Know where you’re going before you start.

Great advice, but most of us are already well past starting. We are in the middle of our journeys trying to pay bills or save for a vacation or trying to get our kids through school or thinking about shopping for a baby shower or graduation we’ve been invited to.

Not only are we in the middle of our journeys, we are in the middle of a whole bunch of little things that make our journeys really distracting all the time.

If I could have everyone do one thing – like, force them to do something – I would mind control everyone I know to take a breath and forget all the distractions and forget the journey and forget where you’ve been and forget who you are and forget what you should want and decide what kind of life you want to live.

When I did this (and then mind controlled Mr. Brickie to do it) we realized our priorities weren’t stuff-based.

I have friends who have priorities that are stuff-based and you know what, that’s FINE. There is no better or worse life for a person. Really.

This is what confuses me about life. The value judgements where we all have to do what’s best or better or good or bad or worst or … why does everything need to have a value judgement? Video games over hiking? Or letting kids watch television vs. playing sports.

Does anyone know what they LIKE anymore? I mean outside of a value system more complex than a google algorithm. Hemingway didn’t worry about running a 5k, did he? YES I picked the worst example on purpose because it doesn’t matter what your values are if you’re suffering from untreated mental illness now, does it? Ha! See what I did there? Bait and switch! So smart!

Trying so hard, right?

I mean people who are working on computers all day are feeling superior to fast food workers. I wish I had that Tumblr response to how fucking pointless Excel spreadsheets were a minute ago but serving food is eternal in some way. It was deep, man.

I guess I just think we’ve all allowed someone, somewhere to tell us what we should want and how we should want it. Sure we all swerve from the script in some way or another whether it’s in the bedroom or on an online forum. I mean, this isn’t an easy thing. Not everyone can do it.

But from over here I just want to tell you, if you can be honest with yourself and you determine what you really want based on what you like and what you find important? It’s worth it. I don’t feel bad about living in an apartment. I don’t feel bad about how much money my husband makes. I don’t feel bad about WRITING anymore.

I want that for you, too.

If you already have it let me just give you all the virtual high fives in the world because man, there’s nothing better. We grilled mini meatloaf meatballs and mushrooms and chunks of colored peppers and ate them at a kitchen table in my living room while talking about video games before my kids went on their bikes and scooters to go play at the park while I write this.

Maybe I’m not saying this the way I really want to because I get a bit emotional when I think about it really hard.

Knowing what you don’t give a shit about is the most important thing in the world. It opens your choices like when you try to open a yogurt and even though you’re being really careful it just spits yo-goo-rt all over you. You have a spray of goo choices when you just…let go of the things that don’t matter to you.

So you start with your list of NO MORE THIS and then you take your list of YES PLEASE THIS and by the time you’re done, you have a picture of exactly what you want.

Then you just have to be willing to lose everything to get the life you really want. You might not have to go through a foreclosure and online beg-fest to get to your happy place. Or you might have to go through something far worse. Your mileage may vary like WOAH.

Isn’t the rest of your life worth a few awful years?

I think so, but I’m talking from the very edge of the other side. The first steps into sunlight after years in the dark and cold loneliness of failure and fear like a prison of regret and self-hatred. Those steps with your feet in the grass of hope and you look up and realize the reason you hated the sunlight for so many years was because you felt the brightness of the sun was mocking your mistakes and you preferred the rain because it was soothing.

The place where I can finally enjoy the sunny days (in theory, don’t get crazy now, I’m blue eyed and hella pale, the real sun is my mortal enemy) in addition to the rain and the overcast days.

Sure, things will still come up. Emergencies will happen. Our emergency fund will get used and need to be replenished. Winter will come and Mr. Brickie will be out of work again. We will have to balance side jobs and sports and game clubs and other after school activities.

But this summer there are camps and friends and bikes and parks and freedom.

It only takes a moment to start. It’s worth writing down what you don’t care about so you can open the portal to the place where things you really enjoy can exist. It’s like a houseplant no one can kill, no matter how not-green your hope thumb is.

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2 Comments on Notes From The Other Side of Darkness

  1. Wow Jenny. You had me hooked from the first paragraph. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this advice. I’m kinda stuff based and I think that’s okay. I’d be — well, I’d be a nervous wreck if I had to keep a super-strict budget or do without. Having said that, I’m finding the things I spend money on are *experiences* I LOVE doing things. But I’m also learning that we can have just as much find riding scooters (the kids) and drinking beer (the grownups) in the driveway as I can doing anything that requires loads of money. Where am I going with this? I’m not sure.. but… You’ve got it. You really have it here. And it’s beautiful. So so so so happy for you, girl! 😀

  2. Well, this hit home for me! I actually apologized to my mom last month for not giving her much to brag about to her friends. (Yes, I’m 50 and still worry about what my mom thinks.) I mean, my brother makes 6 figures, has a huge house and the perfect family. Then there’s me. 😛

    What got me thinking about that was all the people who share their pride in their kids’ accomplishments (rightly so) and that kind of take credit for their kids’ success. I thought of my own kids, both struggling through adulthood but also both awesome people that I love with all my heart, and then thought of how my mom must think of/compare me and my brother.

    When she was here for a visit we talked about it and I said, “I know I don’t have much to brag about, but I am so happy — I have everything I need, and I enjoy every day here. I appreciate my life.” And I found out my mom doesn’t give a shit about ‘stuff’ — she just wants to see me happy, which is my main goal for my own kids.

    And ‘stuff’ is okay too — as long as it makes you happy, man! 😉

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