Do not fall in love with the world for you will one day be forced to leave it. Instead, fall in love with living and your love for life will live on in those you leave behind.
One day when I was eight, and my dad was thirty-seven, I realized that I will never be able to catch up to his age, that he will always be twenty-nine years older than me. It frustrated me at the time because I wanted to catch up. I wanted to experience what it was like to be thirty-seven and I wanted to share that experience with my thirty-seven year-old dad.
But I couldn't. No matter how badly I wanted it, it just wouldn't happen.
Accepting that fact helped me realize something else: my dad will never get to revisit my age. He'll never get to be eight again. This made me feel proud to be eight. I was lucky to be experiencing something that he could not. No matter how badly he might have wanted to be eight again, he couldn't.
A few days ago I turned thirty-one. My dad is now sixty. We're still twenty-nine years apart.
I always remind myself that what's important is not your age. What's important is that you do not allow your age to influence your reality, to influence what you feel is true within yourself. How old do you feel? That's far more important than how old you are, because how old you are is how old you feel.
You choose and reinforce how old you feel by the thoughts and realities that you embrace, by what you accept and what you tell yourself is true.
I could've spent my entire eighth year wishing that I was thirty-seven, but instead -- fortunately -- I recognized how lucky I was to be eight. Today, I could think about what it means to be thirty-one, or I could think about what it means to be sixty. Or, I could simply live right here right now and enjoy it, the way I did when I was eight.
There's nothing we must handle with more care than the conversations we have with ourselves. We influence our reality, and in no greater place do we influence our reality than within ourselves.
Do what you love and do it often.
Living in pursuit of what feels real will always lead to surprises, but no surprise is without its purpose. Every fork leads somewhere. It's not your choice that is recorded by the universe but what you do with that choice once you've made it.
Take the fork and all will make sense. Trust that life knows best. Have faith that you will be ready. Do what you love, live what you love, and each event in your life will join to form an infinite stream of serendipity.
In the end, when your entire life flows into a single moment of time, it won't be your possessions, your worries, or your missed opportunities that cumulate into that single moment, but rather how you truly you lived, how deeply you loved, and how completely you followed your heart.
For three days and two nights, forty-four strangers become a tribe, a group of people living communally under one roof, all headed in the same direction, with every intention of arriving at the same destination.
During our journey we all sleep in the same room. We use the same bathrooms and kitchens. We fall asleep side-by-side, snore, and otherwise leave ourselves entirely vulnerable to absolute strangers.
We awake in the morning with messy hair and groggy eyes, collect our clothes and toiletries, and wobble down the hall to the bathroom where we shower and brush our teeth.
All of us different colors, genders and ages, with different passions and dreams, each with his or her own unique set of strengths, and weaknesses, and problems, and idiosyncrasies.
How different is this from life itself?
All of humanity is living together on a proverbial train, moving around the sun on a predictable course, itself moving around the galaxy, and that around the local cluster, and even that moving around the universe.
Life ebbs and flows, inhales and exhales, until it exhales no more and instead transforms. All of us, headed in the same direction, to the same destination, a ‘last stop’ for our physical bodies, where the tracks end and we must get off and use our feet to continue on.
Are you familiar with your feet? Are your walking muscles strong and in good shape? Or will you, when the momentum of time stops carrying you forward, wither and die before you’re dead?
The Ghan slogs through the center of the continent, streaming the Australian Outback through the window and providing a never-ending source of distraction to my writing. I pause between acrobatic sessions of finger-dancing and look out the window to see metaphors everywhere.
If I were to allow myself, right now, to be distracted by that stream of beauty, I would not be creating these words. I need to first detach myself from what’s going on outside and focus my attention here, in the now.
This chair, my laptop, these thoughts.
These thoughts. I feel compelled to empty these thoughts from my brain, for their purpose feels too great to be contained in such a weakly guarded shell. They’re safer written down, transformed into something more tangible.
But there is danger in becoming too obsessed with the now. In writing that previous paragraph I found myself getting trapped in the past, my ego clinging on to every word. And so I turned my attention back to the streaming Outback, to that place where I had no choice but to let go.
The train will not stop for my ego, nor my curiosity, nor my inquisitive spirit. Momentum carries them forward, the same way time carries forward each of us, with or without our consent.
It doesn’t matter how interesting the landscape is or how fascinating the animal, or how quickly either disappears. Look! There’s a kangaroo hopping over the tall grass as it runs away from the drumming train. Look! There’s a emu! and another! But the train, unsympathetic and single-minded, continues chugging forward.
And so it is by observing this movement and embracing the impermanence of everything within my reach that I learn to enjoy that stream of beauty, to recognize its presence all around me.
I can now return my focus to the present.
The group of forty-four people are aware their time together is limited, so they don’t worry about looking funny when they awake. It doesn’t matter if strangers see the color of their toothbrush; they’ll probably never see these strangers again. It doesn’t matter if some people snore loudly or if others let off gas; we’re all getting off this train soon anyway.
The girl who is anxious about finding a place to charge her laptop doesn’t lose sleep over the lady who might miss her flight if the train arrives late, but the two travelers can still smile and share a friendly conversation about their favorite Australian city.
All of this is possible because it doesn’t matter where we’re going or when we’ll get there, but rather how we interact with those around us, to what and to whom we give our attention, and to where we focus the energy of our presence before this train’s final stop.
When something happens and you realize, “Crap! this is gonna screw things up”, just accept it and move on to the next step. It is what it is. If it's something that's not in your hands—if it’s something that you can’t control—then let it go. You can’t control it.
Be confident that things will turn out OK. You'll live. The day will go on. The sun will rise again. People will die. People will be born. People will make money. People will lose money. People will find jobs. People will lose jobs.
Go and stare at the ‘deaths today’ meter for a few minutes (hopefully you won’t last that long). Try to picture each of those deaths. Yours will be one of those numbers someday. And then the next number will come and whoever is watching that clock will forget about your number.
The world is not going to change or stop or end because of this little thing that happened to you. Relax. Don’t sweat the little things. Take a deep breath and move on.