Life. John Lennon said it’s what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.
I’ve come to realize the truth in that. I’ve spent years on a road to nowhere. Because that was how I viewed life – as a journey, either on or off my path.
But life doesn’t feel underfoot easily, and we seldom enjoy the present in the capacity that we are capable of. A journey, but to what end? To what implied destination? Death. Likely. Our goals – some of them, but the journey continues. We walk, we trudge, we crawl, we fall down, we get back up, we pick up scars and bruises, and sometimes, we effortlessly glide for those fleeting moments when we actually get what we want. That’s rare though. I’m not meaning to be pessimistic, as glum as this all very likely sounds, no – I’m being a realist. Life as a journey sucks.
So, I’ve traded in metaphors. Life is a sea. We’re not on a path, we’re in a boat. Our boat is the present day, and the present moments we are given within each day we get to breathe and live on this mysterious, lonely planet.
Until we die. Our boat doesn’t float forever. The thing is though, we don’t know when our time will be up.
We may think our world is civilized and the future is as certain as old age, but it’s not. There have been some terrible, terrible things that have happened lately.
The Boston Marathon attacks, whose fatalities included an 8 year old boy and a 29 year old woman, the limo fire, which claimed a newlywed bride and her four friends, and most recently the news of three kidnapping victims who escaped after 10 years in captivity.
Things like this seem senseless and random, and we think how fortunate we are to be alive. How ‘lucky’ we are.
It’s not luck. Those were daughters, and lovers, and friends. Just like us and ours.
It’s a blessing. Just life. Just to be alive. And not just because ‘we never know when our time is up’, but because we were created in the very first place. Just the probability that ‘WE’ got to get a chance to enter this world is astonishing.
It is literally an earth shattering miracle.
Probability of your being born: one in 102,685,000
As a comparison, the approximate number of atoms in the known universe is 1080.
So what’s the probability of your being born? It’s the probability of 2.5 million people getting together — about the population of San Diego — each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice — and they all come up the exact same number — say, 550,343,279,001.
A miracle is an event so unlikely as to be almost impossible. By that definition, I’ve just proven that you are a miracle.
Now go forth and feel and act like the miracle that you are.
So, are you ready to be a living miracle today? I am. Right now.
And I’m not here to spend my life trading in every today for the promise of tomorrow. And trading months for next season, and years for seasons of our lives.
Eventually, it’s all gone. We will be dead. Well, after we have spent our lives trying to get somewhere because we were too fucking stupid to see that we will fade.
Our bones will lie against the soil and ageless water will rain down on a foreign world above us. Maybe oneday someone will dig us up, but probably not. We’ll just be underground, with the billions that have died before us.
Now that I’ve taken morbidity to a whole new level of wry and despondent fatalism, let’s return to the real world, where our hearts are beating and we have today to read articles on TMZ and work jobs we hate.
But, wait you say – I have goals. I have a bucket list.
That’s great. As a piece of shit metaphor from crappy movie.
But, as a way of life, it’s about two steps up from YOLO.
I’ve lived according to both strategies. I’ve worked as hard as the squirrel and done things that were bucket-worthy as a reward, and I’ve attempted to embody the YOLO lifestyle with little more than less money and braincells to show for it – withstanding a few good stories, but mostly crappy ones.
However, I’m maturing. Which to me primarily means looking ahead to the future and thinking about others. And within my expanded perspective, I’ve come to see that YOLO (You Only Live Once) isn’t about getting shitfaced and making an ass out of yourself and tarnishing your reputation/self-worth – no, it’s about doing the things that actually matter to you.
So today, I find myself in a boat that I’m learning how to maneuver. My toolkit has expanded and I can deal with the unexpected gales that life throws at me. I know that whatever happens, I will choose to be okay and that will give me the power I need to affect change in my own life.
And it’s working for me. I’m using a lot of the lessons and experienced I have been so blessed to receive in life. And I’m accomplishing things, which matters to me. I am sailing this boat g-ddamnit. And although I may not control the seas or the weather, my rank is Captain and that gives me control over everything I need to be happy.
So why am I not?
Surprisingly, I know the answer. It’s because I have too many years and not enough days. And in the short run, I have too many days and not enough moments. I’m not doing enough to be happy now. Sure, I might have had some good years, but the days weren’t that great.
And the moments were too fleeting and too few and far in-between.
And that’s what life’s about, the moments.
Think back on a time when you were really, really happy. Truly happy.
Maybe you were watching an amazing movie with someone you love. Maybe you were eating a sandwich and reading a book. And if there was a time when you were really, truly happy – it was probably interspersed with many beautiful moments.
But, chances are, it wasn’t yesterday. lol
Seriously, why not.
Oh yeah – life. That
journey you’re on boat you’re in.
You see, we measure the quality of our lives in a manner that automatically sets us up to be unhappy.
In the business world, we use metrics to measure things. These are usually things like profit, growth, and income. Things that we can measure, track and compare against other tangible stuff.
In our lives, we use a similarly shallow and fatalistic system.
