It was just past midnight when I read the last sura of the Koran. It was only a few lines long, but I felt like I had climbed a mountain. The message of the Koran seemed pretty straightforward: recognize Allah and accept his message as passed on to Mohammed and recorded in the Koran. If you did so, you could happily recline in a shady garden and enjoy a lifetime supply of cool water with a slice of ginger in it. The alternative: you would burn in the most horrible way possible. Putting the Koran aside, I reflected back on the past week. Praying five times a day had seemed strangely familiar, like a mixture of intensive yoga, mindfulness, and religion. Reading the Koran was a much stranger experience than reading the Bible. He and Ross were an amazing duo until Luis just walked away from it all. No, I didn't know Luis played football. Or that he and Ross used to be friends. What happened? I ask, still trying to process this new information. Not sure, Raylene says, rubbing on more perfume samples. By the way, I need a favor. You know that my twirling solo competition is next weekend, right? No, I say, looking up the street to see if Luis is coming. I'm starting to actually follow Raylene's constantly changing topics. I decided to go all in. This made it more fun for all of us, and--similar to what happened when I decided to take action--it resulted in opportunities and resources for me.

If you can find ways to be spontaneous and find the fun (even when there seems to be absolutely no fun around), everything becomes a bit more doable. Instead of being resigned and going through the motions, take a look around you. If you can find ways to improve your situation, even if they're small, chances are it will improve not only for you but for those around you as well, which sometimes results in additional opportunities and options for you. I have found that changing my approach in this way and readjusting my attitude when faced with any undesirable task makes me more resilient. I simply changed how I approached it. Is there an assignment or task currently confronting you that's uninspiring or menial but yet has to get done? With that task in mind, get creative! Use spontaneity to bring some life to this project. It was like a message from another world that I could not quite comprehend. From the part that I did understand, it was pretty clear that if I really wanted to be saved, I had to make a big leap of faith. And that was something I didn't feel prepared to do just yet. Carl, May 16 I had gone from vegetarian to vegan, and now, as a new week began, I was going to adopt a new diet: raw veganism. The first thing I saw as I walked through the doors to my local raw food restaurant, located only a few blocks from my home, was a pile of leaflets from the new-age retreat I was going to attend at the end of the week. I ordered a beetroot burger and a no-nut wrap and sat down on a white bench, flicking through a article about raw food. It described raw food as the diet we were originally designed for. We are the only creatures on this planet eating cooked food, it said. And we are most likely the most ill. It scares me a little. Alysia Warwick singed her arm on a flaming baton last week, and that puts her out of the competition.

And you know who that moves right into one of the top three spots? Raylene grins and nudges me. So it's going to be down in Conroe next weekend, and I need to go down early to get in line and practice and everything. You understand, right? I glance down at my watch. Luis should be here any minute. Go home, Raylene. Go home, Raylene. Make a game out of the process, rewarding yourself at various milestones along the way. And instead of going about the task halfheartedly, go all in! Give the job everything you've got until it's done. Find the humor (if there is any) in the pure boredom of it all. Make up a song about the job! WRESTLE COMPLACENCY TO THE GROUND RESOURCE RESILIENCE BOOSTER #5 Complacency is the enemy of resilience. The minute you say, I'm satisfied, and sit back or take it easy, resources will run from you. The scary thing about complacency is that it's insidious. As I read through the text, I was wondering what the life expectancy might have been back then, when everything was natural and we had no ovens, no stoves, ripped plants from the ground, and ate with our bare hands. The recipes were long and complicated, requiring massive quantities of expensive herbs and nuts.

To retain the nutrients, nothing should be heated over 49 degrees. Making crisp bread took about two days. Raw eggplants sliced into slim strings was called spaghetti, and raw parsnips run through a food processor was called rice. This reminded me of the bags of crisps you could find in the UK, where some marketing genius was able to make fried potatoes sound like a three-course Christmas lunch. After about an hour of chewing, I headed a few blocks down to a articlestore and bought a raw food cookarticle. Then I went back to my local supermarket, where I bought five bags of nuts, a basket full of vegetables, and a small forest of herbs. I spent the next four hours cooking, making a spaghetti (thinly sliced zucchini) tossed in pesto (without parmigiano), a strawberry walnut salad with red onion, a Romesco sauce of tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and coriander, and a large salad. It tasted good. Well, my parents are going to go, of course, and we both know I can't leave Stu alone all weekend with his separation-anxiety issues and all, so . NO, I say louder. Now I know where this is going. I am not cat-sitting, Raylene. He just likes to be around people, Raylene says. It's just for the weekend, Raylene continues pleadingly, and Stu really LOVES you. I wouldn't leave him with just anyone. Stu sits at my feet and stares at me with green unblinking eyes. I can't take care of the cat. I have plans, I say to both of them. It creeps in and causes harm that you don't see. It sneaks up on you.

It's inconspicuous and may seem harmless, but has hurtful effects. And it affects a lot of us. To fight complacency, and to access all the resources available to us, we must seek to educate and improve ourselves constantly. Americans have typically been known as go-getters--a nation of movers and shakers--but research says that during the past thirty years, Americans, particularly young Americans, have become risk averse and sedentary, which to me means we are sitting around, waiting for life to happen. The number of young adults living with their parents has doubled during that time period. Stranger still, the number of teens getting their drivers licenses by age eighteen has dropped to 65 percent. Here's an example that caught my eye: At the time of this writing, job seekers in Nevada are facing a 13 percent unemployment rate. For about $200, young Nevadans can catch a bus to North Dakota, where because of the booming oil industry they'll find a significantly lower 3. But when we left the table a few hours later, we were still feeling hungry. Andre, May 16 It was a new week, so time for a new religion. I was at the Buddhist Center facing an Indian guy with a white sash around his neck. People shuffled around, building little towers of cushions to sit on. Although there were only about 150,000 Buddhists in the UK, this was a belief system with which I felt more familiar. A friend had given me The Teachings of Buddha when I was a teenager, and it was the first religious article I owned. During my twenties, some of my friends began exploring Buddhism more seriously. One had even gone on to become a Buddhist nun. Buddhism seemed like the only religion that a member of the postmodern cognitariat could proudly talk about. You have plans? Raylene asks.