Let it go, man

You’ve got to, like, let it all go man. All of that negativity, the hateful feelings and bitter resentments, just – ffwhssshhh! – open your hands up and let them fly away. Get it? Like that was the sound of them flying away, like, if you can imagine they could fly. Because they don’t want to hold on to you, no, you’re the one holding on to them. Does that make sense?

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Great. Because I like to tell people that we’re all on a journey. It’s a long journey, a really difficult one. But at the same time, it’s so simple. Because it’s not about the destination, right, it’s about the journey. Have you ever heard that before? I just heard it the other day, and it makes so much sense. Because, right? The journey.

And at the end of the journey, there’s a path. And that’s the path that we’re all striving for. I think I’m already on that path. Done with the journey, on to the path. There’s a spot for all of us on that path, toward wellness, and peace of mind, and peace. It’s really like a sea. The pathway is an endless ocean of opportunities for calm and reflection and self-betterment.

I hope I’m explaining myself clearly, although, nobody can really explain it. No, you’ve got to, like, live it. Maybe I can use the power of example to better tell you what I’m talking about. OK, when I was in the third grade, it was pizza day, right, and everyone was sitting at that long cafeteria table, and I don’t know how it got started, but all of us started chanting in unison, “We want pizza! We want pizza!”

It was really funny, except, the principal happened to be there, and she didn’t think it was funny at all. She screamed at us all to, “Stop that right this second!” before randomly grabbing me and two other boys and sending us to her office where she yelled at us for like half an hour, about how we were acting like animals, that we should have been ashamed of ourselves.

And I just have to like, let that go man, because that’s poison, right, that shit is toxic. I can’t be a part of that. No, I have to be compassionate and stuff. If this lady wanted to yell at me when I was in the third grade, even though the whole class was doing it, even though it was only me and two boys that got yelled at and not any girls, even though it was so totally obviously unfair the way we got punished, and missed the fresh pizza, that by the time we got to go back down to the cafeteria, everybody else was already outside at recess, and we had to sit there and eat the leftover, cold, gross, burnt slices that nobody else wanted, all I’m saying is, whatever man, that’s in the past, and I can’t be the guy that lives in the past. No, I have to be the guy that lives through the past, straight into the future, which is the present, right now.

Right? Because I’m better than that. And who knows? Maybe she was going through her own nonsense. I can’t tell, I can’t get into anybody else’s head, and I shouldn’t make stuff up. But like, maybe she had a really bad secret gambling problem. Maybe you couldn’t tell just by looking at her, but maybe she went to these seedy underground poker clubs every night, just wasting all of her time and money, always betting on the flop, chasing the river every hand. Who knows, right? And then she comes to work and the sight of a bunch of third graders, sitting there excited for their pizza, it just made her enraged, like how is this fair? That they get to be innocent little kids, all super happy about lunch, and I’m here just barely piecing together this broken shell of an adult life?

And that’s just one potential scenario. Maybe she killed somebody years ago and got away with it. I don’t know. Like I said, you shouldn’t waste any time making stuff up in your head. Who has time for that? Nobody. You’ve got to live in the now. I’m over it, all right? And that was just one example anyway. You’ve got to reach out and grab that inner now. Right, you’ve got to live in that inner now. Does that make sense? Because it’s so simple. A journey to an ocean pathway of peace and serenity. Fwwwhhissssh!

Forget everything you know about golf

“Forget everything you know about golf,” Mitch told me at the beginning of the one-hour golf-with-a-pro golf lesson I won for free when I dropped my business card into a bowl of business cards at the Kia dealer a few months ago.

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“What?” I had to ask the person on the other end of the phone when they called me up to let me know that my name had been chosen as the winner. I didn’t even wind up buying a Kia. And that was a real challenge, walking out of that showroom empty handed. Those guys were out for blood. One of the salesmen was actually walking down the street with me for a few blocks, still convinced that if he could only find that magical combination of words and discounted interior upgrades, that I’d reconsider, I’d turn around and sign my name on that dotted line that was in front of my face even before I’d selected which model would have made for a cool test drive.

