Journal Entry 370 – Linville / The Last Dance

Took a family trip down to Linville, North Carolina. When I first heard it was going to be in North Carolina, my first thought was, “Oh nice, a quick trip.” Unfortunately, it was a 6-hour drive since it’s pretty deep into the state. However, the mountains in this place were incredible. We stayed in a mountain house that overlooked the mountains and had an incredible view. Due to the elevation, the temperature dropped down to the 70s from the 90s that we are used to seeing in July. Anyway, one day we went hiking for a few hours on the Appalachian Trail. This is a 2000+ mile mountain range that extends from Georgia to Maine. We obviously hiked a small part of it for about an hour and a half and then had to return back the way we came, so it took about 3 hours or so. It was not nearly as tough as the Three Sisters Mountain in Scotland and you were able to walk the whole time. Still a good workout though. We also went to a fireworks show that was definitely the best fireworks show that I’ve ever seen. It had the “big-bang” fireworks and the show lasted over 20 minutes. Overall, a very nice place and trip.

I finally watched The Last Dance about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. This documentary was incredible. I’m not a huge basketball fan anymore but I was in the past. Michael Jordan was a legend for as long as I can remember and for good reason. What he did statistically and his ability to win championships against very strong opponents is something we are not likely to see again. The Chicago Bulls literally owned the 90s. They won in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Jordan then retired in 1994 for a year and a half and came back halfway into the 1995 season. They reached the Finals but did not win the Championship. They then won in 1996, 1997, 1998. Let that sink in though. Had Jordan not retired, you can not tell me that they wouldn’t have won 8 years in a row haha. Impressive.

The Last Dance title comes from the 1998 season because the team was going to being rebuilt following that season. Why the hell would anyone rebuild a championship team? Are you insane? – The documentary suggests that all 5 starters of the Bulls contracts were up and they would require too much money. Phil Jackson who was the coach for all of those championships was told he was not coming back. This rubbed the players the wrong way and they felt like they were not wanted back. There also seemed to be a lot of ill words towards the General Manager, Jerry Krause. Jerry was not a popular guy and I got the vibe he didn’t know how good he had it. After the 1998 season, Michael Jordan retired and the rest of the team went elsewhere.

The documentary also focuses on Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr and Phil Jackson. Pippen was a great teammate and was instrumental in the Bulls success. Seems like an all-around nice guy. Rodman was party animal and would frequently binge drink and party til the late hours of the morning. However, he never missed games, rarely missed practice and his performance did not suffer. So the Bulls were not huge fans of it, but credit where credit is due. Phil Jackson won 2 championships as a player and 11 as a coach. The documentary mainly focused on Jordan though. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but his mindset was to be the best and to outwork everyone. If he saw someone that challenged him or if someone happened to get the better of him, he wouldn’t stop training til he not only surpassed that person but humiliated them. This mindset worked great for basketball but got him into issues with gambling. Jordan was arguably the world’s first iconic athlete and had immense popularity. He also made basketball more popular all across the world. I could go on and on about this one. Highly enjoyable. 10 out of 10.

I also finished the book No Self / No Problem. The book largely focused on the difference between the left side and the right side of the brain. Your left side is dominant most of the time. Especially, when you are awake. It’s responsible for categorization, facts, logic, language, math, and your ego or “sense of self.” The left brain may be a bit overactive though for us westerners. Meaning we may rely too much on the left brain and are dominated by our ego vs relying more on our right brain. The right brain is responsible for creativity, intuition, imagination, emotion, and could be regarded as subconscious. It’s also more active for people that are spiritual. Priests, monks and individuals that meditate for long periods of time are associated with being more right-brained and less concerned with the ego.

He brought up a good example about the “sense of self” that I really liked. To summarize, our sense of self changes. How do you feel when in a large group? At work? Around a group of close friends? Around family? Around strangers? I bet the answer is you feel a bit different in all of these situations. This is also comes up when people act out of character. Sometimes when we expect someone to act a certain way and they don’t act that way, it can cause somewhat of a mental disturbance.

I think he went a bit too far in demonizing the left brain though. He praised the right brain to no end but constantly implied the left brain was a bully almost. I don’t think it’s quite that simple haha. We need a blend of both and while over-relying on one may be bad, this is still largely subconscious anyway. Most people “meditate” for 8 hours a night when they go to sleep. You typically lose your ego when you sleep and your brain is not relying on outside output from your senses and can “relax” so to speak. Exercising has also been shown to quiet the ego/ left brain and brings obvious benefits to your mental health. I have never tried meditation and have a really hard time with it. I’ll just stick with exercise/sleep for now.

Overall, it was a good read and was on the shorter side. I did learn a lot about the brain and how we derive our sense of self. There were parts that I really didn’t grasp though. He seemed to suggest that the left brain creates an illusion to who you are when in reality we are all the same. Maybe? – But I look different than other people around me. I’m 6 foot tall, 175lbs, have brown hair and hazel eyes. My wife is 5 foot 4 in, 125lbs, blonde and has brown eyes. Is that an illusion? – Is my mind playing tricks on me about the way I look compared to other people? – Call me crazy, but I don’t think so haha. Regardless, I would rate this book 7 out of 10.

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