From The Publisher

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Dearest EXPLORE reader,

I like to watch college football. As a Texas Tech grad, I love to follow the Texas colleges and read of the latest UT debacle, controversy, or bribe. I’m kidding as I have lots of friends that are UT alums, but I’m not unique in that I like to watch the games and then talk trash to all of my friends. It’s a fun topic and a good distraction. It’s one of those topics that is pretty universal in Texas and gives us all something to talk about.

While watching the pregame show the other weekend, I listened to the talking heads preview the day’s games. They discussed year over year performance stats for virtually every player, they knew the position players for EVERY school in the nation, and could drill down into stats that painted a clear view of the game for the viewer. Basically, they knew stuff about college football that made my head swim. They had a knowledge of the topic that bordered on earning them a doctorate in it, and could rattle off information that no mere mortal could know. That is, unless they had devoted a serious percentage of their life to studying college football.

After watching the show, I checked the mail. I received a magazine the other day that I did not order. I suppose it’s one of those “Here’s a freebie, now please order a subscription” type deals. The magazine was called MONEY. Pretty transparent as to what the content was about, but sure enough, I flipped through it while having lunch last Saturday. Articles about money. Ridiculously in-depth analysis of money, what is going on with money world-wide, stock markets, and why I should love my money. Columnists that knew absolutely everything currently going on with MONEY, why I should be terrified, and where I should plant my money for a better return.  Lots and lots and lots about money, and written by people that apparently knew everything that there was to know about money.

I threw it in the trash, walked outside with a lemonade, and got to thinking.

We have people that study football and can tell me everything that there is to know about football. They can unpack trends, statistical anomalies, and predict the winners for football games that I could care less about. They have careers centered around a game, and are paid very well to understand every aspect to this game. We also have people that study money, and have careers that are centered around the study of money, the prediction of money trends, the statistical knowledge of stock market data, and the list goes on and one. They have devoted their careers to the study of money, and are paid very well to dispense that information to people that are like-minded and want to know everything there is to know about money.

This depressed me.

I started thinking about the “subjects” that so many of us devote our lives. Subjects that some of us care about, and some of us could care less about. I know about magazines. I know about paper costs, delivery charges, and advertising trends. I know when some industries like to spend money on marketing, and when they don’t. I know who is going out of business, and who is coming into business. Some of you will care about this subject, and some could give a flip, but nevertheless, I have devoted a significant portion of my life to knowing as much as I can about magazines. Some of you are bankers. You know about interest rates, lending trends, and deposit information. Some of us care, some of us don’t. Somebody out there owns a restaurant. You know all about food costs, labor trends, and drink industry information. I don’t care about that, but somebody does. There’s a guy on TV right now talking about politics. He knows EVERYTHING about politics, and the trends, and the strategies, and the probably outcomes. Somebody is paying him to be a talking head on TV and to drill down into Donald Trump’s haircut, and why it matters. Hillay’s health. ISIS and their relation to some future event that may or may not occur. He knows the information and the correlation, and dammit, he’s going to tell you all about it because he’s devoted his life to knowing these “facts”.

JUST. STOP.

As I sit on my porch sipping that lemonade, I’ve decided that there is something very wrong with the information that we seek and for how we reward those that have the information we seek.  I know that sports is entertainment and is a big business, but who really needs to spend the time to understand it at a depth that we are shown on TV? I know that Texas Tech sucks nowadays, and that our defense is pathetic. I can predict that we might win 5 games this year, and I can also predict that a whole bunch of you Aggies and Longhorns out there just donned an evil smile at my perspective of TT football. This is the extent of my knowledge of Texas Tech, which is also my alma mater, and frankly, I don’t want to know much else. Why would you want to know MORE than this? Why would you want to devote valuable time of your life to knowing every detail of Texas Tech football or UT football or A&M football….or ANY football?

A magazine about MONEY troubles me even more. We ALL think about money, and it’s a universal knowledge that we all dwell on it more than we should. Heck, Bible verses are written about money. LOTS of ‘em and they all tell us not to dwell on it. But we do, and I can relate to why we do it. But to devote one’s career to the dissemination of information, predictions, and worship of money? Oh, and it is “worship”. Make no mistake. Think of religion and then think of a magazine devoted to money. It is the study, devotion, understanding, and application of money principles. That is WORSHIP. What the hell is wrong with us?

I know a lot about magazines, but I certainly don’t worship magazines. They are a vehicle that I use to survive monetarily. They are a “thing” that exists. They’re a TOOL that provides me the comforts to survive income-wise. I suppose I’ll brag that I don’t know everything about magazines, and I hope I never do. Hell, EXPLORE is kind of an anti-magazine in that it has no particular subject niche that defines it. It is comprised of stories. I like to think that it is comprised of emotions and stories and little else. That’s a bragging point, not a condemnation.

I’m rambling, but my point is: what do we “worship”? What topic do you know WAY too much about that is controlling your life? College football? (Sheesh, I hope not).  Money? Careers? Home values? Interest rates? The topic list is endless, but the ones that are important are heart-breakingly small.

What if we had magazines about loving our family members? What if we had television shows that broke down the statistical data about our philosophies? As in, what if we had talking heads that had high-level discussion about philosophy, books, culture, and religion. What if we stopped building Man-Caves and started building libraries in our homes? What if we stopped glorifying beer drinking and tailgate parties and started highlighting smart people doing some critical thinking? What if we stopped talking about MONEY and what it can do for us and started talking about MONEY and why it’s not important at all?

I have kids and a job and a back yard that needs to be mowed. I have a dirty truck, a mother that likes to eat lunch with me on Tuesdays, and a pair of parakeets that annoy me when they chirp in the morning. I have a life that consists of real life, and that life is so temporary and beautiful and ugly and normal. It’s the topic of LIFE and making the most of it, and it just seems to me that we sure do spend a lot of time talking about the unimportant parts of life and never really confronting the parts of life that matter. No, my yard that needs mowing is not important, but at least it’s something REAL and indicative of a man that is trying to handle responsibilities. It’s not about a damn football game nor my mutual funds. It’s green grass, kids playing, and hummingbirds. It’s smells, and sounds, and tangible things that matter, even when it’s just my yard. It’s LIFE.

Your money may never run to empty. Your football knowledge may grow daily. But your LIFE is temporary, and will assuredly end. Why not devote our lives to LIFE? The beauty that it can bring far eclipses football wins or money gains. In fact, it’s ALL that matters.

Welcome to October. You have a life. I have a life. Let’s talk about that for a little bit. EXPLORE your heart, share it with me, and let’s create a memory and a story. When we get done, let’s make a magazine about it.

Smiling,

Ben Schooley


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