What’s Possible Today?

Possibilities word cloud

Marital status aside—my life looks a lot like I thought it would when I was growing up.

I live in the Ohio suburbs. I’m middle class. My child goes to Catholic school now, just like I did.

When I was a kid, I didn’t really know what marriage would look and feel like, so I didn’t spend a great deal of time imagining it.

When I was a kid, I didn’t really understand what separates the financial winners from the losers. And I still don’t. I often feel like a complete failure. But compared to many people (the statistical majority, actually), I’m really doing quite well.

I hold myself to pretty high standards. And maybe that’s not psychologically healthy. But I don’t know how to quit. And I’m not sure I’d want to if I did.

Ask me why I’m 35 and have never been promoted at any of my three jobs since graduating college, and I’ll feed you an excuse: “Well! When you’re a newspaper reporter or copywriter in a corporate environment, there really isn’t much upward mobility!!!”

But the truth is that I’ve never made myself stand out as a leader of others.

Ask me why I lost my last job, and I’ll tell everyone how unlucky I was: “Oh yeah! Back in college, how could we have known what would happen to the newspaper industry!?!? I survived two rounds of corporate layoffs before the economic crunch caught up to me on a third round of cuts, and I was the least-senior person on staff!!!”

As if telling the story that way (which is all true, but all bullshit) makes you think any more of me.

The truth is that I didn’t prove myself to be indispensible to the publication. They knew they could lose me and there would be no financial consequences. There wasn’t enough demand for my writing and I never gave anyone a reason to care.

It’s not the economy’s fault my career is what it is.

It’s my fault.

It’s not the universe spoon-feeding me bad luck that has made me a single 35-year-old who works in a cubicle, leaving this dissatisfied taste in my mouth.

It’s my fault.

A little bit of ignorance.

A little lack of discipline.

A little lack of life experience.

But those three things all can be remedied.

So, what’s possible? What’s possible today?

Maybe Anything

More than once in history, the American people picked up their newspapers or turned on their televisions to learn the U.S. president had been shot and killed.

That lady over there just won a new car on a scratch-off lottery ticket.

A ping-pong ball bounced the right way last June, triggering a series of events that have turned the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers (my favorite team) into championship favorites after four straight years of horribleness.

Things just happen.

One day I was getting ready to fly to San Diego for a wedding and my wife told me she was pregnant.

Another time, when I was little, my mom put me in a car and drove me 500 miles away from my dad and we never came back.

You get the idea.

We know this already because life surprises us all the time. Like when we heard the Robin Williams news last week.

Things just happen. And we can’t see them coming.

The good news is that many of those things are not bad. And some are quite good.

I’ve just been thinking that maybe my life is a lot like how I thought it would be because I always thought this was “the way.”

You’re a little kid.

You go to grade school.

You go to high school.

You go to college.

You get a job.

You get married and have kids.

You try to get better jobs and raise your kids.

You retire and maybe travel in an RV, or live part of the year in Florida.

It’s hard for my brain to come up with things I haven’t seen or experienced. It’s hard for me to think beyond what I know.

That’s why I’m a writer in a safe corporate job at age 35, convincing people that often have less money than I do that they need to spend it on the things our company sells.

I was always so happy from childhood through college, and a bit beyond, that I never bothered to think about other ways to live a life, or what might happen if I was wrong.

Because, I was wrong.

What I’ve done, and what a lot of people do is A WAY. But certainly not THE WAY.

There’s no THE WAY.

Because while we all share so much deep-seeded commonalities within our hearts and minds because of the human condition, we are all motivated by so many different things, and those motivating factors are changing constantly because of changing health or financials or children or death, or simply our individual passions and pursuits.

I want to get better at everything.

I want to get better at being a dad. A homeowner. A writer. A friend. A co-parent.

I want to get better at life.

And they don’t have a scoring system for that which matters. Some people measure it with checking accounts, or attendance records, or the cars in their garage, or their children’s achievements, or the photos they post to Facebook, or the job titles printed on their business cards.

And that’s fine. All of those can be good. And all can be bad. Most of the time, they really don’t matter.

In the end, our ability to thrive mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally in an ever-changing world is what gives us the balance we need to enjoy life. And I think people can achieve that balance and thrive regardless of their job, or their house, or where they graduated college, or how many people fawn over them at the next high school reunion.

There are all these things in life I want to do and experience, but I make excuses and just go to work 40 or so hours a week and hang out at home most of the time in a life that looks and feels a bit wasted.

I’d move somewhere fun! But my son is here and I can’t leave!, I’ll tell you.

I want to write and travel! But I need my job to pay for all of this… stuff!

I’d be hard-bodied and in the best shape of my life since I’m trying to attract a mate! But I’m still a little depressed over my failed marriage and the loss of my family last year so I don’t workout enough!

I always forget: Anything can happen.

I don’t know why I forget since we are constantly reminded.

We get so wrapped up in our little comfortable routines and we’re often too scared to leap. It doesn’t feel safe to leap.

But I WANT to leap. Maybe you do, too.

Because that clock is not slowing down and we only have one shot.

Because safe is boring.

Because the bad things that might happen are never really as bad as we imagine them.

Because we can handle it.

Because no matter how bad, good or great we have it, there is ALWAYS more to life than this. Than right now.

What’s possible today?

Anything.

Seize it.

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How To Be Found

Worst-hide-and-seekMost of us grow up playing Hide and Seek with friends.

Something interesting happens during the game.

The counting begins: “One! Two! Three!…”

And we all run, run, run, trying to find that perfect hiding spot. It’s important to us that we find a good spot. That we become difficult to find.

If we’ve done our job, the seeker might find others. You hear the screams and laughter.

But there you remain, unfound.

The seeker continues: “Where are you??? I’m gonna find you!!!”

But, no luck. Because you’re stowed away in the best hiding place.

As the cat-and-mouse game drags on, it dawns on you: I may never be found!

And against the very nature of the game, you offer little hints to make yourself known.

A little noise.

A stifled laugh.

Maybe you peek out, putting yourself in view.

It’s because, in the end, we all WANT to be found.

A Catholic priest—the man who oversees the church and school my son will attend as an incoming first grader this week—told a similar childhood story this morning and I nodded along silently because I think he is correct in the universal human truth sort-of way that has fascinated me since discovering the many things that tie us all together.

We all have different experiences and upbringings. Different talents and hobbies. Different cultures, beliefs, skin colors and interests.

