I have about half an hour left before my birthday ends. I've gotten tons of greetings, a lot of love, some clowning about my age, you name it. And I welcome it all. Even the ones about being old. Because being old just says I've managed to survive for a loooong time.
And I'm sitting here after an amazing show and I just keep thinking about my life. And the one thing that keeps coming back to me is this:
A LOT of poets, when they talk to me about me, have said, "Dude, you're the hardest working poet I know. Your hustle is insane." I took pride in that. Now I'm not so sure.
Because I'm sitting here and this is what I'm realizing...
When I've failed, I wouldn't be happy. As necessary as failure is, we know it feels like shit.
When I've succeeded, I still wouldn't be happy. Because with success comes the need to go further and succeed more; you set up unrealistic expectations. You climb higher thinking there's some magical peak but there never is. They don't say "sky's the limit" for nothing. It means you'll just keep climbing up, above the clouds, further and further until you're in the nothing of space.
My life's philosophy is changing, yo. At this age, it's changing.
Now, it's just about learning to "be." I'm learning happiness is already there. It's when my family jumps on top of me to wake me up the morning of my birthday. It's me performing poems for total strangers who just have their mouth open the whole time or wiping tears from their eyes. It's reconnecting with old friends and them making you laugh. It's the text messages and phone calls of people that truly care.
My whole life I kept after this pursuit of something "great" not realizing (and this is should be ALL our mantras) I was already pretty great to begin with.
We will never find happiness when we think happiness is some place you have to get to. You will never find purpose when you think purpose is marked by milestones in your life.
Happiness is every day. It lives in you and will manifest itself outwards to people if you allow your daily actions to reflect it.
Purpose is every day. It lives in you and will manifest itself in your life's work if you just fall in love with the process of what you're doing. What results from that process is not in your control. Either way, the results shouldn't stop you from doing what you love.
Many, many years ago I was talking to a very successful design friend of mine who was running a million dollar agency. I asked him why he wasn't doing photography anymore since it was his photography that I loved and made me a fan of his work. He said to me, "Fuck that. No money in that. I have to hustle." And that's understandable. His wife had just passed away and he had to raise his daughter on his own. He had to turn this small business into this very profitable one in order to provide an amazing life for her. And I think that's what fueled the hunger for me and made me work as hard as I did to get where I am.
But now, after always trying so hard and never finding happiness in the hustle, I'm realizing that I am most alive when I just do what I love. When I allow my creativity to flow purely and without agenda. I am most alive when I'm with my family and we are wrestling on the bed and making jokes. I am most alive when I write that new piece and people gravitate to it.
I hope you all discover the happiness already inside you. I hope you don't have to grow older to realize it. I hope you recognize that you can start living with purpose right now, immediately, soon as you finish reading this. I promise you- do those things- and watch as a huge burden is lifted from your shoulders and life opens itself up to you in ways you've never expected.