Not just the gaps in the publishing schedule, but the key to the journey I’ve unexpectedly found myself on! Here’s to a lifetime of health and freedom!
Welcome, and thanks for checking out my new show! The thing I want most in the world is to connect with passionate, authentic people who are living lives on their terms.
This is the kickoff overview. More to come soon!
That’s (approximately) how many people who woke up this morning are going to die unexpectedly today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. I won’t get into the math in detail, but it’s about 10% of the total number of people who die each day. Nine in ten of those people reasonably expect it. They know it’s coming. But for 16,020, it’s going to sneak up on them.
Not everything I write on this blog is going to be morbid or maudlin. Today is just a day that does that to me. When you lose someone close to you, especially someone younger, completely unexpectedly, you end up wondering about things that may never have entered into your mind before.
What if I’m one of those 16,020 today? What if, like my sister, I woke up today feeling fine, optimistic, full of hope? What if I have plans and goals and dreams, but I’m not just “finishing up the backstory in the novel of my life, going through that transition where you see the protagonist finally seize agency”? What if I’m on the last page? In the last sentence? What if it ends like this?
What’s the story so far? Is it one I’m proud of?
She asked me once, just before my 27th birthday, whether I was where I thought I would be by the time I turned 27. She had just turned 25 a few weeks prior. I had to answer with a question, though, because it makes a big difference:
Where I thought I would be when I was what age?
Seven-year-old me probably thought I would be exploring space, bumping elbows with aliens, if I’d even been able to imagine 27, and if aliens even have elbows. That kid would probably have been pretty disappointed in my 27-year-old life.
But 26-year-old me? Suitably impressed. Twenty-six-year-old me understood what 8-to-25-year-old me had time to learn about my life, and how daunting and overwhelming it felt a lot of the time to try to overcome it. And honestly? Looking back at 26-year-old me now? I was actually pretty naive then too!
While there’s some degree of value in meditating on how I’ve lived up to my own expectations, I think sitting in that misses the point:
Am I treating my body and mind with the respect and care they deserve? Am I investing my time, however much of it I have left, in things that are important to me? Am I loving the people I love without hesitation and without restraint, but with humility and openness? Do I face my mistakes with courage and repentance, and make plans not to repeat them?
If I’m going to die today, there really isn’t anything I can do about that. There’s really only one question, in that context, that I can do anything about:
Am I going to LIVE today?
Yes. Yes I am.
I want to do this so much, and at the same time, the fear is borderline overwhelming. Like, I get anxious and start rocking back and forth just thinking of actually sitting down and doing the writing, of testing out the recording, of actually taking any action to try to move this forward.
But self-awareness is a skill I’ve had cause to practice with a lot of intention, so I can’t just let it be like that. I have to analyze why. And as I’ve looked at it, it occurs to me that I’m probably not alone in this…
…which is ironic, because the main fear I’m feeling is the fear of being alone in this.
I’m afraid that I’m going to pour my heart and soul into writing, publishing, talking, interviewing–being brutally honest about the things I really care about, in all their idiosyncrasies and weirdness, in this hope that, by so doing, I’ll finally find these connections I’ve spent my whole life looking for–connections with people who are passionate and striving and even desperate to live their unique little unrepeatable lives–and I’ll find out there’s no one out there.
I’m afraid I’m that weird, that maybe the things I want out of my life are so far outside the realm of “normal” or “sane” or even “acceptable” that, if I tell the truth about them, I’m going to freak people out and even the people I do know are going to stop talking to me.
I’m afraid that, when I rock this boat, it’s going to destabilize enough things for enough people that they get angry and push me out of it, and then I’m afraid that I won’t know how to swim.
I’m afraid that if I tell the actual truth about the relationships that have already been in my life, if I acknowledge things like being happy or feeling relieved that some relationships that had previously been important to me have come to an end, that the other people in my life, the ones I love and do sincerely find fascinating and trustworthy and honest and authentic, will either think that I include them when I’m intentionally a bit vague, or just decide I’m fickle and that they can’t or shouldn’t trust me.
Not starting this would allow me to keep living in the world where my dreams are always theoretically possible. It allows me to keep up the belief that everything is fine and really the only reason I feel lonely sometimes is because I haven’t met very many of the people who see the world like me…not that there aren’t very many of them, or that I’ll never find them, or that even if I do, they won’t like me back.
It would let me continue to imagine this hypothetical future life that’s full of connection and cooperation and relationship and achievement, because I’d never actually test it in the real world.
