Birthday Manifesto

In consideration of my birthday — 43 things I have learned over the last 43 years.*

* I fully acknowledge that any and all of these thoughts may be misguided — and I’m ok with that. There is no absolute.

1. Allow yourself to fall madly in love with another person.

2. Live your passion. Find what you love and make it your life’s work. I have lost a number of friends who have died while doing what they love. Many look at what they did as dangerous or foolish, but I promise you, they lived a life 1000 times richer than anyone sitting on a couch watching “reality” TV.

3. The meaning of life is to search for the meaning.

4. Nothing can improve your day like a bike ride.

5. It’s ok to be a bit selfish. If you’re unhappy with what you’re doing, any effort you make to help another person will end up being counterproductive.

6. Nothing exists without art. To all my creative friends who have been harassed by others about their chosen path — challenge them to point out one man made object or achievement by mankind that was not aided by the hand of an artist.

7. I believe organized religion is based largely upon a system of fear and an attempt to usurp individual power. We were put here to think for ourselves and find our way, not to blindly follow.

8. Children are my greatest single source of inspiration.

9. Freedom may not be free, but ignorance is much more costly.

10. Life is way too short to work with people who you don’t like to be around.

11. Surround yourself with likeminded people, but don’t push away the others. You may learn something from someone with whom you disagree.

12. There is no better gift than a book.

13. Having children should not be considered a burden or a hurdle. Involve them in what you do. You’ll be amazed by the fresh spin they can put on something you feel like you had already figured out.

14. Music has the ability to transform your soul, but only if its real music. Not the manufactured noise some try to pass as music these days.

15. Call them. Chances are, they have forgiven you as well and want to talk.

16. Learn to walk away.

17. Many people don’t understand why I do what I do or agree with my decisions, but that will not change my path.

18. Art is not necessarily to be “understood”. Experience it, think about it, even doubt it. But never disregard it.

19. To anyone that has ever uttered the phrase “youth is wasted on the young” — Your experience has been wasted on the cynical.

20. Lead by example.

21. Make mistakes. Make a lot of them.

22. Cooking can be a great analogy for much of life. Spend time in the kitchen and pay attention to how you approach your food. You’ll probably learn a lot about yourself.

23. Friends come in many forms. Some you talk to everyday. Some you haven’t seen in years. Some know all your secrets. Some don’t even know your last name. Cherish them all.

24. Pedal harder, not faster.

25. The secret to homemade Mexican food — Cumin.

26. It’s ok to define your identity, but don’t let this identity change who you are.

27. I haven’t watched the evening news in over 15 years and I’m certain I haven’t missed anything.

28. A good thing to daydream about — When the movie of your life is produced, who will play you, and what music will play during the closing credits?

29. Learn the difference between sharing knowledge and being a know-it-all.

30. Your time is valuable.

31. College professors are an amazing resource. If they say the have an open door, take them up on it. Even if they don’t say it, knock.

32. Go outside as often as possible, for as long as possible.

33. Peanut butter is often overlooked as a perfect ingredient in a smoothie.

34. The more I learn, the less I know.

35. There are things I wished I would have done differently, but I have no regrets.

36. Coffee was never meant to be drunk from a paper cup on the run. It’s to be savored from a porcelain mug and cherished as part of morning ritual.

37. Speaking ill about someone says more about you than it does them.

38. No matter what, be nice to people.

39. Life amongst others presents us with a dizzying yet essential dichotomy — Nothing that another person chooses to do with their life has any effect on our own, yet everthing we do affects those around us. The ability to understand and embrace this is essential to our survival as a a society.

40. Put your name on it. If something is worth doing, do it well and celebrate your creation. If you screw something up, exercise accountability. Don’t hide, don’t point fingers — take the blame and vow to do right by it next time.

41. Conviction — Find yours, stick to it, defend it with all you’ve got.

42. Beware your idols. Choose them wisely.

43. None of this is real.

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