I Know

33 Things I Know, Now That I’m 33

1. There’s only one person responsible for your life – you.

2. It takes guts to be kind.

3. You can’t be distracted by comparison if you’re captivated by purpose.

4. A sunrise doesn’t define its glow by how it set the night before; you shouldn’t define yourself by yesterday either.

5. Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours shine any brighter.

6. Whatever you focus on grows.

7. Where and how you choose to spend your time is telling – you will always make time for the things you value.

8. The best thing about the worst time of your life is that you get to see the true colours of everyone.

9. Not everyone is gold; some are simply gold-plated.

10. You gotta be a little savage.

11. Hostility towards unfamiliarity is true ignorance.

12. You aren’t owed shit; act accordingly.

13. Grief is the price of love – and it’s worth it.

14. Things may not always go to plan, and that might be the very best outcome.

15. Never judge someone by the opinion of others.

16. Nothing great can be achieved with selfish people.

17. Time heals nothing. It just replaces – or dims – memories.

18. Don’t harden up when someone mistreats you – being bitter is a waste of time, and a true disservice to yourself.

19. Feelings aren’t final – they’re fluid.

20. You leave pieces of yourself in everyone you’ve ever loved. That’s quite a responsibility.

21. You may not be able to control your situation, but you can always control your attitude towards it.

22. Collect moments, not things.

23. Never allow waiting to become a habit.

24. Don’t change parts of who you are, or what you do, or how you do it, to please someone else. Unless your aim is to be miserably unsatisfied.

25. When you stop caring about what other people think of you, you’ll find true freedom.

26. Where possible, skip the small talk. Everyone is deep, most are just afraid to dive.

27. The ‘little things’ are never really that little – they’re often the most important.

28. If you can only let go of three things, make them these: grudges, the past, and poisonous people.

29. You will never be able to escape your own heart – so listen to it.

30. Stress literally achieves nothing. Action fixes everything.

31. Worrying literally achieves nothing. Action fixes everything.

32. Pursue a life of meaning, and the happiness will come.

33. When in doubt, be extra.

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I Am, I Know

A Letter To My Son

Joyce Maynard - Parenting Quote

O,

It’s getting to the tail end of 2015 and today I was thinking about all the things I’ve done so far this year, and all the things I’ve learned. It’s been a big, tremendous year. I was thinking about you, too, and how quickly you are growing. There are so many things I want you to know, and so many things I hope for you.

You are cheeky and sharp and bright. Don’t ever lose your spirit. Don’t ever let life – or, worse, other people – dampen and sap your energy. You have so much energy. You have a zest for life. I know you do. I know it because you are like me. Don’t stop singing to yourself, and hopping when you get excited, and screaming ‘yeah’ out loud when you’re happy; the world beats that kind of stuff out of people, as they grow, but I don’t want that to happen to you.

I hope I can instill in you the highest possible level of confidence – not arrogance, confidence. They are two very different things, though sometimes people get them confused. And if, at times, you can’t be confident, then I hope you can pretend to be. As you grow, you will realise that no one really has it all figured out, and the ones that say they do you likely need to run from.

Your confidence is going to grow in proportion to how often you’re prepared to step out of your comfort zone. So don’t become stagnant. Keep fresh.

I am going to tell you to ‘be careful’ a lot. I have already started. And I mean it. But, really, I want you to take a lot of risks. Hopefully not too many of those risks are reckless – like driving dangerously or jumping off large moving objects on a regular basis – but take risks. Climb to the top of the highest trees you find, swim at the base of waterfalls, be driven down a highway while you stand through a sunroof and your hair thrashes in the wind.

Hopefully you don’t want to become a UFC fighter, and maybe you can get through life without a motorbike, and out of all the animals you might like to adopt over the years, I truly hope none are of the reptile variety.

But if they are, that’s ok. And if you want to ride a motorbike, or become a UFC fighter, then I’ll help you in any way I can.

