Boys and Girls Are Dumb

Here's the thing.

There are seven billion people on the planet. Out of those seven billion, you'll meet tens of thousands. Out of those tens of thousands, you'll maintain real relationships with only one or two hundred. Out of those one or two hundred, only a handful are really worth knowing. Only a handful will know you intimately.

So when you find someone that helps you be the best possible version of yourself, someone who makes you laugh and feel loved and like you can do anything, someone who isn't nuts and doesn't want to do anything with your emotions but nurture and protect them, you hang on to that person, and you don't treat them like shit.

It's not always easy, and the timing is never perfect. But you make it work.

You respect them.

You listen to and support them—through everything.

You don't play games.

You say what you mean, and you mean what you say.

You give them what they need.

You don't give up.

You do whatever it takes.

You make it work.

A person unwilling to adhere to each of these values is not worth having in your life. Look to the next better thing.

The world is full of people willing to screw you over, on purpose or by accident. People are generally good, but that doesn't mean they aren't looking out for themselves first. I don't blame them. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else.

That's why unconditional love is so rare. For two people to be so confident in who they are—as a team and as individuals—that they are each capable of putting the other person first regardless of conditions or convenience is so rare, it can take a lifetime to find.

Those odds are the stuff miracles are made of.

The Fromagerie

As previously stated, I keep a small circle of close friends. I don't talk to strangers, and I have no interest in small talk. I am loyal to those who are closest to me.

Still, I often wonder if that's the best practice.

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, I had lunch with my undergraduate advisor (still my advisor in many ways) and a mutual friend of ours at a fromagerie and bistro.

As we ate and discussed the ins and outs of English professorship, I noticed a waitress, whose beauty I found so astounding that I found it difficult to concentrate on anything else. My company, being older, wiser, and always eager to help me find love in unexpected places, encouraged me to strike up a conversation with her. I obviously demurred, finding it preferable to hide behind my cheeseburger.

Of course, after we parted ways, I realized there was no way I could not talk to her and still live with myself, so I went back inside.

I told the waitress behind the counter that one of her coworkers was wearing a gray, v-neck sweater and inquired about her name. She poked her head around the corner and confirmed my beloved's identity. I asked if I could talk to her for a moment and was told I could find her upstairs at the bar.


The bar was crowded, despite being near closing time. I found her washing a dish (let's say), quite magnificently. I only had a minute to survey the scene and plan my approach before she whipped around and appeared right in front of me, taller than I'd realized.

I greeted her warmly and introduced myself before asking if she'd like to have dinner somewhere, sometime.

I don't know if women rehearse their reaction to these sorts of inquiries, but she seemed genuinely taken aback and managed to find the words explaining she had just broken up with her boyfriend days earlier.


I offered my condolences and asked how she was doing, to which she responded, "Not good."

They had been together for a year, and I explained that my last relationship, despite being equally "brief," had also had the depth of one lasting several times that. She seemed consoled by it, and then proceeded to thank me for my invitation because—even though she had to reject me—it was exactly what she needed to hear on this particular day. I said I was happy to help, and perhaps another time would suit us better.

After I left her, I realized I could not in good conscious leave without providing my contact information. I tore a page out of my Field Notes and scrawled the following note:

Pretty Lady Whose Name I Will Not Disclose on This Blog,

It was wonderful to meet you. I hope you feel better soon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Andrew Marvin

(555) 555-5555

(In case you could ever use an extra friend.)

I slipped the note to the waitress behind the counter, giving her explicit instructions that it was for its intended recipient only, and she promised to deliver it promptly. I thanked her, said "Happy Thanksgiving!", and left.

I share this story because I'm beginning to think action is preferable to passivity when it comes to relationships. I have no desire to befriend every person I meet or clutter my life with acquaintances, but I also can never be sure whether that person over there might be one who changes my life.

I like to think we each have several people walking the earth who possess the capacity to turn us into the best version of ourself. Maybe we won't meet the one who does until five years from now. Maybe we'll meet them tomorrow. Or maybe we already have.

But it can't hurt to say hello.

The Problem with Loyalty

I'm a loyal person.

I keep a small circle of close friends. Always have. Chalk it up to nerdiness, academia, introversion, et al. I don't always know whether it's the best model, but it's the model I've adopted. It enables me to put my best into each relationship. As with multitasking, the more inputs clamoring for your time and attention, the less each receives.

Tasks, of course, are not people. While you may stay up all night with a task, it doesn't embrace you in the morning. You don't take bullets for tasks. You don't wake up every morning asking yourself how you can make a task feel special today. A task doesn't care.

People matter, but it takes a lot to find the good ones. There are over seven billion of them out there, and only a handful are worth knowing. I've met a few, and to them I hold on as tightly as I can.

Even after months and years, real loyalty is unwavering. Often inexplicably so. At times, against better judgment.

I live to make you feel safe. Beautiful. Invincible.

But I can only do so much from here.

The problem with loyalty is that it creates attachment, and attachment invariably leads to suffering.

My heart is loyal to a fault.

Where Are My Friends?

When it comes to friendships, I've always favored quality over quantity.

Growing up as a geeky, introverted kid, that makes total sense. When I was younger, I was far more interested in my studies, reading, or playing video games than I was in being a social butterfly. In many ways, I still am.

Being a geek when you're little is, to say the least, inconvenient. But as I got older and went to college, I began to wear my social selectivity as a badge of honor. I had little desire to allow anyone into my life who didn't positively contribute to it. Not that I would forcibly reject people — I'd just be content with allowing certain relationships to fade away. To let them be what they were, nothing more, and not try to force anything out of politeness or desperation.

As our dad likes to point out, my sister and I are complete opposites, especially when it comes to our social lives. Through her, I've noticed how being selective with friendships has its advantages and disadvantages. I don't think my sister has ever been without plans, somewhere to be, or someone to hang out with. Or so it seems to me, anyway. That's really awesome, and there are plenty of times when I wish my phone was going off all the time, if only to have someone to talk to.

On the other hand, the more friends you have, the more likely you are to encounter drama on a somewhat regular basis.

If a relationship causes me more drama than its worth, I let it go. If I want to get through life as contently as possible, eliminating unnecessary people is one of my most valuable strategies.

What I'm beginning to realize now, though, is that as I get older, I find myself having to eliminate unnecessary people less and less. That is, I'm meeting new people far more infrequently.

A few days ago, Alex Williams wrote an article for the New York Times about the challenge of making friends as an adult:

As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.

I met most of my best friends in college. We saw each other, laughed, cried, and lived life together every day. It was amazing, in retrospect. Now I only talk to most of them every few weeks, if I'm lucky, and since we've all moved back to our respective areas of the country, I see them far less often than I'd like.

