If the sky is the limit, I am sixty floors closer to reaching it.
My heart is beating the sweet sound of achievement. I’m standing on the top of the world and I’m looking down. I see people disguised as ants. I see dirty rooftops. I see cars stuck in traffic. And I see the fall that soon awaits me.
I don’t want to fall. But I will fall and it will hurt because life is nothing like skydiving. There is no parachute and there is no feeling of reassurance from having a professional strapped to your back because there is no professional. There is only you, the amateur, and that’s all there ever will be.
Life is full of ups and downs and you must be strong enough to break the fall.
I keep repeating that line over and over again. Hoping my brain listens. But I know I’m not strong enough. But I push that thought to the back of my brain and place it in the container that overflows with all the other thoughts I want to forget.
But it doesn’t fit. And then the salty water of heartbreak fills my eyes and blinds my vision. I look down once again with blurry eyes and see them. I see the people. They look so small, but I know they’re all running around with problems that seem so big. I feel for them. If only they could see what I see. Maybe then they would take a deep breath and relax and smell the roses for once. Maybe then they wouldn’t run through life so fast. But all that is irrelevant right now.
Right now is all about survival. It’s about surviving the fall. My grandma always told me, “what goes up, must come down.” And she’s right. She’s been right my whole life. I don’t know where elderly people buy their wisdom from but I’ve never shopped there before.
I don’t have much wisdom. I just run on gut instincts. And right now my gut instincts have led me astray.
They have led me past the edge. And then it happens. I’m free falling once again. But unlike last time…I’m falling from an even greater height.
My mind goes blank. And nothing matters anymore.
I know how this goes. I’ve lived this day before.
Sometimes it feels like I’m seated in front of a TV and every day is a replay of the day before. But it’s not…because I don’t have the privilege of pressing fast forward on all the pain and sorrow and heartbreak that awaits. Or maybe life is a TV show and all the pain and sorrow and heartbreak are the commercials I must endure and sit through.
But there’s no way to know and plus it doesn’t matter because the people below me are slowly becoming bigger and bigger and bigger. The bigger they become, the closer I am to my demise.
And then my body hits the pavement. My muscles weep in pain and my bones shatter and shed a thousand silent tears. If death had a face, it would look like mine. But that would be too perfect. I wouldn’t mind death right now, but life never seems to give you what you want…when you want it.
I’m still alive.
I look around and nothing has changed. The bottom of the world looks just how I left it. People are running around with brief cases in hand and with urgency on their faces. They don’t notice me and why would they? It’s 9 am and it’s the start of another workweek.
I could lie here on the pavement for years and years and years. I want to curl up in a little ball and watch the world move by me. But there’s no time for that because I have the luxury and the burden of having gone through this before. And I know how it goes.
There is nothing left to do, but to pick myself up, bandage my bruises, dust off my mistakes, and begin anew…and climb right back to the top of the world.
It starts with this post. It starts with detailing the lessons I’ve learned from the things I’ve been through. The tips and tools to the thing called, life.
If I had to write a post to my nephews and nieces, this would be it.
Below is the ultimate cheat sheet to life.
A) What is the world’s greatest lie?
“Everyone believes the world’s greatest lie…” says the mysterious old man.
“What is the world’s greatest lie?” the little boy asks.
The old man replies, “It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
The old man is right. We never lose control. We just become too afraid and scared to take control. I still feel scared. Maybe tomorrow I’ll become fearless. But maybe not.
B) What is the best way to make money?
C) How to deal with your loved ones dying?
There were nights when I had to lie to myself and tell myself that they were asleep and one day they would wake up and come back to life. It was the only way I could get through the night.
I knew it was a lie and they weren’t going to come back. But I was tired of crying…so I lied to myself one more time.
I wish I had an answer to this question, but I don’t. It’s been years and I still can’t deal with it.
D) What’s my greatest regret?
While I was sitting in airport terminals, or out and about trying to create a ding in the universe, I neglected the things that matter the most.
I come home and look at my mom. Her face looks so different. Age. It has come. My dad shares the same fate. His heath is slipping away. He’s losing weight with each passing month. It hurts to see.
I chased success and achievement and money my entire life. And now I look back on my adolescence and it’s gone. And my friends and family and relatives are slipping away with it.
E) Should I go to business school?
No. Throw your textbooks in the garbage and start a business. Life is the real school of business.
At least that’s what someone told me. A very wealthy somebody.
F) What is God?
