Note: This explanation goes into the major life events that led to the creation of The Wise Sloth. If you want the short answer, scroll down and read the last four paragraphs.
The motivation for me to write The Wise Sloth probably started in the first year of my life. I was born prematurely, and my heart wasn’t done developing. So I had to spend the first few months of my life in an incubator until I was strong enough to survive heart surgery. Over the course of the ordeal I flat-lined seven times. After the surgery I was still in and out of the hospital for the first year of my life with pneumonia. So by the age of 6 I had been told a million times how lucky I was to be alive, and since I was raised in the deeply religious state of Texas, I was also told that God must have a very special plan for me. Being 6 years old, I believed what I was told, and I often wondered what important mission God must have gone through so much trouble to keep me alive to accomplish. Eventually I stopped believing God had a plan for me, but I still always carried a sense of responsibility to do something valuable with my life.
My parents divorced when I was six years old, and my two brothers and I spent the rest of our childhoods bouncing back and forth between our parents’ houses, which were on opposite sides of Texas. Our parents were always working and always stressed. So I had very little supervision, and what discipline I got consisted mostly of screaming and spankings. By the age of 8 I started becoming aware that nobody was going to teach me how to become a mature, responsible, self-actualized adult. The only way it was ever going to happen was if I taught myself.
I did well in school, but I wasn’t a philosophical prodigy (or any kind of prodigy). I made my first “C” on my report card in middle school when I stopped hanging out with nerds and started hanging out with the bad kids who smoked cigarettes and shoplifted. I made my first “F” my freshman year in high school when I started hanging out with kids who smoked marijuana and stole whatever wasn’t bolted down. I took a lot of drugs in those days and lost my mind a little bit. I couldn’t remember what normal was supposed to feel like, and I would constantly ask myself what reality is.
I started carrying a notebook with me in those days to draw in, and because I like quotes, one day I started collecting quotes of wisdom from famous people in it as well. That led to me writing my own observations and quips. The more notebooks I filled up, the less they included pictures and quotes, and the more they included questions and essays. I still carry a notebook with me everywhere I go and write down ideas and sketch out blogs in them. I call them my “ideation notebooks.”
At the age of 17 I took a larger dose of hallucinogens than I was used to and spent the night talking to God. The next day I threw away my cigarettes and started reading the Bible. Later that year I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church, and my notebooks began to fill up with religious questions and observations. I was particularly obsessed with the question of the meaning of life. I felt paranoid that I would die without being able to say for sure that I made the most out of life, and I wanted to know for sure that I gave my future children the best life advice possible.
So I made a conscious decision to actively and systematically try to figure out life, meaning, maturity, responsibility and self-actualization to the best of my ability. To streamline the process I created a systematic method of problem solving based on basic math principles and the scientific method.
After graduating high school I attended a Baptist university where I studied the Bible and social sciences. I hoped to apply my systematic method of problem solving to the Bible and create the perfect argument for Christianity. However, I barely had to scratch the surface of Genesis before it became undeniably obvious that the Bible is a simple and blatant work of primitive mythology.
By the end of my first year in university I lost my faith, left school and started drinking and using drugs again. After taking a year out of life to do back breaking manual labor with felons and immigrants, I joined the Air Force as a computer technician. Working with computers helped me hone my problem solving skills, and being in the military allowed me to see the world and find new questions and answers that I never would have been exposed to living in small town Texas. It also gave me time to consolidate my philosophies into a treatise on the meaning of life.
I had only been at my first duty station for a few months before September 11th happened. I watched the planes hit the Twin Towers on the television in my First Sergeant’s office while he handed me disciplinary paperwork for failing my room inspection. I wrote a rebuttal, but it fell on deaf ears. Over the next 6 years I watched the American military tear the Middle East apart. I asked everyone in any position of authority I could why we invaded Iraq, and I never got a straight answer. So I started looking for one on my own. The more I analyzed the situation the more I lost faith in our mission. The only explanation that made any sense was that destabilizing the Middle East wasn’t an accident. It was the point.
The last few years I was in the military I took night classes studying psychology, which led me to the conclusion that the military is a cult. I left the military full of guilt and shame at a time when it was viciously taboo in American culture to criticize the military or the preeminence of America.
Around the time I left the military one of my brothers was building a huge following blogging on MySpace under the screen name, “The Mad Goat.” He looked like he was having fun, and people were listening to the things he had to say, even it was just belligerent, drunken stories with dubious moral lessons at the end. So I started vomiting my drunken, belligerent viewpoints on MySpace as well. I copied the formula for my brother’s screen name, “The” + “adjective” + “animal” and chose “The Wise Sloth” because I aspire to be wise, and I make an art form out of laziness.
The quality of my posts were awful. I had no business writing or expecting anyone to pay attention to my drivel, but a few people did, and that fueled my desire to keep going. Around 2008 MySpace basically died as everyone migrated to Facebook. At that point my brother stopped blogging and got on with his real life. I started a WordPress blog and copied over the few decent posts I’d written. Unfortunately, I lost 99% of my readership and had to build a new audience without the advantage of having a social networking platform built right into my blogging platform.
I decided to keep blogging for several reasons. First, my blog is an extension of my journals, where I catalog my own observations about life as I struggle to get it all figured out for myself. The fact that The Wise Sloth is public is an added bonus. I know there are a lot of people asking the same questions as me. If I can help them find answers quicker, I may be able to help make the world a better place for both of us.
Sometimes I choose my blog topics based on what I think my readers would benefit from or what would increase traffic to my site. My essays on sexual positions and techniques accomplish both of those goals. Blogging also gives me a pulpit to speak about subjects that don’t get enough attention, like the fact that the U.S. Military is a cult, Christianity is mythology, capitalism is the root of most of the world’s problems, and locally sustainable communities are the solution to most of those problems.
As I write enough posts on a subject, I’m compiling them into E-books. I’ve made a few hundred dollars off The Wise Sloth from book sales and donations, which is a horrible return on investment considering that I’ve put thousands of hours of work into it, but that doesn’t bother me. I would still do it if I won the lottery and never had to worry about money again, and I’d still be writing if I knew for a fact that I’d never make any money off of it.
Having said that, I do want to make money from blogging, but I’m consciously playing the long game here. As long as I never stop blogging, it’s only a matter of time before I write enough books or create enough viral content to raise serious money. When that happens I’ll be able to fulfill my ultimate goal of building an intellectual secular monastery. In the meantime, I’ll be playing my little humble part in raising awareness of important issues. Whenever I die, I’ll leave something behind that will hopefully in some way justify my existence. Then all the work my doctors (and possibly God) put into keeping me alive when I was a baby won’t have been in vain. Or maybe all of my irreverent, vulgar words will be nothing but a huge disappointment, but at least I’ll have had fun writing them.