Life is too short to be half-assed
It’s the beginning of July and the planet is about as lush, at least here in the northeast, as I’ve ever seen it. And there is a simple lesson out there that should remind all of us to savor every minute. This morning, while walking to work, I was run into by a kid with a cell phone glued to his face. This is not the first time this has happened to me and I think it is incredibly pitiful. The morning was picture perfect, not a cloud in the sky, no humidity, and a gentle 72 degree breeze blowing. One of those mornings we need to savor. And that kid was staring at a screen.
The trees are dropping their seeds right now and the numbers of them are amazing. Thousands per tree. It’s a display of incredible fertility. Not really incredible- natural. The trees, and nature in general, aren’t half-assed about procreation. It reinforces the fact that even if we destroy our chances of survival, as a species, the planet will do just fine. We won’t be missed.
The point of this is that normal means not doing things as a dilettante, a dabbler. The ‘normal’ way to go through life is the way that fecund tree goes about making sure it has children, by scattering a crazy amount of seeds out there.
Happiness, to me, is about feeling fulfilled. The sense that I have contributed something, whether it is as an artist, or by simply doing the best work I can. The contrast between observing nature going all out and a human staring at some crap on a screen was a stark one. I feel sorry for that kid.
Information is not experience
There is growing evidence that kids are maturing much later than they were 25 years ago. One estimate puts the maturity of an average eighteen year old today at that of a 14 year old in 1994. The negatives on this are college graduates entering the workforce with a limited amount of life experience. Given access to endless amounts of information, they are lacking in the hands-on experience that develops personality and humanity. This is a generalization of course, but it is still a little alarming. And I think the strong desire for guidance and life advice out there is symptomatic of a generation that has missed out on deeper experience. Information is not experience.
My simple advice is to go all in with everything you do. Be curious. Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions. Talk to strangers and find out what makes them tick. Don’t monologue. When you find something that interests you, go deeper. Find out who pioneered it and how they got to that place. Follow their story down seemingly unconnected paths or dead-ends they went down. There was a reason they went there.
We mature by growing the neural pathways in our brain. This happens through experiences, not just inhaling information. Ironically, going all in is not harder than being half-assed. It’s just a different way of approaching life. You’ve got the time, especially if you’re young- go deeper.