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Limiting Beliefs as the Pillars of Human Civilization


Recently, I had a conversation with my friend and colleague, Peter Mazzucco about the USMC’s “40% Rule.” The rule itself has interesting implications for will-power, but it also gave me pause to think back and reflect on something which had occurred to me months back then I was on the road shooting my upcoming adventure-documentary, Just Might Be Ok. I was somewhere in Mexico sitting on a rock taking a mid-day water break from walking. I had done 30 km already and was fairly impressed with myself. I reflected on how I had prepared for this undertaking: several full days every week spent in the late-summer heat walking the Hamilton region. My feet had toughened, my endurance had gone up, and the muscles in my legs, hips and lower back had developed to accommodate these new weight demands. But did these factors actually enable me to walk 30+ km every day encumbered with gear, or was I always able to perform this feat and I simply needed to convince myself that I could (with training and gains).

I found it to be an interesting question with wild implications. First and foremost, if a proverbial “97 lb. weakling” who never worked out walked into a gym with a deeply enough held belief that he could lift 400 lbs., could he?  On the other side of the spectrum, is the professional body-builder able to lift the 400 lb. weight because he has increased his muscle tissue and bone density through his workouts or have those physical changes simply had the desired effect of convincing him that he could lift the 400 lb. weight?


What we’re really talking about here is the relation of thought/belief to reality. At this moment, there is a Playstation controller on the table in front of me. In theory, if I have a deeply enough held belief that I can’t lift the controller or if I have some fear-based aversion to touching it, it’s not getting lifted, regardless of how much I have worked out. On the back end, isn’t that the same as not being able to lift it?

Ability has at least as much to do with mentality as it does with outward physical appearance and musculature. However, our mentality shapes us and so those with strong mentalities, disciplined mentalities, typically have bodies which reflect this. This too, could be seen as an indication of the relationship between thought and reality.

When discussing this idea further with my roommate, Kelton, he broadened the question by asking if the 97 lb. man could use levers and pulleys and other such machines to perform the lifting feat. I figured that that still counts as exerting one’s will upon reality and so I said sure. When you think about it, this is how society works: We can’t do something; “fly” for example, so we build machines like planes which allow us to do just that and see our will imposed upon the world around us. But this also made me think of another aspect and nuance of the question: We have laws and regulations governing aviation, what if we had laws and regulations prohibiting the use of levers and pulleys? Well, in absolute terms, the 97 lb. man could contravene the law and still lift the 400 lbs., but assuming he came up in the authoritarian public school system and our society more broadly, he would likely have a deep-seated fear-based aversion to using prohibited machinery. Again, on the back end, this is the exact same as not being able to lift the 400 lbs.

I would go further in fact to say that all laws and their corollary rights fundamentally serve as limiters of possibility. They limit what we believe we are capable of. I used to look rights and laws as opposite ends of a continuum, both flowing from a central point (the state/authority/power), the former protecting the individual and the latter protecting the collective, and always in a constant state of tension. There is truth to this view, but within the context of limiting beliefs I began to conceive of a new conceptual model for our relationship to rights and laws.  Imagine that same central point (the state), but it is above us and it projects beams downward and outward to envelope us in an upside down funnel shape. These beams are rights and laws, and while they are touted as guarantors of freedom, they actually act as bars caging us into the activities and potentials the state has dictated to be acceptable.


Every law and right is in fact a micro-aggression which limits our possibility. Even the most well-wrought, agreeable laws, against killing perhaps, even these still limit our conception of what is possible for us in this world.

It’s at this point where the unimaginative might derisively retort, “So are you saying that we should get rid of all laws, you anarchist?” -as if such a proposition is completely ludicrous. I think the abolition of laws and rights is a desirable state to get to but it is a state we can’t discuss without talking about other societal changes which are beyond the scope of this post.

For now, it is simply important to recognize that every new law, rule, right, guarantee, statute, and stipulation is coercive. Recognize that you have been conditioned to be afraid of force being used against you for contravention of the laws. Recognize that a law against stealing means that there are consequences for stealing, it doesn’t mean that you can’t steal.

You can do anything. Convince yourself of this. Believe it at an experiential level, and begin to undo a lifetime of limiting programming.