There are some things in life you should do; even when other people tell you that maybe it’s not such a good idea.

You should ride a motorbike, at least a few times in your life. And one of those times should be sitting on the back of one, holding onto someone’s waist, preferably along a stunning coastline somewhere in the world, because there will be a point where you turn your head and see the ocean, and you’ll feel the wind slice through you, and then something churn deep inside you and this I know, O: that’s what it means to be alive.

And you should hold a snake, or swim with a croc, or do whatever it is that you want to do, but that’s the key; do things that you want to do, not things you think you should, or just because other people are.

People will bang on about things in life coming at a ‘cost’. Spoiler alert: every single thing you will ever do will come at a cost. Don’t think about that. Focus instead on what adds value to your life. If it adds value to you, include it. If it doesn’t, subtract it. But don’t dwell on cost – monetary or otherwise. Because here’s the other spoiler alert: it’s always worth it.

While it’s definitely too early for you to be thinking about women, if that’s what you’re into later in life, please know this: be a gentleman, be kind, be thoughtful, be loving, but never compromise who you are for somebody else. Don’t give up on the things you love for a woman. Don’t change who you are for a woman. A good one will never expect you to. A great one will encourage you to be more of who you are, not less.

You will meet some amazing people in this world. Always be open to them. And if you’re drawn to somebody, for whatever reason, explore it.

I hope you find dazzling people and talk with them until the early hours of the morning; on a rooftop, or a verandah. Some of those people you will never see again, but I guarantee you will carry a piece of them with you for your whole life, and every once in a while someone will say something, or you’ll see something, and you’ll be reminded of them. And in your head text will appear like a leading title on the news: ‘Soldier, 1999, on the train to Venice’ and you’ll smile thinking of them.

Try and stay away from the kind of people that place value on material things, and instead find people that are interested; in life, in history, in books, in music, in people, in conversation, in living.

I hope you spend most of your time with good people, people that understand and embrace you, but you need to know this: sometimes people can know you for a long time, but not really know you.

Just last week someone I’ve known for half of my life said some awful things to me, and they did some horrible things, and it ripped a little piece out of me. Sometimes people will hurt you and sometimes they’ll break a part of you but here’s the other thing you need to know: you can always put yourself back together.

I hope you continue to be happy, and in doing so realise that you cannot ever compromise on your happiness. It should be the one thing in life you fail to bargain on. Find happiness in small things, as well as big things, and find it on your own. Don’t tie all of your happiness in a place, or a person. Anchor it to yourself.

Be the kind of person that spreads good stuff wherever they go; happiness, energy, love. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t be afraid to make them. I hope you make a ton of them, because that means you’ll never stop learning. There are secret opportunities hidden inside failures, and only the courageous get to unearth them.

Don’t let mediocrity get a grip of you; don’t tolerate it in other people.

Listen to your instincts, every single time. Always listen to your instincts. Sometimes you will need to ignore logic, or change your plans, and when those moments come, do exactly what you yearn for, and always remind yourself that death might be frightening, but not living should be feared far more.

I hope you tell a lot of people that you love them, and I hope a lot of people say it to you, too; some of them will whisper it, some of them will shout it, and some of them will only reveal it with their eyes, but every time take it for what it is; an absolute privilege, not something you are entitled to.

Don’t hold back from revealing yourself to other people; the only time you will ever need to be guarded is when you’re in a defensive stance in basketball, beyond that, let fall and slip, let fall and slip – even when it’s risky, even when you wind up hurt, even when it’s costly because, remember, it’s always worth it.

Live your life your way, and don’t ever allow anyone to make you feel guilty for that – the only opinion you need to worry about is the one you have of yourself. Use that as your compass; someone else’s might be broken, or going the wrong way. You can direct yourself, that I will always be sure of.

O, the thing about this year is that you’re not the only one that’s grown; I have too.