Because happiness (being the assumed goal of life) isn’t about things or stuff. And that’s the problem. It’s like the The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, where they ask “What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?” And they get the answer, which turns out to be 42. Which, of course makes no sense to them. Because they don’t really know what the question is.
I have a radical concept for you. I want you to look at how you really are measuring your life. Just give 4 or 5 things. They probably include things like ‘job / career satisfaction, relationships, and maybe your goals.
If you are unsure, or maybe feel that they don’t include those things, just look back at the past year and see where your dissatisfaction is. It’s probably similarly based in other worldly issues that we have learned from society. Those are our metrics.
Well, here’s the radical concept.
I want you to think about measuring your life in moments. And the ultimate question to life, the universe, and everything, is simply: Are you living a lifestyle that provides you with enough of those moments to be happy. True happiness.
I don’t care what the answer is, because it’s no. Our lives look different, but we have the same problems. We all have our own hopes and dreams and fears and we are all just living life. But we’re still stuck in the society based metrics. But guess what, we can’t escape our lives.
The problem with the pursuit of happiness is that we focus on improving our circumstances, which – despite being effective when things work out – typically causes us to work harder, to feel increased pressure, to be harder on ourselves – and as John Lennon said – life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
In other words, it’s passing us by while we’re planning for other things. But there is a simple solution.
Your Daily Bucket List.
That’s it. Because – we’ve tried to make more money, to be in better shape, to kick our bad habits, to be a better person, and don’t get me wrong, those things are great and they generally increase happiness, but true happiness – that’s in the moments.
I’m not going to tell you that those society based metrics are useless and you should wear patchouli and stop working so hard. This isn’t four hour work-week. I’m not going to tell you to not be all you can be. But what I am telling you is that you could be happy without all that, and that in doing so, your improved quality of life will enable you to better achieve the goals and plans you have.
You just need to make those moments happen. That’s what your daily bucket list is about. But how can I watch the Lion King when I was 12 with my dad again, you ask. I’m not asking you to just make awesome, amazing moments a part of your life.
I’m telling you to make the little moments a part of your life. The things that make you happy. The things that matter to you. If you do that, your lifestyle will make all the bigger and brighter moments come naturally.
You see, I’ve spent my entire life trying to be happy. And I’ve tried so hard that I’ve managed to master misery in the process. But I’ve finally come to see that it’s the moments in life that matter. So, I’ve come up with the concept of the daily bucket list as a way of ensuring my day has enough moments.
When I said that I had managed to master misery in the process of trying to be happy, what I meant was that I found myself working so hard and focused so much on living a life based on society based metrics, that I didn’t have a lifestyle that brought me happiness through the things that gave me moments of happiness – so no matter if I was rich or poor, I wasn’t taking the present day and doing things that mattered to me. The moments. (Don’t steal that as a book title – it’s mine).
It’s like that Dove chocolate commercial, where the girl has a piece of chocolate and suddenly she suddenly is having a silent orgasm on flowing silk-chocolate sheets.
That was her moment. And that’s kind of how mine work too. Just stupid little things that make me feel good. And some of them, like taking vitamins, don’t provide any immediate gratification – but they are a practice that brings me satisfaction because I’m doing something good for my body.
So I’ve created this concept of moments or a daily bucket list, not because I had some aha realization that I wanted to do the things that mattered – no, the misery of not doing them simply became too painful to continue living a life that was passing me by without me doing the things that brought me peace and joy – no matter how small.
I can’t not work 12-15 hours tomorrow, that’s just what I have to do, and the people who know me, know that that’s a short day for me. But I can’t let life stop me from living it. Because before you know it, that’s your life. But it’s not that quick and easy, it’s more like the days turn to weeks, which turn to years, which turn to never.
So to start living life in the moment, you need to make the moments a part of your life.
You need to figure out what your moments are. To me it was pretty simple; I know the things that are important to my happiness. They were all the things I loved but never did.
The kind of things you put on a match.com profile, ‘I love reading and sailing and taking hikes’. But in reality, you’ve finished 2 books in 7 months, and haven’t sailed since last year, and rarely hike. You’re actually just a miserable sob who get’s drunk when he’s had enough of running on the rat wheel. lol
I’ll just give you a short list of some of the things that matter to me and that if I never did with enough consistency because I let life get in the way.
- Eating a healthy breakfast
- Drinking Water
- Taking Vitamins
- Listening to Music
- Talking to My Family
- Keeping My House Clean
- Calling a Friend
- Exploring the City
- Going to New Restaurants
Maybe those things sound really average and basic, but they’re some of my most important moments.
Maybe yours are when you paint your nails, or get coffee with a friend, or eat a fresh salad, or whatever makes you happy.
I just have worked more 20 hour days in the past year than I care to count. And I need my moments to be happy. I have to make time for me. And that’s what makes me happy and that’s what’s working for me.
I now end the most anti-climactic blog post ever. It’s 4:30am, I’m dog tired and I’ve got to get up tomorrow and work another day – but I’ll be damned if I don’t take a few moments for myself – because that’s how I measure the quality of my life, in the moments.