“That’s right, you’re the lucky winner of the  Kip’s Bay Kia Golf Giveaway!” And yeah, it’s nice to win something, especially something that you weren’t expecting. I was at work, my phone rang, and the last thing I could have imagined was that I’d win an hour of private golf lessons with Mitch … what was his last name? I can’t remember. He was definitely a pro though. He showed me his pro card before even shaking my hand.

And that was the first thing he said to me, “Forget everything you know about golf.” And I looked at him and said, “Done.” And then I closed my eyes and made an expression like there was something rattling around in my head, and then I opened my eyes and went, “Ding! Golf memories: erased.”

He didn’t laugh, which, I don’t know what to say. I thought that was pretty funny, considering it was totally on the spot. Like I had no idea he was going to tell me to forget everything I knew about golf. And I’m pretty good with jokes, you know, not like a professional comedian or anything, but whatever, mildly funny, that’s probably a fair description. And this was so beyond my regular mild humor, I tried to match his stone cold gaze, but I couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“You done?” he said after a really awkward twenty or thirty seconds.

“Yeah, I’m good, sorry Mitch.”

“All right, well, we’d better get started. Did you leave your clubs in the car?”
“No, I don’t have a car.”

“You didn’t bring clubs?”

“Clubs? I told you I won this, right? At the Kia dealership?”

“But I just thought you said that you don’t have a car.”

“Right, yeah, I just took the subway.”

“So then how did you win this lesson at a Kia dealership?”

“Well, I thought about buying a car, but I didn’t do any research, and you know how the salespeople get you, they sit you down at that desk and start writing numbers down, I knew I was way …”

“All right, OK. How about, I’ll just get one of the loaner clubs from the driving range and we’ll give you like three buckets of balls.”

“And then what?”

“What you mean and then what?”

“What are these balls you’re talking about? Driving range? None of these words make any sense.”

And he looked at me for a second, and then I started laughing again, which, I really wanted to see how long I could keep a straight face this time.

“Mitch, remember? You told me to forget everything I knew about golf?”

And I was smiling and, for a minute, I thought Mitch was going to break, like I’d gotten through to him, like he was going to start laughing any second. But he just looked at me and said, “You’ve got something wrong with you, asshole.”

So he walked away and I didn’t even get those three free buckets of balls. And now Kia won’t stop calling me either, they’re like, “How was the golf lesson? Any thoughts about buying a Kia? Do you want to come down to the showroom and talk about financing? Rob, come on, tell me what I’ve got to do to get you in this Kia. Rob, help me help you buy a Kia. Rob, you’ve got to buy this Kia.” Over and over again, I’m at the point where I’m thinking about getting a new cell phone. But the last time I went to the T-Mobile store I also never bought a phone, and weirdly enough, while I was there I also won a prize, a twenty-five dollar gift certificate to the Sports Authority. That was like four months ago, and those guys just finally stopped calling me. “Hey Rob, how was that gift card? You thinking about coming down and buying a Samsung Galaxy smartphone? We’ve got some great deals on refurbished models that I think you’ll be interested in. Come on down and talk it out. Tell me what I’ve got to do to get one of those smartphones in your hands.”

Windsurfing Groupon

I bought a Groupon a few months ago, it was for these windsurfing lessons, four hours two times a week for two months for five hundred bucks. I was having lunch with my friend Frank when I saw the deal and I asked him, “Hey Frank, doesn’t that sound cool?” I and I was really just saying it to say it. But Frank lit up, his reaction was immediate and enthusiastic. “That looks fucking awesome,” he told me. “I would totally be down to do that.”

Windgirl

And like I said, when I saw the windsurfing package, there wasn’t really any active part of my mind that thought, yes, this is what I want to do, I need to go windsurfing. The only reason that I showed Frank the offer in the first place was because we’d been hanging out for like half an hour, and conversation wasn’t really happening, to the point where we were already lost in our cell phones.

