Thoughts From Six Feet Away: Cheat Codes For Life (Part 1)
Before I get going today, I need to get something off my chest:
When did everything get so expensive?
There have been obvious signs recently (tried to buy gas or eggs lately?), but it’s starting to hit me where it hurts. I’ve always loved going to concerts, and I’m aware the prices have been going up, but it came to a head for me earlier this week. Despite my hard rock exterior, I’ve always been infatuated with the music of Adele (don’t judge me, trying to be vulnerable here). Some of her music came on the radio on the way home from work, and I queried my phone to see if she was on tour. Turns out, she’s doing a residency in Las Vegas right now. My birthday is in a couple of weeks, and I can never decide what I want to do. Energized, I burst through the door and proclaimed to my wife, “I know what I want to do for my birthday! I’m going to see Adele in Las Vegas!” My wife asked me how much tickets cost, and I confessed that I hadn’t made it that far. I figured I was going to pay for tickets: I’m not stupid, after all. But nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I looked online.
Ticket prices ranged from $999 to nearly $2000. And that’s if I went by myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Adele, but I don’t think I’m in “sell my kidney” territory to see her live. I shared my discovery with a colleague, one who out-earns me by a large margin, and his response was “Holy shit! Who’s paying those kinds of prices?” So it wasn’t just me, then. The median American income is $55k per year, and after accounting for taxes and benefits, I have to think that an Adele ticket for you and your plus-one will cost you a month’s paycheck.
Okay, enough of my "First World White Guy” problems.
I can’t seem to shake this thought of reducing complexity when it comes to living my life. As the old saying goes, “Life is hard, and then you die.” Some would remind me that the term for them is “Life sucks” for the first part, but I never embraced this sentiment, even in my darkest moments. Often, our path is difficult because we’ve made it so. We’ve taken a path fraught with difficulty, or we become so obsessed with shortcuts that we end up lost.
Most of us prefer a simpler way, but we can let our desires get in the way, especially if the simpler path makes us uncomfortable. We seek shortcuts to avoid conflict or because we are afraid of stepping out of our comfort zones. It’s natural to feel this way, and only through conscious effort and mindset change will we ever move past the things that hold us back.
In the past few years, I’ve become keenly aware of the finite time I have in this world and, more than ever, I’m committed to not being afraid anymore and doing what it takes to make the most of my journey. I avoid use of the term ‘shortcut,’ because it has always carried a lazy connotation for me. I like the phrase "life hack" that has become popular in recent years, but my background as a video game guy has inspired me to use the phrase “cheat code” instead. And with that, I’ll share my Cheat Codes for Life, one at a time, over the next few weeks.
Cheat Code #1: Violate Your Routine
We’ve all heard the phrase “creature of habit,” and to a certain extent, we all fall into this web. There’s comfort in the routine, but it often stagnates our growth. Stop eating at the same time. Arrive at your destination by taking a different route. Stop having meatloaf every Sunday. “Mixing it up” refreshes the mind; it’s like remodeling without all the lifting and the painting. Not to mention, violating the routine will allow you to be more flexible. And let’s face it, there are times where you’ll need to be. The more practice you have, the easier it’ll be when that uncontrollable time comes. If you find yourself griping about people when you’re just trying to get things done, this cheat code is gold.
Nowhere is the trap of routines more apparent than at the Disney World of crowds…Disney World. My family and I go all the time, and I’m usually chided at least once per trip for complaining about “all the damn people.” The lines are long for the rides, and sometimes you end up just walking around. But you know when the lines are the shortest during the day at the Magic Kingdom? They’re the shortest between noon and 1 o’clock, and again around 5pm. Humans can’t help themselves – they insist on eating at those magical hours, and nothing will deter them, not even a vacation. Plus, all those perfect parents who pride themselves on their perfect routines are hating their life by 8pm, and all they want to do is watch the blasted fireworks. As soon as the finale erupts, the Cleavers are headed for the monorail, and those of use whose kids fought bedtime every night are free to enjoy the half-empty park.
So what do we do? We challenge the status quo. The perfect time to have lunch is 11:00 am, and we will eat as early as 4:00 (or sometimes wait until 8:00) for dinner. We ride 70% of our rides after the fireworks, and sometimes during the fireworks. We’re not above violating the routine, even on vacation.
Now, am I saying that you shouldn’t have some sort of routine at all? Absolutely not! Most of us have jobs, and they certainly are particular about their routine, or what we call “work hours.” Routines bring order from chaos, and I understand their value. Where we get into trouble is when we feel as though every minute needs activity, or every moment needs to be scripted. The moments we cherish often occur in the spur of the moment...spontaneously. Moments cannot be planned; they just happen. I think about how many times my friends have waved off spending time together because they have “shit to do,” and it makes me sad. We place so much emphasis on DOING that we have become completely unaccustomed to the concept of BEING.
So this week, take a different way home. Try a new meal at home. Check out the new Thai restaurant in town and order something new. And for pete’s sake, the world won’t end if you don’t eat at five. Have a glorious couple of weeks everyone! As always, be excellent to each other, and…