Chapters

It doesn’t matter what chapter we’re on, it’s most important to know what type of story we’re in. Although we can’t control much of what happens, we do get to determine the genre of the story of our lives, because we get to choose how we live through what happens.

Dodge Avoidance

We learn from failing. In order to fail, we have to embrace the idea of bracing for impact. For that’s what affords us the opportunity to get back up and try again. If we choose to spend our time dodging obstacles or avoiding what we fear, we are really choosing to allow our minds and experiences to be stunted. We’ll grow old and gray while our minds remain adolescent and inexperienced. Avoidance is no fountain of youth, it simply creates mountains of ignorance that obstruct an enlightened view.

Ready Player 1

Growing up with old video game systems provided lessons that newer gaming with expansive and seemingly endless worlds and environments to explore don’t afford. If we wanted to get to Level 2, we had to first beat Level 1. They had a linear, point A to point B, design that forced players to figure out how to succeed past where they were getting stuck before moving forward. Getting stuck in life is no different. Continue anew until we get through the obstacle. There are no cheat codes to circumvent our own stucks.

True Gist

To get the gist of something colloquially means to get the basic idea of it. However, gist is defined as “the substance or essence of a speech or text,” or “the real point of an action.” Synonyms include: essence, substance, quintessence, crux, nucleus and marrow. A far cry from having a basic understanding! We tend to feel that knowing a little about a lot of things somehow makes us cultured or well-rounded. But look to experts in any field and the opposite is true; they tend to know a great deal about very specific things.

Experts spend time gaining a deep understanding of the fundamentals through trial and error in form of practice, experimentation, inquiry, study, discipline, passion, curiosity, and/or experience. There’s a lesson here. Before we pride ourselves on our intellectual breadth, let’s first be sure we understand the gist of our intentions.

Cupidity

We’ve all been told not to covet what others have, and we all know that feeling of desire. However, have we ever stopped to consider if our past selves would be covetous of the lives of our present selves? If the answer is “no,” then it’s likely that we don’t actually feel covetous because we truly know the difficulty of the work that went into our current lives. Hard work tends not to get envied as much as its fruits. If the answer is “yes,” then we are probably motivated by the wrong things.

The Nielsen Ratings of Life

Performance is defined as “an act of staging or presenting a play, concert, or other form of entertainment,” or “the action or process of carrying out or accomplishing an action, task, or function.” We can consider every day we live as a performance; not for the sake of entertainment, but as vocation. If we choose to look at our life’s work as self-employment (the state of working for oneself rather than for an employer), then our focus is inward in regards to our performance evaluations. If we only look to the audience for validation, letting their applause or boos judge who we are, we are missing the point of performance: self-expression. The more honest our self-expression, the less we concern ourselves with viewer ratings.

Immaterial

Smiling when life is good is equivalent to a shopping spree when we have a little extra money in the bank. It’s nice, but neither are a measure of true wealth. Wealth is defined as “an abundance of valuable possessions or money.” However, the most valuable “possessions” are not material; they are “things” such as integrity, courage, reason, choice, kindness, compassion, and empathy. A smile is a wonderful asset, and holds even greater value when possessed and proudly displayed by those looking up from the ground.