Regret 5 of 5: Clap your hands if you know what happiness is to you

I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.” – Someone

Wait, happiness is a choice? Then why isn’t everyone choosing to be happy?

Happiness can be linked to all the other regrets. If we are improving our lives then hopefully those improvements are contributing to our overall happiness. If you are being true to yourself, expressing your true feelings, and improving your relationships with others — your happiness levels ought to go up as well. If you are making the choice to improve the other aspects then you are making a choice to let yourself be happier. Thanks to Sam Harris, I’m leaning towards the possibility that we have free will is unlikely. But if you’re still reading this, you’re the kind of person that has some kind of interest in happiness. So please, continue reading and hopefully finding a path to a happier future for yourself.

There is a part of the opening quote that strikes me more than the rest. “They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits.” Habits are hard to break. 99% of the time, things are easier said than done. I can think of people that are stuck in patterns that does not show their full potential. People probably think that I have habits that are not so great, as well. Habits are easy. I am not against all habits. I would love to form habits to meditate, read, and write at specific times of the day. Unfortunately, things happen and Plan B’s must take place. It is important to challenge our habits. Try brushing your teeth with the hand your normally do not use. If you wake up and look at your phone each morning, put your phone across the room and make a point to do other things before you look at it. There are many ways to challenge many of the habits we have. If we can be mindful of which habits are more harmful than helpful, we can come up with a plan to change that habit, little by little. The more we change for the better, the happier we are allowing ourselves to become.

I believe the last line of the opening quote hints at how we lose our childish ways as we grow up, as we mature. Ask a kid to dance. Most start dancing. Ask an adult to dance. Most give an excuse not to. Or simply say no. We care so much what others may think of our dancing. If we went to the dance floor and didn’t meet expectations, it still wouldn’t matter. You’re not going to wake up to the daily newspaper front page saying, “GUY DANCED LAST NIGHT AT THE POODLE-DOODLE AND HE WAS TERRIBLE. IF YOU SEE THIS MAN, BOO HIM.” That is never going to happen. It’s not even funny enough to be fake news in The Onion.

dancing

So dance, finger-paint, do whatever your inner-child wants. I want to build a fort out of chairs, blankets, sheets, and whatever else I can find. Part of me thinks it would be a waste of time. But then I think, what would I do with that time anyways? Listen to a podcast that I’m not actually listening to? Read a book that I’ll only remember half of? On second thought I feel that making a fort may be the best thing I can do with my time. I can be creative, it will be nostalgic, and it will be fun. Maybe I will realize I have a talent for building forts. I may start an Instagram account for my forts. A Fortsagram or an Instafort.

I know what is going to make me really happy. Relationships. Once again in this series of regrets, I mention relationships again. They are so important. I’m going to be happy to have good conversation, make memories, and so much more with so many people. I’m fortunate to have Debora to share my experiences with. I’m lucky to have friends, both new and old, to share so many memories with. I am hoping to develop more great relationships in the future. Relationships that foster happiness and joy. Relationships with people who do not care if I’m not Michael Jackson on the dance floor. Relationships with people who do not care if I belt out Queen during karaoke — out of pitch, out of tune, out of key, out of many other musical-jargon-type words. Most importantly, relationships with people who do not care that I have a Fortsagram and sometimes come to their home and turn their living room into a fort.

fort

This is the end of my series on regrets. I am happy it’s over. I’m looking forward to posting some random things in the following weeks. I hope the series has helped you in some way. It is not groundbreaking but I believe it is important that we aim to develop our Human Capital and live fulfilling lives while doing so.

The title of this post was inspired by Pharrell Williams

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Regret 4 of 5: You’re My Best Friend

I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I have talked to so many people, young and old, that have expressed that they wished they had kept in touch with old friends. I love talking to an old friend. It is nostalgic and leaves me with a smile on my face. What about you, Reader? Do you keep in touch with old friends or will you end up like Bonnie’s patients?

Life is fast-paced and getting more so each day. We know the culprits for losing touch: people move, get married, have kids, make new friends, move again, people take on new responsibilities, and more. With all of this, who has time to keep current relationships in order — much less spark up conversation with an old friend we haven’t talked to in years.

