As a recent guest on the Guy Code podcast by my friend Koji Steven Sakai I was asked to give some advice for life to his son, who will hopefully listen to my episode in the future and glean something from it. More than likely he’ll listen to it and say, “Meh these are just antiquated ramblings of an old dude.”
Guy Code was one of the best podcasts I’ve ever guested on. I like to think that the advice I gave to future young Sakai was timeless and applicable. So I decided to write out those lessons along with a bit of wisdom I did not include in my episode. It’s my hope that you’ll get something out of this, reader.
- When it comes to understanding life, experiential learning is the only worthwhile kind, ALL ELSE IS HEARSAY.
I picked up this quote somewhere along my travels and I think it’s the most important piece of wisdom that I imparted to young Sakai. Everyone that has lived a life feels justified in telling you exactly how you should do it — whether they’re the CEO of Startup Inc. or the mailman. Who do you listen to?
In my opinion you listen to NOBODY. Now I realize this is a contradiction being that I’m writing an article on how to live life. So… with that said, don’t even listen to ME.
First person experience is paramount to living. That means don’t listen to others. Listen to yourself. What happens to YOU when YOU look at the Grand Canyon? How do YOU feel when YOU take molly at a house party? What does Rage Against the Machine’s music do to YOUR nervous system?
All too often we listen to the advice others and we either A — forego the opportunity of a new experience completely out of fear/warning. Or B — we bring the other person’s filter to the new situation and it skews the data for us. We enter with an assumption and therefore we aren’t present. How can you experience something fully if you’re carrying around someone else’s idea of it?
With this principal, I always use the example: Have you ever had someone talk about a person they don’t like who you also know? They may say, “So and so is very selfish (or angry or depressing).” Now, when you think about that same person you disagree because that person has never acted that way in your presence. You wonder to yourself, “Are they even talking about the same individual?” After seeing this again and again you eventually realize the best approach is to judge based on how that person actually treats YOU.
We’re all bringing our own pre-arranged filters to each and every experience. These filters are so vastly different that none of us are having the same reality. Given the light of that alone it becomes foolish to listen to anyone’s opinion about anything. Experience it for yourself.
2. Certainty comes to those who only own one encyclopedia.
This is a quote from Robert Anton Wilson that basically means, keep an open mind. This is one of the best tools you can bring to life.
New information is coming at you all the time. Be open to it. Allow these original experiences to influence your point of view. Conversations with a friend or even a stranger may change your mind. Allow that. Don’t be rigid. Don’t close yourself off to change.
People are generally uneasy with non-closure. But isn’t life one big non-closure? A giant mystery? You really have no clue what your lover is going to do next month. Your job might change next year or be non-existent. Your address will most certainly change but do you know exactly where you’re going?
You don’t have all the answers. Don’t think that you do.
3. Revenge is Not Necessary
I was once punched in the face on my way into a party. It was a sucker shot from a dude I’d never met before and it completely caught me off guard. My hands were full of beer and I could do nothing but eat a fist and watch my teeth drop to the grass. For the first time in my life I wore braces. I did so for over a year.
A week after I was struck we found out the guy’s name and the city in which he lived. Some larger friends of mine offered to take care of this pesky ne’er do weller for me. I thought about it and then declined. I didn’t know why, it just felt okay to let it all go. I had no energy for it.
About four months later I found out this piece of shit that attacked me was arrested for a violent crime and was going to jail for a considerable time.
A realization came to me at that moment. I knew that I would never have to seek revenge. I need not be the deux ex machina in life. Karma is actually a thing. And it’s not some woo woo bull shit coming from energy or a lady in the middle of Earth. It’s just as simple as this: Live by the sword? You will surely die by the sword.
So sit back and let them die. Your attention is better spent elsewhere.
4. Leap and the net will appear.
This is a quote you may see kicking around. It simply means that if you commit to something, the Universe will back you. I don’t know how this works but it does. It’s almost as though nature can recognize a full commitment to a goal, task or lifestyle. Whether it’s a career in art, a startup company, an Olympian marathon — if you are all in, the Universe seems to notice and consequently gives in to your aspiration on some level.
How does it reward you? As Terence Mckenna said, it rewards you by removing the most impossible obstacles for you. It clears your path little by little along the way.
This is why whenever you have achieved anything, the way in which you originally imagined yourself doing it was never how it actually played out. You ever wonder why that is? Well, because it’s not your on-the-ground tactical maneuvers that influence a change, it’s the overall full commitment from you — your mind, time, love and dedication— that moves the needle. The macro over the micro.
So do that seemingly impossible thing you’re scared of. But do it with a full commitment. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve. As Bruce Lee said, “There are no extraordinary men, just regular men with laser focus.”
5. You are what you love, not what loves you.
This was a line in a film I like called Adaptation by Charlie Kaufman. Nick Cage’s character says it to his twin, played by himself with the assistance of some CGI trickery. I recommend the film and the life lessons therein.
“You are what you love”, gives you permission and freedom. It means the world is your oyster, the universe your garden. Life is can totally be what you make of it. You need not seek approval to pursue a dream.
You might be shitty at something. So what? A pursuit may not reward you monetarily, so what? If it gives you satisfaction, do it. If you love it? That’s your reward.
I’m not that great at directing videos, but I do it because I enjoy it. My reward is making something with my actor/comedian friends. I don’t ask for permission, I go out and shoot.
6. Fail more.
This means it’s not only okay to take risks and fail but it’s actually necessary if you’re going to get anywhere near your goal.
Maybe you’re blessed with some super powers and all your goals are easily attainable. But for the rest of us there are try/fail’s along the way of achievement. Depending on how difficulty or lofty the pursuit there may be numerous fails along the way. Therefore the sooner you get to failing the sooner you’ll reach your goal.
So fail. A lot. Fail today. That’s called progress my friend.
7. Floss more.
I wish I’d flossed more as a kid. Brushing I had covered — I did it every morning and night. My parents forced me. But they did not demand much flossing. So I threw that activity right into the bin long ago.
I paid the price for it as well. Turns out it’s actually MUCH more important to floss. Think about it. You brush the outside of your teeth, right? Well, where is the food trapped? Where’s the residual crap hiding? BETWEEN the teeth. This is why flossing is so vital to your dental health.
I urge everyone reading this to floss more. It’s so important. You only have so many teeth and once they’re gone, they’re gone baby. That’s the way it is unfortunately. Therefore take the time and get in there. Deep in there. And if you’re like me and you can’t stand that stringy floss shit that comes on a spool, then get those floss picks. That’s what I use. They’re very convenient and cheap. I buy mine at the dollar store.
8. Don’t watch.
This is a Terence Mckenna quote that means be more of a participant than an observant in life. The sidelines are okay but it’s so much better to be on the court. That’s where the action is anyway.