On the Soul Searching Adventure I led last week in the Grand Canyon, I did one of the most powerful exercises I’ve done in a while. The participants on the trip were having some solo time, and I took that time to write my wife, Adee, a letter.
To give you some context let me share a couple other things that led me to writing the letter in the way that I did.
First is an exercise I did at an event called Bravesoul with Philip Mckernan. He asked us to write a letter to ourselves from our 90 year old self. That was an incredibly impactful exercise.
Next is something I did one of the first times I hung out with my good friend Jordan Bowditch.
After hanging out, as we were about to leave he asked me if I wanted to “Remember the future” of our next year together.
This is an exercise where you speak about some future period of time as if it had already happened. I guess this is using something like the law of attraction that is talked about in The Secret.
My face naked and free from a granny panty mask (pre Covid times y’all), for 2 straight minutes I said things like “I remember my son coming into the world and just being so present with him and Adee. I remember being the most helpful and supportive of Adee I had ever been,” etc.
I loved it.
When I wrote the letter to Adee I wrote it remembering the future of our entire lives together, sort of combining the 90 year old exercise with remembering the future.
I wrote about a lot of the most precious moments I could imagine like the birth of our second child, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with our kids, Adee writing her first book, me learning to build a house myself, all the way to Adee’s 90th birthday and finally me lying on my deathbed.
I wrote this sitting under the shade of some trees by a river in one of the most beautiful places I had ever been – sobbing.
This exercise allowed me to connect deeply with my gratitude for Adee and for my life. As I wrote about our later years, I started imagining our parents dying and then us dying.
I really felt some of what that might be like which is very much like the Stoic’s negative visualization practice.
I shared the letter with her as soon as I got back. She cried. Great success.
I can’t recommend this exercise enough. If you’re single, try writing it for yourself. Remember the future of the life ahead of you.
What I’m learning about handling sadness
I’ve felt a significant amount of sadness this week. I don’t feel comfortable sharing why, but I’m feeling it. Here are some thoughts going on in my head as I go through it:
I’m trying to just be with it. Rather than aggressively pushing it away or trying to “get over it” quickly, I’m just feeling it.
For most of my life when I would feel anything like sadness, anger, or fear I would resist the hell out of it, try to distract myself from it, my head spinning with thoughts and stories that continued to fuel and intensify it.
When I just feel it, it’s just a dull sinking feeling in my stomach. A tiredness. It’s so much more manageable, and SOMETIMES even pleasant.
It makes me feel more alive and it has this effect where it reminds me of what matters most to me. I’ve been able to move through it so much more quickly because of this.
What I’m learning about art and music
My entire life I’ve been obsessed with music. I’ve played the piano, guitar, bass, and harmonica, and frankly I sucked at all of them because I wasn’t motivated enough to get through the part where you have to suck at it for a while.
In the past year I’ve had a big breakthrough that has led to me being by far the most consistent I’ve ever been with playing, and it has allowed me to get to the point where I can play and sing songs that I actually like.
I can even make my wife horny for me with my music!
First and most importantly, I realized that for me, creating art and music is an essential ingredient for a full life. In the past I’ve looked at it as just any other hobby I could do to pass time or have fun.
The problem was that, unlike sports where most of them are immediately pretty fun, I wasn’t willing to go through the discomfort of learning for long enough.
Viewing it this way has allowed me to let go of any outcome of having to be good fast. Instead, I’ve been more patient and see any time spent playing music as time well spent.
Other ways I’ve been more consistent:
- I put my guitar out in one of our main rooms. In the past, the guitar has stayed in its case in a closet, and the only time I would think about it was when I’d go into that closet to get a blanket. “Making it visible” is one of the lowest hanging fruits of habit formation. It’s helped me a ton.
- I took a free course on Justin Guitar where he teaches all of the basics and got me playing songs really quickly. He has this amazing app where you can start playing along with songs knowing only two chords.
He really nails it when it comes to helping people maintain motivation by getting people playing music as quickly as possible rather than just practicing techniques with no rhythm or melody. The faster it can be fun, the more likely one will be to stick to something.
- Adee and I started hosting “Music Nights” where we invite a bunch of friends over to play. We’ve had as many as 16 people, and just about every single person plays 1-3 songs. This has provided a huge amount of external accountability and positive pressure to learn and master new songs.
Here’s a picture of us playing and singing together last week in the Grand Canyon.
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