The 50th Law
The 50th Law

The 50th Law

Because it is such a dangerous world, a hustler has to focus intensely on what’s going on around him. He has to get a feel for the streets—who’s trouble, where there might be some new opportunity. He has to see through all the bullshit people throw at him—their games, their lousy ideas. He has to look at himself, see his own limitations and stupidity. All of this sharpens the eye to a razor’s edge, making him a keen observer of everything. That’s his power. (Location 349)

People can be full of book knowledge and crammed with information but have no real sense of what’s going on around them. It is in fact a function of character and fearlessness. Simply put, realists are not afraid to look at the harsh circumstances of life. They sharpen their eye by paying keen attention to details, to people’s intentions, to the dark realities hiding behind any glamorous surface. Like any muscle that is trained, they develop the capacity to see with more intensity. (Location 412)

One day it came to the attention of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates that the oracle at Delphi had pronounced him the wisest man in the world. This baffled the philosopher—he did not think himself worthy of such a decree. It made him uncomfortable. He decided to simply go around Athens and find a person who was wiser than he—that should be easy and it would disprove the oracle. He engaged in many discussions with politicians, poets, craftsmen, and fellow philosophers. He began to realize that the oracle was right. All the people he talked to had such a certainty about things, venturing solid opinions about matters of which they had no experience; they were full of so much air. If you questioned them at all, they could not really defend their opinions, which seemed based on something they had decided years earlier. His superiority, he realized, was that he knew that he knew nothing. This left his mind open to experiencing things as they are, the source of all knowledge. (Location 463)

Napoleon Bonaparte is the greatest general who ever lived, and what elevated him above all others was the mass of information he absorbed about all of the details of battle, with as few filters as possible. This gave him a superior grasp on reality. (Location 486)

Always question why this particular event has happened, what the motives of the various actors are, who really is in control, who benefits by this action. (Location 505)

We are generally dealing with so many immediate battles, it is hard for us to lift our gaze above the moment. It is a law of power, however, that the further and deeper we contemplate the future, the greater our capacity to shape it according to our desires. If you have a long-term goal for yourself, one that you have imagined in detail, then you are better able to make the proper decisions in the present. You know which battles or positions to avoid because they don’t advance you towards your goal. (Location 511)

Make Everything Your Own—Self-Reliance WHEN YOU WORK FOR OTHERS, YOU ARE AT THEIR MERCY. THEY OWN YOUR WORK; THEY OWN YOU. YOUR CREATIVE SPIRIT IS SQUASHED. WHAT KEEPS YOU IN SUCH POSITIONS IS A FEAR OF HAVING TO SINK OR SWIM ON YOUR OWN. INSTEAD YOU SHOULD HAVE A GREATER FEAR OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU REMAIN DEPENDENT ON OTHERS FOR POWER. YOUR GOAL IN EVERY MANEUVER IN LIFE MUST BE OWNERSHIP, WORKING THE CORNER FOR YOURSELF. WHEN IT IS YOURS TO LOSE-YOU ARE MORE MOTIVATED, MORE CREATIVE, MORE ALIVE. THE ULTIMATE POWER IN LIFE IS TO BE COMPLETELY SELF-RELIANT, COMPLETELY YOURSELF. (Location 562)

Understand: we are living through an entrepreneurial revolution, comparable to the one that swept through Fifty’s neighborhood in the 1980s, but on a global scale. The old power centers are breaking up. Individuals everywhere want more control over their destiny and have much less respect for an authority that is not based on merit but on mere power. We have all naturally come to question why someone should rule over us, why our source of information should depend on the mainstream media, and on and on. We do not accept what we accepted in the past. Where we are naturally headed with all of this is the right and capacity to run our own enterprise, in whatever shape or form, to experience that freedom. We are all corner hustlers in a new economic environment and to thrive in it we must cultivate the kind of self-reliance that helped push Fifty past all of the dangerous dependencies that threatened him along the way. (Location 647)

Most of us enter adult life with great ambitions for how we will start our own ventures, but the harshness of life wears us down. We settle into some job and slowly give in to the illusion that our bosses care about us and our future, that they spend time thinking of our welfare. We forget the essential truth that all humans are governed by self-interest. (Location 709)