But they're still my best friends.

I made some best friends in grad school, too, and I'm grateful that I still talk to them as often as I do.

But none of them are here right now. None of them are down the hall or upstairs. Most aren't in the same town, let alone the same state.

Since moving out of my parents' house, I've felt their absence more than ever. There are days when I wake up, read, write, work out, cook, and eat without ever talking to another person. Sometimes it's not until I go to work or yoga or run errands that I hear my own voice. And though I love solitude as much as the next writer/geek/introvert, we do miss our friends.

I tell you this not out of a desire for pity, of course. Being out on my own is great, and I wouldn't trade my best friends for all the acquaintances in the world. It's merely been the observation at the forefront of my mind lately.

As I get older, I don't see myself suddenly gaining five new friends a week as one might do in college. In fact, when I try to imagine where my next good friend is going to come from, I can't come up with an obvious answer. There are no more classes. There are no more parties in the quad. Right now — and with the kind of job I want — there aren't even any coworkers.

It is, admittedly, a bit scary.

Alex Williams:

People have an internal alarm clock that goes off at big life events, like turning 30. It reminds them that time horizons are shrinking, so it is a point to pull back on exploration and concentrate on the here and now. “You tend to focus on what is most emotionally important to you,” [Laura L. Carstensen, a psychology professor who is the director of the Stanford Center on Longevity in California] said, “so you’re not interested in going to that cocktail party, you’re interested in spending time with your kids.”

I don't know if I'm OK with pulling back on exploration, of the self or otherwise. But I do know — so far — who I want alongside me at 30 and beyond.

There are billions of people out there, and not all of them are worth knowing.

So when I find someone who is, I'm going to make sure they know it.

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The Next Better Thing

What do you do when the love of your life decides they don’t want the job?

Like any loss, the first reaction is denial. It doesn’t make sense. Nothing makes sense. How can your heart be so sure of something, and then be wrong? How can your heart be wrong?

What makes someone the love of your life is that they defy expectations. They supersede all of your past relationships, and you can’t possibly envision someone better. You think, this is it. I don’t have to look anymore.

Unless they don’t agree.

And when that happens, we have no choice in the matter. All the confidence and love in the world is not enough to make someone feel something they don’t feel.

The pain and grief comes not only out of the loss of that person, but of the realization that now you’re back to zero. You thought you had a ten on your hands, and now you have nothing. And the despair comes from being unable to possibly imagine anything ever coming close to what you’ve lost.

But the thing is, something better will come.

You only know the love of your life so far. It’s easy to declare someone the best when you have no knowledge of who else is to come after. Sometimes, your heart is right, and there is no one else.

But when your heart is wrong, the only thing you can do is trust that the next best thing — the next better thing — is yet to come. Even if you can’t possibly imagine who they are, someone better is coming. Someone who defies your expectations in ways you’ve never even dreamed of.

It sounds impossible, but that’s because seeing is believing. It’s impossible to envision someone better until that someone arrives. But they are coming. We have to believe and be ready.

They’re on their way.

An Irreparable Moment

I don’t regret very many things. I can hardly think of any off the top of my head.

I attribute this lack of regret to a conscious decision to think before I act, so as to avoid any regrettable actions entirely.

But sometimes I fuck up.

I only just learned the true significance of something I said almost a year ago. It was awful and insensitive and ignorant, and I can’t take it back. And so now I’m full of regret, reliving that moment over and over again, and finding new pain each time.

I don’t know if a single moment can cause the downfall of a relationship. You could argue that if it wasn’t that moment, it would have been some other moment. But it’s still hard not to wish for it back, to wonder what if it hadn’t happened, and to want to do it all over again.

Of course, the way I’d handle that moment now would be completely different. A way that wouldn’t cause so much irreversible damage. I’m powerless now to convince the person I hurt so deeply that my opinions have changed. It would only seem like an act of desperation.

I always tried to be the most supportive partner I could, and in one bad moment, I wasn’t, and it broke everything down. I can’t think of anything more regrettable.

It’s hard to know what to do with an irreparable moment. You can’t really do anything. All you can do is say, “I’m sorry”, and hope it’s enough. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s enough to move forward, but not enough to go back.

You can’t control what another person thinks. The only thing you can control is you. Once you’ve expressed your regret, you have to let it go and trust that it will be enough. Don’t be a prisoner of the past. Be confident in the fact that you know how you feel now. Whether anyone else chooses to accept that is up to them.

Even though my mistake contributed to the loss of my relationship, and even though that fact kills me, I’m better off having learned from the experience. Whoever comes next will get a better version of me, one that will never make the same mistake again.

Five Years Stronger

Sometimes we’ll say something like, “I wish I met you five years from now.”

Perhaps that would have been more convenient, but on the other hand, you wouldn’t be the same person you are now if you met that person in five years.

You are who you are today in part because you met that person when you did. If you hadn’t met them, you wouldn’t have learned from them. Perhaps you wouldn’t have experienced the pain it caused, but you wouldn’t have experienced the joy either.

A person comes into your life whenever the universe sees fit. Maybe they’ll walk alongside you for a day, or a month, or a year. Maybe they’ll walk away for a while. Maybe they’ll come back. Maybe they won’t.

But if they do, you’ll have your history together, whatever it is. And that may make you five years closer to one another.

Five years stronger.

If I met you in five years, things might work out differently…

But we’d miss out on five years of knowing each other.

[Thanks to my sister for pointing this out to me.]

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The Best Version of Yourself

Despite the awesomeness that is Jerry Maguire, Colin Wright takes issue with the phrase, “You complete me.”:

Even though it’s generally uttered in a complimentary context, the implication is that the person saying it to you was not whole before you came along. […]

In my mind, one should never be incomplete, if one can avoid it. One should be whole by oneself. One should be 1.

And that means, that when two complete people — two people who would be living wonderful lives without each other — are together, the math stays integered and wonderful, but also magically increases in value. Your 1 and their 1 doesn’t equal 2. You end up with 3. Or 7. Or 229.

Why does it work this way? Because if you have a good relationship with someone else — any kind of relationship — you both become better versions of yourselves for having that other person in your life. We’re all 1′s, if we’re self-aware and live our lives to the fullest. If I find someone who adds to my life, who causes me to be a better version of myself, I might become a 4.

I had lunch with my friend Rich today, and after we parted ways, I found myself thinking that he tends to bring out a better version of myself. I don’t know why. Something about our friendship inspires confidence and camaraderie. Invincibility.

