searching for water on mars


photo credit: Lori Greig

I wondered, when I first started this blog, whether anyone would read it. Apparently people do, and I deeply appreciate it.  It’s gratifying beyond belief.  I often wondered over the course of my life – as most people probably do – whether MY thoughts are really worth much.  From my own life I’ve learned that thoughts are immeasurably powerful.  The ideas that shape our lives are, in a sense, much more powerful than the individual actions that we attempt to counteract them.

I will throw out 5 ideas – things that can change your life powerfully in one direction or another, for good or ill. Each has changed my life.

1.  Broadened experiences. I lived in Russia for a couple of years, and I spent years of my life moving from one country to another for work.  I launched myself into each country – the language, the culture, the history.  I have read as much as I can.  I keep trying to learn.  Nothing makes people better than learning “the other.”

2.  Marriage. Nothing will teach you more about the human condition than negotiating life as half of a whole.  The worst enemy and the best friend you ever had require less effort and involvement than your spouse (or partner) will.  I mean this in the best possible way – Bubelah challenges me constantly, and it makes me a better person.

3.  Children. I don’t really think you need to have kids to become a complete person.  That’s a big myth thrown up by the media, our culture, our religious institutions, etc.  But if you do have kids, they will challenge you like nothing else other than having a spouse.  I think a spouse is the primary source of challenge and growth – after all, you’re going to be with your spouse long after the kids are off on their own.  But kids do force you to examine your priorities, and while they can be trying they can be ennobling, too.

4.  Spirituality. I was completely uninterested in religion growing up.  I went through a brief period of interest in religion in my early 20s, where I attended our church multiple times per week and read the Bible constantly.  My views shifted harshly in the other direction as I traveled overseas and widened my perspective, settling in a harsh atheism for years.  Finally I’ve shifted to a more gentle New Thought neutrality.  All of that was irrelevant.  Having the conversation with yourself and the Universe (or whatever) is the important thing.  Whether or not there’s any purpose to our span of days is, in a sense, irrelevant – what’s important is that you FEEL you have a purpose.

5.  Wonder. I read about water on Mars.  If you can’t learn about things like that, or read the newest bestseller with some enthusiasm, your life is over.  Anything new is worth getting excited about.  I got excited about Bigfoot (google it if you don’t know about it).  Hey, life is made up of unknowns…

OK, that’s it – that’s my series of 6 rapidly-written posts in one day.  I have no idea if that was interesting or just annoying, but I was hoping it would shake me out of a routine… hopefully it did!

11 comments

  • Oh, good one. Marriage. I married later in life (later 30s), to a major beauty queen (Miss <insert state name here>). I thought I was tolerant and easy-going. To my humiliation, it took me, well, far too long to become the person I thought I always was. I remain a work in progress.

    And whenever I even look at another woman, I always remind myself, “Do you want to go through *that* again?”

  • I like these posts, especially the titles. As for this one, I’ve got the first two and want more, but the spirituality one is where I don’t think I”ll ever get a hit. I have my own brand of “faux spirituality” right now, but maybe it’s because I’m “young.”

  • Good list. I would change #1 to travel, and add a separate item for “broadened experiences” – you don't have to go far to get that. Volunteering, taking classes, picking up a new hobby, being a tourist in your own town, a side job, etc, can all also broaden your horizons. But travel, I think, is unique, in that “the other” will never get so different as someone in an entirely different country.

    I also think I take a broader approach to #2 and #3. I'm not married, but just being in a serious relationship can make you rethink everything you thought you knew about yourself. I think commitment to someone else changes everything. As for #3 – other people's kids can really make you rethink your priorities. I think more long-term and less about my lifetime ever since I started working in nutrition.

    And I wholeheartedly feel the last two too! I often find that #4 sometimes enhances #5…

  • You can look at other people's children and deeply say that the experience is not for you. I have no doubt that they change your life deeply, it's just not a change that I'm interested in.

    Broadening is good. Of course you don't need to leave home to do it, but you really should. Everyone, but everyone should go abroad, everyone should experience being in a visible minority, everyone should end up discussing the foreign policy of their own country with a much better informed person from elsewhere. Experience is everything.

    And, if you can't get excited about new things, what's the point?

    • Plonkee, sure, like I said I don't really think that anyone NEEDS to have kids. I just meant that if you do, it's an experience similar to any other life-changing experience. And you're right, broadening can sometimes be accomplished just as easily by sitting down in front of an internet-connected computer with an open mind.

  • You can look at other people's children and deeply say that the experience is not for you. I have no doubt that they change your life deeply, it's just not a change that I'm interested in.

    Broadening is good. Of course you don't need to leave home to do it, but you really should. Everyone, but everyone should go abroad, everyone should experience being in a visible minority, everyone should end up discussing the foreign policy of their own country with a much better informed person from elsewhere. Experience is everything.

    And, if you can't get excited about new things, what's the point?

  • Deep!

    Agree with all points expect children. They are not necessary for completness but they will be what carries your legacy when you are gone. They are what you leave behind, for better or worse.

  • Well, I can say I've experienced a few of those – a long term relationship if not marriage, and definitely those parts about experiences and wonder. I definitely agree. It's always good to move into new territories, physical and mental. Some times are better than others. As Timothy Ferriss said, do what you enjoy and what makes you feel good about yourself. But in addition to (or in place of?) marriage, what about the transformative experience of love itself?

    • ME, good point – but I think the experience of love is different than marriage. I love my wife but I think our experience is far different as a married couple than it is when we were dating. At both points we loved each other, but I think it's more complex now. (And I should point out that marriage is just a formality – I could be talking about a committed-living-together-couple just as easily).

      But sure, I would add love at point 6, and not even just romantic love. Love in any aspect – platonic, romantic, abstract – is one of the key experiences in anyone's life.

  • “All you need is LOVE”

    1. Love for travel and new experiences.
    2. Love for your significant other (husband, wife, bf, gf, etc…)
    3. Love for children and childhood.
    4. Love for God or higher being or religions.
    5. Love for learning and knowledge.

  • “All you need is LOVE”

    1. Love for travel and new experiences.
    2. Love for your significant other (husband, wife, bf, gf, etc…)
    3. Love for children and childhood.
    4. Love for God or higher being or religions.
    5. Love for learning and knowledge.