I figured out the secret…too late.

People around the world wonder what the secret to happiness is. Billions of dollars are spent on books, seminars, therapists, etc. in the search for ultimate bliss. I thought I would never find it. I did all of the things that people told me to do. I graduated college… a few times. I got married. I have three amazing kids. There was one problem. That was not my road. That was not the road that I genuinely chose for myself. My parents, society, and authority figures decided what my path would be. I never realized that my anger stemmed from an inner voice fighting the influence. I was essentially brainwashed.

This may explain why I talk about choices with my children on a constant basis. I push them to do well in school, but not for the same reason as some other parents. I simply know that their success in grade school will determine the amount of choices they give themselves when they turn 18.

I raise them as agnostics. They know their ancestry and are proud of their Jewish heritage. However, they do not attend synagogue or recite any prayers. We have the most amazing theological discussions because of their blank canvas. They know that the choice of belief systems is entirely in their hands. They know that their beliefs may change or evolve. At the end of the day, they have choices.

I impress upon them that I will not be disappointed with them for life choices. Alright, I might not be cool with prison or crack. Other than that, their life is THEIR ducking life. They can have kids, have no kids, stay single, get married, have 20 cats, live in a tiny cabin in the woods, choose any sexual orientation, etc. Why do I want to afford them all of these opportunities? I truly love them. I will not live vicariously through them, nor will I make them conform to societal ideas of superiority.

I want them to enter the adult world with an open mind about everything.

Love your kids, raise them to be kind, show them the world, be honest with them, and teach them that life is their exploration.

One more thing: Why do I say that it is too late for me? Maybe I should not feel that way. However, there were forks in the road that existed. If I were to make a u-turn now, I would find that the road has been destroyed beyond repair. Duck.

Duck It, Here Goes Honesty

I haven’t written in a while. Would you like to know why? Well, I don’t really give a fuck if you want to know why. I’m writing this. You can go away whenever you care to. The greatest writers lay it all out there. Regardless of the genre of writing, honesty seems to be the key to memorable and effective writing. Authors who take chances tend to succeed throughout history. There is one genre that tends to suffer from honesty roadblocks. This newer version of autobiographical conversation referred to as “blogging” is addictive for the writers and the audiences. However, no one wants to read a bunch of sugar-coated bullshit. Blogging became the literary version of reality television. Although, most of reality television is now scripted.

Honesty got me where I am today. Miserable and lonely. I absolutely have zero filters. Over the years, I was told by friends that they appreciated my candor. They were full of shit. People want to hear what they want to hear. Nothing more. Nothing less.

The greatest part about my state of mind and the state of my few existing relationships is that I have nothing to lose. I tried during different phases of my life to change. I attempted to squash the honest, confrontational believer in justice and righteousness. That lasted about 3 seconds.

So, I fight. Fighting is what I am best at. I don’t always aim the fight in the right direction, but dammit, I’m honest. I ruined relationships. I probably damaged my kids in some way. I don’t fight with them, but I have eliminated people in our lives due to the fighting. I haven’t decided if I regret my actions. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I don’t think I could live the life of courteous lies and complacency.

Fake It

I heard a great TED talk recently about how to overcome the overwhelming feeling that you are not qualified/talented enough to reach a sense of belonging. The main theme that I took away from the talk was actually something that I have been saying for years. FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT. I always used it as a joke about various experiences; however, I don’t think I ever took it seriously. Why would I? It is what people say when they don’t have any clue what they are doing. Right?

I decided that I need to attempt to apply this theory to my life. I’m not sure yet what aspects need the most “faking,” but I am pretty sure that there are several that need immediate attention. So, my first “fake” will be to write every day for a year. I don’t know what I will write about, because I never feel as though I have a topic that people would want to read about. That is the point! I am going to fake it. Maybe, after a year, I will feel less pressure in the writing process. It is possible that this will torture me to my core. Only time will tell.

So, if you are currently feeling out of place in your life, whether socially or professionally, try faking it. I don’t know if it will work, but it sounded good on a long road trip surrounded by tumbleweeds and a teenager behind me occupied by her earbuds.

Choices

I have slowly realized that life is stressful because of the amount of choices that we have to make on a daily basis. I see pictures of people in poor communities around the world. The people seem to be smiling a lot more than those I am surrounded by on a daily basis. I’m not talking about the fake smiling that people display to society as part of a societal norm established throughout time to convince others that we are “happy.” I’m talking about the smiles that result from true bliss.

These people are struggling with making sure that their basic human needs are met. They work to feed themselves and their families. They face medical needs with no access to care. They live in homes that seem completely unacceptable to the majority of first-world individuals. Yet, they are smiling. Is it possible that their joy is purely based on their lack of choices? Are they grateful for what they have, because there simply are no alternatives? They need to walk miles to get water. That is a struggle, but not a choice.

As part of a modernized, American society, we face an unimaginable amount of choices. When we were kids, what was the one question adults always asked? “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Holy shit. I’m 4 years old! What the duck? I just chose to have Frosted Flakes instead of a Pop Tart. Isn’t that enough for one day?

My latest personal mantra when faced with stress is, “Well, at least I don’t have to walk five miles through rugged terrain, faced with threats of wildlife or rape along the way, to get a bucket of water that I have to carry on top of my head all the way back.”

I sat for an hour last night perusing through all of the possible media outlets to find something to watch. An hour. I just wanted to watch some television. I became so overwhelmed with the amount of choices, that I finally gave up, and went to sleep. My husband is currently watching, “Locked Up,” in the other room. He will watch whatever is on when he turns on the TV. He will eat whatever is around. He truly does not struggle with choices. He doesn’t even look back at the choices he has made…as far as I know. I am jealous. That seems like a much easier existence.

I, on the other hand, stress about every single choice that I have to make or the millions that I have made! I love sleep, because it is the one period of time during the day in which I don’t have to make any choices. Have I mentioned that I love sleep? That is another topic for another day.

I have 3 kids. I make choices regarding them on a daily basis. I have to decide about their health, education, discipline, social life, etc. Some of those choices are minimal in effect, while some have potentially huge consequences. I think I am realizing that the thing I need to teach them the most is how to deal with choices. They need to learn, not only how to make them in the least stressful way, but also how to cope with the reality that they will not always make the right ones.

“I should have…,” has become so much of my internal dialogue. Maybe I just lacked the ability to navigate through the amount of choices I faced throughout life. It is possible that the problem lies in the fact that I just ponder the alternative for an infinite amount of time.

I have some very big choices to make in the near future. I want to just make those choices with confidence, rather than the constant consideration of the alternatives. I don’t want to look back.

I also want to turn on the television and just be content with watching, “Locked Up.” After all, it is a bit satisfying to know that there is a huge likelihood that none of the choices I have to make will land me in a maximum security prison having to then choose which gang to belong to 🙂 Except, in prison, I wouldn’t have as many choices to make! Hmmmmm. Nah.

So, tomorrow, I will wake up, go to my kitchen, and turn on the sink. I will not walk five miles with a bucket of water on my head. I will attempt to genuinely smile. For now, I will sleep.