STEP ONE: RECLAIM DEAD TIME When Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794–1877) was twelve years old he was forced to work for his father in his small shipping business. It was drudge work and he hated it. Cornelius was a willful, ambitious child, and so in his mind he made the following determination: within a couple of years he was going to start his own shipping enterprise. This simple decision altered everything. Now this job was an urgent apprenticeship. He had to keep his eyes open, learn everything he could about his father’s business, including how he could do things better. Instead of dull labor, it was now an exciting challenge. At the age of sixteen he borrowed $100 from his mother. He used the money to buy a boat and began ferrying passengers between Manhattan and Staten Island. Within a year he paid back the loan. By the time he was twenty-one he had made a small fortune and was on his way to becoming the wealthiest man of his time. From this experience he established his lifelong motto: “Never be a minion, always be an owner.” (Location 716)

STEP TWO: CREATE LITTLE EMPIRES While still working for others, your goal at some point must be to carve out little areas that you can operate on your own, cultivating entrepreneurial skills. This could mean offering to take over projects that others have left undone or proposing to put into action some new idea of your own, but nothing too grandiose to raise suspicion. What you are doing is cultivating a taste for doing things yourself—making your own decisions, learning from your own mistakes. If your bosses do not allow you to make such a move on any scale, then you are not in the right place. If you fail in this venture, then you have gained a valuable education. But generally taking on such things on your own initiative forces you to work harder and better. You are more creative and motivated because there is more at stake; you rise to the challenge. (Location 734)

In May of that year, however, a few weeks before the launch date, a hired assassin shot nine bullets into him while he sat in the back of a car, one bullet going through his jaw and nearly killing him. (Location 815)

In a flash, all of the momentum he had built up reversed itself. Columbia canceled the release of the record and dropped Fifty from his contract. (Location 816)

Could this be the end of all his efforts? It would have been better to die that day than to feel this powerlessness. But as he lay in bed at his grandparents’ house, recovering from the wounds, he listened a lot to the radio, and what he heard gave him an incredible rush of optimism: an idea started taking shape in his mind that the shooting was in fact a great blessing in disguise, that he had narrowly survived for a reason. The music on the radio was all so packaged and produced. Even the tough stuff, the gangsta rap, was fake. The lyrics did not reflect anything from the streets that he knew. The attempt to pass it off as real and urban angered him to a point he could not endure. This was not the time for him to be afraid and depressed, or to sit around and wait a few years while all of the violence around him died down. He had never been a fake studio gangsta and now he had the nine bullet wounds to prove it. This was the moment to convert all of his anger and dark emotions into a powerful campaign that would shake the very foundations of hip-hop. As a hustler on the streets Fifty had learned a fundamental lesson: Access to money and resources is severely limited in the hood. A hustler must transform every little event and every trifling object into some gimmick for making money. Even the worst shit that (Location 824)

Events in life are not negative or positive. They are completely neutral. The universe does not care about your fate; it is indifferent to the violence that may hit you or to death itself. Things merely happen to you. It is your mind that chooses to interpret them as negative or positive. (Location 864)

The hustler thinks: “I must make the most of what I have, even the bad stuff, because things are not going to get better on their own. It is foolish to wait; tomorrow may bring even worse shit.” (Location 885)

When things are going well, that is precisely when you must be concerned and vigilant. You know it will not last and you will not be caught unprepared. When things are going badly, that is when you are most encouraged and fearless. Finally you have material for a powerful reversal, a chance to prove yourself. It is only out of danger and difficulty that you can rise at all. (Location 915)

Perhaps the greatest opportunist in history is Napoleon Bonaparte. Nothing escaped his attention. He focused with supreme intensity on all of the details, finding ways to transform even the most trivial aspects of warfare—how to march and carry supplies, how to organize troops into divisions—into tools of power. He ruthlessly exploited the slightest mistake of his opponents. He was the master at turning the worst moments in battle into material for a devastating counterattack. All of this came out of Napoleon’s determination to see everything around him as an opportunity. By looking for these opportunities, he found them. This became a mental skill that he refined to an art. This power is open to each and every one of us if we put into practice the following four principles of the art. MAKE THE MOST OF WHAT YOU HAVE (Location 947)

What we have in hand could be research material for a particular book, or people who work within our organization. If we look for more—information, outside people to help us—it won’t necessarily lead to anything better; in fact the waiting and the dependence makes us less creative. When we go to work with what is there, we find new ways to employ this material. We solve problems, develop skills we can use again and again, and build up our confidence. (Location 969)

