Pick Your Battles

Last night, I was at a 3 year old’s birthday party at an indoor obstacle course/jungle gym sort of thing.

As I was jumping on the trampolines and playing dodgeball with the kids, I accidentally landed on a trampoline at the same time as a young boy. He was 2 years old and while we didn’t bump into each other, he lost his balance, fell and began crying.

I felt terrible. His father–who up until then was on his phone the entire time–ran up and grabbed him. I immediately started apologizing.

He looked up at me and said: “He’s 2 years old you fuckin’ retard.”

Inevitably, after hearing this reaction, I lost all sympathy. Something strange happens when I sincerely apologize for something I’ve done and the other person doesn’t accept the apology and continues to try to make me feel worse about whatever it was. Maybe it’s a prideful flaw on my end.

I quickly realized that nothing I was going to say would calm this guy down. I needed him to leave. He kept calling me all sorts of insults in his baggy jean shorts and skinny pale arms dangling out of his wife-beater.

“Alright buddy. Have a great night,” I repeated.

As he was leaving the pen, my buddy lost his frustration and stood up to defend me. I was grateful to have a friend stick up for me, but this was not the place to battle. There were kids and parents all around.

I was almost laughing as I had to hold my friend back. He shouted, “You don’t talk to people like that man! He sincerely apologized and you’re being an asshole. You weren’t even watching your kid. You were on your phone the whole time.”

Employees walked up to us. Kids were standing frozen and eyeing us. This was not how I expected a toddler’s birthday to go. With one arm I was holding back my buddy on a God damn trampoline; with the other I was shooing away this white trash adult who clearly had a bad day…

Craziness.

Once things settled down, we finished the party and no one else had any idea what happened. That was a tangible example of the utility of picking your battles.

I’m at the point now where if I absolutely had to, I could physically defend myself against someone with no martial arts training. My buddy has been training in Muay Thai and MMA for years. If it were us against one skinny, clumsy dude…it wouldn’t be much of a fight.

But this was not the time or place to even think about fighting. We were in a kids’ party place. The dude was holding a 2 year old. He was irate. He was an asshole. He was clearly just looking for something to be upset about. Who knows, maybe his life sucks. Based on his first reactions and the way he was talking to me, I knew the only solution was for him to finish blowing off steam and just leave.

There was nothing he could’ve said that would get to me. Objectively speaking, he looked and sounded like a loser. When my pride surfaced and I felt the urge to talk back to him after his disrespect, one of my favorite quotes came to mind…

“Their punishment is their life.”

That guy will probably mouth off at someone else for something minor next week. He’s probably miserable right now. He’ll probably be miserable for the rest of his life. Who knows?

All I know is that he didn’t need me to fan the flames of his shitty personality any further. I also know that next time, I don’t think I’ll jump on a trampoline when there are a bunch of kids on it.

Lastly: The one verbal slip-up I made was when he condescendingly said to me, “This isn’t a fucking playground.”

To which I replied, “Well, yes it is.”

What is Personal Development?

In the past 3 years, I’ve read numerous books, listened to endless podcasts and audiobooks, and had countless conversations on the subject of self-improvement.

Most of these mediums provide mindsets and solutions in their own words, but I think I’ve figured out the core of every page, paragraph, and idea on personal development. In incredibly simplistic terms, here’s how I see it:

To achieve a desired level of fulfillment or meaning, requires some level of work or effort. The problem is, most of us either don’t feel like doing this work, or we are confused as to what work exactly needs to be done.

The purpose of personal development is to work around these two issues: to develop habits and tricks which make us get the work done despite not wanting to; and to figure out the proper steps of action needed to get to where we want to be.

This is all much easier said than done. Work is hard, but we can make it easier. All we have to do is show up every day.

Day of Death

Last night, my buddy and I decided to go out downtown.

It was a lovely evening, but it came with a price.

We stayed up all night. We felt like shit the entire day.

No work got done. No writing. No editing.

Everything is an opportunity cost. To do one thing means to sacrifice doing 100 other things.

There is a feeling of guilt that inevitably follows this.

But there’s no point in feeling bad for myself. All I can do now is pick it back up…and get back to work.

Keep Running

A few days ago, I ran a marathon with my buddy; 27 miles in 5 and a half hours.