I consider myself a fairly self-aware person, and I believe — as I think Colin does — that one shouldn’t rely on anything or anyone for happiness.

After all, my favorite quote is:

You must love yourself before you can love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.

I believe this issue has two components.

The first is to know oneself.

The second is to surround oneself with individuals who are equally self-aware, and who are thus capable of augmenting that version of yourself to a degree that surpasses anything we might achieve on our own.

There are no concrete steps on the path to knowing oneself. I do know that it requires deep introspection and a lot of time and patience. At least it did for me.

To take up Colin’s numerical analogy, 1 might be the highest level of completion an individual can attain without anyone else’s help. And it can be very difficult to become a 1.

Some — perhaps most — people float through life without ever examining themselves, without ever questioning, “Who am I?” “What am I doing here?” “Why am I this way?” I’m sure ignorance is bliss in their case.

But as Socrates said:

The unexamined life is not worth living.

As we become more self-aware, we present a more complete version of ourselves to others. Present-day Andrew is more complete than the Andrew from two years ago, who was more complete than college Andrew, who was on his way to becoming much more complete than high school Andrew. And tomorrow Andrew will be more complete than today Andrew.

I know more today than I did yesterday.

Provided that we never stop searching for a complete sense of self, every moment that passes brings us a tiny bit closer to realizing who we are.

With that self-awareness comes the ability to offer the most confident and loving version of yourself to others.

This is me, today.

And while it’s nice to imagine two incomplete people becoming complete together, perhaps we are better suited to doing so on our own.

But if I can find someone equally self-aware, and our two fully-realized selves meet and complement each other, I believe a bond can be formed that transcends everyday friendship.

Since today I am the most self-aware I have ever been (until tomorrow, anyway), I want to surround myself with people who can take my 1 and multiply it. I may be a 1 on my own, but a particular friendship or relationship may turn me into a 5 or a 10.

I want to surround myself with people who inspire me to be better. To do things I otherwise would never dream of. To make me unafraid. That’s the barometer by which I gauge my relationships.

Does this person make me a better version of myself?

Most people won’t, and they can be let go. Eliminate the unnecessary.

But once in a while, someone comes along who makes you better.

Meeting these people is rare. So when I encounter one, I cherish that relationship. I sometimes wish I had more of them, but it’s that scarcity that makes them so precious.

This is a meandering and largely nonsensical post. But being out on your own comes with a lot of alone time, and it makes you realize how valuable certain people are in your life. And it makes you realize who you want to keep around.

Become who you really are. Which is amazing.

Then find those who make who you are even better.

And take over the world together.

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The Futility of Grudges

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
Oscar Wilde

I’m terrible at staying mad at people.

No matter how hard I try, my anger rarely lasts for more than a few hours, let alone an entire day.

I just don’t have the strength.

And why would I want to? Why would I want to walk around carrying all of that anger, hatred, and jealousy in my head all day?

I’ve known people who seem to flaunt their grudges like badges of honor. “So-and-so made fun of me in middle school, and now she’s my mortal enemy.”

I don’t get it. What’s the point? Why waste your time and energy being mad at someone for something that happened years ago? Months ago? Yesterday?

Why choose to promote negative energy?

Staying mad at someone is hard work. I have to constantly remind myself why I’m angry over and over again. That takes mental and emotional energy. It’s exhausting.

And what do I have to gain? The satisfaction of knowing that my enemy knows I’m angry at him?

Holding a grudge means I’ve become attached to the notion that I was right and he was wrong. I believe it so strongly that I’m willing to devote a portion of my brain to preserving that altercation. To preserving negativity.

It’s not worth it.

I can’t control what someone thinks of me. But, I can control how my mind deals with their opinion. If their opinion is valuable — regardless of whether it’s positive or negative — I can choose to learn from it. That’s constructive criticism. But, if their opinion is not valuable, I can choose to transcend it.

If someone has an irrational problem with me, it’s not my problem. It’s their problem. And their problem isn’t really with me; it’s with themselves. They’re projecting their own self-hatred onto me. It’s unfortunate, but not something I should worry about. I wish them the best in their struggle.

When it comes to grudges, life really is too short to spend it preserving anger and hate. The world has enough of that. Do not be a source of negative energy.

Let go.


Be free.

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Why & How I Deleted Facebook

One week ago, I deleted Facebook.

Needless to say, I don’t miss it at all.

The Why

The simplest answer is this:

Facebook is a timesuck, and I need all the time I can get.


Because of its artificial and forced two-way friendship model, amassing hundreds of Facebook friends is easy. One might even consider it difficult to avoid.

Having lots of friends is desirable, even if those friends are mostly meaningless acquaintances. It makes us feel like we aren’t alone, like we’re a part of something. It’s nice to be popular.

I joined Facebook circa 2005 as I was preparing to graduate high school. Before long, checking Facebook became part of my routine. As a college freshman, it was an attempt to meet people. New town, new school, no friends… But there was Facebook.

For many, Facebook is ingrained to the point where we can’t imagine living without it. It seems so useful. You can look at people’s pictures. You can check relationship statuses. You can stalk guilt-free because everyone does it. You can “keep in touch” with friends and relatives. You can play games.

And you can post statuses.

The status update is the source of Facebook’s superficiality. When I post a status, I know that at least some percentage of my ~400 friends is going to read it. No matter what it is. A description of my lunch. The story of my great workout. A photo in which I look particularly attractive.

What’s the motivation for sharing these bits of information with hundreds of mostly-strangers?

Because I know I’m guaranteed to get some attention in return.

People love what I’m having for lunch. They cheer me on when I post about running my latest 5k. And they won’t hesitate to tell me how great I look in this photo.

And if I have a bad day? It’s like ordering a rush delivery of attention — all from the comfort of your laptop.

Consciously or subconsciously, the underlying motivation of a Facebook account is vanity. Self-affirmation. Titillation.


Facebook is very mainstream. Everyone is on it. But the mainstream is called such because of what it is: shallow.

And what it lacks in depth, it makes up for in breadth. Hundreds and hundreds of “friends”, few of whom we care about, and most of whom we need to wade through to find who really matters.

Insidious Distraction

As I wrote in Ubiquitous Distraction, whenever we check an input, we severely inhibit our ability to create.

This is not to say we can’t find inspiration in blog posts, or escape in a great novel, or levity in a funny YouTube video. But what separates these inputs from Facebook is value.

Facebook provides very little value that cannot be obtained elsewhere. It provides hours of distraction with almost no reward.

I was fortunate to never find Facebook very addicting. Years ago, I began hiding all of the people I didn’t care about, and so checking my News Feed was easy. Log in, read a handful of new posts, and get out. I rarely felt compelled to stalk, check pictures, or play games.

