"Once I decided I would be happy living in my truck, I was free."
The man who said this to me never has to work again. He built a company from nothing into one that employed 1,000 people all over the world, and then one day decided to sell the thing before the stress of it drained the life from him.
In saying those words to me, he described the process he went through as he figured out how to sell his company, and the importance of what he calls a "life-affirming decision." He had thought for years about selling it, but in his own words had been "greedy," and his asking price had been too high. He had poured in decades of energy, yet when faced with the prospect of his own mortality, the calculus changed. He stressed the necessity in that moment for surrender - becoming untied to any particular outcome -- and the trust that has to come along with that.
For the first time in my adult life, I am trying to do something completely on my own. There is no one looking over my shoulder, no one making sure I'm doing what I need to be doing every day. If I so chose, I could smoke pot and listen to Malian desert music all day and no one would even know.
Sometimes when I think about what I am working on, I get caught up in what it could become.
"People all over the world will be writing letters to their former selves!"
"The book will sell like hotcakes!"
"This will be something that matters."
Our glorification of overnight success -- the Justin Biebers and the guy from Snapchats of the world -- makes it all seem within our grasp. Success on that scale would of course be welcomed, but I do not think it can be my goal here.
After reading it half a dozen times, I gave a book called The War of Art several of my friends for Christmas. The author encapsulates the struggle with the Self to manifest whatever it is that we are put on this planet to do. The key, for me, is his emphasis on keeping one's own identity separate from whatever work one is doing. If it fails, it does not make me a failure. If it succeeds, it does not mean I am successful.
I am saying this publicly because it is time for me to surrender. I will be happy if I get to learn from people who have taken more breaths and seen more days than I have. I don't have a truck, but I have a pretty roomy Honda-CRV. That will be just fine.
Follow Ari Andersen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/letterstoselves