If bad publicity comes your way, think of it as a form of negative attention that you can easily reframe for your purposes. You can seem contrite or rebellious, whatever will stir up your base. (Location 987)

When you feel that you must work harder to get to your goal because you are not quite prepared, you are more alert and inventive. (Location 1007)

With energy and high morale, a human can overcome almost any obstacle and create opportunity out of nothing. (Location 1018)

Opportunism is in fact a great art that was studied and practiced by many ancient cultures. The greatest ancient Greek hero of them all, Odysseus, was a supreme opportunist. In every dangerous moment in his life, he exploited some weakness his enemies left open to trick them and turn the tables. The Greeks venerated him as one who had mastered life’s shifting circumstances. In their value system, rigid, ideological people who cannot adapt, who miss all opportunities, are the ones who deserve our scorn—they inhibit progress. (Location 1025)

What was needed was a new skill set, a different mentality for handling the chaos. And Curtis would be the hustler to develop these skills to the maximum. For this purpose, he let go of any desire to dominate an area with one large operation. Instead he started experimenting with four or five hustles at the same time; inevitably one of the angles would work and pay for all the others. He made sure he always had options, room to move in case the police pushed in and cut off one of his access routes. He interacted with the fiends, looking for any changes in their tastes and ways he could appeal to them with some new marketing scheme. He let those who worked for him do things on their own time, as long as they produced results—he wanted as little friction as possible. He never stayed tied to one venture, one partner, or one way of doing things for very long. He kept moving. The chaos of the streets was part of his flow, something he learned to exploit by working from within it. Operating this way, he slowly accumulated the kind of hustling empire that could surpass what even Jermaine had attempted. (Location 1086)

He worked five different angles at the same time; if one venture failed, he learned and moved on. The business world was like a laboratory that he would use for constant experimentation and discovery. He would mix and mingle with his employees, up and down the line, and with his audience, allowing them to alter his ideas. The centerpiece of this flow strategy would be the Internet, a chaotic space with endless opportunity for a hustler like himself. (Location 1106)

The first and most important step is to let go of this need to control in such a direct manner. This means that you no longer see change and chaotic moments in life as something to fear, but rather as a source of excitement and opportunity. (Location 1142)

In a social situation in which you want the ability to influence people, your first move is to bend to their different energies. You see what they bring and you adapt to this, then find a way to divert their energy in your direction. You let go of the past way of doing things and adapt your strategies to the ever-flowing present. (Location 1144)

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With so many physical limitations, hustlers have learned to develop mental freedom. They cannot let their minds be bothered by all these hindrances. Their thoughts have to keep moving—creating new ventures, new hustles, new directions in music and clothes. That is why trends change so quickly in the hood, which often serves as the engine for new styles in the culture at large. With people, hustlers have to adapt to all of their differences, wearing the mask that is appropriate for each situation, deflecting people’s suspicions. (Hustlers are consummate chameleons.) If they can maintain this mental and social fluidity, they can feel a degree of freedom beyond all the physical confinements of the hood. (Location 1156)

Understand: it is not only what you do that must have flow, but also how you do things. It is your strategies, your methods of attacking problems, that must constantly be adapted to circumstances. Strategy is the essence of human action—the bridge between an idea and its realization in the world. Too often these strategies become frozen into conventions, as people mindlessly imitate what worked before. By keeping your strategies attuned to the moment, you can be an agent of change, the one who breaks up these dead ways of acting, gaining tremendous power in the process. Most people in life are rigid and predictable; that makes them easy targets. Your fluid, unpredictable strategies will drive them insane. They cannot foresee your next move or figure you out. That is often enough to make them give way or (Location 1186)

Understand: momentum in life comes from increased fluidity, a willingness to try more, to move in a less constricted fashion. (Location 1213)