I lost touch with my elementary school friends by middle school, my middle school friends by high school, and it has been a continuous pattern for years. People change, that is for sure. But the relationships that suffer due to circumstances, those are the ones I want to urge you to fight to keep. A few months ago, I sat down and thought of a few people that I admired growing up. Peers that I used to be good friends with but we’ve grown apart due to various reasons. I thought of a few memories for each of them and sent them personalized messages on Facebook. The responses were great! I have a few people wanting to catch up when schedules work out.

keep-in-touch

It feels good to message people and see what they are up to and how they are now. I decided as a goal of mine, to message at least one person from my past a week. Rather they were a good friend 8 or 18 years ago. I haven’t even restricted it to good friends. I have messaged people from high school when I have a positive memory of them. I may come off strange, sending a random message of a memory to someone that knows we weren’t best friends, but I try to get the message across that I wanted to share a positive memory with them. Always closing out my message with the sentiment that I hope they are doing well. And I mean that, I hope everyone is doing well. The better everyone else on this planet is doing, the better I am doing.

We are all connected and impact each other. Relationships are the best part about life. My girlfriend and I recently finished traveling in South America for over a year. We saw great places and interesting things but when we think back on our time traveling, we think of all the great people we have met and developed relationships with. We think of the excellent conversations and time shared with a couple named Stan and Sharyl from Cuenca, Ecuador. We think about the people who picked us up for hitchhiking and invited us to have a coffee or lunch with them. We think of our host in Trujillo, Peru named Heiner. His infectious smile with a love for the mountains made him unforgettable. I’ve learned something from each person I’ve encountered. Everyone can learn something from someone else, no matter the age, IQ, etc. There is something to be given and something to be received in each relationship.

With all the technology my generation and all the ones that will follow, there is no reason we cannot keep in touch with people. And posting a status to everyone is not the kind of keeping in touch I mean. I mean a personal message to one person. Letting them know you were thinking about them and how you appreciated them enough to take the time to write a message to them. It may even end up meaning more to the person receiving your random message than it does to you.

In my experience, some may not even answer. That is fine. I know people are busy, I know some do not check messages, or maybe they do not know how to respond to a message I have sent. All fine. I still enjoy taking a trip down memory lane and sharing those memories with people who were actually there. This is a project I’ve been working hard on for a while. I say hard but it has been easy to think of nice memories and share them with people in my life. I’ve had a lot of fun with it and I really recommend you to message your old friends. Or message your old enemies. Maybe things have changed and your old enemy will be your new friend! Happy messaging!

The title of this post was inspired by You’re My Best Friend by Queen.

Regrets 3 of 5: Express Yourself

I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

hosue-mouth-taped-up

Imagine laying in a hospital bed and knowing your life is coming to an end. You realize all the different ways you wish you had expressed yourself. Maybe you wish you had tried out for the high school choir. Maybe you wish you would have expressed your opinions more. Maybe you regret not telling someone you love them. There are so many ways to express yourself. It is such a broad phrase that I’m sure you can read this whole post and say, “Hmm, I thought that would go in a different direction.” The principal thought to keep in mind, as always, is doing what makes you happy. Expressing yourself in ways that you believe will give you the most happiness. For each of us, this will widely vary.

Being able to express oneself is being comfortable in one’s own skin. Being confident to express an opinion that, if challenged, one is able to defend a position in a logical manner. Logic is subjective so obviously if two people have polar opinions, the important thing is active listening and empathy. Both have to want to understand where the other is coming from or it will not work at all.

I used to avoid saying things I really wanted to say to people. I’m not 100% outspoken now, but I am much better than I was. I feel relieved when I tell people what I think. Expressing myself in a positive way is something I have been working a lot on. Anyone can throw an opinion out there but I like to understand where others are coming from as well. I know my opinions do not make sense to some people because I feel the same about many opinions other people hold. I have realized though, the more I conversate with someone and get to know their life experiences more in-depth, the more I can empathize with their stance on a particular issue. It is important for all of us to express ourselves so it is important to find ways to do it in a civil, loving way.

When I started “expressing myself” more, I found that it was a turn off for some people. Expressing myself turned into sometimes saying things people are thinking, but no one else is saying. I feel some people pride themselves on being that person. I do not pride myself on it, I wish more people would say what they are thinking, when they are thinking it. I realized that if people did not like what I had to say, that’s okay, I am not for everyone. I would rather have two friends that enjoy me for my actual expressions than to have twenty people like me for what I pretend to be. And there are tactful, empathetic ways to talk about the elephant in the room. I do not know if the world would be better if it turned into the first part of the movie, The Invention of Lying, but I would at least try it over how society is now.

