Simple Case Study: Perception

Damnit, Mark.

If you hadn’t already figured it out, a lot of these stem from me personally working through my own shit.

I’ve been thinking about—and pursuing—work-life parallel for a solid decade, but I’m only selling it in the sense that it makes sense to me and I think it might help others who might feel there’s only one game in town (and they don’t like that game).

Yesterday, I said this:

“Everywhere we turn, we see happy, successful people—easily—living their dream lives. Meanwhile, we go through the motions every day in order to pay our bills, incrementally chip away at debt, and hope we’ll get our shit together before it’s too late.”

To which Mark, whose comment some 10 (!) years ago helped light this fire, had this to say:

“Not for nothing, but i don’t view life this way. I kinda feel sorry for those that do. But if that’s the way one looks at life, then one has some thinking and changing to do.”

This is exactly right.

My response to Mark was along the lines of “Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.”

So let’s make it real. Skin in the game.

I had a couple really big irons in the fire. Either would have proved an immediate catapult launch in the overall direction I would like my life to go. And it looked like both were almost sure things.

Except they weren’t.

Best I can explain it, it’s like cruising along at 55mph, getting up to almost 100mph on a long, downhill straight, only to slow right back down to 55mph on the other side of the valley. Normal can lose its luster immediately following a flood of hope and blind optimism.

(Not to mention the OTHER metaphor in that last bit.)

So, for the record, Mark is right. If we find the glass half empty, that’s okay. Shit happens, after all. That’s pretty much what I was implying by “Successful You”.

But we should use those situations to think about why we’re in them (reflection) and figure out how to change things for the better (exploration/discovery).

You can’t always get what you want.

But if you try sometimes, you’ll find—you get what you need.

Becoming self-aware?

Mindfulness without meditation?

I’ve had a couple experiences in the last month that suggest I’m actually getting my shit together. These are obviously the result of increased mindfulness on my part—paying attention to my thoughts in the moment. And yet, my daily meditation practice would be best described as “anything but.”

It shows up simply enough, most often when I least expect it, too.

I’ll be fuming mad about something and think, “I *want* to be angry right now. Just a few more minutes.” And then I get back to living.

Most recently, I found myself standing on the side the interstate in the middle of nowhere. The sun was setting, and my weekend camping plans were canceled because the new engine we’d installed just five days prior had apparently blown a seal. I found myself with the usual doubts.

“This is it. I’m done with cars.”

“If I’m not interested in cars anymore, that’s probably the end of GBXM, too.”

“WTF am I going to do, then? WTF am going to do now?”

“This stupid hobby is as damaging as it is beneficial.”

The weekend prior, when we built and installed that engine, SNAFUs like this pushed our timeline into almost triple overtime. It was awful. But I wasn’t the least bit upset. I saw the disappointments, but I simply chose to focus on solutions over sadness.

And here I was, stranded on the side of the road, contemplating the end of perhaps the most significant aspect of my life beyond my immediate family—and I was evaluating the situation dispassionately.

“We’ll get it to the shop in the morning, pull the engine, replace the rear main seal, and this will all be done and behind me within 24 hours.”

At 1AM, adding a gallon of oil to Fezzik under the streetlight after the tow truck finally dropped me off, “Ugh. I am so tired. This is bullshit, but we’ll fix it tomorrow. It’s gonna suck, doing this all over again out in the sun this time, especially on less than five hours’ sleep—but we’ll get it done and I’ll be home in time for dinner.”

I was home by 3PM.

And since I didn’t make the camping trip, I actually felt like I had an extra day that weekend.

Not bad.

Not sure what all this means, but whatever it is, I like it.