But even still, those few minutes added up. Between the iPhone and iPad apps and logging into the website, I would still manage to check it multiple times a day.

Rarely would I find anything worth the time. Sure, I’d like a status or two, or make a comment if something particularly witty came to mind.

But, why?

What am I getting out of clicking that little thumbs-up button?


What am I contributing by clicking that little thumbs-up button?

Nothing, except for a fleeting moment of gratification.

Every moment I was reading a Facebook status was a moment I was not thinking about making great stuff.

Of course, we can argue that the same is true of Twitter, Path, Instagram, et al. But these inputs are far more likely to provide value because of their models for following and connecting.

You follow people on Twitter whom you find interesting. They do not have to follow you back.

Path is specifically designed for sharing with close friends. You may share your Path with someone, but they do not have to share theirs with you.

Instagram (for the moment) follows the same model as Twitter. Follow those with good pictures. Ignore those without.

You only encounter bullshit in these places if you choose to follow people who post bullshit.

This is where Facebook differs from other social networks.

The How

So, how does one go about departing the land of Lucida Grande?

1. Download Your Information

If you’ve been a member on Facebook for years, as I was, you’ll probably be fearful of losing all of your wall posts, pictures, videos, etc.

Fear not.

Facebook allows you to download all of your information fairly easily, provided you know how to do it.

Click here to learn how to download your Facebook data.

The steps are as follows:

  1. Click the account menu at the top right of any Facebook page.
  2. Choose Account Settings.
  3. Click on “Download a copy of your Facebook data”.
  4. Click Start My Archive.

The archiving process takes a while, and you’ll receive an email from Facebook when your download is ready.

I want to mention here that when I tried to download my archive, I received an error several times stating that my data couldn’t be downloaded. I had to try again the following day before the download link worked.

2. Permanently Delete Your Account

Note that Facebook distinguishes between “deactivate” and “delete”:

If you deactivate your account from your Security Settings page, your profile (timeline) disappears from the Facebook service immediately. People on Facebook will not be able to search for you. Some information, like messages you sent, may still be visible to others.

In case you want to come back to Facebook at some point, we save your profile (timeline) information (friends, photos, interests, etc.) so that the information on your profile (timeline) will be there when you come back. A lot of people deactivate their accounts for temporary reasons.

If you do not think you will use Facebook again and would like your account deleted, keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added. If you would like your account permanently deleted with no option for recovery, log in to your account and then submit your request here.

Fortunately, there’s an easier way to quit Facebook: visit and click the red button to be taken directly to the account deletion page.

Upon doing so, your account will be deactivated for fourteen days. Afterward, the account will be permanently deleted. If you log in during the grace period, you will cancel the deletion request.

Be Free

I was on Facebook for eight years and who knows how many hours.

I still catch myself wanting to type “f-a-c-e-b-o-o-k-.-c-o-m” in my URL bar once in while. It’s muscle memory at this point. But then I remember I don’t need to do that any more.

And it feels good.

I’m not saying that everyone who uses Facebook is an idiot. Most of my friends are still on it. However, I do believe the large majority of content on Facebook is worthless. The cost outweighs the benefits.

For me, it was time to move on. The cost outweighed the benefits. Like the week I changed my life and started rising early, leaving Facebook was the result of self-evaluation.

It’s going back to basics: when something no longer works for you, or no longer contributes value to your life, it’s time to let go.

Eliminate unnecessary things — that includes social networks.

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A Prisoner of the Past

Crave translates into slave
John Roderick

When we lose something wonderful, we experience a natural desire to get that thing back — to get back to the way things were.

This desire arises out of attachment to that thing. When we lose something wonderful, we lose a part of ourselves. Part of our identity was defined by that thing, and so part of our identity must be rebuilt.

Rebuilding can be exceptionally difficult and painful, especially when we convince ourselves that the only way to rebuild is to recover the thing that was lost.

Unfortunately, the loss of the thing is often permanent, which only augments our desire to recover it. The permanence of the loss is directly proportional to our desire to get the thing back. When someone dies, we really wish we could see them again. When someone goes away for a weekend, it’s not a big deal because we know they’ll be back in no time.

The more we allow ourselves to believe that recovering the lost thing is possible, the longer it takes to rebuild, and the longer it takes to be whole again.

Too often, getting back to the thing is impossible. When that is the case, the only way to rebuild is to release our attachment to the thing. Cherish the thing, certainly, but do not try to get back to it. That is, do not allow your happiness and your identity to be dependent on the recovery of a thing that is lost forever. Preserve the memory of the thing, but do not allow yourself to become enslaved by the notion that you can go back to the way things were.

We cannot move forward if we insist on remaining a prisoner of the past. We cannot rebuild by rewinding, only by looking — and moving — ahead.

The best way out is always through.
Robert Frost

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The Essential Lesson About Expectations

Expectation is the root of all heartache.
William Shakespeare

My dad has always taught me the importance of managing expectations. Allowing them to get out of control almost guarantees disappointment, while keeping them low increases the chances of being pleasantly surprised.

But what exactly is an expectation?

An expectation is an attachment to an outcome.

Let’s say you get a tip from a friend about a job he or she thinks you would be perfect for. They tell you all about it and encourage you to apply. They’ll put in a good word for you. It sounds great. The pay would be better. It would be a field you’re interested in. You could use the money to get out of your crappy apartment and pay down some of your student loans. Things would get better. All in all, it sounds like a big upgrade. It’s going to be awesome.

Until you don’t get the job.

This thought process is indicative of out-of-control expectations. When you allow yourself to get overly excited about something that is not yet a sure thing, your brain begins to act as if that thing is already true. When the thing doesn’t come true, it can be devastating.

Attachments to outcomes are no less dangerous than attachments to things. Suppose you get a brand new toy, whatever that means for you. A new car, gadget, instrument, doesn’t matter. You love that thing, and it brings you joy. You don’t want to imagine life without that thing. So if — and when — it breaks, you experience pain and loss.

The same can be said of attachments to people. Boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives are wonderful things, but when their bodies are no longer there — either by choice or by death — the pain can be excruciating.

This pain happens because we have attached a part of ourselves to that thing or person. Our identity is in part defined by our relationship to it, him, or her.

“I am the owner of that car.”

“I am John’s girlfriend.”

“I am Jane’s husband.”

When the car or John or Jane are no longer there, that part of our identity disappears with them, and that void hurts. A lot.

Obviously we can’t force ourselves to stop enjoying things or loving people, so the solution lies in establishing one’s identity independent of external entities.

“With or without this thing/person, I am still me.”