God is in the smile my girl wears. God is in the tail my neighbors dog wags. God is in the dirt my shoes walk on. God is in the book you get lost in. God is in the goose bumps your arms feel. God is everywhere.
Life is god. Or maybe…god is life? Shit…I don’t know. Next question.
G) What’s one thing I wish I knew from the start?
I feel like laughing, but I start to cry…because my heart is on fire from the realization that I am living a lie.
Happiness comes before success. Not after it.
H) What is love?
When you can see the beauty of a tree, then you will know what love is.
I) How do you cope with loneliness?
I was standing in a crowd full of people, but I still felt alone.
My mom wrapped her arms around me, but I was still freezing from the cold. It’s been awhile…since I felt warm.
I spend most of my days alone. At the office working or at home working.
I don’t chase dreams. I take dreams and turn them into reality. And when they come alive, I come alive…and I feel warm.
J) Who should I depend on?
My grandma would wake up at five in the morning and she would pack me lunch. Sandwiches made with love and affection. Packaged in brown lunch bags for me to devour.
But I never opened the brown bag. The moment I reached the halls of my school I fed the sandwich to the garbage can. I wanted to make it on my own. Not the sandwich, but the money to buy the food. I was thirteen.
I shouldn’t throw food in the garbage. But I did.
Most of the days I would sabotage myself and go hungry. My stomach would growl and I would cross my arms and press down to silent the screams.
And other days I would come up with schemes and make money to buy lunch. And those lunches are still the best lunches of my life…because I earned them.
So what should you do?
Open the brown bag and eat the lunch. Don’t be a dumb ass like me. I’m an idiot and a nutcase. But there’s still hope for you. But just remember to depend on yourself. Always depend on yourself. And earn your kill. The food tastes better…much better that way.
K) How do I get over my sadness?
I filled my cup half empty because it’s never been half full. I sat and I thought and I dreamed about the days gone by. The smiles we wore and the heroes we tried to clone.
But the coin of life didn’t fall on our side. And sadness overtook us…and left us feeling cold inside.
But at least we got the chance…the chance…to feel alive.
And so I smile…I smile…deep…down…inside .
L) How do I get over the fear of death?
I fear the day the sun rises and I’m not there to greet it. I fear the day my body is nothing but dust and my loved ones throw it to the wind with all the memories and laughs we shared in the past.
But it’s OK.
I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and it helped me. Maybe it will help you overcome your fear of death too?
M) How do I unleash my creativity?
Take as many walks as you can and smell the air and make love to it.
Write down ideas. Every day.
N) How do I change my life overnight?
His name is Andrew Thompson. And he packed up his stuff and moved into a condo in LA that he couldn’t afford.
In one month’s time he would be evicted. The days were slipping away and he didn’t have the money to make rent. And he knew it.
In fact he did this on purpose.
Why? Because he wanted to put his back to the wall and force himself to change and make it happen. And he did.
Today he’s a multi-millionaire.
Remarkable things happen once you put your back up against the wall.
O) How do I find happiness?
Sing at the top of your lungs.
Dance to the rhythm of your heartbeat.
Laugh away the pain.
I do the above everyday and sometimes I feel like a fool. But at least I feel like a happy fool.
P) What do I need?
You don’t need a job. You need income.
There’s a difference between the two and it took me awhile to figure it out. But once I did, it made all the difference in the world. I hope you figure out the difference too. For the sake of your freedom.
Q) How do I find the inspiration to turn my dreams into reality?
Climb the highest peak you can find, lie on your back, and look up at the stars with the girl you love…with all your soul. And inspiration will find you.
R) Who should I learn from?
The homeless man said something…something that made me think.
My phone was dead and I didn’t have a paper and pen nearby. I raced home in my car and went straight to my room and pulled out my notebook and wrote it down. And then I applied it.
Every day you should approach life with the mentality of an uneducated student…who is thirsting for knowledge.
I have notebooks and notebooks and notebooks full of lessons and ideas and thoughts and quotes I’ve learned from other people. I try to learn from everyone.
I’m an empty vessel and every person on earth holds the knowledge that will make me full.
S) How do I stand out in a world that is content with fitting in?
You walk through the fire.
I could have done what they did. I could have settled for average jobs. I could have settled for average money. I could have settled for average grades. I could have settled for average friends. I could have settled for average love.
It would have been easier and I may have been better off for it. Maybe it would have added years to my life. Maybe it would have kept my eyes dry and my back free of pain.
But I didn’t. I did the opposite of what everyone else did. And I walked through the fire. And I came out the other side with first degree burns…but also with smile that no one else in the world could ever wear.
