Let me tell you ‘bout this guy
He’s 6' 4" with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a woodsy-California air about him.
Some have called him genteel, instantly likable, carefree. His father is a locally famous — or infamous Northern California naturalist who developed trails and built two California State Parks, and both are cousins to the designer of Central Park in NYC. He’s made five movies, has an iconically cool 60’s convertible, and he lives as though not much affects him.
He’s dated some very attractive women but doesn’t seem overly invested in a relationship, though he’s great with kids and has almost a pied piper-like following with other peoples’ kids all over the country.
He has an address but it’s a P.O. Box. He gets mail and does his taxes but only a handful of people know where he really lives at any given time. He’s had over 72 jobs, 35 residences, and has been to all but four U.S. states.
On the surface he seems to not bother about money, or even have much of it, yet he’s been to Europe twice and as soon as you feel bad for him he’ll post a picture of himself on a beach in France and your pity will change to envy. As you drive to your nine-to-five ‘responsible’ job.
He once owned a BMX bike company, has been interviewed on radio, tv, newspapers and blogs, was wined and dined by a coke-head Hollywood producer (and his Russian money backers), and at the lowest point in his life was invited into Richard Simmons’ home for a pep talk from the effervescent fitness star.
And to look over Simmons’ collection of baby Jesus figurines.
Oh — and I almost forgot. He’s writing this right now as he waits for UPS to deliver his first book. In about two hours he’ll also be a published author.
In short, he’s had a pretty incredible life.
You can probably guess who this guy is.
Now think about what you know about this guy — this guy who’s got a crazy but amazing life, unpredictable but rich in experiences. Sure a bit lonely at times but with friends in 16 states, famous relatives, overall decent health, and a seemingly endless reserve of hope and will power to keep on truckin.
Why on God’s green earth would this guy live anything but a 100% fulfilled and successful life? Heck why isn’t he speaking in front of thousands like Tony Robbins, charging $5,000 a head for the huddled massses to hear his story of life balance and peace of mind to be inspired themselves?
What could possibly stop him?
Or more appropriately, who could possibly stop him — from being everything he’s meant to be?
I think you know the answer.
Ugh!! Please no more #selflove talk!
Can’t we put the darkest days behind us? Haven’t we seen the worst of narcissism these past few years — selfie disasters as people fall from buildings and cliffs, trying to get that perfect shot of — themselves enjoying something or somewhere — seemingly ALONE? As if that is to be cheered and aspired to?
No. This is different.
Before I write books I like to write book titles. Hey they’re a lot easier to write and have a quick lifespan. Instant feedback. A short loop. And when you find a good one — whoa. Hold on.
A good book title is almost a reason to write the book.
Just like a beautiful door would probably make me save up and buy a house.
Here’s a few of my best book titles (that I really should write):
“Sleeping on Couches at 40” — the awful truth about following your dreams
“Keeping it Real” — the day I put my friends on Yelp
“Two Big Ones” — the two (yes only two) decisions that have shaped your life
“Hello paycheck, it’s me Alden” — the comedic financial tales of a self-professed
But the one I keep coming back to? As I grow in wisdom (and humility — lol), the one that seems like it has enough depth of a premise to fill all the pages?
That’s it. That might be my next book. If I can figure out how to avoid the narcissism bandwagon.
Because it’s not that I need to love myself. I already do. You can’t really be happy if you don’t.
I also love my parents. Even though dad took off when I was a year old to go save a bunch of state parks and I grew up mostly feeling unprepared and unequipped to handle this life thing, and even though my twenties bore out that fact, wafting from job to job, unprepared, sooner or later I figured it out. I made peace with both of them.
I asked questions and I listened. I found out about the situations they were dealing with. The marriage they were trying to hold together. The dreams they had that also got shattered.
Once I realized my life milestones were going to happen later I chose to get all the sowing of the oats out of me — and to ‘hopefully’ stay young at heart in the process.
