Steve Martin said that when he turned 60 his long term goals turned into his short term plans. I think that’s sound advice for everyone. Is there something you want to do in the future? Well guess what- you have no idea what that future is going to look like. Do that shit now.
When facing an existential crisis, you have to focus on things that give your life meaning. That’s what my therapist told me. “Am I having an existential crisis,” I asked him. His reply was, “What do you think?”
I’ve been thinking about doing stand up again. Don’t worry. I’m not. Whenever I think about doing stand up again I know it has nothing to do with telling jokes, it’s simply my brain telling me I need to be performing. It’s so difficult, writing something, performing it, having it go well. I feel like I had my mettle tested. I feel like I’ve been through the fire. I feel like I’ve come out the other side.
The older I’ve gotten the more I realize I need that challenge. I need that rush. My therapist telling me I need to do things that give my life meaning was just a reiteration of how I felt.
Stand up is just the fastest way to get a fix.
I sat in my car, after that therapy session, wondering about what brings meaning into my life. On a normal day I would have been able to come up with lots of things. But being asked that question right to my face, I was drawing a bit of a blank.
I told Jaimie about what my doctor had said. She put the question to me again. “What gives your life meaning?”
I took a long pause.
That’s the first thing I said. Which was weird because I’m not really an outdoorsy person. I’m not a camper. I’m pretty sure I could charge admission for people to watch me put up a tent. It’d be like watching Sisyphus push the rock up the hill. Expect with that at least he knew what he was doing. Watching me put up at tent is like watching a giraffe play the piano. Or Stephen Miller try to pick up a woman. Things that just aren’t physically possible.
Jaimie thought the statement was odd as well. But it’s the first thing I said, so I guess it must mean something to me. If I’m not outside at some point in the day, I feel like I haven’t done anything. I feel like I really haven’t lived. Whether it’s my daily walk or sitting on the beach or lying by the pool on a summer afternoon. I love the sunsets. I’d love sunrises if they didn’t start so early. I’m obsessed by the moon and the stars. If I come back in a future life I want to be a tree. How cool would that be? Just to be a tree, in the middle of some woods, reaching up to the sun, giving people shade. Stretching as tall as you possibly can before some developer comes and rips you to the ground.
What else gives my life meaning? Jaimie, obviously. This crazy, fun, magical life we’ve built. “Apparently not as much as being outside she said.” I threw my arms in the air in mock defeat and called her the most dramatic human being alive.
All my relationships bring meaning to my life. Unfortunately I live so far from most of my friends that spending time with them is increasingly difficult. Luckily I have some family close and spending time with them, no matter how stressful it can occasionally be, brings me great joy.
And the writing. This here. Putting something up everyday and having people read it. Having people get something from it. Comment on it. Sharing it with their friends. I don’t know what I would do without that instant connection withy fellow humans. I’m grateful to live in a time when this is possible.
There’s more though. I know there is. I have no choice but to throw myself into ten with reckless abandon. It’s my doctor’s orders.
So more is what I’m going to do.
Long term plans are now short term goals.
What are yours?