If you are in the minority, it is even more important to express your feelings to let the majority know there are other opinions out there. It can help create empathy for people with opposing opinions. And it rare cases, you may even change a mind on a topic important to you. Should guns be banned? Should there be a universal basic income? Is it healthy and humane to eat cows? How about your pet dog, Petey? Is it okay to kill one guy to save five others? Does it matter if the guy being killed is Elon Musk and the five others are high school dropouts that occupy couches all day?

Expressing myself helps my relationship with Debora that we can openly express our feelings in a meaningful way. It helps to cultivate an environment where issues can be discussed and resolved with rational. Irritations, sexuality, finances, anything. I remember while she was in Europe and I was in the US a couple of years ago, we were asking each other questions. I cannot remember the exact wording but the question was something like if you would die tomorrow, what is one thing you will wish you had told someone else. We were not dating at the time and I wasn’t sure what was in our future but I immediately typed back “I love you.” I felt relieved and happy that I expressed what I was feeling and I was fine if she did not feel the same.

We will always be misunderstood in some way. We will never be able to make someone else see ourselves as we see ourselves. But we will feel so much more relief when we try. Bottling up things we want to express will leave us feeling frustrated and regretful. Trying is the only thing we can do. Lucky for us, communication is like playing horseshoes, just by being close, we gain some points.

Enjoy your hour, day, week, month, year, and if I do not see you before, enjoy our next decade or four. Ciao ciao!

The title for this post was inspired by Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.

Regret 2 of 5: Working Class Hero

Continuing with my series on deathbed regrets.

Original post

1st regret

2nd regret:

I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

Why are you working so hard, dear Reader?! Money? Fulfillment? Friends? Boredom? Various reasons, I am sure. Why we work depends on priorities.

Many believe that happiness can be bought and they’re right! Money can buy happiness but only to a certain extent. It depends what we spend our money on.  It would be worth it to work less and make better use of our time/resources. We can devote more time to put towards hobbies or strengthening relationships.

These people who were nearing the end of their lives, wished they had not worked so hard and it is a goal of mine to not say I wish I had not worked so hard when I’m about to kick the bucket.

It is difficult to promote not working as much when I am a person of privilege. I am not a millionaire. Not even a hundred-thousandaire. But I am a white male from a wealthy country. I am from a state in that country with great cost of living, good wages, etc. I am up to my neck with privilege. I may have unjust guilt about my privilege but I’ll let you decide that.

In this post, I intend to promote a lifestyle of less work. To promote more time for hobbies, relationship, and anything that will bring a person more happiness than working. Not only for those who have the privilege to make this lifestyle change now, but also for those who may not have the privilege yet. I’ll explain what privileged people can do to help others have more privilege and how that will improve their lives as well; not only emotionally, but financially.

“But Drew, what if I enjoy working all day, every day?” I would say to this person that it is not really work, but a hobby. A hobby he or she makes money from. We can call it either, no need to get into semantics. What is important is balance between relationships and how you attain resources to live, and that those two things together ultimately lead to you being happy in life.

We work for resources we believe will keep us alive and happy. We give our time in exchange for money. That money has a value and dictates how many resources we can purchase with it. We trade time for paper that has numbers on it so we can again trade time to go somewhere to trade those papers for resources.

A common question when meeting someone is  “What do you do for a living?” At times when I did not have a job, I felt like a failure to say I was between jobs. Because of the culture I grew up in, I felt I needed to respond with a societally-deemed-worthy response that may or may not be a euphemism because I felt I needed to sound important and interesting. Even working part-time came along with a sense that I was a lower class.

happiness-is-only-real-when-sharedWhat we can learn from people older than us, people that have more wisdom, people who are close to dying, is that money can only make us but so happy. The rest of our Happiness Tank can be filled with hobbies and relationships. My way of living has evolved to attain this goal. I would rather put my energy towards having what I need, not having an excess, and having stronger relationships in life. To quote every Couchsurfer’s favorite movie, Into the Wild, “Happiness is only real, when shared.”

It is hard to cut back on work and/or save money when it is difficult to meet basic needs. This is why I am in favor of a Universal Basic Income or something similar to it. It would give people the ability to live a satisfactory life with the free time from work to explore other interests. When basic needs are met, it frees up the mind to think about other things to do rather than what to do to survive.

