Time Travel

Time passing

Every morning, I travel back in time. I go back to the exact same day the year before, and the year before that. And the year before that. I live it like I was there again, in that time and space and circumstance.

I relive the emotions, the hopes, the anxieties and the dreams. I examine the minutia of my thoughts as they play out in the complex arena of what we call real life.

I can time travel because I keep a journal – a page of thoughts and emotions as I start each and every day. What surprises me is how similar my thoughts are over the years, and how much energy I waste on the trivia of things that only matter in that moment. A minor altercation at work. Whether the subway will be running on time. Gaining a pound from eating too much ice cream. Fretting about the repetitive issues of life that never really change and in the long run don’t mean a thing.

How much time do we waste every day on needless worry and anxiety? How much of the thinking power of our amazing brains do we spend on the detritus of life that is ultimately meaningless?

Anyone can time travel. Just write your world down. I don’t try to manipulate my thoughts. I just say how I feel, the things I am thinking. So make a start and soon you will be traveling back to the week before, the month before, the year before. And then to a decade ago.

Eventually, something even more incredible happened to me. l was able to travel into the future.

With the realization that so many of my thoughts were wasted, I could begin to change the way I was actually thinking. I could stop obsessing over life’s noise and begin to focus my thoughts on things that make a difference to my quality of life.

In the end, it means nothing that someone bumped into us on the street. It’s unimportant that the weather is grim. It’s irrelevant that our Facebook posts were ignored. The energy of thought should not be wasted on any of this nonsense. So what should we be thinking about? The things that do matter. Health, friendship, loved ones, freedom. A dream.

And then we will find that by traveling back in time, we can travel into a better future.

The Secret

 

I’m sitting on a bench by the East River, beyond the end of Wall Street. The traffic is thundering above my head on the FDR Drive as runners sprint and jog along the waterway. I’m watching the amazing variety of human existence. On one side of me, the administrators, security guards and analysts run for the Brooklyn ferry. On the other side, the billionaires step from their limos to get airborne in their helicopters, flying efficiently to their homes in the Hamptons from the Wall Street helipad.

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What divides them is not the point of embarkation, nor their wealth. It is the expressions of life in their faces. Some look dead already, and some look like they are excited to be alive.

If people are watching me, do they see what I feel? Do they know I’ve found the secret to happiness? I would gladly tell them my secret if they asked, but they’re all rushing to get home, wrapped up in their lives, good or bad.

I know we should all try to live in the moment but that can’t be all. If all we are doing is living for today then we would be eating bacon, egg and cheese rolls for breakfast and not organic muesli with 2 per cent milk. And we wouldn’t be worrying so much about credit card debt and male pattern baldness.

Because true happiness needs a dream.

When you have a dream, you have something to live for. You have plans and goals and aspirations. You have a future that you can build and picture in your mind. You have a place to go in your head when you’re having a tough time of things.

There’s a little girl sitting beside me. She’s my daughter. She is talking incessantly about what she sees and what it all means to her. I’m telling her that her imagination is unlimited, that no one can control her thoughts. And no one can stop her from dreaming.

With all the energy we have inside of us, if we were to switch just a fraction of it from worrying and complaining to dreaming and creating, we would see a massive positive change in our lives and in the world.

It’s that simple.

We’re walking back up Wall Street. I’m going to buy a slice of pepperoni pizza with extra garlic. My little girl will have chicken wings, not too spicy. We will talk about our day and how there will be more days like this only they will be different. They will be astonishingly good days because we will make an incredible future with the energy and ambitions of today.

Together, we will build the dream.

A Rough Week

Christmas Bulldog - Web Res

It has been a rough week. So many things went wrong and there was so much to complain about in my complicated life.

Let me think about that.

I was horribly tired and stressed from traveling so much, from being jet-lagged and stuck in the wrong timezone for days and days. Nothing seemed to go right at work. But I don’t toil at mindless, dangerous tasks for twelve hours a day in a Chinese factory, so toxic that I won’t live long enough to see my children grow up.

No, I am lucky.

My kid won’t do her piano practice and wants to play on her iPad all the time and it seems like an endless cycle of conflict. But I’m not selling my children to give them a pathetic hope of a better future. A hope that is a hideous lie of prosperity. A hope that becomes slavery and prostitution just to line the pockets of human-trafficking thugs who profit from the desperate misery of children.

No, I am lucky.

