It’s a new year.
You’ve probably made a resolution or two. You probably smooched someone. You probably got drunk. Because these are all new-year-things-to-do. Wait, maybe it was me. Did you smooch and get drunk with me? Please text me back if so.
But it wasn't me. I passed out around 9:30PM because no one’s gonna tell me how to spend my night you young sultry whippersnapper have you seen my teeth I think I left them in a piece of cheese my prostate hurts rub it please.
But yeah, hopefully you did cool and awesome things that bode well for a cool and awesome 2016.
I snark otherwise, but I actually think resolutions are great. I think choosing a point of the year, whether Jan 1 or your birthday or national cupcake day, as a demarcation point for a fresh, blank slate is a very healthy practice.
So, I hope you dug deep and uncovered the brave, soulful thing that only you can do for yourself.
May I make one request, though?
Here it is:
Add some fucking value to your self.
I don’t presume to know exactly what that looks like for you, but, perhaps, do shit that helps you feel like you’re on this planet for a reason? Figure it out, then try it, then re-configure it, then keep trying it until you’re doing it and you don’t know how you ever lived without it.
But you owe it to yourself to figure it out. And you have (most of) your lifetime to do it. It’s usually not what other people, as well-meaning as they may be, think you should do. It’s usually not what you do for your job. It’s usually not what you do with your friends or family.
But it may be.
But it’s probably not.
It’s probably something you can’t quite put your finger on. Something that stumbled into your head and started humping your consciousness like a very cute, drunk puppy. Something that gives you a feeling that you can’t really articulate to others; when they ask you what you’re doing you just kinda smile and nod like you’re tweaking.
So do it. Resolve to figure it out. Do something that adds value to you, and only you. Do it for selfish reasons. Because, you know what, the isolation, the meditation, the intensity of feeling connected to the world while you’re doing it - that’s what’s gonna help others around you down the road.
Here’s an exercise that helps me gain perspective on whether I’m adding value to myself or not. Warning: it’s fucking morbid.
I imagine myself at 100 years old. Healthy, but for a centenarian, so not a relatable healthy because when I was 7 I had no clue what it would feel like to be 36 and I'm not going to presume I know now what it feels like to be 100. So let's just say you're as sound in mind and body as can be at 100. Use your mind balls.
In this scene, no one I know is around. They’re either dead or gone. No family. No friends. Not because I’m an asshole (let’s debate that later), but because they’re just not there in this scenario, ok? Stay morbid with me.
(By the way, I'm pretty sure I outlive my wife because of my daily creatine and beta-alanine habit. Sorry hun.)
I think about this and about what the hell I would be doing. Not in terms of ‘what have I done with my life’ but what am I doing with my life at this advanced age I’ve been lucky enough to witness.
Then I think about that last part: have I been lucky enough to witness getting older? Has it felt like a joy, like positive momentum?
Then I think about myself in the present. Now. Everything I’m doing.
And I think about if a good portion of them are things that I’ll value when I have the body and mind of a 100-year old human. Whether to look back upon, or be actively doing at that age.
I certainly won’t value what we like to call ‘employable skills’. Selling labor for money isn’t really much of a long term plan. Is someone going to hire me to overhaul their digital strategy when I'm 100? Is that how I would have valued spending my time? Won't they have sentient chapstick or something that can do that without human interference anyway?
And others, friends and family, well, they’re dead. So their physical presence won’t mean much to me (unless mummification has come a long way, then I'll keep the lookers).
But, the memories of what we experienced and felt together will.
Physical feats, whether food eaten, marathons run, or muscles gained, won’t really mean a whole hell of a lot apart from memories and perhaps lasting vestigial effects. But I don't think I'll care too much about my 1RM deadlift at 100.
Here are a few things I can envision myself doing: I may be able to write. I may be able to play an instrument. To sing. To think.
At the end of it all, my valued items at this advanced, isolated age boils down to memories of experiences and the things I can maintain and do for me, and only me.
The things I've done to add value to my life. Whether alone or with others.
This helps, particularly when I find myself pulled in many directions. At the end of the exercise, I find that I focus in on distilling down to the value of experiences with others I enjoy, and who enjoy me. And I focus in on working on the crafts I enjoy. Maybe that'll work for you too?
And that’s pure value. And it’s yours and yours alone.
Because everyone's dead, remember?