But underneath all the stuff we see on the surface, down in the places inside us that we don’t spend enough time talking about or acknowledging—all the human stuff—there is so much that unites us. So much that connects us.

It’s the thing that made me feel least alone when I felt like the earth was crumbling beneath me and everything I thought was true about my life turned out not to be.

The Connection Culture

There’s a reason there are a BILLION people using Facebook. Because people—you and me and everyone else—feel an innate desire to feel connected to others.

Even introverts want to feel connected to something. Perhaps a small circle of like-minded people, or pets, or their craft—whatever that may be.

When I got divorced, so many of my connections felt severed overnight.

The family I’d married into.

All of the friends—especially other married couples—that she and I had forged bonds with.

All of those perimeter people in your lives that you met through your spouse that you maybe bump into at local restaurants or grocery stores or social gatherings where everything’s just a little bit different now.

I went crazy trying to connect during those initial weeks and months. I was freaking out and latching on to any friend I could, seeking fun and distraction because being home was torturous. Because the silence was so loud and scary I couldn’t hear myself think.

Like a fool, I tried online dating, as if anything good could have come from that.

It was unstable, unwise behavior. But in hindsight, I get it.

I needed to feel connected because so much had been lost, and everything just feels like you’re floating out to sea at the mercy of the weather, and there’s nothing but storm clouds in every direction.

But you stay alive. Just breathe. In. Then out.

That’s your only job when everything feels impossible.

Just to keep breathing. One breath at a time.

Then I Hid

I don’t know what stage of the grieving process I was in when I tucked into my shell, but I got very reclusive. I stopped thinking about dating. I did a shitty job of staying in touch with friends and family. And I just stayed quiet and alone in my house.

Just breathing.

I was writing and reading and watching TV. Things I enjoy that I can do alone. Comfortable things. Things that made me feel safe.

But out of sight. Hidden.

Isolation Therapy

Maybe it’s necessary. All that alone time. I don’t know. I just know that real loneliness settled in. A feeling that—despite growing up an only child—I’d never really felt before.

No one’s coming to save you.

I wanted to be found.

There are a million reasons people feel lonely.

Sometimes people feel lonely even among throngs of people. I’ve heard people say New York City can be the loneliest place in the world.

Death. Divorce. A troubled marriage. Moving to a new city or country. Changing schools. Changing jobs. Over and over again in life, people have to adjust to the world they know turning into one they don’t.

And many of us feel lonely when that happens.

Sometimes children feel lonely even when surrounded by brothers and sisters and loving, well-meaning parents.

Sometimes spouses feel lonely even though their husbands or wives live in the same home and sleep in the same bed.

Sometimes adults feel lonely even though they put on a happy face and walk through the world doing their jobs and running errands and trying to make life something that feels meaningful and worthwhile.

People crave acknowledgment.

People want to be found.

People need to matter.

And They Do

People do matter.

I made my wife feel alone in our marriage and made her feel like she didn’t matter to me even though she did. And now I don’t have a family anymore.

Simple things like attention and respect and acknowledgment. They’re game changers. One way or the other.

The same goes for our children.

And our friends.

And our coworkers.

And the strangers we encounter.

And the homeless, sick and marginalized.

They just want to matter to someone.

I wanted to be found but I was spending every night home alone and out of sight.

But I’ve been floating out at sea for many months now. And the waters have calmed. The storm clouds are rare.

I want to be found.

And maybe others do, too.

And maybe if we all get out… smile at others, be brave enough to say hi, try something new, somewhere new… we will be.

And maybe the best part of Hide and Seek isn’t the hiding, but the seeking.

And maybe we can start changing lives, one found person at a time.

At work.

At school.

At the store.

At the gym.

At home.

Maybe we make the connections instead of waiting for everyone else to do the work for us.

And maybe we build a whole new life for ourselves.

One where we don’t run, run, run and hide. They may never find us.

But where we are the ones seeking out others, saying: “I see you! I found you!”

Maybe then, everything changes.

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The 10-Year Anniversary That Isn’t

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I was really nervous because the moment felt so big.

Not because I was afraid to marry her.

But because there were all these people. People from every corner of my disjointed life. And they were all there, staring back at me.

There in the front row to my left were my mom and dad. And my stepparents. Both remarried for many years because they couldn’t get their marriage right and I didn’t want to be like them.

Just behind them? My grandparents. Married 50 years. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

To my right were her parents. They didn’t know me very well because we were living faraway in Florida. And there was her older brother I’d only just met. And all her many aunts and uncles, friends and extended family.

Everyone in the room was wondering: Are they going to make it?

I was thrilled to be marrying her. Gorgeous every day, but especially that day. They coined the term “marrying up” for guys just like me.

I wanted to get it right for my grandparents. Married all those years. Walking the walk.

I wanted to get it right for her father. Giving away his little girl to a guy he couldn’t possibly trust but treated like gold, anyway.

I wanted to get it right for me. To prove I’m good enough. Smart enough. Capable enough.

To prove I was up to the task of shedding the dysfunction of my past and creating a new life for myself with the person I chose. With the person who chose me.

The wedding is a blur in my memory bank.

Gorgeous church. Super-fun reception. All the right guests.

I smiled at her when I slid the ring onto her finger. Feeling the foreignness of cold metal for the first time on mine. My wedding band, which still is laying at the bottom of my sock drawer because I wouldn’t sell it. Not because I believe my life would be better if I was still wearing it. But because those years really mattered. No matter what, they mattered.

The ring stays.

I do remember one thing.

I spoke the words with purpose.

‘Til death do us part.

I meant that shit, babe. I hope you know that. I did a bad job. But I totally meant it.

Ten Years Later

My brain’s having a little trouble wrapping itself around the idea that it was 10 years ago today.

An entire lifetime, it feels like.

But one giant blur, too.

Time is constant. But it has a magical ability to feel excruciatingly slow and unfairly fast all at the same time.

As the clock keeps ticking, everyone keeps healing. Exactly 51 weeks ago today, we finalized our divorce, forever changing the course of several lives.

Everyone’s still just trying to figure out this new rhythm of life. It’s an awkward dance. You want to be a graceful dance partner, but now the steps are unfamiliar and there’s no touching allowed.

Everyone watching is still a little unsure, too. Her family has always treated me very well, but no one knew what to say when we saw each other for the first time in more than year at my son’s birthday party earlier this summer.

One of them was one of the best men I know. Her uncle.

When we lost my ex-wife’s father, this man, who just lost his brother, looked at me and said: “You take care of that little girl.”

I didn’t hesitate.