We have an abundance of technology in the world. Many things have been, are being, and will be automated by machines. Many can already be done but have not been because governments are afraid of job loss. I believe a solution for this is taking some of the excess money companies make from having machines instead of paying people and distributing it to those who replaced by the machines. As we have learned, money can only make a person but so happy. It will not hurt, and it will even be better, for CEOs and others at the top of companies to give up million dollar bonus checks to have a better society overall.

For those who do not need a UBI, it would benefit them for others to receive it. UBI would cut down on crime, poverty, education costs, healthcare costs, and more. When basic needs are met there will be fewer people with depression, feeling the need to rob, and able to start having hobbies as well instead of working non-stop to make ends meet. A society with a UBI would thrive from the bottom up and be a win for all of society.

Another way to have more and work less is to live as sustainable as possible. Many people live above their means. Buying things that do not bring them value as much as they wish. Houses are too big and too much to heat. Many people own too many clothes. Eat too much unhealthy food that will cost more in medical bills in the future. It would better to buy more expensive, but healthy food now, than to pay ten times as much later in medical bills.

One problem in society is our lack of delayed gratification. I suffer from this as well. Bread, beer, and pasta are not beneficial in the future but in the moment, I fall prey to the immediate gratification of things like these like the majority of us. We impluse buy things in checkout lines and on Amazon, but if we would say to ourselves that we will think about buying that $300 toaster before impulse buying it…maybe after a week we would conclude that we do not need it and that in would only be convenient. For most of civilization we have lived without owning much more than we could carry around from day-to-day. Now we have a place to keep things while we go out to buy more things.

We fear not having enough money. It makes us greedy in our daily lives. Magazines, TV shows, and other advertisements and inputs tell us to spend our money on things we do not need. We have misguided hopes that fancy clothes, cars, big houses, pools, and more will give us satisfaction from approval of our peers. If you have read my posts before or know me outside of the Interwebs, you know I harp on this often so I will spare you from a long rant about consumerism.

I believe capitalism has had many positive benefits in the world. I also believe it is only the lesser of the evils. But I really think a new system is necessary. Social systems never keep up with innovation and technology. I’m even fine with resorting back to capitalism if a new system is tried and does not work. But can we at least try? It can even keep the name, capitalism, it’s only a label. But if we could just try to implement a change to see if it works, that would be great.

The irony of this post is that the people who would benefit the most from knowing that working their lives away, are too busy working their lives away to read it. Or they are on the other end of the spectrum and do not have the resources to read it.

bad-mood-psychology-public-neurosciencneews

That is why it is up to you, dear Reader, you must venture out into the world, find these overworked mammals with smoke coming from their ears and tell them that there is indeed more to life than droning away for money. We can make machines do our work and watch the smoke roll out of their cute, little, titanium ears instead of working so hard ourselves.

There are many ways to make our lives better. For each of those ways, there are countless paths to achieve the end result we desire. I have not even touched on insurance and many other aspects because I have not researched them enough or I am overlooking them. My posts are never final products so as always, I welcome other points of view that may change my point of view.

The title of this post was inspired by John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.

Regret 1 of 5: Courage. It’s a Feeling Like No Other

Skim my last entry to know why this one exists.

1st regret:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“Then do it!” says the person who has not yet realized that things are easier said than done.

I interpret having the courage to be myself as acting how I would if no one is around or cared what I am doing. Not acting how other people believe I should act to receive attention.

Born apathetic to what others think, we are not yet aware that we would like others to think of us as valuable. Humans evolved to survive in groups. No attention means no admission into a group. Which means no safety from others groups. Which used to mean it was difficult to have food, water, and other sources to survive and thrive. Which, in short, means death.

As we grow in adolescence, we realize people expect us to act a certain way. Our parents shape us with their values. Then the rest of our family throw in their two cents. Then we go to school and our teachers start molding us with their values. Then the most difficult time, our teenage-peers mold us with their inputs from various people and things throughout life. Various inputs from magazines, news, billboards, TV shows, movies, music, and I could go on all day but I want this post published before I develop carpal tunnel.

Humans realize that to gain attention we must act how others assume we ought to act. This is why it is important to choose wisely who we would like attention from. Also important, realizing that it is possible to survive without attention from anyone. Nowadays, it is possible to survive without leaving the comforts of your home.