For this purpose you must practice and master the following four types of flow. MENTAL FLOW In the time of Leonardo da Vinci’s youth (mid-fifteenth century), knowledge had hardened into rigid compartments. In one slot, there was philosophy and scholasticism; in another, the arts, which were considered more like simple crafts; in yet another, science, which was not yet very empirical. On the margins stood all forms of dark knowledge—the arts of the occult. Da Vinci was the illegitimate son of a notary, and because of this murky social position, he was denied the usual formal education, all of which became a great blessing in disguise. His mind was freed from all the prejudices and rigid categories of thinking that prevailed at the time. He went to serve an apprenticeship in the studio of the great artist Verrocchio. And once he began to learn there the craft of drawing and painting, a process was set in motion that led to the forming of one of the most original minds in the history of mankind. Knowledge in one field simply opened up in da Vinci an insatiable hunger to learn something else in a related field. The study of painting led to that of design in general, which led to an interest in architecture—from there he flowed to studying engineering; making war machines and strategy; observing animals and the mechanics of motion that could be applied to technology; studying birds and aerodynamics, the anatomy of animals and humans, the relationship between emotions and physiology; and on and on. This incredible stream of ideas even overflowed into areas of the occult. His mind would recognize no boundaries; he sought the connections between all natural phenomena. In this sense, he was ahead of his time and the first real Renaissance man. (Location 1216)

After college we are all encouraged to specialize, to learn one thing well and stick to it. We end up strangling ourselves in the narrowness of our interests. With all of these restrictions, knowledge has no flow to it. Life does not have these categories; they are mere conventions that we mindlessly abide by. (Location 1235)

All of the greatest innovations in history come from an openness to discovery, one idea leading to another, sometimes coming from unrelated fields. You must develop this spirit and the same insatiable hunger for knowledge. (Location 1239)

EMOTIONAL FLOW (Location 1244)

It might seem that intense feelings of love, hate, or anger can be used to impel you forward on some project, but that is an illusion. Such emotions give you a burst of energy that falls quickly and leaves you as low as you were high. Rather, you want a more balanced emotional life, with fewer highs and lows. This not only helps you keep moving and overcoming petty obstacles, but it also affects people’s perceptions of you. They come to see you as someone who has grace under pressure, a steady hand, and they will turn to you as a leader. Maintaining such steadiness will keep that positive flow in motion. (Location 1257)

SOCIAL FLOW (Location 1262)

Early in his career, the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman used this more tyrannical approach in dealing with his actors, but he began to be dissatisfied with its results and so decided to experiment with something different. He would sketch out the script for a film, leaving the dialog mostly open. He would then invite his actors to bring their own energy and experiences into the mix, shaping the dialog to fit their emotional responses. This would make the screenplay come alive from within, and sometimes it would require rewriting parts of the plot. In working with the actors on this level, Bergman would enter their spirit, mirroring their energy as a way to get them to relax and open up. He allowed for this more and more as his career evolved, and the results were astonishing. The actors came to love this, feeling more involved and engaged; they wanted to work with him, and their enthusiasm carried over into their performances, each one better than the last. His films had the feel of something much more lifelike and engaging than those structured around some rigid script. His work became increasingly popular as he went further with this collaborative process. This should be your model in any venture that involves groups of people. You provide the framework, based on your knowledge and expertise, but you allow room for this project to be shaped by those involved in it. They are motivated and creative, helping to give the project more flow and force. You are not going too far in this process; you set the overall direction and tone. You are simply letting go of that fearful need to make people do exactly as you desire. In the long run, you will find that your ability to gently divert people’s energy in your direction gives you a wider range of control over the shape and result of the project. (Location 1267)

CULTURAL FLOW (Location 1281)

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Understand: you exist in a particular cultural moment, with its own flow and style. When you are young you are more sensitive to these fluctuations in taste and so you generally keep up with the present. But as you get older the tendency is for you to become locked in a style that is dead, one that you associate with your youth and its excitement. If enough time passes, your style-lock can become quite ludicrous; you look like a museum piece. Your momentum will grind to a halt as people come to categorize you in a narrow period of time. Instead you must find a way to periodically reinvent yourself. You are not trying to mimic the latest trend—that will make you look equally ludicrous. You are simply rediscovering that youthful attentiveness to what is happening around you and incorporating what you like into a newer spirit. You are taking pleasure in shaping your personality, wearing a new mask. The only thing you really have to fear is becoming a social and cultural relic. (Location 1293)

In the summer of 1994, Curtis Jackson returned to Southside Queens after having served some time in a rehabilitation program for drug offenders. (Location 1334)

THEREFORE IT IS NECESSARY FOR A PRINCE, WHO WISHES TO MAINTAIN HIMSELF, TO LEARN HOW NOT TO BE GOOD, AND TO USE THIS KNOWLEDGE AND NOT USE IT, ACCORDING TO THE NECESSITY OF THE CASE. (Location 1488)