“I will,” I told him. “Promise.”

And then I didn’t. Because I didn’t know how to be selfless during my greatest test as a husband. As a father. As a man.

I thought I was putting her first. But I wasn’t. I just wanted her to get over it and treat me like the most important person in her life again without doing anything to earn it.

We’re in a good place now, I think. As good a place as we can possibly be considering all that’s been lost. Felt. Screamed. Cried. Written. Done.

We’re our son’s mom and dad. A job both of us take very seriously. And I think she’s exceptional at it. And I hope she at least considers me adequate.

My one final chance at redemption with her. That she can go to sleep at night when her son isn’t home with a peaceful heart. Knowing I’ve got her back. That our son is safe.

If time can be both fast and slow, then I think my marriage can be both the worst and best thing that’s ever happened to me.

I think I can choose to focus on the good.

I think I can take comfort in the fact that all these paths are leading somewhere, and when I reach that next trailhead in life and things start taking shape, I’m going to be able to look back on the journey with the benefit of hindsight and understand why things had to be the way they are.

Can you have massive regrets, and no regrets at the same time?

On my 10-year wedding anniversary that isn’t, I say I get to do whatever I want.

If I could, I’d go back and do many things differently.

But. I also wouldn’t change too much because of all the good things that came from these past 10 years.

All that beauty.

Because without the veil of pain hanging between now and the past, I can see so much good.

Lots of regrets.

But no regrets.

It doesn’t have to make sense. Because I understand.

So, here’s a toast: To the girl I married, and the woman I share a child with. A gorgeous child. My lifeblood. Thank you so much for him.

You’re going to have a beautiful life. And maybe I am, too.

Happy anniversary, sweetheart.

I’m sorry I couldn’t buy you anything.

I totally mean that shit, too.

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The Pursuit of Happiness, Vol. 3

Image courtesy of EW.

Image courtesy of EW.

“Happiness comes in small doses, folks. It’s a cigarette or a chocolate chip cookie or a five-second orgasm. That’s it, okay? You cum, you eat the cookie, you smoke the butt, you go to sleep, you get up in the morning and go to fucking work, okay?” — Denis Leary, No Cure for Cancer

Is Denis right? Is that really all there is?

At 35, there aren’t many people who have been household names my entire life.

Actor and comedian Robin Williams, dead of an apparent suicide at 63, is one of those people.

When someone dies, you rarely hear: “That guy was an asshole! Good riddance!”

People tend to focus on the good and honor the departed. So, it’s no surprise there is an outpouring of praise being heaped upon Williams.

None of us know what went on inside Williams’ mind and heart. But in more than three decades of knowing who he is, the worst thing I’ve ever heard about him is that some people didn’t care for his brand of humor.

By all accounts, he was a kind, decent, hilarious and generous man on and off stage, and on and off camera.

Which begs the question:

If Robin Williams, worth an estimated $130 million (according to Business Insider), beloved by millions worldwide, who reached the pinnacle of a career as a Hollywood actor and comedian, wasn’t happy, what chance do you and I have?

If a man with seemingly everything would rather be dead, what are we living for?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way:

Robin Williams reportedly suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. But I’m not going to let people get away with writing off his suicide as some anomaly. Just another case of mental illness that happens in this faraway place to people who aren’t like me!

Depression is a word.

Just like bipolar.

Words we use to describe conditions we observe in people. Conditions, I suspect happen to all of us in varying degrees at varying points in our lives.

People are afraid to talk about it.

I don’t know why.

Maybe it’s because some of us equate “mental illness” to “crazy.”

I’m not crazy!, we all think.

I used to be sure I wasn’t. And now I’m not. Now I know I can never really be sure of anything. I felt a lot better about my life the day I let go of trying to be certain about everything.

It’s okay to not know.

Try it. “I. Don’t. Know.” And you don’t have to. Now take a deep breath and go do something that makes you laugh.

I grew up in this “normal” little life, in this normal little house, in this normal little town. I grew up convinced I was about as typical as a person can be.

Maybe we all feel that way because we don’t know any better when we’re young and our brains don’t work very well because we don’t have enough data.

Life was simple.

And I remember thinking that when I grew up, I’d get married and have a couple of kids, and live in a normal little house in a normal little town just like that one.

And I’d be happy.

My wants got a little more ambitious as I aged. I began to crave certain material things and career achievements, but the end product of my happy-life fantasy still looked mostly the same.

A simple life in the suburbs with a wife and children and a job I could be proud of.

Eventually, I achieved that life.

And it wasn’t enough.

Everything broke. I lost my family. And then I got a taste of what depression really feels like.

For the first time, I discovered what it feels like to not recognize your own reflection. To forget what it feels like to be happy. To forget what it feels like to be you.

It changes everything.

Because that’s when you finally learn to prioritize. That’s when you finally figure out what matters versus what doesn’t.

I once needed the house, the car, the wife, the kids, the money, the job, the friends, the love, the life. To succeed. To be happy.

And now I don’t. I no longer believe there’s some magical Life Ladder that you climb and when you reach high enough you pump your fist and say: “Yay!!! Now I’m happy!!!”

There’s no finish line. No mountaintop. No end credits upon completion.

If life’s a video game, there’s no beating the game.

It’s just repeated attempts to set a new high score.

And I think it’s important to come to terms with that reality, or else we set ourselves up for enormous disappointment—high expectations that cripple us when life fails to satisfy.

Great Failed Expectations

I thought my life was going to be awesome because it pretty much was most of the time. Things got a little better all the time, every year, for the first 30 years of my life.

It set the expectation that things would continue to progress that way. So, when all the shitty things started to happen, I fell hard.

Your brain has trouble processing.

It poisons your insides. Fucks with your soul.

Maybe all of the really happy people started out with hard lives and thought their futures would be shitty, and then eventually climbed their way out and realized how beautiful life can really be.

I don’t know. It’s okay to not know.

I think this is what happens to all of these people—people most of us look at and think: Wow! They have amazing lives! I bet they’re so happy!

Rich and famous people. People who are beloved and worshipped. People just like Robin Williams.

What could they be missing?

I can only make an educated guess.

They’re missing some or all of the same things that elude any of us who feel dissatisfied with our lives.

Peace.

Contentment.

Balance.

Love.

Hope.

We all want good health. And fun. And money. And friendship. And love. And sex. And to feel good. And safe.

But what makes us happy?

Is that not the most-important question? Aside from taking care of those who love and need you (partners and children, etc.), do we have a more-critical job than identifying that which makes us truly happy?

