I take notes all of the time now. So much so, I’m now like everyone else: I carry my phone with me everywhere—into the yoga studio, to bed, walking to work. These seem to be the places where inspiration breaches the surface. That and driving, but I know better than to mix those two. The ‘Notes’ feature on my phone makes it easy to jot down ideas when I’m walking down the street, or preparing for yoga, or when I wake up in the middle of the night. As much as I berate the people who walk into the middle of traffic while looking down at their phones, it seems I operate daily as distracted as anyone else.
I’m such a hypocrite.
Two nights ago I woke up in the wee hours to record a few things that popped into my head. The light from my phone screen, or the clinking of my rings, must have woken Russ up. He slowly swatted at me.
“Put your phone down….”
He sounded like a drunk man fighting off the break of day, but I suppose it’s how anyone would sound woken up in the middle of the night.
I held my phone up with both hands, like an offering to the Gods, managing to avoid Russ’ aimless swipes while typing profusely with my thumbs.
Annoyed, his back still to me, he hissed, “What…are…you…doing?”
“Yes, now… I’ve got to write it down when it happens.”
With a sigh, Russ flopped his arm back over and curled into his pillow.
The next morning, I took all of the notes on my phone from last year and copied and pasted them into a single PDF-document. It was fun, and funny, to revisit a few of them.
Before Russ left for work, I said, “Oh looky here. January 18th, 2019. My note says, ‘My new husband won’t share his bottle of water on our ‘honeymoon.’ You have your own, he says. But I said, Yet we share bodily fluids. WTH? We can’t share water?! Where’s the love? Yep. End of story.”
Russ asked, “Wait? I said that?”
He snickered at the memory, but I could see his wheels turning.
Shit. She records e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
On the way back from the Poconos, Russ turned on his favorite podcast, “The Art of Manliness.” The episode we listened to was called “How to Find Your Calling” (October 30, 2019 and January 5, 2020). Gregg Levoy, the guest who was speaking about his latest book, suggests the “nudges” we sometimes feel are intuitive hints, or callings, which we need to listen to more closely. He quoted his father who said (this is paraphrased), “Informed intuition is gathering a ton of data, as much as you can, and making a decision based on that.”
The author asserts we need to do the same, using all of the subtle signals we tend to ignore, as our gathered data. Acknowledging the nudges as part of our collection of information, Levoy says, is a huge step in making the best decisions for our lives.
After we listened, Russ asked me if I liked the podcast. I thought about it, but eventually said no.
I’m just going to say it.
I’m really sick of all the self-help, do good, how-to-live-your-best-life-podcasts, books and articles. The ones that tell you how to be happy; how to get what you want in life; how to accomplish more in less time; how to look younger in five days; how to be a millionaire in two-weeks; and all the other content just like it. I have a friend who calls this reflective/self-help craze “The Kumbaya Movement.”
It makes me laugh. Every. Time.
I feel like I should be standing on a pedestal with my cape blowing in the wind as I proclaim: I am finally over my relentless quest to improve myself, do better, be more, etc. It has all become pedantic. I am either jaded, or I’ve come to accept myself, as is.
I sound like I’m on consignment, “as is,” and I DEFINITELY don’t sound like someone who does a hell of a lot of yoga, where everyday we start our practice by setting an “intention.” But, there’s no buyer’s remorse here. It’s just a matter of working with what is, and that’s what I’m doing.
There are a lot of people peddling their version of “the secret sauce” for a good life. The magnitude of content is almost surreal. Or maybe it’s just the speed at which it is delivered, over and over. The constant onslaught can be overwhelming.
The closest I am lately to “do better” programming is Seth Godin’s and Scott Galloway’s blogs. I f ind their remarks succinct, pragmatic, yet still poignant.
Here are a few recent ones:
“There’s a difference between hearing about it and experiencing it….Our awareness has been stretched wider than ever in history, but often at the cost of taking away a lifetime of experiences.” January 25th, 2020.
