I’m a little more than a month from 30 and life is forcing me to look back at the last ten as much as I look over the horizon into the unknown of the next 10, be I lucky enough to have them. So I write this letter to the 20 year old out there that might come across this and see something about me that they can relate to. My aim here is to provide you with a bit of wisdom that I have gained over the last 10 years of fuck ups. May you distill from them what you need and apply where necessary. Remember, I only speak from 30, nothing more, nothing less. But in 10 years a whole lot happens that you may not be able to grasp your mind around until you find yourself, 10 years later, writing about it. So my effort here is to save you some time. Because life truly is short. And even more so it is long. How you play within this paradox is crucial to your success.
Play the Long Game. Remember that you are always evolving. You must continue to push yourself and evolve. Complacency is like standing on a moving treadmill. The choice therefore is not to walk, but rather run towards your goals because much like a treadmill, if you walk, you will only keep the pace. You will not actually go anywhere. Take this from someone who fell back on their ass for 2 years straight in a weed induced haze (more on this later). Life demands that you constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone. The people around you with any amount of success are doing this and they probably aren’t talking about it. They are making it a habit in their life so make it a habit in your life. A quiet habit. Seek the discomfort without any of the acclaim. If you do, you are complaining.
Take note of the people in your life that do a lot of complaining. If they are friends and family, do your best to distance yourself from them. Their negative, complaining energy is a black hole. You will get pulled in, whether consciously or subconsciously. Human relationships are complex so I’m not telling you to tell these negative people in your life that they suck and write them off completely. Use some tact here. Don’t be an asshole but do you’re best to make space and if possible, sever the ties. Over time, your relationships will evolve and change. You will lose friends and you will gain new ones. Take ownership over this. You will hurt others feelings in the process but you are bound to offend someone if you are living in your truth. If positivity and growth are part of your truth, then you must let go of the negative.
Know that you can always reinvent yourself. You are never tied to the ideas that those around you hold of you. You are never tied to the ideas you have of your own self. You can be like Bowie, always changing throughout a lifetime. Choose to be fully alive throughout your metamorphosis. Experience the pleasure and pain. Remember, both of these feelings are fleeting though one may try and persuade you that it will last an eternity. Don’t fall victim to this trap. I fell victim to these traps several times in my 20s. I would spend days, huddled up behind my computer after having smoked way too much weed, obsessively running through the ‘genius’ ideas in my head, only to never take action and repeat the cycle for weeks on end. It took me much too long to figure out the traps that I had set for myself and was continuing to walk in to. It doesn’t need to take you this long. Sit with the wisdom you are blessed to receive from your mentors. If you don’t have one, make this the priority in your life. Find someone that you want to model your life after. Only now, at almost 30, have I found mentors for several different areas of my life. While you search for a good mentor, read a lot of books. This is the next best thing.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You tell yourself to have all the fun and increase the pleasure now and abolish the pain immediately. I’ve been there. Seeking the next good time instead of putting in the work each day. But life is a long game and quotes romanticizing the shortness of life do exactly that, fall short. They fall short of the reality that will be the next ten years to come. These are the years when your energy and foolishness will be their highest. Both assets to any one trying to achieve greatness. Don’t waste either and learn how to manage both. Keep away from patterns that don’t serve you, especially the pattern of daily marijuana use. The dullness this pattern carries is no catalyst for creation. It is the mere opposite. Something a bit more dangerous. A neutral complacency where nothing is great and nothing is terrible. I lived this complacency. Smoking everyday may work for others but it did not work for me. Worst of all, I knew this truth and denied it consistently, for years. I forced myself to believe that it was helping cure my symptoms of anxiety and Tourettes, to realize that it was only exacerbating them. This is the greatest lie I have ever told myself and one that lasted for years. Remember, when you lie to yourself consistently, it’s all the easier to lie to others unknowingly.
There are even people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who never left this daily complacency and are now starting to realize the presence in life they missed out on. Check out reddit.com/r/leaves for plenty of first hand accounts of people trying to leave this neutral way of being. It’s also a great place to start if you are looking for a community to support you moving away from a dependence on weed. It certainly has it’s medical benefits but remember to treat it as medicine. Medicine has different effects on different people. Respect it and your relationship to it. If you’re relationship means you don’t need it in your life, respect that too.
Two things I do now that I wish I would have done daily over the last 10 years. Stillness and movement. Sounds like an inevitable but the kinds I am speaking about here are conscious efforts. Build a daily practice with meditation and movement, first thing in the morning. Mindfulness is everywhere now but it’s actually one of those fads that has lasting power. Whether it goes in or out, you should always stay with it. How that stillness practice looks to you is for you to find on your own. For ease, check out an app like Headspace to get you started. I recommend 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night. This is what works for me. I suggest doing some research to find what works for you but stillness and quieting the mind is key. Observing your thoughts. Non attachment. You will hear these words over and over again because this is the consistent finding of time in stillness. It’s not easy but don’t get hung up on having to perform. Just sit and observe. Find what works for you. Second, you must move everyday. Move your body in a multitude of ways in multiple plains. Lift heavy things. Move them in different directions. Move with others. Horseplay. Grab people and throw them. Be soft with others and find lightness in the touch. Have sex. Play more games, indoors and outdoors. Move your body with and without others. Stop being sedentary for so long. Stop spending hours behind a computer without taking breaks. You are not a robot. You’re a human being. Go behave like one.
Final thoughts. I wrote this note because I have a responsibility to leave you something from my experience. Because I see the changes. I see the changes that owning ones life can manifest and it ultimately came down to living in my truth. To stay one step ahead of the old me’s and the lies they used to tell me. To listen to my gut feeling everyday so I could sharpen the communication with who I am trying to become. So that I can step into the unknown of the greatness that this life can experience through me. It is our responsibility to go forward and get on with it. So please remember to keep moving forward. Embrace everything, full on. Embrace the fear. Embrace the discomfort. State your presence. It’s either all in or all out.
You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose free will.
– Neil Peart