It was a euphoric, harrowing, and agonizing experience. Here are the major lessons I took from that run:

The mind plays tricks on us. At no point was I tired in terms of cardio or stamina. At mile 20, however, my legs stopped working. For those last 7 miles, it was 100% mental. My buddy was trotting ahead of me for pretty much the entire remaining 20%. I counted 7 times I opened my mouth to ask him if we could stop. Each time, I was convinced I had to take a break, held my tongue, and realized that what I thought was necessary was merely a mind trick. That’s when I realized that when we tell ourselves we simply have to eat this thing, have to avoid that thing, have to give in to this thing…it’s all a lie of the mind.

You can do so much more than you think would be possible. I would never have run 27 miles on my own. Ever. I wasn’t prepared. I was in pain. I don’t like running…All it took was for a friend to invite me and to force me to keep up with him. If I were alone, I would’ve stopped constantly. I would’ve walked the rest of the way when the pain set in. Toward the end, when things got quiet, I was hoping for words of encouragement. The military man that he is; he just looked back, laughed and told me to keep running. Frustrating as this was in the moment, it was exactly what I needed.

When you’re certain there’s no end in sight, there is. My logical, pragmatic brain knew that at the end of the run, there was my buddy’s car. In it, a cooler of two ice-cold Coors Lights, waiting to be chugged. There was something to look forward to, aside from the sheer euphoria of finishing the marathon. Despite all this, during those last few miles, I was convinced that the pain would last forever. The was no car. There was no beer. We would just keep running. On and on…forever in pain. Again, mind games.

To sum up these insights:

• Be aware that the mind will always bias us toward comfort. Don’t listen to the lies it tells you when you are uncomfortable, fighting, or working.

• Your comfort zone is not only a shitty place to be; it’s so much less than what you can actually do. Pursue things you don’t think you can do. It’s the most rewarding thing you can ever experience. Surround yourself with people who will push you out of your comfort zone for your own good.

“Nothing very very good or very very bad ever lasts for very very long.”
Take this as you will. I take it as the simple fact that life is a constant push and pull, give and take, certainty and uncertainty. Endure the downs and appreciate the ups. It’s the only option. Whatever end of the spectrum you’re experiencing; it won’t last forever. When you’re in absolute misery, just know that somewhere, off in the distance, there’s a cooler with two Coors Lights waiting for you.

Keep running.

How to Keep Your Head on Vacation

Finding a semblance of your routine while you’re on vacation takes quite the effort. I’m currently typing out this blog in a pantry loaded with kids’ snacks next to a window out to a goat pen.

Lovely; but not what I’m used to.

In these two quick first days in Arizona, I’ve realized one crucial thing which must be done if you want to be be somewhat productive while you’re away: You must set clear boundaries with the people/person you’re staying with.

Luckily I’m staying with one of my best buddies. His values and understandings closely align with mine, so he was just as pleased with the boundaries as I was. But if you aren’t so lucky, you must not back down. These boundaries are not meant to restrict you from enjoying yourself; they are meant to free you up to do the things you know will make you happy.

Since I’m incredibly unhappy when I slack on this blog and my daily vlog, I declared my two rules when my buddy picked me up from the airport:

  1. I don’t want to sacrifice sleep. Sleep is the free medicine which affects every single thing we should care about: mood, memory, creativity, clarity, sharpness, energy, metabolism, humor…Getting bad sleep just to stay up and drink or party will just result in us not being able to enjoy the next day as much. Staying up with friends makes me happy; but getting up early with friends, writing, drinking coffee, and making breakfast while full of energy makes me even more even more happy.
  2. I’m prepared to break diet, but my body can’t afford to eat garbage all week. One of the gifts and curses of being a fairly healthy person for a long period of time…is that when you destroy your body with garbage, it will begin to malfunction. When I go on trips, I assume there will be times where I “consume poison,” but when I overdo it for the entire week, there have been times where I thought I was going to have to check myself into the hospital. My blood sugar spikes, my energy drains to zero, my happiness and motivation levels drop to nothing. In other words, sugar and carbs make me happy from time to time, but if that’s all I’m eating, then I become a ball of misery.

When you are placed into an unfamiliar situation or setting, how to you keep your structure? Do you set up boundaries, rules, etc?
Reach out and let me know!

Tucson

Woke up is Tucson, Arizona this morning.

Little sleep. Hungover.

