Category Archives: Life in General

General thoughts and commentary on life, family, personal experiences, and some of the things we think about.

Normal Life

“You don’t have to have a normal life. You can do anything you want. There are no rules about the right way to live life, as long as you are happy. The rules are made up.”

Trying to encourage my brother-in-law to do something special with his life is the same set of advice I give myself…and follow to a greater or lesser extent.

But what I challenge others to do is something I myself do not live up to. A life of adventure and self discovery. I suppose a somewhat romantic and perhaps unrealistic view of “what life could be” if you just lived according to your own set of rules.

For me I picture myself in Antigua, Guatemala working in a coffee field sourcing coffee for a local coffee shop back home in Atlanta. Spending my time traveling, writing, spending time with family, and building a business that consist of long conversations over the perfect cappuccino.

All I need is the coffee shop.

 

No Sharp Corners in Nature

I’ve heard that there are no sharp corners in nature – that the only points and corners are man made. Nature tends to round things off through erosion and the natural wearing-down process. As I get older I think my rough edges are being round-off too.

These days I have a lot more patience, I can tolerate a lot more bullshit, I’m more realistic, and just more – domesticated. In a way that frightens me.

I don’t want to lose the “conquer the world” spirit I’ve always had. I value being level headed and realistic, but I don’t want to stop dreaming for something special. Even when that something special is a long shot.

There is a lot of value in experience. But where life experience can hurt is if it wears down all of your edges – and turns you into a lump of a human being. I think we should fight to keep a few of our edges, but be smart enough to let experience smooth us out where it makes sense.

Simple, Good

9:00am with a hot cup of coffee, freshly ground and pressed. My daughter and wife are coloring at the kitchen table. It’s a perfect Georgia morning so we opted to open a few windows to air the house out. There’s something special about the simplicity of a perfect morning. Moments like these that make life good – that no one writes about.

An Ideal Schedule

Sometimes I day-dream about the ideal life, but I never really consider what my day would look like if I could design it from scratch.

Would it look much different from what I’m already doing? How practical is implementing an ideal day? Are there things I could be doing that I’m not doing? Why not?

This is a first attempt to take the theoretical and make it functional.

6:30 a.m. – I wake up between 6:30 – 7:00 each morning.

7:00 a.m. – I walk to the local coffee shop to have coffee with Holden. We chat about life, politics, philosophy, business, and family.

9:00 a.m. – Work for two hours. Either at the coffee shop or in my office.

11:00 a.m. – Break. Read or take a walk.

11:30 a.m. – I spend some time with my wife and daughter. We enjoy lunch.

1:00 p.m. – I spend a couple of hours hiking. I stop whenever I feel like it to write or do some work. Alternatively, I may work from my office or have business meetings.

3:30 p.m. – I return home to spend time with family and do housework.

5:00 p.m. – Exercise.

6:00 p.m. – Shower. Prepare clothes for tomorrow.

6:30 p.m. – Prepare dinner with my wife and daughter.

8:30 p.m. – Put daughter down for bed.

9:30 p.m. – Spend time with wife.

10:30 p.m. – Bed.

Other Nuances

5:00 p.m., Once a Week – Instead of exercise some sort of book club or meeting of minds with a group of friends.

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Once a Week – Lunch with a business associate or old friend.

9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Saturdays – Farmers Market with wife and daughter.

9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Sundays – Breakfast with wife and daughter. Followed by a nice walk.

8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., Once a Month – Evening cocktails and conversation with friends and neighbors.

6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m, Once a Month – Date night with my wife. Grandparents watch my daughter.

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Twice a Month – Invite my in-laws over for dinner.

At least once a year – A domestic vacation.

At least once a year – An international vacation/trip.

At least once a year – A physical challenge such as a multi-day hike, marathon, or adventure race.

Barriers to Obtaining This Schedule

My Current Career – My current work day requires my time from at least 8 a.m. to  6 p.m. each week day, including commute. However, that same job pays well and enables many other elements of my ideal schedule. It is also mentally stimulating and relatively rewarding.

Is it possible to find a more flexible and equally rewarding work situation or is this a trade-off I will have to accept?

Am I Being Creative Enough?

My “ideal” schedule isn’t very creative. It’s my current life with a little less work and more time with friends/family. Does that mean I’m not being creative enough?

