Monthly Archives: May 2016
I just unfollowed best-selling author, Gary Vaynerchuck, (Author of Crush It). I’ll share why I did (and it’s purely personal bc he seems like a great guy).
Gary V has been broadcasting a message of “hustle your face off” for a good five years now. He preaches what he himself describes as an “insane work-ethic.”
If hustling your face off is for you – hear me please – good on you. Hustle creates great results. Behind every great endeavor, is a lot of hustle.
But an insane worth-ethic is just not for me anymore. Nor is “hustling my face off.” Honestly, I don’t even think it looks good on Gary V. To me, he looks really tired, stressed and full of tension in his videos lately. Reminds me of what an Native American Chief once said to Carl Jung:
“Chief Mountain Lake: ‘See how cruel the whites look, their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something. They are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are all mad.’
To me, Gary V comes across as a guy that has no concept of “enough.” He seems to work for the sake of significance. More. More. More. More.
I have undergone a personal change in my life, and for me now, life is better when I infuse all of my days with as much ease, presence and joyful action as possible. Yes, I take actions on my dreams because I still have dreams and love realizing them. But “hustle” is a word I’ve basically eliminated from my vocabulary. It’s been replaced by “create joyfully.”
I like my new way much much better. I found hustle was an awful boss. Hustle didn’t have as much time for my kids. Hustle didn’t condone a long coffee with a friend. Hustle didn’t have room for a day off to do nothing but relax and get back in touch with the quiet voice inside. Hustle loved every time I’d end a long work day wiped out spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Hustle kept me in my mind and out of my heart. In other words, hustle didn’t give a shit about soulful things.
Today, I have the highest regard for actions that come from inspiration, ease, presence and joy – these are the actions I trust in. Not actions that come from stress, tension, exhaustion, and a mind that can’t get enough.
And I like my face. I don’t want it to fall off. And I like my face much better when I look relaxed, content and at peace.
I’m almost 50. My priorities are changing. I can feel it.
Today I was driving back from helping clean up a tree that had fallen at my rental home downtown. I was the third wheel helping the gardeners. I marveled at how skilled they were at their job. They took enough tree limbs, branches and vines to cover half of an entire basketball court, and then methodically chainsawed it, raked it, bagged it and stacked it so well that it all fit into the back of their pick-up truck. They put more fallen tree into the back of a pick-up truck than I could have imagined would fit into a cargo ship.
There was something that seemed to peaceful, organic and real about their work. I watched them thinking that maybe I’d enjoy being a gardener. Sometimes my job speaking and writing can seem so self-centered and so self-promotional. But I do it because it’s me. It’s what I do. It brings me fulfillment and it’s a way I try to be a helpful human being. But I needed that tree removed just as much as anyone needs another “talk” or “essay.”
Anyway, on the drive home I pulled into a charging station to recharge my car. I drive an electric. Well, right beside the charging station was a man sleeping on a concrete block. Homeless for sure. I felt bad for him. It looked like an absolutely terrible place to sleep. Hard surface. Hot sun. Roadside fumes. Noise.
I thought about waking him and asking if he was hungry. It takes 30 minutes to charge up, so I thought I could use the wait time to get this man some lunch. All too often I don’t help the homeless person I pass. I’m callous. I look away. Not always. But too often. But today, I just wanted to help him somehow.
He was wearing black sweat pants, and a blue hoodie. He had gray Converses on. They looked new. The sweat pants and the hoodie, tattered and dirty. He had the hoodie pulled up – I suppose it was playing the part of a blanket – but what struck me was his solid white beard, trimmed very close to his face. I liked his beard. Between his fairly new Converse shoes and his trimmed beard, it seemed like life wasn’t kicking out all his teeth. I spoke to wake him. No response.
I guess he’s really drunk and out of it, I thought to myself.
