“Greener,” Greatness, and the Grind of Life
(a friend asked me to elaborate on how my perspective on life has changed over the last three months)
(another friend asked me to summarize my points in three alliterative words)
The last three months
The last three months I’ve lived in sunny Phoenix, a city I’ve never been to before, with my travel-nursing wife of five years. I published my book, launched a business, met amazing people, and experienced a new flavor of God’s green (read: brown) earth.
My perspective has changed in three main ways.
- The phrase “the grass is always greener” has never been truer, but in an existentially peaceful way.
- “Greatness” doesn’t mean fame. Seeking greatness is actually soul poison. Greatness is found in community.
- Life is a grind but you control how you feel about it.
Back in DC, and even in Tennessee, I always thought, “If only I had the freedom to do my own thing.” Or, “If only I could pursue my passion projects full-time, then I could become an entrepreneur and finally be happy.”
Well, be careful what you wish for, because it might slap you in the face. I got my wish. And it’s only marginally more satisfying than before when I worked for someone else.
Perspective change: getting what you want doesn’t make you happy. Contentment is a choice you make every day.
I’ve always wanted to be great. Since my homeschool days when Dad sat me down and taught me about the sin of “showing off”, the male modeling days of high school, and the popularity of college — greatness was undoubtedly in my future. It had to be.
Bullspittin’ hogwash. The pursuit of greatness is toxic and it’s finally bedridden my soul. Greatness in its self is not bad. But seeking to be great is a depressing and hollow endeavor. You can never be great enough.
Perspective change: don’t strive to be great. Learn to enjoy the day-to-day. Here’s how. What really made me happy was losing myself in community and adventure. Being with people makes me forget myself. And being in nature does the same.
In Phoenix, the people we met and adventures we lived were unforgettable.
There’s too many stories to write on my phone here but: Jonathan Cottrell showed me a picture of what I want to be like when I am 35. Mat Sherman inspired me to hustle my rear off with a smile. Chris Rincon showed me what selfless leadership looks like.
New City Church and #yesphx are amazing communities.
- Hiking 17 miles with Chris, Rysen, Amber, and Steph down into the Grand Canyon and jumping in the ice-cold Colorado River.
- Paintballing with friends for a birthday party
- Cliff jumping into “The Crack” at Beaver Creek
- Getting lost on the way up the Superstition “Flatiron” mountain
I’m stutteringly thankful for this city, its people, and the memories it gave us.
I have a feeling the next lesson about greatness I’m going to learn is about serving and giving.
Lastly, some of you might know, life is not always marshmallow fluff, cute puppies, and frappuccinos. Life’s hard.
I hit some lows I didn’t know I had. I embraced a sense of “aimless floating” and a season of “directionlessness.” I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Or who I wanted to be.
What do you do when you encounter an irreconcilable “deeper issue” in yourself?
For me, when the night was darkest, I went back to the gospel (ask me about this) and found a rock bottom I could build off of. But what happens when you feel like you’re hitting “rock bottom” multiple times a day? How do you build up when everything inevitably crashes down?
Perspective change: circumstances are erratic and bad things happen in life. It’s unavoidable. Rather than seeking to control and optimize life circumstances to always be good, discipline yourself to have peace regardless. In other words, choose joy. Your outlook is always a choice.
Phoenix has taught me a lot about contentment and purpose. But I still have a lot to learn. For now, I say this:
Let the grass be greener on yonder hill,
Let greatness tempt with brightness still,
Let life and its clock be a grinding mill.
I’m free from it all and care just nil
For I hold not life’s paper, ink, and quill.
So for the friends who asked about how my perspective has changed, there it is. Salt Lake City is next and I can’t wait to see how the next three months change me some more.