Guess What? It’s the Same.

All of that shit you’re waiting on. Dreaming about. Stressing over.  That list of obstacles or goals or specific life events you feel like if you could JUST get those done, you’d feel differently. Paying off your car, moving, getting through some specific project at work. Or maybe it’s the larger and more far reaching stuff. Divorce. Student loans.

You envision these milestones a bit like carrying around a stack of concrete blocks on your back. Only the truth is, even once you free yourself from those specific things you’re focused on, you will simply trade one block for another.

Life, if you chose to focus on it that way, is mostly the same. Atleast in the ways you’d imagine. The predictable routine of your ability to adapt to experiences, or changes, good or bad.

I sold my house. I got divorced. I moved. I paid off all of my debt (save for my car). My credit score is 825. I am Jack’s sense of pained irony.

And don’t get me wrong. It felt good to do all of those things. Necessary. Elemental even. To strip out the clutter in my life by moving, ending a relationship emotionally, legally and changing everything. To move towards something and feel like in the restructuring I was learning about what the things I’d already experienced meant.

Knowing that I can save money for the things I want. That I enjoy a level of freedom and flexibility that has in some capacity eluded me for the duration of my adult life in 40 years. It’s grand.  But it’s not such a sweeping mind-bending change that I don’t still wake up and throughout the course of a day, become preoccupied with the same petty trivialities that bothered me before.  Those larger successes that I waited so long for… they’re not a magical inoculation against manufactured anxieties. I still worry about dumb shit.  Different dumb shit, but by and large. I am not so dramatically changed that I have unshackled myself from the pitfalls of what it means to be a person. Forever struggling against your own patterns, habits, tendencies. Making hard won progress.  But only through dogged persistence, luck, and will.  None of those requirements change.

So now what’s the moral of this ramble. Hey look at that, I think it’s the same as the last post I wrote. Don’t do it. Don’t dig yourself into the promise of someday as a solution to your state of mind. Because all that matters is right now. You will arrive, perhaps – I won’t even add “if you’re lucky” because luck is irrelevant and it may not be lucky anyway – at your desired destination.  You will pay off that car. You will get rid of that student loan. You will move to that new city. And you will still be you. In a different place. And you will have done all that waiting. That anticipatory promise of changes, solutions, a blank(er) slate and you will still find yourself wanting. It’s a giant waste. A pile of misdirected energies. Speculating on how different you will feel with certain obstacles out of your way. The only actual obstacle is the barrier you created in your own head. Crush that shit and move on. You, are really the only thing in your own way.

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Year 40. Day 1.

I woke up. Brushed my teeth, puttered around. Picked up coffee and breakfast and drove to the park. The latte I finished en route and I ate most of a protein box in the car.  And then I went hiking by myself. Which… unless you count my exercise runs in the woods I’ve never done.

Matthew Inman (creator of the Oatmeal cartoon) wrote a thoughtful missive on the confusing and pointless idea of continuous permanent happiness. That’s how I interpreted it anyway. It’s not a destination you arrive at. Or a fucking journey either. The idea that you’re in this achievable stasis of contentment is just… wrong. It’s a recipe for frustrated failure that completely abandons the idea of nuance.

I am not always happy. Fuck, in the course of a single day the range of emotions I can, or may experience would read like a seizure of brain activity.

I think my goal for being 40 is just acceptance.  And by that I don’t mean passivity. I mean that for me there will never be enough. If I get hit by a car and lie bleeding in the street tomorrow, my dominant emotion will be frustrated rage, because I want more and it’s not enough time.  But what I realized when I laid with the arms of the person I’ve waited most of my life to be with riding out the last minutes of my thirties, is that… that same statement will probably still be just as true if I were 80. So I have to learn to take moments of satiety and accept that those are enough. I can’t use the word satisfaction, that doesn’t sound transient enough. I will feel… in moments, fulfilled. Not perpetually. Not as a single thing of achievement. Just here and there. And that sometimes I feel frustrated with the struggle to achieve, or to nail down what it is that I feel like I “should” be doing.  Not for anyone else, or record keeping, or comparison. Just… true attunement to the frequency I run on. That I have given myself enough fuel and space and input to know what it is that feels valuable and meaningful to me. To stop and pay attention to myself and go into the woods or read or write to listen to music and remember what I’m supposed to be doing.  Create. Thrive. Adapt. Struggle. Suffer if I have to, at least if the pain is part of intelligent growth, in pursuit of something meaningful. Because it won’t all be glorious joy, it can’t be.  Acceptance of the fact that the elation is always the counterpoint on the pendulum to sadness, grief, stress, struggle. And none of things are bad. They just are.

The kind of pain that’s pointless is the stupid external measurements and restrictions you apply to yourself that are part of a system or idea or goal that isn’t something self identified.  WHY are you doing what you’re doing? Is it for you? What purpose does it serve? If the struggle is truly in pursuit to be your own person it matters, it will have results you won’t feel frustrated by or stress that isn’t just an irritating pointless wave.

I need to spend more time deliberating. To… Exercise. Write. Read.

The end of my marriage was the start of something. The universe answering a question I spent a long time figuring out how to ask. Here’s a milestone birthday. Use your one lifetime wisely.  Weather the unexpected with as much patience and grace as you’re able, forgive yourself when things don’t go exactly as you planned. Chase the things you want. Love big. Leap, push, grow and don’t stop to look around to wonder what anyone else things about what you’re doing.  Don’t waste the time, because you can’t ever get it back.

Live. Live. Live!  because you’re eventually going to fucking die!