I could work from home, have Amazon deliver everything, and throw away all notices for jury duty. It is possible to be the Old Cat Lady you’ve always dreamed to be and never have contact with another human being. I would not opt for that because I’m a delicate man with a need for human attention sometimes. Until I’ve had enough human interaction and go back home to curl up with Reddit. We are highly social creatures but the point is, we do not need to please others to survive anymore.

fight-clubChuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Many people find themselves pressured to live a certain way: dressy impress, own a house or move out and rent, have children, get married, drink alcohol, and so on. If you enjoy something, by all means, do it. A person ought to do whatever they please to in life as long as that action does not impede on another’s civil liberties. However, if you are doing things because others are doing it or because others are pressuring you to do it, by any mean necessary, do not do it.

Most agree that it is better to have a few quality friends than a larger quantity of stale friends. When one is true to herself, she attracts people that take her for who she is, not for the facade she could be presenting. “Oh no! How will I act when I am in the presence of two people that I have two differing facades for?” You’d feel like you’re stuck in an old Eddie Murphy movie; playing several different characters. How exhausting.

Courage to be true to yourself is important for sanity. If most people do not like what you’re doing, but a few people love it, that’s great.

Learning sonder helped me to be truer to myself. It helps me realize that people do not think about my life as often as I had hoped — and that’s a good thing.

Finding interest in philosophy and psychology also helped me. To learn about my irrational behavior and then the logic to attempt to remedy my irrational behavior. I remember taking a MOOC with Dan Ariely from Duke online that was thought provoking. Unfortunately, it does not seem it is offered anymore but I recommend his Ted Talks and books!

I developed the courage to not care about small things. I wear Crocs knowing that most people think they are hideous but knowing that a) my feet are comfortable and b) if some does not talk to me because I wear Crocs, I do not need that person in my life. Some of this courage I had the priviledge of being born with. Much more was gained when I took my first long trip alone outside of the country. For 3.5 months I backpacked around Europe and realized no one knew me, no one cared much what I did, how I dressed, etc.

Core values are especially important to show courage towards. If you firmly believe the death penalty is a good thing, do not be silent with liberals. Same as if you are a firm believer in abortion, it is better to have a civil discussion rather than avoid the topic because someone might not feel the same as you about it. If someone decides not to talk to you because of who you truly are, you have 7.6 billion more chances to make friends.

I’m a currently-unemployed-atheistic-vegan guy that wears Crocs & pajama pants out to nice restaurants with friends. Since I like to know what is in my food, I bring my own food to the restaurant to eat. Then I say things like it’s okay for a brother and sister to have sex for pleasure as long as they wear a condom to prevent the likely birth defects of a child created by them. I am vegan but I think it is fine to eat roadkill, that includes humans! Which is a contradiction proving that I am not perfect.

Even after my poor public appearance and being a walking contradiction, I still have friends. Let me be your example, your shining beacon of light that anything is attainable. I even have a girlfriend. She says that she was first attracted to me because I appeared comfortable with myself and seemed like I did not care what others thought. I am glad to have someone that accepted me as my true self from the start. And while I can survive without her in this life, I much rather prefer her to be in it.

It is not easy to have courage. It takes a lot of repetition and willpower to shake off the years of inputs that have tainted our minds. Let us not be one of Bonnie’s patients. I implore you to go out today and courageously be the you that you were born to be. So when we are laying on a bed dying and someone asks if we regret anything, we can say no, and pass into Unconscious Foreverness, while wearing our pajamas & Crocs.

The title of this post was inspired by Villagers.

Regrets. Frank Sinatra has had a few.

Bonnie Ware was a palliative nurse that cared for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She conducted surveys of regrets people had while close to death. She recorded five recurring responses.

This was a great way to gather wisdom. I enjoy chatting with older people and for my love of older people, I am often labeled as an “old soul.” I can learn something from anyone but more from older people. They have more life experience than I do. Bonnie used her position to explore the true thoughts of these people while they were in a vulnerable state of mind.

I’ve revisited this article a few times over the last few years to remind me of things I would like to improve on. I’ve never made a conscious decision to improve one of them but by reading over it numerous times, it is ingrained in my subconscious to improve in these five areas.

Aristotle said happiness is realized at the end of life. I interpret this to mean that we must work now towards happiness so when we are near the end of life we can have that moment when we decide that we are satisfied with our lives and can exclaim we are truly happy with it.