I looked around and saw a Mexican food joint a block away, just beyond the Starbucks. Starbucks seems stupid when you’re thinking about getting something to help another hungry human being. I go there all the damn time, because my life is luxurious every damn day. But my guess was that this man would appreciate a burrito more than a grande, double-shot, carmel machiatto with extra foam and light ice and a twist of cinnamon.
I walk over and get the burrito. I’m vegan but deep downside I believe meat is going to satisfy this guy up more than just rice and beans, so I order a carne asada burrito. I’m remembering right now, that I’ve actually handed a homeless person a vegan burrito in the past, and he took one bite out of it, asked where the meat was and handed it back to me with a “no thanks.” Yeah, this is no time to promote a vegan diet.
I walk back to him. He’s still sleeping. I notice I’m a tiny bit afraid of waking him. What if he jolts awake and screams at me with huge, wide open eyes? What if he immediately grabs my arm and bites my face? What if he’s on drugs and mistakes me for an attacking animal? These are the stupid thoughts I have right before I put my hand on his leg and shake him awake.
His eyes open very slowly. Like they haven’t opened for years. And then as they achieve their goal, they clearly show that they are very unsure as to what’s happening. They are trying to focus on me, to find an answer.
What I notice most is their spectacular blue color. They are the bluest eyes I have ever seen in my 49 years alive. They are like a metallic sky blue on a $50,000 automobile. If this guy was standing next to Paul Newman, no one would notice that Newman’s eyes were blue. I am absolutely amazed at these eyes.
Are you hungry? I ask.
He nods. And then his eyes find the bag of food I’m offering. It’s in one of those flimsy white plastic bags they always give you when you order take out. More plastic to choke the world. Why did I allow them to place one single fucking burrito in the plastic bag when I was only going a block?… I must have been thinking about the homeless guy.
He quickly opens the bag and pulls out the burrito. No time for talk, he gets the first bite in his mouth as fast as possible. And then a sip of the drink I brought him, which is water. His eyes glance at me approvingly, but then he begins coughing, doubling over to expel what comes out as druel. It’s like a gag reflex. But he sits up, looks me right in the eyes and rubs his stomach. And then resumes with another enormous bite.
No words from him yet. Not a one.
Are you okay? I ask.
He swallows. And then tries to speak.
But I can’t make out what he’s saying. Maybe his voice is severely muffled. Like a sock is permanently lodged in his throat. Or like he took a hard punch to the vocal chords. Maybe he is only saying one word. I’m confused. His voice is unexpected.
What’s your name? I ask.
He extends his left arm and using his finger draws something on his forearm. I don’t know what he’s doing, so he draws it again. E – D.
Oh, your name is Ed?
He nods his head. His blue eyes staring directly into mine. And he continues to eat.
I should have been sure by now, but I’m not.
Ed, can you speak?
He shakes his head no and makes a shallow attempt to say it also. But it’s clear. Ed has very little ability to speak. But his eye contact is excellent. And his eyes are so so blue. They are unreal blue.
I felt like sitting there with him. I could have gotten in my car and passed the time on my phone, but I felt like sitting with him. I don’t know why. I do know, but it’s feels like a stupid reason. I’m trying to offer this other person a meal and a little companionship. I didn’t just want to offer food. Seems people need both.
Since Ed is eating and not a talker, I manage the situation with silence and only two other remarks.
There is a beautiful large bush in front of us. Most of the leaves are green, but a few new ones are red. It’s pretty when you really look at it.
Beautiful how this bush has red leaves and green ones don’t you think Ed?
He nods and looks me in the eye.
Then we sit in more silence while he eats.
“Ed, I asked for chips to go with your burrito. They should be in there,” I say.
Ed, finds the chips in the white plastic bag. They would have been missed otherwise because they are enclosed separately in their own white plastic bag. For fucks sake! It’s killing me. Then Ed unties the small plastic bag and finds 2 tortilla chips. TWO. Just two fucking chips. Now I remember the man behind the counter looking at me like I was a freeloader when I said, “And can you throw in some chips with the burrito.”