With a good friend for a week.

Arizona…is hot. And gorgeous.

Videos to come.

Day 30: Review

30/30 – As you finish the 30-day writing challenge, what are your thoughts on it?

At first, I enjoyed the automation of writing every day. I’ve been doing it for nearly a year, but after starting a daily vlog, I figured automating the blog would be a relief.

A week into it though, I began to feel bored with writing based on someone else’s agenda. I felt there were things some mornings I wanted to write about, but couldn’t because it had nothing to do with the prompt.

I would recommend someone do some sort of challenge like this; but only to build the habit of writing every day. After that, I’d say just write whatever the hell you want to write about. A paragraph is fine. 10,000 words is fine. Just write, dammit.

On to the regular scheduled programming.

Day 29: 20 Answers

29/30 – On Day 9, you had to write 20 questions you’d ask to get to know someone. Today, answer those 20 questions yourself:

  1. When was the last time you cried?
    This week when I thought my Mom died in a car accident.
  2. What keeps you going?
    Pursuing my values: being the best friend/son I can be, helping others pursue what’s most important to them, doing things I didn’t think I could do, and proving to myself and others that we can create the lives we want.
  3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
    Keep going.
  4. What’s your most embarrassing moment?
    Meeting my friend’s Asian friend, bowing and say “Ohhh, herro!” in a ridiculous Asian accent. I love doing voices and characters, and at that moment I just happened to randomly do an Asian voice. He looked at me with rightful disgust.
  5. What does your perfect day look like–hour by hour?
    Morning routine, edit/post vlog, eat, work, gym, work more or brainstorm, jiujitsu, dinner with friends or event (play, comedy show, etc), evening wind-down, meditate, read, lady-time, sleep.
  6. What would your life look like if you knew you couldn’t fail?
    I would travel around the world with a backpack and a camera and take my daily vlog on the road.
  7. If you wrote a book, what would it be about?
    Getting your shit together.
  8. What are your limiting beliefs?
    I’m not good at business. I’ll never have the business or entrepreneurial chops to successfully create and run my own thing.
    I quit things. I may be super passionate about something now, but when it gets too hard or I get bored of it, I’ll stop pursuing it.
  9. What does the ideal you look like?
    Exactly who I am now, but with better systems and workflow put in place. Also, spending much more time devoted to my mother.
  10. Who do you think of when you hear the word “successful?”
    Joe Rogan. Like him or not, he has completely and utterly dedicated himself to only pursuing the things he cares about most: comedy, UFC, bow-hunting, podcasting, his friends/family.
  11. What are three books everyone should read?
    I just blogged this, but they are: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Deep Work by Cal Newport, and Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.
  12. What is the most overrated thing in the world?
    Oh no. So many…
    Venting, woke culture, marriage, organized religion, passive aggression, talking about things we can’t control, Bill Maher, late night talk shows, classic plays/novels, having amazing taste in music/food/art, texting.
    I have to stop because I’ll turn this into its own blog.
  13. What negative experience–one you wouldn’t wish to repeat–has significantly impacted your life for the better?
    Trying to kill myself and failing. Once I woke up, I realized that my only option was to get my shit together. Since then, said shit is together. It has become one of my core values to do everything I can to prevent anyone I care about from reaching that same breaking point.
  14. What do you do when you feel stuck or unmotivated?
    Fall back on my process/systems. This is what habits are for. Motivation is fleeting. Most of the time, we will not feel like doing the shit we have to do. Habits make it so we don’t have to think about it.
    Other than that, I force myself to exercise–at the gym or doing jiujitsu. This always cleanses the demons out of me.
    This, and working through the Resistance. When I work while feeling stuck, it fucking sucks. But when I make it to the end and I get to say that I accomplished something even when all I wanted to do was lay in bed, I feel like a God damn superhero.
  15. What’s your favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
    Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, avocado. (Cheat: Chocolate chip pancakes/crepes, donuts)
    Lunch: Tossed salad w/bacon, egg, and feta. (Cheat: A BLT or Chipotle burrito)
    Dinner: Salmon or Rockfish with veggies. (Cheat: Sushi, Indian Vindaloo, or Mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes)
  16. Who do you dislike the most and why?
    In a completely apolitical way, I strongly dislike Donald Trump as a person. He acts like a child in conversation. He is narcissistic. He does not care about others. He’s untactful and uncharismatic. He is uninformed and does not care to be informed. He is embarrassing.
    He makes me genuinely laugh sometimes, and most people who criticize him do it in a totally non-productive way…but as a person, I detest him.
  17. If you could have dinner with three people, who would you choose and why?
    Sam Harris–he’s my intellectual idol.
    Andrew Schulz–so we can laugh the whole time.
    Tina Fey–to talk about comedy, bits, and work.
  18. If you could master any skill, what would it be?
    The skill of learning.
  19. You have the Infinity Gauntlet on. What do you do with it?
    (You are God. What do you do or change?)