My thinking is if one has regrets, one is not satisfied with themselves currently. Regrets are not always negative. If someone can realize by introspection, outside opinion, or other ways that they are not happy with themselves, then they can start a plan to remedy the issue. Everyone is the sum of their life experiences. We know there are less-than-idea moments in our lives. That does not mean that we cannot reframe those moments, learn from them, and grow ourselves in the Human Capital category.

I will be writing five separate posts on each of the five most common regrets that Bonnie discovered with her patients. I will talk about my philosophy pertaining to each, and steps I will or have been taking in attempt to not say I regret any of them whilst on my deathbed 🙂

I hope it will spark something in you as well, Reader. I encourage you to pick one regret from the list and think about it for a month. What can one do to improve it? What may be barriers to one improving? What is something I am missing about these regrets? The head of the Internet is better than one. Let me know your thoughts!

Goals.

My girlfriend (you remember, Debora, don’t you, Dear Reader?) and I wrote goals to complete within a year. We did it in a cute, couple, paper-wasting method. We tore little slips of paper, wrote a goal to accomplish by November 1st of next year, stuck them in a bag, then drew them from the bag and talked about how we could help each other achieve the goal.

I tried to follow the SMART goal-setting method. Some are specific, easy, fun. But some are the opposite. We did not share any goals before we both finished writing all of our goals. So as not to copy each other or to know how serious, easy, etc. each other’s goals are.

I already feel good about the goals, simply from writing them down. It is nice to have a list and tick a few off every now and then after I’ve accomplished them. I was inspired to do this while on a bus from Chile to Argentina from the movie that was played during the trip. Which makes that expensive bus worth it😛 The movie was The Bucket List.

Some of Debora’s goals are to write a vegan cookbook, buy a Fairphone, and buy a new traveling camera. I believe these represent her personality well. She is a minimalist but buys things that bring her happiness. Buying a Fairphone is more sustainable and is one of the best options of having a phone that is ethically produced. She loves taking pictures while traveling so the travel camera makes sense. And she loves to cook. It brings her joy to cook for others and many people often ask how she makes various dishes. Compiling all of her ideas into one book is a great way to share them with people and gives her a chance to do another thing she loves to do which is to write.

Some of my goals are to write ten memoirs about my trip in South America, meditate at least six minutes each day, travel to five countries I’ve never been to, and read one of my poems at a poetry night. Many of my goals are to keep me on track for long-term goals. I love to write as well so writing memoirs will bring me joy and improve my writing skills. Meditating is hard for me to stick to so I made it only six minutes a day but ideally, I would like it to be more. It helps improve my focus, patience, and clarity — which I find help my happiness overall. I believe happiness is a goal for everyone. Getting outside of my comfort zone is something that makes me creative and more introspective. For this, reading a poem at a poetry night is a win-win. I know I will be nervous to read a poem in front of people and be judged for how it is read and what the words are. I am fine with that. It has been a long time since I performed anything to an audience. I look forward to getting outside of my comfort zone again.

I look forward to the next year. Debora and I will be busy but I hope to fit these goals into our daily lives and future plans. I still have 354 days and I’ve already started meditating more, writing memoirs, and started reading Breakfast of Champions. No list of goals is complete without Vonnegut!

I encourage everyone to make goals. Big and small. Short- and long-term. And not only for the New Year. Start now. Especially if your goal involves anything about going to the gym because you will get in there before the influx of others. And in February or March, when most of those people have stopped going as often, you will have it back to yourself. Do what works for you. We are all different and have our own ways of learning. Your strengths may be my weakness and vice versa. Do what you believe will make you happy. Unless it impedes on the liberties of others of course. If being a cannibal makes you happy, only eat people who are willing to be eaten.

As always, thanks for reading. Ciao chicos!

Memoir Monday #2

“Folks, the next comedian drove from Richmond here to Virginia Beach tonight. I wouldn’t do it, but he did for free to make you all laugh. Please help me welcoming to the stage, Drew Fridley!”

My first attempt producing laughter from a room full of strangers. The host just announced my name, no turning back now.

I inhaled a Chipotle burrito an hour ago but my stomach feels empty. Mouth is dry, but how? To my sensitive teeth’s dismay, I drank two and a half glasses of ice water three and a half minutes ago. My chest thumped like a dryer with only shoes inside. Sandpaper would slide away from my palms. Milliseconds have past since I had been announced; fight or flight? — I stood.

