A few nights ago, I had a pretty amazing conversion with a few wonderful people. We covered almost every topic that we could think of, but the one that rang out loudest was, "What's your list?" Without any clarification, the three of us knew exactly what was being spoken of.
We all have a list. The traits and qualities that we look for in a person before we consider dating them, or even decide that we like them. This session of our conversation was a good hour long because we started shallow like ,"Oh, I like thinner, athletic people."
Understandable and everyone has those kinds of preferences, but there is deeper meanings behind them and deeper checks on our lists. Those checks become more and more profound as we age. Our relationships and whom we are attracted too also change over time and that's entirely okay. It's not a static thing. To become stagnant in relationships is to lose the very essence of what makes them a beautiful thing indeed.
I want to take a few posts and build up to my own list. But I'm going to front load all kinds of information about my perspectives and beliefs. I also have a relationship with life that has vastly impacted my relationships with others...so without further ado:
Go the direction that life pulls you...
What an intriguing thing to occur and it happens almost every day. Most days, I don’t listen. Some days I do. Lately, I have had a pleasant contentment in my mind about where I am in life. It’s not about where I am though, it’s about where I am going.
It’s a well known fact that I have wanderlust. Those of you who know me on a more personal basis are extremely aware of the fact. The most common question I get is ‘Jesse..where are you now?’ immediately following, ‘Jesse! Get down!!’. The answer is always different and that will never change. I will never stop traveling and I will continue to see the world. Countries will not go anywhere, but unfortunately people, relationships and careers do.
What is more important in life; sprinting towards something that will always be on the next horizon or walking more slowly with friends and family in hand to that same horizon?
True, the first option will allow me to see more, do more and experience the world quicker and faster. But is that truly experiencing? Yes, it creates memories that I can cherish and hold true, but those memories are even stronger if shared with someone. If I take the second choice, I may see less, experience less and go at a slower pace...but life is meant to be taken slowly. Enjoy your moments, let that last taste of coffee linger on your lips, and keep talking to that old friend sitting beside you.
With solitude comes hollowness
Man is not an island onto himself.
Honestly, I hate this quote. We indeed are islands onto ourselves. There are as many minute differences that shape our lives and who we are as the mountains and stones that form the shores I’ve walked. But, if we are islands, we are the dock keepers too.
How many boats have weighed anchor in your harbor? Are you surrounded by the levies and breaks that are family and friends or is your island truly secluded and remote? Will anyone know when it is washed away? I have 1000 and more stories to tell, but will never be able to fully express the moment. I want to be able to walk up to a friend/lover and say, “Remember that time....?” and watch their eyes light up with memories.
Money is circular
The biggest problem with our lives is the reliance on money. It’s an unavoidable fact that it’s something necessary to our lives. But how much money do we really need? I’ve been far below the poverty line for 8 years. I’ve never made more then $9000 dollars in a single year.
To the mainstream of society, by all rights and expectations, looking at my paychecks you would expect me to be a high school drop out flipping burgers at a fast food joint. The harsh truth is that they actually make more then I do...which stings just a little, but at the same time, I’ve seen almost all of America and large sections of Asia. Do I worry about money? Yes. Of course I do. But I don’t allow it to control me. Money will always come and go, opportunities will arise that give you more then you need and events happen that take more then you have. It’s life. But our emphasis on it is misplaced.
My mommy (yep, I’m 28 and I still call my mommy by ‘Mommy”), once said that she is never happier then when she spends money on other people. And it’s true. She’s a pretty awesome person and I’ve seen her put massive amounts cash into people who don’t appreciate it and don’t care. But she still does it.
I inherited that trait too. if you visit me, I’ll pay for half your plane ticket (if you allow me). If you have no food, I’ll feed you. I’ll carry your 40 lb. backpacking along with my own. You’re tired, exhausted and I have extra energy? Why wouldn’t I help you out, even if it knocks me down a few pegs? Hate begets hate..but isn’t the opposite true as well?
Don’t wait to appreciate and encourage others
The best way to be happy is to help others become happy. If you’ve been a teacher, a therapist, waiter, barista...really anyone that interacts with humans...nothing feels better then being told you’re appreciated. When’s the last time you stopped and pointedly told a friend why you are so thankful for them? There are people in my life who are little more then acquaintances, but there’s still a reason to be thankful for them. Part of life is about maintaining connections and rekindling past friendships. The exact same is true for building those flames higher or even igniting them in the first place. I recently cheered on and tried to encourage a total stranger from 7000 miles away. That stranger not only thanked me, but allowed me into their life and we’ve now become close friends and talk on a daily basis. She’s helped me through one of the crushing defeats of my life and gave me a hand back up.
It’s intimidating opening up to a stranger and simply talking, sharing and trusting. Not knowing each other, we never met in person and there’s was an ocean and continent between us, yet something so simple as saying, “I appreciate you. Here’s why...” will create lasting bonds regardless of distance.
Embrace and realize your own feelings
Ever get the feeling that something just needs to happen? That crushing impatience where all your thoughts are directed toward one objective, no matter how hard you try otherwise? What about the need for change, despite being happy in your current situation?
That last one may be unique to people who have wandering souls. Its a very interesting sensation. Many times, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and jumped into a new experience, not really knowing how it’s going to end up. Some may say that this is...not intelligent and very reckless. However, I feel differently. Life pulls me in the directions and places that I go and I listen to it. The times that I have not listened are the moments of my life where I have regrets. The moments that I’ve tilted a curious ear have whisked me to new lessons and astounding people.
So there it is....a little front loading on how my brain works in preparation for 'The List'.