Ed is eating the last chip and then excitedly points at something flying by.
It’s a radiant yellow butterfly. It looks like a fluttering slice of the sun.
I don’t know what a butterfly symbolizes but I see it and wonder.
When Ed is done eating both chips, he points forward at a Starbucks cup discarded on the ground in front of us. He gets up and retrieves it. He places it, the foil and the napkin into the white plastic bag. He looks at me and smiles. Then he rubs his stomach and smiles more. But he’s going now. He attempts to speak again. This time I know what he’s saying: “Taking trash.”
He grabs the only other bag he’s got, a black duffle bag, offers me his hand and goes.
Ed was really hungry. That was easy to see by the pace he ate at and by the first bite going down wrong. I don’t know why I don’t help homeless people more often. I’m trying to open my heart as wide as I can and I know it has the capacity to be much more open than it is. I know it does. I can feel it. Especially in moments like this.
Yesterday, I was having a parental breakdown. I was doing my best to not completely lose my #!@!. I just wanted the sound of my son’s voice out of my head! I was suffering from a total loss of patience, and on the verge of being a complete A-hole to my child.
I don’t know exactly why I lost my patience, but I was hanging onto friendliness by my fingernails.
This is my confession….
My son Will is 7 years old. I would throw myself in front of a train for him without a moment’s hesitation. He is everything wonderful and good in the world, and completely innocent in this story. But yesterday, I was utterly annoyed by his every utterance.
Recently, he hit a new phase in his development. I call it, “Never stop talking, ever, ever, Say everything I think, I talk therefore I am, When it doubt, say it, The best thing about life is talking, Silence is Death, Dad who do you think would win?”
For the past 4 days, it’s been like being locked in a room with Robin Williams – while he’s on LSD! I’m hanging onto my sanity by a thread.
I usually love the sound of my son’s voice. I am usually present to his every question and conversation. I usually am calm, loving and nice.
But I’ve been with my son, non-stop, morning to night for 96 hours. My wife’s away in Cancun at a resort drinking Mai Tai’s… whatever… And my son’s school hasn’t been in session since Wednesday… So say this with me slowly, “N-o-n s-t-o-p, R-e-l-e-n-t-l-e-s-s, H-e-l-p-M-e-!”
Imagine being locked in a room with Robin Williams while he’s on LSD… Really, let that soak in.
And then please, immediately come over to my house, and club me unconscious.
These are exact quotes from my son yesterday in a single hour.
“Dad, Dad, what would you do if a friddle frog came into our front room?”
(followed by chanting “friddle frog frog frog frog frog frog frog frog” for I believe to be a year and a half.)… [I have zero idea what a friddle frog is and nor do I care].
“Dad, Dad, look. Dad, look! DAD LOOK! Look at me throw the ball. Look at me touching the cat. Dad, look at the cat looking at the ball I threw!”
Then without pause or a breath…
“Dad, Dad, do you know what Swinter is? It’s a combination between summer and winter!”
Followed by YET ANOTHER ROUND of his new game called, “Dad, Dad, Who do you think would win?”
(The rules are simple. Ask Dad who he thinks would win. Propose two options. Tell Dad if Dad’s answer was right or wrong! The following is but a miniscule sampling of the surveys I have undergone whilst locked in these rooms with my boy over the past 4 days…)
“Dad, Dad who do you think would win, Superman or Batman?”
… Batman. “Right.”
“Dad, Dad who do you think would win, Bernie or the Pope?”
… Win what?! “Bernie would win!”
“Dad, who do you think would win, A fork or a spoon?”
… I don’t know, the fork? – “Right!”
“Dad, who do you think would win, A ball or a football?” …
Huh? – “The football!”
“Dad, DAD who do you think would win, the Sun or The Hulk?” ….
The Sun?? – “Wrong!”
“Dad, DAD DAD who do you think would win, my foot or my face?”
… I don’t understand. – “My face!”
