Today is my birthday, and it’s been a great year. I am happy. I’m not worried about anything too serious. I’m healthy. My family is healthy. This year was full of new experiences, travel and personal growth.
Last year I had three themes that I wanted to weave into my life: vision, generosity and friendship. While I don’t feel that I’ve grown dramatically in any of these, I sense that I’ve sewn these values into my life in little ways that add up. I wanted to take a moment and speak to each here.
Hard to define. Easy to know when it’s missing. I think vision is the invisible line stretched between our dreams and our accomplishments. The biggest evidence of new vision is that I’ve purposefully stepped away from full time work to independent consulting and contracting. It’s been a huge increase in quality of life to work from home (or wherever), define my own hours and chase new projects. It’s stretched me in new ways and helped me get a better sense of my current strengths and blind spots. I’ve been thinking more about my kids’ paths too, and realizing that my own sense of vision is critically important to help them develop their own. I could go on about that in another post.
I’m talking about generosity of all resources, not just money. I have been on the receiving end of extreme generosity all my life, and I want to learn to be instinctively more generous in every situation. I think generosity and empathy are extremely complimentary. One of the roadblocks to my own actionable generosity is my thrifty DIY lifestyle and personality. I like to accomplish, build and experience as much as possible while spending the least amount of money as I can, often at the sacrifice of comfort, time and efficiency. But really, why is it important to be generous?
Have you ever had someone who has almost nothing cook you a meal or offer you help or comfort? I have, and it’s transformational. Some of the most generous people in the world are those who know what suffering really is. True generosity builds the bridges (sometimes literally) between our hearts and minds as people. Generosity is part of grace. It gives us the opportunity to invest in amazing stories that are not our own otherwise. It expands our perspective and ultimately comes back to us in one form or another. Am I more generous than I was a year ago? Maybe a little.
There’s a fire coming that we all will go through
You possess your possessions or they possess you
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need when I got you by my side
-Switchfoot: If the House Burns Down Tonight
Last year I took stock of my really close friends that still live in LA. Total count: 0. I have a few good friends here, but not like I used to. I realized that I used to draw my closest friendships from the pursuit of music. There is nothing that will build (or destroy) a friendship like a common goal such as a record deal, business venture or some other soul crushing, near impossible venture. For me, tight friendships have always been natural byproducts of these kinds of common goals and interests, and never really required intentional investment. Now that I’m working mostly from home and playing less music (at the moment), I know that I need to be more intentional about friendship. Over the last year I’ve been more purposeful to take time to meet regularly with 2 or 3 friends and keep those great conversations flowing. I think that friendship isolation is a natural product of raising a family and advancing in career. That’s probably why most people say that they never found friends like they had in college, and those lucky few people who are able to live near and maintain those kinds of friendships are a lucky few.
I hope to make some great, long lasting friendships this year.
What will be the theme for this coming year?