Original Link : https://psiloveyou.xyz/let-the-moment-move-you-413a24bbe768
Achieve less. Savor more.
Iwas never supposed to be a runner. When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with severe asthma, and I was essentially quarantined from strenuous exercise — among other things like dust, mold, pollen, dogs, cats, fur, cold, heat and smoke.
I watched other kids play in the snow while I sat chained to one of those air-compressor contraptions, lamenting my plight of being a doughy seven year-old who never learned to pack a snowball. I suffered an asthma attack literally every time I ran the physical fitness test mile in gym class. I never didn’t end up in the nurse’s office.
Somewhere around the time I obtained my learner’s permit, I got this boneheaded idea to start running, largely because I was sick of being that kid who the coaches and gym teachers and other children’s parents had to watch out for. I loathed feeling defective and inferior. I’d hobble across the concrete, hack up six gallons of mucus, wheeze in a register that bore an uncomfortable sonic resemblance to a lobster being boiled alive — and I’d later turn that same color in my face. Yet, still, I ran seven 15K races between 1998 and 2004 — then largely shelved the project.
Nearly a decade later, I picked running back up, largely because, again, I hated feeling defective and inferior. I had ballooned to 210 pounds, and my nagging hypochondria convinced me I was probably dying of emphysema. (Narrator: He wasn’t.)
I finished my first half-marathon in January 2014 — running it with a friend — and I distinctly remember the way I felt through the entire course, enjoying the zen of running, slowly, for its own sake. The meditative act of putting on my headphones, queuing up a playlist packed with my favorite music, vibing out, and wandering through city streets with nowhere else to be and nothing else to think about. Bright sunshine lit my face. There was nothing to think of except the road in front of me. Concern over money, my future, my relationships, my hashtag-legacy all vanished. That’s when the light turned on for me.
I’ve run nine half-marathons since. I don’t do it for bragging rights. I’m just here for the music, the Vitamin D and the endorphin rush. I ran my first marathon in January 2017, and I finished it in 6:24:45. That’s almost 385 minutes, or one for every fuck I did not give about my time.
Some time ago, a friend recently asked me if I’d like to see Brandi Carlile in concert for her 10th Anniversary of The Story tour. I said yes. Now, there’s four things you should know about this upcoming — ahem — story, before I dive into the rest:
- I had not seen this friend in three years.
- This was the same friend who ran my first half-marathon with me.
- At the time, I had zero idea who Brandi Carlile was.
- I was pretty emotionally raw from a recent breakup and a burgeoning binge-drinking bender.
So, we meet up for drinks before, and we shoot the shit about the things you find yourself talking about when you haven’t seen each other for three years, which is always a high-voltage whiplash between “how’ve you been lately?” and “remember that time we…?” and almost nothing in between. It was still magical. Our laughs were long. Her words reverberated off the copper walls. Just as it does on a 13-mile race course, the time melted away and a couple hours breezed right by, before we headed into that gorgeous theater where they film the show Austin City Limits.
Sowe find some more cocktails and our seats, and Brandi Carlile takes the stage and promptly loses her shit. Not in an angry way. In a “I-can’t-possibly-be-anywhere-else-right-now-because-I-have-nowhere-else-to-go-and-this-fucking-moment-is-all-we-have” way. Brandi (yes, after one concert, we were officially on a first-name basis, and I’ve now seen her twice more since) has this fucking voice, man. It is a satin alto that scrapes the rafters and could shoot bullets straight through bubbles without bursting them. And she has these songs, these lyrics, that just absolutely devastate you.
During some song — and I’m frankly not sure which, because I didn’t know any of them, and they all blended together in the best way — I openly sobbed, and then I laughed really hard about the fact that a concert moved me to tears, when I have absolutely never cried at a show before, or even wept so much after my last four breakups. So then I spent the next two minutes awkwardly laugh-crying and cheering and just feeling warm chills and rainbows, sufficiently suspended at Zero-G for as long as I stayed there glued to my chair.
Atsome point, possibly one drink beyond my expiration point, my friend and I spent the remainder of the evening woozily, joyously and breathlessly wrapped up in each other’s arms and locked to each other’s lips. It was unexpected and unusual, yet it felt like the appropriate thing to do, because you’re just so totally into that moment — because that moment is all you have. Memories are abandoned, overridden, and overwritten. You are, compulsively, capital-p Present.