This should be the model for us as well. We are all now princes competing with thousands of rival “states.” We have our aggressive impulses, our desires for power. These impulses are dangerous. If we act upon them unconsciously or awkwardly, we can create endless problems for ourselves. We must learn to recognize the situations that require assertive (yet controlled) actions, and which mode of attack (fox or lion) is suitable. The following are the most common foes and scenarios that you will encounter in which some form of badness is required to defend or advance yourself. (Location 1517)

Lead from the Front—Authority IN ANY GROUP, THE PERSON ON TOP CONSCIOUSLY OR UNCONSCIOUSLY SETS THE TONE. IF LEADERS ARE FEARFUL, HESITANT TO TAKE ANY RISKS, OR OVERLY CONCERNED FOR THEIR EGO AND REPUTATION, THEN THIS INVARIABLY FILTERS ITS WAY THROUGH THE ENTIRE GROUP AND MAKES EFFECTIVE ACTION IMPOSSIBLE. COMPLAINING AND HARANGUING PEOPLE TO WORK HARDER HAS A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE EFFECT. YOU MUST ADOPT THE OPPOSITE STYLE: IMBUE YOUR TROOPS WITH THE PROPER SPIRIT THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS, NOT WORDS. THEY SEE YOU WORKING HARDER THAN ANYONE, HOLDING YOURSELF TO THE HIGHEST STANDARDS, TAKING RISKS WITH CONFIDENCE, AND MAKING TOUGH DECISION. THIS INSPIRES AND BINDS THE GROUP TOGETHER. IN THESE DEMOCRATIC TIMES, YOU MUST PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH. (Location 1643)

The greatest generals in history, however, are invariably those who lead from the front and by themselves. They can be seen by the troops at the head of the army, exposing themselves to the same fate as any foot soldier. The Duke of Wellington said that the mere appearance of Napoleon Bonaparte at the head of his army translated into the equivalent of an additional forty thousand men. A kind of electrical charge passes through the troops—he is sharing in their sacrifices, leading by example. It has almost religious connotations. (Location 1755)

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Thomas Alva Edison was seen as America’s preeminent inventor and scientist. His research labs were the source of some of the most important technological breakthroughs of the time. But the truth is that Edison himself had only a few months of formal education and was not really a scientist at all. Instead he was a mix of visionary, strategist, and shrewd businessman. (Location 1859)

As it evolved, the website came to strangely resemble the world of hustling that he had created for himself on the streets of Southside Queens. He could produce testers (trial songs) for his fans, who were like drug fiends, constantly hungry for new product from Fifty, and he could get instant feedback on their quality. He could develop a feel for what they were looking for and how he could manipulate their demand. He had moved from the outside to the inside, and the hustling game came alive once more, this time on a global scale. (Location 2033)

THE FOOLS IN LIFE WANT THINGS FAST AND EASY-MONEY, SUCCESS, ATTENTION. BOREDOM IS THEIR GREAT ENEMY AND FEAR. WHATEVER THEY MANAGE TO GET SLIPS THROUGH THEIR HANDS AS FAST AS IT COMES IN. YOU, ON THE OTHER HAND, WANT TO OUTLAST YOUR RIVALS. YOU ARE BUILDING THE FOUNDATION FOR SOMETHING THAT CAN CONTINUE TO EXPAND. TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN, YOU WILL HAVE TO SERVE AN APPRENTICESHIP. YOU MUST LEARN EARLY ON TO ENDURE THE HOURS OF PRACTICE AND DRUDGERY, KNOWING THAT IN THE END ALL OF THAT TIME WILL TRANSLATE INTO A HIGHER PLEASURE—MASTERY OF A CRAFT AND OF YOURSELF. YOUR GOAL IS TO REACH THE ULTIMATE SKILL LEVEL—AN INTUITIVE FEEL FOR WHAT MUST COME NEXT. (Location 2259)

MOST PEOPLE CAN’T HANDLE BOREDOM. THAT MEANS THEY CAN’T STAY ON ONE THING UNTIL THEY GET GOOD AT IT. AND THEY WONDER WHY THEY’RE UNHAPPY. (Location 2329)

We are by nature creatures of impatience. It has always been hard for us to want something and not have the capacity to get it. (Location 2433)