    Make it so that we physically cannot focus on the things we cannot control.
    Make it so that every single person has overwhelming compassion and understanding of others: no more fighting, no bigotry, no silencing…just support and teamwork.
    Make the planet larger with more resources for everyone to thrive.
    Maybe this would fuck everything up. If so, I’d go into hiding like Thanos did.
  20. When was the most proud you’ve ever been of yourself?
    Every single day I pursue what matters most. Waking up each morning and not staying in bed. Getting up and fighting for my values. Nothing makes me more proud.

Day 28: Afraid

28/30 – What are you afraid of most?

Heights. Being high up, and seeing nothing between the ground and me literally makes my body stop functioning properly. My chest tightens up. The thought of falling and breaking limbs (and not dying; just laying there in agony) makes my skin crawl.

Being a bad father/husband. I know I’m a good person; but sometimes I struggle with genuinely putting others before myself. I’m constantly trying to work on this to remove it from my lexicon. My biggest fear is that I have a family one day and I’m too selfish to truly dedicate myself to them.

Animals that can maul me. Bears, tigers, etc. Not only is this incredibly strong beast beating the shit out of you; it’s eating you alive. No thanks.

I am not enough. This is the most common fear that we have. I’m not bright enough, creative enough, ambitious enough…I know it’s all rubbish. Yet it is forever in the back of my mind. The remedy to this? Taking action on the things that matter most. When you’re actually doing things, you prove yourself wrong. You improve your skills, which improve your quality, which improve your levels of fulfillment and meaning.

As corny as it can sound, we could all gain a lot by just saying out loud each day, “I am enough.”

Day 27: 3 Books

27/30 – What are 3 books everyone should read and why?

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

In this hour-long read, Pressfield masterfully illustrates why it is so hard for us to do the things we know we need to do…Resistance. It is our #1 enemy. It is why we skip the gym, why we hate sitting down to write, why we procrastinate on the projects we need to get done.

You have two lives: the life you’re living and the life you deserve to be living (i.e. the money you should be making, the relationships you want to have, the health you want to experience). The only thing standing in the way of those two lives is Resistance. It tries to kill you every day; and every day, you must unsheathe your sword and slay it like a dragon.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Newport has an almost disturbing ability to be perfectly and mathematically articulate with his ideas and arguments. In Deep Work, he highlights the absolute necessity for long, uninterrupted, and focused work. This includes building, learning, creating, writing, etc.

With whatever we’re trying to accomplish, we rarely have a focus problem. We usually have a distraction problem. Meetings. Chit-chat. Phones. Internet. Social media. News…

To get real results, turn all that shit off, go into hiding, and enter a flow state for a few hours.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

It’s impossible to read this beautiful little book without a smile. If you have ever had an inkling to create anything, Kleon implores you to stop thinking and just start making shit. It may in fact be shit, but you owe it to the world to share your ideas, perspective, and creativity. If you don’t feel like you have any of those things, it’s probably because you haven’t ever tried putting it out there and developing it.

A year ago I started a YouTube channel. I had no idea what I was doing, what it would be about, or what value it would bring me or others. Today, I post daily. I get to share my ideas, and improve my storytelling abilities. It’s still super small, but I can feel myself improving and developing my voice, my style, and my rhythm. Start creating. It’ll be terrifying for a million different reasons; but a year from now, you’ll be glad you started today.

Day 26: My Values

26/30 – What are your values? What do you want most out of life and of yourself?

I want…

• the world to be a better place because I existed.

• to treat my friends like they’re my brothers and sisters.

• to consistently pursue things I don’t think I can do, and show others that they can do the same.

• to feel not only comfortable, but proud, to have my shirt off.

• to be fit and athletic enough to–at any age–hop in and play a sport with people.

