Super Saturday: A Life-Changing Incomplete Thought

I published this post on December 22, 2011. It’s something that I need to remind myself of just about daily now. Since I’m doing lightyears better since four months ago, I want to be out doing things. It often feels like my life is on hold. I’m waiting for that magical moment where I’m teaching again like it’s going to be the life-changing thing. I think it’s the journey of recovery that is actually the life-changing thing.

What if we woke up one day and someone told us that all of the stuff we were doing in preparation for that really important life-changing thing was the really important life-changing thing?

That’s a little confusing.

Let me put it another way.

You might be busy building a social media platform, training for a marathon, dating in an attempt to find a life-partner, getting a degree for a job, starting a business, or starting a movement. Currently, I have a couple of things like that on my plate. I am trying to get a degree. I am starting a student organization on campus. I am trying to build a platform as a blogger. And it’s hard. And a lot of time, I think my real effect on the world will happen when I have my degree, when my student org is running by itself, and when I have over a thousand people following my blog.

There’s a really great war novel I once read where these soldiers are training for war by using video games, but you find out in the end that the video games were the war.

That’s how life works. The life-changing part happens while we are trying to get to the part we think is going to be life-changing.

Super Saturday: Life Is Like a Box of Titleists

This post was originally published on November 13, 2011. Today, less than four months after my accident I am golfing!

I like to golf. A lot. My dad’s a golf pro and so I’ve grown up around the game. My dad likes to say that everything in life can be related back to golf. Being a 20-year-old college kid, I like to roll my eyes at that, but the truth is that everything does kind of relate back to golf. Take for instance trying to find a golf ball. Sometimes, you hit an errant shot, and you have to figure out where your ball is. Over the years, I’ve developed a skill that makes me pretty good at finding golf balls. Here are some of my strategies:

1. Observe. This one seems really simple and stupid. It is simple, but it’s not stupid. No one likes watching bad shots. But bad shots are the most important ones to watch. You know where a good shot is going – straight down the middle. A bad shot, though, can go anywhere. But a lot of people will turn away in anger and stop watching. And then they wonder why they can’t find the ball.

Sometimes the time to take the most diligent notes is when we know things are going horribly wrong.

2. Don’t be afraid to dedicate the majority of your time to the place where everyone first looked. People tend to have really good instincts. And so if your playing partner thinks he hit the ball near the 150-yard-marker, but then starts looking near the 100-yard-marker, chances are, the ball is closer to the 150. I always feel like a jerk when I am searching 50 yards further back than the guy who hit the ball. But when I find it, it’s all worth it.

Focus on the basics. Sometimes ideas are abandoned too quickly.

3. Gain perspective. Sometimes the most useful thing is to stop looking for the ball, and climb up on a hill or climb down a hill. Looking at the same area from a new perspective is incredibly helpful. Sometimes the grass is covering the ball from one angle. But it might be completely in sight from another.

Taking a creative break is almost always a good idea.

4. Be confident. The pros almost never lose balls. This is because they have scouts, but those scouts aren’t literally everywhere on the course. They have to watch the ball just like everyone else. Part of the reason the scouts are so successful is because they are closer to the ball’s destination and because finding the ball is their only concern. But the main reason I think scouts are so successful is because they are confident. They have a ten-foot by ten-foot area they think the ball is in. Not a 50-yard by 50-yard area. That makes things really easy.

If you are 90% sure of something, it’s probably best to go against the rest of the group even if it makes you look like a lone ranger.

5. Know when to cut your losses. Knowing when to give up the search is a talent in its own right. Some people stop searching too quickly. They find their original ball after they have already put a new one into play. Others search too long for a ball that is probably in the water. There’s a happy medium. The key is to have a healthy realistic understanding of the world. Not too pessimistic but not overly optimistic either.

You aren’t always going to find what you want, but that’s okay. Take it in stride.

Super Saturday: To My Brother Upon His Graduation

This post was originally posted on May 29, 2012. When I read it a couple of days ago, I felt like the paragraph about making each day better than the last speaks to me now. I try to be better every day–always improving.

To my brother and (if they feel like reading) the class of 2012,

You have done it. Congratulations! Thirteen long years have resulted in a diploma. Here are some things you should know.

First, a lot of people are going to try to give you advice. Don’t pay attention to it. Maybe that makes me sound like a jerk. But here’s the thing. One, you should probably pick and choose the advice you follow anyway. And two, at the end of the day, you aren’t going to follow advice. So I’m freeing you from it. Just make up your mind now. At some point in the next part of your life, you are going to remember the words someone wrote on a graduation card to you, and you are going to ignore them. Revel in it.

The next part of your life is not the best. The last four years of your life were not the best. Life should be lived somewhere where you are trying to make each day better than the last. The last day of your life should be your best. You still have some ways to go.

Don’t buy into the real world/childhood dichotomy. You have been in the real world for a while. Thirty year olds still watch cartoons and play video games. Seventeen year olds are beating cancer. Think about that.

Always act as if you have a ton to learn. When you are an expert in something, you will know because people will want to learn something from you. Until then, ask a lot of questions.

Remember that for four years, you mostly got along with a group of 300 something people. That’s amazing. I’m lucky if I get along with a couple of people every week. Remember that no matter how much you disagree with someone, they were a teenager once, too. They once struggled awkwardly through a first kiss and stayed up too late on a school night and tried that thing with the Pop Rocks and the Coke. Believe in humanity.

As much as you can, stay away from anger. All anger will do is make enemies out of friends. There are already too many enemies in the world.

Sometimes, you won’t be able to avoid anger. When that happens, remember that you are angry at ideas, behaviors, and situations not at souls.

Find something to believe in. Believe in it wholeheartedly. If it turns out you are wrong, believe in something else.