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Gilded Minutes

Introducing Gilded Minutes!

I'm going to be honest, I'm drawing blanks.

Disclaimer: this newsletter starts off unfocused but it goes out with a big bang. Bare with me.

I have no idea what I want to say. I've spent the last 30 minutes poking at a draft newsletter that was saying a whole bunch of nothing about something. The act of pulling the next word in the sequence from the folded recesses of my mind felt like dragging an extra large splinter from out of a very small toe. Enjoy that imagery.

I was not having fun and could hardly pinpoint the reason why I was writing what I was. It was about how much I hate when people let their limiting beliefs get in the way of mastering their minds, which is important ground to cover, sure, but that draft has been in the oven for months and has not evolved in a graceful manner. I think it's time to roll it up, put it in a dusty bottle, cork it, and toss it into the East River to see if it finds its way back home through some grand act of serendipity. At least then I will know it's worth hashing out in further detail.

So now that leaves me here, writing nothing but the next thing that pops into my head while staring at the last word, yep that one right there, "there". A dear friend that I have not seen or spoken to in a long while just texted me the following:

"Man, living 3k miles apart is fucking stupid."

I just dared her to call my phone tauntingly with the help of a Yoda GIF.

You see, all this space in between, this distance from loved ones whether family or chosen family is one of life's greatest challenges, and it's a challenge that can seem trivial until you get curious about time - specifically how much of it you've used and how much of it you may have left. As we have all heard, we live our life on borrowed time, but I wonder how many of us have thought about that to a point where comprehension of the matter spurns anxiety, then understanding, and then action.

Whoa. Look at that, I found what I'm going to ramble about today simply by showing up to do the thing. Thank you dear friend for texting out of the blue, if you read this just know that I love you and hope we will spend many more days together before one of us croaks.

Okay, so what the fuck am I talking about? Before I get there, some background. About 2 years ago I came across a post on Twitter from Sahil Bloom that contained a simple visualization that represented how much time we've already spent with our parents, versus the time we have left to spend with them. The gist came down to the simple fact that by the time we move out of the house, let's say its at 19 years old, we will have already spent 90% of the time we will ever spend with our parents. This becomes particularly true if you live far from them, say out of state or out of the country. When we move out we get pulled into the cycle, you know the one - do your job 9-5, plan your vacations and make sure you get home to see your parents 1-2 times a year if you can responsibly afford to. We think little about this, because this is kind of what everybody does. This is the model we've been presented for life.

But let's actually stop and think about this for a second. I'm currently 29 years old and my mother is 56. In the United States the average person shockingly lives only to age of 76 years old, typically spending the last decade or so dealing with illness and chronic pain stemming from poor health habits and a life of stress from a demanding Western work culture.

So, if my mom were to live for another 20 years and make it to 76 before kicking the proverbial bucket, and if I only saw her once a year over that span... well then, I would only get to hang out with my mom another 20 times before she's no longer around.

20 times.
20 more hugs from my mother.
20 more laughs shared in her company.
20 more glances into her eyes.

Now zoom out, think about all the far-away people you call friends, family, and acquaintances. Chances are, the number of times you'll see these people are far less than the times you'll see your parents. Chances are you've already had some final goodbyes with some of the people you'd assume you'd see down the line. I mean how many times in your life will you travel to see a best friend from high-school who lives on the other side of the country? In the expensive reality of our lives the money we allocate towards traveling to nurture friendships is shockingly low, especially if those friends live in unattractive tourist destinations. And that's understandable, your life is brief and resources like money and vacation time are typically in short supply. So when you get the opportunity to travel are you going to put yourself on a plane to Paris, the destination you've been dreaming of since a child, or are you going to use your rare travel opportunity to go see an old friend in the suburbs of Boise, Idaho? I assume there will be at least one time, and there will probably be a wedding (and perhaps a funeral) that gets you all together, but how frequently will you take those travel plans over the ones that address your bucket list, that align with your goals and your own experience of self-actualization? If the average person gets to vacation abroad once a year, are you going to spend 1-2 of them every decade going to see friends in off-beat locations? I'm dubious. Even at 2 times a decade that gets you only 10 more experiences (using 26 as a starting age) with the 1-2 lucky friends that you grace with your presence.