When your sense of identity is unwavering, you don’t feel disappointment when you don’t get the job. Rather, you feel content in knowing that you were OK before the job, and you will be OK without the job.

Of course we feel sadness over the loss of loved ones, whatever the reason. Relationships are an essential fiber of our humanity, and losing them hurts like hell. But perspective and identity must be maintained. In the case of the girlfriend: you were OK before her, and you will be OK after her — even if you don’t think you can be.

When someone dies, our pain is corporeal. We ache over being unable to see the person, or hear their voice, or feel their arms around us. But we may take comfort in knowing that they’re still there, even though their body isn’t.

In all of these cases — the lost job, the broken object, the missing person — we were expecting the thing to be there. When it isn’t, our expectations are not met, and we hurt.

We must learn to let go of our expectations of outcomes, things, and people. In doing so, we free ourselves from our attachment to them. This is not to say we should go through life as emotionless robots, but rather that we must know who we are — with and without these things. Our identities must not depend on the presence or ownership of external entities.

We must truly know ourselves so that we may live independently of the things over which we have no control.

Self-control, then, is the key. You have true control over almost nothing and no one in this world. The only thing you can control is your mind and how it deals with what happens to you. Remove expectations, and you remove the chains of attachment.

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Greener Pathtures: Part Three

Note: This post is Part Three in a three-part series about a social network called Path. It’s also about social networks in general and which ones are worth it. Be sure to read Part One and Part Two first.

This is an important quest. We are spending more and more of our time interacting with each other on the Internet. As such, I believe we must choose the highest quality methods of doing so. But which?

Part Three: The Path to Path

Parts One and Two of Greener Pathtures dealt with the nature of Path and other social networks, respectively. In this third and final installment, I will examine the potential role Path might serve in my realm of social networks.

As previously discussed, Path acts as a sort of all-in-one app, capable of handling virtually all social networking tasks. You can post a photo or video, check in with people and locations, post a song you’re listening to, post a thought, or log your sleep and wake times. By contrast, most social networks (Facebook notwithstanding) excel in only one or two of these areas. Twitter, for instance, is primarily text-based. Instagram is entirely photo-based. Foursquare is, to my knowledge, location-based.

So, we have Path’s Swiss Army knife approach versus the one-thing-well mentality of most other social networks and apps. To determine if Path will be useful to me (and perhaps you), I will compare each of its features to the app I am currently using to fulfill that need.

Photos: Path vs. Instagram

Instagram is the reigning champion of iPhone photo apps. I use it to post photos to Twitter. All of my friends use it. It’s great.

Path’s camera feature is similar, but with notable differences. Enter the bulleted list:

  • Path has fewer filters. There are some bonus filters available for $0.99 in-app purchases, which admittedly look quite nice.
  • Path’s photos are not square like Instagram’s.
  • Path’s photo filters do not have borders.
  • Path allows you to take videos and apply filters to videos.

Both apps feature tilt-shifts, flash options, and the ability to upload an already-taken photo. Both can post to Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr.

One thing that surprised me was Path’s ability to take videos. I took a thirty-second video and posted it to my Path and Twitter with ease. If the app took time to upload the video, I didn’t notice it. It just hopped onto my Path like it was nothing. I could view it on both Path and Twitter. The whole process worked beautifully.

I never tweet my own videos because: A) I rarely take them, B) I don’t have a dedicated video sharing app, C) uploading videos to Twitter isn’t usually seamless. Path, however, really impressed me with this feature.

You can save other people’s photos in Path. As far as I can tell, Instagram does not let you do this.

Also of note is the fact that Path is not a dedicated photo app like Instagram. That means there is no Popular tab, news feed, or profile — at least, not in the Instagram sense. People can still comment and approve of your photos on Path, they just do it on your Path timeline. It’s similar to scrolling down your Facebook News Feed, where there are many different types of posts. This contrasts with Instagram’s feed, which is only photos.

Will Path replace Instagram for me?

Probably not. Instagram is too great and too widespread for me to abandon. However, Path’s photo features are respectable, and I can just as easily use it to share photos on Twitter as I can with Instagram. Plus, Path’s video capabilities blow me away. Instagram will probably remain my main photo app, except in instances of sharing video and when I only want people on Path to see my photo.

People & Location Check-In

I’m including this as one section because they’re very similar. “I’m with so-and-so”, “I’m at such-and-such”, or some combination of the two. Checking into places or with people on Path is characteristically fun and easy.

I need to take a timeout here to point out that many features in Path can be accessed from within the other features. Stay with me.

When you click the “+” button in Path, you get a wonderfully animated radial menu that offers you the Camera, People, Places, Music, Thoughts, and Sleep/Wake options. Selecting one takes you to that feature, but then you are always taken to the Post screen, where you can add commentary, who you’re with, where you are, or choose to also post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Foursquare.

This seems puzzling, but I think it speaks to Path’s versatility. You don’t have to go back and forth between features when making a post. You always get the option to add People, Places, Thoughts, or post to other social networks before submitting your entry. However, you cannot, say, take a photo from the People screen, or post a song from Thoughts, if that makes sense.

It sounds squirrelly, but the more I think about it, the more logical it becomes. The radial menu has you pick your primary reason for posting, and then the Post screen lets you to add people, places, or thoughts to that post. For example, “Oh, I want to post this song to Path”, so I hit the Music button and select my song. Then, I decide I also want to tag my friend Rich, who’s with me, and say we’re at Friendly’s. The Post screen lets me add those details to my song post.

OK. Moving on.

Will I use Path for check-in services?

Again, the only check-in services I use are on Instagram or Twitter, and only if I feel it’s relevant. Path, however, makes it easy to tag friends and locations in posts, so I can see myself using these features more often. I actually already have. Again: versatility.


Posting music with Path is great. The song preview works well, and people can easily listen to what I’m listening to. I can post the song to other social networks with no problem.

I’ve been using the SoundTracking app for posting music, but I’m going to switch to Path. It’ll be one less app, and I don’t use SoundTracking’s other features enough to warrant keeping it. Path lets me post what I’m listening to, and it does it well.

And you know what? Path does everything it does well. Photos, videos, people, places, thoughts, music: it excels at all of them. Don’t think that because this app does many things, the experience of each thing suffers. If I can use Path for something, I’m likely to do so.

Thoughts: Path vs. Twitter

I can’t abandon Twitter. I love and rely on it too much. Path allows me to post virtually anything to Twitter though, including Thoughts, which are essentially tweets. This means you could use Path as a tweeting client, but not as a Twitter client because it doesn’t allow you to read your Twitter stream.

