A Little Less Every Day

I feel rather fortunate to have some good friends and connections on Facebook who have a gift for providing interesting status updates or thought-provoking links. It’s one of those areas where I find Facebook can really shine as more than just a nice tool to give updates to friends on how you’re doing and really become an amazing means of sharing wisdom.

I can almost hear the groans from here at positing Facebook as a portal through which intelligence can be shared… especially since so much of Facebook can degrade into really mindless (but potentially fun) nonsense.

An excellent example is this link my buddy Chris posted a little while ago:

The post is interesting in its own right as it peers into those closing moments of life where people finally let down their guards and get honest with themselves and those around them.

However, this post was especially interesting to me since I’ve spent the last few days thinking about the same concept in point #1: the importance of living a life true to yourself and your own principles as opposed to constantly striving to only serve the expectations of others.  In a way, this is a bit of a link to my previous post because being nice does not mean kowtowing to the interests of others in hopes of winning their approval, especially if you compromise yourself in the process.

It’s why I am striving to care just a little bit less every day what others think of me, how they judge me or how my actions can be improperly shaped by opinions or views not my own.  This is a tricky process… umm, but I am guessing you knew that.  No matter how noble our intentions, it can be hard not to be affected by friend, family and colleagues.  Heck, Madison Avenue is none of those things and yet has made a borderline science to influencing consumers into purchasing all manner of goods (whether we need them or not).

I’ve found a few interesting benefits to this practice.  One that jumps most readily to mind is how it affects me giving presentations at work.  I’ve actually enjoyed public speaking to a certain degree anyway… I’m a bit of a ham, when you get right down to my core.  But what’s made it even better is an attitude of “Let it rip…”  In doing so, I find myself less concerned about “Oh my God… but… but… what if I MESS IT ALL UP?!?!?!?  THEN WHAT?!?!?!?  I will be shunned forever!  Looked down upon as a blighted soul not fit for human contact!”  You know… or something like that.  But that has not been the case – instead, it has given me a renewed kick in the pants.  Not bad, right?

But in reality, the most important part is each little step will hopefully bring me that much closer to an aligned sense of living with my own values… and as a person profoundly affected by my own personal values, that is hugely important.  If I feel out of whack on this, absolutely nothing feels right.

And it’s a process.  No one just wakes up one day after a particularly good night’s sleep and is just in perfect alignment.  It’s not something you acquire, set back and think, “Ahh… to live out my days as a consistent human being in all ways possible.  Thank goodness for that extra bit of shut-eye.  That hit the spot!”

2010-02-08 - Snowboarding

So here’s to peering down the slope and taking on the ultimate and most worthwhile challenge: being yourself.  Ride hard.  Fall a few times.  Ride again.  It won’t be easy, but you will never regret it.

Adventures in Self-Discovery: Snowboarding

Today I decided I would walk the walk and not just talk the talk.  You will certainly see me advocating all sorts of good positive change, going for it and such on this very blog.  Part of it is certainly because these are all things I am trying to do for myself.  If I speak of how people should put themselves out there and try some wacky things, it’s because I know I need to do the same.

Well, today was a day for me to do less yapping and a little more doing.  So, I took my jazzy new snowboarding outfit and headed on off to Ski Butternut up in Great Barrington, MA to finally give snowboarding a whirl.  It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while and did a ton more talking about wanting to go than just getting up off my butt and just going.

I figured taking a vacation day to extend my weekend to 3 days would be just the thing.

I’m not gonna lie to you… when I actually arrived and saw all those people who just effortlessly glided down the mountain on their skis or snowboards, I got pretty nervous.  I’ve been skiing about 5 or 6 times in my life, but it’s probably been at least… ohh… 12 years since I last went?  And snowboarding is really nothing like skiing.

But I pressed on, signed up for a lesson and off I went for my 1 hour lesson.  How did it go?  Well… much of my day looked pretty much like this:

2010-02-08 - Snowboarding

Yup.  On my butt and looking down the bunny hill, wondering how the hell I was actually going to get back on my feet.

So what did I learn on this brisk and sunny New England day?

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously.  I knew going into all of this that if I was going to get all bent out of shape, it would be a wasted vacation day.  I hate wasting vacation days.
  2. Kids tend to be pretty good at skiing and snowboarding because they are too young to be afraid.  I could hardly count how many kids… and as young as 6 or so… just firing down the slope with complete ease.  It makes me chuckle to think as we age and allegedly get smarter or more “wise”, we also tend to become less playful and much more reserved.  Kids just go for it and worry about the consequences later.  While that approach is not going to be ideal for all circumstances of an adult life, I fully believe we can all benefit from having this more in our lives every day.  Yes, I said every day.
  3. It’s good to stop being “that guy”.  Oh and which guy might that be?  You know the one.  “Dude, I am totally going to go skydiving.  Seriously.  It’s gonna be aaaaawesome.”  Except he has been saying that for 5 years.  When it came to snowboarding, I was totally that guy… and that guy can be so annoying.  It’s fine to want to do something cool or fun or daring, but talking about it any longer than 1 year is just ridiculous.  And yes, I just made up that 1 year mark, but it now feels super-official to me.  I am the rule-maker… FEAR ME.
  4. Snowboarding gear is almost absurdly complicated. I love my snowboarding pants and jacket.  They are 100% powerful sweet, no doubt about it.  But damn, do they have a lot of pockets, zippers, vents, snaps and doo-hickeys.  I must say I do like the pocket with the vent hole so I can safely tuck away my iPod and run the headphones up through my jacket.  I am still convinced I overlooked a few features.  If the jacket had an emergency parachute in the event you fell off a cliff, I would not even be remotely surprised.

So that was my new experience today and it was pretty fun.  A few of the falls were tough and just getting back onto my feet was a challenge, but I kept at it as best I could.  I only decided to call it a day when one of my falls was a little TOO hard and jerked my neck and head pretty hard.  I figured that was my sign to stop.

I’m just happy I got off my butt, tried something new and shed my “that guy” title… at least for snowboarding.  Now if I can only get my running with the bulls in Pamplona plan in motion… and I am not even kidding about that a little bit.

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