Do Cool Stuff

Somehow, someway I experience minimal material wanting or pressure. Oh sure, I’ll see a catchy advert and be momentarily tossed into a cycle of thinking how much better my life would be if I had, say, that freshest cell phone. But I’m good at catching myself and accepting that winning these mental battles is a necessary part of a modern existence bursting with advertising. It’s also bursting with nudges, big and small, conveying the message that my happiness is contingent on upping my neighbor purchase-wise. Again, I reject the proposal and experience zero jealousy as the girl-next-door piles up the latest and greatest.

But don’t see me as some moral hero totally divorced from the interpersonal competition; I’m simply competing on a different metric. I was in Milwaukee a few weeks ago at a nice dinner with some nice people. One of these people was regaling the crowd with tales of his adventures from three years in Shanghai. The more, more, more impulse flowed through me. He has done cooler stuff than me. I need to do some cooler stuff. Maybe I should move to Tokyo or Singapore.

I have very few goals in life. At the top of that short list is “Be Wise.” The high correlation coefficient (~.8) between age and wisdom can hide the fact that it’s experience, not time, “causing” wisdom. Thus, if one does not make wisdom-maximizing choices, he may well end up a sheltered 70-year-old bested by an unusually intrepid teenager.

So it is that sharing xxxxxxxxx with your family was beyond wonderful. Of course being with friends is nice – if not, end the friendship – but there’s something extra special getting to do it in such a unique environment. We always have the choice to pay close attention – quite helpful in wisdom accumulation, I must say – but it is undoubtedly easier in the face of novelty; if you can’t open your eyes widely during xxxxxxxxx, no amount of therapy will solve your problems.

There’s also something to the richness of experience that indeed comes almost solely from time. Interacting with someone for a complete 24hrs yields insights that even deep, careful probing can’t uncover in a single night out with friends. Like, I always knew that xxxxxxxxx was funny, but not at the level of “accidentally” hitting 4-4 to continually turn the TV to “Naked and Afraid.” Or that xxxxxxxxx was a joy, but not in a way that she can so quickly make friends (though she may not be all that interested in this ability). Or that xxxxxxxxx is thoughtful, but so thoughtful, in fact, that she is willing to peacefully suppress her own desires for the good of the group.

As for the parents, I was reminded that Parents = Heroes is not a platitude. My god is parenting hard. So, so fatiguing to the point where I totally get why people hit kids. And yet there you both were gracefully smiling, screaming (xxxxxxxxx on coasters), and cackling (xxxxxxxxx responding to absurdity) through it all.

I thank you for helping me achieve my goals.