I’ve always been about “becoming”, striving, trying to shed what I didn’t like about myself in order to become that better person and experience the good life. Well, It occurred to me the other day that I’ve lived a great life already, and I can officially change modes.
I can officially change from not being happy with myself and my life and constantly striving to “fix” it (which violates #1 in my three most important rules of life) to simply building on something I’m already 100% content with.
Here’s what I have, or have had, in my life that I’m thankful for—not in any particular order:
- A loving family and great upbringing.
- Great friends from my childhood, the military, university, and my professional life.
- Wonderful family to go and visit when the chance is available.
- The opportunity to hire and work with a large portion of my best friends.
- The chance to work in an interesting field that I find enjoyable.
- Being able to work at a job where my ideas are respected and implemented.
- Having been in love only once, to a woman I’m still with, who I actually plan on growing old with, who I enjoy more than anything in this world.
- The ability to share my thoughts with thousands of people over the last ten years through my website.
- The luxury of having dozens of books on a flat tablet that I can read pretty much whenever I want.
- The ability to drink a cold glass of filtered water whenever I want.
- Having seen some of the world–Egypt, India, Israel, Canada, Japan, Mexico, England, Scotland, …
To put this in context, I’m not happy with my progress thus far. My main project, my website, is a cluster of poorly organized half-thoughts. I’ve not been published as an author. I’ve not mastered philosophy or political science or anything else that matters to me. I’ve not done public debates to help people shed superstition. I’m not a respected thinker on any scale that registers. Or, in other words, in terms of what I’d like to achieve, I’ve accomplished about 10% of it.
That’s my old mode.
My new mode is realizing that the 10% that I have experienced (see the first list above) is absolutely wonderful, and that I’d be a selfish pile of dung not to realize this and appreciate it.
Basically, I’m no longer just thankful for what my life can become in the future. I’m not just thankful for the opportunity that I have going forward. No…I’m thankful for what I have had, and for what I have right now.
Another way to say this is that if I had to die tomorrow, or two years from now, I wouldn’t panic. I wouldn’t say, “But I haven’t lived!” Instead I’d say, “I’d like to continue on, but I’ve lived a good life, and I’m happy to go.” Now, keep in mind, I would likely be emotional and would likely not be able to maintain that perspective, but it’s what I would be thinking were I able to.
Anyway, I’m not entirely sure why this is useful information to have, or to share, except two reasons:
- This is strongly tied the concept of happiness in the moment. If one is unhappy with his life, and is constantly thinking about that life being good in the future, but not now, then they are not properly appreciating the gifts they currently have.
- If death does come to me before humans transcend death, which is sadly pretty likely, I think I can go a bit easier knowing at a key level that I had a good life already–that it’s not as if I hadn’t started or didn’t do much of what I could have.
This doesn’t mean I stop progressing, or that I rest on whatever I have achieved. It only means that were I to be unable to achieve any more, I would not consider it a failure.
I feel I should mention what I am most happy about in my life. They are, in order:
- Spending my life with Susan. I’ve had the opportunity to live deeply satisfying romance with only one woman, and I don’t see us parting ways. We’ve been together nearly 20 years, and nothing in this world compares to holding her.
- Enjoying my friends. Seeing them thrive. Helping them when I can. Interacting with their ideas and their humor. Sharing thoughts and plans and smiles and tears.
- Pursuing and sharing knowledge. The ability to read and study and learn is truly a gift to me, and I cherish it. Being able to collect that knowledge, and build upon it with my own interpretation and perhaps even my own original ideas, and then share it with others—hopefully for their benefit—is absolute euphoria for me.
If I die tonight while I sleep, or I never die because I get uploaded into the grid and find a way to reverse entropy—either way—know that I am thankful for these things. Know that I am happy.