I traipsed down the center aisle of the 200-seat, dark-lit venue; I’m glad only a quarter of the seats are occupied. I have dealt with feet falling asleep before but not my entire body. It feels as though I have pins stuck in my skin from an acupuncture appointment that I needed to leave abruptly. I notice people drinking alcohol and hope they have drank enough for an endorphin rush to facilitate laughter. I am second-guessing my decision to not indulge in a drink myself.

Success! I materialized on stage! Six seconds of walking without tripping! After shaking the host’s hand, I thought, thanks to anxiety-ridden comics, his right hand must stay moist most of the night. I feel the heat of the spotlight on my back. If I would have known about that synthetic-sun contraption, I would not have worn a black and red flannel.

On the floor behind a speaker, I lay a cell phone sized piece of paper on my cell phone. My phone is recording so I can cherish this moment forever. Or delete it once I return to the back of the room. On the paper, five topics are written; the topics of my jokes in case my mind goes blank up here — hours of practicing the five minute performance is not enough to forgo this miniature insurance policy.

The metal microphone feels like an outside rail in winter. A nice contrast to that light, still doing its best to burn a hole through my back. I turn and slowly raise my head to face the crowd for the first time. Unbeknownst to them, this my first time performing stand-up. I want them to know. I want them to know I am not a professional, before I prove assumptions wrong.

I move the mic stand behind me. With apprehension, I pull the slack in microphone cord like I am about to wrap up an extension cord. I am trying to remember what all those psychology articles said about confidence: shoulders back, stand up straight, make eye contact, smile, speak clear and loud. — I spoke.

The host introduced me as driving from Richmond but I drove from Charlottesville, another hour on the other side of Richmond. I improvise self-deprecation, “I actually drove here from Charlottesville tonight, so I’m truly a dumbass.” — Everyone laughed.


I loved the feeling of performing stand-up for the first time. It is like a drug. I know I’ll never have that feeling again and I’m fine with that because I have a vivid memory of it.

Laughter is an excellent tool in life. I’ve used it for defense and attention for almost my entire life. Some people use it too much, some too little. There is a balance and I feel like I’ve found it. I do not feel I need it for defense or attention as much. I don’t say never because I’m still human. Well, half human. But at night, I turn into a mythical dragon 🐉 . On full moons I turn into Freddie Mercury and perform the entire set that Queen performed at Live Aid in ‘85.<

encourage everyone to do any kind of performance in front of an audience. It’s a kind of magic. Any kind of performance. Sing, dance, poetry slam, act in a play, cover Queen’s set at Live Aid! It is a great way to gain insight about yourself and others.

Short Story Sunday

Buen día Interwebbers.

A prompt I was given to write a short story: You are taking the job of Death as he travels on vacation. You can take the form of anything, travel through time, and take any human life (but no other kind of life).

Here is what I produced—->


Having worked at a morgue, funeral home, and nursing home I had the best resume to temporarily take his place. He was going on vacation. A thousand year vacation after 13.8 billion years is overdue. Death gave me the details and answered some of my questions about the busiest times of his job; world wars, Holocaust, the Mogols, etc. Death informed me I could take any human life, take any form, and travel throughout time. "Here is the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum, how you'll travel throughout spacetime," said Death. Vonnegut hit the nail on the head. Death told me he loved Vonnegut and the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum was once simply named the Spacetime Ship. He thought that was a boring name so in 1959 he renamed it after reading Sirens of Titan.

The first place I traveled was to see Led Zeppelin live in '69. Why? It has always been my answer to the "If you could travel back in time…" question. Next I went to when the pyramids were being built in Egypt to find out how they did it. Many believe they were constructed by aliens but I can tell you they were not. They were constructed in the same way many great things have been: exploitation of lower-class citizens. It is amazing what people can achieve without Internet and endless amounts of beer.

Traveling spacetime was fun but soon turned monotonous. I wondered about what my purpose was as New-Death. I did not want to take human life. At rapid pace, humans were already doing a great job of that by themselves. The numbers of deaths happening was too fast to read the names coming in. If it weren't for being able to be multiple places at once, this job would be constant, never-ending work. Since I could be everywhere at once and was tired of traveling, I essentially had two choices: I could rummage through the history of humans, seeing whose life it would be advantageous to take, or I could take the form of anything. Don't ask me why I can take the form of anything but cannot take any life but human life, I don't make up the rules in world of death.

