There can be the feeling that birthdays need to come with something. Profound learning, a large update, TOP 10 TAKEAWAYS FROM MY BREAKOUT YEAR, etc.
Above all else, I am grateful that through the things I saw and the things I still have not found words to speak about, I am able to still communicate. It is, in more ways than one, a miracle. The fact that people find any value in something I’ve ever said, is a byproduct of this singular miracle.
Failures, challenges, and other calamities
I was inconsistent in all kinds of relationships. I did not show up as the person I wanted to, and when I did show up, I was carrying so much = that I was unable to see accurately or listen actively.
I didn’t launch what I told myself I would. Worse, I conflated that to a deficiency of character which led to existential wrestling with shame masked as “never reaching my potential”. My creative process wasn’t broken; my heart was.
Waited too long to apologize and wasn’t eager enough to listen to other’s admissions of mistakes.
Treated walls like boundaries, they were surprised when people could not climb them, and I had done no work to break them down. I did have 4D schematics about what I’d do once they were no longer up.
People I love and care for have lost something or someone they loved and are living in light of that truth. The compounding grief has yet to be fully realized.
I took personally that which was not mine to take.
I ruminated and called it reflection. That led to replaying the things I didn’t want, and often acting as if they were the only outcomes possible.
I was in my mind for most of the year, which made coming outside of it feel like a chore, then a risk, then a nightmare.
I discovered that I am susceptible to sensation envy, which I define as a desire to experience feelings that are new to me, and a belief that there might be something fundamentally wrong or I am behind because I haven’t felt them yet.
I was angry about what I could have chosen to accept, uncomfortable with what needed to be surrendered, and distrustful of things that were there for my good.
Growth, changes, and other graceful occurrences
Found (read: created) a hair routine for the first time in my life.
I grossly underestimated how much of an emotional impact ensuring my scalp had the necessary nutrients it needs would have on me.
Started writing things I was proud of.
I have been what I would call a reluctant voice; someone who should be speaking, but finds unique ways to avoid it. I did that less, which was interesting.
Laughed more often.
Nothing profound here. I just intentionally found things that made me chuckle and repeated them.
Decided to stop decrying my artistic pursuits as oppositional to other “professional” things.
I like a lot of things, and as such, I have not always made sufficient time to explore them, or set an environment for that exploration to be supported.
Questions have always been more interesting to me than answers.
Questions tend to pull me, so I have been more honest about the types of ones I am interested in spending time on. That means much more “no”, so I can embody the “yes”.
The process of divorcing who you are from what you do was a set of decisions and behaviors I accepted.
I stopped thinking it should get progressively easier as I aged, and have instead tried to shift the paradigm to not worrying about asking different questions.
Started crafting an environment that supports how I think, instead of what I do.
Probably the most critical set of decisions to my personal wellbeing I was able to choose for myself. I had to consider that what may be hindering me wasn’t just effort, but the stimuli I didn’t have or may have needed.
Stopped hiding the extent of my grief.
Nothing has been more freeing by letting my beloved ones know that their responsibility is not to save me, but instead to be themselves. This allows their presence to be the gift it is.
There is new life in hard places.
For all that has been lost, there have been glimmers of new ventures, family expansions, new cities, and new ways of engaging with levity. Those moments become memories and those you can carry with you.
Increased my personal risk tolerance.
This was already high, but this made it into a different type of space that I used to not imagine myself. This has downsides and is something I revisit frequently as new things happen, but
My close friends are flourishing.
Love to see it. Really.
Aha Moments (read: the “you” is in fact me)
Shame can become a subtle motivator that embeds itself into virtues you may see as ‘positive’. It is not renewable energy. You’re not living them, you are performing them so you can avoid feeling bad the next time you do make a mistake.
Making decisions based solely on the outcome is equal to the danger of not making a decision at all.
We do not make laws at the speed of change; we make them at the speed that our system of governance can reach a consensus.
Infrastructure is the difference between something working once, and something working so seamlessly, you forget about it until it doesn’t function as you think it should.
Pain tolerance may be the worst indicator for where a boundary should begin and a healthy indication of where you may be tolerating something that is harming you, but since it does not feel fully debilitating, you allow it.
The time it takes to reconceptualizing what has happened to you, IS THE TIME IT TAKES. To rush that is to deceive yourself and to avoid it is to handicap what stands to bloom from it.
If something does not get transformed, it is almost guaranteed to get transmitted.
If people were able to take their art as seriously as they are forced to have to take their survival, we wouldn’t wonder why we mourn people’s potential more frequently than we get to celebrate their progress.
The way someone teaches you can quietly become the filter through which you read into everything around you. Their methods can become much more than an influence; if not balanced out, they become semi-permanent contact lenses that you see the world through.
The courage to be disliked is important. The humility to know you will be very wrong about a lot of different things you could also be disliked for is also important.
Stories told in reverse are always told faster than they happened. How X did Y and achieved Z outcome will always be wholly insufficient. The magic is in the margins.
Admitting there are things you want, that you are also not prepared to receive at this moment, allows you both the freedom of expression and the honesty to not be so preoccupied with the when.
If you are bothered by your time being wasted by someone else, why would you flirt with your own future and expect to feel any differently?
To rest actively, you have to both emotionally and physically disengage at the same time. Anything less is a lie.
Environment shapes aptitude. The changes you seek may not be an issue of willpower, but actually external stimuli that get in the way.
Accountability allows you to see another person (and yourself) as someone capable of adjustment and not a supreme villain.
Patterns are not prophecy.
Learning about decision making, is not, in fact, making decisions.
Forgiveness is not an override code for reentry.
Compassion is not a compromise.
The ability to nurture a self-regard that is both honest and resolute is one activity that is guaranteed to pay for itself.
Never wanting to apologize because you would never do that, is really just perfectionism on a Peleton. You are stationary by choice.
Romance is not the cure for loneliness. It does make for a complex economy of snake oil backed by the sovereign currency of collective insecurities.
Telling the truth functions the same way life insurance does; the price you pay now through admission in a difficult conversation is a premium, but it is nothing compared to what can and will happen when there is a need for coverage, and there isn’t any.
You tend to have more fun when you exchange the responsibility for success, with the incremental change that comes with taking action (even if you get rerouted along the way). Being efficient and being effective too often are correlated falsely. You can convince yourself that the efficient way will make you effective, or that the effective way will be the most efficient.
The “celebration” you need, can simply be having reverence for what is.
Speaking to someone’s condition without being intellectually honest about the realities of their context, is the bullet train to bad insights and poor discourse.
Friends are like lozenges; they can help restore your voice by simply being who they are, in front of you.
They are not values if holding them does not incur a cost. They are only suggestions you use when it is expedient or convenient.
Intentions are not actions, but I’ve found it helpful to anchoring myself because I can come back to them specifically as ‘ways of being’ instead of ’states of doing’.
Use brevity and concision as opportunities to clarify what I believe.
Make things I care about with people I respect to serve people I care about.
Allow love (of all varieties) to meet me where I am.
Plant, water, grow and give as many flowers to people as possible.
PLAY. BIG fun should be had and curated.
Tangible Things I’ve Committed Too:
Finishing a manuscript by this time next year.
(a few more) Questions I’m Asking in 2021:
What does legacy mean, absent other people’s definition of it?
What do I define as ‘enough’? Am I closer to it than I think?
If mastery is a pursuit, am I defining the wrong destination?
Are you willing to expand your circle of competence to include things that you did not know existed?
What tangible things need to be true for you to grow in your ability to navigate the traps of scarcity that present themselves?
Where (or with whom) in your life do you need to assume the posture of a beginner?