Reflections from Ohio
It’s been nearly a decade since I packed my life into the trunk of my BMW and set course for the west coast.
California, baby. It called me. I answered. We danced. Boy, did we dance…
Eight years, four states, and fourteen countries later, I returned home to Columbus, OH. The final leg of the trip was capped with a six-month stay in Bali, Indonesia.
Oh, the Places You’ll go!
To say I’ve seen a few things would be a drastic understatement. These last eight years been the opportunity of a lifetime to get a better appreciation for what this whole life thing is all about.
Along the way, I’ve been fortunate to have met two very special people; the wisest man I know, as well as the smartest man I know.
Being wise, in my definition, is knowing what to do. Being smart, knowing what to think.
These two mentors have poured into my life over the years, providing a steady stream of unconditional love, guidance, and mental ‘bumpers’ to my lane as I barreled along these past few years.
If their wisdom provided the dots to follow (or not follow) in my life, then the last decade has been spent tracing between the dots, doing my best to create something beautiful out of this life thing.
My younger self sped to California, crossing the distance of the United States in 39 hours, 45 minutes. I was ambitious, hungry for success, and full of raw energy, talent, and drive to become a success.
During those years, success was defined as being independently wealthy, with thousands of employees, and a garage full of horsepower to pair with a closet full of tailored clothing. The world wasn’t just my oyster; it was my mistress, and I wanted to climb every rung she offered me.
In many ways, I tasted the success I wanted, in hors d’oeuvres quantity, rather than the all-you-can-eat buffet I dreamt of. A six-figure, four-hour workweek. Check. Four-figure meals. Check. First class travel. Done and done.
At the end of the day, you’re still pooping in the same bathroom as economy and the food isn’t worth the price tag when you realize the price difference could feed a family in a developing country for years.
The hardest lesson was reaching the peak of my financial success and realizing I was dead and hollow inside. Void of joy. The lifestyle I chased began to haunt me, and I woke up one morning more intent on killing myself than living the lie I found myself trapped inside of.
Nowadays, success looks a lot more like having the resources to spend time with my loved ones, feed my cat, create artwork, and give things away to people who need them.
Success is being able to help somebody in need, rather than hire a crew of laborers to do the work in my absence while I chased the teat of american capitalism. It’s raking the leaves at your Mom’s house, helping a friend move, and treating the people around you like royalty – instead of demanding it.
Life is this very fragile thing. Right when you think you’ve got a handle on it, you realize it’s got you by the scruff and is shaking you senseless.
Uncle. Please, uncle! I tap out.
I was blessed to have the opportunity to tap out and undergo a heart change. For what purpose, I don’t yet know. However, I do know that I’ve come home to Columbus a different man than the boy who first left it.
Along the way, I’ve seen a lot of people who claim to have the answer to things. Born-again evangelicals, born-again vegans, born-again spiritualists, environmentalists, startup bros, and burners….the list could go on.
Having experienced all of these micro-cultures, I’m really thankful to have experienced them all. However, I’m just as thankful to walk away from some of them as I did to begin them.
White powders can be just as dangerous as a charismatic religious practice; separating you from loved ones, isolating you from the outside world, and forming dangerous habits that void you of your time, money, friends, and satisfaction.
These past few years have taught a few things, which I share below:
You don’t have to be wealthy to be generous.
You don’t need to be talented to help others.
You don’t have to be smart to make an income.
Being religious doesn’t provide immunity from being an asshole.
You have more time than you think you do. You’re busy? Oprah’s busy.
There’s gold in the early morning hours.
Hobbies are the spice of life.
How you treat your Mother/Father is a direct reflection of the type of spouse you’ll receive. Honor them.
Giving things away is always in style.
The rich don’t need more money – or tax breaks.
Your religion isn’t the one. It’s one of many paths to God. Disagree? You must have a perfect understanding of god…next!
Understanding others is far more important than being right all the time.
The man/woman, clergy, executive, or politician who mistreats loved ones, servers, or strangers on the street aren’t worthy of accolades, no matter how ‘successful’ they are.
You’ll meet your loved one when you are ready. If you take the time to wait, get your shit together, and honor your family, I’m positive you’ll find somebody who knocks your socks off (and rips everything else off).
While you’re complaining about working too much, or living standards, there are people dying to have your life. Be thankful.
If ‘paradise is found under your Mother’s feet’, than the keys of heaven can be found in the hands of the people who are different from you – or, in the hands of the poor, homeless, suffering, and behind the gates of the children in cages at our own borders.
Live your life, love your life, and make things better along the way for everybody you encounter.
There’s no place like home.