-Andre Guantanamo

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My Friends,
   My woman recently put me onto this website/blog called “Mark’s Daily Apple” (http://www.marksdailyapple.com/).  Its run by this dude in California named Mark Sisson who advocates a primal lifestyle.  I don’t know too much about the eating part of it (although I would assume its similar to the paleo or caveman diet) but I found myself reading lots about the physical fitness aspects of the primal lifestyle.  The idea of natural movements that exercise the whole body (without isolating a specific muscle group for aesthetic reasons) has great appeal to me.  This is one of the main reasons I like parkour; it brings out my inner primate.  A major tenet of this movement is bare-footing and as I read more about it, I found myself positively enchanted by the concept.  Since I was young I have always been inclined to walk with bare feet and I am starting to think that perhaps this was not a fluke but an expression of my genetics.
   When it comes down to it, a shoe is an unnatural augmentation to what is a highly-evolved mechanism: the foot.  Sisson argues, and I concur, that we are doing ourselves more harm than good by constantly wearing shoes.  He illustrates the point with diagrams from a study conducted in 1905 (that’s how long we have known about the detriment to our feet caused by most footwear).

When I saw this first picture my first thought “wow, that is a weird-looking foot.”  Since it looked dissimilar to mine I naturally assumed it was a set of feet that had been damaged by years of poor footwear.  But much to my dismay, the article pointed out that this set of feet was the healthy one, belonging to an individual from the “bare-foot sample.”  Notice the wide spread of the toes, almost as if each has developed to play an active role in walking?
   The article then shows an individual from the perpetually shoed (sic) sample:

Shit.  While I wouldn’t say my feet are that mangled, I (and most people I would guess) share a similar deformation of the toes.  The big toes point inward, which is apparently wrong, and the other toes have been cramped to the point that they look atrophied and shrivelled.  Most dismaying about feet like this and is that they seem to be a milder version of feet like these,

These are the feet of a woman who was exposed to the imperial Chinese practice of foot-binding.  While the deformation of the toes is far more pronounced and effectively crippling to the woman, the comparatively benign deformation of my feet is still scarily reminiscent.
   What to do about this dilemma?  We live in a society where we wear shoes.  End of story!  But the shoes we wear, even athletic shoes are having a detrimental effect on our feet and our joints  (Read more about this here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/flat-feet-treatment/).  I can speak first-hand about this.  Recently I have gone from running 4 times a week or so, not including running to commute, to not running at all, due to chronic ankle pain.  The impact from heel strikes, even with the cushioning of a “quality” shoe has proven too much for me.  Having heard a while back that man in nature typically has stronger arches from running unsupported on the balls of his feet, I suspected that I should perhaps look into “toe-running,” as it would have a lesser impact on my joints (It is no coincidence that uphill running is my favourite, less impact and its all on the toes).  However, during my most recent session of ankle physio I asked the therapist about getting into this type of activity.  Skillful as she was with active release therapy, she seemed really unsure about how to advise me.  Essentially she said “whatever you do, take it slow.”  I didn’t find that incredibly encouraging so I sat on her advice until yesterday when I read the article linked from Sisson’s website.  Now I am convinced that I must rectify the years of damage that have been done to my feet by literally airing them out.
   To that end I took a long barefoot walk that included terrain such as concrete, asphalt, cedar chips, grass, gravel and wooded trail.

Going barefoot will also help me get rid of unsightly ankle tanlines

Throughout the process I made a conscious effort to spread my toes with each step and really feel the ground I was walking upon.  Basically, it hurt after a while, but that doesn’t really bother me: As I have been told during my tenure in the military, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”  As I sit here writing this I feel the same kind of soreness you feel on your hands when you stop using gloves at the gym; both soreness from abrasion and tiny muscle soreness.  My goal is to keep walking around barefoot until I lose the sensitivity in my soles.  When that happens I will attempt toe-running barefoot.
   What is equally exciting and daunting for me is the implication that barefooting would have on my upcoming trip.  My backpacking boots are incredibly good at what they do: providing support for my ankles and arches.  But wearing them for the next six months seems like it will negate any progress I make in the next few weeks leading up to my departure.  As I walked I could not help but think that I may yet be able to train my body to carry a load whilst barefoot.  I would have to stick to a strict training regimen and re-evaluate things before I left but going around the globe barefoot would be an interesting thing to do.  I’ll keep you updated.
Stay Thirsty
-Andre Guantanamo

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