If I have to teach my kid to skateboard at 58 I thought, so be it. Better keep skateboarding.
So what does it all mean?
What does it mean to embrace yourself and how am I doing now vs say ten years ago?
Well for one I’m a published author (UPS just arrived!!)
But accomplishments aren’t the thing, finishing a book or movie, saving up to buy a house, those are all great but as we know it’s that churning inside that counts. It’s either healthy and growing, or unhealthy and dying.
Ok ok — so how do I embrace myself you say?
Fine here it is —it’s gonna sound a little out there but stick with me — here’s four easy ways to embrace yourself and be the you the world needs:
- You are you.
Yeah I know that sounds simple but look — you’re not Patrick Mahomes, you’re not Taylor Swift, you’re not Tupac (Tupac if you’re reading this whatup), you first gotta admit that you are you and you’re never going to be anyone but you.
Tall, short, skinny, fat. This is it. Don’t like it? Change it. But for the most part it ain’t going away.
*Now here’s the difference between this and other theories — I’m not telling you to “accept” you, or to barely “put up with” your body — I’m telling you to Embrace it! Go all in. Be the skinny guy, be the too-tall woman, whatever your grandmother gave you — thinning hair, no hair, too much hair? Love it! Be it! How does that feel to walk out of the house feeling lighter than air because you’re happy in YOUR skin? It’s priceless.
- Wait — who are you?
I mean who are you when no one’s around. Socrates said “know thyself” — do you? What makes you tick? What do you do that no one’s paying you to do? Is your job fulfilling? If it’s not thats ok but how are you being you on off hours? How are you feeding you so you don’t blow up at work on your boss, or on your spouse because you feel trapped or forced or suffocated? Being you? — that’s on you, not your spouse or kids. It’s not their responsibility. Balance Daniel-son, balance.
- Do you like you?
No really, would you want you as a friend? Are you happy? Nice to be around? Do you offer to help your friends or do you come off like it’s a chore if someone asks you to drive them to the airport? Do you want the best for your family and friends or only if you’re doing a little better? Be someone’s cheerleader. Seriously — do it and watch how this changes your life.
- Embrace Yourself
Admit that you are you. Then know who you is. Then you’ve done the self-check to see if you like you, now it’s time to embrace you. All of you. The royal you. The editorial.
What does embracing yourself look like?
Live like you.
Stop fighting you. Stop trying to be who you’re not. Who you see online, on posts, on wherever. Be 1000% you and that means all your ticks and quirks and isms.
Forget what would Jesus do — what would YOU do!
Look I know not everyone has a crazy John-Muir-like father with a treasure-trove of stories and oddities but here’s the thing —
I spent over 20 years — maybe 25 — trying to be anything but like my dad. Trying to mold my Alden-isms into the world’s version of success etc..
Like Jonah I fled. Not to Ninevah but to Hollywood (close). I moved to La-La-Land at age 36 and valet-parked cars to follow this dream of writing stories about fictional people and yet here I am finishing my fifth film next week and four of the five films have been about me or my dad or our relationship.
The other film?
Ya it wasn’t very good.
Tell your story.
If you don’t believe me listen to Dr. Myles Munroe — and don’t whine about the cheesy title — just watch. Seriously.
A woman in Florida who I’ve never met is working on a film from old footage about the Mendocino state park my dad saved, Jug Handle SNR on the coast 2.5 hrs north of San Francisco. In this process she occasionally comes across photos or info that she thinks me or my brother or my mother would be interested in.
She just sent this picture last week:
Although dad was a decent photographer this is the first time I’ve seen my family together.
At 49 years old I finally have a picture of life before things went off the rails.
Should I wallow? Is it too heavy?
Nope. It’s a gift.
This picture of my family is a gift. How weird is that even to type “Family “ — I don’t know that I’ve ever typed that word referring to my own.
This is life. It’s what we’ve got.
There’s only one.