Then when I showed it to him, I’m not even exaggerating, he was all about that Groupon. “Let’s do this!” he looked me right in the eye and I couldn’t help but feel excited. “Really?” I just wanted to double check, and he was like, “Totally!”

The Groupon expired in twenty minutes, and I showed him, I said, “So should I do it? That’s cool? Five hundred bucks?” and he said, “Absolutely, I’ll get you the cash tomorrow.” And I hit the button, purchase. I received a confirmation email right away.

And we sat there for the rest of however long we hung out for and talked all about how cool it was going to be, learning how to windsurf. We wondered what kind of gear we’d need, and so we spent a little time searching online windsurfing forums, learning the very basics about windsurfing, like what to expect our first time out, stuff like that. At one point, he even showed me some windsurfing equipment that he’d found on eBay. He was like, “Yeah man, after the two months are up, we should totally go in on all of the equipment together.” And this guy’s whole everything, his attitude, his smile, it was infectious, I was like, “Yeah! We totally should!”

And then the next day Frank texted me, he was like, “Hey Rob, I actually just took a look at my work schedule, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to make that windsurfing thing happen. But you’ll be able to find someone else, I’m sure of it. That was such a great deal!”

Of course I was pissed off, eventually. At first I was just really confused, and then very disappointed. Because, and it’s really hard for me to admit this, seeing as how everything went wrong so quickly, but I couldn’t even go to sleep that night. I was so excited, just laying there in my bed, thinking about what a great bonding experience this was going to be for us, how from now on, anytime we were bored, we could just head to the beach and start flying across the surf. I even did a bunch of research into storage spots near the water, how much it would cost for us to keep all of our gear and equipment at a location right by the shore.

“Dude, I already paid for this package,” I texted him back, and like five hours later, he sent me a response, saying, “Yeah man, and I’m telling you, you’re going to have trouble picking who you want to take advantage of this unbelievable offer with you!” And for a minute anyway, it’s like he had this way of giving me a mini enthusiasm boost via text message. Yeah, I thought to myself, this is still going to be awesome. “And I can basically teach you everything that I learn at the lessons, so we can still go in on all of that equipment together if you want.” And the next day I got his reply, he typed back, “That’s sounds like something to think about!”

I started calling my friends, trying to sell them on the windsurfing package, but the responses were all nearly identical: “Windsurfing? I don’t know I’m not a strong swimmer. Wait, five hundred bucks total or each? I don’t know, that’s a lot of money. Can I get back to you? All right, I mean, I don’t think so. Maybe, but I don’t think so. Put me down as a maybe. As a tentative maybe.”

It’s like, for whatever reason, I couldn’t capture even a fraction of whatever it was that Frank had that got me so excited about windsurfing in the first place. In fact, the more I tried to recruit someone else, the less it sounded like something that I’d be even remotely interested in. No, I didn’t want to go to the beach twice a week for two months. That’s like way too big of a commitment. And don’t I have a vacation planned between now and then? What about getting out of work on time? Why didn’t I think of any of this before I clicked “purchase?”

I got in touch with Groupon corporate and they were like, sorry man, a Groupon’s a Groupon. I called up Frank but his cell phone kept going straight to voicemail. I was leaving all of these text messages, stuff like, “Man, I can’t get anybody. You need to help me out here.” And he’d respond back like every other day or so, “OK, OK, I’ll figure something out.”

And then, yeah, the day before the first session, he totally figured something out. “Here’s your five hundred bucks,” he showed me when he stopped by my house. “For real?” I said. “Who’d you sell it to?”
“My friend Pete,” he told me. And that was a huge relief. I don’t know why he couldn’t have been a little more straightforward with me, but whatever, I was off the hook, it felt great, like a huge knot had been untangled in my gut.

Only, I was checking my Instagram earlier today, and Frank put up like twelve photos of him and Pete windsurfing. Man, it was like a windsurfing commercial. “Windsurfing is so much fun!” was one of the captions. Another one said, “I think I’ve fallen in love … with windsurfing!”

