02 Dec I Can’t Wait to Have Kids One Day
THERE’S SOMETHING extraordinary about the world at dusk. The yellow autumn leaves which line the river remind me of New York City in November. I’s not only what I see — it’s what I feel from the cold, the leaves, the river — a childlike joy.
One of my fondest memories is of traveling to New York when I was young. I carry that feeling with me now, that innate love of exploring some place new.
I’m still that kid at heart, although what I care for has shifted like the colors of autumn. In a way, I wish life was that simple again. Yet life is never as simple as it seems.
As I walk and the daylight wanes, I come across a charming courtyard. Open iron gates surround an East Coast-style mansion with columns in front. An intriguing orange glow emanates from within.
Fallen brown leaves cover the ground and music plays from a speaker on the patio. A young woman stands by the entrance to the building. She seems content amongst the tranquility.
I have to say something.
Talking to strangers
For the past couple of days, the words of speaker, author, and NYU Business professor Scott Galloway have captured my thoughts. On this evening’s sojourn I have his book, The Algebra of Happiness, playing in my ears.
In our twenties and thirties, advises Galloway, the most important thing we can do is talk to strangers. It’s the surest way to opportunity, and, yes, love.
I feel the Resistance just as much as anybody. I see a stranger, a man, a woman, and my inner voice pleads, say something!
They’re obviously busy, says the Resistance, the force coined by Steven Pressfield in The War of Art, which keeps us comfortably from our destiny.
It would be weird to ask for their number, to give them a compliment, to ask a question, says the Resistance. Instead of an experience, whether positive or awkward (also positive), all we’re left with is regret.
It doesn’t matter what I say; inspired by the book, I just have to spark a conversation. Easier said than done, yes, although a timeless endeavor worth fearlessly embracing.
My Japanese is short of conversational, so she tells me in sparse English that the event has something to do with the Meiji era, the late 1800s through early 1900s in Japan, when the nation moved away from feudalism and began industrializing.
In my twenties, a time when we’re setting a crucial foundation, I’m seriously considering what’s important to me, what’s worth striving for, and what I want most of all.
I must get out of my comfort zone. I must think for myself. I must follow my heart, which leads me to love above all else. It has to.
We’re more than our careers
As a young writer, I face the fear that I’m not worthy of this work. What do I, at twenty-seven years old, have to tell anybody?
I have what I’m experiencing, what I feel, and the wisdom of others. When people ask what I write about, I still struggle to find a straightforward answer.
I write about the journey of life. It may be my path back to being that kid, confronting the weight we carry on our backs as we grow. Perhaps it’s how to free ourselves from what we pick up.
Am I a travel writer? I love to write about traveling, so yes. But my stories don’t tell you where to go, what to do and see. I hope they impart how the world has changed me, simply from going.
Writing is more than just my chosen route to success. Writing helps me understand what success even means.
“Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to work out,” writes Cheryl Strayed in Tiny Beautiful Things. “You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith.”
We’re so much more than just our careers. That’s hard to understand, even harder to embody, no matter the age.
Knowing what we want
“The hardest thing is not doing what you want,” writes entrepreneur Naval Ravikant in his Almanack. “It’s knowing what you want.”
Success is what we’re supposed to want, right? But what is this thing we call success?
Is it money and status, or is the word as undefined as water in our hands? Until we clarify what success is to us, it’s what we see on social media, what we’re told, what we’re led to believe: money.
We’re told more will make us happy. I think it’s less: less worry. Fewer desires and things. Less stress.
The French Renaissance thinker Michel de Montaigne writes in his essays:
“Blessed is the man who has ordered his needs to so just a measure that his riches suffice them without worrying him or taking up his time, and without the spending and the gathering breaking into his other pursuits which are quiet, better suited and more to his heart.”
Success is complicated; I’m torn, too. However, our ideas and desires must not be set in stone. They’ll change.
Perhaps the answer to the question — why do I want money? — is a better place to start than with money itself.
Money can mean opportunity. More than anything else, I’ve established that I want to make money to give me the freedom to do what I love, day in and day out.
It takes work. Some say extremely hard work; some say smart work; some say internal work above all else. A life lived on your own terms isn’t easy to attain. But it is one hundred percent attainable.
I want to make money to give me the freedom to focus on what’s truly important. Down the line, that will undoubtedly be family.
