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Embracing the crazy weird out there ideas in our life
I’ve got this friend Mike. Imagine one part McGyver, one part Penn Jillette, two parts masterful bullshit artist, and a shot of Macallan Anniversary Edition Single Malt Whisky. After all, Mike takes his alcohol seriously. He was my roommate at the Naval Academy, a groomsman in my wedding (and I in his), is Godfather to both my children, and has been my confidant for the last 18 years. He’s seen me at my best and my worst. That’s Mike.
Mike is a very specific type of friend, and I think we all have a Mike in our life. He’s the guy I’ll call if I ever get locked in a foreign jail, after I sweet talk the guard to give me one phone call —calling collect of course — because I know he’s going to either pull his best Liam Neeson from Taken and use his particular set of skills to get me out, or he’s going to tell a hell of a tale about whatever I did to get in this jail while he pours the first beer at my wake. But that’s a different story. This story is about making crazy, weird, cool things.
Sometimes I have these ideas that seem so far out there that they make me giggle with childlike laughter and recoil in terror at the same time. I feel like I have to hide them in a locked chest hidden deep in a cave guarded by a eunuch who will occasionally let me visit them to laugh when I’m feeling like I need some dark humor in my life. There’s only one person I’d ever admit those ideas to — Mike.
Recently I started embracing some of those Mike ideas.
Mike ideas are crazy things that I want to make. The act of making something is really important in this context. I’m not embracing some escape fantasy or falling into a pit of despair; I’m creating something. It doesn’t really matter what that creation is, as long as it’s something meaningful to me. I’m embracing the sacred act of creation. My Scrooge McDuck pool filled with orange, yellow, and purple McDonald’s playpen balls counts. My dream sailing trip around the world, while cool, doesn’t count.
Mike ideas scare me to admit. They often seem to get at some idea of myself that I have tried to forget out of fear of not fitting in. They’re not popular ideas that everyone else I know also wants to do and publicly talks about. In fact, before I share them, I’m usually a little bit ashamed to admit I want them. But to embrace them, I have to admit them. Most people end up lighting up when I do share them publicly, and my shame is instantly erased. My desire to start a company while I was living in Silicon Valley didn’t qualify — who didn’t want to be a founder? My dream that I could solve the behavioral challenges of Autism through food fit better.
I’m surprised at how much I’ve gotten from embracing these ideas.
I’ve stretched my comfort zone. Eight months ago, wanting to start writing online scared the hell out of me. I was afraid to admit it to myself. Now it seems so natural; of course I’d share these writings with others. The new things that scare me were unimaginable a few months ago. And eventually, those new things will seem tame too. I’ve expanded my belief in what I can do.
My relationship with regret is different.recently wrote:
“I think we always feel regret, so we should be talking about the different types of regret. There’s regret of not doing. And then there’s regret of how you did something. I much prefer the latter because I can learn from it. If I never gave it go, I’ll never get the chance to regret the how.”
Reading his essay made me realize how proud I am to have taken the reigns on some of my ideas. Things haven’t always worked out like I wanted, but I learned a ton. Because I made things, I have artifacts I can point back to.
Looking at the crazy weird things I want to make has helped me learn who I really am. Not who I think others want me to be, but who I want to be. When I look at what life I want to create, Mike ideas are often truest to my soul.
By sharing those ideas with others, I’ve met people I never would have had the courage to talk to before. I love being around ambitious people. Turns out other ambitious people do too. It’s only when I started sharing things I want to make with others that I became friends with the people I looked up to. Plus, sometimes I get to introduce amazing people who haven’t yet met each other.
My friendwrote Dreams and Dermatology, and the message of manifestation resonated. Embracing Mike ideas means I have to be more vulnerable. I used to be pretty private, but I've come to really own my story. I also am starting to admit what I want in the future. My Mike ideas are my filter for whether something is really worth manifesting.
I want to end this essay telling you to embrace the crazy, weird, most out there ideas you’d only admit to your version of Mike. But Mike ideas don’t give me the right to tell you what you should do. The beauty of these ideas is that they push me to be open about what I want in my life. So instead, I’m going to end with a list of my current Mike ideas. If you’re comfortable, I’d be over the moon if you shared some of yours in the comments. Maybe we can help each other do something really cool.
I want to create my own work where I get to learn from storytellers I admire while I develop my own stories to tell. Someone like David Whyte, Christopher Nolan, Neil Gaiman, or Ryan Holiday would be a dream to work for and with.
I want to create a new religious/spiritual community. I want to gather with those who want to really understand our relationship to spirituality and develop experiences, stories, and other tools to push ourselves deeper and deeper. Then I want to bring those to the world.
I want to build a modern Library of Alexandria. If you haven’t seen whatis doing at , it's really inspirational. I want to copy what he's done with physical books, rather than digital. I want to make it open to everyone to come, sit, read, and learn. You'll find me there.
I want to build a new behavioral therapy model for families. One where therapy happens in nature, and is centered around the child instead of the provider. I don’t want insurance or income to have any part in care. Kind of like St Jude’s for behavioral care, but done in nature instead of a hospital. Pilot it in one location and expand nationally.
I want to write books that are read by thousands of people and change people’s lives.
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