To remain in this moment becomes perhaps the closest we can come to ultimate harmony. It’s tricky.
It requires dismissing the past, shunning self-imposed limitations and savoring every ounce of life. Living in the moment also gets a bad rap. That’s what happens when folks jet to Vegas or say yes when they should say no, invoking a Carpe Diem Clause.
The Carpe Diem Clause, however, doesn’t cover gambling losses, lost teeth, lost wages, marriage annulments or penicillin shots.
Brianna Wiest wrote a book called The Truth About Everything. She also wrote a post for Elephant Journal that I wrapped in cheesecloth and hid behind my disc golf bag. It’s 10 questions to ask yourself when you don’t know where your life should go next.
We all know not all who wander are lost and all that, but even a wanderer will check out the stars or watch where the sun rises and sets to maintain some sense of direction.
I meant to do two things with this post:
Answer the questions honestly. No rehearsal. No edits. A stream of consciousness. Some might feel surprising, most might feel boring.
Challenge you to answer, too. Grab the link. Answer truthfully and thoroughly. Hopefully, become exposed to some means of cosmic blueprint you can choose to unfurl or hurl. Please link to Brianna’s post, and to mine.
And check out Brianna on Twitter. It’s a feed you’ll get lost in, but even better than ones that feature cheese recipes. Wait, that’s just me?
1. If you had the life you think you want, what would tomorrow be like?
I’d wake up, down a tall glass of water (actual water, not Brooke Shields). I’d stretch. I’d meditate, before illuminating any screen or chomping one bit of sausage and cheese combination. I’d get a 30-minute run with zero guilt, knowing my inbox is at ground zero.
After a start like that, what isn’t possible?
2. If social media didn’t exist, what would you do differently?
Not a thing. Well, maybe not get lost in Erica Rhodes’ Twitter feed. It wouldn’t do a thing to keep me from wearing a Calvin & Hobbes tie, with jeans and sneakers. It wouldn’t implore me to always hang my keys on the hook.
I’ve never worried about how I’m perceived in social media. Not even once.
3. If nobody would know what you did with the rest of your life, what would you do?
I would write. I would talk. I would congregate and I’d find isolation. I’d follow that morning routine with discourse, with friends and strangers. The line’s so faded between them anyway.
I would meet with writers and coach kids and wrap it up with being a dad, hard. That would energize me.
4. If you died yesterday, what would you most regret?
Definitely, I’d regret that I ate that Whopper in Raleigh. Mostly, how fast I did.
Beyond that, I’d regret not finding peace sooner in life. What could have my life been without the noise? I wish I’d practiced more loving kindness. I wish I saw myself as I do today. I wish I’d stopped, taken a breath.
I wish I’d observed, lived in that small but consequential gap that exists between what happens and how we react to what happens.
5. If you could choose five things that matter most to you, what would they be?
1. Family, immediate and extended. My daughters should meet my grandmother, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. My girls are gifts I’m tasked with watering and pruning so that they can embrace the world.
2. Health. There are no excuses. There’s means, ways, to conquer nearly every ailment against me. And there are healthy ways to cope with those I cannot.
3. Self-compassion. It’s hardest of all to grant it to yourself. I’ve done a lot of things in this life. Letting myself off the hook is just a recent one. I will do what I can, with what I have, where I stand.
4. Compassion to the world. We’re polarized by so much. We struggle to see the similarities. I want to bring awareness to the things we have in common. They bind more than hate separates.
5. Example. I want my girls to see not only a father’s love but love beyond that. We’re supposed to love our children. I want them to see how I interact with the universe and want to be part of it.
5. To what in your life do you feel a subtle, unexplainable “nudge?”
Writing, of course, will always exist for me. Even if my fingers get crimped off in a freak disc golf accident. I want my writing to blend. I want it to reach extremes, to teach, not unlike a gospel or parable, that each of us contains within us essential good and evil.
And to understand that.
6. If you knew nobody would judge you, what would you do with your days?
I’d work hard, unapologetically hard. I’d share ideas. I’d listen to others’. I’d help where I could, and not hinder at all. I’d seek to understand what I don’t agree with. I’d choose compassion over advancement. I’d never again shield how I feel or believe, and never chastise those who don’t agree.
Not even raiders fans.
8. What are you struggling with the most right now?
I struggle most with not maximizing my health. Grace still sits on my lap or leans in for a hug after a tough, physical match. I need to be here for decades more. What’s more tragic than succumbing to health problems you could have conquered?
9. What do you already have going for you at this present moment?
I have peace going for me in the moment.
The only way to get anywhere is from where you are, right? Not relief from what might have plagued me for a while, but peace while navigating. That’s huge. It’s just what I need to undertake this or that to gain traction to where I should go.
10. If you had to live tomorrow on repeat for the rest of your life, what would you do?
If I lived today on repeat, forever … I’d grow accustomed to buffalo sauce.
I’d miss running, and disc golf; also, coaching. Today contained none of that. It had momentum and clarity. It involved accountability, and maybe even some swagger. It flowed along with the Beatles in my ears and clouds overhead.
I’d have pride in what I’ve written, here and for work.
Before the day is through, I’ll want to cook for the girls I love most – and call the one I love who’s off in the mountains. I’ll close the laptop and find something stellar on Netflix and let whoever wants to fall asleep on my shoulder.