What if I sold everything I lived in an RV? What if I organized some alternate living arrangement? What if I sold everything and started a small restaurant or coffee shop?

What possibilities are there to consider?

Chronically (un)Happy

Someone tweeted an article written by a psychiatrist about how bad people are feeling these days: http://slatestarcodex.com/2015/12/24/how-bad-are-things/

The article is worth a read a provides some interesting analysis into the amount of people who walk around unhappy all the time. Probably somewhere well above 50% of the population, by the author’s count.

His analysis is pretty compelling too.

For me, all things being equal, I think the tendency to over-complicate life and accumulate stuff is generally the reason many people are unhappy. At least that’s the case for me.

For example, my wife and I have at least fifteen coffee cups and over twenty wine glasses. I see all that accumulated glassware in my cabinets collecting dust and I wonder what the hell it’s doing there.

We received the wine glasses as a wedding gift. One year at a new-years-eve party one of the wine glasses was broken. My wife cried. I can’t remember using any at a party since. Why do we have them?

That’s just one tiny example, but when you multiply that little-bit of anxiety across the thousands mundane and seemingly insignificant elements of life – suddenly half the people on the planet are depressed. We become slaves to our own shit.

Throw in a little braggadocio via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and…

Foreign

Most of the people in my life are struggling. My brother-in-law is a post-college-graduate without full time work. He does delivery for a fast food chain.

My in-laws have one-hundred-thousand dollars in student loan debt. At age forty, they attended a local, but well respected private college – after both of their children had already graduated college – hoping to improve their lot in life. The college diploma is excellent wall art, but they’re still in the same jobs they’ve been in for two decades now.

My cousins are smart young men, without a trade. Both seems lost, but don’t know where to turn. One get’s high and the other lives with in a basement with his aunt and uncle.

My Mother and Father are in situations too depressing to write about here. My Grandmother owns a small business constantly fighting foreclosure.

Who knows what everyone else is doing…

It’s hard to say whose fault it is. The result of a broken education or political system? Poor decision making on the part of various individuals? Or something else all-together? Probably all of these and none of these.

For me, I wonder if we’ve forgotten what human beings require. Kind of like a domesticated tiger in a zoo. Our stripes are dull. Our skin sags and muscles underdeveloped. We see the world through a glazed plexi-glass window stained with the fingerprints of some distant observer.

Maybe we’ve built up this whole idea of satisfaction that’s an illusion. An idea of happiness built largely on false premises. Maybe it’s deeper. We’ve than happiness. Not a single emotion. We’ve built our whole universe on a figment. On a falsity. On haze.

Most of us don’t talk anymore. Not deeply, anyway. We are fake. We post pictures that are the best three seconds of our day and pretend like it’s our whole life. Leaving everyone feeling like this is what’s normal. When we’re all struggling. Disconnected. We don’t share that thing we used to. What was that thing? What am I missing? I know it’s there!

Sometimes I wonder if there’s some other way to live. I feel like I have to invent it – or reinvent it – or may just revive it. Is that even possible?

How is it that being human can feel so foreign?

 

 

Thankful

The weather in Georgia this week has been perfect. There’s just enough clouds to give the sky character and enough chill in the air to hint winter is approaching. There are still a few orange and red leaves on the trees and covering the ground as autumn comes to a close. It’s gorgeous.

Late November in North Georgia

Late November in North Georgia

This morning I decided to do a hike at sunrise. The trails around here get so busy and I wanted some isolation. Some time to recharge and to work off two days of Thanksgiving meals. I think everyone needs that from time to time. Times like these are the good ones.

The identity of Atticus C.

I think about work too much. I’m never content when things are going perfectly well. I’m restless. I’m always looking for the next thing. I can’t stop taking on projects. I don’t enjoy the little things enough, but I try to remind myself to do so.

Sometimes my personality is too strong. Sometimes I’m a dick and an egomaniac. I try not to be, but it comes off that way anyway. I’m hard on people I love. I’m not sensitive enough, on average. I try to remember to say thank you. I try to show appreciation. I have to remind myself to do these things.

I’m too cynical. I can’t accept anything for face value. I can’t accept religion. I have trouble with spirituality even though I think it’s healthy. I like philosophy, but it always seems to turn into an argument. I’m attracted to spirituality, but I can’t accept it. I want it, but don’t know where to look. Organized religion feels like a scam, but I want the community.

