Look at some of your friends’ friends and you can’t help but wonder why the friendship exists. Then look closer. Past the bad decisions, shared histories one feels guilty about severing, and sheer loneliness, you’ll see that some people simply need different things from friendship – we are all unique. But we are also similar. Like, days pass and pass and pass and boy it sure would be nice if I had a friend to help transform this bound-to-be-forgettable Saturday into something memorable. No amount of uniqueness makes this type of friend undesirable. Of course, you are just such a friend: you’ve made my life better than anyone else I’ve met in xxxxxxxxx.

I first really considered this during one of those xxxxxxxxx holiday extravaganzas. What most struck me was your generosity. Here you were providing food, a house, a boat, jet skis, gasoline, etc. and asking for nothing in return. Importantly, there appeared no arrogance or give-me-social-credibility-for-all-that-I’ve-given attitude that is common in such situations. Even as we were all fortunate to have you as a friend, you gave off the impression that you were simply happy that people would trek out for a hang. When both parties feel “lucky” sharing time, you have a cornerstone trait of a great relationship.


Two Thoughts

You have already been what you want to be.

It’s easier to be angry than sad.

Compared to self-therapy. You can always check out one of the thousand therapy books, read it, and meticulously follow the exercises. But that’s hard. That requires real effort. You know what doesn’t? Showing up and talking to a stranger for an hour. Yet this is still “doing something,” so you can feel like you’re progressing. 1Just be wary of “progress” that comes a little too easily for a sustained period of time.

Doing something new often yields easy gains at first (i.e., low-hanging fruit). If the gains don’t become harder over time you are either a prodigy or not actually progressing due to insufficient willingness to challenge oneself.

Trauma Notes

  • Trauma is worse if you feel you were betrayed
    • Raped when campus was negligent is harder to overcome
  • Any questioning of the experience counts as invalidation
    • “You’ll get over it.”
    • “It’s not a big deal.”

Guitar Notes

  • Tepidness sounds worse – you can’t hide
  • Dwelling the badness makes it worse
  • It’s not too late to be good again

Be Patient

In the increasingly transactional dating world, there is a temptation to see and be seen as quickly as possible. This is especially true when you like yourself. I really want her to see how great I am! We are all always getting older and running out of time, but these pressures, I think, must be resisted a bit. For it is true that if you are true in who you are, it will necessarily be revealed in time. Same for her. There is real beauty in this revelation, a beauty that can transcend knee-jerk reactions we may have had when rushing to know and be known.

There’s this cute George Bernard Shaw quote:

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

If defeating age is really that easy, why would anyone stop playing? Injuries for one. Lack of time and general fatigue for another. Those two elements will be hard to hard to overcome, especially the first one.

A more malleable variable is the simple fact that we tend to turn less excitable in age. And it is excitement that undergirds playing – you play because you are excited to play.

The easiest path to excitement is novelty. In youth, experience is limited, which means there are many more firsts, which means there is a greater capacity for novelty, which all means you are less likely to fall into a jaded state of “been there, done that.” Still, the world is very large, so there’s always more to see. But BTDT tends to move beyond the literal – I’ve actually seen that movie and it’s bad – into a general dismissal of exploration – I’ve seen enough to know there’s nothing to see in that thing I’ve never actually seen.

Youth also equals innocence, an innocence defined by not having realized the downsides of risks. Once you have been burned enough times – an inevitable part of aging – BTBT is but one of many defensive moves used to remain safe. The status quo, however bad it may be, feels preferrable to change, since change can bring lower floors of negativity; the potential for higher positive floors is obscured by the possibility of loss.

It’s not that any of this is unreasonable. In fact, it’s the outright reasonableness that makes the logic so appealing to a mature person. But when rationality leads you to undesirable place, it’s worth considering alternatives, for rationality is often less a single thing than it is post hoc explanations proffered to make one’s decisions palatable. In this case, you now know that you are now biased to focus on downsides. This focus both makes the bad outcomes less likely and, if they do occur, more tolerable. You are indeed better prepared than you were in youth! So use this preparation to your advantage and let your mind wander toward enthusiasm and excitement. 

Mentorship Matters

For so long they cheered you with the purity of a pre-teen at a Taylor Swift concert. They celebrated even your tiniest accomplishments. They wanted you to be successful. They sometimes even believed you were capable of things you yourself doubted. And then, at some point, it all stopped. The purity was replaced by jealousy, and the words of encouragement were shifted to lesser folks. We love seeing people do well … just as long as they don’t surpass our own status. And once they do, He really needs a measly compliment with a title like THAT?! Probably had to know somebody to get the job anyway. LOL to those who think he got there with “merit.” And don’t get me started on wealth inequality. Tell me what he actually does to earn 20x more than that earnest janitor. I’m not seeing it!

But of course the same human needs for acceptance and appreciation don’t disappear once one owns an ungodly # of VTI shares. So here I am cheering and celebrating you. Here I am thanking you for the past two months of working together, which were my favorite at xxxxxxxxx. You said something this summer about me “thinking too much of you,” and I’m convinced you were/are obviously incorrect. Aside from my parents, I truly don’t think there’s a single elder I’ve learned more from than you. Here’s a little list of learnings that may well read like a fanboy writing T Swift:


EV Positive Rules

Unless you buy face value, don’t buy any ticket to anything until a minimum of 36 hours before the show.

when there isn’t anger tied to the thing. Aggrievement, perhaps more than any other emotion, keeps thoughts endlessly circling. Like, it’s believing you’ve been wronged that makes “heartbreak” so devastating. How could she do this to me? TO ME? Similarly with contentious ends to jobs, friendships, events, etc.

What about regret? Wishing to have done differently certainly serves as a driver of many sleepless nights. But the solution is self-forgiveness, which is a bit easier than forgiving others, especially when those others should be apologizing and aren’t. Yet like self-forgiveness, the choice to forgive others can be made without any outside participation: free yourself from the frustration not because the other person is right, but because you sensibly desire mental tranquility.