I know I haven’t been there to put you to bed every single night of every single week this year. I know you don’t need me to be. Your life is blessed and filled with people; people that love being around you, and can be when I’m not there. But just know this; every single time I walk in the door, no matter how late at night, or early in the morning, the first thing I do is walk into your room and run my hand through your hair.

And I know that sometimes I’m at the computer when you’re building a tower out of Lego, or making a train track, and five minutes can become twenty-five.

But there are some final things I need you to know:

I’ve never used you as an excuse, and I never will. Some people I know with children tend to use them as an excuse for all the things they can’t do, but I don’t feel that way with you. I know I can do anything. You don’t prevent me from doing anything and I think in the future that might be one of the best things you learn from me.

You are like a sponge; you soak everything in. And that’s why I’m so determined to live the best possible life I can, and be true to myself along the way, because I need to, for you. It’s not enough for me to hope and wish for who I want you to become – I need to be those things.

In many years to come, when you’re a man, and I’m an old woman, you won’t remember the things I tried to teach you, or the things I told you to do – you’ll remember who and what I am. And the things I did. You’ll remember how I lived.

I need you to know that life is resplendent – that every year you will learn, and bloom, and lament, and hurt, and you will go on adventures, and life will blow you away.

You have roots, and a core, and a heart, and you will sprout and develop, and I will always be there, to nourish you and love you, and it will never, ever feel like an obligation. It is a privilege, my son. You are an absolute privilege.

Love,

Mama

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I Am

Laying It Bare…

I wrote this post on Facebook over the weekend:

The Invitation - Exceprt

“Sometimes I get a little obsessive with songs, or poems, and I listen to them or read them, over and over, until I’ve got everything I can out of them, or they’ve at least sunk in.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been reading ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah, Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder, and I love it, all of it, and I’ve got this verse playing on loop in my head, and in particular this line: “I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.”

Can you?

Because I’ve realised I can.

Because being genuine – not betraying who I truly am, or my soul – might not make me the best person in the world, by some standards or rules, but it makes me the only one I’m happy to live with. Being fake – especially to myself – is just not an option. I’ve always been ok with that, but I’ve doubted it a little recently.

Earlier this year, I wrote a thing, and one of the lines in it was this: “People will tell you to ‘be yourself’ but in order to do so, you’ve got to get really comfortable with who you genuinely are.”

Are you?

Because I’ve realised I am.

Even if that means disappointing another to be true to myself.

I really, really am.”

I do that kind of thing, sometimes – post a thought, or an opinion, occasionally a rant.

There’s no real rhyme or reason to what I post, other than feeling a certain way in a certain moment. It’s a free pour, out of my brain, to my little community of people, partly in the hope that some of the words might mean something to them – that they might help them, or inspire them, or at least make them think.

Sometimes other stuff happens instead.

Sometimes people don’t like what I write, or say.

Maybe it hits a nerve for them, or maybe it confronts (or more likely affronts) them.

I’m not sure.

This morning my phone rang and it was someone telling me they’d read my post, and that I was wrong. They told me all the reasons I was wrong. And then the reasons why I was selfish.

I chuckled, a bit. Mostly because I know I’m one of the least selfish people in the world, but paradoxically, and this was kind of the point of my post, I can also be terribly selfish, and I’m ok with that. I’m more than ok with that.

I know you’re not supposed to say that.

I know you’re supposed to say that you spend your entire life in service of others; of people, the greater good, of tasks and checklists. That you put everyone, and everything, first, and lag behind, hoping to catch a break or take a breath. And even if you know who or how you really are, I know you’re meant to deny it, and pretend. Pretend like you are that person you’re ‘supposed’ to be.

But I can’t do that.

I’ve never been wired to do that.

And if there’s anything I know, it’s that you’ve got to love yourself first.

For me, that means being true to who I am. Even if that means disappointing someone else. Even if that makes me selfish.

I am no good to anyone, or anything, any other way.