I’ll take my saxophone back for a few minutes and let rip a rift. I’ll turn up music as I cook, clean up (mostly) after myself, change into comfy clothes and drink lots of water. I’ll check glucose and take meds and read friends’ words until midnight.
Then I’ll fall into hibernating sleep and wake up tomorrow take another step.
I really like this, especially the line “that small but consequential gap that exists between what happens and how we react to what happens.” Amen.
Thanks. I can imagine at least 17 times I could have had a more favorable outcome if only I’d taken a moment.
Nice post, I especially like your answer to #5, part 5- example.
Thank you – and what could be more important that to show our kids our best effort at playing our part in the universe?
Another who was entrapped/enchanted by your honest writing.
With regard to: 3. Self-compassion. It’s hardest of all to grant it to yourself. I’ve done a lot of things in this life. Letting myself off the hook is just a recent one. I will do what I can, with what I have, where I stand.
I have found that it helps to think “If someone else had done/said this, would I forgive and forget” 9.999999 times out of 10, the answer is “Yes”.
Thank you, Yvonne. Self-compassion might be the toughest trick in the system. We grant grace to others easily. Much of what we hammer ourselves over was aided my circumstance and experience (lack thereof) and shouldn’t be pinned back on us – but who does the pinning? We largely do it to ourselves.
When we’re kinder to ourselves, the rest of the world seems to deserve our forgiveness even more.
live with your heart and all will be as you wish )
i wonder if living that way, beth, just gives you a better perspective in regard to wishes.
Eli, this is such a beautiful post. So many emotions that shine through your answers. Well done. Your girls are truly blessed having a Dad like you. For your writing: It’s amazing, beautiful, strong. You do teach, you reach and you leave something behind. In all of us and for all of us.
Thank you. I held onto the idea a while, knowing it might be revealing. I’m glad it came out well.
I’m the one blessed by having them as daughters. I’m humbled by your words about my writing. In life, so much can be navigated with extreme effort and exhausting process; other things, like writing and coaching, just manifest. I can’t explain it, and I don’t pretend it’s always the epitome of excellence, but it feels right, and natural. I cherish the connection words can facilitate between writers like you and me.
I know what you mean. It flows… effortless almost.
If you’re lucky, it also makes sense.
i loved this. x
Thanks so much Rachel – it put today in a different perspective for me.
Awesome post! I love these prompts! I am saving the link so that I can go back and think more about the answers to these questions for myself. There is so much good stuff here. I love all of your thoughtful reflections, your honesty, your vulnerability, and your integrity. And I didn’t know you played the sax! So cool!
Thanks Lu! I knew when I read that post, I’d want eventually to take on the challenge. Look forward to see what you come up with.
It gave me a good idea of where I’m going. I’m humbled that you saw so much in my words, too.
I’ve picked up the ax a few times while Grace practiced. I’m plenty rusty, but a lot of it I’ll never forget to play. I have to get my chops back, though.
I love every.single.word. of this! Well done sir.
Thanks Tiff. It doesn’t get any more authentic – that’s why I added the disclaimer that it might bore you!
Not even a little.
Some of these answers really blew me away. I laughed at #2. Plus, this one is so sweet: “Before the day is through, I’ll want to cook for the girls I love most – and call the one I love who’s off in the mountains. I’ll close the laptop and find something stellar on Netflix and let whoever wants to fall asleep on my shoulder.” Just, awwwwww.
Thank you, Lisa. I could live without Twitter – it’s fun, but I could replace it with books on CDs or sugar cookies.
Glad you found that sweet, too. I’m one lucky dude.
And done… my answers will be up later today… Wow, that took me a while to finish this post… lots to think about…
A Calvin and Hobbes tie will be in my son’s Christmas stocking this year. Thank you.
It is a blessing to all of us that writing is something that nudges your soul. Your words always inform, inspire and entertain. You are able to tackle deep subjects in a “just serious enough” way. and encourage soul searching with ideas that stick in our mind. I echo your 5 things that matter most however, health and self-compassion are often opposing forces in my world. I know what I should do, I don’t do it and therefore get angry with myself but then blanket myself with the cop-out of self-compassion. I’m learning that sometimes self-compassion needs to kick some butt.
My favorite line: “I’d never again shield how I feel or believe, and never chastise those who don’t agree.” How liberating if we could all live like that.
I get lots of compliments on my tie, Mo. I’m humbled by your words and appreciative of the sentiment.
I hope we can always search souls – our own, you know – when it comes to things that polarize us. I’ve avoided accounts, but apparently there’s unrest here in Charlotte because of a shooting. How can we meet in the middle? Or can we at all?
Health and self-compassion could actually become incredible partners. Like Starsky & Hutch even.
It means something to have those words tossed back at me from you, Mo. Here’s hoping it can happen in our lifetimes.
Ohhhhh, I was nodding along and then I read “self compassion” and tripped. It’s so easy for me to have compassion for others, a world I feel groaning. But myself? So hard. I feel the weight of all my responsibilities and expectations some days, and it’s still a struggle to remember that I am NOT someone’s version of me. Still a work in progress, but happily moving forward. That’s my motto these days.
Self compassion is crucial, Les. Crucial. And when you can afford yourself that, everything changes. Everything.
One responsibility at a time, and no one’s expectations but your own, dear.