It turns out family is more important to me than I ever expected. Also, friendship. I enjoy my few, but very close relationships. I should try to have a relationship with my parents. Maybe I shouldn’t. They are poisonous. I should try to have a deeper relationship with my parents-in-law. They are good people.

Speaking of friendship. I would like to spend more time in an intimate/cerebral way with friends. Maybe combine spirituality and learning. I have smart friends who can challenge me. I would like to combine the two components of my life.

I want adventure. I want to relax. Sometimes I want to visit old towns in Central America or Europe. Other times I just want to be isolated in the mountains of North Georgia. Either way I’m pretty happy at a cafe with good coffee. I like to write – especially when the location is nice.

I want challenge and prestige, but stability. I want to know that I can take care of my family, but I want the excitement of new things and constant learning. I want the flexibility to work to live or live to work. I want my career to be a big part of my identity, but not my identity exclusively.

I want to be happy, but sometimes I don’t know what that is. Sometimes I think happiness is something you can define on paper, other times I think it’s just a state of mind. Maybe both. I’m a planner, but I’ve been told to take things one day at a time. Maybe both are right. Maybe neither.

Hello again my old friend.

I took some time off from blogging. I’ve still been writing – just in a hand-written journal instead of here. I just felt like putting pen to paper for a while. For whatever reason it just felt right. Something about sitting there with a notebook writing things down feels good. It felt more intimate. Less like I was trying to write for the world and more like I was writing for myself.

It’s like in science when the mere act of observation changes the outcome of an experiment. In this  case knowing people might read my blog posts made me try too hard. I felt like I needed to post content more regularly. Mind my prose. And be entertaining. I started to lose my voice. The one I hear inside my head when I’m thinking about all of this stuff. Me.

I still want to blog. I even considered starting another blog all together. But we’ve been through too much together here. Five years! I want to stay, but kick things off right going forward. Face it – this is a personal blog and that’s the way it’s going to stay. What I write about here interests no one except myself and that’s okay.

Where do we go from here? 

I want to blog once a week. Not on any particular schedule, but just when I can. i want to write because I enjoy it. Because I enjoy sitting in my office or at a little coffee shop writing about nothing in particular. I think it’s healthy.

An though I say “no schedule” I’m a scheduler at heart. I thrive on tasks and lists. So maybe I’ll try to make every Wednesday morning a writing session before work. Head over to the coffee shop and write for a couple hours? I like that idea.

I don’t want to commit to any particular topic(s). Most of what I write will probably be about me. Probably complaining about trying to figure out the meaning of life – or something similar. Maybe I’ll talk about economics, philosophy, politics, or business. Who knows?

Anyway, I’m back.

Phil, Jon, or Holden. You guys are the only people I really keep up with on the web. Stop by and say hello. I hope this becomes more conversational going forward.

I Passed on a $50,000 Raise

I am proud of myself this morning. Proud because I feel like I am slowly becoming the man I aspired to be. A man who, when given the opportunity, will choose happiness, family, friends, and knowledge before money or the accumulation of more stuff. I believe this about myself because I turned down a new job, and a $50,000 raise, for these values.

The job would have made me the youngest person in such a position (that I know of), padding my bank account and my resume, but would have meant a lot of time away from my family and friends, giving up a few personal dreams (such as starting my own business and pursuing further education), and doing something I’m not very passionate about. I’ve never had to give up such a huge opportunity or such a large sum of money. I’m happy that when the time came I had the courage and discipline to do so.

I didn’t do it alone, either. I had people to speak candidly with. Friends and family who earnestly supported me and walked through the pros and cons of each opportunity. They probably didn’t know it, but their willingness and enthusiasm helped to show me just what I would be giving up. Just how great a community I would be giving up for a little prestige and money.

I didn’t give up long walks with my family every evening, I didn’t give up the international travel and leadership opportunities my current job provides, I didn’t give up my dream of launching my own start-up, I didn’t give up morning coffee talks with Holden, I didn’t give up spontaneous cocktail dinners with neighbors, and I didn’t give up my dream of higher education (in fact I start an MBA program next school year!).

When I read that last paragraph I realize just how easy a decision the whole thing was – even if it didn’t seem like it at the time. Perspective.