I can’t wait to have a family
I’m not on this earth to be the best writer of my time. I love to write, and if my words lessen the pain we feel and enhance the beauty of being alive ever so slightly, I’m successful.
What is success if it doesn’t contribute to something else? One day, my life will no longer be just about me. It’s going to be some time, but I look forward to being a dad one day. I’ve been teaching English in Osaka, Japan, for three months.
I’d be lying if I said teaching little eight, nine, and ten-year-old gremlins five days a week doesn’t make my heart melt. It’s often a pain, too, a wonderful human pain — and I only have them for an hour!
But they’re so damn cute. Having kids isn’t for everybody. Yet I can’t see how a career can be as important as raising a human being.
“There’s a story about this writer…” says author Ryan Holiday on the Modern Wisdom Podcast.
“She’s at this party. She has a young daughter. She’s a poet. Jack Kerouac is there. It’s one of those famous parties. She gets up to leave and says, ‘I promised the babysitter I’d be home by 10.’ Kerouac says, ‘if you don’t forget about that babysitter you’ll never be a great writer.’ She gets up and leaves anyway and says, ‘I knew in that moment that if I didn’t keep that promise to the babysitter, I wouldn’t be a great writer.’”
Success is empty without somebody to share it with
Was Kerouac happy? I can’t imagine anyone happier than the woman who went home to her kid. How empty, I imagine, to feel you’ve achieved something by being the best and having nobody to share your success with.
“There’s something hallow, or a cop-out, at being great at one thing at the expense at all other things,” says Holiday.
“Especially at the end of your life. You don’t get to take that thing with you. What does it matter that you made more money, or wrote one extra book? You’re going to sit back and go; I really fucked it up.”
How could you be a writer, one who tries to understand what it means to be alive, if you remain immature forever? To grow older doesn’t mean you’ve grown up. To grow older doesn’t mean you must forget what it means to be a kid.
There’s a difference between maturing and retaining our childlike wonder. To only think of oneself is to never mature.
Perhaps you’re working on an idea you think will change the world, yet you have the world right there before you. Be there for your kids.
I know how it feels to be loved
We’re so small, our planet a speck in this great cosmic dance, our country a piece of ancient land swimming in the mysterious sea.
A sense of peace comes from realizing how little we actually matter. When we’re no longer focused on ourselves, the world gains far deeper meaning. I think that happens when we have kids.
Look at me, talking about having kids as if I know anything.
I know what it means to be a kid who was loved. I still do. Despite the hardships my parents dealt with as they raised my brothers and me, they’ve always been there.
I have memories like being in New York in November with my family that I can reflect on when out in the world, striving to find my way.
I’m sustained by my childhood experiences of traveling with my dad, discovering that he, that we, are all just people, doing the best with what we know.
The joy that my family has given me far surpasses anything I could create alone. This is the time in my life to persist, question, seek; but it’s only the beginning of a much greater journey.
I hope to write forever. Having a family one day will make me a better writer.
What makes this life worth living?
I’m far from ready to be a dad. But when I see young fathers and young mothers doing what it takes to be there for their children, I smile. There’s nothing so humbling as the joy of a kid.
That must be what we’re here for.
Until I’m there one day, I strive to live every season of life to its fullest. How good it is to drink the fresh, cold air. I feel my love for life blossoming like the flowers of spring.
One day, I hope to feel the heat of summer, where we solidify our place in the world and in our heart; where what we do is what we love and we spend long days with people whom we care for deeply.
I hope to feel the fall, where wisdom accumulates further, and the wind blows colder. We’ve developed the maturity to handle it with grace and devotion.
The light’s a bit more piercing, and the tears fall heavier. We warm ourselves with family, friends, and a tribe of beating hearts with feet firmly planted in the soil.
I want to feel the winter, not wishing days were endlessly warm as in my youth. No. I want to feel the cold, having forged a fire in my heart to withstand adversity. I want to hear the silence of a snow-draped forest with my arm around another soul who warms me as I do them, a partner in this life.
I want to watch as those I love come to me for guidance, assurance, and joy. Hopefully, I’ve shown them what it means to cherish the seasons. I want to rest peacefully and rise when the world is dark, as I did when I was young.
I want to feel like me, safe and confident in my body and soul, strong as an ancient oak.
I can’t wait to have kids one day.
That might start with talking to a stranger.