I spent the entirety of last week at a seminar in NYC, the Big Apple, or just New York. It was a seminar that asked me and the others to work hard at seeing our lives in a much different way.
It was five days of grueling self examination of 55 years of evolving and moving into a certain place, way and style of thinking. I came into the week very skeptical that anyone could teach this old dog any new tricks when it came to how I see and interact with the world.
Talking politics was banned for the entire week as well. I cannot tell you how refreshing that was. This is coming from someone who has loved politics and spent his entire adult life immersed in it in one form or the other.
But the combination of forcing us to look anew at how we see the world, our place in it and a vacation from discussing and worrying about what Trump was screwing up this week was pretty damned invigorating.
Sure enough, the world kept spinning this week. Trump kept on screwing up and the Powerful Republicans continued to enable him. And the Republicans who supposedly know better, (I am looking at you Susan Brooks) just put their heads in the sand. But you know what, I didn’t spend time worrying about it. And it was grand.
The jury is still out on this seminar and whether it will help me, or more particularly, the people who are forced to interact with me. I do have a couple of thoughts from it for you to ponder that are actually profound and universal. In the end we all die, and what we make of our time left is largely up to us. What we can actually affect in a long term way is largely pretty small. So when we make the choice each day to wake up and face that stark reality, what freedom should that give us? Whether we win a political battle, get a project done or write the most perfect column will almost certainly be lost into the void. Yet we will still try to do those things. But what if we do them just to do them rather than worrying about whether the project turns out to be a success, or the campaign ends in a win, or if the column is well received? What if we did them because we felt it would be interesting to find out what happens next but not invest in any particular outcome? Is that what it is to be free, and to lead a life with a lot less stress?
These are interesting questions and ones that I am trying to wrap my head around.
Does more creativity happen? Does focus get lost, or does it help to crystallize focus? Is life more fun? Is this classic midlife crisis thinking? Does 55 years old even count as “midlife?”
I don’t know the answer to any of those questions but I do know this: It seems pretty apparent to me that it is fun and challenging to exercise the brain “muscle” by looking at things from a completely different vantage point. It might be interesting to see how this turns out.
Let me leave you with this amazing quote from Helen Keller: “Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
Thanks to Tracy Goss, for that quote and the week.