• Tyler E. C. Burnworth
"It's not what you know, it's who you know."
~ Unknown

We've all heard it before, and maybe some of us have come to embrace this philosophy via networking within our particular industries as a means of professional connection and "working friends."

I believe this saying can be expounded upon in a way that will completely change your life. I know it did for me.

Brief Backstory

I knew I wanted to be a writer from the young age of 7 years old, about the first time I saw Star Wars. A story like that changes you, if you're open to it. I saw the world in the light of a long time ago in a galaxy far away, and I didn't want to come back down to reality. Unfortunately, the credits roll whether you want them to or not.

When the curtain drops at the end of this life and the credits roll for you, there will not be a list of achievements displayed. No ceremonial parade shouting your accolades from the rooftop. Instead, what will be left is the people you leave behind. The people who knew you and were a part of your life. This has a nice crossroads with another famous saying:

"Happiness only matters when it is shared."
~ Christopher McCandless

When the car crash that ends your life happens at this busy intersection, what will your legacy be?

I was a pessimist for most of my life. If you've read some of my other blog posts, that might shock you. I tend to write positive motivation pieces with writing advice and zany sidebars thrown in the mix. I was not always the off-color motivator that I am today. I struggled daily with self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy and confidence with the tensile strength of a stale Gingerbread house.

I'm going to share with you the secret revelation I've had:

The Key To Happiness...

...is being content, where you are right now, no matter the circumstances.

There is no universal panacea I (or any other person with a real medical license) can prescribe to pull you out of a bout of depression. I can't knock on your door to deliver a bootkick to your ass every morning. Pills and meditation and self-help books serve their purpose, but they can't live your life for you. You can. The secret is already within you, lying dormant like a baby dragon egg waiting for mama's dragon butt to warm it up enough to hatch.

Mama ain't comin'.

Take a moment, one infinitesimal slice of all the collective moments that stack together to make the mosaic that is your life, and consider this:

WHAT you have means nothing.

WHO you have means everything.

Think about the people in your life that matter most to you. Your parents, maybe. Your spouse. Your children. Friends and acquaintances. What would your life look like if they were gone?

Would you pursue the American Dream (the accumulation of stuff and money and status) with the same fervor?

Or would you spontaneously combust? Maybe implode with a force strong enough to create a black hole that swallows up the entire spacetime continuum?

Maybe you'd go out for steak and ice cream, in which case I will smile and wave, never uttering the word sociopath aloud to keep myself safe when the day comes you finally snap and go on an unbridled killing spr--no, chances are you're not that evil.

The point is that the people around you are more important than anything else.

Material possessions depreciate over time. They decay. Break down. Fall apart. I'm not a minimalist by any means, and I'm not saying possessions have no value. I'm saying they have diminishing value.

Flesh and blood deteriorates, too. People get old and crotchety and lose their minds (and bowels. Sorry, but it's a scientific fact) on their way out of this life. But, life isn't about death. It's about LIVING.

Connection. With people.

If you love your people, they will (usually) love you back.

Relationships actually appreciate in value as they grow stronger.

Think of a couple that has been married for 20+ years. They can operate with little to no communication because they've gained a deep understanding of each other that transcends verbal communication.

The Path To Contentment...

...is investing in people and fostering strong reciprocal relationships. The human race thrives in the social sphere. The benefits of strong relationships can be enjoyed in any life circumstance at any time. If you lose your job, you still have your family.

Lean on each other. Pour positivity into everyone. Your spouse, your children, friends and family, the booze-scented mendicant clutching at your purse...maybe not everyone. Charity is a great thing that should be celebrated. However, a pinch of discernment is worth a pound of regret.

By focusing on the people in your life and giving them everything you've got, you will find attaining what you want in life will not become easier, but you will enjoy the path a lot more by having developed a natural support system, a safety net and people who will share in your successes (and failures).

Live for the people around you.

  • Tyler E. C. Burnworth

Writing, in its most basic form, is the art of creating something from nothing.

The surface of the sun is a ridiculous ten thousand degrees Fahrenheit. As it spins 94 million miles away, it blankets the Earth with about 1000 Watts of power per square meter of landmass, through which twenty-first century humans have devised a means of absorbing that energy and repurposing it for our own needs.


(Don't boo me just yet, there's something better than a lame pun, here.)

The sun is powerful enough to sustain all life on Earth, even before Dude McDudeson invented the solar panel. The writer is creator in his own universe, and as such, the power he exerts over his creation must sustain that creation.

Make it real. But do so fantastically.

If an idea resonates with you, build on it. Examine it. Strip it down to it's component atoms, rearrange it and put it back together. When you play with your creation in this way, you gain a deeper understanding of it.

Take this off-the-cuff example:

Sally SteelHeart is a badass bitch. She slays dragons, wears a necklace of their teeth around her neck and carries daggers made of tail spines on her belt. Wow, she's a cool character. But is that all? Why is she slaying mythical creatures instead of gathering ingredients for Paleo meals like the rest of the women in her tribe? Maybe her parents were eaten by dragons when she was a young girl (boring) or dragons raze the countryside and destroy her village (trite) or...maybe she married a dragon, but then she found out where he was on all those overcast days; getting frisky with the Unicorn princess of Stratovarius. She took half his trove in a divorce. Now hunted mercilessly by his dragon brothers and sisters who want their inheritance back, she makes it her mission to slay dragons and spread their wealth amongst the people, until she finds out she's got a toasty bun in the oven; how will she overcome THIS? (weird, but better).

The worst thing the sun could do would be to stop spinning. Stop producing energy. Just a quick nap, shut the light off, and all life on Earth dies. So it is with the writer.

If you give up, you condemn your stories and characters to Davy Jones's Locker. Be the source of your own power. Reach deep inside your heart, that space where the aching emptiness that keeps you up at night dwells, and fill it with story that engages. Characters that cry and laugh and bleed. Twists and turns of dynamic plot that excite.

The struggle you feel in your daily life--give that to your characters. As you watch them (with your fingers on the keyboard) face and overcome obstacles, you too will become strong enough to overcome the negative pressure within yourself.

Life and art imitating each other is a cliche, but it's close to the truth. Life influences art, just as art influences life. One does not attempt to be the other, it attempts to change the other. Follow this rabbit hole down far enough and the changes you make in your art will in turn change you.

Go boldly into the unknown. You will come back better than you were before.

  • Tyler E. C. Burnworth

If you've ever heard about Roswell, you probably heard about the UFO crash that it's famous for.

Maybe you heard it was a flying saucer, or a weather balloon, or even that alien bodies were recovered from the crash site.

If you're like me, you wondered about it, but threw your hands up in the air and sighed, "The world may never know."

I was skeptical when a coworker recommended a book by investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen. "She's got the full story," he said.

I doubted him, but I was curious.

As I read the book, which is a combination of declassified CIA documents, facts and research based on interviews with current and former employees of the most secret military installation in the world, I was floored.

The origins of Area 51 are explicitly laid out with in-depth detail. From an abandoned plot of barren desert wasteland to the site of hundreds of nuclear bomb tests, experimental aircraft 50 years ahead of their time, and a culture of secrecy that has defined the Need To Know culture of the American Government Elite.

The conclusions drawn are shocking. Especially the inside scoop on what really happened at Roswell.

I don't want to spoil it, but let's just say the American government kept the truth a secret for a reason.

I can confidently recommend this as the most important and revelatory non-fiction book I've ever read.

Get it for yourself here.

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