“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
By my 27th birthday, I had already lived a more full life than most people could ever hope to.
In less than 10 years out of high school, I had tasted a good bit of California, Western Europe, and other places while serving in the military, I earned a college degree, and then I experienced amazing places and cultures over two years of traveling through South America with the Peace Corps. Oh, and I met and married the girl of my dreams. How much better could it get, right?
But then the “Great Life Suck” took over the next 20 years of my life.
You know what I mean by the Great Life Suck. It’s where our thirst for life gets replaced by the desire for material things and the need to keep up with the Joneses. We start living like those Joneses: trying to keep up with the latest gadgets, vehicles, and other toys. We become ravenous sports and reality TV fans, we jump on the latest political or social justice bandwagons, and we define success by the number of likes we get on social media.
All the while our true passions and dreams sit up on a shelf gathering dust, replaced by the need for a career that will provide material happiness for our families. After all, we must achieve what the American Dream dictates: a house, two cars, and all the other goodies that make us happy.
And so for decades we live as the world tells us we should. We assume that the only path is the one everyone else follows: running the rat race and chasing the almighty dollar. If we’re lucky, by midlife we’ve achieved the proverbial dream. Our ultimate, Jonesian goal by this point is to simply have enough retirement saved up to get us comfortably across the finish line…death.
Yay American Dream!
Do I paint even a remotely accurate picture of your life? Regrettably, this was mine for far too long.
The funny thing is that I’d been keenly observing others live this way of life since my youth. I was a young punk on a train somewhere in Europe when I started watching and taking notes on why we humans do what we do, and I’ve been carefully studying us ever since. Yet even while observing our illogical behavior, I got sucked into what I loathed just the same.
Thankfully, through a great deal of focused effort, discipline, and a new perspective, I’ve managed to reawaken my true goals and dreams and shake myself free of the Great Life Suck. One of my first goals is to finally share what I’ve learned in my half-century of living well…and living poorly.
So here we are.
My hope is that the many Life Tips I’ve learned through experience and observation can help you discover (or rediscover) that better side of you, that side of you that’s been collecting dust lo these many years. If you are reading this and are still blessed with youth, my hope is to alert you to the mistakes I’ve made so that you’ll avoid those paths.
I’ve lived, learned, and loved across most of these United States, 20 countries, 11 colleges and universities, and what feels like a million jobs and careers. I’ve been a miserable failure and a great success, a quitter and a champion, a pawn and a king.
I want you to be a success, a champion, and a king.
So let’s get going!
“Ivan Ilyich’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore most terrible.”
~ Leo Tolstoy