How to Spend Your Quarters: Wednesday, September 10th

I write better in winter because it’s the quietest of all the seasons. Good riddance to June and July. They are too oppressive, their days too long.

It’s like, if you have a four bedroom house, then you’re bound to fill that house full of stuff. And it’s like how, the only way to pack well for a long hike is to bring a smaller pack.

Daylight is scarce in December, therefore time is more precious. Death is nearer in December too, which is always good for writing.

I was born in August, so you’d think I’d be partial to the summer. But for me and maybe everyone else, those first few months of life are painful, disorienting, full of tears. It takes more than a few weeks to open your eyes and start looking around. By the time the holidays rolled around, and the leaves had fallen, and the stars were tightly screwed into their sockets, I looked around and knew that everything would be alright.

The death of the future doesn’t scare me. I’ve heard that it’s coming, but there’s nothing I can do about it – so there’s no reason to worry.

Worries are Anxieties are useful as long as they spur me into an action. As soon as a worry is born inside my head, I try to replace it with an action. Then it becomes an obvious step, a check on the to-do list, something I can plan on. I know what I need to do. Now that the messenger has brought me the news, he can go back to where he came from. But worries that don’t lead to actions are messengers who have overstayed their welcome: they are crappy, hairy weeds taking up valuable real estate in my garden.

I’m not worried about the death of the future. I’m worried about the death of the past. I know that days and seasons and relationships come and go because I’ve seen it happen.

Economists understand that scarcity = value. When I realize that I’m a little kid at the arcade, with a bag full of quarters, and I’ve only got one day to spend at the arcade…. when I think about how my life is a bag full of quarters… then I start to get real damn defensive about how and where I spend those quarters.

This is my problem with “jobs.” I don’t really understand what a “job” is, but it seems like a backwards deal to me.

I know philosophers and artists have said this in a million ways, and I’ll never say it better, but it’s been on the top of my mind all year…

If I’m going to spend 75% of my quarters on one machine, then it better be a damn good machine. That game better have some meaning. It better lead to something. It better help someone. I better not slip into oblivion with a nagging regret that I could have been playing better games all the while. (The only proper way to slip into Oblivion Lake is with a smile on your face.)

This is why it’s so important to “find your passion” and “do the work you love” and “make sure you’re climbing up the right mountain.”

In a way, happiness is a selfish pursuit. But it’s the only nobel pursuit. Because if Gandhi was right that you have to be the change you want to see in the world, then the only way to add value to the universe is to first find it in your everyday life.

Next post I’m going to write about “how to find your passion.” Not because I have any damn clue how to do it. But because I think it’s an important question. And because I’m trying to figure it out for myself. And when I write out my thoughts, sometimes they look less like a pile of bricks and more like a building, or even a nice little home that I can live in until the storm passes.
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