Here's The Good News: Nobody Knows The Answers
If you are between the ages of 20 and 60, there is a reasonable chance you are a fan of John Mayer. It's amazing that he has reach across such a wide demographic of people, but the content of his songs are so universally applicable, so easily identifiable, that anyone who has felt a feeling or two can find something in his music that makes them feel seen. He's tapped into the human experience remarkably well. And we've gotten to watch him discover his humanity over the course of about two decades of songwriting.
Being in my early 20's, sometimes I like to listen to the stuff he wrote in his early 20's. What wise observations do you have for me today, Mr. Mayer? In his song Why Georgia the chorus sings, I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdict-less life, am I living it right? Good Lord! I ask myself that question nearly every day. Am I living it right? Am I too dumb to know if I am? Is it even possible to know? Am I too lazy to find out? Too scared? That first question tends to compound into what can be referred to as a quarter life crisis, another phrase Mayer uses in this song.
The problem with the Am I Living It Right question is that I have a lot of wise adults in my life. They like to tell me about how unpredictable life can be, and that being young and not knowing what the hell is going on is normal and good. I used to think they were pulling one over on me, laughing and mocking me for not knowing the answers when I left the room. I wish they would tell me there is an answer, or a secret sauce. How wonderful would that be? If I was just missing something, then I could find it. But that isn't the message of the older wiser people I know. They keep telling me to stay on track, and life will work out the details for me; There is no answer, only revelation. That stresses me out. But I think my older wiser friends are right.
But what does staying on track mean? If it isn't a 7 steps to success guide, then it has to be something a little less tangible, I suppose. Maybe being on track is less what you do, and infinitely more how you do it. Maybe being on track is a mindset. Well sometimes my mindset sucks. Sometimes I have a Am I Living It Right complex that lasts me for days. I'll mull over my choice of job, friends, workout habits, past relationships, and basically anything else that my subconscious decides needs some surface air to breathe. Panic. And panic usually turns into self centeredness, which turns into guilt, which turns into stuck-ness.
Mindset. What is a good mindset for staying on track? The best I can figure, it means living in the present moment. Just yesterday, I got obsessed with the idea of backpacking to Europe while at a theme park with my family on vacation. I can be the world traveling type! I can be the cool guy who actually did it, while all my friends work 9 to 5's. For the rest of the day, instead of having conversation and community with my family, I was frantically running numbers in my head about how to make it happen. How will I afford it? Will I lose my job if I leave? In a quest to figure out how to become something better than what I am now, a world traveling culture icon, I was missing out on a real opportunity to be something good: a son and brother.
This is what I think staying on track means: Being wherever you are, all the way. That's it. It's a universal way to 'live it right'. Those who are all the way in their present moment end up reaping more of the benefits of it. Your past has no opportunity. Your future, yes, even tomorrow or an hour from now only has opportunity in theory. But right now has a nearly limitless and very real amount of opportunity. Those who spend their lives invested in that, end up seeing and enjoying the most opportunity. So there is a quick fix this time. If you want to live it right, if you want to be on track, wake up to what is available to your five senses now. Be here. Now.
"Don't believe me, when I say I've got it down" - John Mayer
I want to hear your thoughts on this. Email me your responses at firstname.lastname@example.org