For me, it’s end-of-story: Path won’t replace Twitter, and it probably won’t for any Twitter user. Path does, however, make it easy to post additional things to Twitter. I see myself using the two in conjunction. Also note your audience with each service: you have varying degrees of friendship with your Twitter followers, but Path is reserved only for close friends. That should dictate which app you use for which types of sharing.

And now, the ultimate showdown…

Path vs. Facebook

Path and Facebook are, in some ways, very similar. Both services allow you to post virtually anything: photos, videos, links, check-ins, music, you name it. Both your Path and your Facebook News Feed will be filled with a variety of stuff from people.

But that’s where the similarity ends.

As I said in Part One, Path is a quiet, cozy living room full of great moments with close friends. Facebook is a raging house party. The dynamics of the two could not be more diametrically opposed.

On the Internet, there are people you know, and people you don’t know. Your Facebook is filled with people you don’t know. OK, sure, you “know” them, but you don’t give a crap about them.

Path is designed not just for the people you know, but for the people you genuinely care about. Well, why not just delete all your Facebook friends and start over? I guess, but the concept of Facebook has become so nauseating to me that I’d rather just leave it all behind. I don’t want to deal with the invites and the games and the ads and all the garbage. To me, Path feels like a green, idyllic pasture, free from the pollution of Facebook’s tainted, blue and white, Lucida Grande factories.

How can Path replace Facebook?

By being everything Facebook is not:

Real people instead of meaningless e-friendship.

Memorable moments instead of creepiness.

Quality instead of quantity.

Beauty instead of clutter.

Signal instead of noise.

Path needs no labyrinth of privacy settings because it does not encourage you to share your life with people who have no business being in it.

I’ve always preferred a small circle of close friends to a hundred sort-of acquaintances. Path shares that value.

So, now what?

What is to be the result of this long and arduous journey through the world of social networks? Well.

My current arrangement:

  • Twitter, for communicating and sharing with the Internet.
  • Instagram, for photos.
  • Facebook, for communicating and sharing with people in whom I (mostly) have no interest.

My proposal:

  • Twitter, for communicating and sharing with the Internet.
  • Instagram, for photos.
  • Path, for communicating and sharing with those closest to me.

Note that this new arrangement doesn’t necessarily see a reduction in the number of social networks, but it certainly does see an overall increase in the quality of my online life.

I will be leaving Facebook in the near-future, after I research how to properly save my photos, delete my account, etc.

You — and the rest of the Internet — will be able to find me on Twitter and here, at You VIPs will be able to find me on Path.

If you enjoyed or benefitted from this article, please consider sharing it with the button below! Also, you should follow me on Twitter.

Greener Pathtures: Part Two

Note: This post is Part Two in a three-part series about a social network called Path. It’s also about social networks in general and which ones are worth it. Be sure to read Part One first. Part Three is here.

This is an important quest. We are spending more and more of our time interacting with each other on the Internet. As such, I believe we must choose the highest quality methods of doing so. But which?

Part Two: My Network of Social Networks

In Part One, I talked about what Path is. Here, I will discuss the social networks I currently use and how I feel about them. This exploration will help us determine what role Path can fulfill, if any.


Facebook sucks. Everybody knows it, but everybody’s on it, so nobody can disconnect from it. If you’re still in that phase where “Facebook stalking” is a thing, I can’t help you. The older I get, the more I realize just how useless Facebook is. I’ve hidden everybody I don’t care about, and I still rarely find anything of value in my News Feed.

The people I actually love, I see or text on a regular basis. The news sources I actually care about, I subscribe to via RSS or Twitter. The events I actually want to go to, I don’t hear about through Facebook invites. The games I actually enjoy playing are not about planting virtual crops. As for photos, I just don’t care about putting them up on Facebook anymore. If I think you’ll like a photo I took, I’ll text it to you or show you on my phone when we hang out. Or I’ll tweet it. I don’t need everyone to see the hundred pictures I took on vacation. It’s probably none of your business anyway.

Facebook is a means for people to feel validated on the Internet. It feels good when someone Likes your post or comments on your photo. It feels good to read other people’s sad Facebook statuses, or to see how fat that bitch from high school has become, or to check if so-and-so is single. It feels good to know someone is having a worse day than you. It’s all a distraction.

Organizations are no better. I cringe when I see respectable businesses telling people to “Like us on Facebook!” As if that’s going to help you or anybody. Facebook is a waste of time. How much of a waste of time depends on the user. It’s social titillation, and it’s shallow and lame.

Hey, jerkface. If you hate Facebook so much, why don’t you just delete your account?

An excellent point. I should, but there are two main reasons why I haven’t yet.

  1. The Quarter-Life Enlightenment Facebook page. While I personally see little value in Facebook, I can understand the fact that some might use it as their primary news source. I want to provide as many ways as possible to subscribe to QLE, be it Twitter, RSS, email, or Facebook. If you’re on Facebook every day, then Liking the QLE page might be the easiest way for you to stay up-to-date on new posts.

  2. I’m fortunate to not be affected by Facebook’s addictive qualities. Usually, I just read the new posts in my News Feed a couple of times a day, and then I close it. I don’t look at people’s profiles or pictures, and I very rarely search for anything specific. Thus, the need for me to disconnect from Facebook is less severe than it might be for other users. It’s definitely a matter of time though.


I love Twitter. You know this. Twitter is a tool. And it is fun.

William Gibson:

[Facebook and MySpace] feel like malls to me. But Twitter actually feels like the street. You can bump into anybody on Twitter.

Yes. I’ve interacted with people I greatly admire on Twitter who might have otherwise never known I existed. That’s really cool.

The beauty of Twitter is its simplicity. There is no forced, awkward Internet friendship. You’re either following someone, or you’re not. The 140 character limit cuts out all the crap. You have to think about what you say and how you say it. Twitter reflects the way I feel about relationships, in the sense that you actively choose who you want in your feed. You can follow celebrities, athletes, writers, politicians… whomever you feel contributes value to your life. There is no obligatory, regrettable acceptance of friend requests.

Twitter is a wonderful ongoing conversation. I love it very much.


I love Instagram, but I mainly use it for its integration with Twitter. If I take a photo I want to share, I’ll usually take it with Instagram and post it to Twitter in addition to my Instagram profile. It’s a great app — well-designed, fun, and simple to use. Plus, it has a widespread user base. Every iPhone user I know uses Instagram.


Google+ is weird. It’s like Google Facebook for nerds. Some people have really started to use it as a publishing platform, but I haven’t felt compelled to do anything more than post a link each day, like the Facebook fan page. I’ve yet to find a way to automate this process. Google+’s interface is certainly nicer than Facebook’s, but it’s become quite clear that people are having a hard time switching.

