Departing Words

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Life is short. Cliche, but true. With the knowledge that I could drop dead tomorrow, and casting aside the typical but important concerns of financial planning and the like, I wanted to take the time to bequeath to anyone who’s interested (hopefully my kids at least) some thoughts. More specifically, these are ideas which aren’t original by any stretch of the imagination, but ideas you might not otherwise hear in my absence.

Philosophy Matters

I doubt you’d see this advice on social media. But philosophy does matter. And it’s hard. Reading Aristotle, Marx, and Kant aren’t easy, quick, or fun pursuits. But you’ll be better off for it. Trying to understand and appreciate philosophy is most likely something you won’t be able to do on your own, so seek out teachers who have trodden these paths and can give you direction.

And yes I know there isn’t much of a job market for philosophers outside of academia. I’m not saying make a life’s work out of it and go live in the woods. I am saying that philosophy challenges us. It challenges our view of the world, how we think, how we act, and how we use language. What could be a more fundamental field of study than that? What could equip you better for a life in a world of constant change and uncertainty? You’ve got your whole life to learn the ins and outs of business, so my advice for college is take one or two philosophy courses. You might find a whole new you.

The Matrix Trilogy is better than you think

The most common reaction I’ve heard when asking anyone their opinion on the Matrix Trilogy is that they loved the first movie but hated and/or didn’t understand the sequels. I can certainly understand that sentiment, to a certain extent. However, to truly appreciate all three movies, you need to approach them holistically and consider how they interact to tell a story.

The hero/messiah story from the original is interesting but it’s been done before. Where the trilogy gets interesting is when it starts to poke holes at the mythology of The One (with a skeptical Neo doing most of the poking) and effectively the trilogy itself. We’re like poor Morpheus at the end of Reloaded, we’re so tied to our preconceived beliefs about a blockbuster, man-vs-machine trilogy that when our expectations are subverted, we reject the truth. All I ask you is to pause and consider what the Wachowskis are doing. I think it’s a beautiful piece of art.

Find engaging, fulfilling work

I could go on for days about this topic but suffice it to say that we’re on this Earth a short while, and what you do and who you do it with matters. If you’re smart, clever, and/or lucky, you should be able to find a way of life that is meaningful, engaging, and results in a better you.

I also think that as part of this journey, you need to be fully aware of who you are and how you thrive. So take a personality test

Play golf from the level of spirit

The golf equipment industry has invested a lot of time and energy into convincing you that to lower your handicap, you should use a certain club or play a certain ball. Tour pros wage battle in deadly-serious tournaments on TV. As a result, there’s an implicit suggestion that we can only play golf from the level of competition, either with others or with ourself. While that can be enjoyable on some level, I’d recommend to do whatever it takes to actually enjoy golf first. You’re spending a decent amount of money and (at least) five hours with nature and with other like-minded people, you owe it to yourself to enjoy it. Find playing partners who are easy-going.
Find courses that aren’t too difficult (or just play the forward tees, pride be damned!) If you obsess over your handicap, try playing without keeping score. Life can be full of conflict, don’t let a simple game be dominated by conflict too.

Figure out your DNA

There will be a lot of forces in your life, both internal and external, that will vie for your attention and your headspace. But I believe there is some craft that you are uniquely attuned to doing, and it’s not something you’re gonna figure out by following people on Twitter or subscribing to certain blogs. You have to dig it out of the ground yourself, and figure out which activities truly express who you are.