• to have open, honest, and respectful conversation with everyone, even when we disagree.

• to be constantly better than I was last week: skills, systems, knowledge, wisdom, etc.

• to, in every interaction, make someone smile, laugh, or think.

Day 25: A Story in 2 Sentences

25/30 – Write the best story you can in two sentences:

Most of us believe we can’t do something, so we don’t try. We prove ourselves right.

Day 24: Your Billboard

24/30 – If you could put anything on a billboard, what would it say?

I have a few…

• “The formula for fulfillment: Try something. Do it all the time. Get better at it.”

• “What good can you do today?”

• “What you are right now is a combination of every decision you’ve ever made.”

I’m also reminded of one of my favorite memes:

“Injured? Go fuck yourself, you injured piece of shit.”

Day 23: What I Would Change

23/30 – What would you change about your physical appearance if you could?

I don’t say this out of vanity. There are plenty of insecurities I hold inside and out…

But there is nothing I would change.

If I felt otherwise, it would slowly creep up and get the best of me. It’s a semi-lame answer but my answer nonetheless so I can avoid overthinking.

Aside from how healthy and fit I am, there is nothing I can do to control the way I look. I’m stuck with the shape and genes I was given.

Obsessing over the way you look is like being offended by the rain. There’s nothing you can fucking do about it.

I suppose some people turn to plastic surgery, but that’s not in the cards for me…

Some things you can control. Some things you can’t.

Day 22: One Word

22/30 – What is one word that describes you?

Interested.

Day 21: Too Much, Too Little

21/30 – 10 years from now, what do you think you’ll regret doing too much of and too little of at this point in time?

Too much:

• Thinking about what others think about me

• Being on my phone

• Procrastination

Too little:

• Deep work (learning, building, creating)

• Filming

• Creating an awesome life for my Mom

Day 20: Out of the Dark

20/30 – What are controversial opinions you hold?

“Do you have any opinions that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of your peers?
If the answer is no, you might want to stop and think about that. If everything you believe is something you’re supposed to believe, could that possibly be a coincidence? Odds are it isn’t. Odds are you just think what you’re told.”

Paul Graham

Oh boy. Here goes…

Most people aren’t meant to be in a life-long relationship. People change their values and evolve and it’s highly unlikely that two people will evolve in a way that perfectly coincides with one another. Most marriages end in divorce; and we all know there are plenty of unhappy, unfulfilling partners who stay together.

This doesn’t mean I’m anti-marriage. It just means I’m anti-marriage if the two partners aren’t absolutely, drop-dead, madly in love with one another.

• We have an enormous problem with American law enforcement; but the problem is not racist cops. The problem is a combination of poorly-trained cops, mistakes, and awful portrayals in the media. I think defunding the police is a terrible idea. They should be funded more so they can train way more frequently, get much better psychological evaluations, and so that our image of cops can be that of respect instead of what it is now. When most people–including myself–see a a cop car, the prevailing feeling isn’t that of safety; it’s of intimidation and fear. All the hard evidence shows us that there is no proof of an epidemic of racist cops, but you wouldn’t gather that from watching nothing but horrible videos of black people being killed by white cops on TV. The media doesn’t tell the whole story, which is genuinely warping our understanding of crime and violence in this country. I also think it’s a problem that any sort of criticism of Black Lives Matter (the movement, not the sentiment) gets you pinged as a bigot or a racist.

The criminal justice system however, provides plenty of evidence that it targets black people and provides them with much harsher sentences. Again, I know racism exists and it needs to be weeded out…but we can’t find it where it doesn’t exist. That is how we backtrack.

Islam is not a religion of peace. I would never make a blanket statement about Muslims as people; nor would I advocate for any sort of oppression or stereotyping. But the statement that Islam is a religion of peace is insulting to those millions of Muslims living under the Qur’an’s unfortunate rules and regulations.

In the harshest-most circle, we have Jihadists. These are extremists and fundamentalists willing to blow themselves up to destroy the infidel. They want nothing more than for the entire world to succumb to the faith.

Outside that circle, we have Islamists. While these folks won’t resort to murder or violence like Jihadists, they specialize in organizing politically in attempts to change the political and social infrastructure of nations. They want the same goal, they just have a different means of getting there.

