Though I don’t know all the ways of the world, these ten things I’ve found to be true.
1.) Drink water, preach protein:
“Respect your body. Eat well. Dance forever.” -Eliza Gaynor Minden
Cut out the junk. Drink water, tea, coffee (if you have to). For breakfast, especially, eat foods that are high in protein. Fast food does NOT count. Be kind to your body. Do yoga, go running, take your meds on a regular basis if you’re prescribed. And if you’re misdiagnosed, go see a doctor that knows what he’s actually doing. The wrong pills will poison you. And, if life gets really rough, you go right ahead and reach for that dark chocolate. Oh, and a good Merlot doesn’t hurt either.
2.) Travel often and in good company:
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” -Anais Nin
Find yourself in the foreign.
I’ll never forget the moment I stepped off the train in Paris. I was filled with the most indescribable feeling; I won’t even try to put that awareness…that sensation…into words for you. It was one of the most beautiful and exhilarating emotions I’ve ever had the chance to experience in life. I had promised myself, only two months earlier, if I could survive this…if I could make it out of the lowest low of my existence…then I would let myself, deeply and emphatically, live. And, when I finally stood upon the cliffs of Normandy in France the next day, I knew I had survived. I had climbed out of the canyon. Surrounded by two of my closest friends, I gave myself the greatest gift that could possibly be given in life. And do you know what that gift was?
So go see the city. Swim in the ocean. Drive through the country…roll down your windows, 90 mph, and blow your speakers out with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.” Learn to live in a way that makes you feel alive.
3.) Accept that you are only human:
“Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth. ” -C.G. Jung
How lucky are we to experience the good with the bad? To beg for forgiveness? To feel all that is hatred? To be completely and unflinchingly rejected? To pound our fists into walls and push our fingernails into our face, regretting and apologizing and threatening?
We are all young, in some way or another, and we are all still learning.
Some of us are riddled with disease and some of us are destroyed by disorder. And, more often than not, we are empty. For example: You will break some, perhaps many, people’s hearts…and this will change their lives forever. But know, in turn, that someone will also break your heart…and from that it may never heal. But we get to feel these things, these horrible feelings of loneliness and embarrassment, so that we may appreciate the profound feelings of love and belonging. Your mistakes, your remorse, your inability to change the past…these things mold us and carry us down the road of life. And, somehow, we end up in a place much more lush and breathtaking than before. Patience is key. Remember that the universe will take care of you…it will talk to you…if you have enough courage to listen and let it happen.
4.) Pick a personal religion:
“I have a simple philosophy: Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. Scratch where it itches.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth
Everything happens for a reason. Every, single thing. And, for those things, I am accountable for manifesting. That is where my personal philosophy begins.
Some people leave our lives forever and some people, the ones we didn’t think we initially needed, stay throughout the seasons. Some clouds settle over our lives and scattered rain falls down on us for decades. But just remember…YOU are the only one held accountable for your actions, and you will be the only one to answer for yourself at the end of your life. You absolutely cannot imply that another person or higher being dragged you toward your destiny. Once you have realized this, then will your life take the direction you want it so badly to go.
5.) Be passionate about your power and potential:
“Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.” -Charles Bukowski
If you’ve never heard the graduation song, Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) produced by Baz Luhrmann, then you’ve never heard the line: “Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you.” And this is, so very much, true.
I was composing concertos in 2nd grade, though I didn’t have the confidence or self-discipline to pursue the piano. I started reading and writing at an alarmingly young age, yet it took me until my junior year of college to finally share my work with others. Do NOT rob yourself, and others, of your gifts in this same way. Pay attention to your talents. Cultivate your craft. If you’re good at painting…paint your life. If you can play the guitar…start a band. Create products of your potential and grace the world with them. Be confident, be inspired and be inspiring. Even if money is tight, go broke on your abilities. Push yourself. Don’t squander large pockets of your life on things or people that will take you nowhere. Go somewhere that not only makes you happy, but brings joy to the lives of others.
6.) You are a product of your generation:
“Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die.” -François Truffaut
YOU are a representation of your era. Learn to love the music, writers, directors, films, and artists around your age group. Get to know your parents and your relatives. Trace your family history. Learn to love the past with the same vigor with which you face the future. Watch the news, mourn with your country, volunteer when help is needed, read the newspaper, subscribe to your favorite magazines…find a way to BE HERE, in the now. Be a walking testament to the ways of the world…the times and the tribulations, the people and the progress. Tell your story and listen to the stories of others. You are an embodiment, a protest and a pattern…be proud of that.
7.) Find your anchor:
“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” -Helen Keller
Regard your friends as your family; for your nuclear family, by blood, tends to have an obligation to you. But your friends don’t need to stay in your life…they choose to do that. So take a few bullets for them. Keep those alive who have died. Write thank-you notes for gifts AND good deeds (preferably handwritten). Treasure the times spent with those who have cleared the canyon with you. Find your anchor in others and, in turn, anchor yourself for them. For the wake of life is wild. Sometimes you’ll find yourself above the wave, and sometimes you’ll find yourself below. But, every now and then, you’ll ride it…and you won’t ride it alone.
8.) Make peace with the past:
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” -Lewis B. Smedes
One of my mother’s and my favorite films is Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Godfather.’ AMAZING movie and equally as amazing book by Mario Puzo. In the third film, Michael Corleone says to Vincent Mancini (his nephew), “Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.” I’ll never forget that line.
Hate will consume you. It will age you. It will eat you alive. Hate won’t even spit out your bones…but it will, most definitely, ruin you. There is a time to be angry, especially when what angered you is fresh, and there is a time to make peace. For some things and for some people, you should fight. For everything else, you should let go. This I know to be true, though I, myself, have yet to master it. We are all learning, expanding, hesitating…I just as much as you all. For this I wish all of you, as well as myself, the fortitude to fight without fury.
“Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.” -Wavy Gravy
Life is hard. Don’t make it any harder than it needs to be. Be serious, of course, when the time is right to be so. But laughter, deep and authentic laughter, is the key to a long life. Don’t be THAT PERSON who is easily offended. Laugh at yourself. Laugh in the company of others. Laugh at life…or you’ll never get out alive.
10.) Get to know yourself:
“There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming.” – Shauna Niequist
One day you will die, and everyone you’ve ever loved…they, too, will die. Maybe you’ll be mourned, maybe you’ll be forgotten. On the road of life, you will walk through the season of death many, many times. But one time, soon or far away, you won’t be able to again cheat it. You won’t evade your ending. How do you want to be remembered? How will your legacy live on? What will speak for you when you, yourself, can no longer speak? Get to know yourself…your flaws and your strengths. Your beauty and your ugliness. Be many different people, if you must. Be solemn, if that so suits you. But always be all that you could ever be. That is the goal…the destination…of your alignment with the universe. Be whatever it is you so choose to be…but be that with all your might. Because, as Joseph Campbell says, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”