Than immersing ourselves in that fountain? Over and over and over again?

Everyone suffers from varying degrees of brokenness.

Can love heal the broken?

Everyone has demons. Guilt. Regrets.

Can hope, faith, forgiveness bring us peace?

We all just want to feel like most of us did when we were kids. Laugh! Run! Play!

Is happiness really just an orgasm and a cookie?

Is all we get that short burst of joy we feel while laughing at the punch line of a Robin Williams joke?

Is that all there is?

Is that happiness?

Yeah, I don’t think so either.

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Breaking the Cycle

Routine keeps us grinding our wheels. New things keep us growing.

Routine keeps us grinding our wheels. New things keep us growing.

Sometimes I am so comfortable in my routine that I get physical anxiety when I’m about to do anything out of the ordinary.

Sometimes I am so comfortable in my routine that I get used to things no human should ever be “used” to.

Tangible things.

Like a cluttered kitchen. Piles of laundry. A non-functioning garage door opener.

And other things.

Like a boring social life. Subpar physical fitness. A messy spiritual life.

Is that routine? I might call it a rut.

You can almost trick yourself into thinking it’s okay. It was one of my favorite things about being married. Accountability.

Accountability motivates me to exercise. To keep my life in order. To quickly and efficiently take care of things that need tended to.

After some emotional ups and downs (mostly downs) following my divorce last year, I have found myself in something of a rut for many months.

A mostly uneventful life full of disorganization and a complete lack of fulfillment in every imaginable area.

Maybe it’s depression. Maybe it’s some psychological condition that makes me crave routine even when the routine is shitty, simply because it feels “safe.”

The only way to break the cycle is to do something different.

The Reset Button

My parents divorced before my fifth birthday and lived 500 miles apart from each other. I lived with my mom in Ohio and visited my dad in Illinois throughout my school breaks.

It was like having two lives. Two very distinct lives where things felt and were different in both places.

I was in school. Changing teachers. Changing classrooms. Playing sports. Growing. Learning.

I was surrounded by friends every day and experiencing all of the growing pains school children do.

But more than that, I was always experiencing huge changes in scenery.

I was always hitting the reset button. Each school break. Each new semester. Each new year.

Minus the long-distance, back-and-forth parent thing, I suspect most of us felt this way during our school years.

The rhythm of life, full of constant change.

Then adulthood comes.

I’m not sure when. People say 18. Especially 18 year olds. But we all know that’s not true.

I felt like an adult when I moved away to college. But I wasn’t.

I felt like an adult when I was put in charge of my college newspaper. But I wasn’t.

I felt like an adult when I moved a thousand miles away from everything I ever knew and loved after graduating and getting my first news reporting job. But I wasn’t.

Surely I was an adult when I got married at 25. When I bought my first house a year or so later.

But it doesn’t seem that way now.

I think our thirties—on paper—are our best years. I describe it as being the best combination of having youth and money. I hope most people feel that way and are living accordingly.

That’s not how it worked out for me.

All of the really shitty things that have happened to me in my life happened after turning 30. And now five years later, it’s hard for me to remember what it felt like when everything was good.

And that’s got me thinking that maybe there’s no age that grants us adulthood.

That it’s more a right of passage that comes about when life starts throwing challenges your way and there’s no one there to save you anymore.

For some people, that happens as children.

For others, it never happens.

For me, I’m still in the transition. Right now. Still trying to figure it all out.

Still learning how to save myself.

Still climbing toward adulthood.

I took my first non-family visit trip in more than two years this past week. A nice trip west to Reno, Nev. with a visit to Lake Tahoe in northern California sprinkled in there. I had never been there before.

I liked both places very much for different reasons.

The important part is that it was somewhere different. It was something different.

A gorgeous hotel room for a week. Reminding me to get my house in order.

A great week at the poker tables. Reminding me to reconnect with a passion from my past.

A week outside the monotony of my daily life. Reminding me to live.

Because I forget sometimes.

I forget to live.

By not inviting friends over. By not getting out and meeting people. By not engaging in outdoor activities I love. By not trying enough new things.

By not writing.

I’m a creature of habit. I think many people are. Especially men.

But I think living can be a habit, too. And breaking the habit of not doing so has to be a priority.

I think the rut—the cycle of monotony we often find ourselves in—can be replaced by the rhythm of life.

It all starts by choosing to do something different.

Maybe just one little thing.

Maybe even right now.

To really feel alive.

To break the cycle.

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Hope Changes Everything

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In the aftermath of my wife leaving, sometimes I would sob like a small child.

I spent so many years not crying that I didn’t know I still could—not like that.

For reasons I still haven’t figured out, the trauma (Am I allowed to use that word—trauma?) of divorce rewired me emotionally and I became hyper-sensitive to emotional triggers.

Saying goodbye to my son was, by far, the biggest trigger.

I only see him 50-percent of the time now, my little six-year-old. I cried in front of his day care provider twice during those first couple weeks. I’d even get teary if some poignant father-son thing was happening on TV.

It was pathetic. But it was also real.

We lose things.

Loved ones.

Marriages.

Jobs.

And no one ever handed out the How to Deal with Major Life Trauma manual.

Near as I can tell, everyone just has to take it on the chin. Feel the shock and horribleness. Then make a comeback as a wiser, stronger person.

Throughout the healing process, one tool remains useful no matter which stage you’re in: Hope.

About a Girl

My friend’s divorce was finalized exactly one week before mine last summer.

His story is very similar to mine except he’s an infinitely better human being than me.

At the risk of sounding like I’m celebrating his divorce, it’s hard to put into words how helpful—emotionally and logistically—it is to have him going through the same healing process at the same time.

You swap stories about what went wrong in your relationships.

About healing.

About the ups and downs of dating after divorce.

There’s someone to play golf with. To have drinks with. To go out with in the absence of your partner.

He’s been an enormous blessing.

We’ve been walking this walk together, and I’ve had a front-row seat to his healing process, as he has mine.

He’s had an active dating life, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be one of his confidants. I hear all the stories. The good and the bad.

Like every person in human history, all those stories have (in varying degrees) unfortunate endings, right up until they don’t anymore.

Every couple that doesn’t marry or end up together forever ultimately has a sad story to tell.

I tried online dating just a couple months after my wife moved out because it was the only way I knew how to mitigate loneliness and balance what I perceived as unfairness that she seemed so happy while I felt so miserable.

It was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made.

Even if online dating was a good idea (it’s not), I was this totally broken, imbalanced, barely sane freakazoid trying to convince women looking for a future husband that I was somehow a good choice to go out with.

