On Being Wrong About Fears and Weekends

My roommates, Rob and Rachel, went to Japan for ten days. Score! Free apartment. But then everyone else left at the same time too. Czar moved to Pittsburgh. Steph went to SXSW. Cait went to Hawaii with her family. Fuck me, right?

Luckily, it gave me plenty of time to think and that's kinda my thing. And it's kinda not. With coffee as my only weekend plan, I knew I needed something to do. When it came to imagining the ideal weekend (if there is such a thing), I kept burning myself by the same fire. I'd end up staying safe and caffeinated, paralyzed by the need to make a decision among the infinite.

I'll bet I'm not alone. Or at least that's the idea personal development giant Tony Robbins offered on The James Altucher Show recently. Robbins reminded me there are fears we all share about cheating spouses or going broke or losing loved ones. Robbins' distinction is that these fears are not reserved only for you. We share them. Robbins described them as problems of the mind, not your mind. We can individually experience them but if we don't identify with them, we don't make them real. They are just problems that exist, thoughts that float through our thick skulls.

Once I could wrap my head around that, it was an easy jump to face the fact that doing something is better than planning the ideal and doing nothing. Lo and behold, the weekend filled up. I chatted with Jenn on Skype for a couple of hours. Watched and rewatched the new restricted Atomic Blonde trailer. Took a train to San Francisco and bought Scott Adams' God's Debris at a $1 book sale. Went to the local beer garden and tried to make conversation with strangers instead of looking down at my phone. I wrote emails to people I haven't talked to in a while. And I watched a bunch of episodes of The League for the thousandth time because it still makes me laugh out loud. 

It still feels ridiculous that it took me so long to figure out. I felt like I was taking crazy pills. The reality is that human nature is all about fucking up and learning from it.

Take it from Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs. He would know. Instead of becoming a cardboard host for a dynamic and highly entertaining show, Rowe got his hands dirty doing the actual work. What better way to host than to roll up your sleeves and get dirty? He embodied the apprentice. He tried the jobs and learned something new every week. 

Being wrong is a consistent reminder that we're human. No one escapes it. Sometimes it just takes a few weekends to sink in.

In Rowe's TED talk, Learning from dirty jobs, he reflected on just how wrong he could be. He learned his lesson herding and castrating lambs in Craig, Colorado. When faced with the unpleasant job and more than one way to do it, Rowe had a flashback to his classics course in college. He shared with the TED audience the term "peripeteia", the moment in great ancient tragedies where someone has a life-altering revelation, that moment of realization that you've been wrong all along. As Rowe recalls, peripeteia is the moment when Oedipus learned that the hot older woman he was banging was his mom.

I won't spoil Rowe's revelation, it's not worse than that. I'll share my own. California has been my peripeteia. I think I did it wrong and that's okay. I've been here about a year and a half and things did not go as I expected. Only recently, though, could I breathe a sigh of relief admitting to myself that it was not for me. It was an experiment. It's not the place I want to stay for years to come. And now I can say that. Cause I tried.

Am I 1000% sure? Nope. Could I have tried harder to make roots here? Absolutely. Will moving back to New York solve all my problems? Absolutely not. Trying doesn't mean you eliminate the fear or the thoughts that carry it, trying just means you have more experience to draw on when making the next decision.

Until next time,
I explode into space.