I’m going to England tomorrow.
By which I mean I’m stepping inside a long metal torpedo and sitting my fat ass down on some murky blue pleather for an exact distance of 5,429 miles across a cold, dreary ocean that always makes me wonder things I shouldn’t ever wonder. Like:
Would I actually remain calm in case of THE BIG EVENT, like I think I would?
Would I place my oxygen mask a top my bouncy little cheeks, knowing exactly how to pull the strings?
Would I pray for the first time?
Or would I just start guzzling the entire mini bottle of Merlot that I would have already paid $7 for (this is why you pay $7 for these things) and then maybe look through my iPhone photos one last time before leaving a cryptic message in my notes, in case the case is stronger than my skull.
NOT LIKE I’M TRYING TO TURN THIS INTO A SAD BLOG POST OR ANYTHING.
Because actually, I’m the last person who frets about airplanes. I’m well-acquainted with the mistress of risk—her and I having been not-so-secret lovers for some time now—and frankly, the odds we won’t crash are probably the best odds you or I have going for us in life.
But none of that is why I’m writing to you today.
It’s just that every time I pick up my little feet and hoist them into an airplane, and every time I squish into the wheezy of the murky blue pleather, and every time I kick my oversized Target purse under the seat ($29.99 Target purses are the best for traveling, you know), and every time I give an enthusiastic head nod to the person who is doomed to smell my pit sweat for the next 10 hours, I cannot help but think that all of these are little acts of penance—
—little acts that are part of a much bigger one.
Most people go to church in order to calm their conscience and soak their heart in a nice warm bath; they go to feel connected, like they’re part of something bigger; like the reason why their roof caved in and they’re stuck with an unexpected $10,000 bill was SOMEHOW all a part of the plan.
But I’ve never been one for pews, not only because they make my knees feel like giant, angry mallets, but because the traditional act of worship always felt so…canned. Superficial. Plastic. Just because something has inherent meaning doesn’t always make it inherently meaningful. Those three little letters tacked onto the end of the word are personal.
Which is why I use the murky blue pleather in 28D as my pew—because out of all the places I could cram myself, I choose the one that does not just make me an observer of meaning, but an active co-creator of my own.
And I have to suspect that’s why any of us are online, doing the things we are: Because at some point, we stopped wanting to hear what creating a good life was suppose to mean, and started wanting to create a version meaningful to us.
Because let’s face it:
Sitting in an office from the hours of 9-5 sending stuffy, passive aggressive emails is probably not the most enlightened version of yourself.
Hunching over your desk quietly under the fluorescent lights while the others swish slog down the hall, every last one of them wading through an invisible swamp of misery, is probably not your highest calling.
Living for twelve noon when you can finally meander down to the building’s cafeteria to wait in an assembly line of sandwiches and salads, perfectly emphasising just how much of a cog you really are, is the opposite of living.
Like so much of everything these days.
So much so, I once created an entire shouty thing about it.
The cog mentality is so ingrained in our behaviour, even when we finally DO break free, start our own businesses, work on our own creative projects, and find ways to make our work and lives meaningful to us again.
It’s why you still write those emails that sound like a robot wrote them.
It’s why you still sit at your desk punishing yourself day after day.
It’s why you feel guilty for taking the afternoon off.
It’s why you let your business take over your entire life, because you are so scared that if you do anything besides work, everything’s going to come crashing down around you.
Resist, resist, resist this temptation.
Remember why you’re here in the first place: To enjoy life more. And if that’s the case, then you cannot leave the joy out of the equation.
Which is precisely why I’m going to England tomorrow, and why I prioritize travel as a whole:
Because my business needs to bend around my life, or I don’t own a business—it owns me.
I must be able to USE the asset I’ve created to my advantage.
How many times did you tell yourself you’d start a business so you could be home more? Think more? Laugh more? BE more?
…and how many times have you actually done those things?
Because let me tell you what—there will be no congratulatory email that lands in your inbox one day, giving you permission to stop working and start living; no message that says “ding, ding, ding—you can have fun now!” You’re the only one that can make those calls. You’re the only one who’s going to decide the shape your life—and your business—takes.
I insist on running a business to support my lifestyle; I do not wish to run my life to support my business.
And so, when I stroll along the Thames admiring the fashionable women, sipping my afternoon tea, and using the space to pause & ponder…I know that this is a necessary part of my job description as I wrote it.
When I tour the Downton Abbey castle (because of course I am going to tour the fucking Downton Abbey castle), I know that this is a part of my actual business ROI.
When I rent a British sportscar and laugh and laugh and laugh at myself steering on the right side, and driving on the left, and making a total horse’s ass (arse?) of myself at the first intersection I come to, I know that I do business better when I’m NOT always doing business.
And when I write to tell you about it, it will become one more meaningful thread weaved into my business narrative that will, in turn, support my life.
Because living is the real work we must do.
…The papers and the emails and the logistics are merely a hot neon distraction.