I wouldn’t change my life for the world.
I’d never have it any other way.
I couldn’t love him/her more.
Yup. Complete and total bullshit.
I’m winding-up one of the craziest weeks of my life today, having just turned in the book manuscript for Book #1 with my writing partner at 9pm last night. Hold the applause, as that just means that today, I’m back to work on Book #2, which is due on October 15. It was a brief moment last night where, following the “send” button, I took a deep breath and felt as if I’d just abandoned a puppy. Never fear – the puppy came back this morning and started yapping about Book #2. But I digress. Back to bullshit and the shape of things.
There are only 3 things I’ve ever wanted to be (professionally) in life: an attorney, an actor and a writer. As I enter the final quarter of my 38th year, I’ve kicked two of those straight in the ass (actor, writer) and realize that my desire for the third (attorney) was fulfilled with a theatre degree (which is the same thing as a law degree, just without the nice suits and social prestige). If you asked me ten years ago if I ever thought it possible to even have TWO of these things ticked off The Bucket List, I’d probably have been too busy to respond as I’d have been bored with the Job I was in and trolling Monster.com for my next conquest.
Today, I get to say that two of those things are a certainty.
So let’s talk about The Shape of Things.
Somewhere along life’s road, I was deluded into thinking I had control. I had great jobs that paid great salaries with great benefits, working for multinational corporations with well-recognized names. I had rent and mortgage payments covered, expendable income, husbands (not simultaneously), boyfriends (also: not simultaneously), friends and family.
Everything I ever wanted.
But then the day came where the universe does what it does – it knocks your big ass Jenga game down and you’re left to pick up the pieces.
And that was the day I realized that I had finally gained control. Fine – it was a few days later and something I realized after the kicked-in-the-balls sensation had subsided even though I don’t have balls and realize I would have made you uncomfortable if I’d said “clam” so I skipped it. But I really didn’t, so now I’ve gone on and said “clam.” But the net-net?
I’d spent 35 years of my life giving everyone else control, thinking I was the one who had it. That’s some kind of bullshit, isn’t it?
So now that we’ve covered puppies, Jenga and clams, I’ll share my thoughts on The Shape of Things and how many of them are just illusions.
If you stop by this digital dungeon often enough, you’re well aware that finger pointing generally begins with my finger pointing at me. What have I made the mistake of giving away? The farm, my friends.
- When I started a business, I never realized that I was the first client I had to service every day.
- In relationships, I put everything I had into everyone else.
- I put things before my heart.
- I put money before my soul.
- I placed bullshit excuses before my friendships.
- Pride came before words that needed saying.
My 38th year is a much simpler one than my 37th or even my 27th. I bought my farm back.
See, your farm is something you can give away, but you really do have to buy it back. All of those people you ignored or hurt along the way (including yourself), those are relationships that have to be rebuilt. And sometimes that’s not an option, so you have to start over with new people. And the things – those can all go away in the blink of a Craigslist ad. An egocentric world is one ripe with illusions because you generally surround yourself with (1) people who will never tell you you’re being an epic fuckwit and (2) things, because you can’t find people who will challenge you and actually ADD to your life and things don’t argue and fit nicely into the trunk of your car.
Dispense with the things. Embrace the people. Because I guarantee you that the day you find yourself wishing you’d said something that you’ll now never have the chance to…that’s a shitty day. And who wants to feel like shit?
There’s such a negative connotation to being referred to as a sheep. A mindless follower of the herd. But in certain aspects of our lives, we’re all sheep. The Wall Street Journal had an article this week about the health of alpha males. Being an alpha female (shocker), I was intrigued. And it discussed how, in many regards, beta males found a greater level of happiness than their alpha counterparts, yet extreme beta males were just as stressed an unhealthy as their alpha counterparts.
That means there’s a certain peace in conceding control on occasion. Can you WIN a conversation? Can you REASON with someone who equates the volume of their voice with the validity of their argument? When it’s lights-out time, I don’t think there’s a process we have to go through where we show all of our blue ribbons and its a determining factor on where we get to hang for eternity and ever after.
What I do know is that there’s a beauty in letting someone else take the reigns on occasion, and it actually an incredible gesture to make for someone else (and yourself). It’s how we learn something new: how to play the guitar, rock climb, race bikes, use a new computer program. Conceding control opens us up to make our lives richer. Being the guy or girl who always has to alpha-out makes life for those around you a real bummer. Embrace your inner sheep (every now and then, give it a try), just not in a backwoods/make the sheep nervous kinda way.
Not so long ago, a friend introduced me to Live From Daryl’s House. After my inner audiophile stopped squealing with glee and I’d spent days going through all of the show archives, I got to the barn. The shows are shot in a barn that’s converted into a studio and it got me thinking about My Barn – or what I’ll call my happy place.
We keep our lives so cluttered with bullshit. Old things, new things, mental things. For an audiophile like me, seeing a barn setup like Daryl Hall’s got goin’ on is like seeing a really well-made foreign film. The intersection of simplicity and style at times can be breathtaking, like a well-appointed house. But there are extremes. An empty barn is eerie. One jammed full of shit in hoarder-like fashion is just vomitlicious. Would Daryl Hall be able to produce the sound he does in his barn-turned-studio if it were filled with shit everywhere that ruined the acoustics? And how can I function if my barn – my happy place – has nothing in it?
Build The Barn so it serves you. Be able to move. Your happy place should be a refuge – shelter from life’s storms and solace even when we don’t need it. Have yourself an emotional and physical yard sale and make some room for the things in life you want most. I’m a big believer in the concept that they won’t come along until you tell them they’re welcome. I also believe they don’t want to arrive home to a dump or an empty house, but rather, the in between: a soft place to land.
So what’s the shape of things in your world?
I wouldn’t change my life for the world – But maybe you could change it for the better.
I’d never have it any other way – But maybe learning a new way could be fun.
I couldn’t love him/her more – And maybe you’ll surprise yourself one day and realize that you do.
We’re the ones who decide the shape of things, not anyone else. Go after what you want and make room for the things that matter most to have on that journey. While a nice set of Tumi luggage is grand, bring your friends, your heart and your soul. Everything else? They’ll find their way back to you because you’ve earned them. No one can take those things and milestones away from you.
Git yer farm back.
Be the sheep every once in awhile.
Build your barn.
I think it really is that simple.