T) What is the best job in the world?
The one you invent.
U) How do I create an extraordinary life?
I was disrespecting my time and throwing it away like a crack fiend throws away life.
You could find me in bed or at the bar. Pissing away bottles of overpriced liquor by night and popping Advil to cure the hangover by day.
And then one summer day it dawned on me that in order to have an extraordinary life, you must first have an extraordinary day.
V) How do I have an extraordinary day?
Rinse yourself in the waters of hard work and repeat.
Wake up at 5 am
Think of three things to be grateful for
Come up with three tasks for the day that would make today a success
Write 10 ideas about anything (exercise your creative muscles)
Work on stuff that matters (three things)
Go for a walk
Spend time with people you love and people who love you
Reflect on the day
W) What matters the most in life?
Love and laughter.
X) How do I change the world?
I’ll let my boy Macklemore field this one.
“Don’t try to change the world, find something that you love. And do it every day. Do that for the rest of your life. And eventually, the world will change.”
Y) How do I stop caring about what people think of me?
I was paralyzed with fear like a deer caught in front of headlights.
I couldn’t move because I was afraid of what my peers would think. I sat and I waited…with an invisible hand raised. I was seeking permission to begin. No one saw the hand. I bit my tongue and put my hand down. And the permission never came so I never began.
In 100 years everyone is going to be dead. Including you. It doesn’t matter what Johnny or Susan think because those thoughts are going to die with Johnny and Susan. Fuck them. Remain in your own bubble and don’t let voices from the outside impact who you are on the inside. Easier said than done because yesterday someone called me a douche bag for cutting them off in traffic. And I believed them. I guess I am a douche bag.
Z) How do I deal with life when it doesn’t go my way?
I thought I was going to have $2,500,000 in the bank by now. But I don’t. Not even close. I thought I was going to be living in the hills of Hollywood by now. But I’m not.
And that’s OK. I guess.
So what’s the point of getting your hopes up if all they do is make you choke up?
I don’t know. I don’t know.
But hope gives me life. And hope is all I have. So I keep hoping…and that gives me the fuel I need to continue. Maybe one day I’ll have more than hope.
AA) What three words will change my life?
I love myself.
BB) What three words will change someone else’s day?
I love you.
CC) What is the best feeling in the world?
I’ve felt excitement flowing through my veins before I jumped out of planes. I’ve received applause from hundreds of people. I’ve smelled the aroma of lands far and wide. I’ve seen checks with tons of zeros. I’ve driven cars that go from 0-100 in a ridiculous amount of time. And yet none of that compares to the best feeling in the world.
The best feeling in the world is to be madly in love with someone who is madly in love with you. And I feel it right now. And it’s the best feeling in the world…by far.
DD) What should I avoid?
Alcohol and drugs.
EE) How do I deal with haters?
He told me to go die. To walk through traffic with my eyes closed.
I didn’t know this person. It was a complete stranger who came across my blog some years ago. But it still hurt. I’m not going to lie.
The haters have come and gone throughout the years. Different faces, same words. But it’s OK…
Because I focus on the people full of love. And they drown out the hate.
FF) What is the only constant of life?
The dirty joke we used to laugh about isn’t funny anymore.
The only constant of life is change…and everything changes…even your reaction to the dirty joke that once made you rollover with laughter.
GG) Should I listen to my parents?
HH) Should I listen to my friends?
II) Who should I listen to?
The dreamer inside you.
JJ) How do I find the right career?
I wanted to be an accountant. And then I went into an accounting firm and slit my wrist.
I wanted to be a lawyer. And then I saw firsthand the life of a lawyer and I slit my other wrist.
I wanted to be an investment banker. And then I saw the stress on their faces…and I looked down…and realized I ran out of wrists to slit.
Screw passion and career. Just do and experiment. Your passion and career will find you.
Today I just want to write and make money and crack jokes. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find a “career.”
KK) What if I never succeed?
This question keeps me up at night. I find it difficult to stop the thought and fall asleep…because I fear it just like you fear it. But I try to change my perspective.
I try not to look at life in terms of success and failure. I try to look at life in terms of experience. My job is to experience all that life has to offer and that includes sadness and joy, victory and defeat, love and heartbreak.
I don’t know if it helps…or if…it’s just another lie I tell myself. But I fall asleep easier and that’s all that matters…I guess.
LL) What book will change my life?
Read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and become a Howard Roark in a world full of Peter Keatings.
MM) What is the secret to the universe?
He kept telling himself he would start his business when he turned 40.