It seems so much crazier now.

I was a total mess.

But today?

I’m not a total mess.

I have all kinds of problems. Plenty of life obstacles and self-esteem issues to work through. But I also know that I represent a pretty solid choice for anyone interested in a single 35-year-old with a child. And sooner or later, someone will make that choice.

The best part?

I don’t feel panicky about when that might happen. I’m comfortable in my own skin again. I’ve spent plenty of time alone these past 16 months. And you know what? There are worse things.

The day I realized that I was finally okay alone is the day I realized I might be ready to let someone in again.

Which is a big deal. Because a year ago, I was questioning whether that could ever happen again.

And under the right circumstances, I think maybe it can.

Hope.

I love the word “hope.” Always have. But I love it even more now, because when you feel totally broken, the only real reason to keep waking up every day is because you feel hopeful that things will get better. And of course, they will.

A couple weeks ago, my friend—the one going through the same process I am—had three dates in one week.

He told me about all three on our way to a recent concert. (Lord Huron, suckas. You better get on that.)

One was a total non-fit.

Another had a health condition that was a huge obstacle.

The third seemed… perfect. And still does.

Her name: Hope.

3,000 Miles Away

My son is vacationing with my ex-wife and her family on the East Coast this coming week.

I had to say goodbye to him this morning for what will be the longest time we have ever been, and hopefully ever will be, apart.

Early next week, I fly to Reno/Lake Tahoe for a work trip.

Logically, it doesn’t make sense that the geographic distance between my son and I over the coming 10 days should bear any relevance whatsoever.

But it does.

I’m somehow acutely aware of how far apart we’ll be. I didn’t have an easy time saying bye to him this morning.

But.

I didn’t break either. Not like I would have a year ago.

Tears welled. But none fell.

And I think that means I’m healing.

That everything’s going to be okay.

That I’m learning to accept that things are as they are.

As I was driving to work this morning, I passed a little church. One of those places that likes to put inspirational messages on their roadside sign.

This morning it read: “Hope changes everything.”

I thought about my friend. I’m really rooting for him. Hope.

I thought about how much differently I feel 16 months later. Hope.

And I smiled.

Hope changes everything.

Yes.

Yes it does.

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The Night I Almost Killed Someone

country road overpass

BANG!

The noise startled me.

I ran to my dining room window to investigate. Nothing seemed wrong.

I stepped outside to look around. The investigation didn’t take long.

A huge, bright orange paint splat was on my house, evidently from a drive-by paintball gun shooting. I wonder if it was those same cocks who chucked a raw egg at my front door a while back!

I didn’t know who it was. And I have no way of ever finding out.

Conventional wisdom suggests it was the work of unsavory teenagers. Dicks!

It was hard for me to understand why someone would arbitrarily choose my house to shoot. I don’t have any history in town. It would have been impossible for me to be an intentional target.

They just happened to be driving down my street, and they just happened to pull the trigger toward my house.

Simply chance doing what chance does.

I couldn’t believe someone could be so reckless, disrespectful and irresponsible!

Twenty Years Earlier

When I was 17, one of my older friends (20) was an assistant manager at a local Pizza Hut restaurant. He would “accidentally” put the wrong toppings on pizzas so they couldn’t be sold to customers and so that his friends (us) could have free pizza.

After 9 p.m., the restaurant would close and a few of us would often hang out to munch on pizza or breadsticks and drink pitchers of beer while the staff blasted loud rock music and cleaned the kitchen and dining room floor.

After my friend got off work, we would typically go cruising and flirt with random girls along a popular avenue for doing so.

But one night, we thought of something else to do first.

It may not still be this way today, but nearly 20 years ago, Pizza Hut and restaurants like it, would serve soft drinks from machines that mixed syrup and water.

The syrup came in very large, silver bags. When completely full, they were quite heavy.

When empty, the staff would throw them in the dumpster behind the building. But that night, someone had a “better” idea.

Kids Will Be Kids

My phone buzzed in my pocket when my neighbor Ryan who lives across the street sent me a text message.

“Do you know whose car that is parked in front of your house?”

“Yeah. It’s my mom’s. She’s visiting. Do you need me to move it?”

“No man. Someone broke through the driver’s side window.”

“Shit. Really? Okay. Thanks for the heads up.”

I told my mom what Ryan had just told me. We both went out to investigate. And sure enough, the window was broken, only it had exploded outward, not in toward the driver’s seat as one would expect if someone had smashed through it to steal something.

It didn’t take us long to spot the tiny bullet hole.

Not like a 9mm or anything. More like a small pellet from a powerful air rifle. I called the police to let them know. The officer agreed with my amateur crime-scene analysis. Vandals had shot through the driver’s side window with a pellet gun, and then the window exploded outward from the reverse pressure.

Probably teens.

They just happened to be driving down my street, and they just happened to pull the trigger toward my mom’s car window.

Simply chance doing what chance does.

I couldn’t believe someone could be so reckless, disrespectful and irresponsible!

Almost Involuntary Manslaughter

A couple of the guys filled up the empty soft drink syrup bag full of water. We were going to make the biggest water balloon imaginable and drop it from the highest place we could.

Four or five of us piled into a pickup truck with the huge, and now very heavy, syrup bladder full of water.

We drove just a little bit outside of town to a country-road overpass which sat above a highway.

This was going to be awesome.

Sometimes I wonder about the person driving that car.

Maybe it was a young kid like us. Or maybe someone’s mom or dad. Maybe there was a family in the car with a baby in the backseat.

It could have been anyone.

Travelling 60 or so miles per hour in the dead of night, any animal jumping out in front of the car could have made the driver lose control. Most alert drivers are at least moderately aware of that possibility in such locations.

But they almost never look up.

I don’t know who suggested we wait for a car to come. But everyone thought it was a good idea.

The plan WAS NOT to drop the heavy bag on top of a car travelling at high speeds. But we did think it would be funny to drop a large dark object in front of an oncoming car, giving them enough time to see it fall and explode on the road in front of them.

A hilarious joke!

We saw a set of headlights ahead. This is the one! Hurry!

“Go!” someone yelled and we all moved to pick up the large water-filled bladder and heave it over the short wall. We didn’t plan for the difficulty involved in maneuvering the heavy bag and it took us longer than we’d intended, but with so many people lifting and throwing, there was no way to stop it from happening.

The car was coming fast.