In addition, there’s been a lot of talk recently about users moving away from Google because of their increasing tendency to “be evil”. Many have taken to DuckDuckGo for their searching needs. I’m heavily invested in Gmail, so I haven’t yet begun to get off Google, but it is on my radar.



Foursquare, Gowalla, etc.

I’ve never really used location-based check-in services, mainly because I rarely feel compelled to let people know where I am. From time to time, I’ll add a location to a picture in Instagram if I think it’s relevant, but that’s all.

SoundTracking,, etc.

I love music, and I often want to share what I’m listening to with people. Posting lyrics as tweets or statuses isn’t very effective, so I’m more interested in services that allow you to post a preview of the song you’re listening to. That way, if I post about a song by The Long Winters, people can click through and listen to what I’m hearing. I prefer that to only posting out-of-context lyrics.

I had a account a while back, but I don’t use it anymore. I’ve taken to posting songs with the SoundTracking app, which works well enough. Nobody is on SoundTracking itself, so I use it to post songs to Twitter. It gets the job done.


I can’t really take LinkedIn seriously. To me, it feels like adults were jealous of Facebook and decided they needed to get in on the game. LinkedIn feels like Facebook for adults, rationalized under the pretense of “networking”.

So, what about Path?

Where does Path fit into all this, if at all? My online social needs are being fulfilled by the above services with varying degrees of efficiency. Is there any room for Path? Can it replace or supplement any of my existing social networks, or is it just another unnecessary account? That’s what I’ll be discussing next.

Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion to Greener Pathtures!

If you enjoyed or benefitted from this article, please consider sharing it with the button below! Also, you should follow me on Twitter.

Greener Pathtures: Part One

Note: This post is Part One in a three-part series about a social network called Path. It’s also about social networks in general and which ones are worth it. Also check out Part Two and Part Three.

This is an important quest. We are spending more and more of our time interacting with each other on the Internet. As such, I believe we must choose the highest quality methods of doing so. But which?

Second Note: Path recently came under fire for sending users’ Address Books up to their servers without consent. Path claimed this was being done to make it easy to find family and friends in the app. Path has since apologized, deleted all Address Book records, and updated the app to ask permission before accessing user contacts.

I believe Path made an honest mistake and has now done the right thing. I do not believe Path had or has malicious intent. Keep in mind that many apps have access to your data, and please do form your own opinion about this issue.

Part One: A Crazy Little Thing Called Path

Over the weekend, I tweeted that I really want to use Path, but very few people I know are on it.

It’s a shame, because Path is a gorgeous app. It’s beautifully designed in terms of both aesthetics and functionality. It’s versatile. It’s fun to use.

But it’s a social network, and unfortunately, that means it has to overcome a serious barrier to entry. In a world where Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and innumerable others reign supreme, is there room for Path?

I think yes, but we will need convincing if we are to let this relative newcomer onto our smartphones. You see, the nature of Path itself is a conundrum.

What is this “Path” you speak of?

To explain what I mean, here’s a brief overview of Path.

Path is a social network designed to help you “share life with the ones you love”. It comes in the form of a free iPhone or Android app. Think of it as your own private Facebook, only instead of friending every person you’ve ever met, you only add people who matter. Path encourages exclusivity. Or perhaps more accurately, Path encourages intimacy, as the video on their website demonstrates. It’s designed for sharing with close friends and family members. Imagine if you whittled down your 600 Facebook friends to the fifty or so you actually cared about. That’s Path, only in a much more beautiful package and without the Farmville, poking, and advertisements.

Path allows you to capture and share moments in a variety of ways. You can take a picture and apply filters (think Instagram), check into locations with people (think Foursquare or Gowalla), post a song you’re listening to (think SoundTracking or, post a thought (think Twitter), or log when you wake up or go to sleep. You can also link your Path to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Foursquare to post the same moment in different places. Watch the demo to get a good idea of what Path is all about.

As you can see, Path provides a sort of all-in-one social network, but therein lies the problem. If you already use some of the above services, why bother joining something new? And why should your friends join it?

Path’s usefulness hinges on whether or not people you know are already using the app, and so we are presented with a paradox: a social network designed for you and your closest friends, but one which many of your friends may be reluctant to join.

Can we convince ourselves to leave the raging house party of Facebook for the quiet, intimate living room of Path?

To answer that question, I’m going to examine all of my current social networks to determine whether or not there is room for Path.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two of Greener Pathtures, in which I eviscerate Facebook, fawn over Twitter, and wonder if anybody still uses MySpace.

If you enjoyed or benefitted from this article, please consider sharing it with the button below! Also, you should follow me on Twitter.

Emotionally Responsible

Randy Murray in Emotionally Contagious:

Your emotions can and will carry over to the others that surround you. And theirs to you. Be aware of it. Your anger and frustration will breed it in others. Don’t contaminate your friends and family with it. If you sneezed, you’d cover your mouth. Do the same thing for your negative emotions. It won’t do you any good to blast your anger all around you. And it will do others harm.

I like this a lot.

As far as our planet is concerned, we are in charge. No corporeal creature reigns over human beings here. It’s just us. When we look around, so much of the world is the result of our actions. Buildings. Cars. Money. These are things not found in nature. They are here because we put them here.

We decided so much, and I’m not sure it’s all in our best interest. We decided we needed to work eight hours a day. We decided college needed to cost tens of thousands of dollars. We decided big houses and fancy cars are symbols of success. Things are the way they are because we made it so.

I’m reminded of this quote by Steve Jobs (see the video here):

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is, and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is, everything around you that you call “life” was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

I like to think that we are responsible not just for the buildings and cars, but also for the energy our planet exudes. That is, the “life” we made up includes everything from physical inventions to our own emotions. We are responsible for all of it.

If we assume an Earth without human beings is a world that exists in a state of natural harmony in accordance with the rest of the universe, then we, as the most sentient of creatures, are responsible for the continuation or disruption of that harmony. We produce not only physical creations, but also metaphysical energy in the form of emotions. Joy. Hatred. Humor. Jealousy. Malice. Pride. These are the byproducts of humanity. Negative energy exists because we allow it to exist. Because we create it. When we choose to fight and compete with one another, we choose to contribute negative energy to the universe. We project it onto each other and off into space.

Like Randy says, emotion — and therefore, energy — is contagious. A healthy person can become ill by being around sick people, but who says a sick person can’t feel better by being surrounded by healthy people? Similarly, enough negativity can drag down even the best of spirits. Why can’t the reverse be true?

