2018 and The Loss of Desired Outcomes
In the recent film “Lady Bird”, Laurie Metcalf’s character says to her daughter Christine (Saorise Ronan), “I want you to be the very best version of yourself that you can be,” to which Christine replies “What if this is the best version?”
Are we really so bad as we already are?
There’s a superstition in the self-help world that has spilled into the greater conventional wisdom Western society has adopted about goal setting, and I see it everywhere around New Year’s. Namely, it’s that we have to become something other than what we are to have the experiences or get the things that we say we want to have. We say we have to get “aligned” or “wait til we get into the vibe”, and though there’s some merit to those things, we take it to a ridiculous level to backhandedly justify inaction (“I’m waiting to get aligned first”).
Physics (Newtonian physics, anyway: I’m told quantum physics is more sensitive) doesn’t care about how good or shitty of a person you are.
Want some life coaching? Here it is: If you do the thing that reliably leads to the thing you want happening, then you’ll get the thing. If you don’t do the thing, you won’t get the thing.
There, that’s your coaching for success.
(That’ll be $3,000, please. I take PayPal).
It’s that simple, And it has nothing to do with who you are on the inside. Broke, unsuccessful, but good people can sometimes scrounge up enough money for a dream vacation or a house just as much as successful assholes can. Both of them still have to book the ticket and pay the down payment.
Beyond who you’re being, the world operates on laws that have nothing to do with who you are as a person.
And yet, every year for the past few years, it’s been “New Year, New Me”.
How about “New Year, Same Me who does things differently”?
My 2018 Resolution? No more striving to become, just being who I am.
I’m tired of being told that I need to improve myself. It implies that parts of me are deficient, which is true, but ignores the parts of me that are perfectly adequate, even brilliant. The great part of who I am is enough, so that’s enough. Growth and change happen regardless of intention. I will evolve even if I stop trying to evolve on purpose. That’s enough for me. I’m enough for me.
No more hustling. Hustle’s not a lifestyle I want. Hustle is simply and only a rate of speed your actions sometimes need to reach in order to get specific stuff done that requires that pace. Hustle’s just one tool in the toolbox: I have no interest in making a lifestyle out of using screwdrivers, so why would I make hustle a way of life? It’s not always what I need to fix the problems I’m currently facing. Hustle fixes some things, slacking fixes others. For real: taking time off not only rests and rejuvenates me, but helps me work out solutions at my own pace. I do whatever actions are required of the goal and situation I’m dealing with in my work.
No more fretting over my body. Outside of medical advice from a doctor, I’m just gonna eat whatever I want when I’m hungry, and stop eating when I’m full. I’ll exercise when my body tells me, sleep when it wants to. No more comparing myself to actors and bodybuilders. I am enough.
Finally, and hardest yet, I’m going to let go of desired life outcomes. For years, I’ve had a subconscious blueprint that at 37 years old, I should own a house, have a wife, a job, and kids. More recently, I’ve envisioned a freelance lifestyle of residual income drawn from stuff I’ve published as a writer, or money I’ve made working remotely from home. I’m letting go of those, too, and letting the stream of life carry me where it’s gonna take me, deal with the stuff as it comes.
This doesn’t mean I won’t desire things, but I will recognize that much of that is out of my hands, and that’s all right. No more beating myself up over things I can’t control, because my seminars and books have conditioned me to think that I should be able to control them, either through Law of Attraction stuff or some bizarre ontological philosophy that says my results are a function of anything other than action and circumstance. Life sometimes means you don’t get what you want, and that’s fine.
A Buddhist my uncle once spoke to said that a simple finch, common in these parts, wakes up every day with no idea where it’s going to find its breakfast, and it usually gets fed. And if it starves, that had nothing to do with its nature as a finch, but factors outside of its control. Though there’s always a time for planning and organization, hustle and high performance, there’s a certain relief, followed by contentment, of just dealing with life as it meets you. It’s not about the loss of desired outcomes, but losing my attachment to them, even the ones I want.
In that spirit, I can’t say that my whole year will be like this, but at this very moment, one of the first in 2018, my resolution is to be content with what’s so. To just be as I am. Everything else is negotiable, and not necessarily up to me.