Last week was his 50th birthday. And he’s still working at the same company. He keeps saying next year, but his voice cracks every time he says it…because I know he doesn’t believe it. Next year is going to be another repeat of this year. And we all know it.
I wanted to be like him when I grew up. But I don’t anymore.
He waited and waited and waited. He told himself he was waiting and working so he could gain…
But now he has too much of those things. And that’s why he can’t strike out on his own.
Although experience, knowledge, and expertise is beneficial to a certain extent, it starts to have diminishing returns. Soon enough you will be paralyzed by all the experience, knowledge, and expertise.
Ignorance is the real key to the universe. Ignorance breeds curiosity and curiosity changes the face of mankind.
Last week someone insulted me by calling me, ignorant. I smiled and insulted them back by calling them, experienced.
NN) How do I get over a broken heart?
I left pieces of my heart all over the world. There are portions of it sprinkled on the fields of India to the beaches of California. It’s hard to say goodbye…to the lands I called home. Not because of the scenery, but because of the people. And every time I said goodbye, I wept inside. And I told myself I would call and email and keep in touch with the people who gave me life.
And I did call. And I did email. And I did keep in touch. For a month or two.
Then life resumed and I fell in love with my new home. And I moved on. Time heals all wounds…even the wounds you inflict on yourself.
OO) How do I achieve my goals?
Write down your goals as if you already achieved them. Write them in the past or present tense.
Don’t write, ‘I want to be a millionaire.’
Write, ‘I am a millionaire.’
I don’t know. But this works. Everything I’ve wrote in the past tense or present tense has come true…or is slowly coming true…with each passing sunrise.
PP) How do I land my dream job?
He wasn’t smart. He wasn’t talented. He wasn’t any of those things. I mean he was…but compared to the rest of the flock he might as well not even have been born. But he got the job. He beat out everyone. And that’s because while everyone else was sending resumes and waiting and hoping. He was studying and learning. He studied Google inside out and he found a hole they needed to fulfill. He built an application to fulfill the hole. And he submitted his findings to Google. And they hired him.
Don’t deliver resumes. Deliver value.
QQ) How should I live my life?
I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter as long as you are a superior man.
A superior man always abides by the following quote…
“A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.”
I try to be a superior man. But some day’s I can’t even be a man.
RR) What is the only rule worth following?
My body activated the flight or fight response. And I was shaking in my boots.
Every fiber of my being wanted to run and escape and get the hell out of there. But I stayed and I got on stage and I performed.
The only rule worth following is the following:
Feel the fear, but do it anyways.
Break every other rule. They don’t matter.
SS) How can I learn to appreciate what I have?
I didn’t appreciate shit. I didn’t value time or money or life itself. And then I traveled far and away and took a stroll through the land where human life meant nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I saw naked faces on the ground connected to dead bodies…that weren’t even worthy enough to be covered with a white cloth. And that made me appreciate…appreciate all that I have and all that I have come to know and believe.
TT) How do I pick my friends?
Each person’s table has five seats. And I would give up the seats to my table like a hooker gives up blow jobs.
It didn’t matter to who. If you wanted it, it was yours. And that may just be the worst thing you could ever do.
Each person has five people…five people they spend the most time with…and you will soon grow to become the average of those five people. For better or for worst.
Give up your seats with care. Please give up your seats with care.
UU) What do I want you to do?
My mission with this blog is to lose readers…not gain readers. Maybe that’s stupid from a business standpoint, but it’s amazing from a life point of view.
The more readers I lose, the less money I make. But that’s OK.
The more readers I lose, the more people I inspired to take the jump and to rely on themselves. And that’s all that matters. Because the truth is…
You don’t need me. You don’t need anyone. You got yourself. That’s all you need…all you will ever need.
I want you to stop reading my blog.
I want you to write your own story and live your own life.
VV) Cremation or burial?
Cremation because there ain’t no grave that can hold my body down.
I fell from the top of the world and moved to the bottom of the ocean.
For a year and another year and another year.
I tried starting over. It was rough and then it became harder and then I wanted to give up and sleep my life away. But I didn’t. I put on a fake smile and greeted the day.
The waves of the ocean would come and they would send me back…spiraling out of control.
But I would eventually regain control and with my new expertise in mind, I would change the direction of my boat.
I did my best every day and then I started learning. I started learning the things outlined above and then I started growing. And then my life started changing and now I’m a little bit wiser. And my boat is aligned and it’s finally heading home.
It’s finally heading home…to the sand by the shore.