I can’t die, I still have to… (excuses/reasons to live) REDUX

write a book

publish a book

publicly admit that I write poetry

own an antique typewriter that works

inspire someone If I inspire you, let me know, it’s not your praise I seek… I just want to help. 😉 In fact, let each and every person that inspires you know that they’ve helped you in some way before they are gone and can no longer smile inside their hearts knowing they did something great.

leave a letter in a book at the library for someone else to find

start my own business

successfully run a business

use my successful business to give back to the world in some way

learn to play the guitar

relearn to play the piano

start my own web community

write over 500 blog posts

give a TED talk

own a record player

run walk in and complete a 5K

quit a job that I really hate.    link

find a job I love

climb to the summit of a mountain

travel to Egypt and see the pyramids

graduate from college

survive student loans

find a job where I can wear jeans and comfortable shoes to work

buy a house

lose 300lbs   I currently weigh 220 and I love it!

build an old fashioned library for Laura and

fall in love.

stay married. (in progress, thanks Laura!)

have children

fly a plane

fire one of the rifles from my video games

ride a gondola in Venice, Italy

ride every adult-sized roller coaster in the United States

have a vegetable garden

have a vegetable garden, successfully

time travel

send a message in a bottle

pay for a random person’s dinner without waiting for the thank you

learn to paint on canvas

pack some clothes and go on a random road trip to meet random people in random towns all while writing a book incorporating the stories of little American towns

utilize the same trip to find the best local food

dance in the rain

choose education path

take the GRE

submit application for Masters

submit application to Ph.D. school

become Dr. Sedberry (not medical, just an expert title)

survive cancer 

code a text adventure game

try something new once a month for the rest of my life

cook more often than eating out

write at least 6 handwritten letters before 2015

write a song

revive the MFTT story

spend time with friends

make new friends

make an effort to talk to new people

choose our own adventure

have children

Dear 16 Year Old Me…

Dear 16 Year Old Me…

There is so much that I want to tell you right now. I can’t and won’t spoil all the surprises but I think you’d benefit from knowing a few things. First and most importantly, you are currently dwelling on certain things that will inevitably fade into obscurity:

  1. In less than two years, you will have nearly died three times. These near-death experiences will teach you the value of life and permanently curb the childish lack of responsibility you feel now. No, I won’t tell you how to avoid them. They are some of the best things that ever happened to you even though they won’t feel like it at the time.
  2. The girl you’re with now… she’s going to wreck your perception of life in a way you can’t even begin to imagine. Your friends will all tell you how horrible she was, at the posthumous memorial of your relationship. Sorry Don, she really is that fucking crazy, but you already knew that and at 16 it’s already too late to avoid it.

    We all dated someone like her. Don’t lie.
  3. Your heart will be broken more than once. You will break a few hearts. Your best friend will betray you. Don’t worry, it inevitably bites him in the ass and you’re still friends today. He will always need you even if he doesn’t think so for about 5 years.
  4. Your mom will suggest a hairstyle involving a curling iron. She is crazy, avoid this at all costs.

    bad hair day
    Don’t do it!
  5. You really don’t need that extra slice of pizza in the cafeteria line. Stop eating so much! Did anyone ever figure out what they put in school pizza? It can’t have been sanitary.

    Yes, yes you are.
  6. Your family will separate into factions and acclimate for war. You will remain neutral. Stay that way because it is not your fault.
  7. You will never have the relationship you want with your father. He is incapable because his father was incapable. He will pass away without ever having known you and frankly, it’s his loss not yours.

Secondly, without spoilers, these nuggets of knowledge might help you along the way.

  1. You are going to have this amazing idea of becoming a writer. You will fail to follow through with it until you are 30 years old. Don’t give up your passions so easily. You are full of great ideas; you may not have faith in yourself right now, but for me, for us, pursue them.
  2. Not everyone is worthy of your faith and trust. Give yourself honestly and fully only to those who deserve it.
  3. When a girl suggests you get a tattoo while you are drunk… just say no!
  4. You should enjoy the company of Donja, while you can. She will not last forever but you will remember her always. Especially on very dark and stormy nights.

    Quite possibly the best friend I’ve ever had.
  5. At some point in the future, you are going to have to acclimate yourself to alcohol for a second time. You are going to do it wrong and embarrass yourself. Be thankful for the great friends you have to save you.
  6. Don’t feel guilty about not knowing what you want to do with your life. You won’t figure this out for some time. You’re not the only one who doesn’t know. I still know people who don’t really know what they want to be. When you do figure it out, it’ll have made sense all along. Your passions will guide you.