And yeah, maybe I’m being a little petty, but was it me? Do I not seem like the kind of guy who would be cool to learn windsurfing with, for sixteen two-hour sessions? I sent him a text later that night, “What happened with the windsurfing?” I asked him, “I thought you said you couldn’t make it?” And he texted me back right away, “My plans changed, windsurfing is awesome! You gotta sign up! I’ve never felt more alive!”

And so, I really want to try it. There’s this awesome deal on Living Social right now, it’s three hundred bucks, but you get unlimited windsurfing lessons for two weeks. I could move my vacation days around and work something out. Does anybody want to do it with me? Because Pete and Frank are doing it and it looks so cool. Wouldn’t it be great to be in like a four man windsurfing group of friends? Think about it. Let me know, ASAP.

I could be bigger than Jesus

Lately, whenever I think about Jesus Christ, I can’t help but take note of the fact that I’m about the same age that he was when he started getting really big. Do I think I’m going to overthrow an empire and start a chain of events that will shape world affairs two thousand years from now? Probably not. But it’s possible. And just knowing that it’s within the realm of possibility makes me feel like my life can’t be that bad, that it’s not too late to really make something out of myself.

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And besides, I have so much more going on for me than Jesus did. Like, Jesus didn’t have the Internet. I’m sure turning water into wine was really impressive at the time, but if I found myself in his situation today, first, I’d go up to the host of that wedding, I’d be like, “Come on dude, who throws a wedding and doesn’t buy enough booze?”

And then I’d take out my phone and say, “SIRI, tell me where the nearest liquor store is.” Right? In fact, if I were at that wedding two thousand years ago, not only would I not have been impressed at Christ’s little miracle there, but I’d be worried. “Hey Jesus,” I’d say, “you know we’re living in an age where potable water isn’t exactly a luxury. Maybe two thousand years from now some of the world’s luckier inhabitants will be able to easily draw drinking water from metal pipes conveniently located throughout their houses, but that’s not the case here.”

In fact, I’d venture to guess that most of the people that attended that wedding died. They got blackout drunk on miracle wine and they all woke up the next day totally dehydrated, I’m talking roaring hangovers. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if twenty-something instant gratification JC maybe thought out his actions further than just the present moment.

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” he probably tried to reassure everybody, “just get me some of that leftover wine and I’ll turn it back into water.” And everybody was like, “Are you serious? It’s all gone. You drank most of it. Don’t you remember tying those two wineskins to your hands, insisting that nobody cut them loose until you drank both of them?”

All I’m saying is, history is written by the winners. Or, in this case, by the survivors. Notice that not once during the rest of the entire New Testament does Jesus dare turn anything else into wine. In fact, I think that there’s enough evidence later on that this early miracle actually held him back.

Because what about that time that he multiplied the fishes and loaves to feed all of those people? Again, what was wrong with people back then? You’re going to travel far away from home to the middle of nowhere to see an ultra-popular rabbi on his tour of the Holy Land, and you’re not going to bring food? You’re just going to stand around and wait to starve to death?

My point is, Jesus gave them food, great, bread, fish, delicious. But what about something to drink? “My Lord,” they probably begged him, “everyone’s complaining that, while the food is delicious, they can’t seem to find any water or wine to wash it all down.” And Jesus was probably like, “I … I can’t. I can’t perform miracles on water and wine. I made a promise. Never again!”

I’m just saying, Jesus was a big deal. But until he showed up when he was something like thirty years old, he was a relative unknown. And then he showed up and it was like, “Who is this guy?” just like Barack Obama did, “Yes we can!” Just like me, just like I can, maybe. I’ve got to come up with something, but the important thing is, there’s still time. I still have a chance to change history forever. Who’s with me?

Backyard time lapse

Here’s a time lapse video I made of my backyard over the past few months. I wanted to get the flowers blooming, and then once they did, I figured that was a good enough place to stop.