Jane Caro - It's Important To Be Brave

Today someone shared this Jane Caro article on Facebook, and I read it and nodded. It is much more important to be brave, than nice. And people are very afraid of offending others. And saying what they think. And none of that fazes me at all.

I definitely don’t ever intend to offend anyone, but if someone is a little disgruntled after reading something I’ve written, there’s not a single part of me that is concerned about that.

It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I can’t, and won’t, suppress my thoughts because they don’t align with someone elses.

Part of what I do, as a writer, means putting a fair bit of myself out there. And while there is a great deal that I haven’t yet written about (my childhood, my challenges, my pretty traumatic labour experience, to name a few), there is a lot that I have. And I know that if I want to be the best writer I can be – and, more importantly, be true to who I am – then I can’t filter my thoughts.

If I factored in every opinion, and expectation, I’d likely never write a thing.

And let’s be honest; writing is one of the most selfish, indulgent things you can do. Especially when it’s about yourself, or your life.

That people even read what I write still blows me away. With all the words in all the world, the fact that a small percentage of people read mine with what precious time they have is kind of incredible.

But I don’t really write for them. I write for me. And, I suspect, that’s part of the reason people keep coming back; because I’m not trying to be perfect – something I most definitely am not. I’m only trying, every day, to be the best me I can be. And I think sharing parts of who I am can maybe help other people be brave, or at least be themselves, unashamedly.

Something I’m conscious of is that not every story is my story – even the ones that do have a lot of me in them. And while I’ll always be true to myself, I’m aware that not everyone I cross paths with has signed up to have their life chronicled, or their thoughts aired, and I respect that, with every ounce of consideration I have.

But it’s ok for me to be raw, out there. To say, or write, the things I don’t think enough people do. I can handle the negative feedback and comments (and even the phone calls).

But I don’t think I can stomach the judgement.

I think people that say things that are truthful – even if those things aren’t necessarily pretty – shouldn’t be torn down, but maybe instead given a high-five, or at least a thumbs up.

Not because of any other reason than it is brave.

It requires, no matter how often you’ve done it before, an unflinching exploration of boldness.

And not enough people are bold. Or brave.

And the more we tear down people when they try to be, the less likely they are to lay anything bare.

And we need to lay bare; to unlatch and throw wide open the window on who we are, so we can make it easier for other people to be who they are.

I’m never going to stop doing that; even when it’s not pretty. Even when it’s brash.

Being who you genuinely are, and being ok with that, is brave and it is bold.

And that’s all I need, and want, to be.

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I Know

Mistakes.

At the very end of last year, on the final day of December, I was lying on a futon, in a charming apartment four storeys up in Bronte, NSW, the waft of hot chips from the fish shop below seeping through the open windows, the waves from the beach crashing in the background, and I was reading this quote:

Neil Gaiman - Make Mistakes

I love Neil Gaiman. I love his attitude. I love his wise words. And I love this quote.

So I posted it. I posted it online because it seemed fitting. It seemed like a gentle reminder to not strive for perfection, but rather to strive for evolution.

I stumbled upon it again tonight. Lying in my bed, with the sounds of spring outside my door.

It’s almost October. That’s quite a few months since the last time I read this quote. Heck, it’s almost a year. If I close my eyes, I’m right back there, on that futon, in Bronte, with the strange taste of hot oil and the sea in my mouth.

The days have hurtled into months and this quote found me again, tonight, of all nights, after a weekend spent drawing metaphorical lines in the sand.

I don’t reflect a lot but when I do, I reflect with gusto. Looking back over the year so far, I can confidently say this:

“Neil, I’ve nailed it.”

I’ve made some good mistakes this year. I’ve made a few bad ones. I’ve made things and broken things and mended things. I’ve kept moving, mostly forward, occasionally sideways, without ever freezing.

I’ve learned. Goodness, the things I’ve learned. And I’ve lived. I’ve lived boldly and passionately and without any reservations. I’ve changed. I am not the exact same person as I was on that last night in December, lying on that futon.

I think that’s a good thing.