The increased speed from technology accentuates this childish aspect of our character. The slow accumulation of knowledge seems unnecessarily boring. Learning should be fun, fast, and easy. On the Internet we can make instant connections, skimming along the surface from one subject to the next. We come to value breadth of knowledge over depth, the power to move here or there rather than digging deeper to the source of a problem and finding out how things tick. We lose a sense of process. In such an atmosphere, charlatans sprout like weeds. They offer the age-old myth of the quick transformation—the shortcut to power, beauty, and success—in the form of books, CDs, seminars, ancient “secrets” brought back to life. And they find many suckers on which to prey. (Location 2433)

This new pattern of thinking and learning is not progress. It creates a phenomenon that we shall call the “short-circuit.” To reach the end of anything, to master a process, requires time, focus, and energy. When people are so distracted, their minds constantly moving from one thing to another, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain concentration on one thing for a few hours, let alone for months and years. Under this influence, the mind will tend to short-circuit; it will not be able to go all the way to the end of a task. It will want to move on to something else that seems more enticing. It becomes hard to make things well when the focus is broken (Location 2439)

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ASK FOR MORE, AIM HIGH, AND BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE DESTINED FOR SOMETHING GREAT. YOUR SENSE OF SELF-WORTH COMES FROM YOU ALONE—NEVER THE OPINION OF OTHERS. WITH A RISING CONFIDENCE IN YOUR ABILITIES, YOU WILL TAKE RISKS THAT WILL INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS. PEOPLE FOLLOW THOSE WHO KNOW WHERE THEY ARE GOING, SO CULTIVATE AN AIR OF CERTAINTY AND BOLDNESS. (Location 2594)

Now was not the time to get complacent or have doubts about the future. He would have to transform himself again. He would have his signature tattoos removed; perhaps he would also change his name again. He would create a new image and myth to fit this period of his life—part business mogul, part power broker, slowly withdrawing from the public eye and flexing his muscles behind the scenes. This would surprise the public, keep him a step ahead of their expectations, and remove yet another barrier to his freedom. Reinventing himself in this way would be the ultimate reversal of the fate that seemed to await him after the death of his mother. (Location 2661)

Understand: people will constantly attack you in life. One of their main weapons will be to instill in you doubts about yourself—your worth, your abilities, your potential. They will often disguise this as their objective opinion, but invariably it has a political purpose—they want to keep you down. You are continually prone to believe these opinions, particularly if your self-image is fragile. In every moment of life you can defy and deny people this power. You do so by maintaining a sense of purpose, a high destiny you are fulfilling. From such a position, people’s attacks do not harm you; they only make you angry and more determined. The higher you raise this self-image, the fewer judgments and manipulations you will tolerate. This will translate into fewer obstacles in your path. (Location 2746)

CONSTANTLY REINVENT YOURSELF (Location 2826)

Understand: people judge you by appearances, the image you project through your actions, words, and style. If you do not take control of this process, then people will see and define you the way they want to, often to your detriment. You might think that being consistent with this image will make others respect and trust you, but in fact it is the opposite—over time you seem predictable and weak. Consistency is an illusion anyway—each passing day brings changes within you. You must not be afraid to express these evolutions. The powerful learn early in life that they have the freedom to mold their image, fitting the needs and moods of the moment. In this way, they keep others off balance and maintain an air of mystery. (Location 2845)

In the wake of the shooting, Columbia had canceled his album and dropped him from the label—he was surrounded by too much violence. Fifty would get his revenge—he would launch the kind of mix-tape campaign on the streets that would make him famous and those same executives would come back, begging to sign him. (Location 2974)

If we were to give ourselves up to these two trains of thought—the pain and the meaninglessness—we would almost be paralyzed into inaction or driven to suicide. But consciously and unconsciously we invented two solutions to this awareness. The most primitive was the creation of the concept of an afterlife that would alleviate our fears and give our actions in the present much meaning. The second solution—the one that has come to dominate our thinking in the present—is to attempt to forget our mortality and bury ourselves in the moment. This means actively repressing any thought of death itself. To aid in this, we distract our minds with routines and banal concerns. Occasionally we are reminded of our fear when someone close to us dies, but generally we have developed the habit of drowning it out with our daily concerns. (Location 3012)

The fearless approach requires that you accept the fact that you have only so much time to live, and that life itself inevitably involves levels of pain and separation. By embracing this, you embrace life itself and accept everything about it. (Location 3033)