perspective

Birthdays rub me the wrong way. None moreso than my own. I don’t think this is the right way to feel, but it is how I feel.

Stop me if my desperate need for genuine validation is showing, but the idea of undue celebration or praise makes me sick.

That moment when you realise that the nice person in the foyer after your show is saying all the nice things about your work because they feel like they have to, brings me dread.

I despise my birthday like I despised the football participation trophies I got handed every year as a kid. I was crap at football. I knew it, my Mum knew it, the coach knew it, and my team knew it. But I was celebrated anyway. Why?

Why should I be celebrated for simply surviving another year?

After 23 of these, I think I finally get it.

We should celebrate birthdays because surviving is an act of showing up.

Surviving is hard sometimes. So to be able to do it, year after year, with a steadfast consistency is actually quite incredible.

Birthdays are the markers we can use to measure how well we are undertaking the delicate work of carrying on.

Some stand out, others are bundled up, and some skip by far too fast – but there they are. Every year. One of the only guarantees we have.

I’m doing better at surviving than I was a few of these ago. For once, I’m looking forward to the next one.

If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are “crying for the moon.” We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end.

Alan Watts

Death comes to us all, so it’s nothing worth being too afraid of. One day, it will become as effortless as breathing.

Until that day, planning too far ahead in the finite game of life is a fool’s errand. Milk every day you get for what it’s worth.

The fact that we never know the day we’ll die should riddle us with inspiration, not fear. Each day we get comes with a new opportunity to make the most of it.

Things we should do:

  • be especially friendly to retail and hospitality workers
  • pay close attention to our hygiene and cleanliness
  • keep an eye on the latest government advice and follow it

Things we probably shouldn’t do:

  • create scarcity by stockpiling food and toilet paper
  • ignore suggestions from health professionals
  • give any further attention to anyone who still think this is an orchestrated ruse to introduce a conspiratorial vaccine.

There are some people just not worth arguing against. We’re all tired. Let’s give it a rest.

Here’s the deal: we live in a strange, rapidly changing, hyper connected world which is making some of us intensely miserable in ways we don’t fully understand. 

Our ability to control our own attention is diminishing at an alarming rate.

Technical monoliths are making us feel exposed in ways people never used to have to worry about.

And our opportunities, while still limited, seem limitless in the face of everybody else’s success.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. We are sensationally adaptable creatures.

Brilliant people all over the world are constantly discovering fascinating things, many of which can inform our way forward through this jumbled mess.

Whenever it gets too much, remember that all you can ever be held accountable for is everything you do.

If the world outside is so overwhelming in scale and implication, how tiny our own short lives must be.

And if the prospect of being responsible for your every living breath is so overwhelming, how small and insignificant the rest of the world must be.

The world, and your roll in it, is neither too large or too small.

It just is.

Realise this and you might just do away with half the troubles our new world brings with it.

There’s no such thing as making up lost time because we don’t lose time, we spend it.

Just because we spent in poorly, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t ours to spend.

Making up lost time is just scrambling to get done what you didn’t get done when you were supposed to.

Struggling through an all nighter to meet a deadline or pushing your body to the limit to squeeze out one last burst of speed at the end of a race are not signs of strength.

There’s no heroism there. It’s just poor management.

Live the present moment as fully prepared for the next as you can.

Time lost is irrelevant. Focus on siezing the time still ahead of you.

If it feels too good to be true, it’s too good to be real.

There’s always a catch and the grass is cut from the same roots.

But that’s okay.

It might not be as good as the person who’s trying to sell it to you says it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good.

Sometimes the things people tell you are life changing are just good enough to change the course of a day.

And a day changed for the better is not insignificant.

Not every deal which is too good to be real is a bad deal.

Just ensure you know what you’re giving away.

Peace doesn’t always mean everyone agrees with you or does what you’re comfortable with them doing.

Sometimes peace means walking seperate and opposite paths to those with which your path is incompatible.

It’s the crossing of opposing paths which breeds disdain.

Peace isn’t a lack of disagreement. It’s a lack of conflict.

My four year old cousin was lucky enough to get a remote controlled car today.

It had one of those awkward remotes with a trigger to control the speed and a small wheel to control the steering.

After a bit of back and forth trying to explain how this worked, it became clear that he was not at all interested in the wheel on the remote controller.

He drove the car from one side of the yard to the other, ran over to it pick it up and pointed it the other way to drive it back.

It’s not that he hadn’t seen how it could be used, nor that he didn’t think he was capable of learning how to do so.

It simply wasn’t important to him that the car was able to turn.

He was perfectly happy chasing it up and down the yard in straight lines.

He had no need to optimise his experience despite the fact that everyone around him thought they knew better.

When you’re busy optimising your own experience, the same applies.

There will be people who simply won’t understand the improvements you’re trying to make.

Some might even get frustrated by the fact that you’re so focussed on your steering wheel.

At the end of the day, everyone’s racing their own race.

Don’t waste energy trying to teach those uninterested in turning how to steer.

The blessing of a diagnosis clarity. It’s validation, it’s a community of others dealing with similar circumstances.

A diagnosis says, ‘You experience this particular thing, it’s real, and other people also experience it.’

And the more you discuss your diagnosis, the more you seek the experiences of others who share your experience and begin to understand your diagnosis more deeply, a character starts to form from its description.

The great thing about this is that it can help you strategise around the disorder.

The problem is that it gives you someone else to blame when things go wrong.

I slip into this thinking with ADHD all the time.

‘My ADHD doesn’t let me focus when I want to.’

‘I’m sorry I didn’t do that thing I was supposed to, my ADHD means I get distracted sometimes.’

‘I forgot what time we were meant to meet – ADHD.’

These are comfortable thoughts, but they’re bullshit.

I can force myself to focus whenever I need to. I just need to isolate potential distractions more-so than most.

If I forgot to do something, or what time I was meant to be somewhere, it’s because I didn’t write it down like I should have, or I didn’t prioritise it high enough. ADHD certainly doesn’t make these things easier to do, but it’s me who lets people down.

I am in no way seperate from my ADHD.

Personifying it, giving it character, and imagining what its motivations are can all be helpful ways to frame the diagnosis and help explain it to other people.

Its usefulness ends at the point where I start believing that its character exists outside of my own.

I’m no doctor or psychologist, but I’d be willing to bet that the same goes for a whole lot more than ADHD.

What is, is. But what will be has the potential to be influenced by your action.

Luck serves those who generate their own opportunities. People who make things, whether they’re artists or entrepreneurs, stand a better chance of good fortune than those who deliver a service designed by somebody else.

Why then, doesn’t everyone just make stuff? Probably because it’s hard. And even harder to do from a place of suffering.

Some people are bound by circumstances outside their own control.

While others are caught within cycles of suffering they generate for themselves.

Suffering usually starts from an unavoidable place, but it lingers for as long as we allow it to feed on the scraps of our minds.

Generating anything of value from a place of suffering is more work than it needs to be.

Take the time to solve your sufferings. Then get to work on the rest.