I know YOU read these remarks and your heart is warmed. You think they are cute, I get it. But you have the luxury of READING them, in your own voice – once – and then moving on, perhaps to a far-away, silent corner of your mind where no other voice or sound can reach. Me… No such mercy. I was being bombarded with this game all morning, all afternoon, all evening. It was like Chinese water torture.
Secondly, you have the luxury of a full tank of patience as you read them. Patience, that battle-hardened quality every, I mean EVERY parent, needs to develop in order to make it through each day without breaking a LOT of things. Patience, of which every parent quickly learns is a lot like a tank of gas – it is an exhaustible resource. And many days, it will run out! And when it does, you’re screwed!
Patience officially turned to fumes in my being on Saturday at around 11:30 a.m, somewhere between the questions, “Dad, Dad, who do you think would win, Minions with their Fart Machine or Dr. Suess?” and “Dad, what would you do if a piece of bread came to life with arms and hands and started running around the house?”
I told you, Robin Williams on LSD. I wanted to shoot myself.
This must be why someone invented the Serenity Prayer.
Now, lest you think I’m a parenting wimp, WRONG. I’m a battle tested veteran. I’ve been a stay-at-home father for five years now. I live on the front lines Monday thru Sunday! Battle-hardened stay-at-home mom’s are my comrades. So I’m hard, but somedays, I just want a way out.
Maybe it got worse because lately my son is prone to continually circling me. Tightly. Orbiting my body so close that I have to say, “Will, h-o-n-e-y, please back up, because you’re stepping on my toes.”… Yes, 7 year old boys show their love by proximity and word count. I get it…. But I’m a quiet, writer type and I feel like a monk at a Metallica concert.
At about 5 p.m., my son and I were driving to the fish store, and he was just talking and talking and talking and talking and talking, about past, present, future and Dr. Duffenshmarz, and dinosaurs, and Home Alone, and Legos, and our pets, and Bernie, and fish, and possible fish names, and The Odd Squad, and bagels, and God knows what else because I was just trying to hold my shit together and keep faking interest with “Mmm”, “Interesting,” “Yes,” “I don’t know” – when suddenly I look up and see a Wine and Liquor Store, something I never go in, a dirty place I think of for alcoholics – but I SO WANTED TO GO IN.
I would have, anything to dull the sound, but for a small voice inside me, still fighting to be heard over the clamor that whispered, “No. NO! Way over the line! Suck it up Patrick. Drinking, is NOT an option – Till he’s in bed.”
I come home from the fish store and find throw up on the kitchen floor – green leafy hurl – because our asshole cats chewed up the plant my son was growing for a school project. I have to clean the litter box and make dinner, unpack the groceries, unload and load the dishwasher, help name the new fish, remind my son to not circle me so closely, play 19 more rounds of “Dad Dad Who Would Win?” and 3 rounds of Hide and Seek which ends because I step in a small lake of dog pee. Make no mistake, I want to return all the pets to their rightful adoption shelters, but there’s no time, because I have to get my son ready for bed, and read him a book, and answer the question, “Dad, do you think we should name the new fish, Rainbow or Rainbow Road?” for which my internal answer is “I don’t give a shit,” but my external answer is, “I don’t know son, what do you think?”, for which his external reply is, “Dad who do you think would win, Rainbow fish or a Shark?”
THIS IS AN EMERGENCY, somebody, please, quickly put an I.V. of wine into my arm!
My nervous system is flashing red. I would kill for a happy hour. I have failed to be a really loving, fun, good natured dad today. I have faked kindness since morning. My only victory is not being a complete a-hole to an innocent 7 year old, very sweet, boy who completely lacks all ability to read another person’s social cues.
I tuck my son into his Star War’s sheets, give him a kiss while secretly, internally counting down the seconds till I can be alone in silence with a drink in each hand. But he’s not done talking…
“I love you.”
And there it is. The reason I wouldn’t trade the job of Dad for anything in the world. But Dear God, please turn this water into wine.