Finally, outside those two circles, there exist conservative Muslims who hold reprehensible beliefs about women, homosexuals, Jews, and apostates. 21% of American Muslims said in a Pew Poll that 9/11 was “somewhat justified.”

These three extreme circles of the faith make up (from a collection of Pew Research Center Polls) about 20% of Muslims. While there are many many millions of Muslims who would never wish harm upon anyone, who just want to live peaceful lives and wish the same for others…there are a disconcerting number of those who wish for quite the opposite. 20% of 1.8 billion Muslims is 360 million people. This is far from a “loud minority.”

This is not a criticism of Muslims as people. It is a criticism of a collection of archaic ideas which need vast reform in the Muslim world.

• Well, hopefully I don’t lose any friends over this. If you have any issues with any of this, please feel free to contact me. I’m always up for a good-faith conversation! Peace be with you.

Day 19: Thnks 4 th Advc

19/30 – Write a scene of a time when someone older than you gave you advice, and write about how you followed it or ignored it and the consequences:

I remember being on the phone with my Dad growing up. He would often say, plainly, “If you don’t buckle down, work hard, and get good grades in school, you’ll end up working at McDonalds. You don’t want that do you?”

No. Obviously I don’t want that.

Unfortunately for my Dad, I didn’t do any of those things. I shat my way through high school and college. (It honestly astonishes me; the low bar for graduating high school.)

Years after failing out of college, I’ve spent the last few months teaching myself skills online, selling them, running a business, creating my own schedule, and building the life I want to live. This of course–like he said–requires hard work; but it doesn’t require anyone to sit down in a classroom, shut up, put their head down, and get good grades.

In my eyes, the sentiment of such advice is to simply follow the herd. Do what the masses do. Go to school. Get good grades. Get an internship. Get a degree. Get a job. Pay off debt. Pay your bills. Vacation when you can. Find meaning where you can…

No thanks. I’d rather fight and struggle for something better.

Day 18: Something Magical

18/30 – Describe a time in which you expected or wanted to feel amazing, but couldn’t:

This happens each and every time I have accomplished anything. Not that I’m never proud of myself, and not that the sense of accomplishment isn’t awesome…but it is a consistent reminder that we simply have to be happy with the present moment.

There was a time in my life–when things weren’t going too well–where the thought of having $1000 in my bank account would be the equivalent of me being rich. It would’ve solved all my problems, relieved all my financial stress, and provided me the comfort and confidence necessary to focus on all the others things around my life.

Once I got my shit (relatively) together, I eventually got $1000. It felt euphoric…for about 10 minutes. Once the feeling wore off, I found myself craving $2000 with the same vigor as my original want. Eventually, I got $2000. The goal post kept moving. I would get used to what I had and would naturally want more.

Setting goals for oneself is vital. There should be something worth moving toward, even if you never actually touch it. But not because our worth is tied up in what we accomplish. The reason we set out to accomplish things (in my opinion) should be to constantly prove to ourselves that we can.

I don’t pursue anything for the sake of showing off what I’ve achieved or to get assurance that I’m worth something. I’ve learned to love setting out to do things I don’t think I can do. It expands your comfort zone. At the risk of sounding self-helpy, it literally widens the scope of things you think are possible.

Don’t pursue something just to have it. Pursue something so you can learn and make mistakes and grow as a person…

Day 17: Sorry, Ma

17/30 – Tell the nonfiction story that you don’t want your mother to read. You know the one. Don’t censor yourself:

She probably knows this but I’ve never gone over the details with her…

It was midsummer, 2017. A Saturday night.

The previous two months consisted of the complete and utter unraveling of my life. I failed out of college. I had to move back home with Mom. The love of my life broke up with me. I was $70,000 in the hole with student loan debt. And I had no job to begin paying any of it off.

Rock bottom.

Any advice I would want to give myself at that time would probably have been wasted breath. I wasn’t interested in anything. The very thought of going online and looking for jobs made me sink even further into my bed sheets.

Eventually, I began collecting–from friends and relatives–an assortment of prescription pain pills and anti-depressants. Once I felt like I had a decent amount, I drove to the liquor store that Saturday morning and picked up a bottle of Jim Beam.