Attempting to alter the entire universe’s energy is too big a task for a single person. Our personal energies and emotions, however, are entirely within our control. I’ll worry about me, and you worry about you.

The universe’s collective energy is a matter of individual responsibility.

We each must ask ourselves, “What kind of energy will I project out into the universe today?”

Journey to Love

I’ve heard that the reason Space Mountain is such an effective roller coaster is because it’s in the dark. Since you can’t see the track, your body can’t prepare for the twists and turns, which is what makes it so thrilling.

Of course, the more you go on the ride, the easier it is to anticipate each moment. Every left, right, up, and down.

More and more, this progression from unknown to familiar reflects my experience with music, particularly when it comes to digesting records I’ve never heard before.

Listening to a new album for the first time is hard work — especially if you listen from start to finish. Like your first ride on Space Mountain, every moment is unexpected. Every note is foreign. Every lyric is unfamiliar.

Such a listening experience is overwhelming, and it’s easy to dismiss things we don’t understand because of that pesky fear of the unknown.

Maybe the first song comes on, and you think it’s pretty good. And then the second track comes on, and that one’s OK… But then there’s another track. And another, and another, and another, and suddenly you have no idea what’s going on.

You try to pay attention, but eventually the music wears you out. Twelve tracks of strange music is a lot to take in. It taxes your brain. You can’t get your bearings. Saxophones come out of nowhere. The lyrics don’t make any sense. That bridge is unbearable. The music assaults your ears, and you’re not enjoying yourself at all. It’s exhausting.

Maybe you don’t even make it all the way through the album. Maybe you decide never to listen to it again. Maybe it’s too much work.

But, as is often the case, hard work can pay off.

“When I was 15 years old, I used to hang out at a local record store. And there was this guy who worked there who thought he knew what I liked, and he handed me this album one day, and it was John Coltrane. So I took it home, and I put it on the machine. And I hated it. I mean, I really hated it. I just didn’t get it. So, I played it again. I played it again… and I played it again… and then I just couldn’t stop playing it.” - Mr. Holland’s Opus

If you have the patience to listen — to make that journey — again, it’ll be just a little bit easier. You’ll start to remember things. Little moments. Everything will seem a bit more familiar. “Oh yeah, this is the song that goes do do do dodo dooo… That’s actually kind of nice.”

I love this process. You’re literally developing a rapport with the music. You’re getting to know one another. You can see and feel the individual moments coming now. You anticipate their arrival. You begin to see how they all fit together. Lyrics that made no sense become a little clearer. They start to speak to you. What used to be a sneak attack becomes your favorite part.

And with each repeated listen, your relationship with each song gets stronger. You start to see the big picture. Until eventually you know every note and every word of every song, forwards and backwards.

It’s funny how our tastes change over time. We might hear a song one day and think it’s horrible, only to hear that same song weeks or years later and discover it perfectly encapsulates everything about our lives life right now. It reflects our every emotion, as if the singer has been in our exact situation and knows all our fears, doubts, joys, and triumphs. The music becomes a source of tremendous comfort, loyal and always there when you need it. It’s like a stranger who ends up becoming your best friend.

That’s when an album — which previously had nothing to do with you — becomes one of your most precious treasures.


Bob Marley:

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more.

You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are.

The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do.

Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon.

You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.


Relationships Are Like Smartphones

Note: This post is equal parts facetious and serious.

I was eating food with a friend earlier this evening, and three quarters of a quesadilla into the meal, we concluded that relationships are a lot like smartphones.

I know. Hear me out.

Most people (read: non-nerds) are uneducated about the smartphone market. They’ve heard of the iPhone, but they don’t know anything about operating systems, RAM, or megapixels. As such, when they go into the phone store, they’re vulnerable to this: “Here. This is an Android phone. It’s pretty much the same thing as the iPhone, but it has a bigger touchscreen. And it’s only [a cheaper price than the iPhone].”

But, as most iPhone owners know, it’s not pretty much the same thing as an iPhone.

This scenario comes down to one thing: not knowing any better.

Sure, there are some solid Android phones out there. Maybe they only have a few annoyances. Maybe the scrolling isn’t perfectly smooth, or an app crashes here or there, or the email application is kind of a pain. But it’s totally useable. It’s good enough.

Most people are like Android phones. There are a ton of them out there.

Similarly, there are over six billion people on the planet. That means it’s impossible to know everybody. Since the human brain can only manage a finite amount of relationships at one time, making sure each one counts is essential. Each relationship should contribute something positive and amazing to your life.

Those people, who you love and keep closest to you, are like iPhones. These relationships don’t cause you stress or anxiety. They’re loyal and reliable, and they provide nothing but love and support. They are awesome.

Now, the iPhone only has 5% of the mobile phone market. That figure is analogous to the amount of awesome people on Earth. Most people are not awesome. I mean, they’re fine. They’re good enough. But, you’re not going to gain much from having relationships with them. And that’s OK. You can’t know everybody.

This is going to sound dumb, but listen, because this article isn’t about cellphones.

Making the switch from an Android phone to an iPhone is like meeting your future wife/husband after years of tried-and-failed relationships. When you meet that person, you realize how much better they are than anything you’ve ever had before. All that fighting and compromising and struggling fades away with a tremendous sigh of relief. A feeling of “Finally! This is how it should be.” A feeling of “Why didn’t I find you sooner?” A feeling of “This just feels right.” The relationship just works.

Up until that point, we often settle because we don’t know for certain that someone better is out there. We’re comfortable with what we have now, and even though it’s not perfect, we fight for it because it’s all we know. We’re afraid that maybe this is the best we can do.

We don’t know any better.

I’m assuming that you, being a reader of this site, are like an iPhone: awesome. The problem with being awesome, though, is that we’re outnumbered. There are way more dumb people out there than awesome people. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the tradeoff for not being average.

Dumb people are a dime-a-dozen. You can walk down the street and bump into fifty dumb people. That’s why that guy (“THAT guy?!”) is happy and you’re still single. There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just easy for one dumb person to find another dumb person. It takes a lot more effort and luck for two awesome people to meet because there are fewer of us out there. It takes longer for us to find one another.

Again, this is not about cellphones or which one is better. If you think the iPhone is stupid, that’s fine. Just replace “iPhone” with something else you love.

The lesson here is simple: “Keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Using your phone does not have to be a pain in the ass, and you don’t have to bend over backwards to make a relationship work. Don’t waste your time and energy fighting for something that’s flawed just because it’s familiar.

You can find something better if you have the confidence and the courage to look for it. There is someone out there who is as awesome as you are. Finding them requires patience, and it takes having faith in the fact that it’s only a matter of time.