I think mistakes are good things.

Despite the overwhelming bad wrap they get, mistakes, messy though they sometimes may be, make you grow. They force you to grow.

Some of my mistakes have been insignificant, some have been diabolical, but they’ve all helped me evolve into who I am, right now, right here, lying on my bed.

I feel fortunate to have been afforded the opportunity to even make the mistakes I have this year.

And that’s the thing about mistakes; people try to avoid them. They try to excuse them. But the very best thing you can do is embrace them. Own them.

Mistakes make you.

They don’t define you.

They make you.

Who you choose to be, who you get to be, after them, well, that’s yours for the taking.

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I Know

Scare The World

Scare The World

I believe two of the most important things in life are being yourself, wholly and fully, and being honest, with yourself, and everyone else.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve grappled with the idea of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – doing the ‘right’ thing as opposed to what’s right for me. I’ve grappled with being the ‘bigger’ person, as opposed to being the best version of myself.

I made a promise to myself a few weeks ago. And then the other night I drifted from it, just a little bit. And when, the next morning, I realised I’d drifted, I felt sick. To my core.

So I swiftly went about fixing things. For me. Which was not particularly easy. But it was necessary. So necessary.

Because if you’re not who you say you are, then you’re no one. If you’re not the person you promise you will be when the time comes to be it, then you won’t ever be anything.

People spend half their lives ranting in their heads about all the things they’ll do and the words they’ll say, and then they stumble and quaver and choose the easy way out, the one that involves making no choices or avoiding the truth or shying away from the conflict or maybe all of those things combined. And they mask it all with phrases of ‘being the better person’ and ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘keeping the peace’ whilst the truth almost chokes them.

Here’s a few truths; if you sit on the fence, you’ll live your whole life with splinters up your arse. If you avoid conflict, chances are you’ll end up creating more of it. And if you avoid the truth, you are gutless.

It’s easy to say who you are but much harder to be it. But you should never waiver from who you are.

So make the tough calls. Take risks. Stick to your word. Swallow the lump in your throat. Be bloody bold. Make yourself proud.

Scare the world.

And every other mofo who dares to stop you from being honest and being you.

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I Know

It’s Worth Remembering…

It’s worth remembering that people, not all, but some, will take advantage of you when and if they can.

Being taken advantage of isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

It’s worth remembering that people will often forget the things you have done for them; the very good things. The things you have sacrificed. The time you have spent helping them.

People forgetting the things you have done isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

And it sometimes results in being taken advantage of.

It’s worth remembering not to have too much to do with dumb people.

Dumb people are dumb.

They are forgetful. They aren’t ‘with it’. They’re rarely up-to-speed.

When you have things to do with dumb people you spend a lot of time repeating yourself. Going over old ground. Going around in circles.

It isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

It’s worth remembering that some people are selfish. Some people are obviously selfish and some are less so but selfish is selfish.

So because of that it’s worth remembering to look after yourself; your priorities and interests, first and foremost, before you sacrifice too much and put the dreams and ideas of others before your own.

Because in the end those people will look after themselves; they will take advantage and forget the things you have done because they are dumb and selfish.

And being too loyal, too kind, doesn’t win you any prizes.

Sometimes there’s no prize to be won.

Maybe there’s some acknowledgement or recognition. Maybe there’s a little thank you or some appreciation.

It’s worth remembering that you won’t always get that, even if you never expected it.

And so, it’s worth remembering that you can learn your lesson once, twice, even three times and then still find yourself back to where you once were, wondering how you forgot about people that take advantage and forget the things you have done, people that are selfish and dumb.

So try not to forget.

Do your very best to remember.

Put your energy and effort into the things you love, the things that build your dreams in the night and pump blood to your heart in the day.

Spend your time with the people you know are not selfish and dumb.

And then you will not be forgotten. Or taken advantage of.

But be grateful you once forgot, because it reminded you to stop and walk in a straight line, along some new ground.

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