Thursday, April 22, 2010

Moving Forward

As a recent college graduate, I notice how a lot of people my age put stock into the fact that they feel like they need to have a step by step plan to their life, an organized detailed description about what they want to achieve and how they are going to achieve it. Now as most people who know me already understand, I am a very organized person. I make lists all the time, I constantly over-analyze almost every situation, I like trips and events to be thought-out and planned, so I understand that feeling of needing to know exactly what is going to happen, how, when, and why. But the older I get, the more I realize that no matter how much you plan, prepare, and worry, nothing is going to help you predict the future. Life isn't going to go exactly how you wanted it to, and people need to stop trying to prepare for what they are hoping for and start learning how to deal with the unplanned situations life is giving them.

9 years ago I came to Austin and knew after one UT football game and then later that year a week at SXSW that I wanted to live here someday. I had other goals, barriers, mistakes, successes, and so much more things I had to accomplish before I could get here. I watched my parents go through a divorce, I graduated from high school, passed up an opportunity to go to UT Austin to take a full scholarship to TJC and save my parents (and myself) money. I broke girls hearts. I had mine broken. I graduated from college. I took a job in Austin that I ended up hating and I quit. I was almost completely broke with bills stacking up. But through all that I managed to achieve everything I set out to and ended up exactly where I wanted to be: Living and working in Austin doing a job I don't dread coming to, making enough to support myself on my own, and being an independent, hard-working college graduate with my whole life in front of me.

My point is, yes it is important to have goals, to try to achieve things, to better yourself. But while doing those don't ignore the path it takes to get there, and understand that it isn't going to go how you planned it, but that doesn't mean you still can't end up exactly where you set out to be. And maybe along the way you may realize that how it happened may not have been perfect or the way you had dreamed it would be, doesn't mean it didn't happen even better than you had planned it, and helped form and mold you into the person you are today... versus the one you had thought you'd be a decade ago. And in my case, I think that's a really good thing.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Live Like You're Dying

An exert from a piece by Chuck Palahniuk done for Men's Health Magazine:

Make Life Worth Living
Live Like You're Dying

Any man will tell you that it's not the big disasters that finish you. No, given an invasion by hostile space aliens or an attack of flesh-eating zombies, most guys will grab their coats and hats and run out to join the fray. Even a run-of-the-mill earthquake or forest fire constitutes a nice change of pace. Instead, what grinds us down are the parking tickets. The spoiled food in the back of the fridge. The dirty clothes at the bottom of the hamper that haven't seen daylight since 1995. Once you allow a critical mass of these petty annoyances to collect, you're sunk.

Regarding Culling, my point is: If you can shave, you can live.

The third C stands for Connect. This means contacting everyone you've known and saying something nice. No matter how much you hate them, let go of that bitterness. Identify some aspect of each person, something you've secretly admired or envied or coveted, and praise that something. Say how jealous you were of his career or happy marriage or a particular merino wool mock-turtleneck sweater.

Yes, this process feels like a huge humiliation, but what do you have to lose? Forget your self-pity. Forget your anger and defensiveness. Forgive everybody and forgive yourself. In another week they'll be gazing down into your casket, feeling just awful. So for now, throw them a bone. Give them a break.

Beyond that, fully imagine your death: the cozy warmth, the pleasant wooziness. The sound of your favorite film or music playing in the background. Envision your sparkling bathroom and empty filing cabinets. Then imagine the world without you. The same traffic jams and famines. The same political crap fights and your team never making the playoffs. People will forget you. Everyone will forget you. You're no Kurt Cobain, so just light your barbecue and toast a marshmallow. . . .

But if you've completed the Three C's, chances are good that you won't bother. Because by then you'll be surrounded by friends who now recognize you as a valuable, sensitive guy. Your oven will be clean, your car vacuumed. In the same way you procrastinated on your taxes, you can procrastinate on your death. And, at least for the moment, your hair looks . . . really great.