Californication was on the TV. I thought that if I was going to go out, I want to go out like some idiot rock star; with a bottle of whiskey, and the Stones playing softly in the background…

I woke up two days later with the worst hangover I’ve ever had in my life. It lasted for two more days after that. My Mom thought I was out of the house; probably because there wasn’t a single noise from my room for 40 hours. The way I see it, I was dead for those two days. I had died and come back to life. Though I love the image of a phoenix bursting out of its own ashes…I think the more fitting analogy would be that of Church the cat, being resurrected as a zombie in Pet Sematary.

Assuring my Mom that I was merely feeling sick for those couple days, I was faced with a decision. There were two choices laid out in front of me:

  1. Stay here. Remain in this ditch of a life. Continue to lay in the garbage of bad habits, excuses, and indulgence. Probably attempt the same thing a year from now.
  2. Start taking steps to grow the fuck up. Take action. Do anything that’s not nothing. Start building strong habits. Exercise. Eat well. Pursue things you’re interested in without quitting. Become a great friend and a great son. Be great to myself. Work my ass off to create the life I want to live.

Since you’re reading this now, you know which one I chose.

I’ll end this with an analogy: We’re all writing the book of our lives. The first page is the day you were born. The last page is the day you will die. Every page between those two is your life. Kevin Hart said, “You’re writing a book. What’s your book look like?”

For 23 years, it felt as though someone were writing my book for me. I was the main character in a strange and unfortunate dramady. I would go wherever the author told me to go and do whatever the author told me to do.

Once I woke up in a puddle of my own sweat and saw the empty fifth of Jim Beam through the fog of my eyes, I knew I had to fire the author. I snatched the pen from his hands and said, “Fuck you. I’m driving.”

Things have been far from perfect; but I’ve been the author ever since. And I’m never giving up the pen again.

It has been a slow, progressive culmination of work, doubt, fear, Resistance, and growing pains…but God dammit has it been worth it.

If you have the choice between living life on purpose and being in charge of the pen, take it. The alternative is rubbish if you ask me.

Day 16: Under $100

16/30 – What is a purchase under $100 that has changed your life recently?

Bulletproof Coffee: It has totally enhanced the quality of my mornings. I’m sharper, more motivated, and I can finally drink an entire cup of coffee without dying.

A subscription to Chess.com. I have begun to love chess over the quarantine and this app/site is a fantastic way to learn, play, and have a fun time while doing so.

Day 15: Feel

15/30 – What (specifically) are your favorite and least favorite feelings?

Least favorite:

• Letting down someone I love. Not following through with what I said I was going to do. Not being there for them. Breaking a promise. Hurting them in any way.

• Being anxious about money. Not being 100% certain about how I will pay my bills in the coming months. Tracking the price of everything at a restaurant or grocery store.

• Knowing–at the end of the day–that I fucked off and wasted it. This is not the same as resting. Resting is purposeful time not spent working, and it’s necessary. Fucking off is when you know you should be working, creating, or learning…and instead you do nothing. This is wasted time. You can’t earn it back. There is a guilt and a shame to this that aches.

Favorite:

• That aura of bliss you feel when you’re surrounded by friends and/or family and you’re having the time of your life. Whether you’re all laughing hysterically together, having fruitful conversation, being vulnerable with one another…A feeling of true connectivity is hard to beat.

• Accomplishing something you didn’t think you could do. Surprising yourself with what you are now capable of. Expanding your comfort zone because you’ve put yourself out there and challenged your body or mind.

• Hitting the upload button on YouTube.

Day 14: Top Tips

14/30 – Give your top 5 pieces of life advice:

  1. Take time to learn all the boring fundamentals of personal finance. It will probably suck, but you’ll experience much more long-term freedom and much less stress.
  2. Find something you enjoy doing that’s difficult, do it all the time time, and get better at it. If you don’t have this thing, try stuff out. A year from now, you’ll be glad you started today. (I can’t recommend martial arts enough).
  3. Talk to and spend as much time with your family and friends as you can. When you’re on your deathbed, the connections you’ve made in life will be all that you have.
  4. Give a shit about your health. You don’t have to become an Olympian or a vegan…But exercise at least 3 times a week and eat mostly clean.
  5. Spend intentional time thinking about and planning what you want out of life and out of yourself. Write down your goals, what you want your life to look like, what value you want to provide others…The more time you spend in a clear state of mind, the more likely you are to affect change toward those values.

Day 13: Interview a Famous Person

13/30 – What are three questions you’d ask someone you admire?

