Whether or not this is easy to digest, I’m going to say this anyway, F3. Let’s be clear. VERY clear. Trying to carve bits of ourselves to acceptable to even broader, stranger categories to assuage our sense of isolation is a pure fool’s journey. You and I sell ourselves down the river to get…what, love? Acceptance? Think of it this way, F3. This is the price you and I pay (and I did too, trust me) in order to find out precisely who we are. We may get batted back and forth among a thousand different kinds of emotional hell, wanting to be part of a group, acceptable to someone, when the first order of business is our acceptability to ourselves.

These are only words. They will not have a modicum of meaning until you are on the other side of a line, and you’ll know when you crossed it. There is no “there,” there, no sudden realization you’ve arrived or made it. What can happen, what does happen, if you have the courage to stay on your path, is the eventual sense of rightness to where you are. Who you are.

Wanna know how you crossed the line? When the shitstorm makes you laugh out loud.

The single only way you can get there is doing precisely what you’re doing right now. There isn’t any right way. There is only YOUR way. Period. Full stop. YOUR way is the way you are figuring shit out. This is what it looks like when it’s working. It often fucking sucks. Sucks the big one. Big time.

Think of it this way, F3. You are one big magnet for everything that you need to experience so that you can evolve into who you need to be. You’re only 45. ONLY 45, F3. You can shit shoulds onto your head for what you haven’t figured out. Look, some of us don’t even begin to do what we were meant to do until we pass 60. If there is some kind of internal clock that says that you were supposed to be a billionaire by twenty, the World’s Next Big Thing by thirty, well, you and I are likely to be pretty disappointed.

Comparisons? You already know what I’ m going to say. Many years ago, my mentor used to talk about Christie Hefner, who took over her father’s massive Playboy industries in 1988 at 36. I felt like a massive failure. What a stupid fucking thing to do. Her life is nothing like mine. NOTHING.

Social media has shoved fake influencers down our throats for no other purpose than to sell shit. Primarily by doing their best to convince us that we aren’t good enough as we are. That we need to do, be, buy, etc.

Part of the snake oil that they’re selling is that you and I have to be important. WE have to be successful (by whose measure?). We have to…no we don’t. You and I don’t have to do One. Fucking. Thing. To live up to other’s expectations.

There are some very simple truths. One of them is that each of us has a voice. The voice you have, F3, is only developed as a result of experience. The price you pay for your perspective. Of course it’s hard.

In the wonderful film A League of Their Own, main character Dottie Henson decides to leave her team at a crucial moment. She and her kid sister have a falling out as their team, the Rockford Peaches, are barreling towards the World Series. Their coach, a drunk and one-time home run champion played by Tom Hanks, confronts her as she is just about to leave.

When he demands why, she says, “It just got too hard.”

To which he says, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”

You don’t do hard, you do not get to do great. Period. Full stop.

How great is defined in your life, is anyone’s guess. It’s nobody else’s great. It’s yours. But you have to earn it.

Is this hard? You’re damned right it is. But if you’re going to be useful, which is part of being great, you have to do hard.

There is only one way and that is forward, F3. Forward. Through.

One of the great and abiding gifts of my last wilderness trip was that message. There is only one way. Forward.

If you will forgive one last movie reference, there is a scene in Independence Day when a bunch of idiot airheads are on top of a huge building, waving signs at the alien aircraft. Most of their signs say, in effect, “take me away from all this.”

“All this” is precisely what you and I have to go through. Collectively this is what we created. By definition there is no easy way. If you want an extraordinary life, you have to earn it. You and I learn the skills to navigate pain, hurt, depression, isolation by moving through them. Not running from them.

Have you peaked? Nah. However to ignore the gift of life, right here, right now, disregards that gift. You’re on your way.What are monsters right now eventually become ankle biters. What are annoying ankle biters right now eventually becomes white noise. White noise eventually just goes away. Then you can concentrate on what really matters: your gifts. That is what working our way through the hard shit gives us: very high level coping skills. And one more thing.

When you can find the funny, you’ve found your way. At that point, you have indeed crossed that line.

Find your funny. That’s your job. Evolve into F4. When the shit that happens to and around you is comedy fodder, you have graduated from victim of your circumstances to sitting in the cockpit flying the goddamned plane.

It’s all small shit. Giving circumstances power over our potential robs us of your voice.

Every week, two times a week, I work with a horse riding trainer. She’s a rank racist, a hater, and about as mean spirited and ugly as they come. But she’s damned good at what she does. Twice a week I ride recalcitrant, difficult, frustrating horses. I work with them through my resistance, my lack of skills, my limited knowledge. And get better. And better. And better. Both at riding and at dealing with my trainer’s Trumpisms. I have learned over years of practice to laugh at my horses when they fight, kick, buck, back up and try to scrape me off. I have learned to find my trainer funny, because she is a caricature. I can’t do her work for her. But I can learn to be a superb rider. And I am. That did not come overnight. So when I head overseas into almost any country, I can ride almost any horse. Not all of them, but 99 out of a hundred. Them’s is good odds, F3.

The same thing for being able to cope.

You have to do the work, F3. Here for ya.

To quote my buddy Ann Litts, Namaste.

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