I was hungry every day because I was watching what I ate, in anticipation of the holiday gluttony. But I wasn’t hungry because there was no food and won’t be any food for days on end, even until I am eating dirt. I am not starving and weak, horrified by the sight of my children dying in front of my eyes because I cannot feed them.

No, I am lucky.

There were police and troops at the entrance to the subway, checking people’s backpacks and I wondered about my safety. But I don’t live in fear that armed men will break down my door and rape and murder my family before dragging me away to be imprisoned and tortured.

No, I am lucky.

We complain about our lives in paradise while others suffer in a man-made hell, surrounded by hatred and horror. We complain about the meaningless trivia that disturbs our otherwise perfect existences while others are raped and murdered. We complain about nothing at all while others watch helplessly as their children starve to death.

No, some are lucky. Some are not.

Yeah. It’s been a rough week. And I am the luckiest man alive.

Dear Me

Colorful VortexI think it is about time that I spoke with my teenage self. I want to let him know what I’ve learned throughout my adult life.

Let’s start with something simple but fundamental: do not be afraid of women. They can be wonderful and mysterious and generous and caring. Even though they intimidate you, it helps to actually talk to them and not take rejection too personally. It’s OK if you’re not their type. There are many women who will want to know you. Eventually, one will love you unconditionally.

Be who you are. Don’t worry that you like poetry more than football. If we all blended in with the crowd, there would be no change in this world. Do not live inside the prejudices of others. Change comes from being different, even if that means being ridiculed. One day you will be the difference that others envy.

Make choices from the infinity of your existence. Don’t live inside a box with a label on it. The labels are put there by others, people who see life through limitations.

Don’t let your ambitions become unrealized dreams. There are many bumps in the road to fulfillment but don’t take those as failure. Failure is giving up. Failure is accepting someone telling you that you’re not good enough. Failure is believing in the doubts and fears of others.

Take risks. When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. Later in life you will have responsibilities but now you have none except to yourself. A career is something people talk about to justify a job. Take your passions and make them work for you.

Don’t make enemies. Revenge is like gluttony. It’s satisfying for a moment in time but leaves you feeling ill. Rise above the petty grievances that weigh others down in meaningless pursuits. You are better than that.

Make a difference. It’s not about designer clothes, Swiss watches or German cars. The difference you make is about the people you meet, the positive thoughts that you can infect them with. The progress you make in your life can also be the progress for others. Greatness comes from impact.

Your life ends one minute at a time. Never waste a single moment. Live in the ecstasy of wonder, the joy of discovery. Cancel the dark thoughts with the exhilaration of what is possible. The light shines brightly from within you. Others may try to extinguish it but never dim that light yourself.

You are alive. It is the greatest gift of all.

Live it. Never be forgotten.

And I will never forget you. Because you are me.

The Risk of Living

Lightning StrikesWhat makes an 80 year old woman jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet? Maybe she wants to prove to herself that she’s finally a risk taker. Perhaps it’s for the thrill. Or just because she can.

Every day we take risks. Most of the time we don’t even think about it because the risk is so stacked in our favor that there’s hardly a risk at all. Like eating raw oysters. Or taking a taxi ride in New York City.

Then of course there is the opposite of risk. Comfort. Being so comfortable where we are that we never want to risk losing what we have. But without risk, life is very dull indeed.

Sometimes it helps to think in extremes. To wonder about your life if everything was to change overnight. What would you risk everything for? For your children’s lives? Certainly. To escape an inevitable death? Probably. To gain your freedom from an abusive relationship? Maybe. To leave behind a prosperous career to do something you love?

Risk and motivation are very closely linked. You can’t have one without the other. Most extreme motivation involves taking significant risks. And risks, after all, are assessments of probability. The probability that there is a greater prospect of a positive return over the risk of loss. Or not.

Sometimes others take the risk for us. Like a partner who leaves you. Or a boss who lets you go. But some of the greatest achievements come out of adversity.

Perhaps the greatest risk you can face is the risk of losing your life. Of course, in the end it’s not a risk at all. It’s a certainty. We all face the grim reaper in the final chapter. There is no risk we can take that will save us from mortality. All of our vain attempts at building comfort and security will mean nothing when that time inevitably comes.

In the end we will always wish we had done something more. How, if we could go back in time, we would reach out for what we could have even if it risked losing what we were holding onto.

The human spirit is driven by risk. There is no progress in life without it. And the greatest risk of all is not to live the incredible life you could really have.

And looking back over your life, knowing you were just too comfortable to do anything about it.

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