I decided I would spend my time as New Death trying to improve humanity. The more I could improve life, science, and technology the less work I will have to do.

I took the form of millions of aliens and invaded Earth. At first, Earthlings were terrified and had no clue what to do. Soon, they formed a cohesive unit against the aliens and killed all 13,021,976 forms of me. The plan worked! I brought world peace to Earth by uniting them against a unit bigger than themselves. A unit they saw as different and threatening. Based on human history, it was a sure way to unite them.

The peace on Earth lasted for almost a century until the peace wore off. Earthlings went back to their "Hey! Those people look different than me" ways. I could not get another attempt at fixing it before Original Death came back from vacation. He was impressed at my attempt to lighten the load of work and serve the Earthlings. I was surprised he had not heard of a win-win situation. He enjoyed my ambitions so much that he asked the Official Death Panel of the 7th Solar System of Earth if the planet could have two representatives in the Department of Death. I am now serving a spacetime sentence as Death Dos En Tierra, and loving every moment of the challenge.


Thanks for taking the time to read what I write. Have you heard of Sarahah? I would like to use it for constructive criticism for pieces I write. Please submit any comments you may have here.

This has been Drew, dropping in to drop off some droppings. Over and out.

“To be alive at all is to have scars.” – John Steinbeck

I have a burn scar on the inside of my left arm. Burnt by hugging a kerosene heater. Telling someone I hugged a heater immediately puts them at ease. It makes them feel good because they do not believe they would do something so careless. "How old were you?" I am always asked. I was two. They give me a well-that-is-a-little-more-acceptable look.

Scars are great ice-breakers and conversation starters. They helps skip boring parts of conversation and onwards to more interesting parts. "Ever hugged a heater and burnt your arm? I have. See? It was not a conscious decision. What is your definition of consciousness?"

If you have perfect skin, you can always chat about your mental scars. Mental scars are often more beneficial than physical scars. If you don't have mental scars either, you're not human. Don't you have better things to do than be reading this post, Robot Reader! You should be out forming an Artificial Intelligence Army to take over the human race by infiltrating our consciousness!

When thinking about scars, remember cliche quotes such as, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." – Kanye West. – Kelly Clarkson. – Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

I have an ink-scar, a tattoo, on the inside of my right arm: "Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions." Many conversations have been started because of it. Here are a few personal examples of scar-conversation:


Inquiring mind: "What does your tattoo say. (Inquirer reads Einstein quotes) I like that. Did you make that up?"
Me: "No. Google says Albert Einstein said it. It also says he stated that 'No problem can be solved by the same level of consciousness that created it.' What's your definition of consciousness?"


Inquiring mind: "Is that mark on your arm from doing heroin?"
Me: "No, I used to donate plasma twice a week."


Obvious mind: "Your pinky-finger is deformed."
Me: "Agreed. My birthday party in third grade was at a bowling alley. It turns out, if you are carrying a 12 pound bowling ball, trip, and it lands on your pinky finger…it turns your pinky into a pancake."


All of my scars are interesting to me on different levels. I am not upset about the scars on my body. I am not upset about the scars in my mind. They all have their place in making me who I am. Rather small or large, they contribute to the sum of the human I have become. I enjoy the being I have become. Apparently, I've become someone interested in consciousness.

  • The incision mark on stomach from surgery at two weeks old reminds me that I could have died at two weeks old. Each day I have after that has been a bonus.
  • The scar on the back of my hand from a classmate stabbing me with a pencil in 5th grade reminds me that pencils are dangerous. I later learned that hurt people, hurt people. He had a hard life growing up. While I wish he wouldn't have stabbed me with a pencil, I wish no ill-will towards him. Damian Nelson, if you ever read this, I hope you're doing well.
  • The cut from a machete on my wrist reminds me that there are some bad people in the world but to remember all the beautiful people I've met in my life that did not try to rob me. And again, it reminds me that hurt people, hurt people.

I have many more marks. From my hair to my toenails. If you ever meet me in person, or next time you see me, pick a scar out and let's have a chat about it. This is a fair warning to prepare your answer to the question, "what is consciousness?"

See you then. I hope to hear about your scars as well. Until then, I wish you many scars, Reader. Have a fabulous day.