Finally, a few things you might have sincere trouble believing but trust me. I am, after all, you.

  1. You are uniquely talented. Stop questioning it and just believe it.
  2. You are not as clever as you think you are right now, but you will be.
  3. You aren’t always right; however, you are most of the time.
  4. You will eventually meet a woman worthy of your affections, you will not be good enough for her but she’ll forgive and marry you anyway.
  5. Vegetables are not disgusting; you will learn to like many of them including zucchini.
  6. You will become the man most women wish they had, short of the harlequin obsessed ones.
  7. You will grow into a confident, successful and generally great guy.
  8. The anger will fade and you will be loved for your even-keeled sensibilities.
  9. You will get published, small steps first!
  10. You are never further from your dreams than the exertion of a little effort.

I realize that you are 16, you know everything, you’re cocky and arrogant, maybe even a douchebag by my standards today. You will humor me by reading it to the end only to respond with a sneer and a laugh at the audacity that I make such claims; but one day, not long off, you will sit before this keyboard and type an “I told you so.”

With love and understanding,

Future Don

What would you tell yourself if you could send a message back? Tell me about it!

The Truth is Knocking

We all try desperately to make sense of the world. We’re frantically seeking patterns and shoving pieces together in an effort to complete the puzzle that represents our lives.

Unfortunately, almost all of us have a self-centered view of reality. It’s not that we’re selfish, sometimes. It is merely how our perception works. It’s not such a hard leap to understand why a few thousand years ago we believed we were the center of the universe.

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling.” – Robert M. Pirsig

Our consciousness is based inside our bodies looking out from our eyes and experiencing the world through our human form. It makes logical sense to think in a very self-centered style because that is how you experience the world. It takes a stronger will to expand your character beyond the confines of your vantage point.

Your friends and family members matter more to you than a perfect stranger. This is once again because of how your cone of attention works. You expand outwards through family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. There is a great difficulty in expanding beyond this bubble because our little world is so fragile in our eyes. It’s all a giant house of cards ready to fall apart because only the pieces in our world matter. It’s not true, but try convincing yourselves of that.

“Hello Darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.” ~ Simon and Garfunkel – Sound of Silence

We’re all part of that darkness that Simon and Garfunkel sing about. We all do our part in a failure to communicate with our fellow humans. Whether it’s racism, sexism, classism, the Internet or any of the other barriers we’ve set between ourselves. The only truth that is self-evident is that many things we separately believe are truths are in fact only beliefs.

There is a difference. You may believe in God, but it is not necessarily a truth that God exists.  You have faith, it’s great that you believe in something greater than yourself and that you will be rewarded for being good in this life. You may believe that you are going to Heaven because you’re a good Christian, but God might not agree. Once again, not necessarily a truth. I know a lot of people who refer to themselves as Christians only because they attend church on Sundays and they are in for a rude awaking if God turns out to be a truth.

Bear in mind, I’m not picking on Christians here. I’m using them as an example. Insert your deity’s name, final destination and rules for better living here. They’re all beliefs and they are all equally valid as beliefs. However, many wars began because these individual ideas are confused with truths.

So what are truths?

Truths are facts that hold their value once they have left your bubble of reality and permeate throughout human culture. Think about that for a moment. How many truths can there possibly be that circumnavigate the globe despite our many different cultures and belief systems?

So, I ask that you take a moment of humility and think about this for a while, what is really true?

 

Social Media and the Gladys Kravitz Syndrome

Recently, I have fallen victim to a personal belief of mine. It is has always been my belief that when it came to Social Media there was nothing wrong with being yourself and putting it out there. This is true to a certain degree. You must also accept the consequences that stem from conflicts where others may not agree with your thoughts, lifestyle or even simply misunderstand your intentions.

 

Gladys Kravitz Syndrome: In the sitcom, Bewitched, the Stephens lived across the street from Gladys Kratvitz. Gladys was the quintessential nosey neighbor. Gladys was sure that something was up with the Stephens and more than a few times blew situations way out of proportion. Gladys didn’t understand the Stephens and that lead to many comical exchanges.

Does a lack of understanding excuse the Gladys Kravitz’s of the world for causing trouble because they don’t understand a situation and the separation between work and personal life?

