The last time I wrote one of these was in 2017. Five years ago. Quite a bit has happened in five years, because life is a flowing river that does not slow down for any of us. Sometimes we sit on the shore and watch it all go by. Sometimes we grab a tube and some beer and float along. Sometimes we're in the kayak or raft riding the rapids. Some of this we do alone, some of this we do with a group, and some of this absolutely requires collaboration and teamwork to survive.
So, here I sit in the waning hours of my 43rd birthday with an "Atomic Habit" task of writing something to this site each day (and a nice IPA). And, for reasons I cannot explain, I decide to pick something with some oomph, depth, emotion, complexity, and a lot of words. I mean, JFDI, right?
I have spent a lot of time reflecting in the last few years. I've reviewed old blog posts, listened to old podcast episodes, and enjoyed swiping through pictures by year and by location. Our ability to use technology to go back is remarkable. It's another reminder that we live in marvelous times.
It’s scary like hell but there’s no doubt
We can’t be alive in no time but now
– Mos Def – Life in Marvelous Times
There's no point in complaining. There's no point in fearing. We just gotta go, do, read, draw, write, work, learn, listen. Because life waits for none of us. And we can't be alive in any other time.
So, here's what I've learned on my 42nd trip around the sun
- I've had a good life. I feel like 43 is a good midway point for a life. 86 years would be quite a good run. It would be an honor to live that long. Shorter or longer, I've lived.
- Our world is amazing. And completely fucked up. We get to choose which one we focus on each day. More often than not, I choose to believe in humanity.
- Be present. For a time, I didn't get to see my kids very much. Now, I'm much more present in each conversation. Each moment. Put the phone down. Listen to your kids, your partner, your friend, your parent, your sibling, that stranger you met. It's worth it. Their experiences and stories? That's life.
- Road trips are a different kind of travel. If you're able, it's something you absolutely must try at least once. So many things happen on a road trip that don't happen in other forms of travel. You can peel off on that random road and go see that amazing natural arch or hit top speed in your minivan at the Bonneville Salt Flats. You can drive the Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier National Park and stop as many times as you want to marvel in all it's glory. You learn a lot about your travel partners. And when you need to, you rock the fuck out. So far, the longer the road trip, the more fun I've had. 6,000 miles this summer was something I'll never forget.
- Just decide. Forever and ever, I've struggled to make decisions – likely due to some fear of committing to any one thing and then missing something else. Ironically, I've missed opportunities because I have not made a decision. So just pick something. Read Annie Duke's "How to Decide." Once you decide, other things will happen, new people will enter your life, and you'll have more opportunities. For instance, I finally decided to become a rugby referee and get my certification. Because of this one decision, I was paid to travel to a rugby tournament, met some new friends, fast-tracked to my level 2 certification, and was added to the list of available assistant referees for my local Major League Rugby team – all in about six months. And, I absolutely love reffing at all levels and giving back to the wonderful rugby community!
- Nothing lasts forever, and it's okay to move on. I left the company I founded, Learning Ninjas, this year. I was burned out, tired of the learning industry, and seeking something new. All of those things were okay. 1) You're not as important as you think. 2) Life and business move too fast for anyone to dwell on your decisions or legacy for very long. 3) The things that you built and did during a period of time can be celebrated even if you decide to go. 4) New places mean new people and new learning opportunities.
- We all need folks we can be vulnerable with. Last spring, I started a weekly chat group with an intention to grow it to solve big problems. It ended up being a bit of small group therapy. And it's lovely. It's human. It's intimate. It's comfortable. It's beautiful, and something I'm very thankful for.
- Fail. Learn. Try again. I applied to a Masters of Social Work program last year that seemed to perfectly align with what I wanted to do and a timeline I had in my head and I didn't get in. No worries! I am reapplying now and have a backup plan if I don't make it in this time. Whatever it is you're after, keep going!
- I love talking to people – in small settings. I started driving for Rideshare2Vote and enjoyed it so much I then applied to become a Lyft driver. That was a blast! I paused because of the Delta variant, but boy, did I have some awesome conversations. This thread will continue soon in what will become the Drifter Life podcast. Authentic, human stories are so interesting and should be shared.
- Blood is not thicker than water. You don't have to prioritize certain family over other family, friends, or lovers, just because they are family. And, you don't have to keep forgiving family for their transgressions just because they are blood. Humans are family. Find the ones who respect you and spend your time wisely.
- Make time for those you love, and take time to call them and maybe surprise them with random visits. As I mentioned above, life is short. I flew to Oregon to surprise my mom for Mother's Day this year, and had an amazing visit with her. I am pretty sure she enjoyed it, too. I am fortunate!
- Live music is life. Even with the pandemic, I was able to see Seth Walker, Satsang, Tim Snider, Kevin Galloway, Ian Moore, Nathan Hamilton, and Black Pumas in person this year. Every time I see a live show, I am reminded how amazing musicians are and how much fun it is to engage with them and their fans in a collective experience.
I thought about how to make this number 13, but decided to just type out exactly what I wrote this morning when I was journaling...
I walked more, played games, loved, cried, sang, yelled, danced, hiked, and enjoyed the moments. I learned a lot, heard pain in others' stories, watched terrible things happening to good people and felt useless and helpless. I've questioned my purpose and existence and wondered how the hell I got here. Mostly, though, I thanked the universe for a good, mostly healthy, and kind trip around the sun and feel good about this next one, and whatever pain, joy, trials, challenges, opportunities, and discoveries it brings.
A final note
In my reviewing of old posts, I came across this post (2011 - whoa) about Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot and a short film by Michael Marantz.
‘FOR ALL OUR FAILINGS, DESPITE OUR LIMITATIONS AND FALLIBILITIES, WE HUMANS ARE CAPABLE OF GREATNESS’
It's easy to be cynical. But let's not forget what we are, where we live, and how remarkable it is that we even exist. And what a bonus it is to have consciousness and independent thought. Don't waste it. Give thanks. Help others. Share joy. Be kind. Keep learning. BE GREAT.
Peace and love, y'all.