THIS. Always, always, always, show up, when you can. For the little things, as well as the big things. It matters to the people you love, and it will matter to you, even if it’s not apparent at the time.
“Real progress comes not from measuring ourselves against everyone else’s pace, but in building habits. Habits lead to commitments and commitments create learning.” January 11, 2020
Once is a mistake. Twice is a habit. Choose your habits well.
“Interaction is a privilege, but it doesn’t often scale.” January 15, 2020
This is another dimension, with business in mind, of “experiencing” life, versus hearing about it, and “showing up,” versus not. The irony is, interaction is priceless, but also hard to monetize.
“Sometimes, the investments we put in place to avoid mediocrity are the very things that cause it.” January 18, 2020
Sometimes a person’s due diligence is what impedes their way forward.
Scott Galloway, The Algebra of Happiness—
“There is a freedom and cathartic release, as you get older, to tolerating cracks in the filters, making them more porous, your actions and words more genuine.”
Tolerance, with myself and with others. I’m working on it.
“In the end, relationships are all that matter.”
This is what it is all about.
Scott Galloway’s blog, No Mercy/No Malice—
“HQ2 [Amazon Headquarters #2] is an apt metaphor for a sickness plaguing our society — the false narrative of meritocracy. It’s the notion that everyone has a shot, and if you don’t win, it’s your fault. The reality is, we don’t have a meritocracy….Our attainment of the American Dream is now largely a function of where we go to school, which is mostly a function of our parents’ wealth.
We’d like to think we all have a shot. It’s not only less and less true (income mobility has been cut in half in the last several decades), but it’s also damaging to our collective well-being. We’ve bought into the mental trap of believing our inability to offer our kids what our parents gave us is our own fault, because we live in a meritocracy. But the reality is, Bezos was never going to roll in Columbus. HQ2 was not a contest but a con, and America is barreling toward the society our forefathers wanted to escape — a caste system.”
This is a hard slap. I feel our greatest fear as Americans is coming true. We are moving towards a caste system, here in the greatest country on earth.
Waking up super early this past Sunday morning, I caught a program on public television called “Food Over 50” or “FO50” for short.
A cooking show for old people.
By the looks of it, quinquagenarian nutrition requirements aren’t that much different than, say, those of thirty-five years olds, yet they devote a television program just for that age group. Following it were two programs on geriatric yoga. This is yoga which uses a chair as a prop. To round out the early morning programming for seniors was a segment on sewing. (SEWING!?!?!)
So, now I know who watches television in the wee hours of a Sunday morning–older people, and insomniacs like me, who are getting older. Even the commercials between segments catered to seniors. The one for cellular phone service showcased stylishly kitted geriatric golfers, smiling and laughing, swinging their clubs in between phone calls.
I don’t know anyone who smiles and laughs playing golf, over 50 or not….
….and if they were, they’d be holding a beer in their hand, and not a phone.
This is starting to hit a little close to home. I have a lot of friends in their fifties, one who just turned 50, and I’m not that far behind. Just last week I ordered a pair of progressive eyeglasses. Unfortunately, when I tried them on I. Hated. Them. In case no one tells you, you lose all of your peripheral vision with progressive lenses. Well, no one told me, so putting them on, it came as a total shock.
You lose half of your vision in order to improve the other half??
Apparently it’s a thing, and people adjust, but I did, in fact, have buyer’s remorse. I got a refund and will now go elsewhere. It didn’t help things either when the sales associate put her fingers all over the lenses trying to adjust them. Looking at someone else’s sticky fingerprints all over your expensive glasses, while you are wearing them, is an experience I hope no one else will have to endure, especially when you asked for a cloth to clean them.
Wrapping the Rap
#nomorekumbaya. After many years, it’s finally dried up. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s wisdom, maybe it’s weariness. Russ said I’m a curmudgeon. Maybe he’s right. There is no secret sauce to life that I can see. All we can do is love ourselves, wherever we are at right now, and love others, wherever they are at, too. #compassion. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.
And it’s what we’ve got.