Dear Sam Harris (author/philosopher),

• While logically speaking, free will is an illusion…should we not live as if free will exists? i.e. Shouldn’t we act as though we can make choices on our own and are responsible for these choices?

• What are you probably wrong about?

• When was the last time you spent an ungodly amount of time lost in thought?

• (Will you come on my podcast/will you be my dad?)

Day 12: Vacation Postcard

12/30 – Write a postcard from a vacation you would like to go on:

Mom,

One month into living in Buenos Aires and I may spend the rest of my life here. All my needs are met and then some.

The country and people are beautiful. I’m learning how to speak Spanish fluently. I’m learning how to dance (slowly). Every day, I get to make films, meet people, and explore the city. I’ve found a jiujitsu gym where I can roll almost every night. I’ve made friends and have gone on adventures with them. The steak is delicious. The wine is delicious…Come visit so you can realize you should be living here too.

Much love.

Dill

Day 11: Halo in the Snow

11/30 – Describe your perfect childhood day:

Mine is simple and easy to remember. It was March 2nd, 2008; my 14th birthday.

I remember it clearly because it was the only snow day we had that year. I knew exactly how I wanted to spend it: walking to my best buddy’s house, sitting on his couch, and playing Halo 3.

We partied it up the only way 8th graders know how: drinking Mountain Dew, eating kettle-corn popcorn, and laughing and cursing quietly so his mom wouldn’t hear us.

I love getting older and experiencing all the benefits which come with age, but it’s always lovely to reminisce over simpler times. Back then, there were no real stressors. No real responsibilities. The only problems we faced were hoping that people liked us and figuring out whose house to play at.

Good times…

Day 10: What Will They Say When I’m Gone?

10/30 – How do you want to be remembered?

As…

• A kind, curious, respectful person

• Someone who pursued the life he wanted and helped others do the same

• Someone who was easy to be around–laughing, smiling, conversing

• A guy with a growth mindset

• A dude who when he wanted to do something, just fucking did it

Day 9: 20 Questions

9/30 – 20 questions you’d ask to get to know someone:

  1. When was the last time you cried?
  2. What keeps you going?
  3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
  4. What’s your most embarrassing moment?
  5. What does your perfect day look like–hour by hour?
  6. What would your life look like if you knew you couldn’t fail?
  7. If you wrote a book, what would it be about?
  8. What are your limiting beliefs?
  9. What does the ideal you look like?
  10. Who do you think of when you hear the word “successful?”
  11. What are three books everyone should read?
  12. What is the most overrated thing in the world?
  13. What negative experience–one you wouldn’t wish to repeat–has significantly impacted your life for the better?
  14. What do you do when you feel stuck or unmotivated?
  15. What’s your favorite breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
  16. Who do you dislike the most and why?
  17. If you could have dinner with three people, who would you choose and why?
  18. If you could master any skill, what would it be?
  19. You have the Infinity Gauntlet on. What do you do with it?
    (You are God. What do you do or change?)
  20. When was the most proud you’ve ever been of yourself?

Day 8: Working Backwards

8/30 – Work backwards from your someday goal to what you can do today:

Someday: Support myself with my content.

3 years: Cultivate an audience.

1 year: Develop my skills as a filmmaker, editor, and storyteller. Get really good.

6 months: Create consistent videos and be active in the community.

1 month: Stick to the daily vlog and explore the possibilities.

1 week: Create a film I don’t think I can make.

Today: Write out the outline for it.

Right now: Set up the camera and lighting and start recording.

Day 7: Your Creativity

7/30 – When do your creative ideas come and how do you collect them?

Any creative idea either comes from the ether; or I have molded it from something else: something I’ve read, heard, or seen…

I have a tiny notepad to jot down my ideas for the daily vlog. Creating a movie a day requires something fresh every 24 hours, and I usually have fresh motivation only once every week. This means I need a process of coming up with new, interesting stuff. I can’t keep repeating myself or keep doing the same things over and over.

Any other idea for a video, newsletter, business excursion, quotes, etc…I type these out in the Notes app on my phone. It’s beautifully organized and its voice dictation does a flawless job.

In the end, I try to focus on the verb, creating; instead of the noun, creator. Calling myself a creator seems egotistical. If I’m truly a creator, people will know by the stuff I’ve created.