The thing that ultimately drives me forward is that I KNOW that “someday” isn’t just going to materialize out of thin air. If I don’t do anything about it except sit and think about how nice it would be, there’s no way I’ll ever get any closer to it.
Instead, if I actually do the things I’m passionate about, if I do explore my interests and read new things and write about things and publish a podcast and eventually interview interesting people, that’s how I’ll eventually end up connecting with people. I have to do the kinds of things a person like me does in order to meet the people who are doing the things a person like me does. Does that make sense?
I’m going out looking for the people who are living their radically authentic lives, whether or not anyone actually approves of them or validates their ideas, so I have to do the thing I really want to be doing along the way. And this is what I really want to be doing. Learning new things and writing about ideas and ultimately connecting with people who have found their freedom link and broken out of the chains that held them back from being themselves.
I guess it’s ultimately pretty paradoxical, if you think about it. I’m afraid of doing the thing that might lead me to my goals, but the fear of doing that thing definitely prevents me from reaching my goals.
Which I suppose is why my fingers are on this keyboard!
Why launch on December 29, 2020?
I’m launching this project on December 29, 2020, because December 29, 2017, was the most important day of my life.
It’s weird to say it that way. I’ve thought of that day as a lot of things before, even a lot of superlatives, but I don’t think I’ve ever called it the most important day of my life. It’s probably only now that I’m even able to see it in that light.
On December 29, 2017, one of the brightest lights I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing, and seeing by, went out. My little sister, 29 years old and 34 weeks pregnant, died suddenly from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. The emergency room physicians delivered her little boy by emergency C-section and were able to restart his heart, but he had been without oxygen for about an hour and never recovered brain activity. He passed away six days later, January 3, 2018.
If I’m really honest, sometimes it still doesn’t even feel real, still doesn’t feel like it ever could have happened. There’s a part of my brain, even three years later, that cannot compute that she’s actually dead, that I can’t ever see her again, that I can’t hear her voice or see her smile or listen to her laugh. I can still smell her hair. How can she be dead? I know her voice nearly as well as I know my own–heck, better, maybe. My own voice sometimes sounds weird to me when I hear it.
That day turned my whole perspective on the world inside out. Everything I thought I knew, like that the world was beautiful and made sense and was full of love–I couldn’t see it the same way anymore. I won’t pretend it compares to losing a child. I don’t have any. I literally cannot imagine what that must be like. But, not having any children, it was the worst loss I could imagine, and it’s still something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
You’ll never meet her, but you have to know something about my sister: She was extraordinary at finding the beauty and strength and ability in people, especially when it wasn’t easy for everyone else to see. Ever since she was a little girl, she had wanted to be a special education teacher, and she did that for several years before switching to preschool, where her well-trained eye was able to spot opportunities for early assistance and intervention to assist children who might otherwise have been left behind.
She loved HARD. She loved everyone hard. That meant she wasn’t afraid to get right in your face and challenge you on something when she was sure you were wrong, but it also meant that she would celebrate whatever was a win for you, regardless of how it stacked up to what anyone else could’ve accomplished.
She celebrated and brought out the very best in people.
Her little guy, during the six days of his life, despite never taking a breath under his own power, brought peace and even joy into the worst situation any of us who loved him had ever been in. To anyone who met him, held him, sang to him, read to him, or prayed for him, he was the most beloved little light shining in what was otherwise an unbelievable, enveloping darkness.
They didn’t live lives people will still be talking about hundreds of years from now. She was a suburban schoolteacher, wife of a youth minister. She spent most of her time just engaging with her school and church communities, loving into the lives of the people she knew there.
But I think if you had told her shortly before her death that she was about to die, she would have been content with her life. I mean, sure, absolutely, there were things she was looking forward to with tremendous anticipation, and she would have been devastated that they were not going to play out like she had dreamed and hoped, but I think she would have been satisfied with the life she had lived. She was deeply herself. She had loved well and been loved well. She knew what she wanted and she did the hard work of accomplishing and becoming those things.
She lived a radically beautiful life, in all its simplicity. And her son brought more peace to chaos simply by being present than I’ve ever done with all my words.
So I’m starting this today to honor them, to honor their lives, to try to live up, in my own way with my own spin, to that example of being completely myself no matter how many days I get to live.
I only hope, by the end of my life, to have loved that well and lived that honestly. So I begin today.
(For privacy reasons, I’ve chosen not to publish their names at this time. If and when you know me, I will be happy to share them with you.)