? Well, now I do, and it was one of the most empowering experriences of my entire life! We were a bunch of people, with no skills or training, whatsoever, who set out to build this house in the mountains of Mexico. We leveled the ground, dug the wholes for the poles, filled cement bags with clay and dirt and build up the buttoms of the walls. Putting up the skeleton of the house took a lot of hands and a lot of work, but the results were breathtaking. One of the climaxes for me, were when me and two friends put in the floor on the first floor, the floor I would be sleeping on for the rest of my stay. Nothing quite beats sleeping on a floor you made yourself, under a roof you helped build and put up (with the moon and the stars visible through the windows.

We made the house with primitive tools and primitive means, often we would have to chop down a nearby tree, when we needed timber. My soft academic hands filled with blisters, but hardened over time. Every strike with a hammer to a nail, improved my precision and understanding of how the nail can make or break the wood. I had experience with axe work, but my skills vastly improved, as I had to make floor boards fit, fortify angles or cut firewood for the meals (all cooked over open fire).

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