I became untethered from space-time, and concerns I used to have — will I die alone, will I buy a house in Malibu, is my cat is secretly plotting to kill me (narrator: she is) — sank and faded like water droplets on a cotton t-shirt.
In moments like that, nothing else matters but the lips you find yourself kissing — and that warm sensation of an evening you just squeezed every last drop of joy out of. You meander through the mundane of your everyday just to arrive at blissful moments like that. I went to bed dizzy and dazzled, after having spent $140 to see a performer I’d never heard of — one dollar for every fuck I failed to give about that price-tag.
Itell you those two very random stories — the running and the concert — to talk to you about we measure our lives. My medals are tucked in a closet. I’ve lost my concert tickets. I took no pictures.
All I have are stories and a treasure trove of euphoria to draw upon. All these things — times, prices, medals, stories — are results. And results aren’t quite the things that matter, because a result only exists at a set point in time: once you achieve it, it’s gone. Results become memories, and another stepping stone that carries you to where you currently are. The farther away you get from it, the less satisfying and meaningful that thing becomes.
By contrast, anticipation of a future result, or constant tracking on your way toward a result you’re expecting to achieve, only exists in an intangible future tense. It never exists in reality, until it exists in the past.
When you affix your self-worth to metrics and results, you postpone your own happiness and place it outside the realm of your control, all while — even worse — you convince yourself that you’re “on your way” to being happier and more successful than ever, that you’re this close to “making it,” without realizing that once you hit where you thought was the horizon, the goalposts keep moving back. There’s always another mountain to climb — somewhere new to go — to be happy and search for the meaning of life. But, to paraphrase a transcendental author, the magic’s around us instead of ahead of us.
Think of all the societal ills, spread because people scrap moments in favor of metrics.Cutthroat corporate work environments. Black Friday stampedes. Blood doping in cycling. Fyre Festival. Bro-flakes on Twitter yelling at A.J. Green for a lackluster fantasy football performance in a game the Bengals won by three touchdowns. Intellectually lazy arguments that the economy is a zero-sum game tethered to what it earns instead of what it makes, and that when one group loses it must be because another imagined out-group is taking it from them, leading to the rise of authoritarian and nationalist governments in previously capitalist and democratic nations. I digress.
Results, in the truest sense of the word, are an illusion. Arbitrarily selected check-boxes. Lies that we tell ourselves, tethered to metrics, memories or expectations. They are merely present for a moment; then they’re gone. Results are fleeting, ephemeral things — as real as dreams we forget when we wake. The truth is the current that flows underneath it all — the connective tissue we can neither articulate, nor avoid.
Only the present is real. Only the love we inject into it. Only the way we let it change us. Only our breath and the times we’re left breathless. Only what we learn, what we create, what we sense. It’s the fucks we give about the things that truly matter — the things we learn, make, experience and share.
When you spend your time, energy and capital immersing yourself in who and what you love, you can live more authentically, more meaningfully and more happily. More peacefully. That which cannot be measured is that which can be savored.
Life is just data. Sure, you’ll have your stories. You’ll slay your dragons. You’ll cross your finish lines. You’ll make your money. You’ll fall in Facebook-official love. But all those results will be more like happy byproducts to a life spent intentionally swimming in an extraordinary state of bliss, for as often as you can possibly surrender to it.
Achievements are side-effects of the life you live, and the side-effects are not the cure — the treatment is. Thought, emotion, intention and action are that treatment. They’re the cure for what ails you — the antidote to what ails us all.
I don’t spend 100% of my life running marathons, taking flyers on random concerts, booking impulse flights to Paris, or loving so intensely and completely that my heart shimmers with frenzied radiance. But I do spend most of my life doing approximations of all of those things — running, music, traveling, telling stories, making love, eating lobster rolls.
Some things I do for money. Some I do for health. Some I do for me. Some I do just to pay something forward or give something back. Yet doing what I do, more often than not, brings me joy, peace, meaning and light. For me, that’s empowering — and more than enough.
Any sort of achievement, or shallow culturally-defined institutional check-box I can satisfy? They will be side-effects of the life I want to live, and not the cure for what ails me — that I can assure you.
After all, even now, after all those races run and miles logged: I still have asthma, and I suppose I always will.