When you use this lens to look at life, you quickly start realizing that not only have you spent 90% of the time you'll ever spend with your parents, but also most of the people you've called friend.

How does that make you feel? What feelings are bubbling up in your gut, heart, and head as you read this? Is there a tightness, a shortness of breath? Pay attention to that. It potentially means that something needs to change unless you want to experience painful pangs of regret.

Encountering this information lit a fire under my ass. It made me ask myself the following questions:

Q: Are you okay seeing your parents 20-30 more times in your life?
A: No.

Q: Are you okay seeing far-away friends and family only 5-10 more times in dedicated settings in your life?
A: Depends on the person.

Q: What friends and family would you like to see more than that and how much more?
A: I compiled a list with a ballpark number, some friends I wanted to see hundreds of times more.

Q: What friends and family are you okay having already had a final goodbye with?
A: I made a list, but I guess this is most people I've ever met, as it would be for all of us.

Q: How do you feel you're using your time currently?
A: I feel like I'm losing precious time with the most important people in my life, and its mainly because I enjoy the pleasant weather, generous living spaces, live music scene, and creature comforts of Los Angeles, CA.

Answering those questions changed my priorities in an instant and as a result, my life. Soon thereafter I had moved back to New York City to be near to my mother, my brothers who are a few years away from going to college, and the highest concentration of my closest friends in the US. Now I see my mother a few dozen times a year, let's say 24 times at the minimum. The 20 more times I would've seen my mother has now multiplied to 480 times over the next 20 years with the decision to prioritize my relationships over my comfort.

My heart aches for the friendships I had to leave behind in Los Angeles, but I'm doing a good job of convincing them to all move to New York City. It's an easy sell.

So I'll leave you with a challenge. Do your own calculations with the most important relationships in your life. Try and guesstimate around how many more times you'll reliably be able to see the people you love who are not in your city. Then answer the questions I asked myself. If you feel a deep and strange sadness emerge from within your heart then lean into the fear, embrace the adventure that comes from aligning your life with your values and jump headfirst into the change. Your soul will catch fire. If you've forgotten, you'll realize what's most important in this life - time with the people who make you feel something.

This was the first life-changing lesson of many I've learned over the last few years. I'm eager to address the others in following newsletters. Primarily lessons around final goodbyes, the Ancient Greek idea of Kairos, and the philosophy of Absurdism. All of these are critical components to why I've decided to rebrand Attack & Flux to Gilded Minutes. By the end of the next few newsletters I hope that you'll have gained a new perspective on time, your relationships, and the role of desire in a human life.

Until then, I'd love to hear what this newsletter made you feel and think about. Hit that reply and share with me if you feel so inclined.

📚 A Quote to Consider

Once the meaning of suffering had been revealed to us, we refused to minimize or alleviate the camp's tortures by ignoring them or harboring false illusions and entertaining artificial optimism. Suffering had become a task on which we did not want to turn our backs. We had realized its hidden opportunities for achievement, the opportunities which caused the poet Rilke to write, "Wie viel ist aufzuleiden!" (How much suffering there is to get through!). Rilke spoke of "getting through suffering" as others would talk of "getting through work." There was plenty of suffering for us to get through.

Therefore, it was necessary to face up to the full amount of suffering, trying to keep moments of weakness and furtive tears to a minimum. But there was no need to be ashamed of our tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.

👋 Until next time...

I understand how sacred privacy is in our day and I feel tremendously honored when someone trusts me enough to let me into their inbox week after week. Thanks for being here ❤️.

If something resonated from this edition please do not hesitate to reach out, I hope for this to be a two-way communication channel. Let's chat and discuss music and/or ideas.
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