I’ve got a short list in an Excel file on my home PC, saved to my cluttered desktop on an adjacent tab to my weekly grocery list — a carefully-curated grocery list which includes items like “hydroponic tomato” and “organic wildflower honey” and “sheep’s milk cheese” and “70%+ dark chocolate.”
It’s 6 names. In 6 cells.
It’s a list of people I would unequivocally, without blinking, say “yes” to if they arrived soaked on my front porch, carrying a rose and a bottle of wine, and asked me to spend an afternoon with them in a traditional Japanese Tea House.
This might shock you, but I currently call none of them my girlfriend, and if I did, I wouldn’t need an Excel file for the other 5.
That’s not to say I am a lonely, Nicholas Sparks-level lovesick fool pining for the warmth of a woman to ease my insecurities. I’m out every night. Canoodling. Creating. Living *life* broooooo. To the fullest.
[Earmuffs, everyone.] Hell … this might also shock you, but I sometimes don’t go home alone. [/End Earmuffs]
But nights spent in quiet depravity amidst the cacophony of everyone are hollow victories indeed, like a hole-in-one with no witness, or stumbling through a marathon you intended to run, or successfully polishing off The Wire in two weekends as your boxes from a recent move lay still full and scattered across your bedroom.
“If you do what you’ve always done, then you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” — Henry Ford
Today, we’re often led to believe that to become more successful, we must lean in and do more. When we often find ourselves getting less than the results we want, we’ll add more activities. We cram a 30-minute run, or an extra foreign language immersion class, or a night of volunteer work into our already overflowing itineraries. And we explode in a supernova before fizzing out like a red dwarf. Maybe we got a little closer to where we wanted to go … but now we’re huffing and puffing and the race course is rapidly closing. If you’re already busy, this is counterproductive.
The hardest part of success isn’t working for it … it’s clearing a spot for it once we’ve done enough to bring home the gold. Paring and pruning down to our most essential, our non-negotiables. That which brings us life, light and love — and nothing else. This is not minimalism … this is foundationalism.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein
People think emptiness is a lack of things. It isn’t. Emptiness is really just a lack of space for things you want.
Your life, like your home, is finite. Time. Energy. Love. Attention. These are exhaustable resources held in (mostly) immalleable containers. Imagine: You work your ass off and scrimp and save to buy yourself a new couch. You can’t just drop it in your studio apartment and call it chaotic chic. You have to toss off or sell the old one.
Now is the time to make room. Throw out the old couch. Toss the old mattress. Play whack-a-mole with your Facebook friend list. Don’t continue to entertain the possibility of a man wanting to ask you to craft a brand platform for free when you know damn well your time’s worth at least $40 per hour. Don’t undo an hour of crossfit with six Bahama Mamas. Oh, and maybe cancel your plans on Saturday so you have an open evening to catch up with a certain someone you find intriguing. Keep what you love and take a 6-foot, 4-inch machete to all the rest.
Too many minutes, dollars and words are wasted on doing sub-optimal shit with sub-optimal people while our dreams float away like balloons into cumulus clouds.
You’ll never find true love without making room in your heart for it. You’ll never truly connect with someone spiritually if you’re out there smashing everyone who smiles back. You’ll never enjoy quiet company if you never let a moment breathe. You’ll never get what you want until you stop doing what stands in the way.
What will you do with all that extra room? Stretch out. Get cozy. Create. Explore. Relax. The real joy in life is about to begin.
By saying goodbye to what isn’t successful, you’re saving a spot for success when it arrives, soaked on your front porch, holding up a boombox playing Peter Gabriel saying, “I’m here. I’m in the mood for tea. Maybe later, mind if I crash on your new couch?”