Our massive water balloon dropped over the side and exploded onto the highway below entirely too close to the oncoming vehicle. Some of us watched. Some of us ducked down behind the overpass wall.

Tires screeched.

We gritted our teeth, hearts racing, waiting for the crash.

But there was no crash.

The driver saved the car somehow. We ran to the other side of the overpass. We watched the car slowly inch forward, the driver trying to figure out what had just happened. We didn’t stick around to see what would happen next.

We jumped in the pickup and fled back to Pizza Hut.

To our cars.

Back to the avenue where girls were waiting to be flirted with and asked for their phone numbers.

Just kids being kids.

Just chance doing what chance does.

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An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 8

couple fighting

Boys and girls grow up pretending to not like each other while playing together on schoolyard playgrounds.

The Boys vs. Girls theme runs strongly through the elementary school social culture.

Boys like blue.

Girls like pink.

Boys like Army guys.

Girls like Barbies.

Boys like playing sports.

Girls like playing dress-up.

When we’re children, we seem to confuse common interest with friendship. Boys are mean! Girls are silly!

We wanted to be accepted by our peers, so most of us tucked ourselves neatly into these stereotypical gender roles. As we aged, we watched what the older kids were doing and we paid attention to the boy-girl relationships playing out on television which helped us morph into whatever we are today.

In many cases, despite our obvious differences, men and women tend to like one another. Many of the decisions we make are centered around the idea of partnering up with, and having sex with, those we find most attractive.

A conversation that has happened on every park or playground in the history of mankind:

Male Friend 1: “Ooooooooohhhh! You like her!” *sings mocking song*

Male Friend 2: “No, I don’t!!! Girls are stupid!!!” (Even though he totally likes her.)

Then, the next time Male Friends 1 and 2 are with the girl, Male Friend 2 will make fun of her and be kind of mean to her to show off to his friend and demonstrate that he doesn’t “like” her. Also, because first and second graders don’t understand gallantry or charm, boys often resort to playful mocking as a means of flirting with the girls they do like.

This often continues into adulthood forever.

Mars vs. Venus

Men and women are DIFFERENT. Totally not the same make up and inner workings. I’m absolutely convinced the reason we have a 50-percent divorce rate is because so many men and women don’t take the time to learn HOW they’re different and what they can do to bridge those differences and overcome them.

Male friends make fun of one another. Just for fun. Because we like each other. Why? I don’t know. We. Just. Do.

All the time. Almost daily. Even the nicest of us sit around playfully mocking one another.

Doesn’t that make you feel bad, Matt!?!?

No. It doesn’t. Because most guys seem to innately understand that it is being done BECAUSE we are accepted as part of our social group. It is not a display of hate or rejection.

Whatever it is chemically or genetically that makes men do this, we also take into our opposite-sex relationships. And sometimes we do it to our spouses. Sometimes we do it to our female friends. We think it’s the same as when we do it to our guy friends because we’re often dense and thoughtless.

When the females in our lives take our verbal jabs as personal attacks and react emotionally, we get confused and assume they must be hormonal, crazy and imbalanced since everyone else seems totally cool about it.

“How can you treat me that way in front of your friends? Don’t you love me?”

“It was a JOKE! Of course I love you! I married you and would do anything for you.”

“Then please don’t be mean to me.”

“You’re overreacting. Why can’t you take a joke like everyone else? We were all laughing!”

I think I’ve had that conversation, or one just like it, dozens of times. You’ll notice there was no sincere and heartfelt apology in there to the offended party.

If I ever hurt the feelings of a stranger or one of my friends’ wives or girlfriends, I would have gone to great lengths to try to rectify the situation and make sure it never happened again.

I am guilty of thinking my wife was overly emotional. Of feeling like she misunderstood me and punished me based on false premises. I am guilty of not respecting the pain I caused. Of attempting to invalidate her feelings to avoid accepting responsibility. Of not sincerely apologizing for causing pain and never doing it again.

Most importantly?

Despite feeling like my wife was the most-important person in my life, I never demonstrated that in my day-to-day behavior.

I don’t think I can overstate the following: Many times, men have no idea they’re hurting and upsetting the women in their lives EVEN WHEN the women tell them so, because it makes absolutely no sense to the man that the thing that happened could have caused pain.

It makes men dense and stupid, sure.

BUT. It also oftentimes makes them innocent of INTENTIONALLY trying to inflict pain. I think shitty things done on accident should be handled differently than shitty things done on purpose.

However—how many times can she say it before it sinks in? How many times does she have to tell you before you’ll actually believe the words she’s saying?

At what point are you being willfully negligent?

One Wife’s Take

One of my female friends who is also going through separation and divorce married a shitty husband like me. Not a bad man. Just a guy who is bad at marriage.

Because I’ve heard so many stories about him, I knew he was the belitting-your-wife type.

The type of guy to not worry about facts in a debate. He’ll simply tear down and invalidate the person he’s debating in order to win. Even if it’s his wife and the mother of his children.

I asked her to give me some examples of things he would do to make her feel stupid and invalidated.

She wrote this:

My family is all sitting around the brunch table. We are talkers—philosophers and theologians and writers. We discuss politics, theories and ideas. My husband doesn’t like this. He finds our discussion annoying and refuses to enter in the conversation. The truth is—he probably isn’t capable intellectually but that’s okay. No one is pushing him. As the topic rolls around to the inevitable “Why are we here?”-type questions, he starts to roll his eyes. But I love this part of debate and get excited to speak. As I’m explaining my thoughts to my family, he cuts me off. “Isn’t she hilarious?” he mocks. (I’m instantly furious that he addresses me as “she” but let it slide.) He continues: “I try to tell her there isn’t some big, grand life to be lived… ha ha ha. She has so many ideas about fulfillment and striving for some greater good! Ha! This is it, hon. This is your life! There isn’t some great thing out there you’re missing out on! Ha ha ha!”

My whole family stares at him… Did he really just belittle me like that in front of everyone? Yes. Yes he did. No one knew what to say. He’d done it so many times before but never this blatantly.

Some men think it’s a joke. To tease, mock, belittle, make fun of their wives in front of others. It’s not funny. In fact… it makes women feel so so so worthless and lonely and stupid. It made me feel like that, anyway.

To feed into stereotypes that women nag, are bossy, spend money irresponsibly, are sex objects, are only good for cooking/cleaning, etc… to feed into that is to erode the heart of who a woman truly is.

Things that can be said include:

“Well, I’ll have to check with the boss before I can let you know.” (Meaning the wife is in charge of him and all he does… probably somewhat true because she has to be his mother.)

