Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the USA. If you’re reading this at another time of the year, that’s okay as long as you accompany the essay with some leftover turkey. It can be deli turkey. I know getting an entire roast turkey in June is difficult.
I’m grateful for a lot of things, in both November and June. The rest of the year? I sway between (1) utter disdain for my circumstance and acquaintances and (2) disdain that is slightly less utter. But today, given the crisp fall or drippy summer air, I’m feeling especially reflective. That’s probably just the sweat and turkey grease giving me a healthy sheen.
But in addition to being glossy, I’m also thinking back on the year and all the things for which I’m grateful. I’ll share a few with you here.
“I’m pretty sure no one here has a single clue as to what they’re doing.”
Somewhere between the third and eighth security check, my negativity went from frustration to sadness to anger. It made scheduled on-time stops at “what the fuck?” and “you’ve got to be kidding me!” I’m immensely familiar with both neighborhoods.
I had arrived in Kenya a few weeks earlier with the rehearsed acceptance of an intellectual, tolerant liberal. “Their way is not wrong or right, it’s just different!” I’d tell myself at the first, second, and four-hundredth illogical inconvenience. And I’d traveled enough to know that each one of those illogical inconveniences was lining up in anticipation of my arrival.
I came from the air-conditioned, 246-years-removed-from-colonization Land of the Free. I’m a white man from a country—and planet—where white men historically get their way, and my expectations of “how things ought to be” are often just thinly-veiled privilege.
“Is it just me, or is that really stupid?”
The lady gestured broadly toward the six adults chatting across the dog park. I had been thinking the same thing and found myself catapulted onto my feet like I’d been swept up at a tent revival. The open invitation compelled me to commiserate with my newly-found kindred spirit.
Minutes before, a little girl in that oblivious group’s “care” had met me at the gate. Her grabby little mitt thrust through the chain-link holes as she yelled “DOGGIE!” at my little buddy. I’ll give her credit; Lemmy is indeed a doggie. But he’s a very particular kind of doggie: the kind that doesn’t like children. Or little people. Or people with crutches or walkers. Or people who run, or seated people who then elect to stand up. Or men.
He makes a begrudging exception for me, mostly because I have treats. And I always share them with him.
Lemmy is a rescue dog. We don’t know much about his earliest experiences, as we adopted him when he was around one year old. We weren’t able to conceive a dog naturally, so it was our best option. Maybe check your privilege, okay?
We hear a lot about the idea of mindfulness. The most developed people are mindful. Oprah is mindful. That has to count for something, because she’s Oprah. Quod erat demonstrandum.
“Mindfulness” is the state of being totally present in the moment. A mindful man is not worried about what transpired yesterday. A mindful woman is not thinking about what she has to do tomorrow. A mindful person is living in the now, fully experiencing now with 100% of their consciousness. Some people utilize meditation to great effect in returning their scattered thoughts to center. The act of sitting attentively, but attending to nothing, is more powerful than its inherent inaction would indicate. Continue reading
Somewhere along the way, we started glorifying “hustle.” We started praising people who would “tell it like it is,” namely in regard to getting off your ass and working harder.
I see it in memes, in videos, and in real life. Maybe it’s generational. Maybe it’s the ease of gaining a platform that social media grants us all.
Start a “side hustle.” Pay off all of your debt and deny yourself enjoyment of life until you do. Quit bitching and start creating a sales funnel. Teach classes about teaching classes about sales funnels online. Get a second job or a third job. Pursue success uber alles. Cancel your cable and read one leadership book per day. Continue reading