That’s part of the difficulty of generating content. What makes perfect sense to you as you write it may not make sense in the same way to the next person.  After all, they are merely deciphering your words into their understanding of their inherent meaning it stands to reason some things can get lost in translation. You can be a most careful editor and still leave some ambiguity on the table.

A Gladys Kravitz assumes the worst. Ambiguity can be dangerous. If there’s room for interpretation your social media posts can lead someone to believe something entirely untrue. Take for example a recent post I made on Facebook: I love you fortune cookie. “A good position and comfortable salary will be yours. Keep eating.” This is a stretch but this could be misconstrued as I’m not happy with the job I’m currently in or that my salary isn’t adequate.

Social media can be dangerous.  I have just over 200 people friended on Facebook. There comprise my family, friends, former professors, former and present co-workers and members of the Rotary Club of Indianapolis.  Any of these groups could spawn a Gladys Kravitz to cause trouble for me.  It could happen to anyone. If someone decides to talk to my boss about my very public commentary it could impact my relationship with my job, especially if the person is dead wrong. It’s not just jobs but reputations could be harmed if information is handled improperly.

Are you a Gladys Kravitz? If you don’t understand something that has been said or posted and you take it upon yourself to make wild assumptions about the posted items, then you could be a suffering from Gladys Kravitz Syndrome. What’s the cure?

Social media is meant to be a conversation! I’m posting things with the hope of engagement, wider discussion, growth and intelligent discourse. You’re defeating that purpose if you choose not to participate in the conversation with me to increase our collective understanding.  You should participate in the discussion, if you want to know the reasoning behind a post or you disagree please feel free to email and start the discourse. I’m always open to questions. I began writing this post in an effort to say maybe I needed to be more guarded in what I put out there but upon following this train of thought I think we all need to be better about conversation.

Don’t be a Gladys Kravitz! Converse!

You Need a To Don’t List

Those of us with an excess of things to do almost invariably end up generating a ‘To Do” list in an effort to keep things straight. I imagine there aren’t many of you that actually generate a To Don’t list. It’s great that we remind ourselves to complete our tasks. But what about those habits, tics, mistakes and general issues that prevent us from experiencing the width of life along with the length?

So how do you provide for your expenses and fulfill your passion? You first have to accept one very simple fact. It does not matter how hard you work you can never get it all done. You have to prioritize and get to the important things. Sometimes that will be your job and other times it will be your life. You can have many jobs but you only get one shot at this life.

Your To Do list and your To Don’t list should be joined at the hip.  They are the most inseparable of friends despite being enemies in their goals. If your To Do list is wild, imaginative, ambitious and driven then your To Don’t list should be responsible, practical, grounding, or perhaps a culmination of lessons learned.

Here’s why I find this idea to be compelling:

  • We find obligation in a “To Do” list and in most cases obligations become resentments.
  • We do a good job of not thinking about the changes we wish to make in ourselves.
  • We need a reminder to avoid destructive patterns.
  • Writing anything down helps commit the thought to memory.
  • Stop thinking about it and just do it.

What belongs on a To Don’t list?

That’s where you come in. This list is going to be different for every person. This list speaks to your personality, interests, values and desires. You know the items when you think about them. “I wish I wouldn’t…”, ”I wish I were…”,  “I need to stop doing…”, etc. These thoughts are the core of your list.

What about the things you’ve learned along the way? Those lessons learned the hard way. You have undoubtedly learned much in your life and many of those items make great To Don’t list items. The list can be as short or as long as you need it to be.

Sharing your list

While it’s not necessary to share your “To Don’t” list with anyone, it can certainly be helpful to have someone to hold you accountable. Especially when items on your list are the embodiment of self-imposed roadblocks you put in front of yourself.

My To Don’t List? (I expect the question sooner or later)

  • Do not be satisfied with mediocrity when you are capable of being the best.
  • Do not allow your creative ideas to carry with them doubts.
  • Do not stop short of creating because you’re afraid of how your ideas will be received.
  • Do not create for them… create for yourself the only person who matters to your creation. Without you, your creation might never exist.
  • Do not sell yourself short. You have a unique skillset that many people would love to have.
  • Do not put off doing that which is important to you.
  • Do not avoid making your own needs a priority.
  • Do not be so selfless that you lose track of self.
  • Do not go more than a week without writing.

Do you have a To Don’t list already or did you just make one?

What’s on it?