“Did you spend all my money at the store today?” (All his friends laugh like I’m some bimbo-shopping wife. WTF? It’s our money and I am the only financially responsible person here!)

“I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything. She wouldn’t let me! Ha ha.” (Nag implications)

“Why would I pay for her to go to law school? She already has her hands full with the house and the kids! How on earth do you think you could pull all that off, honey?? She gets too ambitious. Ha ha!!” (Implying that 1, the money is all his again, and 2, I’m stupid for even thinking I could accomplish such a thing.)

I really think men who get their kicks from saying these types of things actually aren’t joking all that much. I think, to a certain extent, they truly believe this. And I think that is why it takes away from who their wife or girlfriend really is. If one is so wrapped up in thoughts like this… are they even thinking about the real, live woman in front of them? Who is she really? Do they even know? Chances are she doesn’t think it’s funny to joke like this. BUT, then again, chances are he doesn’t even know that.

What If?

What would it look and feel like if every single day you treated your wife like you did when you first met her and you might not have tomorrow together? What would it look and feel like if someone bad was going to come hurt her or take her away—UNLESS you treat her with the deepest respect and kindness and thoughtfulness possible?

Would she ever nag you?

Bitch about you to her friends?

Make you feel ashamed or disrespected?

Would she ever tell you you’re not good enough? If you gave it your actual best effort?

We spend so much time reacting and responding to others rather than going first. Rather than being the example.

I think maybe if everyone treated their partners (and maybe others) with love and kindness without the expectation of receiving it return, that the world would change overnight.

There are a bunch of us out here who already learned things the hard way or figured it out on our own: Don’t act like a bag of dicks.

And if you, Shitty Husband, figure it out soon enough, she won’t leave you to be with one of us.

You’re a man. Strong. Logical. A skilled problem solver.

So I know you can do it.

And I’ll continue to root for you.

You May Also Want to Read:

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 1

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 2

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 3

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 4

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 5

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 6

An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands, Vol. 7

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Misunderstood: The Rule of Thirds

Billions. More people than we can even imagine. And, given the opportunity, they will love you. We should focus on them.

Billions. More people than we can even imagine. And, given the opportunity, they will love you. We should focus on them.

My younger sister, a talented musician and vocalist, is afraid to write and share original music because she’s afraid of rejection.

“What if people think it’s bad?” she said, when I pressed her on why she’s not writing new material.

A Grammy-winning musician who teaches at the university she planned to attend after high school was making promises to her.

He was going to assemble the finest musicians he knew to play her music in studio.

He was going to get her studio time in Los Angeles and a record deal.

He was going to do all kinds of things for her.

Open doors. Grant opportunity.

But then he didn’t. He didn’t do any of the things he said he was going to do. And now my sister feels like she failed. Because the gatekeeper didn’t hold up his end of the bargain. Because she’s waiting for permission to create her art.

“You don’t need permission to make what you love,” I told her. “Make it and share it. Good art will always be found and shared.”

You can see the doubt. The fear.

It’s the same look I have when I make excuses for… anything. It’s because I’m afraid too. It’s because I don’t know whether I’m good enough.

At writing. At work. At being a father. At being someone’s romantic partner.

“Have you heard of the Rule of Thirds?” I asked her.

She hadn’t.

As I explained it, I realized that the Rule of Thirds applies to more than just art.

That all of us are misunderstood. By someone. By our partners. By our parents. By our children. By our friends. By our co-workers. By our supporters. By our critics.

We Are All Misunderstood

By someone.

It’s because we’re the only species of which I’m aware in which two of us can look at the exact same thing and describe it completely differently.

Did she leave him for someone else? Or did he drive her into the arms of another?

Is that same-sex couple’s union an abomination? Or an example of love and courage in its purest form?

Was that deadly attack an act of terrorism—of pure evil? Or an instance of patriotism and the pursuit of justice?

Sometimes it can be as simple as words on a page. One sentence.

Without visual cues. Without tone of voice. Without knowing how the other person felt when they wrote the sentence, we apply how we’re feeling in a particular moment to fill in the knowledge gap. To apply meaning (that’s probably only correct a third of the time) to the sentence.

Relationships break over this type of misunderstanding all the time.

The Rule of Thirds

The rule exists to help artists understand and deal with criticism, but I really think we all need it as people to understand that the world does not see us as we see ourselves. Sometimes, that’s good. Othertimes, it’s bad.

Here’s the rule:

With anything you do or create, one third of people will love it (or you); one third will hate it (or you), and the remaining third won’t care at all.

This is an idea worth embracing, because there are a lot of people out there like me who aren’t very thick-skinned and who have an unhealthy desire to be liked and accepted by everyone.

I might get 40 nice comments on a post, but once in a while someone will let me have it, and I tend to focus on, and feel shitty about, that one comment. Should I ever expand beyond the WordPress bubble, I imagine this will get infinitely worse.

Most people I meet and know seem to like me. Maybe they mean it. Maybe they are being fake. I guess I don’t care as long as they don’t make me feel bad.

But there are others who clearly don’t like me.

Why does this person over here think I’m so nice and makes me feel cared for and respected, while this other person makes me feel like the lowest form of pond scum imaginable?

There are people who think I’m a shitty writer.

Why do these people over here think I’m special and talented while these other people think I’m worthless?

Should we spend our time trying to convince all the people who don’t like, respect or appreciate us, that they’re wrong?

That seems like a colossal waste of energy.

Because the truth is that one third of people are always going to think you suck. Let them.

Another third won’t pay any attention at all. I don’t pay attention to all kinds of things. How can I fault them for that?

Then there’s that last group.

The people who save our lives.

Make Things For One Person (Or 2.4 Billion)

In your artistic pursuits, everyone has one raving fan.

In your life, you have the equivalent of that.

So, maybe we need to be making things for that person. Living for that person.

Maybe we should be making things for the third in our corner. Maybe we should be living for those people.

There are people in my life who think I walk on water. People who tell me I’m their favorite writer. People who think I’m smart and kind and worth something.

Why not live for them? Why not write for them?

People will doubt us. Hate us. Tell us that we think, feel and do things that we actually do not think, feel or do.

People will tell us we’re bad.

That our work has no merit.

That we’re not good enough.

That our honest efforts toward love, friendship, and living a life geared toward constant improvement is something else entirely. That it’s dishonest. That it’s selfish.

We all have critics. Sometimes, harsh ones.

People who will never change their minds. Because they won’t. Or because they can’t.

The results are the same either way.

I know I can’t please everyone. Even people I really want to.

My best isn’t good enough.

It never will be.

And that’s just going to have to be okay.

There are about 7.25 billion people on this planet. One third of them are going to think I’m a stupid asshole. One third of them will never, ever care, no matter what I’m doing.

But that last third?

They’re going to love me.

They’re going to love you.

That’s 2.4 billion people.

People who will think you’re amazing just the way you are.

People who believe we’re more than what we think we are.

Wow. 2.4 billion.

That’s a lot of people to reach.

We better get started.

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The Missing Motivation

MotivationPeople think I’m a good person, but really I’m not.

I don’t mean that I’m bad, like I hurt people and do evil things.

I mean I’m bad, like, I’m bad at being a person. I even say that a lot which probably doesn’t help because we tend to be whatever we say and think we are.

And that right there is exactly my point. Exactly.

For the most part, I know precisely what I could be doing to make my life better.

While some people fumble through life because they’re ignorant and lack resources and support and education, I’m a different animal entirely.

I’m reasonably well-informed about many things and am a huge proponent of “best practices” in every imaginable area of life.

I’m always spouting examples while standing on soapboxes because I can talk a big game when I don’t actually have to put in any work or suffer the consequences of being wrong.

I’m always wondering why the City of Cleveland can’t take cues from Chicago as to how to properly develop lakefront property.

I’m always wondering why the American education system can’t take cues from all of the other countries with vastly superior academic (and economic) results and borrow all of the good ideas and put them into practice here.

In other words, for almost every imaginable subject, someone has taken the time to figure out a really effective way of doing something.

And it’s almost always in a book or on the internet. And if it’s not? Great! That means there’s a huge opportunity there to fill that content gap and help other people solve problems or excel in that particular niche.

Almost always in 2014, the information is there. Someone really smart has figured out a really effective way to overcome <insert random problem here> and now you can benefit from their trial-and-error and do things with better results than flying blind.

So, what’s my excuse?

The Table Analogy

I love the table analogy because it’s so easy to visualize and understand.

Your life is like a table.

Your life’s foundation has four pillars—like legs on a table. Not only do the legs need to be long enough, strong enough, and sturdy enough. But they also must all be equally balanced, or else your life is going to wobble and be shitty and annoying and you’re going to have to temporarily wedge a piece of junk under the short leg to stay level and functional.

Everything good and bad in life ultimately comes down to health. If you’re not healthy, nothing else matters. It’s a lesson you don’t learn until you’re unhealthy or are close to someone who becomes sick or injured.

Problems at work and in your relationships and with money stop mattering when you think you might die.

The four legs: 

Mental health (Read, talk, think, learn)

Physical health (Good overall health, physical fitness)

Spiritual health (Peace, gratitude, forgiveness)

Emotional health (Love yourself, balance in your meaningful relationships)

People think they want money. Love (even though many people are merely craving feelings of infatuation and lust). Success, in whatever ways they define it in their individual pursuits.

I submit that those things are nice and are inevitable byproducts of succeeding in balancing their life table.

People really just want contentment.

Happiness.

The world could be blowing up around us, and if we had enough dopamine (the chemical that makes us feel happy) rocking our brains, everything would seem great.

I know these things.

I know that if I take steps to exercise my mind. To bring my body to maximum health and peak performance. To achieve spiritual peace. And find emotional equilibrium in my various relationships.

That I will feel something akin to happiness. To peace. To contentment. To balance.

So, what am I waiting for?

The Things that Motivate Us

I think it’s different for everyone.

I cleaned and (sort of) organized my home office desk for the first time since April 2013 yesterday because I’m going to have some family visiting for the rest of the week and it was getting embarrassing.

I like to exercise my mind to have things to think about, talk about and write about.

I like to be physically fit so girls won’t think I’m ugly.

I like to be spiritually balanced because it makes me feel safer and stronger.

I like to be emotionally level because I never knew what it was like to NOT feel that way until a couple years ago, and it totally jacked me up and I haven’t been the same since.

When I was married, I did almost everything for my wife, and later, for my wife and son.

She probably doesn’t know that.

She probably doesn’t realize that almost every single thing I did for the 12-plus years we were together, was because we were together.

Sure, I did some shitty, selfish things. The kind of things I do now just because there’s no one around to convince me otherwise.

I wanted to be smart because I wanted her to be proud of me.

I wanted to look good so she would like to be seen in public together and not be disgusted in bed with me.

I wanted to be spiritually whole so that she could have a spiritual partner and anchor as we dealt with life’s ups and downs together.

I was emotionally level, naturally. It’s REALLY shocking when that goes away for the first time and you don’t know what that looks or feels like.

When your partner leaves, all that motivation—all that purpose for existing—goes away, too.

And it can really jack you up when you’re wired like me.

I talk a big game. A big game about self improvement and who I want to be and how I’m always working hard to be that guy.

But, really?

I’m not.

I’m not working hard.

I’m being lazy. I’m letting depression (if that’s what it is—I don’t feel sad, I just feel nothing) win. And then I’m sitting around asking rhetorical questions about why I still feel a bit shitty all these months later.

Surprise, asshole. It’s not magic.

It’s not.

It’s not magic.

Happiness, if that’s a word you’re comfortable using, is not a destination. So many people think that if X, Y and Z happen, then they will finally be happy. You know, the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

I love to talk about pursuing happiness. And I do, symbolically, feel like that’s what we all should be doing. That the primary goal of our lives is to BE and FEEL happy and then help everyone around us be and feel the same.

But the truth is, happiness isn’t a place.

Happiness isn’t a destination.

Rather, happiness is a path. A state of being.

Like love, it’s something we choose. Today. Right this second.

“I’m happy.”

Maybe you don’t feel happy. I don’t. But maybe that’s because I don’t act grateful. Maybe that’s because I don’t exercise my mind and work harder to achieve my goals. Maybe that’s because I’m not in very good physical shape and it makes me feel physically and psychologically shittier than I could and should feel. Maybe that’s because I’m not living up to the spiritual ideals I profess to hold dear.

Maybe it’s because my table is totally wobbly and shitty.

Maybe if I did all those things, emotional balance would come.

And maybe if I got my life table balanced, all of the other things, like love and money would fall into place.

Maybe waiting around for something to happen is really just a life sentence of always waiting around for something to happen.

Doing what I’m doing? Not working.

So tomorrow we try something new.

But what if there is no tomorrow?

Right.

Okay.

Right now, we try something new.

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